Workin’ on my fitness

I’ve been in a battle with my body since I was 10 years old.

I looked down at my legs and saw my bulbous calves and thought “This is fat” and fat is bad and I am fat and I am bad. And that circular thinking has plagued me since then, eating away at self-esteem and body image and making me hate myself.

I used to look in the mirror and see a person staring back who wasn’t me. Who was like a caricature of me, like those ones artists in parks draw where your head is too big for your body and all of your flaws are over-emphasized. That’s what I saw, and that’s what I thought all of you saw too. All of the worst parts of me, front and centre. It didn’t matter if I was smart or kind or funny. What mattered was that I was fat.

I thought this way for a long long time, longer than I want to admit but I’m going to anyway. Up until about a month ago, I hated myself and my appearance so much it was all I could think about most days. The way that the waistband of my pants cut into my fleshy love handles, or my side boob squished out of my bra, or my thick arms rubbed against my thick core. And don’t get me started on my thighs–just gross. I thought about all my parts and the way that they didn’t fit together right. I was wrong, I was fat, I was ugly, I was awful. It was awful. It’s time consuming and depressing to think of yourself this way, trust me. And it’s hard to do anything when you can’t stop thinking about the sound your pants make when you walk and your thighs swish together.

I decided to do something about it. I’ve tried to “do something” about my weight countless times before. And I mean that. I’ve lost track of the fad diets and the workout plans and the weird smoothies I’ve drank. I’ve starved myself and I’ve binged and I’ve starved and I’ve binged so many times that it actually just felt like my normal diet. It’s strange now to eat three solid meals a day because for over half my life I just didn’t feed myself properly. It’s terrifying to consider.

I took charge of my body by hiring a personal trainer. Her name is Katelyn and she works at Studio 4 Fitness in downtown Victoria and she’s amazing. I talk about her all the time and I still don’t think I can do her justice here. She’s just, she’s great. People ask me what she does and the answer I usually give is “A lot of counting.” She keeps track of my exercises and counts my reps and makes sure I hinge at the hips and not the knees. She tells me to look at my form in the mirror and square my hips and keep my shoulders in the right position. She grabs mats for me to exercise on, she carries weights when they are too heavy for me to carry myself, but most importantly she tells me I’m strong. She tells me to keep going. And the other day she told me I was beautiful and you know what? I believed her. I felt beautiful for possibly the first time ever in my life. Drenched in my own sweat, glasses fogging up, frizzy hair pulled into a tight top knot, I thought “Damn, I do look good.”

Because I wasn’t thinking about what I wasn’t. I was thinking about what I was. Am.

I am strong. I have legs that are thick with muscle and that carry me from point A to point B to point C and back again. I have baby muscles in my arms, and when I flex I can kind of see them… but when I am carrying my groceries home I can definitely feel them. I have a core that is strong, and even though my stomach may never be flat and rippled with abs… my balance has improved so that I can walk up stairs without gripping the hand rail for support. I sleep better. I eat better. I am better.

I mean, it’s nice to fit into pants with a button and zipper again, but I think this is about more than just looking good in a pair of jeans. Honestly, that feels like a happy bonus. What it’s about is feeling like I belong in my body for the first time ever. Feeling like I can take up space. Feeling like I’m working with my body and not against it. Feeling like… just feeling happy to exist.

I know that you can’t buy yourself a body. That exercise is hard work. That loving yourself is hard work. And I know that I am a work-in-progress, always. And for the first time ever, I’m okay with that.

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If you’re interested in working with Katelyn (or any of the other awesome PTs at Studio 4), you can contact the gym here. Or, if you just want to check out the facilities, you can check them out at 715 Yates St in Victoria, BC. Everyone who works there is so nice, and they offer all sorts of classes, and the gym is located in this great older building in the heart of downtown. I love everything about that place.

And just so you all know, this post is in no way sponsored by this gym or Katelyn, I’m just really, really, really happy and I needed to let that out.

the writer is (kind of) present

Hi all, sorry for my absence as of late–I’ve just been really, really fucking busy. Who knew that grad school would be so intense? I mean, I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park by any means… But I never would’ve guessed that three courses would take over my schedule this way.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a little bit of writing (not nearly enough, but we’re getting there), and I’ve also been continuing to acclimate to the West Coast (I’m still permanently sweaty and I have no idea what season it is). Things are going well-ish. I have my good days where I feel like I belong, and this my new home, and I’m going to do so many great things as a writer. But then I have my bad days where I don’t want to leave my house, and I miss my friends/family, and I don’t know how I’m ever going to be successful at anything.

