The New Year’s excitement had come and gone and I was still in a slump. It was like pulling teeth to get myself to stop eating the comfort foods of winter. A spinach salad sounds delicious on a hot summer day but made me question my existence as the sun hibernated for the long wintery days (life should be about happiness and mac ’n cheese!) I was still wearing my maternity leggings post-partum 2.5 years and had no desire to wear anything that had to be zipped or buttoned. Food was my comfort, my reward, and my entertainment. I spent so many days foggy headed and fatigued that I assumed that this is simply what it felt like to be an adult. Even sleeping 8 hours a night didn’t do much to combat the dark circles under my eyes.
At the end of January, I got a text from my college roommate, “Let’s get dinner this Thursday and try on your bridesmaid’s dress?!” It took everything I had not to chuck the phone across the room and pretend not to drop off the face of the earth. I hadn’t even looked in the mirror in 6 months and now I had to try on a form-fitting dress…with a zipper. Big gulp. My irrational fear of zippers aside, I knew I had to face the music as they say or in this case the dress rack at David’s Bridal.
I am a strong believer that size does not equal beauty, confidence, or happiness but no matter what the scale said I knew I wasn’t happy.
As a spontaneous optimistic, I had purchased a gym membership several months earlier and had yet to walk in the door. Despite the obvious hole burning in my pocket, I simply dreaded everything about the gym. To waiting in line to use the weight machines to simply having to untangle my headphone wires, I was full of excuses. I had never done an exercise class before and was terrified of the thought. All I could picture was a room full of women decked out in head to toe Lululemon toting their witty water bottle sayings something like “run now, wine later” with their perfect beach waves tied up in a bun while I gasped for breath and sweated like I just ran a marathon. The hardest part for me was accepting the image and fitness level of what I had become. I was an athlete my entire life so in my mind I should still be able to run suicides and do pushups without my knees being involved.
The day I went to my first Zumba class I just had enough. I looked at the gym schedule and picked a class, I was going that night no matter what. I didn’t give myself enough time to worry about it. I made sure I got there early enough to score a back row spot. I was prepared to tell everyone around me that I was new just to prevent any kind of judgment from the other back row girls when I was tripping over my own feet. It turns out there were a lot of “new” people in the room.
There was no Mean Girl clique with a Zumba Regina George demonstrating the perfect salsa form in the first row, instead, everyone seemed…very normal and nice.
I was unprepared for how fun it would be. The hour went so fast unlike the dreadful clock watching I spent attempting to run on a treadmill. The music was so energetic and it felt great to move muscles that had laid dormant for years. All of my worries regarding the class literally sweated away. No one cared if you were on the wrong foot, if you stopped to catch your breath, or if entirely made up your own dance move. Who would have thought that the only thing I needed to motivate me to exercise was the thing I had been avoiding for so long: the dreaded fitness class. I couldn’t wait to go back.
I started going one day a week and quickly went to two, then three, and four times a week. I couldn’t wait to have that hour of me time where I could leave my stress and worry at the door and just dance for an hour. The more I did Zumba, the more it segued into my everyday life. I began taking care of myself again. I got my haircut, started that skin regime I had been putting off, and I started to buy clothes that showed off my weight loss. For the first time since being pregnant 4 years ago, I felt sexy again. I was so ready to simply accept the old frumpy mom image that I forgot how good it felt to take care of myself. With a little help from some vitamins, I felt like I was in college again. Whether shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, or giving the kids a bath-I practiced my dance moves everywhere. I forgot that my hips could move that way.
Zumba was my gateway because it gave me the confidence to try other fitness classes without a second thought.
Although I will probably need to wait to try boot camp again (I mean they did 6 running laps as a WARM UP) I am currently loving Les Mills Body Pump. I have never seen my body so quickly transform. Each week I am amazed at how much strength I am gaining and I actually have muscles again for the first time in forever. I have met the best group of girls and they motivate me more than any food reward ever could. They literally push me to my limits and I love every moment of it.
Zumba has given me the spark in my life that I had been missing for so long.
I am happier, more confident, and no one has mistakenly congratulated me for a food baby pregnancy since. I used to roll my eyes when people suggested exercise as an answer to any of life’s questions. Tired? Try exercise. Feeling sad? The gym is where it’s at. I have to admit…I finally get the hype. Do yourself a favor and put aside that hour for you mama, you deserve it.