When I weighed 300 pounds, the words fat and exercise didn’t seem to go together. First of all, there was the body size issue. If it’s impossible to walk from the front door to your mailbox without having your thighs rub together then the idea of going for a walk for the purpose of exercising can seem overwhelming, at least it was for me. Secondly, there was a bit of a problem with clothing. Exercise clothes are available in plus sizes, but what if you don’t really want to be seen in spandex pants at 275 pounds? And lastly, there could be the issue of worrying what people will think when they see you waddling into a gym, or even walking down your neighborhood road.
I experienced all of these feelings when I was obese. For 10 years I struggled with my obesity, fruitlessly joining weight loss centers and trying random diets I found on the Internet or in a magazine. My eating plans lasted a few weeks at best, and the successes I achieved measured in single digits. Exercise at my weight seemed impossible even though I understood exercise helps in weight loss efforts. The thought of plodding down my road for the world to see scared me, and even if someone had paid me money to join a gym, I wouldn’t have taken them up on their offer. I was that overwhelmed and embarrassed.
I knew I needed to move my body, but how could I when the daily movements of life wore me out? Just being a mom, managing my at home business, and getting out of bed every morning seemed to expend a great deal of energy. There were days where I would sit on a stool at the kitchen island and cook so I didn’t have to stand up any longer. I watched with envy, my friends who seemed to possess boundless enthusiasm for playground dates and trips to the outdoor museum. I’d join them when I could, but after about 1 hour, the smile on my face was pasted on like a beauty queen’s. Grin and bear it would be the motto for the museum trip. I felt like I hid my pain well, but one friend later told me she always felt sorry for me as she could tell walking the museum was hard for me.
I finally got scared about my weight and my future, and I began following a reasonable weight loss plan. I had two of the three components down cold – fat percentage and portion control. The third component – exercise – wasn’t so easy. I knew my fear had to be conquered. Exercise really did loom large in my future. The first morning of my journey I got up before the rest of the family and put on my exercise clothes. Instead of traditional exercise shorts, shirt and walking shoes, I put on an ugly jumper, white men’s t-shirt and tennis shoes. That’s all I had, and I was determined not to purchase any exercise type clothing until I had proven to myself I was serious and committed to starting an exercise program.
Leaving the comfort of the house took some courage. I walked in the early morning, just before daybreak, so my neighbors couldn’t see me. That morning, thighs rubbing together like sandpaper, I walked 10 minutes away from the house turned around and walked 10 minutes home. Slow were my steps but they would prove to be some of the most important first steps I would take for the rest of my life. Day after day I put aside my feelings of insecurity and walked out the front door. Every day I exercised I put a check mark on my calendar and watched as the calendar filled up and my body shrunk. Overcoming the emotional fears of exercise took courage and perseverance, but the results were worth every hard moment.
As you think about your fitness level perhaps you aren’t 300 pounds as I was, but you still aren’t exercising. What’s stopping you? Fear, embarrassment, laziness? I encourage you to write down your reasons for not beginning an exercise program and honestly look at them.