The Fat Belly Dancer Works Out: Weeks 5, 6 and 7

written by Andalee on September 8, 2013 in Healthy for life with 2 comments
Entering Duke Forest from Mt Sinai Rd

Duke Forest, photo by Ildar Sagdejev via Wikimedia Commons

I’m committed to doing this thing for 12 weeks, I really am. I am sorry for the lack of posting; I figured it’s more important to get contributor articles and the Question of the Month up than it is to tell you how many steps I took during a particular workout. I have been exercising on and off (as usual) and diligently reading The Fat Chick Works Out. So I am doing my part.

I’ve mostly been practicing belly dance and going for walks with my husband. Long walks on either the beach or in the woods. We went to the beach over Labor Day weekend and we went for a lot of nice long walks. Some were actually strenuous because the sand was so soft and we had to hoof it. I almost made it to 10,000 steps a couple of times–which is super good considering my average is about 4,900 steps per day.

Anyway, instead of my usual recap, I’d like to share something that happened to me today. Set backs are bound to happen, especially at this point when the newness and excitement of working out fades away and we start to think we have it made. This set back had me reeling and feeling really low.

My husband and I like to go to Duke Forest, a series of maintained trails owned and managed by Duke University (I’m still Tar Heel fan though! :)). It’s about the closest to actual hiking you can get in our city and it’s only a 15 minute drive from our house. Being in the foothills of NC, there are a lot of hills, but they’re not overly large for the most part. So I picked a particular trail to try (there are so many, you pretty much get to pick a new trail every time you visit) and this one turned out to have a lot of hills. A lot.

I said we could walk for 30 minutes and then turn around for a total of an hour-long walk. I didn’t really notice how the 30 minute walk into the woods was mostly downhill, but the husband called it and said, “You realize we’re going to have to walk back up these hills, right?” When we finally turned around I almost lost it.

I could barely make it up the first hill. I was huffing and puffing. My face was hot and red, and I felt like if I stopped I would fall over. It was the hardest physical activity I have done in ages. We had just been to Duke Forest two weeks prior and while I got a great work out, I didn’t feel like over-exerted myself.

The scariest part was that I was having trouble breathing. I was going really slowly and at one point I had to sit down on the ground and just breathe. It felt like I might have asthma. I had been suspecting there might be issues with my breathing considering I still get winded walking up two flights of stairs (even after doing it five days a week), but this time it was really clear that this isn’t just me being out of shape. I have issues with my lungs.

One culprit could be that we’re in the height of ragweed season right now. Today’s pollen levels were pretty high. I had been dealing with itchy eyes, but I didn’t have many other symptoms, so I thought I would be OK. Not so.

I was also having a bit of a “fibro flare” in addition to the fact that I am weening off of a medication and dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Add highs in the upper 80s and you have one really struggling Andalee.

And of course what was going through my head the whole time was really mean stuff about myself like, “Ugh, this fatty can’t even get her butt up a hill,” “I’m never going to make it,” and the most common, “I am so out of shape.” I just felt so pathetic and wanted to make all of the pain and struggle go away.

Meanwhile, my husband who is naturally thin and fit was being all chatty and good-natured. I was like, “No. Talk. Ing. Can’t. Breathe.” Of course, he could talk all he wanted, but he kept wanting responses from me, like did I think his nasal filters for filtering out allergens was a good idea? And did I see that tree? Oh how about that caterpillar? And on and on. At one point, he got so bored with my slow-poke-ness that he ran up the hill and left me in the dust. He tried to be supportive and did the best he could, but it just made me feel worse about myself. I felt like such a failure.

The truth is, it does take more energy to haul a larger body up a hill, and if you’re not used to it, it can be difficult. It is also true that I am not in the best shape that I can be in. I am working on it, but I am far from where I need to be.

However what is also true is that I finished. I made it. I walked over 6,000 steps in an hour. True, I may have had a headache afterwards. True, I may have doubted myself the whole way through. I may be sore beyond belief tomorrow. But I did it.

I also realized that however much I wish to be healthy, there are still things that are out of my control. My chronic pain, fatigue, and allergies have a grip on me. And I know that having these issues are not just excuses for me to brush off physical activity…they are real maladies that I deal with every day, and sometimes, just sometimes, I am not able to ignore them and pretend they’re not real. Sometimes, I have to acknowledge their power of me and move forward, however slowly or ungracefully I may move.

In a few weeks, we’re going camping and the hike to our campsite is 2 miles up a mountain. I’ll just consider today’s foray as a sampler of what I will face in a few weeks time.

About Andalee

Andalee is the founder of Belly Dance at Any Size. She is an Oriental dancer and instructor from Durham, NC, now based in Montpellier, France. She has been dancing since 2005 and teaching since 2008. Her mission is to promote Oriental Dance (a.k.a. belly dance) as a respected and valid performance art.