About a year and a half and nearly forty pounds ago, I reluctantly agreed to participate in a thirty day challenge at TFW with a friend. Little did I know how much this decision would change my life. Yes, I lost weight, gained strength and endurance but there is so much more to the story. Before coming to TFW, I was stuck, mentally and physically. At one time I had been fairly active. I worked out regularly and even ran a mini marathon, but over the course of several years life events led me, little by little, back to a sedentary lifestyle, and I resumed old habits that zapped my energy, motivation and self-esteem. As my waistline grew so did my feelings of apathy and depression. The prospect of turning things around overwhelmed me and the goals seemed too far out of reach so I just continued to do nothing, caught in a terrible cycle of longing for change but lacking the motivation to make myself do anything about it. My friend’s invitation was just what needed. I made a commitment to her and didn’t want to let her down.
Looking back I remember so clearly my first day and the awkwardness I felt. I worried I didn’t have on the right clothes or shoes, I was anxious about standing out, and I just kept thinking, “I don’t belong here, I’m embarrassing myself”. We started the warm up and five minutes in I felt like I was going to die. I wanted to leave, well what I really wanted was to lay down, but I had to keep going because quitting or walking out would only result in more shame and embarrassment. While I had hoped to quietly huff and puff my way through the workout unnoticed, that did not happen, and I’m glad. All around me people were encouraging me, pushing me to keep going, “you can do it” and “you got this”. One day, early on, I was having a particularly difficult time with the workout, Dana noticed and came over. “I’m struggling,” I quietly told her. She looked me in the eye and said, “You are here and you are moving and that’s all that matters”. Those simple words of reassurance stuck with me and meant more than she’ll ever know. It’s why I kept coming back. You see, at that moment, even if I didn’t believe in myself yet, she did and that was enough to get me over the hurdle. After that, all the negative thoughts in my head telling me I couldn’t do this disappeared, along with all the unrealistic expectations I had set for myself. I stopped comparing myself to people around me and starting focusing on two things, showing up and focusing on what I could do, not what I couldn’t. When I could do more, I did and when I couldn’t I just accepted it as something to work on.
After a month or two, I started seeing results that I could never have imagined when I started. I’m not going to lie though, it was discouraging at first to be the last one to finish, to need to walk when everyone else was running, to stop and rest when everyone else kept going. But somehow, one workout at a time, I got stronger, healthier and little by little my self-confidence was restored, not just because I looked and felt better but because little did I know I was also building inner strength and discipline that would serve me outside the gym as well. I have also found friendship, support and accountability. If I don’t show up, the coaches and my gym family check on me, not to call me out or to scold me, but to make sure I’m okay. Now, when things in my life get hard, I have a reservoir of strength to draw on. This is the kind of mental shift that happens when you have coaches that meet you where are, celebrate your individual strengths and accomplishments and encourage an environment of positivity and support among your peers. And…we have so much fun along the way!
I love when new people come because it gives me the opportunity to extend the same support that was so generously given to me when I was new, and hopefully I can play a small part in their journey to better health and wellness the way so many others at TFW did for me.