Tales from Boot Camp

Today I cried through the first half of my Boot Camp workout. I was in the back, I had my tough face on, sweat was dripping down my cheeks so no one noticed the tears. Tears of frustration, anger, humiliation, and defeat.

Some might think that it is nothing to cry during a strenuous workout, and it isn't, I've done it plenty of times before. But those were tears of determination, they were my way of screaming or grunting to make it through the next round. These tears were different, they were my demons....and they almost conquered me.

I've been doing Boot Camp workouts twice a week for 5 months, I also do an advanced level, insanely rigorous spin class 3 days a week. I'm fairly fit but I'm also obese. Very obese, to be quite honest. My body is responding much more slowly than I would like, I've seen others lose 10 lbs their first month, I'm just getting to the 10 lb mark. It is discouraging, I feel like my body is broken, that I am failing but I keep going back.

It hasn't always been that way, I spent my childhood, teen years, and early twenties as one of those lucky people who had great metabolism. I swam, played tennis, did some Zumba classes, nothing real dedicated, just for fun, I liked being outside and moving. I felt pretty good about myself, I was happy despite a few hardships, I was normal. Now, I'm not so normal, which is why I work out. 

Today was leg day, leg day is difficult. People much smaller, and much more fit than I am have a hard time with leg day. But I usually muddle through and feel pretty good about myself while doing it.  This morning was different, this morning I went in already frustrated, embarrassed, and defeated. And it all had to do with clothes.

Clothes? Yes, clothes. More specifically, clothing for athletic or sporty people and the limitations that clothing manufacturers put on people like me. The clothing that I had been wearing finally got too big for me and considering the intensity of my workouts, I wanted to make sure that I purchased good, supportive clothing. The first website in, I realized that it would be a much more difficult task than I wanted it to be. I'd heard great things about Lululemon, their stuff was cute, it was supportive, and there was a wide variety. NOTHING in my size. And the other big name fitness brands were the same way. So I went to Amazon, again, nothing in the realm of compression pants and tanks, no support seaming, no wicking fabrics. So I bite the bullet and go to the specialty stores, where their idea of workout gear is cotton yoga pants.

See, I move around a lot, I am up and down, jumping, lifting, sprinting, I need some compression, I need wicking, I need support seams at the joints. Yoga pants aren't going to cut it, hell, I don't even wear yoga pants for yoga! Yoga pants are for lounging, which apparently, is what "active" obese women do. Again, I ran into the same roadblocks when searching for snowboarding pants. Snow pants are made for obese women, snowboarding pants with pockets, venting, and other snowboarding goodies, are not. So the message is that it is ok for me to shovel snow, it is not ok for me to be active in the snow. And it is ok for me to lounge around in yoga pants, but it is not ok for me to do a serious workout. If being fat is so despicable then why is it so hard to find the clothing that one would wear when trying to get fit? Are fit people the only ones who work out? Do we not ALL deserve the opportunity to improve ourselves.

And I'm not just being overly sensitive or imagining things. I ordered two pairs of workout pants from Old Navy. One is a size xxl, which is part of their regular line, and one is a size 2x, which is part of their plus line. Both are compression pants. The xxl from the regular line has a zipped back pocket for a phone or energy bar, they have support seaming at the knee joints,  vented fabric on the back of the lower leg,  a wide waistband that is lined with mesh, and the pants are made from wicking fabric. The 2xl pants from the plus line does not wick, they have a narrow waistband that rolls and pinches, they do not have a zipper pocket, there is no mesh knee, and they do not have support seaming. A very small difference that says a lot about how Old Navy feels about plus-size women is that the regular line has the ON Active logo and the plus size does not.  The plus size pants are uncomfortable and not conducive to a long, hard workout. They are more suitable for a casual jog on a treadmill, or maybe a day at Disney. There is no reason why the plus line cannot be made the same as the regular line. I've seen this again and again in women's clothing and it is disgusting. The only purpose it serves is to tell us that we are not good enough to have these features in our clothing, that there is no way that we could possibly be that active, and that we simply don't deserve it because we are not physically attractive enough to represent their brand. But hey, at least they make something for us, right? So I should be grateful, right? Consider how you would feel if you were forced to buy clothing that carries the implication that you aren't worthy of the same types of clothing that others wear.

I'm aware of the general attitude that fat people are just a bunch of lazy, eating whiners and will always likely be that way. Women, especially, face this attitude. I'll tell you right now that right up until my early twenties, I was in great shape. I had a great first pregnancy, bounced right back before I even left the hospital. I was part of your group, not the judgey asshole group, but the group that could shop in normal stores for normal clothes and couldn't possibly understand the plight of overweight people. I couldn't understand how they let themselves get that way, and instead of feeling disgust, I always felt pity for them, which is just as bad. So what happened? I could say a lot happened, I've often wondered myself what happened to me. As far as I can tell, it was simply depression and loneliness. A little weight gained, a little self-esteem lost, a little more depression, it became a cycle. I ate my feelings because I had no other skills for coping with the difficulties that I had in my life at the time. Shit happens. You march on, I march on, only now I march with bigger thighs and a general disdain from most of the populace.

Anyway,  as I'm doing Boot Camp this morning, I'm thinking on the past few months of hitting roadblocks with clothing, feeling sad because I'm going to miss out on learning to snowboard this winter, of hearing people in the gym say ugly things about how all of the "fat people who ain't never been to a gym in their life" will give up and stop going once they say goodbye to their resolutions...and as I am the only one who can't do a burpee right, the only one walking their legs out instead of jumping, the one struggling and still doing them when everyone else is finished...it all just became too much.

I haven't changed enough, I still look the same, I still can't buy nice clothes, I still have physical limitations, I still hate my body.

 My body that gets on that spin bike and kicks ass, my body that swings that kettlebell, and does 300+ squats in a one hour workout, my body that carried and fed my children, hugs my children, and cooks their meals. I hate that body because of the way it looks, because clothing companies refuse to clothe it the same way that they clothe the rest of society, because people look at me and are disgusted. And the humiliation I felt almost made me give up today.


I cried, I shook my head no at each new rotation, I kept telling the boot camp instructor to fuck off under my breath, I kept crying, and I kept going.

And regardless of how little my body changes, or how dumpy my clothes are, or how disgusted you are when you see me, regardless of how many times that voice tells me to quit, to walk out of the room and never come back, I'm not listening. I'm not listening to manufacturers that tell me I'm not good enough, I'm not listening to the assholes at the gym, I'm not listening to that asshole in my head that expects me to fail. I'm not listening, and I'm not giving up.


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