I’m not a gym person and I hate joining groups, but for the first time since moving back to Chicago (when I was at my heaviest, 250 lbs.), I’ve plateaued. With that in mind, I finally motivated myself to do something I’ve always wanted to do but was scared to: Signed up for a hip hop dance class, where I’ll hopefully twerk off the 15 pounds to get me back to an arbitrary number I’ve dangled like a carrot for myself.
At my heaviest, my breathing was shallow and I felt awful, all of the time. I barely moved my body outside of walking to and from public transportation, while eating at all hours of the day, not to mention drinking casually because wine was always around. Surprisingly, in moving back, I dropped nearly 20 pounds in what I now believe was stress weight from living in NYC, from commuting 5 hours a day, from daily drinking 7 cups of coffee laden with sugar, from drinking wine on the Metro North train home because I “needed to unwind,” from eating junk food that filled emotional holes I didn’t want to acknowledge.
I consider myself hashtag blessed for being offered an opportunity that recalibrated not only my career, but my health and life.
Now, two years in and down a net 45 pounds, I’m exercising semi-regularly, plus eating and drinking with more intention. Wine is still around, though it’s only a glass or two in the evening, as opposed to the whole personal bottle(s) I was putting away before. My fitness plan is nothing crazy but something that works for me, at my pace (which is slow and deliberate): Swimming three to four days a week over spring and summer, getting off the train one stop sooner to get in more steps (or vice versa), and using a stationary bike at home a few times a week when I’m not being lazy. Throw in a couple yoga sessions here and there, and while we’re at it, special shout-out to therapy, self-reflection and self-care.
The weight loss has been welcome, but ultimately, incidental.
My journey hasn’t been about feeling fat or ashamed for getting to the size I got, but about not feeling like my body belonged to me. A lot of what I’ve learned in the last year is about being more present in my skin — of not ignoring signs like aches, pains, colds, hunger, fullness, sloth. Mindfulness is one hell of a drug — my anxieties aren’t as heavy as the sky, and feeling like I have two feet on the ground has been a boon for doing more, for moving more. For living. I’ve sloughed off so many of my own bad habits, and can happily say that every step has been less about image or even confidence — for the most part, IDGAF about my outward appearance, since I know I’m a cutie pie 💁🏾♀️💁🏾♂️💅🏾— but about getting back to center, which for me is figuring out how I feel when I’m at my best, and alternatively, how to get there when I’m at my worst.
I’m still not done with my personal work, of course, but that there’s more to do in itself feels grand.