Chapter 7: Summer Session at Home
After the introductory S Factor class, I signed up for a weekly newsletter emailed from the San Francisco studio to motivate me at home. The first week, this nugget in Sheila’s column felt like it was written just for me:
Whatever age, shape, size… if you’re female I’m talking to you. Let’s talk about the extraordinary gift of what it is to inhabit these exquisite female forms. Face it, we actually get to live in a work of art. Forget about the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo or Aphrodite, it’s all about you and your unique curve of body.
My body? A work of art? With nearly 100 excess pounds my body didn’t feel like a work of art. I hated being fat. I hated how it looked and felt. I hated what it kept me from doing.
Shopping for clothes sucked. I’d gone from a size ten-twelve in college to a size twenty at thirty-nine. The women’s departments in stores like Macy’s were tucked away in a corner of the top floor. They didn’t stock fashionable, colorful clothes like you saw near the escalators on the way up. Instead you embarked into a sea of black and navy polyester. Throughout graduate school, I’d worn mostly oversized t-shirts and leggings.
Even worse, the extra flesh kept me from fitting in my Dagger Meridian kayak—a long saved-for purchase—and having the energy for mountain biking. On smaller airplanes, seats were tight and uncomfortable. On one trip, at my heaviest, I had to request a seat-belt extender, which ironically, made me feel tiny and small.
Worst of all, the fat increased my health risks for diabetes, heart disease and early death. But no matter what I did—exercise, eating healthy, the Solution weight-loss program, where the coach asked me about my sex-life—my body refused to shed the weight.
What would my students think of their fat professor when I started my new job in September teaching health care administration? I felt like a hypocrite, like a doctor who smoked, yet told his patients to quit.
Was it possible to shift from barely tolerating my body on bad days to loving it and finding it sexy? Could I learn to see beauty in my curves before I lost the weight?
Sheila became my long distance teacher. In addition to inspiring me with the weekly newsletter, she lead me through the workouts three times per week on the Basics DVD with her enthusiasm and motivational nudges. And I began to study her book as a reference manual. The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman became my bible. When I had a question about what muscles to engage in a move or where to feel the stretch, I looked it up.
Since I didn’t skip anything on the DVD anymore, when I got to the part where Sheila said, “You should be working up a good sweat by now,” I was! Not drenched in it, like in the studio. But damp.
Still, something was missing.
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