Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried when you’ve actually been planted.
Today was the first night I started the biggest change in my life. I’ve started this night many times before, good intentions with no backbone, but this time I’m determined to make it stick.
I am taking control of my life – my health specifically – and getting it under control. I’m doing this for many reasons, many that have only really become clear to me in the last year. I am aiming to lose over 100lbs. over the course of a year, but honestly even dropping 50lbs. is a good start.
I’m aiming to have a body that will carry me through life, and (important for me personally) a body that will be able to carry my children healthily if conceive at all.
The reality of PCOS and the risks I am under – both health-wise and in terms of a healthy pregnancy if I want one – hit me fast and hard this year.
This time, unlike many times I didn’t just jump into with enthusiasm, going to the gym but dwindling out after one or two inconsistent tries. This time I thought logically about what I am currently capable of – what my schedule and mental health are capable of. I thought about money and time and also anxiety.
Maybe it’s not always about fixing something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.
I researched fitness routines, Level-One and the natural progression those might take if/when I found that I needed to change them. I looked at other plus-sized ladies advice about how often to work out or what worked for them. I researched PCOS and the types of workouts that worked for others, and the number of times they worked out. It’s hard, I’ve had no direction in this matter, but I’m determined.
Further, from that, I started eating a healthy (healthier, I’m a student it’s not easy) long before I started working out. I cut out pops and sweets, started tracking calories to try and keep track of my eating and cut portions. I started looking up recipes without dairy and red meats. It hasn’t really shown any results yet, but the habits are starting to be engrained. That’s what matters, trying to do everything at once has never worked for me, trying to eat healthily, work out, be a student, balance a budget – it just didn’t work.
I found a place that I was comfortable to work out in. A 24/7 gym I had to drive to (it’s winter) but could walk to when it’s warmer. It has a pass-key to get in after office hours, and it felt good that I could go in the middle of the night if I couldn’t sleep and also not have to face anyone. It has a women’s-only section, with all the equipment and weights that I will need. It made me feel comfortable. I can shower there when I am finished and it’s not that far from my house. It’s the first time walking into a Gym didn’t make me feel…uncomfortable like I didn’t belong.
It helps that through my school it was free for me to use.
This brings me tonight. A rainy, freezing day in Canada where a weather warning is in effect to warn against going outside, or driving or doing anything but staying inside. And I was wondering if an hour of ‘Just Dance’ was the same as an hour and a half at the gym. I was determined though to not let my first day of my new life to be delayed. I had given myself a week in school to get back into the ebbs and flows. But I was NOT going to let myself get discouraged by freezing rain and bad roads.
I took it slow, I was patient. If it was worse and it was dangerous I would have settled for ‘Just Dance’ but I needed tonight.
And I won’t lie.
It was awful. I felt ashamed, and embarrassed, and anxious from the moment I stepped into the gym. I changed my shoes and dashed straight to the women’s only section but I still felt my heart start racing and my cheeks start to blush.
Even though I have 3 housemates with me I knew this was my battle.
And it was awful. Despite my research, I fumbled in my workout, unsure of which free-weight was which. I was awkward and wanted to cry. I thought I was going to throw-up at one point and I definitely wanted to hide.
I was ashamed, and embarrassed, and just all around miserable and anxious to be in this space that makes me feel like I don’t belong. I don’t deserve to be healthy.
But then I started repeating it. This is for my future.
I repeated this through my warm up
I repeated this through my free-weights.
I repeated this through my cardio. No matter how many times I had to slow down. No matter how much it burned and how much I thought people were staring at me. I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.
I remembered why I was starting this on a Monday.
And those last 30 seconds of my cardio I sprinted. Just to prove I could. Just to prove I didn’t give up.
I feel gross now. I feel wobbly and pathetic and exhausted. I have an 8 hour school day tomorrow, an 8am start, and even though the next two days are a gym-break for me I feel like I won’t make it.
I feel like this ‘new start’ will just end like all the others.
But this is a mental battle I must have to myself. Even if I have friends, and a supportive boyfriend, and wonderful family that believe in me, it’s the few people who make me feel worthless that will dominate my thoughts. It’s the little bits of self-doubt that will send me into a tumbling spiral of miserable anxiety.
I’m the only one inside my head. I’m the only one inside my body. I am the only one who can make myself get up and do anything. And that makes all the difference.
So, here it is. My promise to myself. Putting it out there.
So as I move on from this evening, these are the things that I advise you:
- Find your motivation. Whether it’s getting fit to be able to carry your children one day, or slimming down to fit in those roller coaster seats – find it. Find something that gets you angry and then gets your motivated.
- Find a place to work out that makes you comfortable. 24/7 gyms with women’s-only sections make me comfortable. But maybe you’re not female-identifying, or maybe the thought of being surrounded by other women working out makes you uncomfortable. Either way, you need to find that space that you can find your head-space and get those workouts in. Be at home; be at a gym – just have a SPACE separate to home/work that lets you work.
- Research to a point. If you have a condition that makes working out difficult (because of heart problems, metabolic issues, mobility limitations etc) research what works for others like you or talk to your doctor. Work effectively, make sure you know what you’re doing so you’re not overwhelmed when you finally do get to the gym. But don’t let yourself fall into the ‘but I haven’t found the perfect workout yet‘ it’s not going to happen and you’re never going to get to the gym.
- Start in whatever way works for you. Maybe change out your diet first, or work out first, or cut out a few different foods. I needed to start out small, but maybe you need to cut all these unhealthy habits cold-turkey to gain success. Try small first, it always feels like a failure if cold-turkey doesn’t work.
- Don’t beat yourself up over small-losses. Don’t punish yourself for enjoying chocolate, or not counting the calories so closely over the holidays. You are here on this earth to thrive at life. As you go along you will stop eating as much, and will naturally know your limits. Enjoy those home cooked meals when you go home, or your favourite home-town ice cream when you visit.
- Celebrate your successes. Maybe you lost 10lbs. Maybe you went to the gym 5-times a week for a month. Celebrate those things! You should be so proud! Buy yourself that new gym bag or new workout pants. Do small things to motivate.
- Repeat your motivation. Chant it over and over and over in your head when that last 7-minutes is burning your thighs. But get through that first workout. Get through that last 3-minutes of cardio. You will be mad at yourself after if you quit-out at the last moment. Even if you have to take it slower, even if you count it as a long cool-down. Get Through It. You Can. I know you can. Believe in you. You will get there.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.