I've recently got myself back into the pool. As a kid, you could have confused me with a fish with how much I loved being in water. I took swim lessons until I was about 10 (when my mother pulled me out because I was told my lap times required me to stay back and repeat a class, to which she replied, "Well, you did learn how to swim" so that was that even though I wanted to keep going and try out for the swim team). I had a pool through junior high and high school that I used every single day.
Then I gained some weight. And more weight. And I was unable to find a bathing suit that I both liked and fit in a regular store, so I gave up. I decided I was an adult and no longer had either the time and desire to go swimming or even spend some relaxation around a pool.
But I was really just fooling myself. My fatness was keeping me from swimming. Finally I've come to realize and admit this to myself.
My daughter and I go to our local YMCA several times a week, and I take her into the pool. She loves it, and so do I. But initially, the process of getting me into the pool took some psychic cheerleading. First, I would have to invest in a bathing suit, and one that I felt would adequately cover me in public. I joked initially that I needed a swim burqa (there are such things for Muslim women) to look socially acceptable but settled on long board shorts and long tankini top.
First time swimming in this suit felt weird because I was being self conscious and I really didn't like the feeling of shorts to my knees in water. But I didn't feel like anyone at the pool was staring at me in any obvious way or whispering behind their hands about the fat lady in the long swim shorts, blah blah blah.
And the more I got in the pool, I started to shed my self consciousness. So much now, that I decided to take up lap swimming for my exercise. Previously I had been using the track to walk a few miles and use free weights, etc, but I recently went off my medication that helps control my joint pain (I have a chronic connective tissue/rheumatology disease- yes, yes, I am one of those people) because the side effects were just intolerable so walking and what not was not as enjoyable on my body.
But the pool felt awesome! And with my rekindled love of swimming, it only made sense to start lap swimming again. Good on my joints, awesome cardiovascular exercise.
Except those board shorts and tankini top were just not going to do for laps. I went online and bought myself an athletic swim suit. Basically, a traditional tank suit meant for actual real swimming. I also bought some awesome goggles and as soon as they arrived, I couldn't wait to get into the pool!
By this point, I had really begun the mental shift in my head about my size separate of this decision to go back to lap swim. What fully emotionally liberated me was posting this other post, which I have to admit I am surprised has not received much feedback at all. I mean, it's a pic of a fat lady. It's one of the most controversial images in the American culture. But, I digress...
I put that bathing suit on, strapped those goggles to my head, and strut out to the pool for lap swim with my head up. Seriously. Whether I walk in to the pool area with my conservative pool shorts or my traditional tank suit that shows all of my cellulite and hugs all my abdominal rolls, people can see I'm obese. And if they are going to judge, they will do so no matter what suit I wear. There was one occasion that I walked by a group of parents who were watching their kids in a swim class that was going on, and one father was making no effort to cover his disgust at the site of me walking by. But I looked him in the eye as I walked and smiled. I so wanted to say, "Yes, I'm fat! I know! But can you swim laps for an hour without stopping?" My guess is probably not. And I didn't say anything, but there was no way his obvious repulsion at the sight of a fat woman in a bathing suit was going to stop my love of swimming and showing up in a regular suit.
And on that note, a picture that inspired this post!