Monday, March 26, 2012

In which I don't want to be thin

All my life I wanted to be thin. Skinny, slender, you name it.

But I was running recently, trying to think about anything other than running and my thoughts wandered to the word "thin" and how I always assumed thin people were fit.

I've realized over the past year that is not the case.

I've seen plenty of thin people in bootcamp, bent over sucking wind while heavier people continue hopping, jumping, pushing up or what have you.

I've run races in which I've breezed by trim people puking in the bushes or being attended to by medical personnel.

"Thin" doesn't always equal "fit" or "strong."

I caught my reflection in the mirror the other day. I had my hair pulled back under a baseball cap (Hint: If I'm wearing a baseball cap, I haven't done my hair, which means I haven't showered. Fair warning). What I saw took me by surprise. My face was all angles. I had one chin - weak, for sure, but only one. My skin looked streamlined, not inflated and doughy like it used to, my features and cheekbones pronounced.

All I could think was, "I look strong." And, also, "I need a shower."

Plenty of people lovingly call me thin and I would never turn down the compliment. But I'd rather be called "strong" or "fit" because that's where the rubber meets the road - at least on the road or in the gym.

When I started working out, like running or bootcamp (stuff outside my comfort zone) I was petrified of being embarrassed or standing out because when you're overweight, all you want to do is blend in, hide in the background.

But I quickly realized: No one was paying attention to me, but me. When it's 6 am and you're hoping on and off a box or pushing a metal weighted sled up and down the gym, frankly you don't give a shit about anything else but getting through the next 60 seconds until the damn bell rings.

When you're in the gym on a treadmill, you just want the boring miles to pass as quickly as possible - and, if you're me, not fall off said treadmill and hopefully find a Law & Order episode on the TV. Trust me.

If you're holding back from trying something because you're worried someone will think ill of you or you may embarrass yourself, I can tell you, don't worry. If anything, the trainers and your fellow classmates want nothing but to see you succeed. Because it means someone else is as crazy as they are: Another soul who could be sleeping in but is busting hump trying to get fit - not thin.

The best thing I ever did fitness-wise is gently, tentatively step outside my comfort zone. The more I tried, the more I could do and the larger that comfort zone got. The braver, stronger, more confident and kick-ass I got. And humble, let's not forget that.

If there's something you've been dying to try, fitness or otherwise, dip your toe in the water. Do some research on what you need (time, money, equipment, experts, a class) to try what you want and go for it.

It may not be your cup of tea, or it may be the best thing you've ever done. Either way, it's a victory, and who can't use another one of those?


  1. I so agree. Fighting this weight battle to for most of my life " thin doesn't always mean stong and fit." I do like the fact that even though I am overweight I am strong and actually able to run alot more than I ever thought I was capable of. Great post thank you

  2. So true! It's one of the things that is stressed in the fitness industry...don't assume your "thin" clients are fit and don't assume your heavy clients are not. Because they will surprise you every time. I try to show as much variation as I can in class so that people can mold the class to their level. It's the trickiest part about group exercise.