I’ve been called a lot of things in my life (quite regularly, actually, if you read the comment sections), but “petite” has never been one of them. There’s nothing small about me, and that includes my weight, because according to those BMI charts, I’m carrying a little more of it than I should. I’m a solid pear shape, my arms jiggle when I salt my food (I do it vigorously, okay?), and not only do I have rolls like a breadbasket when I sit down, I’ve also got a “flap” that I literally have to tuck into my jeans.
This would make much more sense if I were a mostly sedentary person with, say, a nightly ice cream habit. But I’m not. In fact, I’d say I’m actually the exact opposite. I’m a group fitness instructor at two different gyms. On the days I don’t teach a class, I work out for a minimum of 30 minutes at home because I start to feel sluggish if I go more than a day or two without breaking a sweat.
I even found a way for my “day job” — writing, which is traditionally done at, you know, a desk — to incorporate movement; thanks to the Microsoft Word app, I can compose my articles on my phone while I’m walking around my house. I rack up 5,000 or more extra steps doing this every day. On average, I get 15,000 to 20,000 steps per day (thanks, Fitbit) which is the equivalent of walking 7 to 10 miles. My blood pressure is extremely low, my resting heart rate is that of an athlete, and I’m constantly impressing people with my agility and cat-like reflexes (okay, I made that last part up). And I work hard to ensure that at least 80% of the time, my diet is made up of quality fuel for all this movement.
Physiologically and metabolically speaking, I’m the picture of health. But my thighs? They still look like cottage cheese in a casing. There’s still an abundance of junk in my trunk, and I’m pretty sure there’s always gonna be. And I’m okay with that.
I haven’t always had such a healthy lifestyle. There was a time when I was considered obese, weighing in at nearly 300 pounds after the birth of my third child. I wasn’t nearly as active then, my only exercise coming from getting up to corral my kids once in a while. I felt terrible, physically and emotionally, but the thought of doing something about it was exhausting — like a mountain I didn’t have the strength to climb.
It was only when my son accidentally left my phone recording on the kitchen counter, and captured a video of me rummaging in the fridge with my gut literally hanging from a too-small tank top, that I realized something had to be done. It took me two years, but I lost over a hundred pounds, and in the process, gained a love of physical activity that I never would have thought possible.
This was seven years ago, and I have been working out regularly and trying to make more nutritious dietary choices ever since. Despite my weight loss, though, I’m still not “skinny” by any stretch of the imagination. My body stubbornly clings to the extra poundage like Jack Dawson held onto the floating door in Titanic. Case in point: During my fourth pregnancy, I was at the pinnacle of my group fitness gig — teaching eight hours per week throughout my first trimester, and six hours right up through my ninth month — and I still gained 50 pounds. Not 15. Fifty. But my doctor told me that he wasn’t worried, because both the baby and I were in excellent health. “Some people,” he said, “just naturally hold onto more weight than others.”
I am “some people.” But I’ve learned to accept the fact that I’m built the way I’m built, and to love myself, wobbly bits and all. Like anybody else, I have those days when I feel especially bloated and gross and nothing seems to fit right. But on the whole, I feel good in my clothes (and my husband apparently doesn’t disagree, seeing as “nice pants,” accompanied by some suggestive waggling of his eyebrows, is one of his favorite compliments). We have to rethink the knee-jerk perception that fitness is equal to thinness. You can be in shape without being svelte. I know. I’m proof.
I’m proud of my body for what it’s capable of doing. I am healthy and strong, just missing the Jillian Michaels abs and the Michelle Obama arms.
I mean, I’ve probably got ‘em somewhere, they’re just buried under a little extra fluff.