When I was approaching my 30th birthday, a friend of mine told me that once I hit 30 “it was down hill”. He, yes he, was speaking of weight gain. I didn’t take offence at the time. He was older than I was and appeared to be speaking from experience (hehehe).
I also knew that gaining weight for most people was natural as we age. I had read somewhere that woman will put some pounds on in the mid-section in preparation for menopause but since I was nowhere near those years, that didn’t bother me.
Sticks and Stones
The thing is, growing up I was subjected to name-calling and negative comments like, “omg, you’re soooo skinny!”, “what are you a size zero!”, comments about my long legs, skinny arms, or I’d get the “joke” when trying on something in the store “you’re such a skinny bi*ch!”
Oh, if I could do that all over again with the confidence that comes with age, I’d flaunt it like nobody’s business instead of hiding behind baggy jeans and oversized sweats, and wearing a lot of pants suits to parties, yes, I did!
So as I approached 30, I was secretly looking forward to gaining a few pounds if that meant perhaps fuller hips and bigger booty, and maybe even bigger boobs. I led an somewhat active lifestyle and made a conscious decision to keep fit so, really I didn’t think I would have a thing to worry about. Little did I know
Slow and Steady is the name of the weight gain game
I didn’t really start putting on a few noticeable pounds until about 5 years later and much to my disappointment the weight “centered” quit literally in my mid-section. I could def pinch more than a few inches and my once nicely fitted button-down shirts now sat snuggly over my love-handles. This was really not what I was looking forward to at all.
In the years that followed I inched my way slowly up past the 140 lbs mark. A first for me and a grounding reality into feeling yet a different way about my body – still not a good way.
I know what you’re probably saying. So what? 140lbs OMG, cry me a freaking river!! You’re still sooooo skinny! Are you seriously bitching about 140lbs pounds? Really?! Shut the f$@%k up!
That’s cool. I get it. Stop Judging Me!!! Ha! Seriously tho, don’t misunderstand me, this wasn’t cause for alarm for me, nor was I super upset about it. My point is that, I DIDN’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. Sitting on my bed and notice the folds in my stomach. Like how did that happen?!
Like I said, I’ve always been active and I’d “let myself go” and as I was entering my 40s no less. I’d never done before. Stopped being active. Stopped caring about staying active and in shape for my overall health (more about this upcoming up).
Initially I told myself my lack of physical activity was was because of my migraines, then I was too busy at work and then it was “I hate going to the gym” (and the many excuses that flow from that). My body (and mind) responded to all of this rather appropriately. I felt like crap, tired, lazy, unmotivated, just not myself.
The Tight Pants Meltdown
In December 2016, I found myself sitting, slumped over and close to tears, with four pairs of my newish Banana Republic dress pants (I bought the winter before). They were all, in a word, TIIIIGHT!Tight in the thighs, tight in the hips, and no way to button- them up. None.
I mean, like seriously, there was no getting around it! I’d spent about $400 on new pants a year before and now they were unwearable!
I needed new pants [cue: look of stunned disbelief] But wait… if my pants can’t fit, what other items in my closet would no longer fit?! Let the meltdown sesh really begin!
The Truth Staring Back at Me in the Mirror
As I stood up, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and froze. This woman was staring back at me and I didn’t recognize her. She looked old and tired and that once taught stomach, and toned arms were nowhere to be seen. How did I get here? I confess, I nearly cried. I was that unhappy.
Staying active was a commitment I made to myself in my 20s for some very practical reasons. Being a Jamaican woman there was no shortage of reminders in my own family of the fact that I was at a high risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also:
- In retirement, I wanted to be a healthy and an active senior, yoga in the morning, tennis with the crew at lunch, weekend walks with the ladies (I’m gonna a silver-haired fox livin’ la vida loca baby!)
- I’ve always enjoyed being sporty to some extent (lessons in boxing, kick boxing, yoga, tennis and running a 5k. I’ve tried them all) – I’m not particularly competitive tho. which brings me to my next point,
- I enjoy the social aspects of an active lifestyle. I was never a star athlete but I may have been the one to laugh the loudest of the team, always.
Not bad insight for a twenty-something right?!
But then somehow I lost sight of that. Well, I was a twenty-something in the city! It was bound to happen. I didn’t realize it would years later and last for years to come.
The commitment I made for myself that got me on back on track
I needed a change and with a new year around the corner. I did just that.
I started weekend bootcamps at my local gym. When asked what my fitness goal was I said, to “SHOW UP!”– that was it.
I committed to showing up for every class I could and decided that the rest, in terms of results, would take care of itself!
I didn’t want to over complicated things or set myself up for failure. I merely wanted to show up.
The simple steps I took to achieving this goal:
- Goal 1: Show up to the first class (this was brutal and humiliating. I basically had to rest after 15 minutes because I couldn’t keep up. I was out of breath and I felt sick. I had barely got started.
- Goal 2: Show up to the 2nd class. Honestly wanted to quit after the first class. Not lying. I hadn’t realized how hard it was and what getting older can do to your body as well as your mindset!
- Goal 3: The next goal was to finish out the 6 weeks of the round of classes. Just stick with it and then reassess how I felt.
- Goal 4: Nearing the end of the class we were given the chance to sign-up for the next round. I signed up! and it was again, a simple goal. Get through the next 6 weekends of classes. That’s it.
- Goal 5: Then I said ok, you got the first for 3 months. Can you do another 3 months? and I would move the benchmark every 3 months.
Before I realized it I’d been showing up for 12 months.!!
I can honestly say I feel stronger, younger, and far healthier than I’ve been in over three years! Bonus – I met a group of people that keep me motivated to keep going in the process.
I did lose some weight of course but I still haven’t been able to find my old six-pack and THAT’S OK (I love my brunches and burgers and fries too much! Check out me out on Instagram: This Girl With Camera and you’ll see what I mean.)
When three friends, on different occasions, said “you’ve got Michelle Obama arms!” well, my one commitment to “just show up” was well worth it. I’m feeling so much better about myself now than I have in a long time.
For me it started with one simple commitment to myself. What kinds of simple ways do you find to stay active?