I have heard it said that you need to make yourself uncomfortable to really make progress in your life. I have spent the last month outside of my comfort zone. In some ways, it has been beneficial. On the other hand, I am so relieved I am done that I don’t even want to write about the last month.
I just finished a 5-day-a-week boot camp. I signed up with a friend, and I know I would never have done this activity without her prompting. I didn’t think much about what I was about to do, I just dived in. At first, I loved this class. I loved the huge surge of energy I had for a few hours after boot camp. I loved eating two eggs with cheese for breakfast. I loved the results. I have never in my life lost so many inches and so much weight in such a short period of time.
In the beginning, I loved the instructor. He was witty and straight forward. I was doing exercises I never thought I could do. I spent a huge portion of the class in plank position. When I wasn’t in plank, I was jumping. Sometimes I was in plank lifting weights. I carried my friend in a piggy back across the gym floor. My husband thought I was joking when I told him I did this.
By the end of class, I hated my instructor. I noticed that he never bothered to learn my name, but he knew the names of most everybody else in class. These other people seemed more athletic than I am, and they were definitely younger than I am. I could hear disdain in the instructor’s voice as he egged me on to go lower in a push-up. The remarks I had previously found a bit funny now seemed mean.
Or was I imagining this disdain and meanness? I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s like that saying: “No one can make you feel a certain way.” I brought my entire history to this class. Was there no judgment in his voice? Did he really know my name? I felt upset every time I came in last as we raced across the gym floor. I felt like I was in the seventh grade again, failing volleyball.
My neighbor pointed out that someone yelling at her to move it makes her want to be in first. When someone yells at me to jump, my immediate reaction is to tell them to fuck off. That’s a pretty strong reaction, isn’t it? But that is how I felt by the end of class. This morning when the instructor told me to push my hips up higher as I was in bridge holding up my friend’s body weight, I really wanted to tell him where to go and walk out of class.
And the funny truth of the matter: I could have quit at any time. But I refused to quit. I paid $20 for boot camp, so I could quit easily. But no, there was no way I wasn’t showing up for every class, no matter how much I didn’t want to be there by the bitter end.
Maybe class showed me that I still need to let go of those feelings that competition brings out in me. At yoga class, my instructor talks about staying on your own mat. I told myself that as I struggled to not come in last during line sprints. And it worked sometimes. The other part of camp that made it hard to stay rational was the sleep factor. I need a lot of sleep. I am completely irrational if I don’t get my 8 hours a night. Did I mention that boot camp was at 5 in the morning? I didn’t usually get my 8 hours. And I was annoyed that I needed to be in bed by 9 to get that sleep. I was annoyed that I didn’t get to go out at night and see my friends. I missed my social life. Some nights I was out before 8, before my kids were even asleep. I lacked patience with my husband and kids. My friend and I joked that if we kept going to boot camp we would have been on the road to divorce. Chris might soon want to call me a “skinny bitch.”
So there is that. The one other huge issue that surfaced: the skinny factor. I pride myself at having a healthy body image. I like to eat and enjoy food. I like to exercise. I don’t weigh myself and I am mostly successful at being happy in my body, the body that had 15 extra pounds before I started camp. Losing that weight made me fall in love with being smaller. I noted that other people didn’t notice and my weight has no bearing on our relationships. How I look in my jeans does not matter. But it did. Half of me is dying to weigh myself to see how much I lost, and the other half of me wants to let it go. Don’t weigh myself. Don’t put a number in my head to look back on 10 years from now. Remember when I weighed 138 pounds after that hellish boot camp? I sure wish I weighed that much again. Instead, I want to say, remember when I finished boot camp, ate a huge cupcake in celebration, started getting enough sleep, started running again for the pure pleasure of running, and was nicer to my family every day? I may have gained back some of the weight, but man, I was happier.
It feels good to process all of these yucky feelings. It’s time to let go of these emotions. It’s time to enjoy that cupcake I bought after the last class a few hours ago.