I miss the gym.
I’m one of those nerdy kids who discovered fitness late, and then became addicted. I started running, and I got so into it that I eventually ran a marathon. I love weight lifting so much that I once did a bikini competition. I’ve worked at two different (very different) gyms. I’ve read countless books and articles about fitness, and have even written a couple of articles myself! Even now, while I’m not attending any gym, or working toward a particular event, those past fitness experiences inform who I am. They have taught me a tremendous amount about what I’m capable of, and who I want to be.
Fitness changed my life. It’s kinda funny, because for years and years I just wanted to be a skinny girl. (I was also a teenager in the 90’s, when ultra-skinny models were being shown just about everywhere.) My desire was partly fueled by society, and partly by my own warped little mind…don’t we all want what we can’t have? The women in my family are built short and curvy. We’re more inclined to big bums and thick muscles than to having long, lean limbs. So of course I wanted to be long and lean. Imagine having the grace of a ballet dancer! Imagine having the height to be a model! This was frustrating to me as a short, kinda chunky teenager.
I’m not going to tell you a sob story, because Lord knows I’ve already done that plenty of times here. 😉 I’ll just say that my young experiences with dieting were not great. It was always a fight to make my body lose any weight at all. It always left me feeling grumpy and unsatisfied. Worse, even if I barely ate (NOT RECOMMENDED) I still didn’t come close to looking like my ideal. I was always disappointed with the results. I never gained any length in my bones obviously, and if I actually managed to lose weight, it was always off of my top half and not the bottom. Weight loss didn’t make me look long and lean. Instead, it turned me into something like a short, sad triangle. Bony shoulders and a big bum. Not a great look.
As I became more involved with fitness, my confidence grew (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). I gained a deeper understanding of what my body could accomplish. I began the long, slow process of changing my feelings and ideas toward my “ideal” body. I had never become “skinny” anyway, and the self-abuse wasn’t worth it. (Also “weight loss” without a focus on overall fitness is a horrible idea.) Even if I ran mile after mile I never magically got long slim legs. However, my short, muscular legs could still take me mile after mile, and that was something! I never woke up with a teeny, tiny, tight butt, but I did discover my own natural capacity for strength. These things did a lot to change my mind about what I wanted from my body. I became less fixated on the number on the scale, and more interested in what kind of athlete I could be.
Because we’re all athletes. We just vary in skill, and some of us aren’t currently in training. 😉
Thankfully, logic and some semblance of confidence have taken over. I know now that I’d much rather look like a woman in a fitness magazine, with six-pack abs and killer shoulder definition than just “weigh less.” I’d rather use my thick thighs to help me lift things and lend to my overall physical power than hate on them. (This has been a long time coming, believe me!) I don’t have to force myself into some kind of impossible mold. I can strive for self-improvement, while still appreciating what I have.
So yeah, fitness has helped me heal a lot, and now I feel like I have to ask it to help me again.
Because…I’ve gained a little weight through this whole crazy Covid thing. This is neither surprising nor uncommon. I also know that this is honestly less about the number on the scale, and more about how I feel in my own body. The weight is maybe 6 pounds. Not at all a big deal in the overall scheme of things (in fact it’s embarrassingly minor), but this weight is NOT helping me feel good day-to-day.
Here’s the thing though…. no matter what, I absolutely refuse to go into some kind of self-punishment mode. I’m not doing that anymore. Instead, I am committed to operating from a place of self-love and honesty.
Honestly, feeling this way does not make me happy. My fitness rituals do make me happy, so it’s time to get back to making them non-negotiable. It’s back to 6x a week workouts. It’s back to logging my food on My Fitness Pal. It’s back to making time daily to do the things my physiotherapist tells me I need to do to heal my back. (Because I really really want to be able to run again!)
I matter. My happiness matters. In short, it’s time to give stress the finger, and continue working to be the person I want to be.
Even if I sometimes feel like stress-eating.
Even if I can’t run anymore and have to hike instead.
Even if getting up early to make “me time” is inconvenient.
I need to be my healthy, hard-working self. I need to feel strong. I need to do the things that build my confidence. I need fitness.
Also, shout-out to all of my iron sisters. I know right now it’s hard if you’re used to working out a certain way and you can’t anymore. Let’s keep doing our best to figure it out. You motivated powerful women totally inspire me! 🙂
Let’s come out of this thing stronger than when we went in!