A couple weeks ago I started a fitness program. I plan to write a series of blogs about my fitness background and how I have felt going through the process. This is just the first blog of the series; stay tuned for more!
Part I: Background
Fitness has always been intimidating to me. I was your normal kid, involved in all of the co-ed sports teams you can imagine: from soccer and t-ball, to swimming and ice skating, you name it, I probably tried it. I also took tap/ballet classes starting when I was three, and finally really committed to dance when I was about 8. Basically, I was a pretty active kid.
I danced until I graduated high school. I was a member of a semi-professional ballet company and also attended additional classes such as lyrical and jazz, so I was dancing 5-6 times a week for hours. With all the time I spent dancing at the studio, I never had to worry about “working out” to stay in shape. When I finally hung up my pointe shoes after high school, I still wasn’t faced with much of a challenge. The university I attended is located on the rolling hills of the Palouse in eastern Washington state where you would get a work out just walking to class up all of the hills. Many students joked that they developed “cougar calves” just by walking around campus, so the “freshman 15” did not really phase me. It was not until I moved to South Dakota that I really started noticing a problem with my weight and lack of fitness.
Moving to the Midwest was a big change. First of all, I was starting nursing school. Most people who attend nursing school have a 2-year practicum split up by a summer break. Since I already had a bachelor’s degree, I opted to attend an accelerated program that compressed the 2-year practicum into 11 months with no breaks. Now, standard 2-year nursing programs are very stressful, so imagine doing it all in less than a year! On top of the intensity of the accelerated program, I was in a new place and I did not know a soul. I also moved to South Dakota in the dead of winter and if you are familiar with the Dakota’s you know that means it is cold. Not just cold, but below zero, freezing, frigid, Arctic cold! All of these factors mixed with the fact that I had never needed to or really knew how to work out added up. Due to stress, not eating right, and virtually having a sedentary lifestyle for a year (because you really can’t go outside for fear of hypothermia) did not help my physical fitness! Although I successfully graduated with my Bachelor of Nursing, I also ended up gaining about 20 pounds during my short stint in South Dakota.
I was so discouraged and disappointed in myself, having put my physical fitness on hold while in school, but I felt like I did not know what to do. Like I said, I didn’t know how to go to the gym, and I was so intimidated to go and try to figure out the machines, only to embarrass myself or injure myself. Jake tried to help me–he would try to give me work outs routines to follow but he didn’t really understand that I was a beginner and was so out of shape. Exercises that he thought were “easy” were so difficult for me, which made me even more ashamed. I recoiled. I hid behind oversized clothes and cried my eyes out sitting on my closet floor so upset that I couldn’t wear the same shorts from last summer. I was beating myself up, feeling helpless.
I tried several different diets: Weight Watchers was great…for about two months. I lost some weight but immediately gained it all back when there was stress at work or if we took a long-weekend away. I felt stuck in a vicious cycle of eating right, just to have one bad day and then instead of getting back on track, throwing all my efforts away and saying “screw it” as I reached for another cookie.
This went on for about a year. I wasn’t gaining weight, but I also wasn’t losing it. Just one long, demoralizing plateau. Looking back, I think I had just given up and was trying to accept that my physical condition and poor body image were my new reality. I had such low self-esteem despite the facade that everyone else saw. I was so, SO depressed. I decided in December 2018 to turn to blogging because not only do I love to write, but also because blogging/Instagram forces you to take pictures. I was forcing myself to see what I really looked like on a daily basis which was hard and WAAAYYY out of my comfort zone, but it was part of accepting this “new” larger version of myself. But a funny thing happened…
As I started posting more pictures I did become more confident and accepted that this was “as good” as it was going to get. I have also connected with other women my size, but also with women who had been my size, who have similar lifestyles and were able to make positive changes. I was fascinated with their success: How were they able to find the time to fit in fitness? How were they able to stay committed? What was their diet, and were they miserable just eating lettuce all the time? There must have been a beacon on my head, as I started getting contacted by all of these “coaches” asking me to join their fitness groups. It was a little overwhelming, and slightly insulting- sometimes it felt like, “okay cool, I really do look as bad as I feel.” One day I received a casual message from a follower and we just started talking. It was natural and I felt like she actually understood how hard my journey was. She made it less about joining her team and more about investing in myself and my health, which I honestly had never really done. The program she suggested was only 20 minutes in length (6 days a week), which was the first workout EVER that I felt I could actually fit into my very busy lifestyle and I didn’t have to leave the comfort of my living room to accomplish it. I would have access to an “on-demand” program so I could just follow along and not have to figure out how to ‘gym.’ This all sounded great, but I hesitated when it came to the price. $160 seemed like so much to spend on myself, but she made some good points: First, the $160 was for a year-long membership. It breaks down to about $4 a week or about 44 cents per day. That is far less than a normal gym membership. Two, was I saying that I was not worth $160? Was my health and well-being not worth $160? That struck a chord with me. In the long run $160 is not very much, and I would probably spend that much (or more) on clothes! It was eye-opening. Next thing I knew I was signing up and buying my step-deck at Walmart. I had finally invested in myself.
So. Here we are. I finished the first session of Beach Body Transform:20 program…keep any eye out for my next blog in this series that dives into the workout and how I got through the program!
Part II coming soon! Anyone else starting or in the midst of your fitness journey? What is your motivation?
XOXO, Cait B.