When I was little, I thought that one day you woke up, and your body would just be where you wanted it to be. So as I ate macaroni and cheese and ice cream all through college, I assumed it would work itself out someday, that I would end up how I wanted to look. But I didn't. I gained weight from bad habits and lost it by happenstance, never doing anything sustainable or long-term. I was the girl who went to the gym once a semester and used it as justification for weeks of unhealthy eating. I had some dance experience and had jogged around a little, but would not call myself "athletic."
I was what Louis CK calls "cosmetically overweight." Nothing was "wrong," I was within normal range, especially because I was really good at hiding my size. I was careful with what I wore to make sure that no one could really see me. Last summer, after several half-baked attempts to get into shape, I needed a change. I saw women leaving Lithe in the Rittenhouse building where I have supervision and saw that they were all in phenomenal shape, and figured there must be something to it. Most of all, they seemed so confident. I signed up for 101 and hoped for the best.
On a Saturday last August, I went to Old City and had my Lithe 101 - it was just me and Jaime. She walked me through everything slowly, correcting me as I went, and I remember being out of breath as we did the cardio from Pom, and barely making it through ten of each move at the barre (I thought, "Thirty of each? Are these people insane?!"). After the class, while I downed a coconut water, I asked her if it ever got any easier. "It will never be easy," she said, "but you are always able to find a new way to challenge yourself within Lithe." I knew that if even the stretches were hard, that this was the right place to be.
Within a couple of months, I could see the difference in my muscle tone, and I could gradually add more classes per week without feeling exhausted. I used to chase sculpting classes because I felt like I lacked the stamina for cardio, and after a few months I found I didn't need to do that, either. I was getting stronger. I was changing.
I never set a pound goal at Lithe, or inches, or even a clothing size. I wanted something tangible, measurable, but I didn't know what it would be. In January, I counted the number of classes left and the number of days before the end of August to see if I could reach Varsity. There was just the right amount, if I committed every day to coming. I knew that if I committed to achieving 250 classes, then the rest of my desired results would follow, and asked myself, "if not now, when?" I crossed off a day on a calendar on my wall every day, inching closer to that 250. I changed my eating during the series of spring challenges, and felt my metabolism and body change in the ways I intended. It was happening.
There were days when I was absolutely decimated from work, feeling drained, when the desk staff, instructors, and community perked me right up and cheered me on, as did accomplishing a new part of a class. I vividly remember my first set of 30 at the barre, or 10 full see-saws, or making it through all of the jumping jacks without stalling. If you had told me a year ago that I would voluntarily wake up at 5 am to go work out, I would have told you that you were crazy. Something had changed - I loved it and always found a way to squeeze it in, every single day.
So today, as I sit here, having taken my 250th class today, all I can do is tell you how grateful I am. Lithe has changed my life. It has taken me from being someone who hides to someone who embraces herself. I don't hide behind ambiguously shaped clothing. A chronic hair straightener, I have even found myself embracing my hair's natural curly texture. I am more confident, I am a more dedicated person, than I was when I found you a year ago.
I have met amazing, capable, hilarious women through classes and challenges, and have come to adore this community of supportive instructors who want to see us shine, of other tough ladies, and most of all, you for dreaming this whole thing up. This group of ladies (and a gent or two) has been there for me and supported me in a way I could have never imagined in this last year, from supporting me on my lowest, most stressful days, to challenging me in the studio to push through just one more rep because I can do it.
I didn't wake up one day feeling this way, I earned it. And I have to say, the result was well worth the journey. I cannot thank you enough for the last year, and I'm looking forward to many, many more.