How I Took A Stand for Myself (& Fell In Love With ME In The Process)

l_b52d43a0-d8ae-11e1-a821-a7cd07300008Do you take a stand for yourself? Do you set healthy boundaries, decide how you deserve to be treated, and stick to your guns when the moment of truth comes? Chances are, if you’re a woman, you’re a bit like me and have trouble in this area. In fact, maybe you’re a… wait for it… PEOPLE PLEASER!

Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I used to be a world class people pleaser though I never admitted it, especially to myself. I thought I paved my own way, made my own decisions, led my own life, but this past fall, the glaring truth came crashing down on me when I was treated in a way that no woman with healthy boundaries would ever agree to be treated like… AND I wanted to go back for more!

I’m sharing this never-before-shared-story publicly because it perfectly demonstrates how one mastering one small thing will produce some benefits now, but grow exponentially to produce full transformation later – in 3 months, a year, 3 years. My intention is to help you re-frame the way you think about, process, and approach changes in your life so that you experience the power of discipline and commitment to completely transform your mind, body, and soul.

In my coaching practice, I help (mostly) women transform their bodies and health with healthy lifestyle changes that stick. What I keep finding more and more, though, is that my diet and exercise recommendations are just pieces of the bigger picture of transformation. The discipline and commitment developed over 3+ months of working together is what creates the true transformation, the lasting change.

Where most people fail is trying to do too much too soon. The all-or-nothing approach does work well for part of the population, but the rest of us need to start small and grow exponentially. I wrote about this in my blog post titled: How to Make Small Changes Multiply in 2013 .

Time for a Stand

Which brings us back to my story. Although I am amazing at getting to the root issue of my clients health, body weight, and cognitive concerns, I’m absolutely terrible at following my own exercise program. For whatever reason, I don’t feel like I write a great program for myself and therefore do not follow it and therefore do not get the results I want. Good thing I know this about myself and know the fastest way to get results is to hire a coach!

Last September, when choosing a gym here in Boston, I found an amazing “underground” training place only 4 miles away from my house, complete with all the free weights, sleds, ropes, tires, and chains to keep me hooked for life. To become a member, you can either hire a one-on-one personal trainer, do group training, or pay $125 per month and have your program written for you. I went with the latter option and began gettin’ my train on and was super-excited with my progress!

Now, this facility knew upfront that I am a nutrition coach and personal trainer and that I was a member at this facility for my own training and nothing else. Also important to note that this gym only offers training, no extra nutrition packages, no extra seminars, or side offerings, only training.

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE people, connecting with people and connecting people to resources! I get so excited about stuff I love, especially food and training! 🙂

Ok, so fast-forward to the end of month two at this facility. I am training one evening and see this lady probably late 40s, early 50s doing pull-ups, which I think is AWESOME! Of course I have to meet her so I go over and introduce myself between sets.

We get into a conversation and she shares that although she’s gaining strength, she’s really not seeing the results she wants in terms of weight gain (she is rail thin) and muscle growth.

My first question is, “What are you eating?”

She tells me the owner, her trainer, has told her to eat meat, fat, and vegetables, but she was having trouble knowing what that was like, or eating enough. “Half my calories,” she shared, “are two beers I drink each day.”

“Yeah, I’d say you need to eat more… a lot more of the right kind of calories! The meat, fat, and vegetable thing is AWESOME and that’s exactly what I use in my nutrition coaching practice, but I find my clients – especially women – have trouble sometimes knowing what that looks like and keeping accountable.”

“Oh, you are a nutrition coach!” she says. “Maybe I need to hire you to keep accountable.”

“Yeah, that would be great,” I say. “But all you really need are some free recipes you can get online and simply eating protein the size of your palm at ever meal. You’d see GREAT progress with that!”

I then go on with my workout.

Before she leaves she comes up to me and asks for my card, which I do not have with me.

“Do you have an email address?” she asks.

I gave her my email and went on with my workout.

The trainer on-duty then asks, “Are y’all going on a date or something?”

“Yes!” I joke. “No, actually, she was just asking me about nutrition.”

