Nine years ago, I wanted to change my body. Really change it. So much so that I lugged my kids into a gym daycare so I could take a fitness class.
I'd been avoiding the gym for years. I mean years.
After my second pregnancy and subsequent weight gain, I felt shame going to the gym. I thought everyone would expect me to show up as the thin college girl who used to go that gym before she had kids.
I heard conversations in my head, "Oh, poor thing. Having kids did a number on her."
"Who is that? Kellie? I hardly recognized her with all the extra weight."
Okay, so no one was having these conversations about me other than me ... with me.
But it pained me knowing I wasn't her. You know, the carefree college kid who could slurp down milkshakes, eat half a pizza, and burn it all off in the gym for two hours before dancing all night with her friends.
Where did she go?
Whatever it took to get her back, I was determined to do it.
I strapped on my new running shoes and sat white-knuckled in the parking lot of the YMCA for what seemed like eternity. It was happening.
I pictured my entry into the Body Pump class much like you see in those coming of age movies where the new kid struts down the high school halls for the first time and everyone stares. The new kid who is being judged. Who is being snickered about and bullied.
Apparently that wasn't a thing that happened in fitness classes at the YMCA. I finally shimmied my way to the back of the class where kind people helped me get situated and find all the right equipment.
This was the beginning of my fitness journey. The one that brought me into my happiest mind and fittest body.
But it wasn't a journey from point A (fat, unhappy mom struggling to keep my head above water) to point B (me today).
It was more like a journey from point A to L.
I figure right now I'm somewhere in the middle of this alphabet of fitness and happiness. I've got other places to visit. Other things to discover. But I'm in a good spot along this spectrum.
In the middle of all this there was a lot of judging. On my part.
I remember when I started getting leaner and building muscle, I would flip through my collection of Oxygen Magazines (yeah, I collected them) creating a sort of Frankenstenian version of 'my perfect body'.
I wanted her shoulders and her arms. Her legs and her abs. I never got so far as cutting them out like paper dolls. But if no one was watching I probably would have.
Then I got into bodybuilding and the abs popped. The muscles showed up.
I sort of resembled something close to a cover model if you squinted hard.
Yet, I found other things to pick apart. My calves are too small. Oh my mac and cheese! Will these puny arms ever grow?
Then it was something else. And something else after that.
I went through periods of stress where I gained fat. I went through periods of stress where I got insanely lean.
I was all over the place (in the span of 7 or 8 years), and in this time it was always SOMETHING. Something not right about my body.
Something to improve, pinch, and turn up my nose at.
Then I said, "What the HELL am I thinking?"
Seriously. It was my thoughts about my body. It wasn't my body at all. I focused so much on what my body wasn't, I was completely ignoring what it WAS.
My body brought two beautiful souls into this world who are stewards of our community and lights in my life.
My body was strong and capable. It go me through hard days, performed amazing feats of strength, and kept me healthy so I could run my business. Be a good parent. Go on hikes with my dog.
My body got me out of bed every single day. It carried groceries in a single trip. It moved through this earth, having amazing experiences.
The more I saw my body doing amazing things, the less I saw what I used to not love. What I wanted to change.
The less I worried if I was lean enough, fit enough, strong enough, good enough, worthy enough of being anywhere at any time.
Now my body truly belongs to me. Which means it belongs everywhere.
Your body is so much. It is your life. It will be with you from birth until death. How much time are you going to spend not loving it? How much time are you going to spend putting it down, making it feel worthless, and not appreciating the beauty of it?
Let's say you live to be 95. You probably developed a good awareness of your body in elementary school. In middle school your body started changing and doing weird things, which made you hyper aware of it.
And how old are you now? How long have you been living in this state of constant body awareness? And I don't mean relative to space or movement. But the constant comparison, judgment, and self-deprecating talk about your body.
It's been nearly a lifetime, hasn't it?
How do you plan to spend the rest of your lifetime? Because the body you have now is the one you keep. It stays with you regardless. If you don't change the conversation about your body, then when?
Will it ever change? Or will you miss out on a lifetime of beauty and wonder simply because you decided your body wasn't good enough for you to love.
For me, I spent far too long wanting my body to be different. I refuse to spend another moment not loving it for what it is.
(photo courtesy of Pixabay)
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