I had my daughter, Elle, in February of 2012. Though I was overjoyed to be a mother, and in awe of my perfect girl, I was unhappy about the extra weight I was carrying and my general lack of energy. I’d been fit and thin growing up, gained some weight in college, then lost it in my mid-twenties. Things were going along fine until my late twenties when a combination of professional factors (full-time doctoral program plus full-time job) and some personal challenges (two pregnancy losses in 2 ½ years) led to a 20-pound weight gain.
Then, thankfully, we got pregnant with Elle. I proceeded to gain a ton of weight. Like, upwards of 60 pounds. I was sick and miserable the entire time and didn’t have the energy or the will to workout. I had high hopes that breastfeeding would somehow magically slim me down. Um, no.
So three months after Elle was born, after all the water weight and pregnancy puffiness had subsided, I still weighed more then I had in my entire life. And I was so bummed about it. I remember being so frustrated that for some reason I could figure out how to be a good student, employee, mother, and wife, yet I could not figure out how to get my weight under control.
Around that time I randomly decided to sign up for a workout class called barre3. I had walked past the studio many times and it looked like something I might like to do. They were running a new client special of three classes, so I convinced my husband, Andrew, that it was worth the money and took the plunge.
Andrew dropped me off for the first class and wished me luck. I went in, nervously found my place at the barre, and waited. Class was challenging, to say the least. I was frustrated that my body was so out of shape. The fact that the front wall of the studio was all mirror didn’t help either. I don’t think I’d looked in a full-length mirror in over a year, and I wasn’t too happy about what I saw. The instructor was very kind and supportive, giving me modifications for my wrists, since I still had carpal tunnel in both from the pregnancy. Despite the positive atmosphere of the studio, I was not feeling it.
I climbed back into the car after class and Andrew asked me how it went. I looked at him, noticing the hope in his eyes. Then I immediately burst into tears. Poor guy—not the response he was expecting. Through tears, I told him how demoralizing it was to be the biggest girl in the studio. How sad I was that my body was out of shape. How overwhelming it was to think about how far I had to go.
Andrew looked at me, and without skipping a beat responded, “Don’t even worry about anyone else. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You can do this. I know you can.” His response got me to smile, but I wasn’t so sure. I promised to at least finish out the two remaining classes in the package. Which I did.
Now I bet you’re expecting me to say at that point my life changed, I got addicted to barre3, and that I’ve never looked but. But that’s not what happened. I didn’t go back. I just wasn’t ready. My maternity leave had ended, so I was working close to 60-hours a week, had gone back to school part time, and you know, HAD AN INFANT. The timing just wasn’t right.
Time went by and I, predictably, proceeded to run myself into the ground. I was exhausted, tired, and not to be overly-dramatic, a tiny bit desperate. Then one evening I was browsing Facebook and noticed a post on the barre3 homepage looking for people to volunteer to be part of a test-group. I generally never respond to anything like that, but as I said—desperate mama—I sent an email indicating my interest.
A few weeks went by, and then one day I got an email inviting me to be part of a test-group trial program called 28 to Great. I knew the timing was right. I responded letting them know I wanted to do it, and got an email back immediately telling me I could sign up for classes the next day. Maybe this sounds like an insignificant moment to you, but I will never forget it.
I was sitting next to Andrew on the couch and told him the news. He absently nodded at me from behind his laptop. “No,” I said, “you don’t understand. This is huge. I’m going to do this. You have no idea. Really, this is happening.” Again, absent nod. He’d heard me make grand statements before, so I don’t think he was quite as excited as I was. But I knew. I knew I could do it—knew I would do it.
Literally the next day, October 26th, 2012 (luckily the online records keep track of these dates, otherwise I would have no idea when I started) I went back to barre3. And I went every single day that week. I still didn’t want to look in the mirror, but I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone else, either. I was there for me, to get my life back under control. Now, this is the part where I say that I never looked back. I kept going, and haven’t stopped since.
I also received the eating plan, which at first I was skeptical about. My approach was to do the parts of the plan I liked, and not the parts I didn’t. I was pretty sure I knew better than the plan. But then after the first week other members of the test group posted about their results. A few said they’d lost four pounds in the week. I hadn’t lost any. Even though I’m always slow to lose weight, I figured I better start actually following the program, because maybe the people who designed it knew what they were doing.
Twenty-eight days went by, and for the most part I followed the program closely. When we went in for final measurements I made Kait, the barre3 instructor organizing the group, measure me twice. I couldn’t believe I had lost 6 (!!) inches off my waist, and 4 (!!) off each thigh. Those results, coupled with my newfound love for the workout, made me a convert. I promised myself that I would keep going.
As soon as that round of 28 to Great ended I started another one the next day. I had a goal in mind and for the first time I knew I could reach it. I maintained my commitment through the holidays, vacations, birthdays, illness, and all the other challenges of life. There were a few splurge meals here and there, but I really did stick to the program because it worked and I just felt great doing it.
Nine months later I hit my goal size. It was never about the specific size for me though; it was about looking in the mirror and seeing myself again. Now I just see me. Once I reached my goal I didn’t even consider scaling back on barre3 classes because I just love it so much. I would do it even if it had no impact on my physical appearance.
Of course now I’m just trying to figure out how to maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I still work, but I did quit the doctoral program in order to prioritize my family and myself. Then there’s this blog, and—oh yah—A TODDLER. I’m doing the best I can, figuring it out as I go. Eating real food, living a whole life, moving as often as I can, and doing barre3.
Where are you in your fitness journey? I'd love for you to share your story in the comments!
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This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.