Next month I’ll be 34.
I know it’s not old. Most would say I’m young, but I don’t FEEL young. I feel old. And fat. And stretched out. And tired. Maybe it’s just this week; I’m grumpy this week, and lots of things have gone wrong. But I’m looking down the hole of another year, and I’m ready to be different. To live different.
I’m ready to feel healthy and strong and in control. I haven’t felt those things in a long time. Babies wreaked havoc on my body. Well, not so much the babies, but the bed rests. The bed rest with Tommy was long, and after he was born my muscles were so, so atrophied. It’s actually comical how weak I was. He was in the NICU and I was in the postpartum ward; a long ramp– a wheelchair ramp– separated us. The day he was born I walked the distance between the two wards 6 times. I was sore the next day. Yep. From a wheelchair ramp.
I tried to lose weight and get strong on my own, but I didn’t make tons of headway, so last fall I joined this weightloss competition at a local bootcamp workout studio. The woman who owns this studio is AMAZING, and the workouts are TOTALLY intense. I’d taken bootcamps before and LOVED them. The quick pace is my thing; you never get bored, but the first day I really nervous. So nervous, I actually emailed the owner before I went. She was reassuring and encouraging– told me they’d modify for my fitness level– she specializes in women and moms. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the woman who taught my first class.
I nearly died in my first class. Toward the end the instructor had us do burpees for 90sec. You ever done a burpee? You ever tried to do burpees for 90 seconds? You ever tried to do burpees for 90 seconds after not moving for a year? Anyway, I’ve done a lot of burbees in my life, so at first I thought, “I got this!” Then I went to do one. ONE. I couldn’t do it. I could not do ONE unmodified burbee. I knew I was out of shape, but until that moment, I didn’t know how out of shape I was.
I’m not going to lie; I started to cry. Just a little. I cried while I huffed through a slow, modified burpee. I was beyond frustrated, and the road ahead overwhelmed me. The instructor, who I found out was a sub, came to help. I laughed, one of those nervous, embarrassed laughs, and said, “I’m just frustrated. I used to be able to do this. I just didn’t realize how bad it was. It just hit me.” She looked uncomfortable and tiny. So, so tiny. Then she said, “Well, keep it up. At least you have a pretty face.”
“At least you have a pretty face.” Apparently that’s my consolation prize. I wanted to say, “Oh, is that why you’re in such good shape? It’s a one or the other type of deal?” But I held my tongue. She meant well.
I kept going (I never saw that instructor again), and I gained at lot of strength and I lost a size. I felt good about myself. Then the program ended. I didn’t sign up for more classes. I plateaued. I’ve neither gained nor lost since then. And I don’t feel good anymore.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that woman’s comment, trying to figure out why it’s still with me. Why it still bugs me. And I think I know. When I look in the mirror I don’t see a pretty face. I don’t see my consolation prize. I see wrinkles and dark circles. I see big thighs and flabby arms. I see yoga pants, pony tails, and zero makeup. It is frustrating. It is overwhelming. But then I realized, it is also in my control. Not one of those things is something I can’t change. (Well maybe the wrinkles :).
I’m going to be 34, and I pledge to make this the last year I fight this battle. I went digging through old photos, looking for a time when I did feel good. A time I felt strong, powerful and pretty. I pulled them out. I put them on Facebook. This girl is still inside me. I’m going to go find her.
This letter is long, so I’ll save my plan for the next one. But I have a plan. And that makes me feel strong!