Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Angie Gooding Interview

Angie Gooding is someone that some of you may know or remember from her competing days. Now, Angie spends her time warning or helping to educate people on potential dangers of competing, things she herself battled, such as body image issues and eating disorders. These are things that are not limited to competitors or former competitors, and Angie makes it a point to clarify that and to point out that she isn't doing this only for the former competitor, but anyone from any walk of life. There are many issues that a new competitor may not be aware of that can arise from competing, issues that now are finally being discussed, and it is people like Angie who can and will help by taking an active role in educating people.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I have always been athletic. In high school I took weight training classes and another in college but to be honest, I didn't get started hardcore until I had my second child. I dabbled into it after I had my daughter, hired a trainer after she was born and learned some stuff. People took me under their wing to show me some things, but I didn't take it seriously until after my second child was born. I hired another trainer and figured since I was hiring a trainer, I was gonna take it extremely seriously. I decided to search out a show in the area and set that as my goal. We hit it really hard and I really loved what I was doing. Being able to control my body and make it do the things I wanted it to do. It got addicting at that point, in a good way. Being able to go to the gym was my two hours away from being a mom, which I love doing, but it is nice to have a break. It became a huge part of my life at that point. I saw changes and wanted to know more. I started reading and trying different things and different foods and my body responded very well. It was a progression and got more serious as time went on.

Q: You mentioned addiction, a lot of girls say being on stage becomes an addiction, was that the case with you?
A: Being on stage to me, to be honest Jason, I didn't like being on stage like that. I just posted on my facebook page that I would rather be on stage giving a speech or being in a play or a musical performance than on stage as a figure competitor. It was not addicting to me in that way. My pro show I did, I was backstage thinking "what am I doing?", and because I felt like that I was teetery on stage. I was not addicted to the stage itself, just positively it was more interesting, I was learning, I was engrossed by the process rather than the goal of being on stage.

Q: SO would you say competing was more just something to look towards?
A: Yes, it definitely did. I am very goal oriented and I like being challenged. I think it was more the process I enjoyed then the demonstration of what I accomplished.

Q: Recently you told me you struggled with body image problems, for those who don't understand, can you explain that?
A: Sure! A lot of my story is told on my blog page. In a nutshell, I have always expected a lot of myself, being perfect or close to perfect as possible in most areas of my life. Even though I enjoyed the process of going through the exercises and doing the competing, it became something that amped each time I competed or reached a new goal. After a while, it no longer was healthy. The goals became more and more stringent and definite and harsh. It no longer was fun for me. I started analyzing my biceps and how they are in comparison to my triceps. Because I was thinking so narrowly, my world became narrow as well. Instead of thinking of the big picture, I thought more narrowly and it affected other parts of my life. As I analyzed my body so significantly, I stopped thinking about things I cared about like reading good books, keeping in touch with good friends, having meaning conversations with my children. I didn't like that part but at the same time, I was so embedded in this competition phase, I didn't realize there was a way out of that. Body image was more about me putting that first instead of anything else and it became more of an obsession than it should have been.

Q: Were your eating disorder problems a result of that?
A: What I learned is that there are women that struggle with eating disorders and it is the root issue. For me, competing in that obsessive mental state was the trigger for the eating disorder. Once I changed my lifestyle to be more balanced, I stopped struggling as hard and the disorder subsided. I was fortunate to deal with that competitive obsessiveness as the issue rather than the eating disorder. It is not that uncommon in this industry. The pressure of thinking so rigidly about food and exercise, and not that it is always bad, but a lot of people start thinking so narrowly. A lot of women are affected by that and it can grow into disordered eating and lead to eating disorder, a full-blown eating disorder.

Q: When you are on a site like Facebook and see someone posting about their six hours of cardio and the way they are eating, is it hard to bite your tongue?
A: It is! I wonder what their drive is, why are they doing that? What are they trying to prove? There is a difference between wanting to go on stage and prove something to yourself or to set an example of living a balance life and then there is the obsessive behavior or repeatedly beating themselves up and over exercising, under-eating, living that lifestyle that is destructive. An outside person isn't going to know which one it is. It is an industry that unless you know the person, it is hard to know how deeply embedded those issues are. So I approach with caution because a lot may have good coaches and trainers and may have trainers who don't know what they are doing. I just hope they do research before they decided who to hire or make decisions about how to exercise and eat.

