Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kids tease me, a mother, at the playground

The first teasing my 3-year-old daughter experienced on the playground was seeing a little boy barrage me with questions: "Why are you so big? Your bottom needs exercise."

He kept on until his father called him over and gave the little boy a good talking to, "You don't say those kinds of things to strangers. You don't know their story."

I was mortified, at a loss for words. I was so embarrassed in front of my daughter. She's only 3, but I'm sure she recognized it in some form.

Still, I have to admit, I am terribly frustrated by my pear shape, especially because it seems to drop weight last in the places that need it most.

It is frustrating when I know I am making great progress, but you wouldn't know it by my hips. I melt from the top down, so even though I can finally notice my cheek bones again. I feel like sand bags are straped to my thighs, making it even harder to do the heavy-duty workouts required to drop pounds.

I needed to remind myself that even a month ago, I couldn't do the kind of rocking interval training that I do to get in shape for Kilimanjaro. My hikes are now a breeze, when last July I was huffing and puffing my way up the shortest trails. Every day is a step forward.

Working out and active play with my daughter is the most important thing that I can do. So there is no way I'm backing down...

The truth is, I probably won't see any noticible difference in my hips until June or July. I need to be OK with that and respect my body for all it has done for me over the years. I need to remind my daughter that it is important to be healthy and strong -- and I am headed in that direction.

Next time I will come up with a better response, because kid, I am exercising this bottom EVERY.SINGLE.DAY to make it up Kilimanjaro a third time.

To learn more about my story, visit: www.fatwomanonthemountain.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

Assumption Trail

I needed to step up my hiking pace so I am prepared for my Kilimanjaro trek in August. When I hike by myself (something I will never do again after seeing 127 Hours) I am a bit of meanderer... taking my time to smell the roses, the pine, the brook...

I've wanted to join a hiking club for a long time but doing any kind of new activity can be intimidating for any plus-sized person. I am not immune to the insecurity that not fitting the mold can bring. After all, when I started hiking at more than 360 pounds, the only thing I could buy at the local outfitter was a water bottle or fancy pair of sunglasses.

On Sunday, when I got out of my car, I could see a few "what the heck is she doing here" glances. When I approached the sign up sheet, the leader asked, "Have you ever been hiking before?"

Now I realize that this was probably a safety question, one asked to anyone new to the group, as I'm sure they've had lots of people bite off more they can chew on the trail... but the tone left me feeling miffed. It felt condescening, like he was judging a book (or Fat Woman on the Mountain) by its lumpy cover. I mean, really, have I ever been hiking before?

"Um, yeah.... In fact, I was just featured in American Hiker magazine," I replied with a little bit of a smirk. "And I'm in training for my third trek up Kilimanjaro."

It was probably an over-cocky response but two-thirds of Americans are in my shoes as overweight or obese. I am trying to pave the way to help others become active.

Every once in a while when I am working hard on the treadmill, I get an, "Oh my, she's probably about to have a heart attack" glance. But rather, I am being active and taking care of my heart.

The hike leader still seemed a little nervous about me joining the group. I worked to gain the respect of the group with each step. I was a solid mid-pack hiker, keeping up. I know it surprised some people, even me, as I hadn't realized how strong I had become in my last few weeks of training. The five-mile trek by Bear Rock, Whale Head Rock and Tripod Rock was a breeze.

I had a few things to learn as well, like a "separation", means pee break. The group ended up being really welcoming. I met some great people, had a wonderful workout and left knowing I would join them again.

As I returned to the trail head, I asked the leader, "So, how did I do?"

He said, "Anyone who makes it back does great. You did a great job."