Fluffy Goes to the Gym

Just Do It!

Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Working Out

So I’ve been brooding over not being able to ride my bike with the onset of cold weather. Sure I could ride it, but I don’t want to go out in the cold. Additionally, the roads are scary this time of year. But I don’t want to lose my momentum. Well I actually lost it when I stopped riding sometime in October. So I want it back.  This is not a New Year’s Resolution, though the timing of it makes it seem that way.  This is a continuation of my commitment to better health I started in 2013.

I thought I’d go back to Curves. I had joined Curves briefly several years ago and found it to be an easy-to-do workout and a pleasant atmosphere (usually.) It is a gym specifically for women, and is designed to be a place where us obese ladies can feel “safe.”  I had to stop going at that time for financial reasons.  There really should be more affordable ways for people to get to a gym. Planet Fitness is affordable but more than an hour away from here…but that’s off topic.  So…anyway.

The other day I finally went to the Curves location. I don’t know if it’s under the same management, but let me tell you, I did not like it one bit. The atmosphere was not as I remembered. There was nobody there working out.  The person behind the desk ignored me until I stood there a few moments. Then she looked up, unsmiling, and said “Yes???”

My first instinct was to cut & run; I felt like she saw me as an annoyance, upsetting her routine…but I said: “I’d like to open up a membership.” She replied, “What plan do you want?” And I, unsure of the plans available, said “Ummm…uh…..” She interrupted my awkward stuttering with “Fitness ONLY?” And I said “Yeah….”

“It’s $44 a month. You may sit down.”  I obeyed.  I felt like I was in the principal’s office about to get detention.

She got some paperwork. Handing it to me, she said “You may peruse this before you sign the contract.” Being a Realtor, I know the devil is in the details, so I read the contract….my intention was to join for 6 months and then stop when bike season started. Uh-oh….I saw that it was a minimum 24 month contract, so I asked “I need to commit for 2 years?”

“That’s the contract,” was her terse reply. I looked again, knowing I wasn’t going to sign, but stalling for time so I could come up with just the right words…this woman made me very uncomfortable and I felt very unwelcome; this contract put me over the edge. I know of another gym closer to my home that has month to month and annual plans. But people who scare me go to that gym. They are fitness freaks.

I finally put the contract down and said “I think not…I can’t commit to that long of a term.”   Not exactly the clever response I wanted, but hey.  She raised her eyebrows and shrugged, as if to say “Oh well….whatever.”  She snatched up the paper, tossed it in the trash, and went back to her computer. No “Thank you for stopping by,” or “Maybe we can talk to the owner…” not even a “Goodbye.”

WOW!!! No wonder overweight people are afraid to go to gyms. This lady won the award, in my opinion, for being the worst gym rep ever. I don’t think she was unfriendly to me because I was overweight; I just don’t think she’s friendly at all. ATTENTION GYM OWNERS: People walking through your doors want to feel welcomed and important!!!

So I stopped at the other gym, the one closer to home, and signed up. It actually is a way better deal than Curves…and nicer people at the front desk, too.

Today was my first day at the gym. I was definitely feeling out of place, as nobody there working out looked like they had ANY body fat, and I looked like…well, an obese middle aged woman. But the cool thing is…nobody (apart from the trainer of course) paid any attention to me, that I could perceive – they were all focused on one thing and one thing only: their workout.

If you want to work out at a gym, and the person inside makes you feel awkward…uncomfortable…unwelcome…just go to a different one. JUST DO something. And remember all those other skinny people…the ones you want to hate…the ones you want to trip on their way to the fountain…well many of them were probably not always skinny and fit. They have to work hard to keep their level of fitness. Remember too that they’re not looking at you. They are focusing on their workout, their goals, thinking about their life situations….you go to the gym to focus on you, and getting healthy.

Don’t let jerks prevent you from doing it. I’m glad I didn’t let my experience at Curves turn me off. It almost did. I argued with myself all the way down to the other gym…I even sat in the parking lot, saying to myself, “Just go home. You have work to do. Come back tomorrow….” And I had to tell myself NO.  Get out of the car, Fluffy.  No.  Yes.  No.  You can go to Cocoon and get a skinny latte for your trip home if you do. OK. (Hey whatever it takes to win the battle.)

I think fat people are slightly scizo, (<—auto correct wants me to make that word Schlitz…not a bad idea…) because we are always having multiple conversations and arguments within our own head.

Maybe that will go away as I shed the pounds…I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going to the gym again, and I’m not even going to bribe myself to do it.

Take a Hike from I Can’t to Why Can’t I?

This is dedicated to my big brudder, Michael McGinnis and his lovely wife Judy, who unknowningly inspired me to do something I never thought I’d ever even WANT to do….

