I know what skinny feels like: Part 2
It’s happened. The thing I’m most afraid of has gripped me, I tried to outrun it for so long while it was always a grasp away…failure.
I think we all walk around afraid of certain things, but we’re slightly convinced they won’t come to pass, if we try hard enough, dig in deep enough, we won’t have to look at ourselves in the light of failing at something.
Last month I had the chance to stand under the fluorescent glare of admitting to myself that I just didn’t cut it.
I took a physical fitness test for the Army and didn’t pass. I didn’t do enough situps and I didn’t run fast enough. The cherry on my slice of suck, was being relieved of my leadership position as a team leader in my squad. For me this was as bad as it could get, it was crushing. Though, if I can’t do something, I certainly can’t ask it of my Soldiers.
At this point, my fitness journey it isn’t about squeezing into my size 2 jeans anymore, or looking good in a bikini, or a mu mu at that.
Now, it’s about performance.
In my last piece about health and fitness, I talked a lot about the things we’re told will make us buff gods of our time. The thing is, I know what it takes to be skinny.
Here’s the equation that worked for me in the past.
First, deploy to Afghanistan. Add in shitty food, you only cram down because you know you have to eat. Sprinkle in daily walks to and from places just to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner (In all, it adds up to about two hours of walking a day…in sand.) Multiply daily workouts at the gym, covering at the very least 12 miles a week of running. Subtract any usual household responsibilities you would do at home; like laundry, cooking, raising kids, and instead fill that time with patrol missions or randomly carrying sandbags to and from places. Meanwhile, divide all the hours in the day by bottle after bottle of water because it’s too hot to drink soda. It was effortless.
This is what it took to get me to 114lbs.
The Army thought that was just fabulous of me, since I was only allowed to weigh 124lbs., so therefore, I was ahead of the curve, minus my curves. I could run far and long, I looked good in uniform. All was well with the world.
You know what though, I could barely bench 80lbs. and I deadlifted probably only 100lbs.
In good old ‘Murica, though, there’s candy displays in the produce section to deal with.
A salad from Wendy’s has more calories than a Big Mac at McDonald’s. I go to a job and stare at a computer for eight hours a day, trying to ignore the donuts on the counter someone brought in…donuts; powdered, crack sprinkled, cream filled- purple jellied, heroine or custard filled – take your disgustingly delicious pick. Let me just say this, if you bring donuts to work, you’re an asshole, stop it.
Sure, my fitbit vibrates and tells me to get up out of my chair every hour (well, I mean it would if I actually figured it out and set it up, currently, I’m on my second device because the first one wasn’t fancy enough and now, the new one’s been sitting on my bathroom counter for two weeks because…I just can’t…)
I’m waiting for the day we have to put ingredient labels on apples because corporations are just trrrying to figure out how to add sugar in there somewhere, while making us think it’s healthy.
Then, I’m tasked to try to fit a workout in between my 40 hour work week, that I only do because I want to sit in a house where episodes of Game of Thrones are just waiting on my DVR.
A few weeks ago, my gym, Crossfit Tactical Strength, encouraged us members to sign up for this program called The Whole Life Challenge. It’s online and when you sign up, you can sign up in teams. There are categories you score yourself on. Food, working out, water intake, mobilizing, etc. There’s also a list of compliant foods and non-compliant foods you can and can’t have. Every time you eat something not on the ok’d list, you take a point away.
I fought it tooth and nail. “I am an adult!” I’d scream to myself. I’ve tried it all, what’s the point. Then I looked closer at how it works.
For me, it’s good, because the program’s not saying, hey, no if ands or buts, you CANNOT have this thing. You certainly can, but you immediately see the consequences by losing a point. Then you move on, continually making decisions based on what’s best for you.
So far, I’ve lost five pounds.
The food lists aren’t complicated either. Simply, food that comes out of the ground or from an animal is ok, though there are different levels, and on mine I’m not supposed to consume milk or cheese.
But here’s another thing. In the past year, working out at CF Tactical Strength, my strength has grown tremendously. At 4’10”, I can bench 130lbs. and deadlift 240lbs, on a good day. I’m not saying this to toot my own fartbox.
I’m saying, there’s a balance I have to find and I’m still only an outline of what I want to become. Yes, I failed my fitness test, but does that make me worthless or pathetic, absolutely not. It makes me determined. Determined to tweak my training by adding in more running and cardio.
I look down at my thighs, yeah they touch, they’re not as smooth as I’d like them to be…but duck your thigh gap, with my thighs, I can back squat more than other chicks far taller, far hotter, far shinier than me. When it comes to the Army, I think it’d come in pretty handy, knowing I can carry someone if need be.
In a time where “dadbods” are the new hot thing, and females are told by no means should they have the mom pooch, I say screw that.
I remember watching the Miss Universe pageant on TV when I was little and feeling an overwhelming sadness because I knew I’d never be one of those women so gorgeous, it hurt to look at them. I stayed chubby, holding in my stomach my entire high school career, while my friends could eat whatever they wanted without getting fat.
Yep, life’s not fair that way. No one said it had to be though. The fun part is, I don’t think any of those oily MTV spring breaker chicks I watched on TV are any happier now than I am.
There have been scraped shins on box jumps, fails at lifts, times I come in last during a workout at the gym. It’s not just a gym though. It’s a family, continually telling me it’s ok that I did all those things and to just go ahead and do it again, until I don’t.
Usually, I would have given up. I would have gotten sick of not being very good at Crossfit. Then, I looked around at everyone else, and they were sweating, cursing, flopping and struggling just as hard as I was.
Because I failed at those little things at first in the gym, but attacked them time and again, I can face this big setback facing me with the Army.
This weekend, I’m set to take another fitness test. Whether I pass it or not, will not determine my full value. It’s just one facet of who I am.
I’ll obviously be disappointed, but it will make me try even harder. You can always try harder than you currently are.
Regardless of the outcome, a week later, I will participate in a Memorial Day workout at my gym called “The Murph”, in honor of Michael Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL officer killed in action (the movie The Lone Survivor tells his story, among others that lost their lives during the same mission). The workout consists of the following:
I halved everything last year when I did it. Not this time though.