For few the last few weeks Emma has been
pleading politely asking for a mummy/daughter trip to the local swimming pool. Now for those of you who know me, you’ll be well aware there’s two awkward issues with this scenario…
1: I’ve got all the wrong curves in all the wrong places.
2: I have the morale of a prize winning Turkey come December.
Therefore the thought of waddling around a public pool area encased in lyrca doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm – instead it inflates me with fear. However as Steve’s swimming style is more akin to ‘graceless-sinking’, it was pretty obvious that it was time for me to ‘wo-man up’ as any fun-loving & responsible parent would do *groan*
The irony of it is, swimming’s (without a shadow of a doubt) my favourite form of exercise. Just looking at a bright blue pool makes me want to strip down to my undies and jump right in. In fact two years ago I lost almost 5 stone by swimming three times a week. I was dedicated, focused and more active than I’d been in years. However before you start typing enthusiastic comments of congratulations, I’ve *ashamedly* put every single ounce back on again *bangs head against wall*
It’s not that my food intake needs completely readjusting – quite the opposite in fact. I eat (relatively) healthy: no processed foods whatsoever, lots of fresh veg, fruit… okay, maybe the occasional sweet & savoury treat. It’s the lack of exercise and activity that’s been the culprit for my expanding derriere. Sitting in front of a computer all day doesn’t help nor does working from home were the temptation to nibble on ‘a few’ cheeky chocolate hobnobs is unyielding.
Swimming is the only form of exercise that has ever really worked for me, simply because it’s the only one I’m reeeeeeallly good at. Regardless of my size, I can swim like a fish and clock up an impressive number of lengths in no time. Yes, it would seem I’m the human equivalent to a modern day container ship… big, bulky but can shift in water! So why aren’t I doing more of it?
Well, its that teeny tiny thing called self-confidence. I can’t stash it in the trash or bury it in a box under the bed; instead it just lingers around like a brewing storm on the horizon – always ready to rain on my happiness parade. However on Friday morning I broke out my brolly, clad myself in a bathing suit, packed my redundant gym bag, inhaled the deepest of breaths and set off for the pool with a VERY excited 9 year old in tow. My nerves were jangling and palms were sweaty as I raced over a list of fears in my head. My only comfort being that I’d plucked and preened all ‘vital bits’ a few days prior. Apologies if I’ve conjured any harrowing visions of hair removal.
Fear No 1: The Receptionist
As I screeched to a halt outside the leisure centre I knew there was no turning back. I’d gotten as far as the front doors and of course Emma was already in a frenzy with excitement. There was no opportunity for ‘Sorry sweetheart, the pool’s closed today as the maintenance man is fixing a leak’. We had arrived & we were going in!
Walking through the door I braced myself for a chorus of raised eyebrows, strained necks and awkward glances. Thankfully there was only a few senior citizens perched in the seating area reading a selection of leisure brochures. ‘Must be grandparents…’ I thought to myself as mental alarm bells began to ring, highlighting that there must be an entire pool full of water-wing wielding juveniles ready to erupt into ‘Ewwwwwwwww’s’ once I make an appearance.’
Thankfully the receptionist brought me back to earth with her friendly smile and chirpy welcome. “One adult & a child?” she enquired. No sneers, no eye rolls at passing colleagues, no chortles at my impending despair. Hmmm, she’s good. Clearly practising her amateur dramatic skills at my expense. I smiled, took our tickets and proceeded to the dreaded changing rooms…
Fear No 2: The Changing Room Attendant
In our local swimming pool you have to hand your receipt over to what is effectively a ‘gatekeeper of the pool portal’ – all sounds a bit Harry Potterish but don’t let the visions of mystic & wonder fool you. This is usually a perfectly preened human that resembles something from a Victoria’s Secret campaign or an extra from Magic Mike. Today (of all days) the changing room attendant was male and not hard on the eyes either ladies, hehe *cheeky grin* As I braced myself for an all over eye scan I was aghast to find he was actually incredibly cordial… and kept his eyes firmly on mine.
