The Party Crasher

I used to think that fit people were kind of like members in an exclusive club to which I would certainly NOT be admitted. I’m happy to say that I’ve now crashed their little party, and they don’t seem to mind after all. I suspect that anyone who was chubby as a child had experiences similar to my own. They were pretty typical. If other kids didn’t point out my failures with merciless teasing, they were obvious to me when I came in last or couldn’t do certain things at all. I find it ironic that a kid who could have benefitted so much by being encouraged to exercise had the opposite experience. Dread of teasing usually resulted in me looking for the smartest way to avoid participating or doing my best to steer clear of the things with the greatest potential for embarrassment. One of the things I hated most was the annual track and field day. Participation was mandatory if you were concerned about your P.E. grade, which I was, and I always had to do one of the shortest dashes– 30 yards, because that was all I could muster. Even worse, the dash took place in front of the entire elementary school. I’m not sure. I might have come in last several times. I think I’ve blocked it out.

My undergrad degree is in vocal music education. I spent much of my childhood singing and practicing the piano. Neither of those things really work up a sweat aside from the occasional case of stage fright. I also spent a lot of time reading, which has served me well in my life, but is also not an aerobic activity. I worked very hard at all things musical and academic. That’s where I had my focus, and I did pretty well for myself. Those were clearly the places where I shined. No one ever expected me to do sit-ups while reading my book, to do jumping jacks while singing an aria or to run laps while toting my piano. I saw exercise as a place where I was going to fail, and, like most people, I like to succeed. So, I avoided it like the plague. If I did try to exercise, I tried to do it in secret. I didn’t want anyone to see me failing.

When I started changing my lifestyle, I started with one of the most obvious exercises: walking. I didn’t need special equipment, I was familiar with the moves, and I had access to a somewhat secluded walking track. It was great! At 340 pounds, I wasn’t able to walk for very long without becoming exhausted, but I started out doing 20 minutes and worked my way up to an hour a day. I was pretty slow, but I was consistent. One day when I was walking around the neighborhood instead of on the track, some guys rolled by in their pickup truck. They yelled “Yeah! You need to walk!” at me out the window. No. Really? Could that explain why I was, in fact, walking? I guess some people never outgrow the teasing thing. Luckily, I was older and wiser at 27 than I had been at 7, so, after I had a good cry, I decided not to listen to the bullies anymore. While I did keep an eye out for that truck with plans to jump into the nearest ditch, I kept walking.

Back from the gym.

Back from the gym.

When I joined Weight Watchers, I spent several months on the plan without adding the exercise element, but I knew I would have to do it eventually. When I did decide to start moving, I started walking again, but I soon realized that I was going to get bored pretty quickly. I walked a few 5Ks with some friends, which gave my walking a purpose and gave me some goals, but I was starting to have an itch to try some new things. The first time around, I had been living in a rural area, and there weren’t that many options. Walking was my best choice. This time I lived in an urban area with classes and gyms and trails galore. Surely I would find something new!

2008 Cherry Blossom 5K

2008 Cherry Blossom 5K

I live in a building that has a gym up on the roof. I think I’d seen it once or twice when I had gone up to check out the view, but I’d never considered exercising there. The people all looked fit. They looked like they belonged there. Once again, the old fear of being seen where I wasn’t welcome crept up. Eventually, I decided that I should get the most for my ridiculously high rent, and I started heading up to the roof. I tried an elliptical machine for the first time. I checked out the Stairmaster. I used the treadmills. I started spending 45 minutes several days a week in the gym. My weight loss got a boost from the new activities, but then things slowed down again. I didn’t know how to push myself with my cardio, and I’d read enough articles to know that I needed to start strength training. 

About that time, I met my trainer. She does very affordable group training sessions in the gym on my roof. Wow. What could be more convenient? There was only one problem: The thought of exercising in a group gave me P.E. class flashbacks. I decided to just get over it, and give it a try. My trainer was very encouraging, and my classmates, much to my surprise, didn’t stand around pointing and laughing and discussing how large my arse was. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, the focus seemed to be on what I was capable of doing. Hallelujah! This was what I’d needed all along. Even though I wasn’t the thinnest or the fittest or the best, I knew that I was welcome. I had crashed the fitness party, but discovered that they actually did admit people who weren’t perfect.

I’ve been working out twice a week now with my trainer for over a year, and I’ve seen amazing results. She also provides excellent guidance on cardio, and I’ve learned to structure my cardio work-outs in the gym in a way that burns more calories and keeps my body challenged. I’ve found plenty of other things to do too. I started running a little over a year ago, and now I’ve run a couple of 5Ks and one 10K. I bought a bicycle this summer, and I like going on long rides on local trails. I started attending kickboxing classes at a martial arts studio on Sundays, and I look forward to putting on my pink boxing gloves every week. I like this club. I don’t ever want my membership to lapse, and if you suspect that you are unwelcome as I did, please know that the door is always open.

Still Life With Fruit and Boxing Gloves

Still Life With Fruit and Boxing Gloves

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5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

5 responses to “The Party Crasher

  1. trishtheconqueror

    Way to persevere! I am so happy that you’ve been able to loose your weight and and working hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’ve seen friends struggle with weight-loss and am always happy to hear about people who hang in there.

  2. Thanks so much, and thanks for stopping by!!

  3. Wow! You went from not doing much activity at all to really incorporating lots of different exercises. I’d love to hear more about the boxing – do you use the boxing gloves in kickboxing, or are you doing shadow boxing? I’ve been interested in taking some shadow boxing classes, because I love the way the Wii boxing makes me feel.

    • My kickboxing classes are the kind where you punch (with the gloves) and kick a big weighted, padded, column thing in various combinations. It is really challenging, and I love it! I’m not sure that I’d want to spar with another person… not yet anyway… but beating the stuff out of the big column is pretty satisfying!

      I’ll bet wii boxing is totally fun! I should find a friend with a wii and try it!

  4. stacy

    Hi there
    Congratulations on all the hard work!! Its great to see your success!! I too struggled with my weight due to hormone troubles and stress for the period from 14-19. I shot up from a healthy 121 lbs to about 140 lbs. Sounds like not too much, but on a 5’0″ frame it looked awful. I got bad skin, hair loss, puffiness round my face and water retention, not the best things for the confidence of anyone, let alone a teenage girl! I spent a year working out at the gym, eating well, trying different eating plans and then progressed to challenging forms of yoga that kept me toned. I then progressed to salsa dancing and african drumming both of which worked on my coordination as well as my hips, waist and arms. Sadly over the last 2 years I had a stressful and traumatic job and managed to move
    to a new busy and interesting job recently. In all that time I also been in a long term relationship and that along with finding time for family and friends things have gone downhill and I find it hard to get to a gym (though in my new job we have a small gym room with rower, bike, exercise mats and balls and treadmill). I am not a gym bunny I guess and I put socialising, spending time with family and boyfriend over exercise. I am starting to creep back a little bit on the weight, not so much I’m up to about 126. It’s enough that I suspect its the reason that I have got something like IBS due to poor stomach muscle tone. I applaud you for your success. I love food and cooking just as much and I plan to explore this site to see what cullinary adventures you get up to in eating well and still having the sweetness in life. Just a question, how could real strenous exercise fit it in with new job, boyfriend, friends, family and time for sleep??

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