Episode 6: Natasha
You’re listening to This Girl Can – real stories from real women celebrating getting active in all different kinds of ways.
This series was recorded during the coronavirus pandemic in Australia when the women that you’re hearing from were at home either with their families or on their own. All the interviews were done over the phone. We hope that these stories inspire you to feel good and get active in your own way.
Hi, I’m Natasha. I am 30 years old and I’m a body positive and health-at-every-size personal trainer. As a personal trainer, I focus directly on fitness outcomes, so maybe they [women] get fitter or stronger or more agile, or coordination increases or movements become easier. I don’t focus on ‘they’ve dropped X amount of kilos’ etc. It’s all about celebrating one’s uniqueness and looking to improve health in a variety of ways.
It’s not ‘what am I getting out of exercise?’ It’s ‘what am I not getting out of exercise?’ I get so much out of exercise: I get social connection; I get this fantastic feeling that I’m not alone – I’m with this awesome group of women who get me and get the same body issues that I’ve had as well.
I also just feel so good physically. My lungs feel clearer. My head – I’ve got so much more thinking space. I can think more clearly. My partner notices a visible difference. We have this joke – if I’m getting really frustrated and we’re on the border of having a fight, I need to just exercise, blow off some steam and then I come back and I’m ready to tackle that problem. I get into a completely different headspace.
Exercise is mental for me. It’s emotional for me. It makes me appreciate my body for what it is. It makes me appreciate what I can do with my body now, and what I have been able to do before. It’s also just nice to connect with one’s physical self. But overall, if I had to pick one word it’s just ‘good’. I know that sounds so cliché but I feel good, I feel goodness in me. I feel goodness radiating from me. I feel good inside. I feel my insides are feeling good. They’re feeling wonderful. And I just feel amazing!
[Female voiceover, American accent]
I lost 10 pounds in 48 hours.
[Female voiceover, American accent]
I lost six pounds in 48 hours.
[Male voiceover, American accent]
I’ve lost 11 pounds in 48 hours.
When working in body positivity or health at every size, those paradigms, I think some days it’s really hard because the message is not only strong, but it’s loud. It’s everywhere. It’s on Instagram. It’s on Facebook. It’s on the telly. It’s in the jokes we make. But at the same time, if you recognise this co-opting of what wellness actually is, if you recognise this diet culture, you can then learn how to remove it from your life.
It is very hard as a personal trainer to find things like continuing professional development that isn’t focused on weight, that isn’t weight-centric, that isn’t appearance-based, that actually is about functional outcomes and indicators. There are some out there and some of them still have it in there but I’ve learnt how to filter it out. But I will say it takes its toll, which is why I do need to come back to my fantastic group of women who I exercise with. Who get it. I can talk to them about it and have this rant about it. They get it. And we laugh. And then we talk about things that are more important, like our cats and dogs and things we enjoy and things we love. And then we move our bodies and feel great.
Everyone’s form was just on point. Aww, Bonnie, you’ve got a cat too. Sounds like your cat and Bec’s cat would get along really well.
I did not start wearing a bikini until I started embracing a little bit more of the body positive point of view because body positivity taught me that this body is literally a bikini body – I just need to put a bikini on it. Then it’s a bikini body!
Where as before then…Oh, no, no, no, no, you can’t put that on until you look like this, and this is firm and this is not loose and this goes away and this is bigger and this is smaller and da da da da da. I never, ever once looked at a fitspo picture or a transformation picture or weight lost inspirational picture and felt good about myself.
I have two amazing sisters and I love them to bits. One of them is also a fitness instructor, not a personal trainer, but a fitness instructor. The other one is just also interested in moving her body. And every now and then, we’ll get an opportunity to do a workout and I love that we all kind of challenge each other in different ways. We’re a little bit competitive, just a bit. And some of us are better at the endurance and some of us are better at high intensity cardio, and some of us are better at pelvic floor work. Some of us are better at strength. And I really like seeing the uniqueness. Just us three and connecting with them and I always, always feel like I’ve raised the bar after I’ve worked out with my sisters. I can’t remember a time where I’ve worked out with my sisters and I haven’t either improved or challenged myself.
So these are quite interesting times, with coronavirus, and I find it affects everyone and I know everyone’s feeling it. But for me personally, it’s affected me in a number of ways.
It’s essentially been really hard. I won’t lie. It’s been hard for a number of reasons. But then there’s also been some silver linings. But my God, was I aching to move my body. I just wanted to exercise. So bad. And when I finally did get an opportunity it was so good. I’m not doing exercise every single day and it’s not all high-intensity and I feel good but I guess the whole silver lining with this time as well has been that I’ve still managed to train the wonderful group of women that I have – that’s been so wonderful. I’ve still been able to connect with them. We meet four times a week online. We work out together. We chat during the day as well. We’ve got a Facebook messenger group. We keep in touch. That has been one of the coping mechanisms.
For those of you who missed the discussion on Monday we are all loving social connection; we’re loving getting a chance to talk and catch up. But I’ve decided to have weekly chats. You don’t have to be in workout gear at all…
I think it’s really important to highlight as well, it’s not like 2020 is on pause. This is part of our lives. And yes, we need to cope. And yes, we need whatever survival strategy you need. But this is also a time that we won’t get back.
So what is something that I would normally seek in the non-covid world? I would normally seek joyful movement. I would normally seek social connection. I would normally seek mental clarity and good mental and emotional health. And how do I get that? Exercise! And that’s one of the other reasons why I continue to exercise. It’s not just to cope, but it’s because life is going on. And exercise is a part of my life. I can’t disentangle myself from exercise. I don’t want to. I love it. I love it being part of me and my identity.
This Girl Can is an initiative of VicHealth. For more information about how to get yourself moving or to connect with clubs and groups in your local area go to www.thisgirlcan.com.au or check out This Girl Can VIC on Facebook and Instagram.
We love to hear about women who are getting out and active, whether it’s walking the dog, going for a ride or having a kick with your kids, so follow the hashtag #ThisGirlCanVIC and celebrate women who are all kinds of active, no matter how well they do it, how they look or how sweaty they get.
This episode was produced by Dewi Cooke and edited by Nick King. Thanks for listening.