How I gained my competitive edge while losing weight alone
Accepting the Obvious
Many people start out their weight loss and fitness journeys alone and for multiple reasons. For me personally, I did not want others to know that I knew I was fat. As silly as that sounds, I was never one to poke fun at my own body and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who did not really make me feel like I was bigger than them, even though I had noticed since elementary school.
I suppose I sort of went through life just hoping that if I didn’t “act fat” then I wasn’t. I played outside with my friends all summer long as a kid, I played sports, I went to the lake. In college, I got dressed up and went out with my friends and I didn’t order a salad every time we went out to try to put on some type of front.
I was just myself and I was lucky enough that I was accepted and my “fatness” was not something that I had to face on a regular basis. But I always noticed, especially as I got older and started traveling and going to the fair and going shopping with my college friends. I noticed when I felt squished in a plane and fair ride seats and I noticed when I could not shop at the same stores my friends were shopping at.
Discomfort and Choosing Change
When I chose to start to lose weight in April 2016 I did not want to share, I did not want to bring attention to the fact that I was indeed fat. I did it in silence at first but eventually got sucked into an MLM product and decided to start to share my journey via a Facebook group full of people I knew in hopes of encouraging them to buy this drink from me. That was short-lived however because I quickly realized that I did not need a drink to lose weight, I needed only to move my body and fuel my body differently than I had been.
I stopped trying to sell the product to my friends and instead decided to share my journey and along the way some others shared theirs as well. It was motivating for me and for them but as far as working out went I wanted to keep more to myself.
Even when I worked out one on one with a trainer in a small gym where only one or two other people were, I was so uncomfortable. I wore a t-shirt to hide my arm fat and wore leggings even in the dead of summer in a garage gym with no air conditioning. I was still trying to hide, still being ashamed of my body even though I was trying to change it.
Taking The Leap
When it was time to change from one-on-one personal training to a group training gym where I was surrounded by fit people who already knew what they were doing (most of the people at this gym had been going for a long time) I felt highly uncomfortable.
I was now about 80 pounds lighter than I was when I started with my former trainer but I still didn’t know how to work out without being given a play-by-play. I still felt like I needed to hide my body and like I did not belong. It took a couple of weeks but I eventually caught on to the warmup routine, knew what to expect at the gym on different days, and began to feel comfortable around my newly found gym family.
I will admit there were still days I felt incompetent, days when tears filled my eyes as the trainer corrected me in a way that felt harsh (I should add that I am sensitive), and days when I forgot that I was no longer fat and that even if I was, I belonged there because I was just another human trying to make positive life changes. By joining a group training gym, I felt more vulnerable.
I had already lost a great amount of weight and really changed my life but I felt like I was being so much more transparent and that was uncomfortable. I was not sure I was ready to share my progress or goals with a group of strangers but people began to ask about my story and it seemed impossible to not share bits and pieces.
Testing My Limits
After about 8 weeks of group training, it was finally time to toe the line at my very first Spartan obstacle course race. I ran in the open where rules really didn’t apply and with the intention of running with my team for support. The moment we were set free I zoned out, I wanted to be faster than everyone around me.
I did not want to stay with a team or wait on anyone. It was time to test my limits. Now let’s be clear, I was indeed tested. I needed the help of fellow stranger Spartans to get over every wall. I needed to be boosted over hurdles, as well as support and encouragement when trying to get over and through various other obstacles.
Even though I had practiced monkey bars, rings, and rope climb and was able to successfully complete them at the gym I fell off every one of those obstacles come race day. It was nearly an hour and a half of struggling misery and I loved it. Even though I needed the help of others along the way I was alone in my own head when I was running and still attempted to get through every obstacle as fast as possible even with help.
I realized at the finish line that I was meant for this. I would no longer train and eat well in an attempt to be “skinny”. I would no longer be ashamed of my unhealthy past or feel the need to hide my progress. I wanted to be strong and fast and I was ready to put in the work to get there.
It was June 2017 when I completed that race and I then set my goal of attending that same race in June of 2018, giving myself an entire year to learn to train with purpose.
I did feel competitive after that first race, but I wouldn’t truly understand what it meant to be competitive until the summer of 2018 AFTER the race I was setting a goal to attend and to do better at was over. I was ready to get fit, and honestly, at that time I am not sure I had any idea exactly what that meant.
Like training, my story continues onward to bigger goals and larger obstacles.