Let's just say I was dealt a fairly lucky hand when it came to size. All my life, I've been pretty tiny. Even at my largest, which was wearing a size 8 after giving birth to my 2nd child, I was still considered to be a "normal" sized girl. I know, I know...... the eyerolls and groans are all collectively occurring right at this very second; but hear me out.
Yes, I was small, but have you ever heard anyone speak of being a "skinny fat girl?" That was pretty much me. While it was very satisfying and ego-boosting to hear exasperated friends proclaim time-and-time again "how do you stay so skinny eating like that," the truth was they didn't see what was under those clothes. Fat. Cellulite. Muffin tops. Rolls.... I was basically a whole supply of baked and fried goods strategically camouflaged beneath my trendy jeans and designer tops. I was a SKINNY-FAT GIRL.
I'll never forget the time I went on a cruise and decided to treat myself to a massage at the on-board spa. Even though I wore a size 2 at that time, I also wanted the body wrap that promised to remove several inches from your body. Here's the part I won't forget — as I was lying on that table being slathered in fat-reducing mud, the aesthetician casually remarked, "I didn't expect to see so much cellulite on such a tiny girl." Yep...she really went there. I tried to laugh and play it off, but I was mortified. Thus began my decade-long descent into covering up and pigging out. "I'm already a tub of lard, so what difference does it make now?"
Then came children. And more children. At that time, four children to be exact. I was then able to justify any weight gain by proclaiming my children as the cause. Two of them were born 12 months apart, which completely wore my body out. At 5'3", I weighed up to 130 pounds non-pregnant (on me, that's a lot). Throw in a subsequent divorce and cross-country move, and well - I was the definition of a hot mess. A worn out, 30-something mom-of-four mess. And when people would tell me "You look good for having 4 kids," or "You look good for your age," my insides would cringe. Why did everyone feel they needed to justify that statement? Couldn't I just "look good?" Ugh.
Fast forward to the year 2010. I made that token New Year's resolution to hit the gym, just like thousands of other women. I worked out blindly, thinking the harder I worked, the better the results. I figured I'd do the circuits every day, not focusing on any particular muscle group. I'd just trudge away on the treadmill for as long as I could. I did harden up a little, but then nothing. I plateaued. I didn't get those big, beautiful cut arms or that nice, high butt I admired on the younger girls. I felt like I was kind of going through a mid-life crisis now that I was a single mom who had also let herself go.
I met my (future) husband around that time, and he began giving me some advice on how I should be focusing on muscle groups, fat-burning cardio, and rest days. I went to the gym a few days a week, did some cardio, and I began seeing my butt rise and my fat disappear. Because of him, I got into modeling at the tender age of 36, and I even began competing - and winning - swimsuit contests and even got to be in a bikini catalog.
My body and my outlook were shaping up. Then - bam! - I found out I was pregnant...for the fifth time. Yep, baby #5 was on her way. "No biggie," I told him and myself. I knew I always shaped backup in one way or another after giving birth, plus I'd just continue with some of exercises throughout the pregnancy. Yeah right.
What I didn't factor in was the fact that pregnancy at age 38 was a little different than a pregnancy at age 28. And that my cravings for tacos and chocolate would compound with this pregnancy. D'oh! All during my pregnancy, and while working as a teacher, I began exploring the fabulous world of Facebook (yes, I was a little behind), and I came across some girls I remembered competing with during my brief stint as a quasi-swimsuit model.
They were competing in the NPC, which I'd never even heard of. I followed their journeys and always wistfully thought of how it must be nice to be so young and beautiful. I'd see them in their beautiful, sparkly bikinis, holding their trophies and medals, swinging their big hair and rocking those horrid competition tans.
I mean, how could I ever even find the time with being a mom and working full time as a teacher AND also trying to be a good wife, not to mention I was still pregnant and looking more like a Mack truck every day? Besides, I really enjoyed eating Mexican food and donuts and, well, pretty much everything else. I remained content with being the same old "skinny-fat girl" I'd always been.
Ever hear anyone say "good from far, but far from good?" I think that's pretty much how I felt about myself, but as long as my husband was okay with it, I didn't have any reason to change anything. Then in August of 2014, I was offered a teaching job in Las Vegas.
I'd never even been to Las Vegas, but we talked it over and decided what the heck. Let's do it. That dated saying YOLO? Yep, we figured why not; and we packed it all up and moved to Vegas. That's when my outlook about my body and my health changed. Did I forget to mention I would be turning the big 4-0 soon and wanted to set a goal to look damn good?
Not just damn good "for a woman my age" or "for a mom of 5," but damn good period. This was a new beginning for our family. I talked it over with my husband, and I even found a competition that would be held in Vegas just after I turn 40 (oh my gosh, that number seems so BIG). I told him I really wanted to go for it, to make a lifestyle change, and to dive into competition training. We signed up at a gym, hired a trainer, and I began researching diet and competition prep. I prepared all my meals on Sunday afternoon, tracked every food I ate, and faithfully went to the gym.
Thanks to my trainer, Aaron, I learned about macros and about how I could change my body's metabolism, and I began living the lifestyle - all while balancing work and home. I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, it's the hardest thing I've ever done; but it's worth it on so many levels. I wake up early enough to have my coffee in peace. I do some core exercises and light weights in the comfort of my own home followed by some plyometric exercises or a quick cardio session a couple of times a week, then I'm off to my teaching job. I try to get everything I need to do during my planning period so I can leave right after school to head to the gym for my weight training and cardio. Some days my husband meets me there with the little one so we can sneak in a little "us" time, even if it does also involve a few hundred pounds of iron and several dozen complete strangers.
We are very lucky that he has a job where he gets home early in the afternoon, so he is able to take care of some of the kid/home responsibilities. Some days it takes a toll on all of us - the baby cries to see mommy, and mommy just wants to sit down and have quiet time; the house can get to be a disaster; I forget to get food at the grocery store and everyone's grumpy and blaming everyone else. It's those times that allow us to sit down and share our feelings and frustrations as a family so we can grow strong together and learn how to deal with changes. I try to get the kids involved in fitness with me, but the clean diet is about all they can take right now.
The little one, however, enjoys doing squats and posing with Mommy. She's got the stage-pose down better than I do! I've started a few pages to give exercise and diet tips to women of all ages, but especially women my age. People don't quantify their statement with a "for your age" when they tell me I look good.
In fact, people are completely shocked when I tell them I will be competing in the Master's category in the upcoming Las Vegas Legends Classic show in January. Finally - I just look "damn good," and I'm only going to get better! I have very high aspirations for myself, and I fully see myself becoming a pro bikini competitor within this year. I'm not doing this for fun - there's a lot CHEAPER ways to have fun. I'm doing this for myself and to prove to all women out there - DON'T USE AGE OR CHILDREN AS YOUR CRUTCH. USE IT AS YOUR SPRINGBOARD and show the world what a hot momma you are!
A Former Skinny Fat Girl | GYFT'D Writer