May the sweat be with you: Body image breakthrough!

I’ll never forget this little twit. It was in Mr. Hampton’s band room at Eastwood Middle School. I was in 8th grade.

Mr. Hampton was out of the room (as was his wont) and left the class unsupervised. He did that a lot. And that’s when the bullies in my life realty started.

I forget his name, but I’ll never forget his face. Or his condescending voice.

He and a running buddy had been riding me all year. And as I was taught, I chose not to acknowledge it. However, that was the mistake because it just allowed them to have free reign over my self esteem

One day, I snapped.

“Yo, what size bra you wear?” it asked me.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” I shot back. I got right in his face.

Keep in mind that I hit puberty relatively late and my voice hadn’t dropped to the dulcet tone that it currently has.

Predictably, the future felon of America and his running buddy started laughing at me. And I backed down.

He was already six feet tall and towered over me. So I’d probably have gotten roasted if it escalated.

I’m glad I can’t remember his name. Keeps me from roasting him on the internet and doing neither one of us any good.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t struggle with my body image. I have never liked the way I looked in the mirror.

This has affected the way I buy clothes. It’s hindered my dating life to an uncomfortable degree. It’s affected how I take pictures.

It’s negatively affected my life.

Keep in mind, I have also had health issues around my weight. I was on blood pressure medication for many years. I use a CPAP because of sleep apnea. And I haven’t had a girlfriend in almost seven years.

And yes, that’s a health issue.

For the last year, I have been on a mission. I have been on a mission of transformation – mind, body, and soul.

And I have transformed many aspects of my life. I have personal confidence for the first time in a long time – maybe ever. I’m a gifted public speaker. I have relationships on a level deeper that I have ever had before. And I actually enjoy getting out of bed.

But my body transformation, that’s been a different story. It’s been more of a roller coaster than a straight line.

And yes, real transformation isn’t a straight line. It’s a process.

I bring all this up to illustrate a breakthrough I recently had. And damned if it might not be the biggest body image breakthrough I have ever had.

Shout out to my Accomplishment Coaching colleague and friend Alex Terranova and my amazing friend and teammate Emily Perkins for recommending that I try this.

I recently started practicing hot yoga. Particularly Bikram yoga.

For those who don’t know, Bikram yoga is the same 23 moves in the same order. It takes place over 90 minutes.

Oh, and the room is 105 degrees.

Some say you can burn upwards of 1000 calories in a single class. I don’t know how accurate that number is, but I don’t doubt it. Your heart is pounding for the better part of 90 minutes.

You get yourself contorted into shapes that are designed to stretch you in ways that you’re not really supposed to go. But you come out of it feeling energized and relaxed.

Oh, and you sweat. A lot. And that’s kind of an understatement. I lay a towel over my mat and it’s drenched after a class.

These classes attract a lot more men than most yoga classes I’ve done. But there are usually more women in the classes.

Here’s the breakthrough:

The sweat makes shirts a hindrance. You’re in a class with 15-20 people, usually wearing next to nothing. There are various levels of fitness in the room.

It’s not a competition. It’s not a contest. You’re all in there practicing for yourself. I didn’t think the mirrors would be good for me, they’re great for me and my self-esteem.

It doesn’t matter how you look. It didn’t matter that I have extra padding around my midsection and others didn’t. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t go deeper in the moves. I was IN the move.

But you wanna know something awesome? While I have extra padding over my midsection, there were a few moves where…let’s just say I could look in the mirror and count to six.

Well, maybe four. But STILL! They want to come out to play.

There were some moves that I was pulling off that someone who might be 15 years younger and with a way better body were struggling to pull off.

And I can safely say this: I no longer am repulsed by the sight of my body. I know I can do better and that I’m constantly evolving and transforming, but I’m doing pretty damn good now.

And if a woman is turned off by the fact that I have extra pounds, she doesn’t deserve me anyway. If a doctor tells me I need to lose weight, I’ll tell him I’ve already lost 50 pounds in the last year.

It’s not about how you look. It’s about how you feel and who you’re being. And that’s the breakthrough!

Feeling good helps you to look good. And that’s really freakin’ attractive, if I say so myself.