I read a lot. This is true in regards to both the amount of time I spend reading and the range of things I read about: at any given moment, I am in the middle of four or five books on different topics and from different genres, and I get through them quickly.
One of the fitness-related books that I just recently started reading is The Fat Chick Works Out by Jeanette DePatie. This is a very accessible, reader-friendly book that is designed to help fat people who have been sedentary get started on their path toward fitness (without assuming that fitness=weight loss).
(Side note: It occurs to me that some of my readers may be put off by the use of the adjective “fat.” There are so many wonderful fat activists who have already described the value of embracing that word as well as I could, including but not limited to Jes Baker and Lillian Bustle. If you are interested in learning more about this, check out this article by Jes HERE and Lillian’s TED Talk HERE.)
But back to the book. In the introduction, Jeanette writes this about her own path towards fitness (and, eventually, becoming a fitness instructor):
I learned to have confidence, and I learned to have faith. I learned to find help and accept help. I learned that by making one small step and then another, I could conquer marathons and climb mountains. And most of all, I learned not to waste any more of my life worrying about my waist. When I think back [on] all the lost years—the years I could have been happy and the years I could have been moving forward, it makes me sad and angry. But mostly it makes me determined. Not just to live every day of my life as fully and deeply as I can, but [also] to help others learn what I have learned.
I can absolutely relate to that! It brought to mind the weeks that I spent learning how to do the different lifts using nothing but a 10-pound practice bar with a 10-pound bumper plate on each side, taking the small steps of approaching each rep as an opportunity to improve my form and increase my comfort with the barbell.
I think about the small changes and explorations I’ve done along the path toward building a relationship to food that is truly healthy without being shame-based.
I think about the times that the people I have known—friends, clients, and (yes) past versions of me—have self-sabotaged the starting phases of a fitness program with unrealistic expectations that arose from rejection of the size and shape of their bodies.
And, conversely, I think about those who have already started on this path towards strength and fitness, but who bemoan, “If only I had started sooner!” Hey, you’ve started now, so why beat yourself up for moments that have already passed?
We start where we are, and we do what we can, one moment and one lift at a time: that’s the trick to continual progress!
If I’m working to ascend anything—a steep piece of trail, my own personal or spiritual growth, or an ambitious goal—I’ve learned not to keep looking up. It would only remind me what a daunting task I have in front of me. It would only help me be daunted.
I found a way that works much better for me.
Here’s what I learned to do, and it helped. A lot.
I focused on the step I was taking. The current one. The now step. I did that over and over. And over. And over. And over. Until I’d taken many more steps than I thought I had in me.
Then I turned around and looked back down the trail.
Wow, I thought. Wow! I’ve come a long way.
And isn’t that the trick? Start where you are. Do what you can. Find ways to express joy in each moment (and each movement). Then, when you discover whatever it is within your life that brings growth and healing, share it with others and be proud of how far you’ve come.
In less than an hour, I’ll be taking off on the road to drive to New York City: I’ve been given the honor of helping to assist at a StrongFirst barbell instructor certification. I am excited to be able to share my love for lifting and coaching with others, and will definitely be writing a post about the experience when I return.
In the meantime, I’m just going to smile and be so thrilled that this strong heavyweight woman has come so far up the long, steep path by making one small step and then another, from 30-pound deadlifts back when I first started to this very moment, right here.