The gym owner has been asking me to get a picture to put up for a long time, and I kept… um… “forgetting.” It’s hard seeing myself like that, harder admitting that I did that to myself. Even though I have come so far (100 lbs! Down from a size 24, to a size 4/6) I wanted to wait until I had the body about which I’ve dreamed and for which I have been busting it for over three years. You know, until nothing jiggled. And I had abs. And I could laugh at who I’d once been.
But I’m not sure that will ever be funny. In this picture that’s now up for the whole world to see, I’m smiling and laughing– a presumably happy girl. But looking back, I wasn’t happy. I had asthma and knees that were in such bad shape that I cried every time I walked. I hated going shopping for clothes. I really just tried to escape anyone’s notice. I keep hearing things that someone’s self esteem shouldn’t be tied to their weight– but I can tell you mine sure was. And even though I tried pretty much everything under the sun to lose the weight, I didn’t really ever believe I could be anything other than what I was. I didn’t believe I would ever wear a bathing suit and not feel self conscious. Or that I could not only take classes at the gym, but whaaaaat— teach them. Or that I could do a “real” (hands forward, chin clears the bar) pull up. Let’s be honest here. I didn’t even believe that I had collar bones– claiming instead some kind of genetic deformity. Color me shocked when I saw them for the first time. If someone had told me I’d wind up as a personal trainer who felt most at home in the gym, I would have snorted in laughter.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, if only for the fact that if you create a story, you get to rewrite it as many times as it takes. I didn’t know you could rewrite stories in real life. But now I don’t know a better way to describe what I did.
And now when I look at people and tell them that what they believe is impossible is, in fact, completely doable, I tell them they can rewrite their story. It’s great, except that they don’t want anyone to know that they have a beginning point. I have this conversation 2-3 times per week:
Prospective client: “I really want this. I need some motivation and I want to work with you. When is the gym least crowded? Do you have a time when no one else is here? I don’t want anyone to see me.” I smile, and preceed to them about the fact that when I started with my trainer (who was a good friend), he trained me in my basement for a few months before he could convince me to come to the gym. I probably should tell them that when he offered to train me, I told him no for the simple reason that I didn’t want him or anyone to see my butt jiggle. I do tell them that for probably an entire year, every time I did an exercise that involved my butt being stuck out, I turned it to a wall. Awkward.
But what I’m going to start saying is that everyone has a beginning point. I’ve lost most of my weight at this gym, and I love being able to say truthfully that no one ever judged me here. They’ve all been really supportive, and in fact, were my biggest cheerleaders even when I wanted to give up.
So what formerly 250lb me would say is “Don’t let your fear of what people think stop you from showing up for yourself. Don’t be afraid that you’ll look awkward doing new motions. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have it all together yet. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you need some help, and guidance, and that you want this more than you want to stay the same.”
The gym owner saw me staring at the pic and asked me if I liked it.
Like it? No I don’t. Not at all.
But I LOVE the fact that that girl doesn’t exist any more. I love the fact that I do things I never dared dream I could do, and that I have a body that is strong and capable. And even if I don’t have the perfect body, I love the progress I’ve made.
But you know what I love most? I love that my beginning point wasn’t all there was to the story. I hope that when other self conscious, doubt filled people see it and timidly say they are ready for something better, they believe that it really is possible. It would be phenomenal to have a whole gym full of “before” pictures– and “after” people!