Your words have power. More power than most people realise. They can leave some serious emotional scar tissue on someone even when they’re often be said in jest. Or in this case as a motivator.
I’ll paint a little picture for you. The gym I trained out of for the majority of my first body building competition was a little personal training gym. It is a quaint little gym that I honestly loved going to. A little box kitted out with the best of the best in terms of lifting gear, that you could only attend with your trainer. I loved the owners, the clients that came in and I loved, loved, loved training there. It was small enough to often overhear what other trainers were saying to their clients. Which also meant they could hear you.
I was roughly 6 weeks out from competition. My abdominals had already started showing. I was excited. Underneath the fat (please read this as scientific not me calling myself fat) my physique was starting to really turn into something I was proud of.
I arrived early one night to training and got into a conversation with another trainer about my progress. My journey to stage had caught the interest of a lot of the people at that gym. In her day, she was a super successful bikini model. We talked about posing routines, about how I was finding diet and workouts. She had a box full of delicious looking home made protein balls that she was handing out. My coach, who had just finished with another client had walked up at this point, looks me dead in the eyes and says to me “Don’t you dare put that in your mouth, you’re too fat!”
The gym seemed to gasp collectively in shock. Here’s me starting to look like a little muscle pixie and my coach just called me fat. The owner of the gym rose to my defence and told my coach off. “You can’t say that to her, look at her!”
In all honesty, in that moment, I wasn't offended. I understood part of what he was trying to do. To motivate me to push the whole way. 6 weeks out is a breaking point for a lot of first time competitors. This is where the struggle becomes real. Where you’re constantly battling against temptation. You’re exhausted. Not thinking straight and I swear that donut just spoke to me… It literally called my name.
He was my reality check because of how harshly he would speak to me and tear me down. Telling me I always had more to lose. My closest friends became concerned when I relayed some of the stories. It got worse, pure name calling “You fat c**t!”. To me it was a big joke, it fuelled my fire… Until it came time to transition back into real life.
I parted ways with him after my last competition. I’d had enough of the name calling. I had pushed myself beyond breaking point. But his voice stuck in my head like an nasty little ear worm. “Look at yourself, you fat c**t! You’re f**king a disgrace!”
This went on for close 18 months. 18 months of serious self loathing based on the opinion of someone that had managed to change my perception of myself in such a damaging way. It’s one of those moments where you realise that hindsight can be a funny little devil. On the one hand, those words pushed me through each workout. Through each moment of temptation. But they also had a massive impact on my soul. They had become a thousand tiny little paper cuts to my spirit.
I am so thankful and lucky to have the gift of self awareness. I’ve always had it and it seems to be at it’s most powerful when I am at my darkest. It’s like I rise outside myself and tap myself on the shoulder with a gentle “we’ve got a problem we need to work through!”
This is also why I do the work that I do. Why I am so passionate about helping people when they’re stuck in this negative cycle of bullshit our ego feeds to us. I know how dark it can get and how acutely the words of others can fuel the unkind words we scream at ourselves. If any of what I’ve just said resonates with you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Even having one person in your corner goes a long way to healing the seemingly broken pieces on the inside. If there’s one thing I want you to think about it is this. Be wary of the words you use at a person. Because they can seriously affect someone on a soul level. You don’t know what’s going on under the surface and the last thing they probably need is judgement being passed on how they look. I understand that sometimes it comes from a place of love but think about this… They’re already saying worse things to themselves. Show your love through listening to what they have to say without judgement and provide a safe space for them to realise their own path to change.