FitWit: My First Steps of Fitness

No quick fixes, no crash diets, just bad jokes

I'm trying to remind myself that it's not about weight but when I saw that my 5'8 frame was falling into the "obese" range on the BMI chart, I knew it was really time to do something. Hopefully, this time, for good. I don't want a quick fix or a crash diet. I've tried that before. What I want is a consistent way to be my healthiest. Fundamentally, I want to like my body.

All my adult life I've yo-yoed, which is to say I gained weight, panicked and forced myself to lose it. I wanted it gone quickly. I raced to train my unruly body, to confine it by packing it into smaller clothes, withholding the food I've taught it to love and forcing it to do workouts that left my legs sore for days and days. And in moments, I struggled with disordered eating.

What I've come to wonder is, what if it's not my body that's unruly, but my mind. What if the way I see my body and the expectations I set for it are the real problems. And maybe wanting to tame my body is the exact thing that is standing in the way of me enjoying the tool that my body is. A tool I use to take long evening walks or ride my bike up tall hills, to bend and twist and laugh without pain.

My primary health goal for the last year and a half was to simply not drink alcohol. As a result, my nutrition faltered. I ate embarrassing amounts of bread, reaching into the soft middle loaves of French bread, and eating chips by the bagful. I started ordering desserts for the first time in my life (they're really good, ya'll are on to something). This luxury and decadence helped me to quit drinking, but it also helped me to get to my peak weight, which is now at 195.8 pounds (really though it fluctuates between about 190 and 210 pounds of pure human body).

My biggest problem with it is that I don't feel competent in my body. I'm not sure if I can do a push up anymore (Ok I totally can't). Or hold a plank for a minute. I'm afraid of agreeing to hiking trips or things that involve swimsuits, one because I don't want to look weak and the other because I don't want to look fat. But I'm trying to not let my fears dominate my life. This is not about how I look, but how I feel and the confidence I feel moving through the world in the only body I have.

As a writer, I think a lot about what it takes for me to be good at my job and my craft. I have to get enough sleep, I have to give myself mental space (i.e. not exhaust myself with other distractions) and I have to make myself sit down and write because if I wait for mere motivation to wander in, my deadlines will rush past. What I need when I write isn't motivation, it's dedication. I've come to understand my body in the same way. I have to stop waiting for my body to scream for me to do one hundred squats, but instead simply put one foot in front of the other and get moving. Even if it's just a little bit. A little bit is better than no bit.

So that's what this is all about— finding ways to make fitness and healthy eating a part of my life without it becoming my life. I believe that there is a balance for me, between work, fitness, hobbies, relationships and the real bummer stuff of life. And maybe they're not as separate as I first thought.

Stick around, each week I'll share a review of a class at the Y, a workout I tried, a playlist I liked, how I found ways to overcomplicate the simple act of going to the gym. We'll see.

This is the first blog in the FitWit series. Check out her second installment here.