Ok so maybe that’s not entirely true. I do have lazy tendencies; I like naps and I’ll be quick to say “But I’m so lazy!” However, I’m really not a lazy individual. I work a full time job, a part time job, I’m a mommy to two daughters, a fiance, and a college student. But as I think about some of the older photos I’ve posted of myself lately and my expression of wanting to get back to that body, it occurs to me that most people don’t know what happened to me. Yes, I have gained a substantial amount of weight. No, I have not been able to lose that weight. No, I have not broken my fitness or diet routine (when I say diet I mean eating habits, not “I’m living on practically nothing”). I’ve been showered with motivation and encouragement. So many people saying, “You can do it!” or “You’ve got this!” or my favorite, “You did it once you can do it again!” While I appreciate every word of encouragement and every suggestion and every push…it’s really not as simple as it used to be.Background: In 2007, I gave birth to my second baby and I weight in at 205 pounds; the heaviest I had ever been. I’ve always struggled with being a heavier person but at that point I had hit my lowest point. In 2008 I made a change. I started exercising; I was taking Zumba® classes, following Richard Simmons videos (go ahead and chuckle; no shame lol), and I had also taken up jogging. I put more effort into what and how much I ate. Within a year I had dropped 50 pounds. I felt amazing. I was more confident and felt more comfortable in my skin. I started trying new things to challenge my body like taking HIIT and strength training classes. I had fallen in love with fitness and I had never been an athlete or into exercising before.
Fast forward to 2013: I was still stable at my 165 pounds. I was working in a very stressful, fast-paced industry, which I loved, but ended up in a location that couldn’t keep up with the business demands. My anxiety started to spike and eventually hit a peak so high I started suffering small nervous breakdowns on the job. That’s not healthy. My doctor prescribed me a medication for anxiety and depression; yes, I suffer from both. The good news is that the meds worked; I felt more in control of my moods and thoughts and I felt like I could breathe. The bad news is that the meds caused a 30 pound weight gain within a one year time frame. I immediately had my doctor take me off. I worked so hard to get where I wanted to be physically and feel comfortable with myself that I could NOT be back to where I started all those years ago. It’s been two years since I stopped taking the medication. In those two years I began re-challenging my body to shed the unwanted weight through different fitness formats including hiring a personal trainer for the very first time. I’ve cleaned up my eating even more than before and even tried the ever popular 21 Day Fix. And you know what has happened? Nothing. 😦
I currently weigh in at 197 pounds. My last body fat % was 22.1%, which is in the healthy range for a woman. Truth? I hate seeing myself in the mirror, dressed or not. I despise not seeing myself the way I was at my prime. But I haven’t stopped exercising and eating right. I continue to mix up my workouts so that my body never knows what coming. I mix up my meals so that my metabolism doesn’t get complacent. I still haven’t found the winning combination that will spark that change in my body again. In 2008 when I made the initial change my body responded quickly because I had never been an active individual. This time around my body can handle a lot more and is used to being pushed past boundaries. I continue to do what I need to do to be healthy, which is what is most important at the end of the day. I have no medical issues or conditions that prevents me from shedding weight or working out to my maximum. I’m just currently at a wall that requires creativity to climb.
I’m not lazy. I’m not sedentary. I practice healthy eating habits (for the most part). I just wanted to lay this all out. I do practice what I preach on a regular basis.
You know what my problem is? Motivation. A severe lack of motivation. I’m not happy with my body right now because of a 30 pound weight gain caused by a medication. I’m now off the meds, but instead of being insanely driven to get back in shape, I’m just depressed over it. I’ve been trying to get myself in gear but I feel like I’ve been failing more than succeeding. I’m sure it doesn’t help that my stress levels are extra high. I need to get my act together.
I find it disturbing how situations in life can affect me so hard. Weight has always been a HUGE issue for me(no pun intended). In 2008 I weighed in at 232 pounds; I’m five foot five so it wasn’t pretty. I decided I needed to make a change. I got involved with different fitness programs: Zumba, running, Zumba toning, pilates, Urban Strip & Fit, and even Richard Simmons. After a year of actively participating in all of these, I successfully dropped 50 pounds. I wasn’t skinny, I was FIT. I was so proud of myself! I kept up my workout regime and eventually got my weight down to 155 pounds. I had muscle definition, including my abdominals. Not bad for a mom of two who opted to lose weight “the hard way” as opposed to surgery. I didn’t necessarily diet, but I did practice portion control. After hitting that weight loss goal, I didn’t give up on working out. I kept it up to keep it off.
Fast forward to 2013. I was working as a manager in a fast-paced, customer service business. There were never any breaks or time of peace and I was working 45-50 hours a week. I was burnt out and getting run down. After suffering a nervous breakdown while on duty(highly embarrassing by the way), my doctor recommended I give an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication a try. I obliged, and was surprised at how controlled my moods became. My stress levels dropped and situations that were out of my control didn’t bother me as much as they used to. However, over the next year I noticed that my weight slowly began to climb. I began increasing my workouts and changing the way I ate, but my weight continued to rise. It was devastating and my depression began to return. Sort of ironic since I was on medication for that problem. When I finally hit a 30 pound gain I went back to my doctor. She admitted that a side effect of my meds was weight gain. Holy. Shit. I was furious. Being overweight depresses me so why would my doctor put me on something that would make me gain weight? I just couldn’t have it. I had quit my job a few months before this visit so I felt confident about my self control to come off of the medication.
I’ve been off of these pills for about two months. My weight is currently fluctuating because I’ve been inconsistent with my workouts and eating. My drive is gone. There are other aspects in my life which are adding stress, such as financial issues and decisions about my fitness career, which probably aren’t helping my focus. I need to find a way to get myself together and find a balance. I won’t be happy if I stay at the weight I’m at now, which is 189 pounds. Being an overweight fitness instructor isn’t appealing. People tell me I look fine, but I know they don’t mean it. Sometimes people just feel obligated to be encouraging. I know eventually that little switch in my brain will flip and I’ll be back on my fitness journey. The waiting is driving me mad.
I’ve been a student of Zumba® Fitness for 5 years and an instructor of the program for 3 1/2 years. I absolutely love it. Maybe not so much at the moment, but that’s a story for a different day.
The biggest transition from student to teacher is losing time taking classes. Once you begin teaching your own, it becomes very difficult to participate in others. I still love being a student; perhaps more than I love teaching. However, between working, attending college, teaching my own classes, and being a mom there isn’t always spare time.
Lately, I’ve found that when I am able to sneak into another class, the instructor tells me I’m making them nervous. Why? What about my presence is making you uncomfortable? I’m not in your class to stand out or draw attention. I’m not in your class to judge or criticize the way you teach. I’m not in your class to “steal” your material(even though I admit to getting ideas from other instructors). In fact, I always take a spot in the back of the room as a show of respect for the teacher in front of me. You see, I’m a non-competitive Zumba instructor; I wish there were more like me. My sole reason for taking your class is to enjoy myself. To relive those days when I could take a Zumba class for the fun and freedom of it. To remember what it’s like to simply do and not think. To not have to put on a constant show because all eyes are not on me.
So when you see me in your class, please don’t panic. Don’t feel pressured. Don’t feel the need to be a perfectionist. I know I’m far from that! And if you happen to make a mistake, who cares?! As instructors, it’s important to remember that even when we do miss a step or have to wing a move because we forgot our own choreography, our students don’t notice. Just keep moving, even if you have to improvise some moves. They are going to do whatever you do, and that includes me. As someone who never or very rarely takes your class, I’m going to follow every move you make and not question the steps.