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December 6, 2013

Do You Need to be a Certain Leanness to Help Others?

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” –Doris Lessing


There’s a lot of talk about worthiness in the fitness industry among professionals: who’s got the “right” credentials, who should do what (and who shouldn’t), how deep someone’s understanding is of “the science” and how so-and-so isn’t lean enough to be dishing out advice or putting stuff out there.

Frankly, I think it’s BS.

Who has “the right” to do something? Easy. The one who’s passionate and the one who’s actually taking action to do it. That’s it.

I work with dozens of women who have so much to offer –years of experience; credentials; numerous certifications and degrees, not to mention a wealth of personal stories and insights. And yet many of them still wonder, Am I qualified to do this? Can I be a coach? Should I write some stuff on the internet? Who am I to do this thing? What do I have to offer? What if someone calls me out and I don’t know the answer and get internet-shamed? What if people hate on me? What if someone calls me too fat or too out-of-shape? What about these last 10 lbs I still need to lose?

And on and on. Questioning, stressing, stalling, wondering, hesitating.

On Criticism

And why wouldn’t they stress? Haters and trolls are everywhere, spouting negativity, and it’s easier than ever for people to sit behind their computer and critique anonymously. Besides, Paul Chek says fitness pros should be able to give their lectures with no shirt on and Charles Poliquin has every single participant—male and female—take their shirt off to get their body fat % done at his Biosignature trainings. Gah!

Potentially scary stuff. And I can relate. Buuuuuut … the alternative is staying small and scared and ultimately not doing anything.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard


I remember feeling like a fraud early on when I was coaching competitors and thinking in order to coach them I needed to be in competition shape too. Or, I wondered if I showed up to a conference to speak and wasn’t 12% body fat, would people think me less credible?

And the answer is … maybe.

Maybe yes, some people might find it inappropriate to be dishing out fitness advice at anything less than “competition shape,” or sans six-pack. But for those people, sorry, but they’re not my customer. If they don’t appreciate the unique insight, novel advice and years of experience I bring to the table, then they shouldn’t work with me. They should find someone who is “in show shape” and do their program. Great, bye.

But the interesting thing is this: your body fat % says little about your ability to help someone else. 

I know women who are sub-10% body fat who are inarticulate, body-obsessed, painfully insecure and have zero conviction. In fact, when I was in competition shape, I was so obsessed with my own physique, that I had little mental energy to give to my clients!

And on the other hand, I know dozens of women who are knowledgeable, unapologetically confident and absolute difference-makers who own their 20%+ body fat.

Your ability to teach and impact others depends on your passion, your conviction and your ability to get results. Period.


I get heated about this topic because I talk to women all the time who doubt themselves. They doubt their ability to make a difference. They second-guess their knowledge, they stress about their physiques not being lean enough. They worry about what people will think.

I get it, I do. But I also hate it.

Because my mission and my message is for women to own their power, see that anything is possible and with passion and purpose, they can make a change–for themselves and for their clients and customers. My mentor Rachel Cosgrove says, “You only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching.” And I agree. Every person we meet can teach us something. And likewise, there’s always going to be something for you to teach, too.

THAT is the definition of a possibility thinker. Someone who says, “Fuck deserving. I’m doing this no matter what. I was born to do this.” :)

Blame Coaches or Take Responsibility?

The biggest opposition arises when people say, well, so-and-so shouldn’t be blogging or talking about what they don’t know about because they could hurt people or do them wrong by dispensing advice.

And I get that. I don’t want to see clients done wrong or taken advantage of either. And unfortunately it does happen.

But, baring some of the more extreme medical cases, rebound weight gain and overtraining, etc. are part of the learning process. I certainly don’t advocate it and I don’t want women going through it (in fact, the entire JillFit blog is dedicated to educating women about the dangers of crash dieting, including the emotional and physical implications. Any of course, my husband works with metabolic damage day in and day out).

But despite the years of yo-yo dieting I did, I don’t have any regrets.

Yes, I learned the hard way and many women who work with competition coaches learn the hard way (often very hard), but I’m grateful for every aspect of my experience–good and bad–because it got me here. It helped me reach a place of greater insight, knowledge and empathy.

