Over the weekend, I took the first of three trial classes of Muay Thai kickboxing at a local karate studio. I’ve been looking for ways to shake things up for quite some time — not only in an effort to get the scale to budge, but also to ensure that I never get bored enough with my running-and-strength-training-six-times-a-week routine to lose interest and stop exercising.
This is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile…and I had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again. In fact, I’m already stressing about how I might even begin to make room in my budget for more classes.
In my conversations with the kickboxing instructor after class, I realized that I still have not fully embraced my new body or what it can do.
He referred to me as an athlete. He marveled at my ability to effortlessly complete 75 push-ups and 200 crunches with the rest of the class. He even complimented my arms — the body part of which I’ve always been the most self-conscious, and as such, the one I spend the most time sculpting each time I hunker down in the basement with my resistance band, kettlebell, and free weights.
He also insisted that I must have done this before (I assured him that I most certainly have not, beyond some watered-down cardio kickboxing classes at the YMCA). The intimidating tough-as-nails woman I was practicing punching and kicking drills with in class said the same thing. She called me a natural, and said I was ready to try much more than what the instructor allows newbies to do.
It was all tough for me to swallow. Of course I was thrilled by the compliments — and I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for holding my own in a class full of black belts and women who had been training for years.
But then there was another part of me that had trouble believing any of it. When the instructor started talking about how he “loves turning athletes into martial artists,” I convinced myself that surely he wasn’t talking about me. He’s complimenting my form and how well I did in my first class, and I’m telling myself that he’s just trying to sell me on paying for more classes. It’s his job to say those things. Right?
I may wear smaller jeans now, but in my mind, I’m still obese. I’m still sedentary. It’s a perception of myself that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve always been fat, and I spent my entire life assuming that I always would be fat.
I know it’s the reason why I can’t give myself credit for any of the physical feats my body can now accomplish.
When I beat my own time for a mile — I can finally do it in just under 10 minutes — I ridicule my big fat thunder thighs for holding me back. And when a ripped martial arts instructor comments on how muscular my arms are, all I can think about as is how much my loose arm skin flaps when I throw a punch. I’m just a fattie who’s trying to lose weight.
Meanwhile, nothing brings me greater pleasure than working up a sweat, and I’m thrilled when I wake up with sore muscles from the previous day’s workout. I run 8.0 speed sprints on a treadmill on at least a 5.0 incline, I regularly go on 8+ mile bike rides, and I’ve more than doubled the weight I’m lifting on the machines at the gym since I started working out.
I’ve tackled nearly every type of group fitness class, from spinning to Zumba to yoga. I collect new workout moves from my countless fitness magazine subscriptions like it’s my job. I have muscles bulging in places I didn’t know could have muscles.
I pound the pavement or hit the gym six times a week. My Christmas list this year consists of medicine balls and gliding discs, and new sports bras, sneakers, and running gadgets that can track my distance, speed, and calories burned.
I go out of my way to research and eat the foods that will help me burn fat and build muscle more efficiently, and that won’t weigh me down before a workout.
But an athlete? No, not me.
*I’m the new Biggest Loser blogger for CafeMom, and I’ll also be writing “Healthy Living” posts on weight loss for CafeMom’s blog, “The Stir.” You can find my stuff here.