When I started high school I was overweight.
okay okay, I was obese. Well over 225lbs, lazy, unhappy miserable.
In the early spring my first year of high school I was sitting in the balcony area of my school auditorium with my class for an assembly when the head coach of the local rowing club got on stage and talked about try outs for the high school team.
I thought it sounded cool and went to the meeting. I had always been in every activity and sport (… it clearly just didn’t show), so this sounded like something new and different and I wanted to try.
Walking out of the meeting with my sign up sheet in hand I was stopped by one of the mean boys.
… Yes, you know the one I’m talking about. Insecure about himself so he belittles everyone else. Sweet.
This boy made my life in high school miserable. The mean nicknames, the taunting, the… sound effects.
He asked if I was going to join the rowing team and I said YES. Of course in typical mean boy fashion he (and his friends) proceeded to tell me how wrong that was because I was “so fat” and I’d never make the team.
… and then I’m sure I went home, downed two helpings of dinner, half a box of cookies, maybe some ice cream and sobbed into my pillow…
But that’s beside the point, I was now on a mission. I was going to prove him wrong.
And I did. I went to that first practice, I did the warm up run, I did the workout, I learned to row. It was painful and uncomfortable and yes, a little awkward and embarrassing.
Lumbering along Rothsay road to complete the 10K loop known as the “commons run” when the water was too rough, sitting in the bow seat of the women’s 8+ boat, uncomfortable because my behind was too wide and hit the sides of the boat.
But the thing was… I was there. Every.single.practice. I never quit, I pushed and did everything in my power to prove that stupid boy wrong.
And I did. I made the women’s varsity team and never looked back. That first spring I easily dropped pounds and dropped them fast. Tons of activity, all those activities leaving me too tired to stay up late watching tv and eating. It was easy.
By the end of my high school rowing time I was no longer part of the school team, but racing for the club… as a 135 lbs lightweight at Canadian Nationals.
(… umm… kind of how I ended up in Montreal, but that’s another post for another day…)
But something happened. The older I got, the less people discouraged me. In fact if anything, outside sources were encouraging me to push my limits, set new goals.
What was holding me back all of a sudden?
When Gillian asked me to run a 5 mile race with her, who was saying “you can’t run 5 miles in a ROW!”?
When I mentioned wanting to get on stage and compete, who was saying “that’s crazy talk, you don’t have the genetics/body for that!”?
Was it the mean boy? was it my parents? Was it my friends? Strangers on the street?
All the negativity, the uncertainty was coming from me.
I stopped believing in me. When this happened, where it happened, how it happened. Who knows. Between disordered eating, bad relationships, a crazy lifestyle I stopped loving me.
With a bit of pushing from outside sources I took control of it. I said it was now or never, you can’t keep living like this, you’ll never know if you can’t do it if you’re too afraid to try.
So I hired my coach, I did my prep, I got on stage.
Did I win? Nope, not even close.
Did I follow through, finish a goal and begin the healing process of my self esteem and self worth?
You bet your ass I did.
… and then I continued to. Every time that negative voice popped up, it was time to say you know what, you CAN do this.
I ran my 5 mile race
I continued competing.
I joined bootcamp classes
I ran away for a week to NYC with two online friends.
I made the decision to leave my career and move back to my hometown.
We all have limitations, negative inner voices, nay sayers, and self doubt. But it’s choosing to say “you think I can’t do it? Watch me” that makes the difference.
Maybe next time I won’t be so successful, maybe I’ll crash and burn, but at least I will have tried, and lived with no regrets.
What holds you back? Is it other people? Or yourself?