Why a skinny fat person chose to exercise

I’m one of those lucky people blessed with “skinny genes”. I’ve been 5’9″ since I was 13 and stopped exercising at 15 when my last high school gym requirement was completed. Even with more than a decade avoiding exercise, I’ve never weighed over 140lbs even when I was drinking Coke every day during my Swiss internship or when I survived university on Buckeye Donuts, sugary coffee and 20-30 energy drinks a week.

My “normal” range is somewhere between 135-140lbs, which I only check at the doctor annually and when I visit my parents. Kay and I don’t own a scale and I don’t intend on buying one. Scales just inspire me to weigh myself obsessively and stress why the number isn’t lower, even when I am a normal weight. Don’t need that negativity in my life!

(Circa 2009, about as pudgy as I get.)

I might have gotten a little softer and pudgier at the end of university and while I was a nanny here, but I never gained enough to require buying new clothes. And with the celiac diagnosis, somewhere along the way I mysteriously lost weight and dropped to 128lbs when I was diagnosed last year, so I really don’t need to worry about my weight.

So why does someone like me need to work out?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

When I first came to Zürich I had a lot of trouble going on hikes and climbing all the hills around the city really winded me. Like… gasping for breath at the top of stairs and stopping for breath on hikes every 20 minutes or so.

In 2009, I found the perfect flat to move to Zürich and Kay couldn’t believe I wanted to live on the fifth floor of a building with no lift. Neither could I… It tired me out every day climbing all those steps!

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

Kay pressured me for years to exercise and I knew I should start at some point. It began to feel like a sinking, guilty feeling. We would go on hikes together and walk a lot, but I always said that I didn’t want to exercise and be really fit because at some point I would have kids and exercise would go by the wayside and I would lose all that hard work, like it was for nothing.

I didn’t want to start for a time, quit and then be left with the larger appetite and have to readjust to eating smaller portions again, opening me up for weight gain. I didn’t want to gain muscles and be proud of them only to be sad when they melt away later.

When we moved into our home in 2013, we did the whole move by ourselves. Two days of moving things down 5 flights of stairs because we had no lift in the old flat. I was a little overzealous on the last day and I strained my back a little bit, but I thought it was fine.

(Our DIY way of carrying down boxes without a lift)

But a couple days later, we were moving a sofa in the new apartment and when I went to lift it up, I really pulled my back. I dropped the sofa in pain and Kay was mad because he didn’t understand that I had something really wrong to my back. For a few days, many movements made my sciatic nerve flare up in sudden, debilitating pain. Kay realized I was having real back problems when he found me on the bathroom floor crying in pain. It was a wake up call.

I had been having increasing back pain every day at work for months and knew we had a bad mattress and that my sitting all day at work is not good for my back. But it took the moving incident to frighten me enough to realize that if I don’t work to strengthen my back now, it might give out on me long term.

It turned out I had some extremely tight/unhappy gluteal muscles and after using massage therapy for a couple weeks, the pain went away, but I knew I had to get serious about my health.

I hadn’t been doing anything for my health really. I ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. How could that be healthy long-term?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

I knew that if I didn’t work exercising into my daily schedule as something that happens every day and is not optional, I would skip it in a heartbeat everyday. I wanted to make exercising a part of normal life in the hopes that if I get busy or if we ever have kids some day, that I will still find a way to exercise.

My goals were also pretty clear: I wanted to improve my general health, strengthen my back muscles and improve my endurance so that I can keep up with Kay better on hikes and outdoor activities. I wanted to learn to like running or at least not be in critical pain every time I attempted to run.

Being skinny doesn’t prevent one from being extremely out of shape and since my gym journey began, I have accepted that sitting for ten hours a day in an office is not good for anyone’s health, especially not mine.

That’s why this skinny fat girl decided to morph herself into a skinny muscular girl!

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