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hello i am fat

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fucking ow

So, that was embarrassing. And I guess I should have known better. I re-read the description on the gym's site that said things about "high octane" and "intense" and "this will kill you," but I ignored them. Ha ha, I said. If it gets too rough, I will just march in place step two three four.

Step two three four.

I talked to my friend H. before I headed over to the gym. I told her I was nervous about the class. She said "Don't be! You'll be great! And you know, you can leave if you have to." I said "ha ha. The warm up will probably kill me! I'll leave fifteen minutes after the class starts!"

Step, two, three four. I made it through about seven minutes before I left.

Just in case the class would be packed, and all excited about going, I got there fifteen minutes early and felt good in my nice workout pants and my cute robot shirt. I walked around the room, and I imagined punching things and I felt good. And then the little tiny undergrads started sylphing through the door in pairs, wearing their sports bras and yoga shorts and I wanted to die a little bit, but I didn't. I stood in the corner and looked off into the air and tried to pretend I was thinking deep thoughts that didn't involve cake.

And then the instructor came in and she was a good quarter of my size, and she started shrieking and the music came on it and it was deep knee bends and jumping jacks and more deep knee bends and dropping from a bend into ten push ups and then back up to jumping jacks and jab jab jab and kick kick kick and I tried so hard to keep up and not look at myself in the mirror and do the best I could but I started to pant and then I started to wheeze and then I started to not be able to breathe at all and everything hurt and I tried to lift my knee to kick and then realized I couldn't and I was falling out of step with everyone and I stopped and I looked at myself in the mirror and I turned and walked out while everyone was doing lunges and I pretended I didn't care that they were watching me go and I tried to not think about what it was they could have been thinking as the fat girl clears out seven minutes into class.

I thought I was fine. It's kind of funny, how I didn't last. Boy, was that class crazy! And where was the kickboxing, I ask you? That sure wasn't kickboxing! Ha, ha. Ha. And then I got home and Guy came over and asked me how the class went and I burst into tears.

You know, I know I'm fat. That right now, I weigh more than I ever have. And I don't formally exercise. But jesus, I did not know I was so desperately out of shape. I walk. I'm not immobile. I am fairly agile, I take the stairs, I am a wildcat in bed. I would have thought that this class would have hurt, but I didn't realize it would have torn me down so completely, and left me feeling so humiliated and pathetic – not just because it was so difficult, but because it was this spectacular failure to do something normal girls could do.

And because it was such a public spectacular failure. When I don't fit into my clothes at home, or I try something on in a department store, or I eat something I shouldn't, it is a private and personal disappointment, screw-up, defeat. Whether it is true or not – those deep-bending, push upping girls might have been so deeply immersed in their sweating they never noticed me in the back row, when I was there or when I was going – it felt like I was opening myself up to every kind of public humiliation you spend your whole life trying to hide from, when you're fat, in all kinds of ingenious ways that become second nature.

That took some getting over – it's been a long time since I took a risk like letting myself look like a giant fat asshole in an exercise class. And after I calmed down and the first blush of shame faded, I started to feel less pathetic, wretched and horrible, and a little more proud of myself. I went to this class that I knew was going to be hard and full of skinny girls, and I did my best. I pushed to failure, and I failed, and that's the end of it. I did good (and three days later, it still fucking hurts. I almost cried going down the stairs this morning).

And while I have vengefully crossed out all the cardio kickboxing classes on the gym schedule I have printed out (along with all of the instructor's other classes, in a fit of impotent rage and snittiness), I have not crumpled the thing up into a ball and chucked it. I am going to try water aerobics (shallow, easy pace), and maybe beginning yoga, and maybe tai-chi, and when I have lost some more weight and feel more confident, when I am stronger and fitter – I sure as fuck won't go back to the cardio kick class.

