when I was a beginner

She was kneeling next to me with her arms looking as if they were going to collapse beneath her. She was in the middle of a segment of push ups, but her protruding belly wouldn't even let her complete the range of motion to do the exercise correctly. I was busting out some burpees next to her, struggling of course {cause burpees suck}, but I was overcome with more empathy than I could ever explain in a blog post.

I usually teach group fitness classes but, every once in a while, I like to attend one. Although my heart is completely stolen by the feeling of heavy weights on my back, I think jumping into a circuit class once in a while helps me to meet my students where they are in their fitness journey. The empathy that I felt during that never-ending minute of burpees was every reason I will ever need to go. I wanted to save this poor girl from that devastating minute of torture and embarrassment. I wanted to help her one-on-one and show her the ropes. I wanted to speak words of encouragement to her and promise her things would get better if she stuck with it. I wanted to give her all of the things that made the difference for me in my fitness journey.

Most people think that I was born a weight-lifting, sled-pushing, box-jumping athlete. HA.

I wish!

I've spoken a lot about my struggle with Anorexia here, and many people know the severely underweight version of myself. Not many of my friends knew me when it was my turn to be a beginner..

At age 16, I was told by my doctor that I was overweight and had high cholesterol. I found about 20lbs when I lost my beloved competitive cheer gym and moved on to the ninth grade. I had become a heavy-set base on my low-intensity high school cheerleading team in attempt to fill the hole that leaving my only hobby had brought me. I added another 18 pounds when I was put on birth control my Sophomore year. I was out of shape, hated myself, and ate what I always did when I was more active. I was so confused. I tried every crash diet and exercise in the book, and nothing took the weight off. I just wanted to give up.

Sometimes, when I see people at the beginning of their fitness journey, I re-visit the grave of the Kendall I used to know. The one who somehow found the courage to stick with it, lost 50lbs, and kept fighting for a healthy lifestyle. I wish that some of those struggling individuals could have met her so that they would trust me when I tell them that I have been there. I want to show them that I am so blessed to have the story that I have, and that they have the potential to live a great story too. Every great story has a struggle. The plot twist comes when you choose to overcome.

The next time you feel like that person next to you was born an athlete, I hope that you find peace knowing that everyone is a beginner at some point. Keep fighting, hold your chin high, don't doubt your worth, and find the courage to hold on for just one more minute of miserable push ups. It's going to get better, I know so.

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