By Shabana Waheed
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been chubby/big.
There has never been a time in my life where I have been small or thin.
I was teased and called a “fat pig” almost all my childhood. I was always the fat kid in class.
I HATED P.E. (Physical education).
I wasn’t fast and was always last during the fitness test. The first time I really realized that being fat was a “problem” was when my P.E. Teacher was weighing each student. It wasn’t private either. It was in front of the of the class and I was much heavier than the rest of the class.
I dreaded P.E. & field day which is funny because I played on a soccer team and did take ballet, tap, and jazz classes. I loved dance, but again, I was always the largest kid. My mom always had to adjust my costume or mine had to be different because I needed a larger size. Looking back, I wasn’t even that large, there were just no options for big kids clothing. Which is a whole other Oprah.
Dark Diet Culture
Learning about diets started really young for me. I was 11, at a weight doctor's office, and I don’t remember much else except being put on a diet. In high school I remember my fat phobic youth pastor, encouraging all the girls to do Tae Bo with his wife.
So, I did and I ended up loving it.
To this day, I love Tae Bo & Billy Blanks...but a youth pastor really has no place telling anyone what to do with their body, in my opinion.
Fast forward through my 20s where I didn’t care much about anything. I went to the gym off and on but nothing consistent. I didn’t even care about my own thyroid. I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Hypothyroidism but I wasn’t taking my meds for it.
I gained a bunch of weight because of that - Around 70 pounds I would say. Anyone who knows anything about a hypothyroid and not having meds, knows how fast those pounds can come on and well, they did and I didn’t even think about it at all. Health wasn’t really on the forefront of my mind.
Healthcare was costly (and it still is). I was a poor 20 something and couldn’t afford doctor visits and honestly didn’t think about it until I was about 27-28. That’s when I finally got my health together, or at least tried. I didn’t really understand the depth of my autoimmune disease for quite some time. I had previously also been diagnosed as a Celiac, which requires a strict gluten-free diet.
Which I also wasn’t doing. Ugh.
So, I went gluten-free and got on my meds. Both were absolutely needed in order to treat both autoimmune diseases.
I started working out regularly in 2011. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’d go to Zumba or any classes the local gym offered. I did personal trainer sessions here and there. I would buy programs and never finish them. I loved being at the gym but always felt out of place or like I didn’t know what I was doing.
I HATED feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing.
I hated feeling like the fat kid in gym class all over again. But I also didn’t want to let that stop me.
As social media began to grow in the early 2010s I started to see more people like me on social media. A community of larger people at the gym. It was encouraging and it was a community I wanted to be part of.
But I was scared. I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want to be looked at. I didn’t want to “fall down” in front of a bunch of people.
Fast forward to late 2018 when my friend Mia showed me Morit Summers Instagram page after I had expressed interest in wanting to be a personal trainer but was scared because I didn’t know how the fitness industry would react to a plus size trainer. Mia really encouraged me to go for it!
Following Morit's journey led me to find so many others after that gave me the extra encouragement I needed to take the step and enroll in to the NASM CPT program in October 2019. With one preschooler and a one year old at home, I made it through the program and passed my exam right before COVID hit.
I literally passed two weeks before the country shut down. Insane.
I went into fitness for me.
For the little girl who hated P.E. class. For the little girl who felt fat shamed because of her weight in front of her classmates. For the woman who walked into the fitness class and stood in the back of the room in her baggiest t-shirt and pants. For the postpartum mom who just wants to get back in the gym but doesn’t want to be bombarded with “snap back” culture.
For the first time gym goer who is afraid to walk into the weight room because they’re afraid of looking stupid or afraid of doing an exercise wrong.
For the person that just wants to feel good and doesn’t give a shit about their weight.
For the person who wants to run their first mile.
I did not get my certification to help muscle heads or ripped daddy’s (although if they asked me for help, I’d help them 🤣). I did it to help people feel welcome in the gym. Because all body’s are good body’s and all people deserve access to fitness and all body’s are welcome in the weight room. No matter your size or fitness level.
For those that are too scared to go to the gym, I am here for you, I see you, I get it. You don’t have to want to lose weight to be in the gym. Fitness does not have to equal weight loss. You can workout to feel good, to feel strong. To move your body.
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How has your fitness journey been? We'd love to hear your experience!