But here’s something to remember … clients and customers are adults. They can and should take 100% responsibility for their choice to work with a specific coach or expert.

We see this a lot in the competition world. Girls who want to do shows hire a coach. They get up on stage in the best shape of their life, accomplishing something that very few people can follow through with, and then … they don’t place. Or they rebound thirty pounds in mere weeks. These outcomes suck. Of course they do. But they are still your outcomes and if you don’t take responsibility for them, all you’re left with is a feeling of helplessness, betrayal and inadequacy.

And I don’t know about you, but I hate those feelings. They characterize the victim mentality. They leave us feeling insignificant, powerless and scared.

Yes, I agree. Rebound weight gain blows. But ultimately doing a competition was my choice. #OwnItAndMoveOn

I remember after my very first figure competition, I gained 15 lbs in a week. I was devastated. All my hard work out the window. I didn’t even recognize my body. I felt depressed, insignificant and powerless. It sucked. And I remember thinking, “How come no one told me this could happen!!?”

Looking back on it now—of course! Of course when you stuff Reese’s cups down your throat for three days straight, your body no likey. Naively, I just assumed I’d, what, stay in show shape despite eating copious amounts of sugar?? I’d lose the weight and would be good to go forever??

Of course I know better now, and it’s even embarrassing to talk about, but at the time, I hated the way I felt and I wanted someone to blame. So I blamed the process. I blamed “people” for not telling me about rebounds. I blamed my trainer for not warning me. Luckily, I won my show so I didn’t have to blame anyone for not placing, but had I not placed, my inner victim would have blamed the judges, my coach and “the politics” for my perceived failure.

Note: Not saying there are not politics sometimes, but to pin our hopes and dreams on a sport that’s subjective is a little insane, no? Not to mention the fact that women who are already self-conscious about their bodies choose to walk around a STAGE in a BIKINI to get their bodies judged. Are we insane? :) Lol.

But back to taking responsibility…

problems copy


Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility.

Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility. And we don’t really like that.

Yes, you followed your coach’s advice and after the show was over, you felt “done wrong” and wanted to blame him or her for leading you astray or not taking care of you. I understand that too.

But at some point, don’t you have to just own your choices? Your choice to work with that coach, to follow their advice, to do the show? Because not owning those choices takes away our power. And keeps you in the victim role. It keeps you helpless.

But when we start owning our power again, we can choose where to go next. We can choose a different coach (and then assume responsibility for those outcomes too). We can choose to go it alone if we’ve lost trust in others. We can choose to never do a show again :) We can choose to not feel hurt or slighted or betrayed. And when we can move past those feelings, we’re now free to take action and move forward with a possibility mindset.

You either get this or you don’t. You’re either complaining or taking action.

So ask yourself, Am I still waiting on someone or something to change so that I can take back ownership of my life? Am I still waiting on circumstances to be perfect so I can finally jump? Am I still so scared of messing up that I might as well not even try?

These thoughts are that of a lack mindset.

Could you instead practice a possibility mindset? An abundance mindset?

Try these affirmations instead:

  • Not only am I worthy to do this, I have no other choice.
  • I have much to contribute and people need to hear my message
  • I know that the only thing holding me back is my own self-doubt, and self-doubt is a choice. I choose self-trust instead.
  • I’m an expert in my own right—my experience, expertise and insights can help make a difference for people
  • Why NOT me?
  • I have to take action, because the alternative is waiting around for the perfect time, and the time will never be just right
  • I know I’ll mess-up, but I look forward to those challenges because I get to grow and learn as a result

And I’ll leave you with this. Jade and I were talking about this topic last night, and he said, “You’re nothing until you decide you’re something.” I love that. How true is that?

No one is going to call you an expert, and if you’re waiting around for affirmation from others, you’re going to be waiting a long time :)

Own your power. Take action. Mess-up, then grow and get better.

The brand spankin’ new 6-week FREE course, #ActionAcademy begins October 11th, 2016. It’s for health & fitness pros and enthusiasts who want to make a huge change in their lives–business, body, relationships, career–but are scared to take action, caught up in feelings of not-good-enough and want to overcome their crippling mindset barriers. I’ll be putting you on the hook, baby! SIGN UP HERE (it’s free!).


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