I can’t look at myself in the mirror when I get out of the shower. I avoid the reflection, telling myself that should I accidentally look, there’s another woman in here with me. Surely, this is not me. I have to call for my daughter to help me put my new sports bra on. I am too fat to maneuver it by myself. I don’t look her in the eye, I am ashamed. My breathing is elevated, my heart rate’s up, I’m already starting to sweat, and I have to sit on the toilet to get my pants on because I can’t bend over far enough. When did I do this to myself? Just getting dressed is an effort. Who am I kidding, putting on these dumb work out clothes. As if it’s worth anything at all at this point. I think I am too far gone.
I sit in front of the building that holds a large sign reading, “Empowering Fitness
.” Empower my ass, I think. I sit there. I don’t know if I have the courage to go in. I am so fat. What if I can’t do it? What if they all stare? What if I make a fool out of myself? I catch my eyes in the reflection of my rear view mirror, and I see how afraid I am. I grab onto the fear, as if it has power, and suddenly from a place deep within me I get angry. I get really angry. Angry at myself, angry at my husband for deploying again, angry at my kids for growing up and leaving, angry at my past hurts, and angry that I have somehow allowed myself to get up to an enormous 250 pounds.
I grit my teeth, “I will NOT be afraid,” I tell myself in the car before I watch my hand going to the door handle, pulling, and opening the door. My feet are pounding on the gravel leading up to the door, as if I have to be a force of rage just to put myself in that place.
They start jogging as a warm up. A warm up. I can’t jog! I fall in line and give it my best, even though I’m not as fast as everyone else and it hurts so bad that I’m screaming inside, getting dizzy, and want to puke. I can’t do a damn plank, or a burpie, or a power squat, or Jesus, anything. What am I going to do? I grit my teeth again and tell myself, “You’re just going to do what you can.”
Then, it was over. Just when I couldn’t make one more move, the workout ended. The class all applauded, high fives were handed out, and several people told me, “Good job.” From the pit of my stomach grew a sob … I had to get out of there quick, I was going to explode. From the inside of my car I cried and I cried and I cried, it spilled out of me like a pressure cooker whose hole had been covered for a few hours. An explosion of emotion.
I’d done it. I’d gone in, I’d worked out, and I’d faced my fears. Why was I crying?
Day two, three, four ….. all the way through the first two weeks I go through the same routine. I have to work myself up to go in, and I have to bring myself down when I come out. It is an emotional roller coaster that I’m not sure I can afford to be on but I’m riding it out none the less.
My whole body aches. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight, but I’m too afraid to see the number on the scale and face what it means and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter as much the number but how I feel. Damn, I feel great. I feel accomplished. I feel proud.
And I cry. I cry it out because I need to release the pain I’ve put on myself so that I can make room for the beauty that is me.
I am worthy. Despite being weighed down by these physical pounds, I can see now that all I needed was to believe in myself. So I did.
I step out of the shower and smile.