Hi, I’m Kim. Pudge is my alter ego. When I started getting fit, I kept a blog called The Pudgy Parson, where I wrote about my journey, struggles, and uhem…lessons learned along the way. I jokingly told my trainer that once I had the body of my dreams, he could call me “Pudge” as kind of a tongue-in-cheek reminder of where I’d been. It stuck.
Pudge, in Real Life:
I‘m now a personal trainer, but for most of my life, I looked like this. I weighed 250 pounds. I ate my way (weigh?) through a bad marriage. I had asthma and bad knees, and what I perceived to be an absolute lack of amazing. I know, I know, my self esteem shouldn’t have been tied to my body, but for me it was. I tried every diet under the sun, and pulled out every workout from the plethora of magazines I bought. I was desperate for something, anything to work.
But when I took a new job in a new town in 2012, I vowed to make a change. There is a saying that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Mine showed up in the form of a friend whom I later found out was a personal trainer. Fast forward four years. I’ve lost 100lbs with only diet and exercise. I laugh when my dad walks right by me in the mall because he doesn’t recognize me.
I wear spandex… in public. I smile… a lot. I’m passionate about the process that gave me the one thing I wanted more than anything else: to be comfortable in my skin. Now I GET to help real people, with their own real lives and struggles, find their own amazing.
The whole Pudgy truth:
A lot of people have watched me change over the last few years, and they’ve wanted to know how I did it, and what it’s been like. This is my story. It’s long, but so was the process. I feel weird telling it, but I know it also gives me an understanding of what people that try to lose weight are going through. When I started getting serious about losing weight, I saw a sign that said “Because of you I didn’t quit.” I’ve had my own people that have made me believe in “more”, but I know that everyone needs at least one person like that. So, I’m sharing my story, not because of what I’ve done, but because it’s proof that we get to change our stories. Here’s the thing. If that girl can do it, you can too.
I was 32 the day I remember first (and finally!) seeing my collar bones. I guess I must’ve had them, but a marshmallow girl—who could’ve passed for the Michelin man’s girlfriend– ate them… along with my abs, my neck, my hands, my butt. Actually, come to think of it, she just ate everything.
Which I guess is how she woke up one day weighing 250 lbs, barely squeezing herself into a size 22.
It’s a lot easier to say “she” as if “I” am at a safe distance telling this story about someone else. Let me try again. I woke up to weigh 250lbs. I am the one who bought size 22 clothes that were too tight, because I just couldn’t face the truth that I was really a size 24. I am the one who tried to numb myself with food, because it was easier than naming and dealing with the pain of a bad marriage and worse job. I am the one who tried to make myself run, even though I nearly cried every time I walked because of blown out knees, because it was all I knew to do. I’d see smiling, skinny girls in spandex running, and I’d tell myself that if I could only look like that, I’d be happy too.
Only no part of me believed it was possible. I was heavy even as a kid. But then again, I’m also the one who was conveniently “sick” every single time we had to do the Presidential Fitness Test. I’m the one who tried out for and made my middle school soccer team, and then faked ankle injuries every time we had to run. I went to college and thought somehow it would magically get better, but then I found myself telling the girl in my brain “Just don’t let the scale get over 180”, while I (true story) lived on kool-aid and oreos for the week before finals. By time I got to graduate school, it was “220 isn’t so bad.” Then a few years later, it was so bad, I didn’t weigh myself for a whole year.
It’s not like I didn’t try. I cut out every workout I’d see in Shape and Fitness. I bought the whole set of weights from The Firm. I tried every diet you could name. I did Atkins, The Zone Diet, South Beach, even The Grapefruit Diet. I, impressively, found a way to gain weight while following Weight Watchers. When I look back, I half-heartedly laugh at my attempts. Because, truth, I when I look at all the time and money I spent on the right water bottle or clothes that I thought would motivate me or gimmicky things, if I didn’t laugh, I’d get really angry at myself.
In 2012, things began to change. I moved to a new town, and decided I was done with that whole life. I was coming here to make a change. There’s a quote that says “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, which is the best way I know to describe what happened. I became friends with a flannel-clad contractor who was doing some work on my house. I made some muffins one afternoon, and offered him one. He gave me a sideways grin, and said “I have to watch my girlish figure.” I later found out that he was not only a personal trainer, but that he had 40 years of experience doing it. I’d ask him small things like, you know, what I could do to not cry when I walked. When I told him that doctors had told me I’d never be able to squat past 30 degrees, he laughed. Ok, so that pissed me off, but he started showing me things I could do. And he explained why I’d come to find the doctors’ statements the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.
He came to me one day and told me he wanted to train me. I listened politely, and then equally politely, told him “thanks but no thanks.” But then when he left, I had a not so polite conversation with myself about the commitment I had made to really change myself. I ate a piece of humble pie, which come to think of it, is the only pie I’ve had in three years—but I’ve eaten a lot of it. Anyway, we set a time to start. And I tried to cancel on him. Because in the hour prior to our session, I was so keyed up that I was about to puke. I was terrified I couldn’t do it. More terrified that he’d see me jiggle. But in 40 years of doing this, I guess he learned not to put up with BS excuses. I lost that battle. Two days later, in twelve minutes, he put me on the mat. With 5lb dumbbells. I found a hand gesture to tell him he was number one. Well, I would’ve if I’d had the energy to lift my finger.
Nearly three years later, The Michelin Man’s Girlfriend doesn’t exist. She’s been replaced with a Size 6 smiling girl in spandex, who decided to show the hell up for her life, and has lost over 100lbs. That flannel clad trainer—who turns out to be 59 has taught me a lot. For the record, the most impressive thing I learned was what is possible when you make it a lifestyle. The first time I saw him in a tank top… well, there just aren’t words. Let’s just leave it at “inspirational.” But in all seriousness, he has taught me what my body could really do—and how to get out of my comfort zone, and out of my own way, so that I could. He’s taught me to eat. I couldn’t have told you what fats, carbohydrates and proteins did, or how to put them together in a way that would help me achieve my goals. I couldn’t even have told you how many calories I needed to eat for what I wanted to do. He taught me what it means to persevere when I (really) wanted to quit. He taught me how to dig deep and leave everything in the gym. And true to his word, he fixed my knees. I can squat and deadlift and leg press, and generally do everything I want to do. And I bust parallel. Every time. One day he asked me to pick one goal for the gym. Without hesitating, I told him I wanted to do a real-hands-forward-chin-clears-the-bar pull up. At 33, I couldn’t have been prouder when I went up smooth like butta, and felt my chin all the way above the bar.
This has been the hardest thing I’ve done. I have been pushed harder than I wanted to go. I’ve cried. I’ve whined. I’ve changed my whole lifestyle to do this. I’ve gone from the girl who faked injuries to get out of exercise to being completely passionate about it. In fact, it means so much to me that I changed careers to be a personal trainer. I’ve never been happier, or felt as good or had as much energy as I do now. I’m not quite where I want to be, but now I know I’ll never go back. I’ll never settle. And I’ll never stop. I will keep pushing myself and challenging myself, and in turn shape my body and mind.
Because one person took the time to teach me, and wouldn’t let me quit on myself, I’m someone I never thought I could be.