Saturday, July 28, 2012


Running. That fateful activity. The bane of all fat kids in gym class. I remember being that kid. I was a chubby kid, and regardless of the fact that I played soccer in both spring and fall (my dad was my coach...) and I was on a swim team during the summer, I was a terrible athlete. I was slow. I couldn't outrun or out swim anyone. I was strong in the legs, but that was it. I used to dream of being one of those big strong girls, like Xena, or Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was someone I could really look up to! She was tall, fearless, she had black hair, and she was usually pretty thick! Not like the skinny girls that I grew up seeing idolized, but a strong chick with big muscles who was proud of her physique. Because it's okay to be a little thick if you're tall and strong, like an Amazon! But that never happened. My heroes were too far from the 5' person I ended up being, so any athletic dreams were quickly dissolved by the time I reached high school. I stopped growing around 15. I just got chubbier, and growing up as a chubby kid is a lot harder than it might sound. There's a lot of things you can't do. You can't wear the same cute clothes that all the other girls wear, you can't have a little boy tell you he thinks you're pretty without him telling you not to tell anyone because everyone makes fun of you (don't worry dude, I forgive you). You also can't dream of becoming one of those beautiful female athletes in the Olympic games, or a beautiful singer (like I wanted), or a beautiful anything, really. And for a little girl, being beautiful is a big deal. Take that away and we've got to fend for ourselves in ways our parents aren't used to dealing with. No wonder I took to comic books and nerd things...

In high school, I got up to 180lbs. I didn't have a lot of hope concerning my weight. I tried low-calorie dieting, but that didn't go anywhere. I still played on the soccer team, and I still ran and lifted weights, but I never lost any. I was just huge, and with my tiny frame, I always felt self conscious. When I got to college, I met some guy who showed me the diet his mom was doing, Atkins. I was hooked. You know the story... I got down to 130lbs through the diet and some workout tapes. Belly dance workout tapes, no less! Neena and Veena shimmied my ass through some pretty good 30 minute routines that had me learning not just a few good dance moves, but that I actually enjoyed working up a sweat when I was alone with nobody around to judge my performance.  I got a few of their other tapes, but "Slim Down" was my favorite. It actually made me sweat, and that sweat made me proud. I'm not exactly sure how many calories I burned on this workout, but eventually, I started to think I could burn more. I thought it was nice outside, maybe I could take up jogging? So I did. Alone. I grabbed a pedometer from Target, threw on some crappy running shoes, and started jogging from my house to our old church. It was one mile, and I walked half the way, but I felt accomplished. I could run! Maybe it wasn't so fast, but it was still running, and for some reason, that felt real.

I've been doing that ever since. I work out alone. Please don't ask to join me, because I still have that embarrassment when I work out with people I know around me. I still have that anxiety. I feel like I'm just an ugly sweaty pig trying to do something I was not meant to do, and as hard as it is to do in front of strangers at the gym, I know for damn sure I can't do it in front of friends.
I also don't run outside anymore, because #1 my allergies in the warm months and #2 my asthma in the cold ones. People tell me to use the elliptical all the time. It's faster! It burns more calories! Blah blah blah. Yes, I know this. But where do you use an  elliptical in real life?? You don't. Running is something humans have done for years. Something about putting one foot in front of the other feels very primal, to me. Like free weighs. I don't like machines because they were invented for people with disabilities. I do not have disabilities, so I use free weights, because they work more of your body. And I like that! And I like running. I'm not very fast, still, but I do it. Every workout I do at least 5k (3.12 miles) in under 32 minutes. On good days, I do it under 30. Is my goal to get down to a faster time? Sure... but I know I'll always be a slow runner. The point isn't that I do it fast. The point is that I do it. I was a chubby kid with no hope, and now, I'm a chubby adult who runs because... well, I don't know, really. It's kind of a miserable thing. Why do I run? I don't even know. I just know I have to, or I feel bad. Guilty.  I feel accomplished every single time, after every single run. I feel tired and sometimes nauseous, too... but that accomplished feeling is irreplaceable.

So yeah, I might never be Wonder Woman, but that's okay. At the very least, I'll never be that hopeless kid in gym class, again. And who knows? Maybe if I cut back on the vodka, I could burn the rest of the fat off these thighs and show you the muscle I've been building.

...yeah, we'll see.

No comments: