BY NAOMI PAULSON
My friend’s five-year-old son likes to sing the lyrics “I like to move it, move it. I like to move it, move it!” as he runs around the living room. I totally relate to that! Growing up, though, sports were not my thing…unless a neighborhood game of kick-the-can counts. That changed when I decided to hire a personal trainer a decade ago.
When a round of layoffs over seven years ago left me wondering what was next, I made the decision to pursue a career in the fitness industry to pass along all the benefits I’d gained from working with my trainer. The energy, confidence and vitality I felt was something I wanted others to experience, especially women who, like myself, didn’t grow up in sports.This took me on a journey I never would’ve expected.
I was good at what I did, and as someone who tends toward being very black and white, it was all or nothing for me. My experience on the yoga mat was such a great illustration of this. I was going to master the mat. It was about control and perfection. Trust me, this was reflected in my approach in the gym, the kitchen, etc… It has been my experience that the ‘either/or’ approach of a black and white existence can be a harsh teacher.
When I look back at the past seven years, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. (Yes, even for those moments where the striving and control were taking over!) I’ve begun to let go of the need to be perfect… perfect imperfection my friend calls it. When I approach life with an attitude of curiousity, as though it’s a grand experiment, it seems to flow with a greater sense of ease. And that’s when I get to see the juicy things life has to offer as I’m not so spun out or tightly wound.
My approach has certainly changed. I love to get out and hike, my gym ID shows signs of wear and I am eating more green leafy produce than ever before. The difference is it comes more from a place of what feels right and a commitment to living healthy. The struggle to master (ie: control) is greatly diminished. Learning to listen to my body (rather than my head) has been key in this evolution.
There’s no one-size-fits-all program, but I do believe everyone can achieve their optimal level of health and live from a place of balance. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s no longer from the gym floor, but I still am able to help people make changes in their lives. As a health and nutrition counselor, one thing that I believe is universal: To treat oneself gently yet honestly allows them to make greater progress with better sense of self. And that’s why I do what I do… to pay that forward.