Taking my Body Back: The Beginning, Part 1

All my life, I have always been in awe of the human body.  Its ability to heal from disease, the way it communicates to us that something is wrong, how much the mental and physical are connected.  Having grown up with parents in the medical field, I was even more in tune to things.  Stories ran rampant at the dinner table, and at a young age I knew what it meant to defibrillate a patient, or what type of drug to administer to someone who has Od’d on heroin.  I was also raised in a household where there was always an emphasis on nutrition – no sugar cereals, no sodas, nothing artificial, I even knew what MSG was.  Milk with every meal and my school lunch was NEVER exciting…maybe a few chips ahoy cookies if I was lucky. To this day I still haven’t even had a pop tart. With all that being said, how was it that all the sudden at 37 years old, I found myself to be overweight, no energy with “ok” eating habits?   I could come up with a lot of reasons (or some might say excuses) – I lived alone and eating out made more sense than cooking for myself.  I had a new dog and a busy job with weird hours, how would I make time to exercise?  I went through a break up, my best friend moving away and two deaths, I am grieving, leave me alone. Or better yet, my anti-anxiety medication made me fat.  Regardless, I was getting to the point where I knew that I knew better and something was going to have to change and quick.  I was tired of comparing myself to the hot twenty something year olds at my work. I was tired of seeing all the motivational fitness photos on social media and tired of just being tired.  I was also wearing a size 14 – and regardless of what people say about the average woman being a size 12, it was not okay.

While all this was going on – and even before – one of my best friends Lauryn, was going through a major life change herself.  She was a new mom and wife and had just left her full time job to become an entrepreneur.   I watched from afar as she started to take on a new lifestyle – a new HEALTHY lifestyle.  She bought a franchise called Stroller Strides, an opportunity for women who were also new moms to get together at a local park to work out with their babies in tow (in their strollers of course!). I thought it was awesome and was so proud of her for taking herself out of the daily grind and not only doing something for herself, but  for other women too, talk about empowering.  Occasionally Lauryn would post things on social media about her mommy’s and their accomplishments…and then all of the sudden it was like someone switched a light on in Lauryn, she took this opportunity and her new lifestyle to a whole new level.  I saw Lauryn at our annual Thanksgiving dinner and that was when I really noticed it – she had literally SHRUNK.  She started explaining this other group that she joined; it was a boot camp style program that allowed women to come together, share their experiences with their bodies and really work out hard together.  There was also a nutritional component and food journaling. Sounded awesome, sounded like a lot of work, sounded like a COMMITMENT.  The group was called Body Back.

Once Lauryn started this process, the pounds just fell off of her, it was unreal, but it wasn’t even that she suddenly was “skinny”, she was also STRONG and to me that was just amazing.  Earlier this year, I watched Lauryn complete her first half marathon, I was so proud and maybe even a little envious.  I wanted to be strong like that too.   I would make back handed comments to my friends about how I looked, hoping that maybe they would reassure me that it wasn’t bad, or I still looked great, but no one did.  My mom – who is healthier than ever and practices Birkram yoga in a town of 7500 ft of elevation – would text me daily “what are you going to do today to take care of yourself” – my answer usually was “if I can get out of bed and make it through the day, I have succeeded”.  It was no secret that I was depressed, I wore it like a badge of dishonor and my mom knew that exercise would be the number one thing to get me out of this funk.  Then two things happened that really shook me. The first being my boss sat me down at work and basically told me that I was failing as an employee and then he took it to a personal level and asked me if I was okay emotionally. He could tell that I was tired, not motivated, and unhappy and that he noticed that I had let myself go.  I was shocked, embarrassed and sad, it was now apparent to people outside of my friends and family. Second my dad told me a story about a daughter of one of his co-workers who had passed away recently. She had a heart attack and literally just fell over and died.  While he told me the story, he said something that I am sure he didn’t even realize, but it stuck on me like the fat on my ass, he said “yeah, she was so young, and only a little bigger than you are”.  WOW – there it was.

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