Upon which I finish my workout and leave. The next day, I am PUMPED to train, and go to the gym immediately after my 7AM business meeting. I went into the bathroom to change, put my stuff down, and start to warm up.

“GERILYN!” The owner yells, “Come here!” And leads me to the alcove that is their offices.

I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. He then proceeds to chew. me. out. He accused me of soliciting to his clients, of talking about nutrition, and threatened to kick me out if it happened again.

Wide-eyed. Flabbergasted. And with a certain feeling that he misunderstood what happened, I asked if I could explain, did explain, and apologized for my wrong, that I wasn’t trying to take any of his clients, and was only there for me. I took full responsibility and then assured him it wouldn’t happen again and actually go through with my workout, continually thinking of ways I can make him happy again because I was sure he simply misunderstood sweet, well-intentioned Gerilyn.

Upon leaving I burst into tears and go home to find that the woman has emailed me asking for my info and prices. I kindly apologize to her, share that I was acting unprofessionally for even giving her my email address without her okaying it with the owner, and point her to my free recipes, then copy the owner as well. In the email to him, I again apologize for two paragraphs, flatter him with the fact that his program has gotten me in great shape over the past two months, agree with this accusations that I was completely in the wrong, identified with him that I could see where I stepped out of line, and assure him it will never ever happen again.

He responds with a sentence saying, “Okay. It better not. See you Saturday.”

For the rest of the day, I am certain that I have committed wrong and that I should do everything I can to make it up to this guy. I was thinking of ways to make him happy with me again. I know it sounds redundant, but it totally consumed me for days on end.

When I began sharing this story with my husband, friends, and mentors for their take on it, they were shocked, stunned, and irate. You’re not going back, are you?” was the general consensus. 

Of course I was going to go back! This was my gym with the equipment I loved. This was the place where they began poking jabs at me when they discovered I was a Christian. This was the place where the owner shared that he wears satanic shirts to christenings. This is the place where the culture is all about getting as drunk as possible and having as much sex as possible. This is the place where rage fuels action and submissive women under controlling authority are the best kind. This was the place where I was commanded not to talk about what I love – food – or what I do for a living. Isn’t that a place you would want to be a part of? 

I learned a very important lesson that weekend. I learned that – after 7 years of a completely transformed lifestyle – I still saw myself as I was at age 19, lost, alone, and eager to please men, to view myself as wrong, bad, and unworthy of being treated with respect. I honestly believed that the way the owner handled the situation was completely right of him and wrong of me. 

What my husband, mentors, and friends helped me to see, however, is that I am changed, different, and how ludicrous it was for me to pay someone $125 a month to treat me disrespectfully!

I didn’t go back.


Not returning to that gym was the hardest thing for me to do at the time. I yearned to return. I thought about it constantly. And I couldn’t fathom people not liking me or not understanding my good intentions. If only they understood, they would think differently! 

But at the end of the day, I realized that I’d changed, but continually felt like I “fit in” in places I had no business being. I didn’t fit in there and it showed. And I was the one left miserable and confused.

My small thing was consciously affirming to myself every day that I was different, that I had changed, and to view the world from that light instead of my old way. The very next month I joined my current gym  that I am totally head-over-heels in love with, who don’t have a macho complex, and aren’t derogatory to their members. AND they have more and better equipment and offerings. The greatest blessing ever.

A few simple thoughts each day was the difference. 


Clint and I are looking for apartments in Boston right now. If you live in New England in a city, you understand that paying $1400 a month for a dinky, one-bedroom apartment is completely normal. And prices only increase with better location.

I am on the hunt for the perfect one. I know what I want and I’m certain we’ll find it, but I’ve got to be ready to snatch it up immediately or it will be gone.


The Tipping Point

A few days ago, I was on a listing site and sent emails to several realtors inquiring about certain listings in the Newton/Brighton area that included 1-3 bedrooms, in case it works out for us to have an awesome roommate. I’d probably sent out 7-8 emails when my phone rings.

That was quick, I thought and answered the phone.


“Hi. You called about a listing.” 

“Yes! Hi! How are you?” 

“What are you looking for? What do you need?” 

“I’m sorry, will you tell me what listing this is? I’ve inquired about several with diff….”

