To the dark side and back…

I am not going to lie, I have pretty much been on the thinner side of the scale my whole life (with obnoxious amounts of dieting as previously mentioned), but it’s true.  I rarely needed to buy a size larger than a 4.

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All of this changed, however, when my husband and I decided to start a family.  Two heartbreaking miscarriages and two fertility medications later, we were successfully pregnant.  And, about 25 pounds heavier than my usual weight….at the start of my pregnancy.  Well, add 22 pounds of pregnancy weight onto that over the next 9 months, and by the time I gave birth I had an overall weight gain of close to 50 pounds.  Now I know this may not sound like a lot to some people, but for the record, I am 5’ 1”.

Unfortunately some people were brutal to me about this weight gain.  I can absolutely sympathize with Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson.  I actually had one person poke me in my thigh and make the comment about how big my thighs had gotten.  Women would just look at me and make cruel comments about how you can never lose all the weight.

I dropped the 22 pregnancy pounds pretty easily, but at 4 months postpartum I was still with almost 30 extra pounds and I was depressed.  I was officially overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy. No, not post-partum I can’t get out of bed depressed.  It was a “I can’t stand the way I look or feel” depressed.  It really hit me when I looked back and realized that I had only ONE picture taken of my child and I together because of my insecurity.  That is when I knew I had to make a change.

My career continuously teaches me that life is too short, and that message never rang more true than at this point in my life.  Although I do believe that life is too short not to eat a piece of cake every once in awhile, life is also too short to not be happy with yourself…especially to the point that you won’t have your picture taken, even with your newborn child.

So, I talked to my wonderfully supportive husband who seriously is the best man on the planet.  I started to think about my life and wanted to set a goal… something that I never thought I could do in a million years.  I signed up for a 5K.  Again, this may not seem like much to some people, but even when I was young and thin and a cheerleader, I was Never a runner.  I hated it.  Running around the track in high school was my own personal 7th level of hell.  But I needed something, anything to help pull me out of the dark place I was in, and I was hoping those 3.1 miles would be it.

Let me tell you, getting back in shape and in the gym was tough.  I felt awkward, big, and quite frankly, ugly.  I didn’t have cute gym clothes and couldn’t find any that were flattering.  So I worked out in maternity t-shirts and baggy shorts.  And I started out slowly, working out 3 days a week and slowly increasing to now 6 days a week when my schedule allows.  I did the couch to 5K program and literally started by running in 1 minute increments.  I also slowly and steadily changed my diet.  I downloaded My Fitness Pal and began recording my food.

Six months after my first road race ever, and before my child’s first birthday, I ran a half-marathon.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment I can’t even begin to explain the depth of it.

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I was now 20 pounds lighter, but not yet still at my goal.  That is when I found Pure Barre.  I had a girls’ weekend and saw my best friend since 3rd grade for the first time in over a year, and she looked great.  I mean, high school thin and fit great.  So I asked her what she had been doing and she replied, “Oh, this is all from Pure Barre.”  I had no idea what Pure Barre was, but took a class with her over that weekend.  And just like the prior post, it was brutal!  I actually flipped her the finger during my first class, told her she was crazy, and that I didn’t realize that extremity seizures were supposed to be a good thing!  Well, needless to say, that first class unveiled my next self-imposed fitness challenge.  I signed up for the New Client Special, and told myself I had to go to at least 10 classes that month for the price.  I haven’t looked back since, and that was 5 months ago.  In the first 2 months I lost 2 inches off my waist, and those aren’t the only changes I have enjoyed.  Besides the better posture and the beginnings of sculpted arms and abdominal definition, I have regained even more confidence.  Confidence not only in how I look, but also in appreciation for what my body can accomplish!  I am working my way towards the 100 club, and loving every minute of it.

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I celebrated my “Run-niversary” last weekend.  I ran the same race, but instead of the 5K, I ran a 15K at a pace three minutes less per mile.  The past year has been a journey from a very dark place, but having had the “overweight” experience has been an enlightening one.  Having been subjected to all the negative comments and jokes has made me not only a more sympathetic person, but because of the determination it gave, a healthier one as well.

