By Patricia F. Danflous
For me, the emphasis is on changing your lifestyle because you love yourself.
Wear your exercise clothes to bed. Wake up and get moving–no excuses. That’s one of the down-to-earth suggestions Kathleen Trotter shares as she empowers others to make fitness a lifelong habit.
The experienced personal trainer, Pilates specialist, author, and ultra-fitness blogger, has a fresh and practical fitness style.
“It seems like I live and breathe health and wellness,” said the vibrant six-foot tall fitness guru. “But it can be a frustrating focus because the usual discourse around health and wellness is often negative and shame-based, concentrating on what you can’t eat or what you can’t do. That’s not how it should be. For me, the emphasis is on changing your lifestyle because you love yourself. You can be fit, but let’s make that a fitter version of yourself, not somebody else’s definition of fitness.”
Trotter promotes activity and healthy choices to reflect individual personality. She asks, “are you a gym bunny, competitive athletic gym bunny, time-crunched multi-tasker, or homebody?” Depending on your answer, Trotter offers a unique fitness recipe that incorporates your reality, lifestyle, goals and the rhythms of your life. If you are a time-crunched multi-tasker, for example, she recommends finding ways to move throughout the day–dance around the room as you watch the evening news or pace around your office during conference calls.
The Toronto resident chronicles her personal fitness journey along with guidelines, tips, exercises and nutritional principles in her first book Finding Your Fit: A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit and the recently published follow-up Your Fittest Future Self: Making Choices Today for a Happier, Healthier, Fitter Future.
Defining her own active and healthy fit was a life-changing experience for Trotter. “An active life has the ability to be empowering, energizing, and extremely positive,” she explained. “That doesn’t mean that it’s not hard at times. It’s full of ups and downs like all of life is. I don’t always love my body, but I respect it, appreciate it and I try to love it.”
Although she is acknowledged as an innovative leader and role model in the fitness field, Trotter is extremely quick to let you know that she was “not born this way.” Her self-motivation and love of the active life was an acquired skill.
“I actually was a really unhealthy, but more importantly, unhappy kid and teenager,” she said. “When I was younger, I ate my way through my parents’ divorce. I hated myself and that came out as hating my body. I was the kid who would do anything to get out of gym classes, pretending to be sick and calling my mother to take me home.”
You have to start somewhere by figuring out what works for you,” Trotter said.
Trotter laughed as she remembered her childhood food obsession. “My school was besides a Mac’s Milk convenience store, and I would go in to buy Smarties or M&M’s, eating the entire packages the minute I left the store,” she said. “I wanted more but was so shameful about buying another one that I’d go back in with a made-up story about dropping them. The clerk didn’t care two hoots what I bought but in my mind I was scared about people judging me.”
How did a Smarties-loving Canadian teenager open the door to fitness instead of the candy store?
Some people might have an “ah ha” moment, but Trotter points to an accumulation of thought. “It’s like that final coin that makes you a millionaire,” she explained. “If you didn’t have all of the ones prior to it, that last coin doesn’t matter. I really think health is like that. It’s that final step that gets you to the top of the mountain. You have to take all the prior steps, even they are seemingly discouraging. Eventually, you become aware of the things percolating over time and you know what you need to do.”
Her final move was a “thank you, mom” moment. “My mom is amazing,” she said, “and I credit her with not only changing my health life but also inspiring a lot of my fitness philosophy. When I was in eighth grade she told me that ‘being active has to be in some way a non-negotiable. So, we have to find a way that works for you. ‘I’m going to give you a membership to the YMCA.’”
At first, Trotter walked on the Y treadmill for no more than ten minutes. As her stamina and drive increased, she joined group exercise classes and became so enthusiastic that she was asked to be an instructor.
“For years, I volunteered to teach aerobics classes,” she said. “That gave me confidence and inspired me to go to university for Kinesiology. Now, I have a master’s in exercise science, Pilates certification and I am still learning.”
“You have to start somewhere by figuring out what works for you,” Trotter said. “Figure out what you can do consistently, because what you do on a consistent basis is much more important than what you do once a month. Do it. Then keep going and tweaking as your life changes. In my 20s, my fit was marathons and Iron Mans. Now, in my 30s, my fit is running and Pilates. In my 40s, it will probably be different. If I ever have kids, it’ll be really different.”
To learn more about finding the right fit for you, go to kathleentrotter.com. Follow her at www.facebook.com/Kathleen Trotter, @Trotter Fitness on Twitter and Pinterest, and Kathleentrotterfitness on Instagram.