I wasn’t always overweight.  I used to be accused, half-heartedly, of being a closet anorexic because I was so thin in my older teens young adulthood.  Except by my dad, who was always compelled to call me “Porky” and say I was fat.  Go figure that one out and tell me if it makes sense….nah, didn’t think so.

Anyway, even in those thin glory days, I was never one who wanted to do much when it comes to physical exercise.  I was not into any kind of exertion at all. I would walk the mile run in phys ed class.  I never wanted to climb the cargo net (still don’t want to do that, too scary).  I was not a strong bike rider or swimmer.  My talents lay primarily in reading books, watching bad television, and fishing.

My husband and I went camping in Shenandoah National Park when we first got married.  He wanted to climb Stony Man Trail (2.9 miles up and back)…. and we did, and I thought I was going to die.  He pushed me, come on you can do it…but I hated every minute, until we got to the top.  (This was in the days before I had a digital camera, sorry, no pic at this point.)  Even though I enjoyed the view, I said that I never wanted to do that again.  Ever.  Of course, I was pregnant at the time (didn’t know that until about 3 weeks later) so maybe that had something to do with my experience.

Then the years went by, children came….as did the pounds. One thing that never came was a desire to exercise beyond walking the dog, and even that was questionable.

And here I am.  Since I began my new lifestyle, I’ve lost a few pounds but I am still considered obese. My progress has been slow.  But, my interest in physical exercise has been increasing.    I became concerned about my family history of arthritis and I did not want to end up a cripple like my grandfather.

Then my brother posted a picture of him and his wife – they had just climbed on Rattlesnake Ledge in Washington state overlooking a beautiful place called Rattlesnake Lake.  It became a touchstone for me. I wanted to go there, I wanted to do that.

But how? I’m obese, my feet hurt if I walk too far for too long….and yeah, I’m obese. Obese people just don’t climb mountains, even small ones.

At that point in time, I decided to remove “I can’t” from my vocabulary and replace it with “Why can’t I?”

Not Quite There Yet

Not Quite There Yet

We went to Washington to visit my brother. I have been there before – 20+ years ago…and I loved the mountains…and I still love the mountains.

The climb up the little mountain was 1.9 miles from the base to the ledge…but overall the entire walk we did was about 5.4 miles from the car to the top and back again.  WAY more than Stony Man.

This is not a difficult trail, in fact it is considered “easy” but it was a challenge for me.

There were skinny women in sports bras actually running up and down this mountain and I resisted the urge to stick my chubby leg out and trip them.  We smiled as we passed one another.

There were little children climbing this mountain, if they could do it, so could I. There were little tiny dogs with 3-inch long legs…but their owners were carrying them. I had nothing but determination to carry me.

I did see several Labradors on this trail and I sorely missed my Trixie-girl.  She is as strong as an ox and could certainly tug me up the steeper slopes while my lungs screamed out “MERCY! MERCY!”

But…I made it.  I was overcome with joy when I reached the top – not only joy and pride at what I had just accomplished, but joy at seeing the beautiful creation below me. What a beautiful world – and I’m determined to see as much of it as I can before I leave it.

I came, I climbed, I conquered!  If I can do it, so can you…don’t let “I Can’t” keep you from doing it. You can ….

Rattlesnake Ledge Conquered

I Came, I Climbed, I Conquered

My Brother and Me

My Big Brudder and Me On Rattlesnake Ledge

Aside

Climbing Hills When You’re Fat

The hardest part of riding a bike when you are 80+ pounds overweight and have almost zero muscular strength is not climbing the

My Bike

Simply buying the bike was an act of faith and took courage…

little hills. They are easily overcome with perseverance and making “one more push…six more inches….eight more inches…one more foot” your goal.

Each day you push just one more inch and before you know it, you’ve reached your goal of making it not to the first telephone pole but to the second before you have to hop off, catch your breath, take a drink, and push your bike the rest of the way.

No, the hardest part is passing people as you huff and puff (or when you must take a break and walk your bike up what feels like Mt Everest but is really just a little knoll). The hardest part is ignoring the voices in your head, whispering 5th grade insults; you imagine them saying…“Hey tubbo, get your fat lazy butt on that bike and PUSH….” Or you imagine them snickering about you and saying to one another: “If she’d thought of exercising earlier she wouldn’t be so fat.”

These imaginary voices are so viscous. My neighbor stopped while I was resting to make sure I was all right.  I smiled and assured him I was fine (though my face was so hot I felt like I had a fever). He commended me and told me to keep it up.  I responded: “The hardest part is just riding past people.”

But like the little knolls, the small hills, the big hills: I will overcome.

I must.  I’m only 43 (well OK almost 44). I’m too young to be so at risk for a heart attack or diabetes or any of the other health problems that being obese can cause.  I want to enjoy my Labrador, I want to be here and have a good life with my kids and husband…

…and I hope that with each hill I climb successfully, one more ugly viscous voice will be silenced.

