Updated: Feb 19, 2019
I am not an athlete.
I am a writer, a mom, a friend. I am a scout leader, a knitter, and a reader. I have a lot of labels—some I’ve chosen, and some have been attached to me with varying degrees of acceptance.
But “athlete” is not a label I’ve ever chosen, desired, or embraced.
I tried sports in school, but I lacked the competitive nature and the raw talent desired by coaches. I was the kid who would rather be sitting on a tree limb with a book, reading till the sun set, than chasing a ball across a diamond, field, or court. My natural tendency toward being sedentary resulted in a cycle of inactivity and weight gain followed by intense cardio and weight loss. The older I got, the longer those inactive phases became.
Then I started having babies.
Pregnancy, nursing, and the constant cycle of feed-diaper-play-nap that comes with juggling four babies in less than six years took a toll. By 2007, I was in my late 30s, tired, out of shape, and about 40 pounds overweight. I knew that I couldn’t keep going in that direction, so I started watching my diet and using a balance of weight training and cardio activity to drop 35 pounds. By September of that year, I was at a healthy weight and probably in the best shape of my life up to that point.
The problem with exercising to lose weight, though, is that it’s not enough of a motivation.
You heard that right: When you go into exercise with the primary goal of losing weight, when the weight is gone, it’s easy to think, “well, that’s that. I can rest now.”
A side effect of losing the weight for me was that it triggered gallbladder issues, and I ended up having my gallbladder removed in September 2007. Although my recovery from the surgery was quick, my recovery from being sedentary wasn’t, and I never really got back on track to maintain my weight loss.
Ten years is a blink, and before I knew it, I could no longer use the “babies and toddlers” excuse for my weight. My kids were all teens and tweens, and the only person I had to blame for regaining those 35 pounds (plus about 20 more) was me. I was in my late 40s, exhausted, overweight, depressed, anxious, struggling to recover from the worst year of my life due to family struggles, lacking the basic confidence to do any of my old activities, and wondering if I had another 40 years to look forward to feeling the same way. I come from a long line of long-lived people; could I manage another 40 or more years of this?
And somewhere, a very deeply buried seed said, “no.”
No, I cannot go on like this. No, I will not live this way anymore. I am not weak. I am not worthless. I am more than a fat, lazy mom. No, these labels will not define me.
It was a very quiet “no” at first. On that “no,” I found the strength to download a meal-tracking app. That “no” pushed me to print a 12-week exercise plan and post it on the fridge. The “no” got louder the first time I finished a full week of workouts, the first time I knitted instead of snacking, the first time I jogged 23 minutes without stopping…
Before I knew it, I’d finished the first 12-week plan and printed another one. And then I did it again. And again. And the milestones kept coming, and I kept meeting them, and I kept going, all the while looking at the next milestone.
It was not easy. There were a lot of voices trying to drown that “no.” Some days, there was a veritable Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my head—“You’re too busy today. Your kids need you more than you need the exercise. You need to be available. It’s what good moms do—we sacrifice ourselves for our families. Don’t you want to be a good mom? You’re selfish for exercising. Besides, what good does it do? You’ll just gain all the weight back eventually. You’re almost 48—you don’t need to look hot for anyone. This is futile. Just go eat potato chips.”
I outran the voices.
Today, the “no” is a “yes.” It’s a loud yes. Yes, I am worth it. Yes, good moms take the time to exercise, eat right, engage in creative rest, sleep, and even splurge now and then. Good moms nurture their spiritual and emotional health. Good moms know that they need to put on their own oxygen masks before they can help others. I am more than a fat, lazy mom. I can choose the labels that define me—if I even want to!—and I choose healthy, active mom.
It’s been over a year. I’m 50 pounds lighter. I can bench press 100 pounds. I am running a pretty consistent 9:30 mile, and on most of my running days, I go about four to six miles. I cook more often and make better diet choices. And I splurge! I still love my chocolate, wine, ice cream, and—yes, I confess—potato chips. I just love them less often.
But the most important thing is not the weight or the fitness level. It’s the “yes”—yes, I can live another 40 years like this. Yes, I can be healthy for my grandchildren. Yes, I can take care of myself.
I am still not an athlete.
But I am healthy.
And I am worth it.
~ Amy Rose Davis.
About Amy Rose Davis
Amy is a story consultant who specializes in long-form content. She has written case studies, reports, articles, and marketing collateral pieces, and she has worked on some very extensive ghostwriting projects for executives all over the world. Her method is to use extensive research, thorough interviews, and close collaboration to find the stories you want to tell, and then use her storytelling skills to craft something you'll be proud to share. You can learn more about Amy's business offerings at www.story-junction.com, or you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org."