Learning to change one’s mindset and growing from the unexpected


Sharon Sun


February 19, 2022


As someone who aspires to help others build find themselves through self-compassion and mindset change, I get excited about connecting with interprofessional health members to hear their words of wisdom on this topic. We can all add value to each other's lives and a collaborative approach to someone’s health journey can be very impactful. I am excited to share with you today’s conversation with Jeannette M., one of Fuel Life’s health professionals, who has given her unique perspective on mindset change, advocating for oneself and learning through unexpected opportunities! If you’re thinking about change or just need a boost of reassurance, I hope this post gives you just that!

Meet Jeannette! A fitness instructor who has turned her challenges and experiences into gifting health to others

“ Hi, my name is Jeanette, I am a certified group fitness Instructor with a lot of passion for fitness and health. And that passion led me to a new path, teaching Pilates. I began teaching in the fitness industry at the beginning of 2012 lots of strength training classes, indoor cycling, and aquatic programs. I was also a bikini contest competitor early 2018.I know, what you are thinking, “what does this skinny lady know about trying to lose weight?” She doesn’t know what struggle I have been through!” Seriously, though, I get it, and you are not the only person to think that. Admittedly, I have had my own struggles. I struggled with binge eating episodes, my ups and downs with my weight. But I was determined to break that "YOYO" cycle, and my mindset, broke that barrier for me.  I believe that fitness should be part of any balance lifestyle and is important for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Does not matter how long it takes, eventually you will answer your "why".”

Q: Did you ever experience any low self esteem or lack of confidence?

“No, but I always felt like something was missing”

Despite having gone through her share of struggles, Jeanette mentions that it was more about seeking to fill a missing gap. There were periods when she didn’t have a plan for what to experience next or where to go. Fortunately, she had a close friend who suggested that they participate in and trial a fitness competition for fun. At the time, Jeanette didn’t believe that fitness competitions were cut out for her but she had kept an open mind and was willing to try. She spent the next few months training intensely and took the opportunity to learn about herself. Ironically enough when the day of the competition arrived, her friend decided to bail out at the very last minute. However, Jeannette didn’t see it as an opportunity to do the same, rather she said that after all the work she had put in, it was still worth a try.

In the end, she learned that she didn’t need to go through any shame or pressure to put herself in the new situation. In fact, she expressed gratitude towards the experience and was thankful that she went with her/her friend’s original plan. It taught her more about herself, what she was capable of, what she enjoyed and it eventually grew into her passion for fitness. It truly begs the question: If Jeanette had not taken this (crucial) step, would she still have pursued fitness somewhere down the road?

Q: How would you describe your relationship with food and your body? Did your mindset change?

In her younger years, Jeanette experienced some binge eating episodes and was not satisfied with her weight or body. When she started being involved in fitness competitions, it was the guidance she received from her coach which helped her listen to what her body needed. Despite competitions being quite demanding which often result in unhealthy body or food relationships for some, Jeanette’s coach was a key contributor to helping her experience otherwise.

“I started to give my body what it needed and I had a night and day difference”

To add to her perspective, it’s common to be caught in a vicious cycle of fearing what our bodies cannot do for us, whether this be related to achieving physical qualities or traits (ie. the desired weight). For some, being in this state may spiral into unhealthy habits which make it even more difficult to break free from. However, learning about what the body needs, as Jeanette had realized, and what the body CAN do for us, is one step towards escaping or avoiding an unhealthy path. For Jeannette, her coach who was an integral piece to changing her mindset. From this, we strongly encourage that everyone seek out a helping hand if they need one.

Q: What pieces of advice would you give to someone who needs help with finding themselves?

#1: “You can only change what you can. Accept your body for what it can do”

#2: “Ask yourself what you want to change and get to the root of things”

#3: “Get help with identifying your goal and make sure it's actually not someone else’ goal”

Q: How have you dealt with perfectionism? What is something you had to learn through experience?

Jeannette shared an experience about not receiving a job offer after completing what she thought was a successful interview. She was in a self-doubt phase, questioning her qualities and the outcome, and whether she was good enough, despite having prepared well for it.  Months later, she found that the same company she had interviewed for had gone bankrupt. In the moment, she expressed a huge sigh of relief (almost thankful) for how the past event had turned out and imagined what her life would have been like if it were otherwise. We then went on a little tangent about how several things happen for a reason, sharing our own relatable stories. In one moment, what’s happening might not be what we truly want, however, our future selves will eventually be thankful that things turned out the way they did. Whether it was to teach us a valuable lesson or even save us from misfortune, occurrences really do come full circle for our own (unrealized) benefit.

Q: What is the kindest thing you have done to yourself in your health journey?

“The kindest thing that I have done for myself is to say ‘no’”.

This was one of those little gem moments to hear Jeannette share another piece of advice from the heart. She mentioned how there were always many opportunities that came her way including offerings to instruct more fitness classes. At one point she realized that if she didn’t decline such opportunities with her already limited time, she would be declining her own self care. We shared how saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that we actually want to turn down, eventually means we are saying ‘no’ to another; usually in a self-sacrificing manner (how many of us can relate here?). What’s more is that taking on more than your full capacity eventually depletes the quality of work that you would be able to give to each opportunity. To that, say ‘no’ when you need (and truly want) to because sometimes, less really is more.

At Fuel Life, we’re on a mission to integrate health services and empower individuals to find their version of healthy. We believe in embodying the pillars of Body, Mind, Nutrition and Community at the core of our retreats, programs and events. Through the provision of interprofessional care and health, our vision is to pass along a legacy of positive health for all Canadians.

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