First, let me say I am quite hesitant to use the word “journey”. Mostly, because it makes me feel superior to use words that only a modicum of the population is not familiar with (see what I did there? if you didn’t…consider yourself part of the ” population”). However, I digress.
Jokes aside, “journey” implies a marked beginning and end. I really can’t relate to this as exercise and eating whole foods has always been a part of my life. I’m sure it’s quite apt to use “journey” for others but it’s not right for me.
I’m a swimmer and even though I haven’t dipped a toe in the pool in about 2 years or more I will always define myself as such. I don’t even remember learning how to swim. As far back as I can remember I just always knew how to swim. I would swim at the sea (not the ocean, everybody knows if you grew up in the Caribbean you went to the sea and not the ocean) every Friday and Saturday evening until I was about 9. After that, I became a member of the Aquatic Centre. I also did track, cross country and football up until university. I can say I was pretty successful after having some national records, and age group championships in swimming under my belt.
I grew up with my Grandma and aunts mostly.I had home cooked meals everyday except on Friday evenings when we would have Freddy’s fried porkchops with fries or, according to my 6 year old tongue “Freddy’s chop porks”. I never drank soda or ate those disgusting cheese paste sandwiches. I was never even given allowance to buy the candy and various sugar bombs peddled at my primary school. (I’m not bitter..really I’m not). So I guess I’m lucky that I never developed a taste for refined foods.
Then in 2005, my world came crashing down. Granny, the single most influential person in my life and my biggest support, was diagnosed with cancer. Within the span of 3 months I watched a woman who exercised 5 days a week, drank the occasional beer and went to bingo every Friday with her friends reduced into a shell. The rest of that year passed as a blur. Somewhere in that blur my Aunt Judy suggested I apply for this job in Japan that she saw in the newspaper.
August 2006, found me living in rural Japan. At this point, you’re probably wondering if you stumbled on to a page in my diary, but trust me it is relevant.
If you know anything about Japan you know how important the group is and as a foreigner that can be quite alienating. I worked and lived around some very nice person but there was still a very clear difference us. This alienation coupled with the fact that I was experiencing winter without central heating for the first time. I got into the habit of eating 5 large meals a day and watching movies in between meals. I got little exercise and spent all of my time online.
Top: Me at 21 in Jamaica
Bottom: Me at 24 in Thailand.
I’ve never been a slim person but this new weight felt so foreign and disgusting. I joined the gym in Japan but my programmes (in hindsight) really weren’t programmes. It was just me in the gym dicking around.
I returned to Barbados in 2008. In early 2009, I decided enough was enough and got a personal trainer. Levar Greaves, was the best trainer I could ever have asked for. He was relentless without being mean. He explained everything that we were doing. He encouraged me to learn more about fitness and nutrition. In short, everything you want in a personal trainer. He suggested that I become a personal trainer too. I was unemployed at that time and I thought why not give it a go. So in June 2010 I became an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.
A few ups and downs and a couple of years later here I am. I’m back in Japan, still teaching, and doing my best to make sure my clients and others maintain and better their health.