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Monday, June 7, 2010

Are You Saying "I'll Go When I Lose Some Weight" Before Going to the Gym, Pilates or Yoga Studio, or the Pool? THEN Stop Being Afraid & Stop Making Excuses

Woman glances into a gym as she walks by. Woman peeks through the Pilates studio's window as she heads for Subway. Woman studies Yoga studio's ad and thinks, "My belly and thighs are too big. I can't do that. When I lose weight, I'll try it."

Yeah, that was me.

To some extent that is me. I still won't go to LA Fitness, cause it's so huge and packed it feels overwhelming. But I do go regularly, and have gone for two years, to a Pilates studio, a wee airy and sunny place where my big fat body is welcomed.

Today, I was reminded of that years-ago me that was so afraid to walk into the studio. My trainer mentioned a heavy gal (she said the woman was somewhat larger than me, but hippy as opposed to appley) who came to the studio recently, but said she'd come back when she'd lost weight. What had happened was that she'd gotten gastric bypass, had lost a lot, but then had regained it all back.

I told the trainer that maybe she could invite the woman to watch me or join me during one of my sessions, so she could see that, yes, a VERY fat woman could do Pilates. I have no problem being observed if it makes it easier for a fellow big gal do something good for her health. She should NOT wait "until I lose some weight."

I used to think that very same phrase. And it kept me from doing a damn speck of exercise for 5 years cause, you know, I never really lost all that much weight while I waited for that hypothetical slimmer day.

So, is that you?

Have you been wishing you could try yoga, Pilates, spinning, an aquatic aerobics class, but you are afraid you'll be the biggest gal in the group? Are you intimidated by the equipment? Are you worried your baggy workout wear will make you stand out amidst the tight-spandex-n-cotton wearing slim folks?

Quit that. Exercise has multiple benefits (and especially so for the overweight and obese and, yes, MORBIDLY obese like moi).

My tale, the quickie version: I had wanted to try Pilates for a couple decades. But I'd see those poses and machines and thing, "Fat me will never be able to do that." A studio opened up a few years ago nearby. I'd drive by and see the sign and think, "Gee...I wish...gee..." But I never stopped in.

Then, about a year after I started this blog and had lost a handful of pounds and realized I needed to get my mushy, muscle-less, couch potato bod into some movement, I research Pilates. It seemed joint-friendly and not taxing to my weak lungs (ie, I get exercise induced asthma and aerobics is tough on my breathing AND my knees/ankles, as I have a torn ACL ligament and just plain old OLD and BAD knees from carrying the weight of 2, 2.5 people for way too long.)

It took me another couple months to get up the nerve to call and ask if they could handle a morbidly obese client. Then it took even more nerve to put on workout wear (a semi-baggy long tee with leggings) go in the door. I was TERRIFIED. I was thinking they'd say, "Oh, we were wrong. Our equipment can't handle 275 pounds."  I was afraid I'd totally fail.

Well, figures my first several sessions there were, two, count em two, beautiful, impossibly long and slim, leggy models who had sessions at the same time as me. (I felt like the muddy giant toad next to the pearl-and-sunlight festooned princesses. I am not kidding. These women were so lovely they had to be DNA-enhanced mutants.) But you know what, nobody laughed. Nobody made me feel bad except ME.

Two years later, I still go to the same sunny, airy room and get my muscley mojo going. I am still too fat (but about 10 lbs lighter from the highest weight as which I did Pilates ). I still need to adapt some of the moves to my apple-shape (my belly is an actual obstacle to some classic positions, so we work around it). I'm not afraid of the equipment. I actually LOOK FORWARD to the Cadillac and the Reformer (my two fave pieces of equipment). I kinda like the Wunda Chair (and got the Malibu Chair to do stuff at home). I use the barrel, the fitness balls, the magic circle, the bands, the straps, the toning balls.

I'm not intimidated to say, "Oh, this position is bad for my lousy knee. Can we do this another way?" Yes, you CAN do it another way. If your teacher is well-trained and certified, she or he can FIND a way to accomodate your body type.

I even wear shorts and sleeveless snug tanks and camisoles now so the trainer can better see my muscle-engagement. Does that look good? Heck no. I'm 267 lbs in a teeny weenie top and tight bicycle length Danskin shorts and capris. This is not something I want to photograph any time soon. But when I go there, it's about EXERCISE, not looks. I wanna be comfy and I wanna facilitate the trainer's observations and coaching.

To be honest, I used to look like an overturned turtle trying to get on and off the Reformer. While I am not a ballerina of grace now, I can more easily do that. Muscle helps. :D

I'm hoping with this callenge to drop some belly weight and be able to improve even more. I want to do Pilates without special accomodations for a morbidly obese apple-shaped body. I want to do it with the freedom that comes without massively excess adiposity.

This is part of my ultimate health goals: To lose enough weight to feel really free in any position in Pilates (adjusting for weight and joint sensitivity issues).

Note: The two images are of the actual Pilates studio where I work out. :) Yep, my big fat body uses all that stuff.

So, if you have put off some form of exercise--a class, training, a gym, Pilates, etc--please remember that you need it MORE than the young and skinny chicks. You NEED to grow muscle and burn fat. You need to get flexible and feel stronger for you own life.

Don't let fat-shame or fat-phobia stop you. Try it. Even if you're the only big gal in a  place--and I am the only morbidly obese person at this studio, and I rarely see even overweight folks there-- you just might inspire another overweight gal to give it a shot. You'd be the trailblazer or example for someone who needs it.

Summer Slimmin's Update: Did 55 minutes of intense Pilates. Drinking water just fine. Eating is good and within calories. I tracked all my foods by "writin' it" at Sparkpeople. Had 5 fruits and veggies as of mid-afternoon. I posted comments on all the challenge blogs that had Monday posts as of 6:20pm EST. Weigh-in was half a pound down. Yay.


Emilia said...

Good for you for kicking your butt through the door, I'm sure your body thanks you for it (maybe not mid- or post-work out, but in the long run).

I can totally relate to what you are saying about how no one made you feel bad except yourself. We are our biggest critics.

Your blog looks lovely and I look forward to reading more from you!


Once Upon A Dieter said...

Thanks, Emilia (and that's one of my all-time fave female names, too!) I see the benefits and feel them, and I feel bad that I waited so long, so hope others don't make the procrastinating mistake I did. :-/

Katie J said...

I am afraid of spinning class because I don't think I can handle it AND I don't want to be the fattest arse on the bikes. Same with kickboxing and all the bouncing. Someday soon...

The Better Idiot said...

No, Japanese guys are really high maintenence. A combination of living with their parents for so long and the fact that the roles of men and women are still quite traditional here.

4athomej said...

You are the bomb!!!!
I am one of 'Those' women...lol I don't know if it's the weight thing that keeps me from an actual gym. It's the shyness for me. I hate asking for help and I wouldn't have the first clue how to work most of the equipment. BUT I am happy to workout at home...bike...elliptical and most Beachbody programs... :)

Jenny S said...

Good job on your Summer Slimmin' goals thus far!! Awesome that you did 55 minutes of Pilates! I have never done it, don't really know what all it is. Great job on your fruits and veggies! And wonderful job encouraging others! So... how did you know who all to encourage? Did you go to the main page for the challenge? Yes, that must be it. Great job, keep it up!