battle of the bikini
I have a lot of things I say when I teach. Mottos, if you will. One thing I ask the members when the workout is getting tough is, “Why are you here?” with a follow up of, “What motivates you?”
I read an article today that was talking about everyone’s different journey and how we are all looking for different outcomes. You’d think the majority of the people I work with are working towards a goal of sorts, but they’re really not.
When I meet a new person in class, I usually ask them what they’re looking to get out of the class. I leave it pretty open ended and the answers have been surprising. Instead of the whole, “Oh I’d love to look great in a bikini,” or “My jeans don’t fit anymore,” I get a lot of, “I want to keep up with my grandkids,” and “I need a way to relieve some stress.” And of course, “I just had a baby.” Solidarity, sister.
Of course, I always get that person who is looking to get ready for a wedding or really does want to look good in a bikini, and that’s fine! As long as we’re being safe and healthy about it, I’m just glad people are working out.
The article then went on about how people are very quick to judge others in a gym setting. I’ve seen it before. On my Facebook feed, and I’ve seen articles written about it. It always makes me feel really sad, mostly because I’ve done it before. I remember back before I was teaching, and could remain anonymous, I would look at other peoples’ clothing, workouts, heck – what they were drinking. And I’d judge. Hey lady in the leopard print running tights! Dude who grunts, what gives? Guy who walks sideways on the treadmill? What about the girl on her cellphone?
Then I became an instructor and started actually talking to the people who I work out around. Lady in the leopard print pants turned out to be a cancer survivor who went from being a quiet, meek person, to a person who has embraced life and could give a crap what other people think of her anymore. The guy who walks sideways on the treadmill, well he has a knee injury and that helps him build the muscle to help with the imbalance. Lady on her cellphone? Well, it’s still annoying, but maybe she had an emergency, or she’s using the daycare and it’s the only time she can have a conversation without a kid screaming in her face.
Point is, I don’t know. I’m not them.
Further more, why do I even care? What was it in me that felt the need to care?
When I got right down to it, judging others helped to cover up my own insecurities that I felt at the gym. Moreover, I thought, well, I’m sure I’m being judged, so I can do the same. Maybe it made me feel like I was better than them.
But becoming an instructor opened my eyes. Everyone has a story. We all have a reason to be where we are, and who am I to be unkind to them. Really, who am I?
I really wish I could shake the person I once was, years ago, when I cared all too much about what other people were doing and instead, I should have looked in the mirror. What I would have seen was a girl who was starting at the bottom of a really big, long, and exhausting hill. It’s intimidating starting out from scratch. In anything. A job, a relationship, a goal. I was, at the time, a mother of one, at the heaviest I had ever been to date, and I was scared to start, because I knew it would be hard, and long, and I’m an impatient person.
What I ended up finding, however, was a family I never knew I had. Now, it’s not as much about the workout and the results, it’s more, the journey and the friendships. And through doing this, day in and day out, I forgot to pay attention to it all, and realized that I’ve made huge strides since 2007. By simply living my life, and working out for me. So now that hill isn’t so big anymore. I’ll always be climbing and that’s probably my favorite part.
Another thing I tell the members is, “Look in that side mirror. Look at your hard work.” And when they do, I look for smiles. Because they should be smiling. Where we are today is further than where we were yesterday. And maybe my flex isn’t as big as the person next to me, but for me – FOR ME – it’s huge.
Yesterday I got a new bikini in the mail. I worked with a longtime friend who works for the company I ordered it through to help me pick one for my body. I said, “So you know I’ve had four kids. So, obviously, I have some residual pregnancy stretch marks and pooch in my lower abdomen. And my upper thighs aren’t where I want them to be yet. Can you find me a suit to match that?”
She responded with a yes, and she sent me a few options, and I ordered the one I liked best.
When it came, I sent her some photos of me in it, and she said, “OMG you look amazing in it! I love it with your hair!”
I said, “If only the backs of my legs were as defined as my back,” and she said, “No one’s going to be looking at your legs.”
And that’s the truth. And if they are, go for it.
I realized that I am doing the complete opposite of what I tell the members. I was looking, but I wasn’t seeing. I looked at myself and immediately looked away. Good enough, I thought.
I waited until last night to look at the picture again, because in my head I remembered seeing all the flaws. But in my dark bedroom, looking at the photo, I saw that it looked okay on me…good even. I had posted it to instagram because the suit is adorable and I felt like sharing. But I didn’t think I looked adorable. But finally, I saw, and I was happy. I listened to what my mom wrote, “That is just a super FUN suit! Enjoy the FUN and don’t give a thought to your perceived imperfections while wearing it.”
I was bullying myself. That’s what I was doing. Until I really took the time to see that I was a person behind the suit, I was picking out all the things that were bad. Then I noticed the hard work I’ve done. The hours spent lifting and spinning and running. The days where I have felt so tired, but pressed on anyhow. The four babies I carried in my body. The life I live.
The person I am.
I’m going to the beach, and I’m playing in the sand with my kids. And I’m going to wear my suit and be proud and I’m going to tell my kids I look beautiful.