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A Flounder, Not a Mermaid

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I'm usually a morning person and like to get all my workouts in by noon, but yesterday I thought I'd tag along with hubby in the evening. Let me tell you, even with the same equipment, the gym after 6:00pm is a different place than the one I'm used to. New faces, crowded, and significantly for this post, different instructors. As I do Pilates on Thursday mornings, I thought I'd try out the PM version.

The woman teaching was tiny, mid 60s and sweet as sweet potato pie -- that is, until the class started. At one point she leaned over my straining body to ask if I had ever tried Pilates before, but not to worry - I would soon 'get it'. To say I struggled would be putting it mildly. It really did look as if I had absolutely no experience lifting my legs in the air and no stomach muscles to speak of. I completed maybe half of the exercises, all clumsily too.

Formerly sweet woman, now resembling something red with horns, keep looking at me and shaking her head, no doubt wondering what in the world I was doing in her class. Here I had been bursting at the seams to show her I knew my stuff. After all, I'd been doing it in my other class.

Enter confusion and feelings of gross inadequacy as I lay flat out on my mat covered in sweat and shame. I was the 'fat girl' again. The big one in a sea of uniformly, slim and capable women who could lift their toned cabooses and hold them in the proper fashion, while I flailed around helplessly - the ungraceful body of a flounder, not a mermaid. And trust me, that is no mere metaphor. I really was like a fish out of water - with my hair pasted to my sweaty forehead and my non-synchronized, inelegant breathing.

I was instantly transported back to my school days. The shy new girl. The exchange student. The odd one with something to prove.

I wish I could say something wise regarding how different instructors teach classes in their own styles and at different levels. That much is true. But this is more about my reemerging feelings of inadequacy, which I have (mostly) been able to bury enough to convince myself they've been vanquished. Except when I am confronted with a situation in which I don't emerge all shining and golden-haired. Then, the inadequacy emerges to the surface like slime. The critical voice chimes in, telling me how uncoordinated I was in Pilates. How helpless and silly I looked. Did I honestly think I could keep up with everyone else? I thought I had quieted that voice, and all of a sudden, the months of hard work were as if nought.

I finished the class and went home in a contemplative mood, my earlier excitement having evaporated. This morning things are not much clearer except that I know I have issues to work on that are not entirely weight related.

Why I am so hasty and merciless to belittle my efforts in a way I wouldn't if it happened to someone else? Also, who am I trying to impress? I don't know the instructor or any of the other women in the class. If I did, maybe it would have been easier?

I could say that it has something to do with proving that plus-sized women are capable of being as balanced, strong and motivated as anyone else. Except I'm not a spokesperson. Not when I can't even deal with failure on my own. Still, that's only explains some of the problem. The remainder having more to do with my disporpotionate feelings of how I view my own failure and success.

So there you have it. I have a lot to work on aside from strengthening my core. Eating well, exercising, losing weight and getting stronger physically have kept me so busy that I've neglected inner me. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about strengthening these muscles. I must say it is all a little overwhelming. Especially as I was really started to believe I was a mermaid.
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  • GOPINTOS
    This was a great blog. Very insightful and one that makes you think.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
    Melinda (gopintos)
    Perfect Health Diet Team
    Country Living Team
    Dr Oz Show Fans Team
    Wheat Belly Team

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    3007 days ago
  • AUSFAM
    Isn't it crazy how the world changes when we step out of our comfort zones? I always use this type of experience as a motivator to help others who look as though they're floundering when I'm comfortable. It's a crappy feeling, but learning is never comfortable, so I'd say you've made a huge leap learning wise!

    I know you won't let this one experience bring you down, but find a way to make it do some good in your life! :) Excellent blog! emoticon
    3010 days ago
  • WOUBBIE
    "But this is more about my reemerging feelings of inadequacy, which I have (mostly) been able to bury"

    (((hugs)))

    Don'
    t bury those feelings. They're still YOUR feelings. Talk yourself through them:

    "Did you feel inadequate in that class?"

    "Yes." *sniff*

    "Did you do your best?"

    "Yes." *sniff*

    "Will you get better over time?"

    "Well, duh. Of course I will."

    "Do you think other people in the class were judging you?"

    "Maybe. Probably. Some would give me a thumbs up for being there and working hard and some would give me a thumbs down for struggling and not already being proficient."

    "Exactly. Do you care what the 'thumbs down' snobs think?"

    "No. They're being shallow and unsympathetic."

    "There you go then. Their opinions don't matter. Neither do the 'thumbs up' opinions. It's YOUR opinion that counts."

    "Huh. Who knew...."
    3010 days ago
  • GOLDENRODGIRL
    I suspect a mermaid would flop and flounder in a Pilates class, too. Hard to do leg lifts with a tail!

    Hang in there!
    3010 days ago
  • 242WILLNOTDO
    Ditto what Debra said!

    You took a GIANT step in building your inner core by blogging these thoughts and feelings! AWESOME!

    You ARE a mermaid...just because you don't FEEL like a mermaid doesn't mean it isn't true! FEELINGS are fine for added variety and spice to our life but they are fickle and are not intended to be the measure of who we are or to determine our self worth!

    Stop right now and add a post here listing 3 positive TRUE THINGS (not feelings related) about you...go on...post them...yes, you do have time! This might be the most important thing you do this week!


    3010 days ago
  • no profile photo CD9922996
    There's a saying in the 12-step program that addicts (or compulsive overeaters) are like "egomaniacs with inferiority complexes," meaning that we take a lot of pride in our self determination whilst secretly feeling pretty low about what we can accomplish. There is a reason why athletes talk about a "personal best" and that is because they know one can only be measured against oneself when looking for whether or not one is advancing -- comparing oneself to other classes, other people or, worse yet, someone who is at the top of the game is a recipe for unhappiness at best, and at worst can touch on the feelings of inferiority that some of us seem to carry around like a silent partner. You'll never hear anything but agreement from me when someone thinks they should take a look at the "inner me." Even if the inner vulnerabilities did not create one's extra weight, they certainly get intensified by it.

    emoticon
    3010 days ago
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