B!%#? you can take that barre and shove it!

Recently, a friend of mine convinced me to try a barre class with her. We were on a work-related trip together. Reunited after a year of not seeing each other. I was impressed by how she had reclaimed her body since I had last seen her when she was just 3 months post-partum, partly still bloated and partly still carrying the extra weight we all put on especially during our first pregnancies.

So as I admired her sheer awesomeness in getting back into shape (which she did despite taking 10 calls per month and having an under-one-year old at home), she told me about her new obsession, Pure Barre. No matter how busy she was, no matter how unbalanced her work-life situation felt, she so enjoyed these barre classes that she would make them work. It helped that her local Pure Barre had like a bazillion classes a day that gave her the kind of flexibility she needed with her schedule. But, let’s face it, if there wasn’t something to love–about the experience or the results–she obviously would not make the time in her 36 hour days to snuggle up to some barre when their was undoubtedly a hot bath, or a glass of wine, or a dvr’d episode of Homeland, or a box of sea salt dark chocolate caramels to be had.purebarre-threepics

Given the freedom from patient care and childcare and spousal interaction (see husbands I didn’t call this ‘care’!) the trip allowed, my friend had already signed up for 3 barre classes during the short 4 day meeting. I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to the barre offerings at my local pilates studio (more on that in a later blog because that place has literally changed my life) and had never heard of boutique barre studios like Pure Barre and Bar Method that it seemed to me were the Jazzercise of the 2010s. I was curious to see what this new (at least to me) fitness phenomenon, that has so engaged my friend, was all about.

The-Bar-MethodShe warned me that it would be challenging, that she had been going for months and still hadn’t perfected the individual moves that are altered for each month’s new routines. She told me how she had stumbled upon her own first Pure Barre class serendipitously during a girls’ weekend and had spent every minute of that class cursing those girls. She gave me a brief tutorial on all the very small moves that work the core and the seat before starting the class. I was confident.. I said, “Pshaw! I have been working my core, hips, and glutes with a year of Stott pilates on the mat and the reformer. I got this!”

Holy crap was I wrong. I thought I might die during the class the tetany got so severe (granted it was purposeful tetany but still…). While I could clearly see the parallels between the imprint and the in-joint movements of my dear pilates in every move at the barre or on the mat, the sustained, repetitive movements against my own body weight just detroyed me. They broke me down. I uttered every expletive I know and maybe even made up some new ones, cursing my friend under my breath (and occasionally even out loud) for a full 60 minutes. I felt like one of the interrogation victims I had seen in my most recent dvr’d episode of Homeland: defeated, ready to divulge state secrets.

Yup I loved it. It was so much fun. I wanted to wrap my sweaty, sore body around my friend in gratitude. I could totally see why she made the time to do this to herself at least a few times a week. Sure the end results were amazing as was evident by my friend’s fabulous post-baby physique, but I suspected there was something about the experience, living through it, that made it so addictive. Or, maybe it’s just the Stockholm Syndrome in effect.

I was crazy wanting to do it again. It inspired me to try the Total Barre offerings at my local studio which sadly are just 3-4 times a week and rarely mix with my schedule that I am already carving into pieces to fit in the pilates (more on why I won’t give that up on a later blog). Unfortunately, there are no dedicated barre chain outposts in my immediate vicinity. I was longing to do it again. I needed another hit.

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On my next work-related trip, I was sadly without this dear, fit, barre obsessed friend. So, I sought out a Bar Method class of my own volition figuring it would be fun to compare (and, it was also walking distance whereas the Pure Barre class was not). I cursed a bit less, possibly because it’s harder to curse perfect strangers, but I still loved every torturous second of it. I am sure loyalists to one brand of barre or the other will be up in arms about this but I thought that the work outs were equally challenging and well taught.

For now, I am back to (or trying to get back to) my usual routine and sneaking in a local barre class if possible, eager for my next trip when I can hit a Bar Method or Pure Barre again, fondly remembering that first hour when I said to my friend “B!%#?, you can take that barre and shove it!”