Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Huge Inspiration

I rode the bike next to a large man today. A very large man. He was there when I walked up to the bikes at the gym and I was forced to take the bike right next to him because it was the only one that had straps on the pedals. I have to have straps or my plastic foot gets nutty and flies off the pedal at random intervals.

I didn't want to crowd him. But it really was inspiring to be next to him. It wasn't long before he was working up a sweat. I didn't peek at his difficulty settings or his time, but it was obvious he was working hard. It reminded me of one of my favorite shows. I don't watch The Biggest Loser every season. I rarely see it consistently in any season. But when I do watch, I get inspired.

Those people have a lot of weight to lose. Minimally they need to shed twice what I do right now. Some need to sweat away a couple hundred pounds. I can't even comprehend that.

I would love to only have ten pounds to lose. But the reality is I need to be thirty to forty pounds lighter by summer. Sometimes it seems like a lot. If I look at thirty pounds worth of flour, or rice, I can see that it is a lot. Relatively.

Because once I work hard for a week or two, I will be able to lose five pounds. And my clothes will start to feel different. It will inspire me to keep going, and lose another five. Then my clothes will feel great, even right out of the dryer.

But if I had eighty, or a hundred pounds to lose, it would be hard. The guy on the bike next to me can work like a dog, like he was today, for a full hour, every single day, and when he loses five pounds, he won't really feel it. I would suspect that when he loses ten, even fifteen pounds, he won't feel a difference in his clothes.

He has to trust that it's working. He has to cling to the little changes he might be seeing. Maybe he stands a bit longer without feeling fatigue. Maybe he feels stronger as he hauls himself in and out of his car. But the immediate, as in within weeks, results, he won't have the luxury of enjoying.

It really motivates me at the gym, to be next to such a fitness warrior. I'm sure he doesn't feel like a warrior, but that's how I see him. He's doing all the same stuff I am, and his road will go on months longer than mine. Maybe even years.

I think everyone is inspired by different things. I've had people approach me and verbally pat me on the back for 'doing so well'. They see a woman at the gym who's hobbling around on one bionic leg, and they assume a lot. I've learned through the years that people put me in the box they know.

If they've had experience with an amputee who had cancer, they assume that's how my story goes. If they've seen a recent news story about a lost leg caused by a car accident, that becomes what they assume of me. I've even been mistaken for a military vet amputee (To be fair, I was wearing my favorite work-out shirt,from the Marines. I love the saying on the back - "Pain is just weakness leaving the body").

Somehow I get assigned points of courage, or honor, or valor, that I really didn't earn. I dragged around a withered foot for way too long, then chose to have it cut off so I could upgrade to bionics. When you put it that way, I don't sound so amazing.

I'm aware that some people might look at me, pedaling away on my stationary bike, or sloshing back to the dressing rooms after a good work out, my leg socket full of sweat, and be inspired. They might have the same thoughts I do when I ride next to the extra large man. "Boy, if he can push that hard, you'd better bet that I can!"

I know the truth. I know that the metal foot that scares them so much, as they can't imagine living with one leg, is the reason I'm able to work out. It's the powerful limb I yearned for. But if it helps them push harder in their work out, more power to 'em.

I get my inspiration from the people who have huge mountains to climb, but start the journey anyway.


  1. We watch Biggest Loser at my house and it is very inspirational. When I am out running and I feel like I am going to just die, I think of the guy who weighed 300lbs and if he can do it, by golly so can I. I also think what Jillian would say to me if I stopped running and that is very motivational :)

  2. Good for you! I'm one of those with you. Actually I think I'm one of those with big bicycle man. I literally need to lose half of me to be at a healthy weight. Half of me. My entire left side could be removed and I'd weigh what is recommended for my height, shape, and composition. I'm working on it. I've decided to keep the left side and am going the diet and exercise route for now.

    This entry was more encouraging then you could know. When fat people go to the gym, I always think that it takes twice as much mental focus. Not only do we have to push our overly large bodies just as hard if not harder then normal size people, we have to beat back our interpretation of stares and glances and averted eyes.

    Because in our heads other people are waiting for the fat ones to fail. Other people think we saw Biggest Loser and will hop on the no-fat boat for a week and then give up. Other people see our rolls and pudgies and fluff and think we can't do it and laugh and mock. Fat people don't belong in the gym. It's why they are fat.

    That's what we hear in our heads. I know it's not the truth. Most of us know it is our own self-doubt that we inflict on the strangers around us.

    This blog helped more than you know. If I can be a motivation now, what will I be half a person less?

  3. Me too!!!!! I love watching episodes of the Biggest Loser (especially when I am grading). It is what I think of when I run. Remember the episode where they ran the marathon? Just to think of where they came from and the adversity that they had to face - INSPIRATIONAL!