Uncloaking Vulnerability

We all start somewhere. There comes a time in our lives that pops us in the face at an unexpected moment that tells us we need to change our routine. Whether it be quitting smoking, cussing less, giving up soda, hitting the gym more or any other habitual thing we know we need to stop doing or do differently.

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a pretty active person. I am not one who can sit and just chill for longer than 30 minutes at a time. When I’m home I’m wandering the house looking for things to keep me busy (washing, drying and folding laundry/ washing and putting away dishes/ vacuuming), and when I’m at work I’m getting up from my desk every 20 minutes just to walk around because I’m fidgety. When I was younger I played youth basketball which progressed to me picking up dance when I was in middle school. I danced until I was in my early 20s and until I could no longer find adult dance classes that would accept me, that I could afford or that were of an interest to me. When Zumba was introduced to me in 2008 I’d found my home – and my home it has been for almost 10 years.

Three and a half months ago, I made the decision that I wanted to make a change in my personal life – I wanted to go back to school. Doing this meant giving up the fitness class schedule of almost 9 classes a week I had maintained for the better part of 5 years and focusing on myself for a little while. However, I was afraid that I’d be too sedentary sitting in class for 4 hours a night and lose all the gains I’d made prior to ending my fitness schedule. So I told myself “Kristen, we’re going to start a new schedule. Monday through Wednesday we’re going to wake up at 5:30am and bang out a 30-45 minute strength exercise at home then get ready for work and focus on the classes we CAN maintain in addition to this.” For three and a half months I have stuck to this regime. Lift early in the morning, go to work, go to school at night. Some days are better than others. Some days I’ve had to do my workout at night after work because I was too damn tired that morning and decided to roll over and sleep more.

I’ve painfully battled through every HIIT and lifting class I’ve set myself up for at home, and have seen significant changes in myself that I am proud to show off. As should anyone who is putting in as much hard work as I have been….until today. Today, I was stung by a comment made to me while at the gym – and the reason for this post. People’s words and comments, even if unintentionally so, can be hurtful and knock you down a peg or two on your pride pole.

The Scene

I was at the gym to teach a class. In the midst of a quick break between songs and grabbing a sip of water, a participant walks up to me, grabs my arm and asks me if I’m pregnant because I look like I’ve put weight on. Granted I’ve not seen this person except in passing for a while so I very well could look a bit beefier than they last remembered seeing me up close, but it stung me nonetheless. I politely told them I was not and that I was working on my abs. What else could I say in the short period of time I had between songs? Regardless, I continued on through the class with my pride stung and feeling insecure about all that I thought I’d achieved in such a short period of time.

Moral of the Story

I, like everyone else on a fitness journey, am vulnerable to criticism. Take note, that just because someone “looks like” they gained weight may have just “made gains” in their strength. Being thin and being strong are two completely different looks the same person can harbor whether at the same time or not. Although my shirts still fit, my arm holes are a little tighter and my chest may look like it’s popping a button – but underneath that fabric I have more toned shoulders and biceps and can personally show you how many push-ups I can actually do now. So before making a comment whether intentional or not, consider how it may impact that person and how you would feel were it you in their shoes. And, for those of you fighting like hell to keep up your habits of living a happier healthier life…


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