I’m fat. I don’t see it as a negative word, more a descriptive one. Overweight, chubby, curvy… however you want to describe it, I’m a big girl. It is what it is, and it won’t be like that forever. But right now, I’m overweight.
Contrary to what you might think after seeing a post-Zumba photo, I’m loving exercise, and I don’t see my size as a barrier to that. I might not be as quick as my thinner sisters, but I sure do give it my all.
But I know that a lot of big women don’t enjoy exercise – for various reasons. Some are worried about what people will think or say if they exercise in public, they worry about whether they can keep up, worried they’re going to look silly in exercise clothes… the list is endless. It often feels like there’s so much pressure on us in general, and exercise kinda exacerbates that.
But I just wanted to share a story with you, aimed more so at women who are perhaps nervous about taking up exercise, and I hope that sharing this will spur you on. But it’s a cool story either way.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I go to Zumba three times a week and I tend to cycle everywhere and so last night, after a particularly horrendously difficult and hot-as-Hades Zumba class, I cycled home. It takes me six minutes to cycle to this venue, because it’s all downhill, and therefore twice as long to cycle home, because it’s all uphill!
I was dripping with sweat. I looked like I’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I was red, exhausted, dead. My rucksack felt like 10 bricks were inside it, instead of a small towel and a bottle of water. I couldn’t wait to get home but every push of the pedals telt like I was climbing Everest. As I turned the corner to start the hill, I took a deep breath, put my head down, and slowly made my ascent. I was so slow that the man walking on the pavement beside me was quicker than me on a bike. But it was fine, I wasn’t put off, I just pushed on.
(Quick insertion of my favourite Zumba faces)
Anyway, as I approached the first junction on the left of me, a jeep type vehicle pulled up with a guy probably my age driving it. He was on his own, the window was down and I wasn’t sure whether he would try and nip out in front of me, especially as I was going so slow, or whether he was going to say something ‘amusing’ that would piss me off and make me want to throw my bike at his head.
But instead, he waited patiently for me to pass, and then called out of his window:
“Keep going love, you’re doing really well!”
It wasn’t patronising or sarcastic – trust me, I’d know if it was, it’s my second language. It was genuine. It really took me by surprise because in my head, I always think that people laugh at me when they see me exercise, especially men, but this man didn’t laugh at me at all.
It spurred me on again. The pedals went a little bit faster and before I knew it I got to the top of the hill. I turn right at the top and a car came round the corner and had to wait for me to get to the top before it could carry on down the road (if that makes sense.) As we crossed paths, the lady in the driving seat, sitting next to her teenage daughter, wound down the window:
“Well done! You’ve got this!”
I was really taken aback – which is a little sad in itself, because these are just regular people saying nice things, but I’m not used to it and it was magnificent. I was seriously chuffed.
So the point of this post is to say that you, and I, need to stop listening to that internal negative voice that tells us we look fat and stupid when we exercise. People don’t think that. Most people look on in admiration at us trying to better ourselves. We don’t look stupid, we look like the absolute Queens we are.
I may never hear comments like that again, and most of the time I bumble about with my headphones in any way, but that night, I’m glad I heard every last word. I’m fat, but getting thinner, fitter and, quite frankly, more awesome by the day. And so is every woman reading this – remember that the next time doubt creeps in. Let’s be proud of ourselves, no matter how beetroot-red we get after a Zumba class!