I don’t know. You tell me. You emailed me!

“I know, but what I need is dependent on which listing I inquired about.”

“I’m in front of a computer. Just tell me what you need and I’ll tell you what I have.”

Without thought or hesitation I responded, “I need for someone to be nicer to me. Thanks and have a great day.” Click. 


People in the “service” business never cease to amaze me. Usually, the amount they get paid is dependent on the level and quality of service they provide. In my head, that means it should be their duty and in their best interest to provide the highest level of service possible, but this is only in hindsight from my gym experience!

I must say, this is the first time I’ve really stood up for myself and not felt guilty about it! I had no qualms about telling this lady that I do not tolerate rudeness in someone will be paying. Instead of letting it go any further, I nipped it in the bud right then and there and went on my way. 

I share these two experiences because the first initiated a minutely small shift that germinated, grew, and blossomed into the experience with the realtor four months laterJust a few months ago I would have accommodated the realtor and been frustrated the whole time. 


Now I know that I am worth standing up for. That I don’t deserve being treated like junk, especially for a service for which I am paying good money. I now have enough self-respect to stand up for me.


Now I know that life is too short to allow unnecessary frustration into my daily life. Now I know that I want to surround myself with like-minded people going in the direction I seek to go.

This is huge.

And the real lesson interwoven through all of this is that the small things we do now pay off big time LATER. Often we get some immediate results, but the bigger, better, more long-term results come months down the road, sometime years, and can be traced back to a single, seemingly insignificant instance way back when.

From that moment in November, I can now confidently say that I feel beautiful, that I don’t notice my flaws when I look in the mirror, that I am confident taking risks in business and life, that I FEEL LIKE I’M WORTH IT, and I don’t need a man, a friend, or a stranger to validate that in me. I don’t need compliments to get through the day. I KNOW.

When I re-framed the way I thought about me. When I began thinking of myself differently, I began acting differently. And when I acted differently I created massive, positive results in my life that so many women dare hope for.

I’m here telling you it’s possible. You can do it! You too can achieve complete love for yourself, your body, your flaws, your life, your brain, your beauty.


Maybe you relate to my story or maybe you’ve demanded healthy respect for yourself all of your life.

Either way, I’m sure you know someone this story could help. Maybe a young woman in college, confused about life and her lack of a meaningful, significant relationship when she’s looking in all the wrong places. Maybe an overweight, unhappy friend who tries diet after diet, exercise program after exercise program, and never seems to be satisfied with the end result. If so, I encourage you to share this with them right now. We never know who we are influencing.

The same applies to your vitality journey. Every small thing you are doing right now isn’t small, but HUGE in the big picture of life.

That glass of water, it’s a big deal.

That protein + fat rich breakfast, HUGE, even if the rest of the day is a so-called “flop.”

That 5 minute walk, girl, you are setting yourself up for SUCCESS!

I want you to feel it, breathe it in, celebrate every little part of your life that really isn’t so little at all!


To summarize, a lack of commitment and discipline AND knowing how to achieve more commitment and discipline keep us from achieving and exceeding our goals. Understanding the value of the NOW, each moment, and each action we take each day as investing in our longterm health and transformation creates very different results and lasting change in the form of weight lost, improved self-esteem and self-confidence, and a complete comfort and love for ourselves and our lives that tends to be lacking among women. Through consistent small changes, we begin to multiply the discipline and completely transform our lives, whether you want more self-respect or a better body. 


What is your best strategy for implementing change? Do you have an experience where you started small and watched that small change blossom into a complete transformation? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a thoughtful comment in the Comments Section below.



Gerilyn Burnett liberates women from the downward spiral of ever-increasing responsibility and stress without self-care to experience more ENERGY, more VITALITY, and a fitter body permanently! She trains women (& some awesome men) all over the world how to eat, move, and live for their best mind, body, and life! Her own journey from miserable, fat, stuck, and tired to fit, confident, vibrant, and delicious make her uniquely suited for this mission! She has a knack for creating contagious healthy experiences and providing the needed support and accountability that turn diets into lifestyles and dreams into realities. Get started on your journey to vibrant vitality for life here


1 Comment

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field