I am overweight. I’m not just saying that because I’m insecure, it’s a fact. According to BMI (body mass index) a woman my height, which is around 5″7 should weigh a max of 153 lbs. Well friends the last time I got on the scale I was way past that, actually according to those numbers I’m obese. I have been since probably about 7th grade. In school I felt my weight really limited me, I was always last in gym class. Always the most out of breath, even the girls who smoked seemed to be more fit than me. This is why I was so glad to leave gym class in the past once I graduated. Since then I never felt like my weight kept me from doing anything. I was actually starting to love my “curves”.
About a month ago my confidence took a big hit. I am a part of what some would call a “life group”in my church. We are a group of girls in our 20’s who study the Bible together, spend time together, serve our community together, we just do life together.
On this particular evening we were climbing Stone Mountain. For those who don’t know Stone Mountain is an enormous boulder sitting just east of the city of Atlanta. When I found out this is what we’d be doing I paused some. It had not escaped me that I was bigger than all the girls that were going, but since I knew most of the group was not attending I decided to go in support for our leader who is a good friend of mine. I would come to regret this decision.
When we got there I found that not only were we climbing the mountain we were going to be doing an activity as we climbed. Our group leader pulled string from her bag saying that we all had to keep one hand on the string as we climbed. We were going to be forced to stay together the entire way up, if one girl stopped we all stopped. The point of this was to strengthen our bond because of one of struggled it was all our job to help her.
My stomach dropped, no doubt I would be the slowest person. I had climbed the mountain once before and it was not easy for me, I stopped multiple times.
It became very clear to me about 15 minutes into the climb that this was not going to be good experience. The girls had gotten to a pace that was too fast for me. I knew I had to stop and take a rest soon. Stone Mountain is not a smooth climb, the trail is rocky and is consistently uphill. It’s an ideal cardio workout, I knew this because my chest was tightening the higher we got. I had to stop a few times and even have the girls slow down. I could see their frustrated expressions and I was filled with humiliation. I prayed our leader would let them go out in front of me so I could go at my own pace and not slow them down but no that would undermine the whole activity.
The girls-bless their hearts-tried to give me words of encouragement but I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be left behind so I could do this on my own without their attention. As we closed in on the steepest part of the mountain I felt as if I was going to pass out at any moment. But I was determined to get to the top, I had suffered so much already I would get the reward. Half way up the steep area I found myself unable to catch my breath. My breathing became very rapid and labored. “I think I am having an asthma attack!” I thought to myself. I regained my breath eventually after sitting and sipping some water.
With that scare the majority of the girls thought it was time to go back down. I and a few others wanted to keep going. They let me be the deciding factor, I relented and started back down. No longer required to hold onto the string we all scattered as we went back down.
This activity was supposed to bring us together strengthen our bond, make us more aware of each other. But I felt no bonds of sisterhood, I just felt fat. All the confidence I had gained in the years since high school had dissipated in an 1 hour time span. I had never felt so limited in my body or so low in a long time.
Unintentionally I had become the example the activity was meant for. I was the girl who was struggling, who needed “help”.
The rational side of me knew that I had nothing to be ashamed of, we are all at different fitness levels. And if some of the girls were frustrated who cares? This is what I had to hold onto as I nursed my wounds when I got home that night.
One thing though nagged me more than anything, I had to get serious about my weight. I obviously needed to be more active.
Since then I have started working out more often and researching different ways to be active. I am discovering that finding the time is harder for me than the willpower. But I am determined to live a healthier lifestyle. My confidence is not what it was. Most days I’m fine others day I’m not, I’ll get there.
I want to hear your thoughts! Have you ever felt shame because of your body? Or felt like you were unable to do the same things as your peers?