The first time I showed up to workout, I threw up everywhere. I came in LAST on every single thing. I could not transition from the ground to a standing position without pausing to breathe and missing parts of the workout. I could not move my 300+ pound body without feeling like my bones were about to break. I felt helpless and I felt like fitness just wasn’t a term fit for a body like mine. I couldn’t fit into that category. I had to consider a better fitting category, like “exercise” or “weight loss journey” or something that would consider me anything but FIT and more like in progress.
For two years, I spent time measuring my body, weighing it, and considering myself as someone who works out and/or exercises (in order to lose weight). Not someone who is in love with fitness. Who thrives off the energy it gives me. Who loves GAINING muscle. Who chugs pre-workout before getting my fitness on and then chugs 3 protein shakes a day. Who wants to COMPETE this year. Who doesn’t give a crap who is looking my way as I set up my phone to record myself getting my fitness on, and then crushing it because I FEEL like I crushed it. Which, by the way, recording is an incredible way to see how your body moves during a workout. Seeing its capabilities, rather than its hinderences, is empowering.
I used to modify every movement for the entire duration of the workout. And I made sure to not push myself too much for fear of hurting myself. I was under the impression that as a plus-size woman, things just needed to always be modified. At least until I was no longer the fat girl working out. (And, no, fat is not a bad word.) I would google plus-size fitness and only see things being modified for a body like mine. I was fully convinced it was going to be impossible for me to dive into fitness until I had a body that looked like one.
And then I had Maci.
Something clicked as I showed up to workout at 8 weeks postpartum. Something inside me screamed as I squatted down and it brought back memories of feeling as though my bones were about to break again. But something clicked. And I took a deep ass breath as I shifted my body off of my knees into a full plank position. I lowered my body downward the best I could about 2 inches and then pushed back up. It was my very first attempt at a push-up that wasn’t modified. It wasn’t much, but it happened.
“How do you do that?”
I’m asked this every single day. It’s shocking to see a body like mine do things that should be modified. Because I don’t have the fitness body — whatever the hell that is.
So here’s the secret. (But, really, it’s no secret.)
You are stronger and more capable than you allow yourself to believe. Yes, you! Start with the non-modified exercise. Only 1 rep? Only 1/2 of a rep? Only the tiny beginning of the rep? Yes. Do it. Try it. It sounds crazy and impossible? Then you’re ready for it. Just make a promise to yourself that you will ALWAYS start without the modification. So you only got 1 rep or you only got in the stance itself? Freaking awesome. Transition back to the modification and on the next set, start with the non-modified one again. Little by little, my 2 inch push-up transitioned into full range of motion push-ups to pauses in the last year. I spent my first few years on my knees assuming I needed to wait. The voice in my head and all over the internet shouted that I wasn’t ready and that everything needed to be modified for my plus-size body. And, of course, if you have an injury or medical condition, always consult your doctor before switching up your routine.
Changing the narrative around plus-size bodies and fitness starts with the narrative in our minds and within ourselves. There are a lot of opinions out there, the last one that should be added to the list is our own bringing us down. We are capable of doing incredible things with our bodies, it IS possible. We are more than just the modification. We are part of the fitness world. Screw the judgments or the looks that will more than likely come our way as we step out of our comfort zones. They mean nothing compared to what we can and WILL accomplish when we get out of our own way.
Wrap your hair in that pony tail.
And get your fitness on, babe.