As a kid, I was really really chubby: all the doctors blamed whatever issue I had on my weight (even the dermatologist), I was really mocked at school, and not even my mom's clothes fit me. And when you have so much extra weight, your relatives start to worry. I was 5 when my mother took me to my first nutritionist, who was, as they all are, tall and skinny, beautiful like a Disney Princess, successful and happy -or so did my 5 year old self think-.
If you've ever been to a nutritionist, you know the first question they ask you: "do you work out?" When you tell them you don't, and start making up excuses "I don't have time", "I don't like gyms", "I broke a finger trying to catch a ball 3 years ago and I'm still recovering", they get mad as a cheated on boyfriend and start describing the kind of life you should be having. But you know, as you listen to her, that you're never gonna be the kind of person who wakes up at 7 AM for a run, right?
When I turned 7, my mom hired me a personal trainer. Her name was Mary, and she had a small white car. We met three times a week at 3 PM, when she would park her car on my front door, wait for me to go outside, and take me to the park that's 2 blocks away from my house. I don't remember much about what we did, but four things: The struggle she had to go through every time she wanted to make me run (and I always ended up walking instead); the time when I was jumping rope in the park and a man passed by on his car and yelled "fat cow" at me; one cold day when we decided to ditch the workout and have a snack instead; and doing 10 crunches when she asked for 30 and got distracted.
At the P.E. classes at school, I was the worst. In primary school I had a teacher that was even worse than your typical bully. The P.E. class was the kingdom of the skinny, popular girls, where they all hanged out and did weird things like stand on their hands and jump tall boxes. There was a show at the end of every year, and every one had to do their thing. The so nice teacher gave me the exercise I struggled the most with: the somersault (you can look it up, it's like rolling forwards with your body). And as much as I practiced, the end was clear: I was unable to perform it and started crying -no judgement, I was 8 years old-. She stopped the show, started yelling at me, and spent 20 minutes mocking me in front of everyone until I got it. God, I hope she never has kids.
But hey, I know that drowning in the past with the trauma stories that I should be telling my therapist about isn't going to get us anywhere. But here's what I want you to tell you: that kid, who did all those things and suffered when even reminded of the existence of gyms, is the same one that now gets up at 9 AM on a Saturday to do Crossfit, that finds places to go for a run when on holidays, that does crunches on her spare time, that goes to Zumba for fun. I may not be great at it, I'm not the fitness goddess I wish I was, but I enjoy it, and that's what makes me happy.
And of course at first I did it to lose weight, but now it's so much more. It's my time to care about myself, to prove that I can do good, to leave my worries behind, to find a better me.
So here's my piece of advice -that no one asked for- to the world: Work out, girl (or boy). Find a gym: one of those fancy ones, that posts pictures on Instagram that make you feel excited and scared at the same time; or one of the old ones with music that's way too loud and an instructor that doesn't pay attention to you. Or find an activity, or a place to move, whatever you like best, find it, and start doing it. The first 20 times are probably going to be a pain in the ass and you'll hate every single minute of it, but I promise, that after a while, you're gonna love it. Do it for yourself, don't worry about anything anyone tells you ("Val, you're doing too much Crossfit, boys don't like girls who lift weights"), but please, do it. It will change your life.
P.S. I can now do as many somersaults as I want, have you heard me, bully teacher?!