Tales of my Fitness Past – Part 1

Today was a fabulous day at the gym.  I had my weekly training session with my personal trainer, who is just about the best coach, EVER.  Seriously, I can’t even tell you how motivating this man is.  He gave me the heads up that this week we’d be going heavy on the weights, so I came prepared.  Monster Smoothie AND a breakfast sandwich.  I was ready.

I lifted to total failure on every set and did things I never thought I’d be able to do.  Dumbbell rows with 35 lb weights?  That was me.  Bench presses on the Smith Machine, watching over 100 lbs get racked on a machine and then killing it.  It’s empowering.  I love it.  I feel so kick ass.

My trainer was pretty giddy, too.  Maybe he’s being complimentary to motivate me, but it’s working.  He kept remarking how surprised he was by how I take to these workouts.  We don’t do them every time for sure, but when we do, it’s awesome.

We talked about my fitness past quite a bit during cool down on the crank cycle.  Yes, my nemesis is now my cool down.  He told me that I was about to start seriously shedding weight and I’d be left a skinny, tough, strong, chick.  I told him that strong and tough would not be a problem, but I’d never be skinny.  As we talked it became obvious that he thought I had been a lot fitter in my past than I have been.  And that I’d been a lot smaller.

My truth is, I really haven’t!  I was a short skinny kid until I finally got my tonsils out at age 8.  Then, I started to grow.  Everywhere.  Even when I was active, trying to play sports, I was still a sturdy, thick girl with more than a little baby fat.  Since I’m a big believer that you have to understand your past to make sure you’re on track for your future, I’m going to revisit that kid, and bring any readers who are interested along for the ride.  There will be photos and embarrassing hair, I promise.

Here are me and my parents. My dad had a lot more hair! My mom had a lot less chin. I had fewer teeth. It’s a little scary how much I look like both of them.

Let’s talk about my parents briefly.  My mom is very petite.  And before she got in to her late 30’s, she was also extremely naturally thin.  It didn’t last once her metabolism shifted, but she definitely was a twig!  Look at that photo, she’s totally a babe.  My dad has always been a solid guy with some extra pounds, but strong as hell.  From his side of the family, I am descended from farmers and sailors.  We definitely have the body for manual labor, and the asses and guts from being sedentary from not having to do that kind of work.

My parents had a meat and potatoes diet.  (We *are* Irish after all.)  Vegetables came from a can.  Soda was the beverage of choice.  I went from a bottle for milk to a Pepsi bottle as a kid.  Still, I was skinny.  I took after my mom.  I was short, not the shortest kid in the class, but short, and very tiny.  I was also really, really sick.  I acquired a Strep A infection that did not go away.  I was a carrier.  I missed a ton of school and was always, always sick.  The doctors didn’t want to take my tonsils.  It’s a pretty invasive surgery for a kid and they wanted to make sure they exhausted all of their options.  By 2nd grade, the options ran out.  I saw a specialist and was scheduled as soon as school got out.

Also at this time, my mom noticed that I’d fall down a lot.  I was always taking a dive in the dirt when running around, twisting my ankles constantly.  Come to find out, my hips rotated ever so slightly inward.  Also, my knees were normally hyper-extended when totally straight.  I share the trait with a couple of cousins.  There was nothing to do for it, since I was still growing.  But I definitely heard the message – you’re fragile, you’re broken, and you have to take extra care.

I was a typical little kid.  I liked to run around, swing, play kickball.  I learned to swim as soon as I could.  Mom made sure of it.  One thing I didn’t have was much upper body strength.  I could climb a rope or a tree.  I do think the tree thing was scary because I thought about falling.   I had a pretty crappy diet, and carte blanche to eat ice cream after surgery.  I probably wasn’t getting enough exercise because of being sick, and I have some genetics working against me.

Then, 3rd grade.  It was the worst school year of my life.  I drew the teacher that seemed to like to pick on a couple of kids in her class every year.  And I got to be that kid.  My body was recovering from being sick for so long, and I was starting to really stand out in school.  My teacher made a point to constantly criticize me.  How I looked, how I performed in school, everything about me was fair game.  I was miserable, and despite their very best efforts, my parents couldn’t get me out of her class or her job dismissed.  I had to suffer through it for the school year.  At the end, I was left damaged.  And I turned to things to make myself feel better.  That included food.  Lots of food.  Especially sweet things.

So genetics, behavior, diet… You can probably guess what happened next.

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

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