Q: Do you regret ever competing?
A: No, I don't regret doing it. I learned a lot, was introduced to an industry that has a lot to offer, but also offers a lot of destructive habits. That is not to say there are women or men who don't prove a lot to themselves by doing a handful of shows. I don't have any anger towards competing., for me it's not right. I know that I can not go back and be healthy doing so, but that doesn't mean that others cant. There are issues women and men can face. When you are on stage you are being judged very subjectively, by a panel of judges that see through their own lenses and based on appearance rather than an ability, on genetics rather than on a skill. Not to say it doesn't take skill to get there, you need to know how to do these things, but the way you are judged leads to a body image issue. There needs to be more work done in the industry to communicate those issues so they can go in without starting a destructive behavior.

Q: Each year we see a lot of new girls compete for the first time, for a girl new to competing, can you give some possible warning signs that they could be dealing with these issues?
A: I think the first is the way she needs to prioritize her life, that this is for most people, a hobby. I don't say that as degrading, I say that as a way to look at it in a balanced way. Until you are being paid or get sponsorships, it is an activity to challenge yourself and have fun. If you start seeing it a different way and base your behavior on your shows, that is a warning sign. I think that watching your energy level is an issue. If you wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to go to sleep again, that is an issue. I am not a therapist or doctor so I have to walk this line carefully. Being under the care of a good coach is important. Other signs, make sure you are not losing your period, not losing more hair than you normally do, not pulling away from your friends, and there is a fine line there, doing a show is intense work, but if you hide things from your friends, that is an issue to be aware of. Can you explain it to friends in a way you believe rather than hide it because you don't know how to explain it.

Q: I am often contacted by girls dealing with things such as metabolic damage who say they are too embarrassed to tell people, what would you say to them?
A: I would say to not be embarrassed and find the help that you need. I would go to a medical professional first, not a coach. There are medical professionals out there who do specialize in sport medicine and metabolic damage. I think a coach is great for prep for a show but metabolic damage needs to be done by a healing professional. Awareness is being created by pages like yours and Siouxcountry, people are talking and that is awesome. It isn't just happening in the bodybuilding world, it is happening with chronic dieters. You don't have to be a bodybuilder to have metabolic damage. Women who have dieted for thirty years are also struggling. This issue is gonna be one that is really important to talk about.

Q: You still train people, if someone comes to you and says they want to compete, do you steer them in another direction?
A: I used to train competitors and no longer do. I refer them elsewhere. It isn't that I don't believe in it, I am just focusing in another way and want to help women.

Q: Along with my trainer Danny-J are one of the women involved with Inspiration and Perspiration, a great idea, can you tell people about that?
A: It is a weekend event, a workshop. We focus on issues that matter to women in the fitness and health industry. I talk about body image and relationships with food, Danny talks about diet and stress management and affirmation and woman named Bex from Bexlife who is a yoga professional who talks about spirituality. It is about wellness in a safe environment. We exercise, talk, have seminars. Women learn about overall health rather than just looking good in a bathing suit. We bond and become friends. Friendships have grown and it is exciting to see.

Q: Can you tell people where to find your blog and what is on there?
A: It can be found on www.angiegooding.com and they can find my Facebook page, Angie Gooding Body Image Specialist. I have an online coaching program, it is holistic, about enjoying exercise, finding peace with food, loving your body and manging stress. Lose are elements I find women struggle with. I set it up so each phase is four weeks long. The women come to me with fitness burn-out and want to reach the goals they want. I emphasize athletic ability, finding peace with food, and thinking positive rather than losing weight or making sure to sculpt your body. They focus on the positive things rather than needing to lose two inches from their waist. I am not holding them to a specific weight loss goal. Some women are thankful to have found this.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: First, my clients and Danny for being a huge inspiration to me. She has been a confidant and encouraged me to keep going. Also, my husband, he is a huge advocate in this process. My therapist has helped me learn a lot. Also I want to clarify that all the things I do are very common sense rather than therapeutic. It is getting back to the basics of enjoying life and feeling good.


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