Cancel your gym membership and subscribe to yourself.

Changing my focus has allowed me to not only achieve my health goals but maintain them. Working as a personal trainer, the focus was on losing weight, gaining muscle, becoming thinner and fitter. My entire focus was on my physical appearance. If there is one thing I learned that I share with my clients and friends now is that focus is a big part of your results and the only way to change your focus is to unsubscribe from what you are doing that isn’t working and take a deep dive within yourself.

Too often I speak with people who had amazing results with a low carb diet and daily trips to the gym, only to gain all the weight back and stop going to the gym a couple months later. Is this you? It’s most likely because low carb diets aren’t healthy to maintain and weight lifting or running on the treadmill for an hour looking at sweaty, red-faced strangers is not for you. Unsustainable plans are trendy. “Lose weight fast.” They’re an easy sell. But they target people who are focused on the wrong thing: changing their physical appearance. They win over people who are focused on the wrong outcome. The focus should be on vitality, not appearance.

Changing my focus not only freed me from unmet expectations and frustration but allowed me to get actual results and maintain them almost effortlessly. It started with digging deep into myself to find out why I wanted to lose weight or get fit in the first place.

Back then, my goal was to stay relevant in the fitness industry. I knew clients would not want to train with me if I didn’t look the part. “You wouldn’t go to a dentist who has rotten teeth,” I would say, “just like you wouldn’t train with an unhealthy fitness trainer.” What I wasn’t saying though, is that a trainer may look healthy but be unhealthy. Internal health is not (always) visible on the outside. The state of your mental health is (mostly) invisible to others. The outcome of a poor relationship with yourself is not as obvious as the outcome of poor dental hygiene.

With that being said, my “why” had nothing to do with me or improving myself. It was about image, relevance and judgement. This explains why it was so easy for me to fall off the wagon: I wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t actually want to. It became a job requirement that I did not like because of its intensity. Extreme dieting and over training is not healthy for anyone. And when it becomes a job requirement, whether you want to or not, you will quickly start hating that job. Your mind will become exhausted of being put through such excruciating work and super strict diets that are not sustainable. Without realizing, I had set myself up for failure.

My “why” now sounds entirely different. It has nothing to do with the way I look. By ending an unrealistic and unsustainable lifestyle that was mostly geared towards others, I adopted a lifestyle geared towards myself and what I wanted. If you ask me today, I don’t care what others think of my body. My physical appearance is not a reason that I run or eat the way I do. I am not focused on the way my body looks or how willing others will be to take health advice from me.

What is most important for me now is to enjoy my life and live by my core values. Through activities that I love and eating mindfully, I find balance and optimal health, not based on how I look, but how I feel. I’m healthy because I feel healthy, regardless of the way I look. I eat a balanced, vegan diet and stay active with things I enjoy. As a result of that, my body will do whatever the hell it wants and look the way my body is supposed to look when it’s healthy and thriving.

Being unattached to the outcome has been the most important shift in my life and could potentially be as freeing for you. Not focusing on how my body will look has allowed me to develop a level of self-confidence that I never had before. I trust my body. I didn’t before, so I would control food, water, fitness level, isolate everything I thought needed work and manipulate every inch of my body to alter it or “improve” it. I isolated every small muscle that most people can’t even pronounce. I obsessed over a missing line in my abs, a missing tie in my hamstring, a trapezius that was too big, a deltoid attachment that wasn’t sharp enough, a missing quad curve, under developed triceps, oblique dominance… Oh the things I could have accomplished if I put all that focus on more important things. I truly believed I had to control everything and had no trust in my body.

It wasn’t long after a few weeks of intense internal work, meditation and self-discovery that I gave myself a suggestion. “How about you let your body do its thing?”

I started trusting my body and loving it for keeping me alive and well. If I give it the good nutrition it needs, plenty of water and move it frequently by doing things I love and that I will enjoy, my body will take care of everything else. I will look the way a happy, healthy Breanna should look like. I will look the way I am meant to look. My body will adjust on its own and look the way it will based on the lifestyle I will have.