  1. Anonymous dietgirl | 4:34 PM |  

    anne! i nearly had a little cry reading this coz it brought so many memories flooding back. i think you are one brave lady for going to the class in the first place, it is so fucking daunting with all those skinny minxes. i have had very similar experiences where i sneaked out after a few minutes then just went to the car and bawled my eyes out. but you have such a kickass attitude, eg finding an alternative activty... so hope you enjoy the aqua aerobics etc... good luck and as always lovely to read your stuff. :)

  2. Blogger M@rla | 7:18 AM |  

    You are unbelievably courageous to have tried this! Whether you lasted 7 minutes or 70, it takes balls to try something new, something incredibly difficult, IN PUBLIC. I do not - absolutely do not - possess the strength to do what you did. So to me the amount of time it took before you reached failure is so irrelevant; all the effort that counted happened up front before you even started moving. You are awesome.

    One of the Cardio Blast episodes I do on a semi-regular basis is a cardio kick boxing type thingie, and I have CRIED during the workout. Paused the tape and CRIED.

  3. Anonymous Jennifer | 12:32 PM |  

    Ah, memories. Your post brings back the time I tried to do an advanced kickboxing class. Not only did I face a similar humiliation, but I somehow got pushed to the middle of the pack, and I am six feet tall and somehow everyone else in the class was like 5' 1". I looked like a disabled Yeti for the 10 minutes I lasted.

    Kudos for getting out there and trying it. I certainly know how it feels. :)

  4. Blogger Kerri | 7:24 AM |  

    Brave, brave woman! You've described what nearly every overweight woman I know has had to endure at one point or another - including me.

    What makes me sad is that these situations often stem from (in my personal opinion) the fact that most overweight people are ashamed of their bodies. If we dig ourselves, fat cells and all, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. I know, I know, easier said than done. I struggle with it daily. I'm not happy staying fat, so I'm losing weight, but at the same time I don't have to feel shame about the extra weight I've put on. I think figuring out how to accept our bodies NOW makes it somehow easier to get started down the road to losing weight.

    Being fat does not have to be deep fried and chocolate coated in shame.

    I love that you aren't giving up and have already found new classes to take. Keep going, you are doing great!

  5. Blogger BethK | 11:02 AM |  

    Wow. You just described my first aerobics class, only I almost passed out and they had to stop the class so a couple of the tiny, leaping women could help me out of the room. Humiliation indeed. I never went back, preferring instead to eat several consecutive pizzas. You're smarter than I was because you're not giving up. You should be proud of yourself 'cuz that's some proud-worthy stuff.

  6. Blogger stephanie | 11:28 AM |  

    Anne. You rock so hard. Kickboxing...well, it can kiss your ass. Aquafit is totally awesome and gives you nice long muscles in places you never thought you'd see them, like your lower back.

  7. Anonymous Loretta | 12:13 PM |  

    You really did something awesome! And you will benefit from it! You are that much stronger now and I love how you didn't give up!

    Plus look at how many people know exactly how you feel! And some of them have had huge successes!

    Glad you are posting more regularly again, I missed you. Thanks for coming back!

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:11 PM |  

    I have walked out of more classes than my current gym even offers. It is horrifying, though it gets less so after the 5th or 6th class that you realize you can only make a tiny bit of headway in. But I have also been in classes and watched people leave and frankly, I was more jealous than judgy about the whole thing.

    It isn't that you are out of shape, it is that you lack the exact set of requirements for that class. At least that is how I justify most things at the gym...
    I can spend an hour on an elliptical trainer or a bike, but 3 minutes on the stairclimber and I want to rip off parts of my body to stop the pain.
    I can rock a yoga class but pilates classes generally leave me laying flat on my back not even trying anymore since whatever ab muscles I had abandoned me 2 mintues in. Kickboxing I am sure is the same way and they have seen many people come and go, and I am sure some of those kickboxers have tried, say, a step class and been forced to leave themselves halfway through after they fell off the step for the second time and got tired of doing the basic step and watching everyone else twirl around.

    Babbling, sorry. My point is, it isn't you at all. Not matter how in shape you are, a complete change in routine and what your body is used to doing will tax you to your fullest every time.

  9. Blogger Eh... Not so much | 4:56 PM |  

    Good try! Kickboxing is not for the squeamish. No matter how thin I get, with my craptastic knees, I will never be able to do it. Start a little smaller, and you'll be fine!

  10. Blogger Dani | 12:48 PM |  

    Just wanted to let you know that something you wrote over a year ago is still out there in the blogosphere and touching a passerby like me. Thanks for being honest about your experience.

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