Author’s Note: I posted the beginnings of this earlier on Facebook but decided to expand upon it here.
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Yesterday, I called going to Planet Fitness “my zen”. Those who have known me a long time know that this is a hugely marked change in my life. I HATED conventional exercise and the idea of going to the gym seemed like an exercise in desperation. When I started belly dancing, I started conditioning/drilling movements as well as using planks, yoga, and other toning exercises to improve my technique and to build up strength and stamina. That, I actually enjoyed and still use some of the exercises. And, yes, I still tiny-shimmy while I am waiting in line or the like.
Now for the honest nitty-gritty. I am five foot one. Before I had Elizabeth, I weighed 120 lbs. and was a 34 D. I rose up to 150 and a 36 D by the end of my pregnancy (the day I saw that on the scale, I definitely yelled out “WHAT?!” in the doctor’s office) but lost the weight rather quickly after I had my darling girl, dipping down to 124 lbs. again. When Elizabeth was still young and able to be carted about in her buggy with no complaint, she and I had a beautiful schedule. She would get up around six or seven in the morning, we’d have breakfast, get dressed, read and play a bit, and then be out of the house by nine-thirty, off for our walk around our little town. Those days, I would speed walk at least a mile, if not more, pushing her in her buggy, my little girl giggling her encouragement as I breathlessly reminded myself to keep pushing. By the time we would wend our way home after a mile walk, stopping at the post office, sometimes the bank, and me fetching myself a strawberry smoothie from the coffee shop, Elizabeth would be ready for her morning nap. I would get her down to sleep, finish whatever cardio and conditioning I had planned for my workout, and then take a delicious shower, undisturbed and all to myself. But, of course, children grow and their routines change. So do their mothers’, and, even though we still walked and whatnot, my weight slowly began to tick up again.
By the end of December 2014, I was 139 lbs. and some high ounces and I decided that I had had enough of not feeling good about myself and, for once made myself some New Years’ goals. As such, I got myself to the Planet Fitness about twenty minutes’ drive from my home. My trips there had been sporadic at best up until that point. Now, I determined that it would be a regular occurrence, at least twice a week. And so it is. With a good friend running by my side, I have never lacked for challenge or encouragement. For the first few months, all I had the courage to try was the elliptical. It was hard at first, really hard. I won’t lie about that. I don’t like running. I was a sprinter, inherited it from my father. Long-distance running just made me shudder and groan. So getting on the elliptical for half an hour sounded like an impossible goal. But, eventually, I found myself developing more endurance, breaking my personal performance records, and actually starting to ENJOY running. It is something that has become just for me, something that is building my strength and my health, and where I can set goals and push myself more and more. Recently, I branched out into the weight machines as well and found that I really, really like strength training on them. I also walk with my little family, work out at home, and play outside with my toddler daughter. My legs are currently mostly muscle now from running, and I love feeling the ache of muscles pushed to greater strength. It is an absolutely stupendous thing to find yourself stronger and being able to add weight to the machine or resistance levels to the elliptical. To walk into the gym feeling like a warrior and walk out feeling like a conqueror.
Since December, I have gone from 139 lbs. down to 132 and then, as I have built muscle, I have ticked back up to 135 (my weigh-in this very morning). No, I’m not as light or thin as I was before my pregnancy. Yes, I have gone up a dress size since then. Yes, I’m still a 36 D. BUT. I know that I am stronger and healthier than I was, and my body craves movement and exercise more now than before. I am also eating better/making better food choices while still treating myself at times. I post my fitness and exercise on Facebook as well as in a journal as a means of tracking and keeping myself accountable, and I am always grateful for the encouragement that my friends and family give.
So, almost seven months down the road, I can honestly say now that I LOVE my time at the gym. It’s time just for me, doing something that will make my life better and, therefore, make me more able to hopefully better the lives of my loved ones.
It’s hard. It’s a struggle sometimes. It’s a daily series of conscious decisions. Sometimes I do really well, sometimes I’m just middling, and sometimes I fail. But I always get up to try again. I’m doing it and so can you, without a doubt! Keep running, keep lifting, keep dancing, keep breathing, keep doing. Keep on!