Kersten has so much passion for self-care and body love! During our interview, she shared vital information about what over-exercising can do to your health and self-image. As a personal trainer and previous over-trainer herself, Kersten understands the pressures that can cause you to push your body beyond its limits in the name of weight loss.
No More Periods
At the age of 21, Kersten joined Weight Watchers and dove headfirst into her weight loss journey. She also started working out heavily. From her own routines in the gym, to joining Crossfit, she pushed herself hard.
10 years later, she visited an acupuncturist who expressed concern about the fact that she hadn’t had a period for a decade. She realized that her extreme work out programs, coupled with restrictive diets, had had a profound impact on her body.
Many of Kersten’s clients initially reach out to her because they’ve lost their periods as well. The physical key is often to eat more and exercise less, but the real work is connected to mindset. By helping her clients consider their behaviors and self-image, she’s able to help them release arbitrary food rules and begin to love themselves.
Releasing these old beliefs is a vital part of learning to break free from unhealthy patterns, like over-exercising or creating rigid food “rules”.
Putting on Weight
At the end of 2016, Kersten started the healing process. She wasn’t excited to start gaining weight (which she had realized she needed to do), but she was excited to finally rest. She could feel that her body was getting burned out, and the ability to simply walk, instead of run, was a relief.
Going from being the fittest person in the room, to releasing that role was hard. She had to adjust to listening to her body, and to allowing herself to rest. Sometimes that meant yoga instead of a hard workout, and sometimes that meant staying home and relaxing on the couch.
Having been a long-distance runner, Kersten had struggled with sleep for some time. Her running routines had caused her body to release too much cortisol. All those extra stress hormones had been sleep difficult. A fun side-effect of easing back on her over-exercising habits was the ability to finally sleep well. (Now, she shares that taking naps is one of her favorite forms of self-care!)
Kersten realized that working out and training others, while also putting on weight and scaling back on her own personal fitness routines, was a new challenge. She had to accept that her body may look different, but that that was a good thing! The physical changes she was experiencing were signs that she was healing, not that she was failing.
Feeling Better Everyday (Without Over-Exercising)
Rather than focusing on the weight, Kersten found positive things to focus on.
Her hair got thicker, she calmed down, and she started sleeping better.
Instead of obsessing over workouts or food restrictions, she started to celebrate the fact that she could go out for frozen yogurt and actually have fun doing it! She didn’t need to limit herself to once a week, or low fat only.
In her current routine, Kersten is able to honor her needs. She can choose to do some form of eating or movement, and not to do others. Rather than forcing herself to constantly pursue intense physical routines, she could trust her intution.
One of her big take aways: Your intuition is really nice to you. When you actually check in with yourself and listen, you’ll find that your body will you. Whether that means running sprints or doing yoga, there is a time and place for every form of movement.
Ditching the Rules
Kersten also realized that she had created a lot of rules around food. For instance, she wouldn’t allow herself to eat before working out. She would push her body hard, and then drink huge amounts of water and coffee.
Even when she was eating “normal” amounts of food, she would create rules around when and how much. She also realized that she would do mini-workouts between meals, creating a sense of “earning” her meals or calorie counts.
This connected back to her Weight Watcher days. She remembered vividly the 21 points she was allowed to eat each day, and the exercises you could do “earn” points. Rather than eating the extra points, she would try to store them up in order to lose more weight more quickly.
“Benchmarks” Don’t Work
Even at what was considered a healthy BMI, Kersten lost her period.
Compared against a standard measure, Kersten was perfectly healthy. Her body told a different story though. Losing her period, not sleeping well, and pushing her body to its breaking point was not serving her well. Even if the medical establishment wasn’t concerned about her weight (since she was considered medically “healthy”), Kersten understood that for her body, the numbers weren’t a good measurement of health.
She got some amazing advice from her chiropractor during this time as well. During her appointment, she had been stressing because she wasn’t able to do all the things she used to do. She also felt she wasn’t comparing as well to other people’s fitness levels. Her chiropractor pointed out the only fitness level and exercise standards that mattered were her own. Instead of over-exercising to prove she was still at a certain level, she could relax and enjoy her body just as it was.
Rather than hold herself against someone else’s physical standards, she could tune in to her own intuition and honor her own needs.
Connect with Kersten:
Food Freedom Holiday Workshop
Ready to have the best holiday yet? You’re invited to join the Food Freedom Holiday Workshop, where we’ll talk about preparing for holiday stressors (buffets, in-laws, parties, food focused traditions, and more). Register before Sunday if you want to get in live (or plan to attend the replay if that works better for you!).