Notice: I swore I would never write about being fat and how much I hate it or start writing about a “weight loss journey” because I am NOT one of those people, except, OH MY GOSH NOW I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I am doing it and I am both disgusted by myself and proud of myself for putting this out into the world. I did not write this to fish for compliments. I generally like myself and pride myself on being authentic and relatable. That said, I wouldn’t mind being authentic and relatable and also a swimsuit model. Of course, the good Lord knew this and knew I would shamelessly flaunt my assets, so to keep me humble, he made me too short, pasty skinned, and gave me the bone structure of a circa 1970s Little People toy, even when I was young and thin. I will never frolic on a Brazilian beach in a thong bikini, posing for Sports Illustrated, which annoys me, but God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
I turn 40 this year. That sounds so old to me, and yes, I am a little angsty over it. In my head, I still feel like I’m 18, so it never fails to shock me when I see the dumpy, middle aged woman in the mirror. Who even IS THAT? But I can’t even ask myself “How did this happen?” I know how it happened. My response to stress and big feelings has always been to eat. I am high strung and sensitive, despite my attempts to appear happy-go-lucky and chill, so I am always over-emoting one way or another. EAT ALL THE FOOD, GIRL!
Over the years, I have sometimes dabbled and sometimes been serious about exercise and diet. When I have been serious about it, as when I was training daily in Krav Maga and religiously counting calories, I dropped 23 lbs in four months, which was totally awesome. I was still heavier than I wanted to be, but I felt so much better. Then I got a concussion that prevented me from being able to work out for about six months. It was awful. And so I ate. All the weight I lost, I regained, and then some. Eventually, I started working out again (though not nearly as intensely as before, because the older I’ve gotten, the longer it takes me to recover) but I haven’t been able to push the numbers on the scale (or the pants size) down. I am strong and I have pretty good endurance, and I know there are some awesome muscles under there, but I feel like I’m wearing one of those inflatable Sumo suits. I hover between a size 18 and 20, which is the largest I have ever been, even pregnant. I know I need to (again) couple my exercise with calorie counting.
My outward appearance does not match the me in my head. It hasn’t for some time (like, 20 years) and I’ve just sort of tried to ignore it, or blow it off with some humor, or even Pollyanna my way through all the work it takes to look and feel half decent. But now I’m just mad. I have reached the stage in life where it takes me longer to recover from everything from staying up late to walking the dog. I find myself saying things like “I’m just glad that everything is still working okay,” (which is true) and “I want to lose weight to be healthy, I’m not concerned about looking a certain way,” (which is a lie, because I want to look hot. I want a slim waistline, no belly flab, and perky butt and boobs again. Is that so much to ask?) My kids and their friends see me as the fun, but decidedly matronly mom. (I am not opposed to being seen as the FUN MOM, but the FAT MOM? Ugh.) I cannot wear the styles I like because my limbs end up looking like sausages about to burst their cases, or like I put on a circus tent. I hate this. I HAAAAAATE this. There is no amount of camouflaging, lighting, smoke and mirrors, or contouring that can hide this. On the upside, I really do like working out. A few years ago, Krav Maga classes helped me discover the joy of really moving and working my body. I love feeling muscles move and stretch and burn. I just wish they’d burn calories more efficiently, like when I was 24 or even 34. Come on, guys—get it together!
I know I’m fat because of my own choices, and I am working on this. Exercising more, but also (and more importantly) watching my calories and trying to make smart food choices. I don’t even like junk food much, I just like to eat A LOT of the healthy stuff, and apparently, eating A LOT of healthy stuff still makes you fat. Stupid, man. That’s just stupid. But, I am sucking it up and disciplining myself. I’ve done it before and I know it works. I am beginning to see progress again but it is SO. SLOW. And so easily undone. I want results NOW, darn it! This discipline stuff is hard. And annoying. And why does my body want to cling to every pound harder now that I’m pushing 40? Why do my muscles and joints ache after two consecutive days of Krav Maga or kickboxing workouts? Or 45 stupid minutes on the elliptical? Life is not fair. Wahhhh!!!
A few months ago, I printed off some inspirational quotes and stuck them to my bathroom mirror, so that every day, I’d see them and read them and be reminded that “I’m doing this for me” and “Nothing tastes as good as fit feels” and “I can get up and get scared or I can get up and get ready.” But this kind of inspo is not working. It is not me. I have read these horrible quotes so much that now I greet my mirror and my Scotch taped messages with the scorn of a thousand Grumpy Cat memes.
I joined a workout group at my gym a little while ago, complete with a hard-nose personal trainer. I worked out for 12 weeks with this group and this trainer and while it was fun, I was in good enough shape (under the chub) that it wasn’t much of a challenge. I couldn’t relate to the trainer at all. She is fit and she knows her stuff, and she is no-nonsense, but she has never had children and has been a gym rat since high school. She doesn’t get so bloated the week before and during her period that she doesn’t fit into her jeans. In fact, she doesn’t wear jeans. She told me this—she only wears compression shorts. (Occupational necessity, I guess.) Also, she’s 26. I like her as a person, I admire that she knows 125 variations of squats and can kettlebell with the best of them, and has killer triceps and a butt you can bounce a quarter off, but does she get that just because she can bench press a billion pounds doesn’t mean she can take a hit from a guy twice her size and stay standing? Does she have to cross her legs when she sneezes so she doesn’t pee her pants?
I don’t know that there is a trainer for me in the real world (that I can afford.) So, I decided to make one up. Yes, I have an imaginary personal trainer. He (yes, he. I can’t bring myself to swear at a lady.) is a cross between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,Tony Stark, and Gru, from Despicable Me. Make fun of me if you will. At least I finally figured out what motivates me. Smack talk. Anger. Masochism. Macabre silliness. A vaguely Slavic accent. His name is Hulk Smash, because I am incapable of zealous earnestness. He is the perfect trainer for me because he does not spout fitspo at me. He barks at me to quit whining and stay on task. When I swear at him and tell him to go to hell, because I’d rather eat that second helping or sleep in, he gives me a dead-eyed stare as he swats the muffin out of my hands, grinds it underfoot, and orders more time on the treadmill, more reps, more burpees. He is relentless. When I am feeling discouraged or lazy, he calls me a pansy-ass sissy and reminds me how much I like to hit things. The angrier I get, the harder he laughs. The more he laughs, the harder I work. When I’m done working out, he applauds me with, “That’s all you got, Hellcat? You better bring your A-game tomorrow.” At that point, I flip him a friendly bird and we call it a day.