February 24, 2011
They sauntered in at 6 am.
Mascara applied, perfect butts and perky ponytails.
And there I was, in the rear of the room, trying to blend in with the wall, starting all over again. My hair was shoved under my Raving cap, wearing baggy black sweats. I was also hosting a flaky, red nose from a recent cold and carrying additional weight equal to that of a large bag of cement compared to the last time I had sweat in this dojo.
Yeah, five years older, and I was starting the kickboxing program that had once whipped me into the best shape of my life. And here I was looking at “WOLF PACK” and “PINK”
across a gaggle of college cheerleaders’ butts, less than half my age.
And I thought to myself, “I CAN DO THIS.”
I had put off returning to the program because I was, well, embarrassed as hell. Five
years ago, I was the “star student” — I WAS the before and after picture, qualified for
an infomercial. The thought of my training “mentors” seeing what a state of disrepair
I had let my body fall into was a huge deterrent. Oh, and I was also afraid I’d puke in
front of everyone from the brutally hard workout.
This past January, I was at the grocery store and I practically bumped carts with one
of my former trainers. I instantly looked away and absorbed myself in a fascinating
label on a can of hominy. She didn’t recognize me and continued on her way with
two toddlers in her cart. I actively dodged her during the rest of my shopping.
Wait, how could she not recognize her STAR student? Oh god, it was because I now
looked like Courteney Cox in Friends wearing a fat suit compared to the last time
she saw me.
After I got home from the store, I found a newsletter from the owner of the dojo and
yet another email came through saying a new kickboxing program was starting in a
I took it as a sign.
It had been an awfully hard year, ending with my mom passing away in December. I
had seen what osteoporosis and high blood pressure had done to her body. I was
not sleeping, I was sad, I was tired of being in the dark. I was tired of feeling like I
had no control.
It took me under 30 seconds to decide that I was going to do it. It was time to take
my health seriously again. To feel powerful again. Puke or no puke. Mortified to
show my double chin or not. Expense or no expense.
My battle with weight has been a lifetime one. I have to work twice as hard and eat
half as much to be thin. It was the first time I felt like I was in a program that worked
But more than that, the process took me on a journey that I had never been on before. As my body got stronger, as every workout changed my shape, I felt in charge. I felt powerful. I felt like I was in tune with every muscle, every cell of my body.
The most important aspect however, was how it affected my mind. I felt that I could do anything. I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to — creatively, intellectually and yes, physically.
My body wasn’t holding back my mind. And my mind wasn’t holding back my body. Cool, huh?
Unfortunately, my superhero status ended when I over-trained (I had taken up running as well) and injured myself. After I healed, I felt like I was starting over again (little did I know what truly starting over was going to be like). To get going again — mentally and physically, it felt like pushing a car uphill. I had lost my momentum. I still stayed active, but not active enough to keep the weight off (funny how when you work out, you eat better too).
Now I share this journey with you, not for ‘atta girls. Not to pat myself on the back for
getting off my lazy butt. Not for approval. Not to berate myself for comic relief.
I share this with you because if I can do it, anyone can do it. Starting over has been terrifically hard physically. It has been humbling (who knew that five years could change your body so much?). I’m still struggling to do a true pushup. I have to stop and catch my breath. And I’m fearful of burning out or injuring myself again. But you know what? After seven weeks of waking up at 5 am, I’m feeling “it.”
I feel powerful. I feel like I’m on the right path again. I’m still the sweaty, fat girl with the red face in the back of the room. Yet I’m doing it. (And I’m pretty sure that I punch harder than those cheerleaders too). I know I give my 110%.
Whether it is having the guts to work out, to head back to college or to start a new career with folks half your age — it’s about believing in yourself and not letting fear keep you from trying. And trust me:
1. No one cares as much as you do. (Okay, maybe your mom does). Really, the only one agonizing at 2 am about this change you are considering is you. Remember those two mentors I avoided out of embarrassment? They moved on from the dojo months ago and the other instructors didn’t even remember me.
2. It’s impossible to die from embarrassment. You may feel faint, you may want to disappear, but you won’t die.
3. If someone judges you, screw ’em! The people that love you for you are the ones that count.
4. You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try. Fear of failure? Fear of someone saying, “I told you so?” If it doesn’t work out as planned — you try something else. Bravo for putting yourself out there.
5. It’s not really about the money, is it? Money will always win out as a valid excuse if you let it.
6. You can’t get anywhere standing still. Maybe it will be a series of baby steps. Maybe it will take me longer to get into my skinny jeans, or maybe I never will. Since this is a lifetime commitment for me, I’ve got to enjoy the ride.
Originally published by Raving Consulting Company