When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s in a pretty severely messed up family there was one place where I reliably found peace.
The swimming pool.
Water made everything go away for a couple of hours every afternoon as I swam my laps and worked with my coach to get faster and stronger. It didn’t really matter that the rest of my world was falling apart. I was an athlete, and in that one place—underwater—I was safe.
I realized one day, not too long ago, that I missed being an athlete. And, in the next breath, that I could be an athlete if I wanted to. There are really only two steps to being an athlete. I’ll tell you a secret: neither of them have anything to do with the size of my butt.
All I had to do was 1) decide I wanted to be an athlete and 2) start training. The simple shift in paradigm from exercise as weight loss to exercise as training was incredible. And it changed everything.
It’s taken me a long, long time to get back to a place where being athletic is safe again. I work everyday to defy the social myth that athletes are lean and young, and that if you are almost 40 and fat, the only reason to exercise is to lose weight.
I’m passionate about sharing what I’m learning about athleticism with anyone who will listen. And I’m so pleased and honored to come on board at Shameless to write a weekly column about body acceptance and athleticism at every size.
One of the first things I learned is that athleticism is for everyone. It does not belong to the able-bodied or the wealthy, anymore than it belongs to those who are slender or so-called “natural athletes.” It’s also not an obligation. Maybe you don’t want it. And that’s okay. But if you do want it, I’ll be here to encourage you to reach out and take it.
My first articles will be a series based on a list of Fat Myths listed by Dr. Pattie Thomas in her wonderful book Taking Up Space.
My very favorite part about blogging is hearing other voices. I am so looking forward to joining the Shameless conversation.