It’s a process. And it’s not easy. I think I should assert how happy I am to be here–I mean, this is something I’d dreamed of as an 8 year old. I pinch myself on the daily because a huge part of me is worried that this is all an elaborate dream and I’ll wake up to a life where I’ve forgotten my entire vocabulary and no longer know how to write cursive. But the absolute joy of getting into this program does not negate the self-doubt. It almost encourages me to put more pressure on myself (as if I don’t already put enough).

And I want to make my people proud.

I have so many people rooting for me–my family and friends back in Edmonton, my BFF in Toronto, my family overseas in Scotland. And I don’t want to let y’all down.

I’m so lucky to have such a widespread net of support. I know even if I fall, someone will be there to pick me up. I’m honestly not sure what I ever did to deserve such a rockstar support group, but I’m really glad I did it. I never would’ve made it this far without you (and you all, I’m sure, know who you are).

I’m busy, but I’m blessed.

So, I will continue to plug away at my reading, writing, and life skills here in Victoria, but I might not be around on here as much. I hope you don’t take that personally, it’s just, in a world where school is taking over my life… something’s gotta give.

alone in victoria

So I’ve officially moved into my new digs on the Island, and, thanks to my mum and grandma, my boxes are all unpacked, my kitchen is fully set up, and my fridge and cupboards are crammed full of food. I swapped my gas-guzzling automobile for a shiny new bike and bought a bookshelf and now I should be ready to start my new life in Victoria.

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My bike Lucy.

I’m really happy to be here–I swear, I am. I can’t wait to get dug into my Master’s program. But I wonder when this place will feel like home. Right now, I don’t feel like a visitor and I don’t feel like I belong here. It’s like I’m floating somewhere in-between and it’s uncomfortable and my landlord scares me and I’m afraid to ride my bike on the busy streets and I miss my mum and I don’t want to go home but I want here to feel like home.

That makes me sound spoiled, I know. But being in a new place all by yourself is an adjustment, no matter what the reason is. And it’s not like I’m unhappy to be here–I’m frickin’ ecstatic. I’m obsessed with learning and education (and going to school is way more fun and rewarding than a regular full-time job), so I can’t wait to be immersed in that environment again. But I’m nervous–about living alone for the first time in my life, about being 100% financially responsible (money is something I struggle with managing), about making the most out of my time at UVic, about making friends (good friends), and a bunch of other stuff too.

So I’m taking it day-by-day, and hour-by-hour, and hopefully I can figure out where I fit in this city.

If anybody has any advice on how to ride my bike, or buy groceries, or just live life as a functioning adult, I would love to hear it.

 

house hunting

I’m in Victoria this weekend with my mum searching for a place to live (thanks mum!), and I am already blown away by the city that’s going to be my new home.

Everything is so lush here. And everybody is so nice. And the university is so big (that last one I’m a bit anxious about, but I’m working through it).

The campus is huge, and I mean huge, but my supervisor has reassured me that I’ll mostly be hanging out in the Fine Arts building, probably in my office (!!!!) or one of the other rooms dedicated to massaging those creative juices. After a quick visit with my supervisor where we talked about all the amazing classes I can take for almost-free (thanks to scholarships, grants, etc.–god bless my big brain), my mum and I wandered over to the University Centre to pick up my ID card and check out the “cafeteria”.

I haven’t been in many cafeterias in my lifetime, but I’ve definitely never been in one that looked or smelled like this. It’s massive and it’s beautiful and it had a selection of food places that made the sad Subway in MacEwan’s Building 6 look even sadder in comparison.  Like, is this a university or a resort? 

Judging from the Brown-eyed Susans and cattails we saw on the way to the bookstore (our next stop), perhaps a bit of both?

 

After walking, walking, and more walking around campus, we dragged our tired, hungry and maybe kind of grumpy (on my part, anyway) butts to get food at this little pasta place, aptly named The Lil Pasta Place. We enjoyed the most delicious pasta I’ve ever had, the freshest tasting calamari in the world (I’m convinced) and authentic, in-house-made tiramisu. Yeah, it was pretty tasty. But, it might have been trumped by the seaside fare we enjoyed for dinner–mussels and clams for me, a piece of deep-fried fish for my mum, followed by my favourite treat: ice-cream! All eaten dock-side–it doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

 

Basically, it’s not going to be a hardship to live here… in some ways. I know that I’ll stick out like a sore thumb, and that I’ll go through a roller coaster of emotions when I move out here and have to go to school and meet new people and do new things and take care of myself completely, but, if those mussels are any indication, living almost ocean-side will be worth it.

 

 

As long as I can actually find a place to live.

 

Finding the ocean–no problem! Finding a place to live however…