Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Now, then and the point...

I was working out with Sarah this morning and we were talking about her swim and aerobics classes that she teaches throughout the day. There seems to be an epidemic of "I can't, I don't want to hurt myself" in her classes. She teaches college level students, for the most part they are young and healthy. She's up to her eyeballs in frustration that these kids aren't even trying. Then she gave me the best dang compliment I've ever received, "I need more people like you in there. You're a big girl. But you're willing to try. You push yourself. If you can't do what we're doing, you modify! That attitude is so essential for fitness."

I told her I have to push myself. If I'm going to be the fattest person in a swim class, you bet your ass I'm going to be the hardest working one there. I will take the harder resistance bands. I will take the biggest buoy for water weight lifting. I will swim the hardest, the longest. In a way it's my fear of skinny people judgement... but in another light... I have always told myself "just because you're fat, doesn't mean you have to be a wimp."  

I started aquacise 3 semesters ago because I wanted to take it easy on my joints and start getting more active. It is a work out. A REAL work out... cardio and muscle training. I just had to wear a swim suit. In front of people. 

I grew up swimming. There were summers of 5 days a week at the pool. Mom would drop me off at 5pm and pick me up at 10pm. (late, yeah, but that's when gingers get things done). I would wear t-shirts to ward off sunburn, not just to hide my fat body. I didn't really care then. I stopped going when my friend Jamie pointed out that I had a zit on my shoulder and I thought I'd turned into a hideous monster. Who gets zits on their shoulders?!?!   What a ridiculous reason to stop swimming. 

Anyway... so that was 7th grade. Over 10 years later, I bought a new suit online in the largest size I could find. It fit funny. I changed in a bathroom stall, abandoning any sense of modesty, no shirt or shorts to slow me down and jiggled out to the pool. No one cared. We worked out. More jiggling. But we're in a pool and people are concentrating on their own bodies. No one cared. I didn't have to worry about being fat in that class. Water was a nice blanket to keep people from being able to stare at your body while you moved it about. 

I took it again the next semester. As a returning student, I knew what was going on. I could help other people. Fat person who knows what's going on. Fat person helping skinny person work out. I had started changing in the locker room like a normal person. I hadn't lost a lot of weight or anything. My confidence was up. These people are my classmates. They know how hard I work. They know that I can do what they can and even help them along the way. 

The third semester, I saw a girl in there that made my heart break. She was big like me. Bigger framed even. Manly fingers, wide shoulders, small boobs, wide waist. It was apparent that she wanted to fit in as she made the effort to do the ratted hair, streaky highlights, clunky acrylic nails. I talked to her... she's getting a certificate in diesel mechanics and wants to do a bit of local theater. I told her I'd meet her in the pool. She came to the indoor pool in her suit... and t-shirt... and shorts. Extra fabric = crap work out in the water. I just wanted to hug her and tell her that no matter how big she is... own it. Don't apologize. No one is judging you. I'm so glad you're here! Way to get yourself active!

I was still fatter than her. I wanted to walk around the locker room naked. I wanted to jump up and down and wiggle more than I ever have to show her that IT'S OKAY. And to show her that no one was talking about me. No one was bothered or sickened by my enormity. The only person that has a problem with her size is her. 

She dropped the class after 2 weeks. I didn't walk around naked. I tried to befriend her and help her be comfortable. But I guess it just wasn't time for that yet. 

Don't fear the numbers. :) 
This is why I'm such an advocate for body love... any size. If you're afraid of your body... what are the chances that you're going to make changes that you'd like for it?! Loving your body and accepting yourself doesn't mean resigning to being fat forever. It means seeing yourself honestly and appreciating what's there. Being able to see your curves as beautiful... even if you're shaped more like a table leg than an hourglass (like me). Try to understand why there are men and women out there that appreciate your body type... try to find that things that you have whether it be a great round butt, big full breasts, wide hips, curvy waist, slender wrists, delicate fingers, long dark eyelashes, high cheek bones, shapely lips... whatever does it for you. 

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. And you'll be even more beautiful when you can see it in yourself as well. 

And when you're feeling down and thinking that everyone is staring or thinking terrible things in your direction...   remember the words of my 6th grade English teacher, "What makes YOU think you're SO IMPORTANT that everyone is thinking and talking about YOU!?" Oh... Mrs. Lewis going about shaking the egocentric universe. 

Big Fat Body Love, 


  1. Great post Nanette! I did not love my body when I was at my biggest and am just starting to come to LIKE it now. I know it is important and I do want to change it though.

  2. You know, body image is hard for most of us... My girls who are size 6-8 think they are fat and bitch all the time about their bodies. I try and tell them they better enjoy it because this is the best they are EVER going to look, but it seems to go in one ear and out the other!!! Good for you that you can accept who you are and work to improve what you are dis-satisfied with. Maybe with time the rest of us can get there.

  3. Ah great story, it's so liberating to be able to accept ourselves. What a great accomplishment.

    No one notices fat ole me plodding around in my swimsuit with my son and I really enjoy the water and the relief on my weary joints.

  4. I love this post!!! Logically I knew that the sexiest person is someone who feels great about themselves, but I wasn't feeling it. I spent WAAY too many years feeling bad about myself and hoping for someone else to come along and make me feel better. Now that I've taken responsibility for myself and I OWN my body, everything else seems to be falling into place.


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