That Was Then, This Is Now

Now halfway through my second term at Kung Fu class, I can look back over the past 6 months and say, ooh, I see some good changes!

Relationship with Food

Then: I used to literally be on a SEE FOOD diet.  I mean it.  I see food, I want it.  I see food, I eat it.  I see food, it calls to me.  By name.

Now: Since starting Kung Fu, I’ve managed to break my terrible habit of raiding the fridge around 10 pm for leftovers and eating surreptitiously with one ear listening for my husband’s footsteps coming down the stairs. My meal portions are still largish, but I am proud to say that I no longer eat after dinner.  It’s just ‘not something I do’.

Relationship with House

Then: My relationship with the disaster zone I call home has changed.  As soon as I saw the mess that faced me when I came home from work, I would roar at my husband and the kids: Why are there socks here? Why am I stepping on legos? Why is this pile of papers still here from 3 weeks ago? Why is there dust on this shelf? Why am I the only one who cares about cleanliness around here?!?!?

Now: After half a year of beginner kung fu and a little meditation, I can honestly say that my anger button has retreated slightly.  I still want to roar and on occasion I still do roar, but the thoughts that go through my head are more like: aw, dinner smells great, hey, the boys look so happy, ooh, the laundry is done! maybe I’ll do some organizing or cleaning this weekend.

Relationship with Saturday Morning

Then: Once upon a time, I dragged myself out of bed to get the boys to their Kung Fu class.  When I first started my class, I would wake up each Saturday wondering if I had a good enough excuse to skip class, but I really couldn’t because I had to get the boys to class and my commitment to their health was a priority.

Now: I eagerly look forward to the torture that our instructor wants to put us through. I do my best and I don’t compare myself to others in the class.  As a side note, we are getting new students every week, young, in shape and strong classmates.  They push me to be better.

Relationship with Class

Then: I was so embarrassed all the time, not being able to finish class without sitting out, not being as good as I knew I could be. The thoughts in my head were all about how badly I was holding back the class and how slow I was and how hard I was breathing when I should be in better shape…

Now?  My instructor called on me to lead one of the lines!  She reminds me that my stamina has improved. When she says “if you feel this is easy, push yourself” and I feel like I can, I lift higher, I jump higher, I hold longer, I go lower… And if I can’t, I just focus on getting myself through class in one piece!

Relationship with My Clothes

Then: Nothing looked good on me.  My 200+ pounds poked and rolled and flabbed no matter what I wore.  Even wearing all black couldn’t hide how out of shape I was.

Now: I have lost those first (last in first out?) 10 pounds over the past 6 months.  But more importantly, my clothes fit me better.  My goal is no longer about losing weight, but to feel good about walking into a room with a confident smile and whatever clothes I’m wearing.  I can wear shoes with higher heels without hurting at the end of the day. I can wear a skirt without feeling ashamed of my body. I can look forward to a time when I love the way I look.  Not there yet, but I’m on my journey there.

Relationship with Me

Then: I came last. Every. Single. Person. Came. Before. Me.

And now: I make sure I get my me time.  I make sure that I like myself.  I make sure that I speak to myself with a little kindness and respect.

First Day of Class

Apprehensive about the first day of class, I put on my black kung fu pants and brand new dry fit yellow shirt.  It was hard not to notice that it was an out-of-shape body in the mirror, reflecting back at me, but there was also a spark of excitement in the dark eyes. So I tucked my shirt in, tied up my ponytail, tied the laces of my white kung fu shoes, sucked in my tummy and nodded at the new Kung Fu student in the mirror with determination. The boys had also changed and were already running around with their friends, laughing and exploring their recently developed strength and skills. They tumbled together, wrestling each other.

My instructor is a gentle soul and I knew this because she’s chatted with me from time to time, but I was pretty intimidated by the beautiful, strong, flexible and intense figure standing there calling us “Form in!”

Oh, look at what the boys are doing!  Whoops, I need to stand here.  Oh, too close to my classmate. Okay, here.

As I stood there, side-by-side, with my classmates, I could feel my insecure self getting ready to voice its usual negative sentiments. I’m so out of shape.  My ankles hurt. My knees are creaking.  My stomach is sticking out. I have a big butt. My face is huge. Taking a breath, I tried to ignore its presence and instead, focused on the instructor.

Hey, the boys need to concentrate more on what they should be doing!  Oh they need to be doing their stances better.  Why are they talking?  Whoops, I need to focus on my own class.

After our greeting, warm up began. We followed the instructors as she led us around the room in a gentle jog.  My muscles started waking up and my breath began to shorten as my body reacted to the shock of exercise after years of a sedentary lifestyle.  Muscle memory kicked in and I ran faster, faster, faster, but lung capacity held me back as I gasped for oxygen and I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Waves of nausea washed over me as I slowed down and beads of sweat dripped from my forehead onto the mat.

I have to stop. I’m going to sick up. I’m going to pass out. I don’t want to give up. I look stupid.  No one is looking at me. Hey, look at the boys. Oh, I don’t feel good.

My instructor gently reminded us that we should think of the long run: slow and solid like a mountain. I slowed down everything, tempered my effort to be commensurate with my current physical ability.

Slow and steady. I can do this. Don’t look at the boys. Just 10 more seconds. I can do this. Just 5 more seconds.  Yeesh, my leg hurts from holding it up. 4. 3. 2. 1.

I made it through my first class!