I finished my first week of summer lacrosse workouts today. I figured doing the strength and conditioning alongside my players would allow me to relate, show that I’m in this with them, and get me in shape too. As I’m coming off a prolonged summer cold (which is more likely an –itis of the sinus or tonsil variety), the sprints have been particularly taxing, but I’m doing them. And the combination of lifting and running makes me feel strong, capable, confident.
Already I can feel the difference in my body. The motivation to adjust my diet and exercise habits as part of my lifestyle. The knowledge that I never have to be stuck.
I am currently the thinnest I’ve ever been. A year and a half ago I made the first move toward this place by finding my own lifting routine. I used an adjustable weight set and stayed on top of the three day a week plan. I started seeing results soon after. I added some kickboxing classes and cut back on the snacks I’d been devouring and all of a sudden I wasn’t the sad, heavy creature I’d grown to know. A year and a half ago I was grasping at straws to save my marriage. I hoped that if I looked and felt better that I’d be happier, that he’d be attracted, that we could make the needed changes. And if not, I’d at least be back on track to hit the singles scene again.
For a long time, I brought joy to my day by concocting treats that combined every crazy morsel I could find in my house. My favorite consisted of an Eggo waffle with peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and chocolate chips. It was delicious, but it was a distraction. I ballooned up because those few moments in the day when my taste buds danced were the easiest to manage. They were all mine. They required little work. And they tasted so good. I wasn’t thrilled that I was getting fat, but I wasn’t thrilled with a lot in my life. Plus, I’d never been skinny so I didn’t feel like all that much had changed. I was keeping the metaphorical blindfold store in business.
Starting to exercise wasn’t foreign, it just meant I had to stop kidding myself. I knew what to do and how to do it. I had lost some weight when I played college lacrosse. And I lost it again when I wanted to look good for our wedding. But at the end of each of those periods was the feeling that I had little to prove to maintain my relationship. We reveled in food, in overindulgence, in impulse eating. We enjoyed polishing off whatever it was that caught our attention at the time. We were in it together, and it seemed like part of the arrangement. After an extended window of being unhappy, and the fact I was losing the positive sensations associated with my snacks, I realized I had had enough. I wasn’t just eating with him, I was eating to get my mind off of him. I was tired of letting him make determinations for my life, whether actively or subconsciously. Food isn’t revenge just like anger isn’t. Understanding what I was doing to myself allowed me to stop doing it.
By the time I moved out of my home, I had lost 20 pounds, which on my 5 foot frame is a tremendous amount. I weighed myself on the scale at my parents’ and could not believe what I had accomplished. I stepped off the platform and touched the glass again, resetting the numbers to zero. The result came up the same; it was real. All of a sudden I was scrambling to find clothes that not only fit, but showed off my figure (rather than ones that helped me hide). I wanted to strut and flirt and see how people reacted to me. You really do have to love yourself first, but getting to see someone check you out, someone’s eyes lingering on you, someone returning the attraction you feel, that’s pretty fantastic reassurance as well.
As I’ve dealt with many different elements of this life transition and the emotions that come with them, I’ll admit I’ve allowed myself to slip. I’ve both put on a few of the pounds I’d burned and been stricter with my diet to take them off again. I have the power to do this. And I’m stubborn enough to hold off on extra bites for the necessary days to get back to where I want to be.
By the end of this past week my mile time is only slightly over where I ideally like to run it. All of my sprints were completed in the allotted time. And after cleaning myself up one day, I was able to put on the shortest denim shorts I’ve ever owned and wear them comfortably outside of the house. Sometimes, when I really stop to think about it, I don’t recognize myself. I’ve finally gotten over the childhood hesitations and uncertainty that came with my physical presence. I’m late to the party, but what a party it has become.
I am about a month from moving out of state. I still have a lot to pack and am anxious about what lies ahead. But as I see the muscle definition becoming clearer, feel my pants hanging looser, I realize so many processes are not entirely out of my control. The more I’ve grasped my own experience, the less I’ve been able to grasp on my body when I examine my reflection in the mirror. Taking charge isn’t always simple or easy. Ambition is something we must have every day. There is value in forgiving the small missteps, but even more so in following through with accomplishments.