It’s hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t self-conscious about my body.
But when I hit my 40’s, exercise became more about feeling healthy versus the previous life goals of just wanting a smaller butt, better clothing size, and maybe a cute guy or two. With age and motherhood, I didn’t really care about appearance anymore; I only wanted to be healthier when I started working out again. Or so I thought. I wondered: Do I still have some level of vanity left deep down inside?
My workout gear at home was ancient and stretched out, so I bought myself high-waisted workout tights with the strength of Fort Knox to secure my saggy belly, generous backside, and flabby thighs. I ate healthier foods and did basic exercises, and instantly felt better.
I started exercising at home, but eventually found that I needed more motivation to stick with it. Right about that time, my mom group started a fitness group. We would meet up to walk or try different workouts together.
The group started out strong and then dwindled down to a few, as we got closer to the holidays and life got in the way. I continued going, and on several occasions it was just me and one or two supermodel-caliber fitness leaders in the group. I do not exaggerate when I say supermodel caliber.
I’m grateful to have the support and camaraderie of others, but I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward. I clearly don’t look like them, and I was the least fit so they worked around my fitness level. You remember that old Sesame Street song “One of These Things (Is Not Like the Other)?” Yeah.
I hated that I felt this way. It’s the good old comparison monster we can’t help but invite back in, as we subconsciously search for someone like us so we can find comfort. I felt inadequate.
It isn’t them. I don’t fault anyone for taking good care of themselves and looking amazing for it. I benefit from their knowledge and the fact that we all have a goal of living healthier lives. I think it’s just my brain’s way of holding up a big fat mirror in front of my own face, pointing out the areas where I haven’t done the best job of taking care of myself. It just hurts to face that sometimes.
Those are my issues, and the voices in my own head. And I own that. Sometimes the biggest obstacle in staying with something is just getting out of your own head.
I showed up every week, had some nice conversations, and started to make progress. I learned several things:
- Every single human on Earth has something they’re self-conscious about, regardless of how it may appear on the outside.
- Other people may not even notice or care about the things you are self-conscious about.
- The least meaningful way you can bond with someone is by outward appearance.
- Even beautiful people feel lonely.
- It’s OK to be the “fat one” in the fitness group.
It really is OK to be the biggest girl in the fitness group. Just think of it as being the one in the group with the biggest numbers. I have continued on, both in the group and on my own, and I have lost 12 pounds — and I was cheered on the whole way.
We are all running our own race and it’s important to stay in our own lane. It’s easy to get discouraged when you see someone that is a lot farther along than you are. You might even want to quit or tell yourself you’re “too this” or “too that.” There will always be someone in front of you and someone behind you.
Everyone starts somewhere. Good progress is slow, so keep going. One day you’ll look up and find that you might be the one helping someone else.More On