Motivation is found in so many different forms. When I look to what motivates me, it is a combination of many factors. But when it comes to my fitness goals, it is simple for me; the fear of becoming fat. I am not ashamed to say it. This is real and it comes from a genuine place. Growing Up in the Midwest, I came from a family of seconds at the dinner table and clean your plate theory with food cooked with butter and salt. As a kid, I remember a brief stint of my father going to the gym and lifting while my aunt watched us a few evenings a weeks, but this lasted for only a short period of time. There were family bike rides on Sunday mornings during the summer seasons and while my older sister hated anything that had to do with outdoors, playing and sports, my brother and I stuck to each other like glue, always finding a new way to compete against each other; from jousting with sticks, to bike and running races, tetherball and shooting, the list could go on and on. Hell, we are both in our thirties and still are competing for the most movement per week on our fitness trackers. (By the way Boy, 2015, I have upped the ante and you are going down!)
Like for many, there is one moment that will never be forgotten, where someone says something and it pierces you in a way that no one can explain and can change your behavior, the way you look at yourself forever and the same was for me. It wasn’t the cruel kids at school who made fun of me relentlessly to a point where for the last two years of high school I got my parents to sign away my lunch period and study halls so I didn’t have to engage with the cruelty, instead, I just took a couple extra classes; my Moment came from my family.
On a family vacation in Florida when I was around the age of 12, I remember hearing the older women in my family talk about how my grandfather had said, “I see Kimmy has finally lost her baby fat.” I had never thought I was fat, I never been self conscious or cared about what other people said or thought about me. But that moment, I did. F.A.T. That comment changed me.
At the time, I didn’t understand nutrition, exercise or how both of those things really affected your health and what it really meant. But what I did know is that certain food had fat and if you didn’t exercise your belly would grow more round over time. Fast forward a few years later, I will never forget the conversation I had with my step-mom as I sat in the ditch across the road from our front yard, while she asked me if I had given it any thought to what I would be when I grow up. My response of being a Doctor of Oriental Medicine was the only thing I had ever really given consideration to, but she opposed me with, “I see you being an aerobics instructor and you’re going to be famous.” I laughed and shook my head, disregarding and discrediting anything she said, I never gave it much thought until 10 years later; when I became that ‘aerobics instructor’.
The more educated I became on the matter, I know there is good fat and bad fat, I understand how the body functions and what is needed for fuel and how the human body needs to move. I have an amazing job and it’s one of very few that one can say they actually help people feel better about themselves. All because of that one fat comment I heard many years ago. Whether is was a compliment or not, hurtful or helpful, it change how I felt about me. It was a motivator that has shaped my lifestyle, profession, my psyche.
Over the holidays, I got to go home and spent time looking at old photos, there was one that stood out to everyone but me. My husband and friends noted to me that I was a “little chunk” and a “chubby kid” and brought all those feeling back to me, where all I could think was I had always been happy with me until that moment at the age of 12. I am happy with me now. For those who really know me, know that no one loves me more than I love myself and take no shame in it. Even though I am grown and confident and comfortable in my own skin, and I can laugh off those comments of what I once was in other people’s eyes, it still hurts.
Even though I found that comment as a kid, of me loosing my baby fat as a motivator that has really formed my path of life, do we ever really get over the pain? The power of words can be quite profound.