Growing up in the 70‘s just on the border of Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, I lived with my young mother and her parents, (affectionately known as Meme and Pepe) while my mom was in school. My grandmother cleaned houses and I’d spend the day with my patient, gruff, big Pepe while he fixed things with his red toolbox. Having a trailer meant things broke a lot but luckily Pepe could fix just about anything and I helped.
One day his project was to replace the foam ceiling tiles in the entire trailer. Pepe had stacks of these tiles piled in the living room. They were white with little holes of various sizes. As Pepe took down the old tiles, I watched and I helped. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a pencil. I then stood next to the pile of foam tiles and added more holes in each tile, stabbing little holes in each tile. Pepe was NOT amused but damn if he didn’t use those tiles anyway. (At the time I was so happy he liked what I did but I realize now it was just about cost. When you are poor you waste nothing.)
I tried helping Pepe solve the wasp problem under the trailer by grabbing a box of Kleenex and stuffing balled up tissues into the hole in the metal under the front steps. It worked until the wasps flew out en mass and attacked my little face. My grandfather took me to the emergency room, the first of many times when we lived in that trailer.
I needed to get off my bottom.
In fact, I needed to get out and breathe. And work on my rear view. And front view. Every view.
In the year that almost killed me physically if not emotionally I stayed still, perfectly still almost as if I dared to move that I would tilt the balance of the universe even more askew that it already was.
I wanted to be happy. And I wanted a great rear view.
I looked in my closet and found dusty sneakers. They were grey. They made me unhappy just looking at them. I hit Nordstrom and told the sales associate "I need to get myself outside. I need to lose weight. I need a great rear view. Can you help me?"
And ta-da! She presented me with Skecher's Shape-ups and assured me that if I walked every day in these shoes that I would feel better. She was excited about the technology that would give me a better posture and a firmer backside. Done. Pack 'em up!
I laced 'em up and BONUS! the box included an extra pair of aquamarine laces - my favorite color! These were happy shoes. I loved them. I was falling in love with my new little shoes. Then I put them on and wowie! It was like walking on beach sand. Every step I took around the kitchen island hardwood floors I felt like I was wading through wet sand. They weren't bouncy like my Nike Airs were.
I went out to the front step. To the driveway. Down the street. I turned around and came home. It felt wobbly. I decided what the hell and I turned around and walked 2 miles, my first two miles in probably 2 years. Every step of the hills I took (that's what I get for living in a house on top of a hill!) got harder and harder. I had to stop and catch my breath. I was sweating. The Bee-Gees were annoying the hell out of me. I took off my headphones and looked down at the sidewalk going up the BIG hill and wondered if I could take my new evil sneakers off and walk barefoot. I wondered of my husband would think I was a wuss if I called him and said "Honey, can you come get me? This hill is too steep and my calves hurt."
I decided that I didn't want him to think I was that weak. I didn't want to think I was that weak. So I walked. Slowly. I paused. I frowned at my shoes and thought that if I wanted to feel like I was walking at the beach then I would go to the damn beach.
And with the help of the "Grease" soundtrack I made it to my street and walked as fast and hard and proud as I could until I made it to my doorstep. This was the proudest 2 miles I have ever walked.
The funny thing about exercise is that it doesn't just work your body. I slept for a full night for the firsttime since my life went to hell. I slept soundly with no nightmares.
That was until I woke up and thought someone was squeezing my glutes and thighs and calves. My eyes shot open. I sat up and said "Ow ow ow ow ow." My husband was already at work and the dog who was sleeping beside me shot up sleepily like "What? What? Who's here?"
My legs and glutes HURT and then I smiled because I realized that I was back out there. I took that first step towards getting myself back. In the scary, painful past two years I had forgotten that I even had a body, really. I know that doesn't make sense but I was struggling with so much emotion that I didn't give a thought to the fact that I was powering my body with Doritos and soda.
The pain felt good. It meant my body was changing.
That was June 11. It has now been over a month and every day I lace up my sneakers, my very groovy, slightly odd looking sneakers.
I've lost 32 pounds and I feel different. Yesterday I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a few weeks. She tilted her head and looked at me and said "You look different. You look happy and relaxed."
I am happy and relaxed. I think once you start moving your body you send all the bad stuff out and away from you.
And do I think a great rear view can make you happy? I've got a ways to go until I'll know for sure but yes, I think being proud of your body and what your body can do can make you happy.
Stay with me, will you? I'll let you know.