Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer isn't just for size Zero

I hope everyone is having a good day today. It’s lunchtime for me and although the weather today in northern Michigan isn’t conducive for swimming, I saw this picture on a friend’s wall yesterday and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. What a great sentiment!  I’ve been pondering how many times my weight and self-image affected the types of activities I chose to participate in. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say, “A lot.”

As strange as it sounds, I was actually LESS self-conscious to put on a bathing suit at 400+ pounds and swim in a public pool than I am today. Mostly because I simply didn’t care what I looked like. If I had, I would have embarked on this journey a long time before I did. In my previous career, I had the summers off and would spend the entire summer up north in the area where I currently live. Typically on any sunny day, I’d be up at the pool. This was the practice whether I was 250 or 300+ pounds, even beyond, although my limited mobility in later years made it more difficult and the swims less frequent. Ironically, even though I am a much smaller person now, I haven’t been in a public pool in several years. Now, however, it’s the excess skin that causes me to shy away from appearing in public in a swimsuit.  I need to take on the attitude of the woman in this clip and be free from the worry about “what others may think.”  We all could benefit from that mind-set, but it will be a hard sell for some.

In the same vein, I often hear people comment that they won’t go to a gym or fitness center because they are overweight and they would be embarrassed to be in work-out clothes or huffing and puffing next to someone who is buff and fit. I’m guilty of that one as well. I’m reluctant now to try Zumba because I don’t know how to dance and I figure I would look like a fool trying to learn the steps and keep up with the seasoned veterans: that, and the challenges of that type of activity with my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Perhaps this needs to be a goal I strive for mentally and emotionally for the winter months when I cannot ride my bike, walk, or garden.  Sigh…..changing one’s life is a NEVER ENDING process and it doesn’t just involve changing our physical appearance; it’s changing our mind-set and the way we THINK about things.  Every day I discover more areas where I can improve my outlook and my attitude.

Today I encourage you to join me in working to develop this sense of freedom to enjoy the activities and opportunities that the summer brings, regardless of your current size or state of health. Summer is so short (at least here) and I don’t want to, nor do I want you to miss out on what could be a really fun and satisfying thing just because I/we are waiting until….. “I lose more weight….my skin tightens up…..I look better….. I reach goal…. I learn how to do something….I…..I….I…..(there are likely a dozen or more excuses/reasons.”   Am I going to go to the public pool this weekend?  Not a chance, but I am going to promise to myself today that before the season ends, I will go up there at least once.  Am I going to join a Zumba class this summer? Not likely, but I will make a promise to myself to get out on the dance floor at an upcoming wedding and another party to break the ice. I might even look for a Zumba tape/dvd at a garage sale to practice. 

So….What are YOU waiting to do or try until……………..?  Wear a red dress? Ride a bike? Go to the gym?  Wear a pair of shorts? Try a new food?  Think about it….and then ask yourself….. Are you willing to join Theresa in promising to enjoy something new (or again after many years) this summer?  I hope so!