Your body reflects your lifestyle. How is it we trust that our body will take control if we have poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle, but we don’t trust it will do the same if we find a healthy balance? Why does it have to be couch potato or fitness model? Why are we all-in or all-out? Why are we either dieting like it’s our religion or throwing our hands up and constantly overindulging?

Where is the middle? I’ll tell you.

The middle is such a simple way of living that it’s only good for one person: us. It’s bad for corporations that sell us the idea that if we want to be fit, we need to look like a fitness competitor, we need supplements, we need a trainer, we need a gym membership, we need all these nutrients our body can’t get from food, we need meat, we need the swimsuit our favourite Instagram fitness model is wearing, we need to do a show, we need to subscribe to this supplement company, we need to wear that brand… The middle is bad for corporations that sell unsustainable “solutions” so that you will not be able to maintain, you will quit, lose all your progress and have to buy more sessions, more meal plans, more magical supplements and more memberships.

The middle is only good for us because of how little we actually need and how little it actually costs to stay in the middle. The middle is where you create your balance.

The middle for you may look like a healthy, balanced nutrition plan that fits your schedule, food preferences and your beliefs. It may also look like an after-dinner walk every evening, running a couple times a week or a dance lesson once in a while. It may look like a Monday and Wednesday Zumba class, yoga in your living room, a Muay Thai class, a stroll to the dog park, swimming, hiking, biking, playing a team sport… Whatever it looks like for you, trust that it will make you healthy and your body will take care of the rest. All you need to do is eat healthy food, hydrate yourself and move your body through activities you love.

The “why” needs to change. The question isn’t only “why?”, but “what is for me?”

What is for me, Breanna, is running and fun workouts at home. That makes me feel like I’m taking care of my body, I’m keeping my heart healthy and I’m strengthening my mind and body. I enjoy training in the comfort of my own home. I push myself and can feel myself becoming physically stronger. What’s also for me is a balanced vegan “diet” (for lack of a better term). I feel true to my values and my heart by not consuming animal protein, I help the planet and I listen to my body knowing that meat makes my intestinal disease flare up. What is also for me is meditation. What is also for me is reading. What is also for me is time with my dogs and my partner. What is for me makes me happy. That’s how I know it’s for me.

So I invite you now to answer this question for yourself and find out what is for you. Here is the assignment:

You have to plan a weekend where you need to do do three things: move your body daily (enough to break a good sweat), eat four to five healthy meals a day and be with people you love, but you have to do all of this by only doing things you KNOW you would enjoy? What would you do? The activities and meals don’t (and shouldn’t) be the same every day. Write it down.

If you go mindfully into activities and lifestyle changes that align with your values and what makes you truly happy, you will not find yourself obsessing over calories and dieting. One of the first steps of self-love is acknowledging that your body and your mind are one and you must treat them with kindness and respect. The way to do that is to honour your body by giving it the fuel it needs and trust that it has your back.

Your body will change with seasons, life events, moon cycles, menstrual cycles and pregnancy if you’re a woman… your body will change. It will retain water if it needs, release when it can. It will look ripped some mornings and look different in the afternoon. It will need rest some days and be super energized on other days. Let your body do its thing and trust that it does what it needs to keep you well. All you need to do is keep fuelling it mindfully. Let it be.

Focus is a huge part of health and balance. I focus on quality, not quantity. I prioritize fun and adventure over workouts in the gym that I will dread. I’ll do a short run with my favourite music over a two-hour-long workout in the gym: quality over quantity. Same as with food, I won’t care about having seconds if I’m eating my favourite loaded vegetable sweet potato with cashew cheese.

I focus on being happy and enjoying my life. Being mindful about how I treat my body while being unattached to the outcome has made it easier than ever to maintain my current physical health. It’s kept me in a beautiful internal space where I trust my body and my body trusts me.

I invite you to shift your focus. Detach yourself from the outcome. Do what is for you. Eat healthy, stay active, hydrate and surround yourself with people that make you feel good. Let go of both extremes and find your balance.


Published by breanna

Journalism student at Algonquin College Fitness and Health Professional Bilingual FR/EN

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