Labrador Retriever

My Labrador Trixie & Me

Put Down the M & M’s. Really.

Do not just put them down.

Throw them out.

I was once svelte and sexy – I weighed about 124-127 lbs all the time.  Rarely did I deviate beyond a few pounds.

Here I am just out of high school, in 1987, with my beloved car:

Sexy Camaro Girl

1987 and Feeling Fine

I remember my fiance telling me “Don’t ever get fat!” before we got married. And I

A Skinny Bride

March 25 1995

laughed at him.  Of course I won’t ever get fat!

That was almost over 17 years ago…we are celebrating our 17th anniversary on March 25th.  And guess what?

I’m fat. 237 lbs fat. My BMI score labels me as “severely obese” which is positive; I was certain I had crossed over into “morbidly obese” range (that’s after a BMI of  40).

Severely Obese

A Rare Photo of All Of Me

If you have known me a while you will know this is not my first post about my weight, and it won’t be my last. I have weighed less than this and declared I was going on a diet.  When I first became horrified of my weight, I weighed about 224 lbs, and was shocked.  I started Weight Watchers and lost about 50 lbs or so, give or take.

Then I got a job as a secretary in a real estate office. I thought it was awesome, as now I could have enough money to go to the gym on a regular basis. Only that didn’t happen, and people trying to get business with our agents kept coming in to the office with Krispy Kreme donuts.

I lost the battle, and caved in…the sugar was too addictive.  Though I was happy to be down into a size 16 jeans and trying for 14…I slowly brought the weight back up.

Then I got tired of achy joints and plantar fasciitis and feeling like a stuffed pig all the time, and I started again. I once again signed up for Weight Watchers.  But my life got too out of control. I was now a real estate agent and on the road a lot.  McDonald’s and Turkey Hill (convenience store like 7-11 with awesome personal pizzas) became my habit.  I drank multiple Coca Colas or Dr Peppers a day on top of tons of coffee to keep “moving.”  I would come home and crash, and reach for sugar cereals like Froot Loops to keep me awake to work on the computer. I wanted to stop.  Get off this crazy merry go round and be healthy, not some walking time bomb.

I made public boasts on Facebook and my blog thinking that would keep me motivated to lose weight. But as time went on, I found myself forgetting…grabbing a pizza, grabbing some fries…coming home to more sugar.  My problem isn’t with craving fats as much as it is craving sugar. When I’m thirsty I want a coke. When I’m hungry, I want sweetened cereals or cookies or cake.

So here I am once again, at 237 lbs.  I am scared.  I don’t like being out of breath simply because I climbed 15 stairs.  I don’t like it that people at the office know  *I* am the one coming upstairs and say “Hi Karen!” before I even show my face…I am the only one I guess who huffs and sounds like a dairy cow plodding up the steps with heavy feet.

Yesterday I looked at a home for sale with a narrow stairway and I realized I could not make it up those stairs without squeezing myself through the passage. That, my friends, is embarrassing and humiliating.  I try to laugh it off and make fun of myself in a lighthearted way, to show others I know I’m obese and that it doesn’t bother me.

But. It does.

I am scared because every day I find it more difficult to get out of bed, out of the house…I want to stay home. I don’t want to “go” anywhere.  I am sad because I am always the one with the camera, or I am hiding behind my children or I crop most pictures to head and shoulders where I don’t look quite so huge.

I have the tools, I have the knowledge.  I want to juice fresh fruits and veggies so I can be healthy and have energy and feel like leaving the house.

Once again, I am going to embark on the journey. Maybe it was the achy feeling I had in my arm yesterday, maybe it was the fact that going upstairs to my bedroom at home or my desk at the office tires me out and makes me lose my breath…maybe it’s the fact that I’m hiding behind my children in almost every recent photo of me…I don’t know. I just know that I want to stop the Fat Train and get off.  I want to be this girl again:

Healthy Happy

Healthy and Happy

Not this one anymore:

Fat Mama Has to Go

Hiding behind my Child

This isn’t about looks really…it’s about my health. I want to enjoy my life, not barely endure it. I don’t care so much about looking “svelte and sexy” anymore…but I do care about diabetes, stroke, heart attacks…ya know?

I Don’t Want THAT Body, I Want MINE!

Most of my friends know, I’ve struggled with my weight in recent years.  I just signed up for and started Nutrisystem.  I really like the food.  I’ve been playing around on http://www.nutrisystem.com a bit.

One of the questions I saw in one of Nutrisystem’s surveys was  “Which celebrity body would you love to have?”  Before I comment on that, I guess I’ll drag you along on my abbreviated weight journey, because I can.  😉

I am not new to being overweight.  Much of the last 15 years has been spent being obese. I’d like to blame my kids, but they are only part of the reason; the real reason is: my entire life, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted; mostly junk food, and it didn’t start to catch up with me until I was 25 and pregnant with my first child.

