Several years ago, let’s guess 2004, I decided that I needed to get healthy. Not just lose weight, although that was part of the goal, but to change my eating habits, excercise more, and strengthen my body. I chose to do this slowly, hoping that the new changes would stick. More than once I had tried to start exercising and never had the follow through because, well, I hated it.
So this time, instead of once again hiking my fat ass up on the treadmill and walking mile after boring mile (I really don’t like walking unless I’m getting somewhere), I looked for an alternative. I decided to try yoga. It was easy enough that I could stick with it, but difficult enough that it challenged my muscles. At the time it fit into my schedule well as I was going to college (that was my third stint). I popped in the DVD and did twenty minutes before school. As time went on, I started learning new poses and incorporating them into my own, made-up routines.
I was actually impressed with the difference. Maybe I didn’t lose a ton of weight in the first few months that I did it, but I noticed that I was getting stronger and that I was feeling better. It was enough to encourage me to stick to it. It became the core of my exercise program.
After a good solid year of yoga, I added weights to the regime. And then after some time doing that, I looked to add some cardio to my workout routine.
I started with dancing at first. I just put on some music and bust some moves like I did back in the day when I was hitting the under 21 club on a regular basis (the whole motivation for me to get into shape was that I felt I wasn’t keeping up on the dance floor as well as I used to). It was fine for awhile, but I got bored with it pretty quickly, oddly enough.
Then I happened to catch a belly dancing workout program on FitTV, back when it was FitTv, before Oprah took things over and messed it all up. It looked challenging enough to give me a workout, but fun enough that I’d stick to it. And I felt that it would work with the yoga and the weights I was already doing it.
When I started belly dancing, I was terrible. No doubt about it. I was required to use muscles that I didn’t know I had. But slowly, I started to get more of the moves down. It got to a point where I had memorized every routine of every episode (they only aired one season on a loop) and I was keeping up with them pretty well.
My routine paid off and I lost weight because of it. More importantly I felt better.
But belly dancing had an unintended effect on me. It brought out a latent femininity and sexuality that I didn’t realize I’d had.
I grew up as a tomboy. Yeah, I wore dresses up until the third grade, but they did little to deter me from playing hard with the boys. My mother always said that she didn’t raise girls. I’ve never been very good at being girly. And because I do tend to hang out with boys more than girls and because it’s kind of a rule that if you want to be respected by the boys, you have to be like the boys, that’s how I rolled.
So imagine my surprise when I started doing this very feminine dance and actually enjoying the sexy, girly qualities it brought out in me. I gained even more confidence and felt beautiful despite the fact that the world condemned me (and still does) because I’d never be a size 0. I didn’t think that I could ever somehow incorporate my tomboy self that always have been into the strong, sexy self that I always wanted to be and come out a full person. It’s funny that an exercise routine could do that to me.
So here I am now, having gained back all of the weight I worked so hard to lose and I’m trying to find a way to lose it again. So I’m going back to the beginning: yoga, weights, belly dance. It worked before, it can work again.
More importantly, I need to get back to the state of mind I was in when I was doing this routine the first time.
I need to get back to being a fat girl belly dancing.