Struggle creates strength
When Gymshark asked me to share my story as part of their International Women’s Day campaign, I really was honoured. My health and fitness journey has been a complete whirlwind, and I hope that sharing it can help one more person feel not so alone in their struggles and motivate the rest of you to never give up on your passion.
Ultimately, International Women’s Day is an amazing celebration of so many incredible achievements by women in society. However, for me, it particularly sits with the celebration of the amazing movement within the health, wellbeing and fitness space these past few years. A particular movement that has thrown female social norms and societies ideologies of how a woman’s body should look, completely out of the window. Which personally, I think is awesome!
So first off, I just want to touch on one thing; here’s to the powerlifters, the weightlifters, the bodybuilders, the runners, the yogis and the cyclists. Not forgetting the triathletes, the boxers, the swimmers and the ‘just gym goers’. This day is for you. A day to celebrate and champion that women can and should look, workout and be whatever they want - not what society deems to be the female norm. Be you, do you, and never give up on what you want to achieve.
I guess now to my story. Hardly any of you reading this will know me, so I’ll start off with the basics. My name is Beth Trueman, and I’m a 24-year-old Personal Trainer and Fitness Blogger, currently finishing my Masters Degree in Sports Nutrition.
Although I’m a fitness nut now, I haven’t always been into fitness. The real start of my fitness journey was back in 2013/14, and in some ways it’s what I like to call my blessing in disguise. I was your typical student; I ate pizza for breakfast, lunch, tea and drank way too much alcohol. I knew something wasn’t right when I started to experience constant pain and discomfort, with severe bloating which the doctors put down to IBS.
In 2014 I was put on medication and tried a low FODMAP diet phase with the help of a dietitian. It helped a little, and I found some dietary triggers, but nothing truly made the pain go away. Alongside the dietary changes, I tried to get my physical fitness back on track. I started with the basic cardio stuff at first and became a little cardio bunny. It all helped manage my condition, and I soon found a love for lifting weights after watching old school Nikki B and Lainey Griffin (Lainey Bopster) videos on YouTube. They were both big inspirations for me to start lifting, and really what started my passion and spurred me on to continue with my fitness journey when the going got tough.
Unfortunately, over time, my gastrointestinal issues gradually got worse again and I slowly found myself isolating myself from situations because I would worry about my stomach, the bloating and the pain. This led to a string of other problems, linking my condition to anxiety (as a result of the symptoms of my condition) and subsequently depression. In the summer of 2015, I was admitted into hospital for investigation. It was initially believed to be Colitis which is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), but thankfully my biopsies came back clear. Since then, we still are no closer to knowing what causes my chronic gastrointestinal issues. However, it was then that I knew I needed to make a permanent change, to manage it the best I could. To take back control, and not let any physical or mental health condition take over my life and what I wanted to achieve.
This was really the start of my passion for fitness, and ultimately I fell in love with a lifestyle that an illness had forced me to start. I honestly believe that getting in the gym not only helped to keep me active, but also developed my physique, my mind-set and my attitude towards my illness too. That's when I set out to try and spread my message with the power of social media, to try and get more women active and also talking and thinking more about both physical and mental health conditions. I want everyone to know that it's okay to not be okay, and that it does get better. Struggle doesn't show weakness, instead, it creates strength.
How exactly does struggle create strength? Well, it got better for me. It took time, but it did get better. It's not perfect, but through the ups, and the downs I truly learnt to manage the things life and my health threw at me and not let anything other than myself decide and dictate the outcome of my life. That can account to anything you may be dealing with right now. In the gym. In your personal life. In your love life. In your career. Even in your mental and physical health. Trust me, whatever it is as you sit reading this - please remember: we are in control of our own happiness.
Ultimately, I want you to think of life as a rollercoaster. It has peaks, and it has its lows. It's never a straight ride or ever plain sailing. But wouldn't a rollercoaster be pretty damn boring if it was just an easy ride? If there were no bumps, no high drops or any stomach churning loop-the-loops? So, the same goes for life. As difficult as it may be at the bottom of a low point, there is always going to be a high. There is always going to be a positive. So, don't give up at the low point, before you have chance to reach the high. Don't throw the towel in; or think that it's not possible to achieve - because it is.
I really, really hope that someone, even if just one of you beautiful bunch reading this found some spark of motivation from this. That you hopefully will now learn to love yourself, stop being so hard on yourself for the things in life we can't control (like illness) and see the positive in life instead.
Thank you for reading, and of course, Happy International Women's Day. Love, Beth x
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