When I was a teen/young adult, people irritated me by suggesting I was anorexic or had an issue for being “skinny.”  I was not “skinny.” I had no bones jutting out, I had curves in all the right places – I was slender, but not skinny.

After an emotional breakup with my boyfriend (Glenn, whom you may know I won over and married; we are experiencing our happily ever after), I survived by consuming massive quantities of Mountain Dew and candy.  My exercise came in the form of sobbing into my pillow at night.  I could hardly eat meals, but at work I used caffeine and sugar to keep me going, a habit I kept for decades.

I gained 60 lbs with baby #1.  I had lost about 30lbs by the time I was pregnant with #2. (I bought into the whole “Breastfeeding helps you get your figure back,” and I’m here to tell you, that unless “getting your figure back” means having gigantic rubbery globs that hang to your navel, it’s a lie.  Before breastfeeding, I was a 34 B.  I don’t think I’ll EVER see anything smaller than a D cup again.)

So when I got pregnant with #2, I was already 30 lbs overweight, but I carried it well (still do, most people can’t believe I am 100 lbs overweight.)  The doctor told me not to gain anymore weight if I could help it. Ha! “Fat chance!”   When my son was born, I weighed 198 lbs, and only lost *his* weight – about 8 lbs plus the yucky stuff…I went home from the hospital weighing 188 lbs and was quite distraught over my weight.  My hubby missed my B.C. Body (Before Children).  I did too, and I cried.

However, that sorrow soon was eclipsed by my insatiable desire to satisfy every stress with sweets.  By the time #3 came along, I was still quite fat.  I breastfed her too, thinking I might win the “Get your figure back if you breastfeed” game this time.   By the time our youngest daughter was 3 or 4 years old, I tipped the scales at 208 lbs.  What sent me to the scale was a trip to Sears, and I could not fit into size 16 jeans.  For the first time, I had to go into the “18/20W” size.  Seriously, what is up with the “W” tacked on after the sizes past 18? It’s as if the tag is saying: “Lady, you are fat, and in case you haven’t figured that out, and the number isn’t enough of an indictment, we will emphasize it with the W for Whale!”

Horrified, I realized I needed help.

When I got married at 24, I barely weighed 125.  To say I was grossed out by myself, is an understatement.  BUT there was hope.  My friend was on Weight Watchers and was losing a ton of weight, so I joined too.  We determined that 124 was not my ideal weight anymore, but somewhere between 140-150 would be healthy for me.  I was almost to that goal – I had lost almost 40 of my 60 lbs.  I was feeling and looking GOOD.

Then I went back to work, and some dude kept bringing Krispy Kreme donuts in, to entice the real estate agents to use his mortgage company.  The agents were smarter than me.  “Here, Karen, take these home to your kids.”  KIDS? Are you kidding? I ended up scarfing half a box down myself before I even got home. And so began my downward spiral that I never got under control.   That was 2006.  Here I am in 2011, 235 lbs.

I tried a few times to do WW.  I really believe in the program, it is awesome, and definitely works for many. But for me, a real estate agent constantly on the go, I find it too time consuming to calculate points, to shop and plan for foods that fit into the program, to prepare…that’s why I didn’t keep up with it.  Too many days on the run, too many fast trips into McDonald’s Drive Thru or Turkey Hill (like a 7-11) for pizza.  Too much stuff to think about.

I started Nutrisystem because of the same friend who was on WW and lost lots of weight – she saw some weight creeping back up a little and tried Nutrisystem and told me how awesomely easy it is.

She is right. I can SO stick with this as long as my budget holds out.  I am setting my new goal at 135 because I really am more comfortable with that, and I’m hoping that at 135, I’ll be able to button blouses again, without gigantic melons threatening to burst through.  Even before when I was almost to goal with only had 20 lbs left to lose, my “girls” could still rival Dolly, and honestly, I’m tired of it. Other big chested ladies will agree, while I hear all you ladies with “little girls” wondering what the problem is. 🙂

In conclusion to this ramble, and back to my ORIGINAL point:  One of the questions I saw in one of Nutrisystem’s surveys was “Which celebrity body would you love to have?”

Quite frankly, I found that question offensive.  Being obsessed with someone else’s body – particularly one that has probably been liposuctioned, nipped, tucked, starved, stretched, abused, and Photoshopped beyond recognition, is a main reason many young women have eating disorders and poor body images.

Currently, I have something similar to Kirstie Alley’s body – and I feel bad for her.  Not because she is obese, but because she is a symbol of failure and ridicule for many. I see her as a courageous woman and I admire her in many ways.

But I really don’t want her body, or  for that matter, anyone else’s.  I just want my own back.

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy