Part Three: the Dreaded “E” Word

It was only at this point that I began to realize that I needed to exercise this physical body. The idea of exercise seemed humiliating and painful when I was heavy. When I was thin, I decided it would be OK for people to see me sweat. I still didn’t really want it to be seen, though. Better to run on the treadmill of my apartment complex workout room only when no one was in there (I literally would leave if the room wasn’t empty at first).

I got used to running on the treadmill, averaging five miles per hour, and when winter broke I turned to the park down the road and taught myself to run outside. It felt like flying. I got hooked on the endorphin rush, and cranky when I couldn’t have it. I worked up to three miles, a few times a week. The longest I ever ran was six miles. But it made me hungry. I gained some weight back, because I had trained my body to become more efficient — to conserve calories for my running. I ran anyway, for a while, until well-meaning friends who were more versed in fitness than I could hope to be, kept telling me that running really isn’t great for you, and directed me to some internet HIIT videos.

So I tried to switch to the HIIT home workouts for a while (6 pack abs in 6 minutes a day!), but they were terribly boring. I stopped exercising altogether for a few months. I mitigated my weight gain by doing quarterly cleanses, but I felt more out of shape than before I ever took up running (and was definitely heavier, though still only a size 6, but even that is a bit too much on my petite frame).

And then, I kept hearing about boxing classes. And one morning I dragged a good friend (who is not normally an early riser) to a boxing fitness club with me, and the warm up alone would have been the best workout I’d ever had. It felt great to get my aggressions out. I joined that day.

As with running, the workouts made me hungry. When my body started to change shape, I wasn’t sure at first I liked the changes. But I stuck with it, and started to see definition all over my body, and after less than a year, I was hired to teach fitness classes there. I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing, but I smiled and cheered and was encouraging, and I did that for a while.

And then I changed jobs. And I told myself I had no time. And I stopped working out altogether. And I ate to comfort myself. And my size 6’s were tight. I did a Master Cleanse just to get back down to the high end of my self-declared “acceptable” weight range. I got a roommate who embodies perfect love and acceptance and non-judgement, who’s vegan and who I can listen and relate to my food issues without any criticism. And I’d love to say that I learned to emulate her, and I remained vegan as well, and I still cleansed my body periodically, but mostly for the emotional benefit, because I finally had a body that I loved and accepted, and a workout routine that I enjoyed and stuck with (I’m doing jujutsu once a week now, maybe that will be the thing that I make “stick”). But this is the place where my story pauses, for this moment, and where I write this. So who’s to say what’s to come?

I am. I am the author of my own story, and the only one who can choose what “happens to me” from here. It’s true for all of us I suppose. Perhaps I’ve finally dug deeply enough to stop self-sabotaging.


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