Growing up, I had three strikes against me (in terms of maintaining a healthy weight) through most of my childhood.
Strike #1: I just didn’t care for playing outside all that much. My preferred activities ran more toward reading a book, drawing and coloring. While these pursuits definitely fed my creative side, they didn’t plant seeds for regular physical activity.
Strike #2: I was not born a naturally athletic person, and in my day that meant you didn’t get picked for the team until dead last, if at all. My one foray into the local little league team provided me with one hot summer of endless practices and Saturday afternoons of sitting in the dugout where I did my best to not let the coach catch me reading a book. Growing up in my very rural county where resources were scarce, kids who were not athletically gifted never had the opportunity to learn to be better at it.
Strike #3: As you might expect, the first two strikes greatly contributed to the last and final strike. I was, from as far back as I care to remember, “the fat kid.”
Now, oddly enough, you could be a fat kid that happened to be good at baseball or football and survive, but I was the perfect trifecta of a Three Strike Kid.
That, my friends, is a whole lot of negative self talk that I used for the next thirty plus years as my number one excuse to avoid physical activities. All through high school, college, and much of my adult life, I told myself that I didn’t like exercise, or that I wasn’t good enough to participate in group sports. Perhaps the hardest one to let go was a fear of being laughed at.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I joined a gym. In fact, I joined several gyms over several years where I would diligently go and walk on the treadmill, or use some other piece of equipment far back in the corner of the room. This would usually go on for one or two months before I gave it up, though I got to enjoy the benefits of paying monthly dues for something I wasn’t using.
So suddenly I am in my late 40’s…very late 40’s… and I was still using all the excuses I could find as to why I was overweight. Or, to be medically correct and use the term I hated to hear, I was “morbidly obese,” weighing in at 285.6 lbs and standing all of 5’9” tall.
The time had come to make a change. To stop using excuses, and perhaps most importantly, stop living in fear of what other people may or may not think of me.
So yet again, I joined another gym. I chose Planet Fitness for two very simple reasons. First, the cost was very reasonable, and frankly, the month to month, no-contract feature removed the fear of having to pay for another unused year of gym fees.
Second, Planet Fitness advertises itself as being a “No Judgment Zone,” a place where people of all shapes and sizes could feel comfortable. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling as though everyone around me at the gym is some muscle-bound Greek Adonis.
In order to actually use this gym membership, I had to acknowledge and finally defeat my own self judgment. My choices were painfully clear. I could continue to lean on my excuses – my litany of I’m-not-good-at-this and everyone-else-is-better-at-this-than me — which would likely lead to an early death, or I could learn to appreciate that my journey is my journey to live and (as the commercial says) just do it.
I chose to make my health my number one commitment. After all without good health, what is the value of life?
I needed something to get me going, though. The thought that I began to play in my head every day I headed to the gym was this: “I may not be able to do this perfectly today, but that doesn’t mean I cannot do it perfectly someday.”
Which I guess brings me to today. It’s almost a year later. Most days, you will find me at my gym, or the local vitacourse, or perhaps preparing to do another 5K, 10K or maybe, just maybe, my first half marathon. Today, I am very close to being 60 lbs lighter than a year ago, or more than half way to goal.
I’m not stopping now. I have embraced that being active is something that I want to do for the rest of my life because I want the rest of my life to be in healthy body that will allow me to explore the ever- growing list of adventures that I want to attempt.
I guess what I have learned is that all I have to do is start and keep moving, because as we all learned in high school physics a body in motion tends to stay in motion. And of course…
I may have perceived myself as a Three Strike Kid, and others may have judged me to be one, but today this former Three Strike Kid continues swinging for the bleachers ‘cause, as always, I’m Not Done Yet.