Written by Carm Bozzo
In February of 2021, I decided it was time for a personal change. I started walking a lot during COVID which meant a lot of self-reflection. What did I want to achieve? What COULD I achieve through this crazy time of our unpredictable life of lockdowns and uncertainty? I was now working out at home – not the gym and I was not teaching bootcamp either due to gym closures... the perfect opportunity to train for a photoshoot. A perfect opportunity to change my body – or so I thought.
I thought that when I signed up for a transformational fitness photoshoot the end result would be a new body. I didn’t give any other thought that anything else could change, too.
For seven months, I followed my coach’s advice, program and meal plan. Like many women, I was impatient in the beginning months with the physical results. I kept asking when my photoshoot would be scheduled. I was always thinking way ahead rather than at what I was doing everyday, not enjoying any of the process or my journey. I was only thinking of the end result – the outcome.
Then after one more (probably annoying) inquiry of when my photoshoot would be scheduled, my coach gave it to me straight. “You are not ready”.
I’m not going to lie. I was mad. I NEEDED a date. I WANTED a date! Wasn’t this all about the photoshoot??
“Carm, you are still feeling guilty over having a free meal ("Cheat meal"). Your mind hasn’t changed around food. Your photoshoot is not a fitness competition, it is a celebration of your body.”
My A-HA moment. She was right. At 46 years old, I still had not learned to eat without shame or guilt. I couldn’t wait for a free meal – a burger or pizza, usually – but then I was also still afraid to eat it because I was afraid it would affect the scale, my progress, my photoshoot body I had created in my head.
I had restricted myself from enjoyable off plan foods for so long in my adult life, that it was rare for me to enjoy that type of meal with no guilt – or have it followed up by a gruelling cardio induced workout the next morning.
I barely EVER got my own ice cream cone when out with my kids. My young son once exclaimed his surprise when I did. That memory still makes me cringe.
After I read my coach’s response in her email, I had to stop and really think. What have I been doing for so long? What do I want out of this coaching experience? Do I want to fear food forever?
The next workout, I made a conscious decision. I would start enjoying all of the journey. It wasn’t always easy – and sometimes still isn’t – but I made a commitment to enjoy EVERY workout. I paid close attention to my muscles moving, I lifted heavier and got stronger. My goals started to be about the weights I was lifting and less about the weight I was seeing on the scale.
I planned and savoured my free meals. I stopped the punishment that would typically follow the next day. I started getting compliments about my muscles from random strangers in the park. Those compliments meant more to me than losing the weight.
On the day of my photoshoot, my scale weight was down almost 10lbs from the start 7 months prior. My body lost inches almost everywhere and my muscles were more prominent.
I was - like every woman on their first photoshoot – so nervous! I am not a model. Standing small at 5 feet, I would never grace a runway, but I left that shoot after a full day of posing feeling the most empowered I had ever felt in my life.
And it had NOTHING to do with my body. Did I work hard to make physical changes? Yes. Did I love the new changes? Yes. But what I loved more was how I felt about ME.
I didn’t give up. I didn’t self-sabotage. I worked hard, I put in the time and effort in investing in myself. I talked to myself over and over about how important it was to finally get out of the mindset of spending hours at the gym every day until I was drenched in sweat. I had to get out of the mindset that I didn’t deserve to eat carbs other than sweet potatoes and oats, and I needed to get out of the mindset that food was NOT just fuel or medicine, but that yes, food was also about celebrating culture, traditions and about bringing family and friends together. Food SHOULD be enjoyed!
I left my photoshoot on September 24, 2021 making a commitment to get more women feeling as empowered, as beautiful, as sexy and as strong as I did that day. Every woman should feel amazing in the skin they are in.
It didn’t matter that I was 5 feet tall, that I was 46 years old, that my thighs still touched and that my belly was not flat. I loved my body in those pictures, I loved the smile on my face, the sexiness in my poses, my confidence through it all.
In the end, my transformation did not end like I thought it would when I signed up for the coaching. My transformation continues all these months later as I continue to build my body, my confidence, my mindset and now I support and coach other women who want to get out of the rut of overworking themselves in the gym and living in restriction and guilt around the dinner table.
There is no better transformation then when you transform your mindset, because when you do, everything else is transformed too.