Isabelle (the instructor) explained that the "feature" would include a before and after picture, and a brief summary of my weight loss journey. I agreed to do it, and as soon as I left and got to my car, felt an intense array of emotions. On the one hand, I felt proud that my weight loss had been noticed. I've been aware of it, and extremely happy with my accomplishments, but to know that somebody else recognized what I saw in myself was a huge compliment.
A bigger part of me was scared, though. Did I want my fattest picture hanging on the wall of a very busy gym? Could I even be considered a success story, when I am still far from my goal? The inadequacy and worry that I felt far outweighed the excitement.
Isabelle messaged me shortly after for the pictures, and asked me to explain how I felt when I joined the gym, how weight loss has changed my life, what classes I take now, and why I work out now. This was my answer:
I'd had a membership to 24 in the past, but had stopped going, and steadily gained weight. When I finally came back, I decided to try out the classes, specifically kickboxing and Zumba. I would hang out in the back row, and had to take breaks frequently. After a year and a half of regularly coming to kickboxing, Zumba, and spin classes, I've lost 41 pounds. I now try to get as close to the front of the class as possible, and can do two classes in a row without a problem. Working out has become my passion. It's something that I do because I've learned to love my body and what it's capable of, thanks to the help of amazing instructors, and motivation from other people in the classes. What started as going to classes to lose weight has turned into a whole new lifestyle that I love. I can honestly say that I will never look like the girl in the before picture again.
While writing that, it became clear to me that for the first time in my life, I can honestly say I love my body. I've weighed 40 pounds less than I do now. I've weighed 40 pounds more. And it is with great pride that I can say I'm in the best shape of my life.
I don't say that to brag (ok, maybe a little), but because this truth that I've learned has changed my life forever:
Weight is just a number. My self worth is not tied to it. My level of fitness is not tied to it.
In the last year and a half, I've reached goals I never thought possible. I ran 3 miles today. The last time I ran was a year and a half ago, and after 90 seconds, I thought I would die. Sometimes I walk into the gym, and think that people might look at me and see somebody that has 30 pounds to lose. And the other day, I realized that it DOES NOT MATTER.
What matters is that as I've grabbed the reigns and taken control of my health, and simply learned to take care of my body, I have reached new heights, and gained a desire to reach even higher. What matters is that as I've learned what this body that I have been given is capable of, I am proud of it and I have learned to love it.