There was a time when I was strong. I went into the gym and picked up all the things. I could out-lift most of the women I knew, and keep up with a lot of the men. My body was strong and healthy, and I loved the way it felt to live in it.
Then my 20th anniversary and three bottles of wine led to a new baby. The gym where I worked closed when I was eight months pregnant, making it hard to find a new place to exercise.
As 2016 became 2017, I settled into a sedentary lifestyle, waiting for our newest baby and forgetting all of the nutritional truths I’d learned in my years of coaching and fitness. I once again became comfortable with a meat and carb dominated diet.
When our girl Rita came along, I curled my body around hers and decided to let myself drink in the bliss of new motherhood without worrying about the condition of my body. She snuffled into my softness, and I was happy to let her. As the months went by, I flirted with the idea of working out, but it wasn’t fun. I knew I was eating terribly, but it was easy and tasted good. I knew how I should be living, but that knowledge wasn’t enough for me to push past my lethargy. I just didn’t want to, so I didn’t.
Then one day I rested my hand on my bicep, and I was surprised by how far my hand sank into the fleshiness of my upper arm. I climbed the stairs to our playroom, and my thighs burned from the unaccustomed activity. My husband walked into our room while I was changing clothes, and I closed the bathroom door so that he wouldn’t see me naked. My blood pressure was high, and it was once again hard to breathe. And I realized how much I didn’t like the body I was living in.
When my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas, I simply said “Crossfit.” I knew that in the sweat, the WODs, and the Olympic lifting was the body I missed having. He gifted me with a couple months membership with the promise of more as long as I stuck with it.
I started back on New Year’s Eve, and it was brutal.
Eighteen months ago, I deadlifted close to 300 pounds. This week I struggled to get a third of that off of the ground. Halfway through the workout, “Girl pushups” on my knees became so difficult that I had to switch to push ups against the wall. I looked around and saw that I was easily the weakest person in the room. It was humbling and frustrating. My body knew how to do all the things, but just wasn’t able to do them.
My coach saw the frustration on my face, and offered me consolation, “Go easy on yourself. It’s okay to be where you are. You had a baby…”
My husband echoed his words with “Stop being so hard on yourself. You’re not that weak.”
I listened to their trying to talk me down off of the ledge they thought I was on, and then I told them to stop. It’s not okay to be where I am. My health sucks. With a family history of heart disease and obesity, I’d let myself slide backwards towards cardiac disease and a high BMI. I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be because I wasn’t healthy enough to keep up with them.
So I told myself the truth. “It’s not okay. I’m here because I made bad decisions about my health. I’m not going to use the baby as an excuse for my eating like crap and not getting myself up off of the couch. I know they mean well, but I can’t listen to them giving me permission to be unhealthy. It’s not okay to be weak. it’s not okay to be unhealthy. It’s just not okay.”
I’m unhealthy and weak as a direct result of the choices that I have made. It’s okay to say that. It’s okay to say that where I am today sucks. It’s not mean or offensive to say that I need to do better, or that I owe it to myself and to my family.
I don’t have the right to give my family an unhealthy mom and risk my life simply because I can come up with excuses not to exercise or just because bread is delicious. I have an obligation to them to stick around and stay healthy for as long as I possibly can, and I owe it to myself to have a body that I don’t hate walking around in. I may be weak today, but I’m working on it. Because I want to. Because I need to. Because it’s the right thing to do.
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