Charlotte Hilton On Fitness and Life 7 Years After Starting “The Great Fitness Experiment” Blog
Today’s Q&A is with Charlotte Hilton of the blog, “The Great Fitness Experiment,” an honest and often hilarious blog that she founded to talk about fitness but has morphed into so much more.
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Why did you start your blog The Great Fitness Experiment, which is actually about way more than fitness?
After my third child was born, I was looking for a way to lose weight and get healthy but I had no clue how to do that! My background is in computer information systems, not fitness or nutrition, so I started reading everything I could find on the subject. But it all contradicted each other!
“Eat whole grains…”
“Grains are the devil!”
“Running is the best exercise.”
“No, wait, weight lifting is the best exercise!”
It was all so confusing. So I decided the only way I could figure it out was to try EVERYTHING. I started the blog as a way to keep track of all my experiments and even though I’m no longer doing fitness experiments, it’s still grown from there!
I originally only wanted to blog about fitness, once I realized that I had a compulsive exercise disorder I knew that the blog wasn’t helping me unless I could be truly honest. This led me to branch out into talking about my struggles with eating disorders, body image, sexual assault, having children, mental health and the rest!
How has your level of fitness changed from before the blog and to now – 7 years later?
Ironically, I’d say I’m probably at about the same level of fitness as I was when I started! I went through a phase for about four years where I was “super healthy” but it made me crazy trying to maintain that so now I just settle for happy and healthy :)
In one of your blog posts from 2011, you said “my real success story has nothing to do with my weight loss and everything to do with the change inside me and in my abilities.” Can you tell us a little more about the changes inside you?
I’ve changed mostly in the way that I talk – both to others and to myself. I’ve become a lot more honest and stopped hiding behind health mantras that were anything but. My favorite part of doing my blog is all the comments, emails and responses I get from my readers – they are the smartest, kindest, funniest bunch of people I’ve ever seen on the Internet and I’ve learned so much about myself from them.
Have you always loved fitness? What keeps you at it day after day?
I grew up hating anything athletic. I didn’t discover a real love for fitness until after my 3rd child was born. I started out by simply running away – from my internal pain – and ended up falling in love with all aspects of exercise. I love the camaraderie that comes from working out with others. I love the sense of accomplishment I get. I love the physical benefits of being able to load all my own groceries at Costo or chase my kids. And, of course, I love the endorphins!
You are quite open about your history of depression/panic attacks. How has fitness played a role (or not) in managing them?
It’s a fine line. I’m prone to addictive behaviors and there was a time when I was definitely an exercise addict, much to the detriment of my own health. Yet exercise is like food – you can’t use it as a crutch, but you can’t give it up entirely either as you need it to live! So, I’ve done a lot of therapy and set up a series of checks and balances to keep myself in line and when I do it in moderation, exercise is one of the most helpful things I have for managing my depression/anxiety. I also take medication and, not gonna lie, it’s been a godsend. I’ll probably be on it for life and I’m okay with that.
Do you have a favorite blog post that you’ve written you think our readers would love?
Ooooh wow, that’s hard! Often the posts I love the most are not the ones people respond to the most. One that I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on was when I experimented with squatting to go potty. It was hilarious and weird and ultimately really effective!
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