You Have A Strong Heart

My niece had a runny nose when we took her to the mall this weekend to Build-a-Bear and I’m convinced she gave me a slight cold. This wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that my allergies are horrendous at the moment and I have asthma. This compounds the inflammation in my airways and makes it that much more difficult to breathe, much less do anything that requires cardio. So yesterday I went to the gym, as I do now on Thursdays, to work out with my trainer I requested that we limit the high-intensity cardio and stick to lifting some weights.

She opted to cancel some of the kettleball swings but other than that, it was still a solid workout. I did 12 deadlifts with a 50 pound barbell and rows in between. Then I did squats with a 30 pound barbell pushing it into an upward press above my shoulders as I straightened my legs. Then I did 12 backward lunges with the 30 pound barbell on my shoulders and finished off with an incline plank. I repeated this circuit four times.

It was tough but not so tough that I wanted to cry, like I have on previous workouts. It got my heart pumping and was taxing and I always feel like the thing that limits me the most is endurance, breathing hard, the cardio part. But I was able to do it and that was good.

At the end of the work out my trainer told me, “You should be proud of yourself. You did four sets of that and it’s pretty impressive. That is not easy. You are strong. I don’t put out weights like this for everyone and I wouldn’t do it for you if I didn’t think you could do it. Good work today!” She gave me a high-five.

Me, I was like, really? Because I have a set of sunglasses on that filter how I see the world that generally point out how pathetic I’m doing – how I could be doing more, and how lame it is I can’t do a Burpee and that my belly gets in the way, and how silly I look doing all this stuff.

It’s like, I feel guilty for feeling good about myself. Somehow this is taboo, forbidden, wrong.

But I did feel strong doing those dead lifts. I banged them out pretty good and though challenging, I was up to the challenge. I felt pretty good about doing that, that it was less pathetic than usual, but here was my trainer saying that I should be proud of myself for what I had done. I’m not exactly sure that I know how that feels. I mean, I was proud of myself for completing over 120 heats at the San Diego Open a few years ago and earing Top Student. That was a goal I worked for and achieved and it felt awesome. But these everyday victories, they somehow don’t seem big enough. It’s as if I’m waiting until I’m at my goal weight to actually approve of myself, be proud of myself, love myself.

Like following my eating plan this past week. I did it successfully and that was good, but I wasn’t exactly “proud” of myself for doing that. In my mind, it is simply what I need to do to get where I want to go, and I’m focused like no kidding on that so I did what needed to be done, that’s all. In truth, I’m not even proud of myself for being down over 70 pounds from my highest weight ever (see picture below). Because it took 3 fucking years to do that and I’m still mad that I’m 100 pounds from where I want to be.

20130509_150213

Don’t get me wrong. I notice a difference and I do feel somewhat better about myself. I just still see that I have so very far to go and this is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take months of consistent, persistent, determined action. And though I’m anticipating victories along the way, like reaching 213 which will be 100 pounds from my highest weight, and getting under 200 pounds, and getting to 179 pounds which will mean I’m overweight and no longer obese according to my BMI, and hitting my goal weight, I’m just not all that impressed with myself for where I am.

But I am starting to question that point of view simply because it could undermine all my efforts, and I refuse to let that happen this time. This time, I’m following this through come hell or high water!

My nutritionist seemed to also think I should be so proud of myself. She was like, “Stef, you’ve already accomplished a lot, and now, if you keep what you are doing, you will get to your goal in less than a year. You’ve got this! I really hope you are proud of yourself.” And she gave me a big hug.

But I find myself having trouble letting go of my story. You know, the one about me not being good enough, pretty enough, thin enough. I’m having trouble letting go of what I want to be so badly that I can’t seem to be satisfied with where and how I am. It is the ultimate thief, this mindset of comparison, and “not-enough.” But I swear, at the same time that I can see my face looks a little thinner, and maybe my belly too, and that when I thought I’d need a size 24 skirt I ended up purchasing a size 16, at the same time as I can see these steps of progress, I can also see my huge arms, how much larger I am than any other girls in my dance classes, how thick my legs and thighs are, the cellulite on my knees. At the same time that I feel slightly lighter, that it is maybe easier to move and more tolerable to wear heels to dance in, I also am also exhausted panting for breath and having a difficult time holding myself in yoga poses or ballet because I weigh so much or my body mass simply gets in the way.

I am still in a place where I feel the need to block out how I look and don’t feel proud of my appearance. I am longing for when I can wear this one asymmetrical dance shirt I bought and feel so beautiful and sassy in it. Right now when I put it on I just see where it hugs and tugs when it should be hanging empty, and it is frustrating and makes me feel sad.

