Poster Child


Several years ago, I was downtown with Son #1. We couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere near where we wanted to go, so we wound up parking a couple of blocks away. I was in very bad physical shape at that time, not just because I was quite overweight, but because I was too sedentary and just completely unfit.

“We can’t walk that far, Boo. I’ll die!” He laughed. “You’re not gonna DIE, Mum. Get a grip.”

He’s always been a walker, with long legs, and lots of youthful energy. I thought that it was just middle age catching up with me, this inability to walk a couple of blocks. I paid more for parking at that time, so I didn’t have to walk a block to my office.

It was very difficult at that time to get clothes to fit me. If you’re five foot one and wear a size 24, you’re a “petite”, and the plus-sized clothing world is your chubby little oyster. However, if you’re six feet and have a 36″ inseam and wear a size 24 – well, good luck. Tall shops don’t carry sizes that large, and large shops don’t carry sizes that tall. You’re pretty much fucked.

A few weeks ago, though, I swam laps in the pool with my youngest nephew, a non-swimmer, who was only allowed in the deep end if he clung to the walls and had a grownup swimming with him. I’m not sure how many laps we did, but it was a LOT.

Two weekends ago, my fiance and I combined households, just the two of us moving all his stuff, and I spent a good eight hours running up and down stairs with boxes and furniture.

Last weekend, we unpacked – more boxes, more hauling.

Every weekday morning, I’m at the gym. I’m rowing, walking, pedalling. I’m lifting and stretching and pushing the boundaries. It is my happy place. It’s my strong, defiant place. It’s a pretty modest gym. The facilities are adequate, but it’s not super-swanky. It has everything I need, though, particularly the staff, and MOST particularly my own amazing trainer, Miss Allie, (<3)who has changed my life, and supported my goals, and realizes that we are all not just cookie-cutter people, and need to be treated accordingly.

I try things, and although some I embrace, some I just discard. I've discovered groups and classes aren't for me, and that I far prefer to work out on my own. I never liked gym class at public school. Some things just weren't for me, such as running, for example. I'm not a runner, my knees just won't take it. I like the idea of cross-country running, the freedom and energy, but I just can't do it. Same with yoga. I like the concept, mind/body/spirit, but I'm not comfortable in a class setting of perfect little yoga bodies, surrounded by mirrors, and again, I find it hard on my knees. Although during my most recent yoga experience, I did find out that I can do far more than I could the last time I tried it, I still don't think it's for me. "Lady stuff", like yoga, has always eluded me. I don't exist on low-fat yogurt, lettuce leaves and skinny-girl cocktails. Not. Gonna. Happen. I like rowing, lifting weights and boxing. I like beer and chicken wings.

I've also discovered that BMI is pretty much a crock of shit, and that I worry far too much about arbitrary numbers on a scale. I'm very annoyed lately by a "motivational" poster at my gym. It shows a woman in a wedding dress, and she expresses how happy she is that she was able to slim down for her wedding. What, so he wasn't gonna marry you if you were heavy? Think about it, lady. Maybe you shouldn't marry him then. What bothered me the most, though, is her desperate statement that "at my heaviest, I weighed (*gasp*) – over 200 pounds!" The horror! That huge number! For a gym that is supposed to be non-judgmental, I have to say that that poster hurts and annoys me every time I see it. 200 pounds is a perfectly good weight for some people, me included. I'd like to be there now, or actually a little higher. I lost a little too much weight before my surgery, at my doctor's request, and felt like I was too thin, even though I never DID hit my "ideal" BMI. I've gained a little too much since, about 25 pounds, as there was a period afterward during which I had to lay off a lot of the exercise I normally get. I'd like to get rid of about 10 – 15 of those pounds. Which would bring me in right around 205 – 210. LE GASP! The horror!

So, now I am, in some ways, like most middle-aged women, vaguely unhappy with my weight, and wanting to lose 10 – 15 pounds. That is sheer vanity on my part. My fitness level is great. I'm the strongest I have ever been in my life, right here, right now. And I LIKE IT. I LIKE exercise. I've never, ever liked exercise. I don't think gym classes did us any favours as kids, treating us all the same, and having the same expectations for us. You don't expect kids to learn academic subjects at the same rate, or to have the same success, or to have the same strengths, so why are children treated that way in gym class? It just sets them up to avoid exercise as adults, and associate it with pain and humiliation.

I LIKE being able to work and play and move. I LIKE being able to buy (most) clothes off a rack in a regular store, just like everyone else. I LIKE that I've grown into my body, and come to realize what it is, and what I am, and what I can do, and how I can feel. We are what we are, kids, and if you're not born with the "right" genetics and the "right" bone structure, no matter what society tells you, you're never going to be a supermodel, no matter how much you punish yourself. Why would you want to? You can be a healthy person of any size or shape, though.

Most importantly, I found someone who likes ME. And that would be – ME. As a result, I've also found a wonderful man with enough self-esteem to support me and my goals, and who loves me FOR me, in all my curvy, ass-kicking, worry-wart glory.


One response »

  1. you might have put this out into the world just for me today. I went to the gym this morning and worked out (weights, lunges, lifts, squats, planks, etc) and pretty much hated every minute of it. I want the fact that I work out 3x/week and have done so for the better part of 15 years to mean that (a) I am skinny and (b) I can DO something called a clock squat or a burpee or a plank w/o falling flat on my fact and (c) it will be easy and I will look good doing it.
    Vain, vain, vain and unrealistic. I think I need to re-examine what I’m expecting out of a regular fitness schedule and whether my expectations are all whack. And then, if I’m still feeling dissatisfied and pissy,. I might think of other strategies to deal with those 10 lbs I have that I’d rather not.

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