Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finding My Healthy Self

Having been "chunky" and then "heavy" and then "overweight" and eventually "obese and beyond" throughout my life, I have constantly struggled with my weight. Active but stocky as a child, the weight piled on incrementally for 15+ years.

After consulting with an integrative doctor I was referred to Alysia Gadson, a personal trainer and spinal care specialist in my area who specializes in balancing the body after sports injuries predominantly using kettlebells. Alysia and her phenomenal "team" were in the process of assembling a web production following the lives of overweight individuals making significant lifestyle changes in real time while living their real lives. Their vision transformed into the Ultimate Kettlebell Camp (UKC) and was built around the concept that many lives and entire families can be transformed by one person's efforts to better their lives.

I have never been fit or anywhere near balanced, coordinated, or athletic in all of my life, so I was hesistant to interview for a spot in the camp when the opportunity presented itself. Not only would it involve me telling people about it, but also revealing my weight. I always figured that I would have a revelation - a bolt of lighting would hit me and I would be fervently motivated and undeterred by my environment and would shed the weight like magic. The thought of exposing myself like that seemed unthinkable. But then I looked back at my life as an overweight individual and realized that maybe this WAS my big moment to change the cycle of poor choices and ingrained habits.

After contemplating on why my past nutrition and fitness goals have fallen short in the past, I decided that accountability has been a huge factor in my successes and setbacks. Here I was, presented with hours of personal training sessions with an expert and the only payment requested in turn was my time and effort. How could I not attempt to get into the UKC and join 4 fellow campers on an amazing journey of self discovery?

In short, it has been a great experience. From our initial orientation I have felt connected with my fellow campers and Alysia has a natural compassion to the plight of the overweight community that is a rare quality to find in the fitness world.
I had limited knowledge of kettlebells, I had read they were used in Russian military training and knew they had become popular with celebrities, but was alarmed when a quick internet search brought up an abundance of pictures and videos of bodybuilders doing all sorts of crazy things. Something was missing, information for beginners and those who simply cannot deadlift a car over their heads. I found the missing link when I went to Alysia's site and watched videos, read blog entries, and read recipes that all made logical sense. What I have come to realize is that many kettlebell moves are very basic and easy for beginners, but can be modified using different weights and positions for advanced users.

Even though it has been dreadfully embarrassing showing my friends, families, co-workers, and anyone else on YouTube my weight, I have found it to ultimately be freeing. It is amusing to think that that number held me back for so long, a number that I am sure most people could estimate on their own. I will take that one step further and share that I was already 12 pounds out from my highest weight when the camera started rolling. Since starting UKC I have lost an additional 12 pounds and feel myself shedding the angst and fear I used to carry around with me. Furthermore, in addition to the new muscles I am now noticing, I have also gained a sense of accomplishment and for the first time in a long time I realize there may actually be an end to my struggle with obesity.

In addition to number based accomplishments, I have achieved other milestones in the past month, my legs are more firm, my belly has shrunken, I have more energy, sleep better, and am wearing clothing I grew out of long ago. More amazingly, the program has gotten me past (big breath) 230 which seemed to be a personal barrier for the longest time and even past 225 which is the lowest I was able to get during a fitness push a couple of years ago.

I have genuinely done many diets and unlike some of the crazy fad diets you read about, the Ultimate Kettlebell Camps's nutritional focus was on clean whole foods and our workouts are supplemented with homework involving exercise and personal introspection. Without the crazy cookie diets or supplements warning users to only take it 3 weeks at a time for personal safety reasons, I have seen actual results. I did not think muscle toning with my body composition was possible in such a short amount of time. The main difference I have seen with the kettlebells as opposed to just cardio and regular weights is that it works all muscle groups and gives you a cardio experience at the same time, no gym and virtually no space required to use or store. Yes, I have been sore most days of the program, but I have a new appreciation for the soreness and have come to realize that if I'm not sore it's time to move to a heavier weight!

Looking back I can't say that I still don't cringe when I watch my videos, but I am proud that I took the step of sharing my experience and have taken ownership of my responsibility to my body.

1 comment:

  1. Megan - I love this! You are saying everything here that I have also been feeling. Perfectly expressed. Thank you so much for sharing!