And the thing I am up against physically that challenges me the most (besides the self-esteem and body image) is the cardio. Well, at least, it is my experience of me being out of shape. But even this I am questioning once again because of my nutritionist and trainer. Because the truth is, when I do a dance class, even though I may be panting and sweating and absolutely killing myself, and even though I may need to not do everything full-out just to stay in the game, well, the truth is, I’m working harder than anyone else out there just because of the sheer weight I carry. They’d probably be more tired too if they were carrying an extra 90 pounds.

Because I always experience myself as out of shape cardiovascular-wise, and because my dance teacher says that even skinny people can really struggle with the cardio and endurance required for dancing, I was feeling the need to add in some training to improve this. But both my trainer and nutritionist said that I was crazy active, especially compared to most people, and probably even more so for obese people. They said, “cardio isn’t the problem. Get the weight off and it will become so much easier. You won’t have to change a thing if you just keep dancing like you are. It will be enough.”

Aorta

My nutritionist said, “You have a strong heart. Cardio isn’t problem.”

My trainer said, after lifting all those weights today, “You are strong. Strength isn’t the problem.”

The problem is how I feel. The problem is the extra person I’m carrying around in my body. It makes it difficult to feel and act strong and sexy in Latin class with Rado doing the Rumba. I can do the steps, and some of my shapes look nice and all, but I’m lacking the confidence necessary because of my fat fucking arms and huge tree-trunk legs. I am the anthesis of the ideal for a Latin dancer, the complete and utter opposite, and it is a laughable farce, me dancing this dance.

Or is it awesome? Because I’m doing it anyways, because it is in my heart, regardless of external circumstances or appearances.

I don’t know. I think it is kind of a ridiculous-awesome, if there is such a thing.

What I do know is that in less than two weeks I will be dancing in a competition. I will be putting myself out there to be seen and judged. And you know what? Doing that, revealing one’s art, whether it be a painting or a dance, in writing or sharing a musical composition, and regardless of that person’s size or appearance, regardless of all those things, well, it takes a strong heart.

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8 thoughts on “You Have A Strong Heart

  1. Just my two cents…it seems to me that perhaps the image issue is a real issue. I worry that when you get to your goal weight (and I know you will!), you’ll still see the imperfections and think you have much more work to do. I would start to focus on what’s improved and embracing that. Because although I’m only 10 pounds away from my goal, I still see a fat person. So don’t let that happen to you. 🙂

    Cathy xoxo

  2. I know I keep saying this but you are such an inspiration to me. It just strikes me that so many of the words and feelings you are expressing here are so much like mine. It helps in those “weak” moments I have that I am not the only one out there because it is so easy to feel you are alone because well, people just don’t express this, and they should. Thank you again for the amazing and honest writing you place here about yourself. Keep up the work, you’re doing so good, and I am proud of you.

  3. Wow. This is the first post of yours I’ve read and I love you already. You are amazing in so many ways. The appearance will come, but the insides are already pretty fantastic.

  4. You are my hero this week! Keep up the great work! As I posted earlier, strong is the new skinny.

  5. Martina says:

    Wow. I could have written so much of this myself. A friend was just razzing me earlier for diminishing the progress I made with my weight loss goal this week, because it is so little in comparison to all I need to lose. I don’t know why we do these things to ourselves, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. That said, reading your blog is inspiring me as I begin my journey. Keep up the good work. Even though I don’t know, it’s easy to see from your writing that you are pretty awesome! Go you!

  6. I think we’re in very similar situations. Because I have so far to go, (and I’ve only just started) I find that I’m diminishing my accomplishments because I’m worried that I’ll lose my motivation.
    Here’s a thought: people who practice self-kindness are actually more likely to lose weight than those who motivate themselves with guilt. You’ve come SO FAR and you’ve done SO WELL. Yes, you still have a way to go–and you’re doing it. You will do it. You go to the gym, and you watch what you eat.
    For me, at least, one of the reasons that I beat myself up is that in the past, I use food as a reward. And I can’t do that and maintain a healthy weight and attitude towards food. So I’ve tried to break the association there, but I reward myself at the end of each Friday when I’ve stuck to my calories/eating plan. It’s only up to $20 or $30, but it’s something. This Friday, I’m going to buy new pajamas.
    I’m trying to both celebrate my achievements and still keep forward momentum for the road ahead. For you, I suspect that dancing in the competition will do it. Think back to where you started from–you couldn’t have done what you are going to do in two weeks.
    You do have a strong heart, and the reason I know that is: look at how far you’ve come. And you’re still motivated.
    GO YOU.

  7. Rachel says:

    I can totally relate. I just recently got to overweight range from obese. If you had told the eighteen year old me that I would be happy to be overweight, I would have laughed at you. Now I am happy to be overweight, because it is better than where I was. Still, all we can do is keep plugging away, making the best decisions we can each day. Your journey inspires me, and helps me see the humor and joy in my own.

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