So one of the best things I’ve done in the past few years is join the gym. I have wanted to for a while, but was afraid to take the plunge. I didn’t want to add a monthly expense to our already pretty tight budget and then not go, to be perfectly honest. The last time I joined a gym was the year Paul and I got married. I swore I’d go to Curves religiously and lose tons of weight and be a svelte bride. Instead, I bought a whole bunch of work out clothes, went like 4 times, got a new job that was a 45-minute commute each way, and could never get there during their working hours. So svelte I was not.
But after Paul won big on Jeopardy!, we each allotted ourselves some “fun money,” and I used about half of mine on the first few months of membership fees to get the ball rolling. And I love it. LOVE it.
I am not going to lie and say the childcare isn’t a huge plus, because it is. On these hot, miserable summer days, when we are all driving each other nuts, I can throw on some work out clothes, grab a bottle of water, and drop my boys off in a fun room filled with toys that aren’t ours, and go watch Bravo or read my Nook on the treadmill for 45 minutes. Score! But as I keep going and working out more and more, I am realizing that I am enjoying the exercise more than the break from my kids. That’s a true Christmas miracle right there.
I’m certainly not going to be running any marathons any time soon (or ever, I HATE running), and I’m not entering any bikini contests (you can thank me later), but I feel SO GOOD lately. I’m challenging myself daily to eat better and exercise harder only for the sense of pride, not for the number on the scales. I am loving pushing myself and accomplishing something, even if it’s only a few extra minutes on the elliptical or a few extra reps on the machines. It feels GOOD.
It’s also been a long time since I truly took care of myself like this. I fully accept and admit to being heavier than I ever thought I would be, and I have been for going on 10 years. When my parents divorced and I became estranged from my paternal side of the family, my self-worth and self-esteem plummeted. I turned to food and booze in a big way. If I wasn’t so practical, I probably could have easily replaced food with drugs, so I guess in that sense, I’m lucky. For the first 5 or so years after the split, I used food as a way to comfort myself and punish myself religiously. I ate because it felt good, but I also ate because I didn’t think it mattered any more what I looked like. I went from being a confident and self-assured young woman to a shell of my self, and I filled that shell with crap.
Once I was in the habit of self-medicating with food and gaining nearly 100 pounds (I used to be mortified to even admit that to myself, now it’s just part of my journey), I of course entered into a horrid spiral of even MORE self-loathing because of my size. I used to be the picture of health. Dancer, cheerleader, active and pretty. I worked out, I played and practiced and I loved it and loved myself. By the time I left college, I didn’t recognize myself. Then I go on to a low-paying career working ungodly hours at a newspaper, which is basically a recipe for junk food and more booze. So I got bigger. And hated myself more.
Somehow during this darkest time of my life, I met the man I would eventually marry, and he saw through all my garbage. I don’t know how I got him, but I did. And I don’t thank him enough for making me feel beautiful at 9 months pregnant, at my heaviest, at my smallest (since knowing him) and everywhere in between. He seems to genuinely find me attractive no matter what, which never ceases to amaze me, because I think he’s the most gorgeous man alive.
Anyway, over the years, I gained my confidence and self-worth back, thank god. I have amazing family and friends that have supported me and I worked HARD to get my heart and mind back to whole. So there was no excuse any more to leave my body behind.
So I’m working. There’s no rush, and there’s no competition. After 2 kids, I’ve given up my Victoria’s Secret dream, and probably won’t grace the SI Swimsuit edition any time soon. So be it. I don’t care. I don’t care if I always have a flabby stomach or stretch marks or cellulite. It doesn’t matter. But what does matter is how good I feel, how much better my health will be, how much more energy I am gaining and how exciting it is to top my own best over and over.