“Do you have a locker token? There’s a spare one here you can use.” He said, taking me by surprise. I may have blushed, mumbled and shook my head in response. He smiled at Emma “Enjoy your swim little lady!”
Little lady? Hmmm. Was that a size reference to the looming lump of meat that was towering beside this poor 9 year old child? That was definitely size-ist dig, right?! It was, wasn’t it? I shall not be fooled by his warm eyes, helpful tone and friendly charisma *hmmpf*
Fear No 3: Baring All
Oh Lordie Lord. This is the bit I was dreading above all… removing the outer layers and baring my lycra-clad wobbly bits to the world. Emma was standing in her swim costume ready to go as I was still fumbling with the laces on my Converse. As I peered out through the changing room doors all seemed quiet, the coast was clear – a straight jaunt to the lockers and then the final journey of making it into the pool. *cue mass panic*
All was going well until a middle aged couple turned the corner, almost colliding into me.
“Oops, sorry” the guy smiled as his drenched other half fumbled with her locker key “The waters’ lovely, enjoy your dip.”
I grinned and darted off round the corner with Em’s in quick succession. Feck, that was close.
Fear No 4: Taking The Plunge
There it was, as bold as brass. A glorious body of warm chlorine tinged water, playfully inviting me to throw all caution to the wind and jump right in. As Emma tiptoed ahead waving me on towards the pool steps, I inhaled and prepared myself for the anticipated gasps of shock & horror. ‘Just keep walking – you’re almost there’ I repeated in my head.
Instead of easing down the steps I quickly sat down at the pools edge and plopped myself into the water. It was the quickest way – like ripping off a sticky plaster. Keeping my eyes low, I lifted my gaze to expect the gawping faces of innocent swimmers in awe at my portly appearance. Yet there was nothing. No one had so much as blinked an eye lid. The lifeguard was chatting to another colleague, a handful of kids were busy splashing and having fun, even the couple of folk scattered on the viewing gallery seats didn’t appear to be shielding their eyes in fright. Surely my experience couldn’t be this pain-free?!
Fear No 5: The School Kids
After 17 lengths of teaching my little water-baby how to kick and use her paddle board the entire length of the pool (without her arm bands even in the deep end *mega proud Em’s moment*) it was time to give our wrinkly digits a break and hit the showers. However just as Emma and I emerged from the water, a crowd of gabbling school kids appeared from the changing areas. Bracing myself for hoards of youngsters pointing at a me like some sort of wild beast, they carried on chatting excitedly not taking any notice of me at all. Surely this was the perfect opportunity for the class clown to exercise his overconfident attitude. What’s wrong? I couldn’t be…. *gasp* …normal?!
The reality of it is, by the time Emma and I were both safely back in the confines of the car something rather obvious dawned on me. Every single fear I had conjured up remained a figment of my imagination. Not one of my panic-stricken thoughts evolved into reality. Most importantly, I’d spent a mega fun morning with my little girl, doing something we both love together.
I know it may seem a pretty ridiculous fear for some, but exposing something I’m so utterly self-conscious off is terrifying. There’s a reason I never have bare arms on show, wear tight tops or skinny jeans. I don’t want the world to take notice of the curves I try so hard to conceal.
Now before any of you go waving your virtual fists of fury at what may seem like a lack of respect for the larger female form, hold up! In no way do I intend to disrespect anyone of any shape or size – in fact I wholeheartedly admire girls who are proud of their curves and flaunt them with pride. I wish I had that dose of self-esteem, but I don’t. I’m just not happy with me. Not you. ME.
One thing my swimming trip has taught me is how damaging fear can be. It can hold you back from getting on with enjoying your life, and even hold you back from getting healthy. Body confidence (or lack of) regardless of what shape or size you are, can be a real hindrance to happiness… mix that with fear and you have a potent cocktail that could drown out any traces of self-esteem. Every anxious, taunting and judgemental thought I had was my own making. No one else’s…
Okay, I’m a plus size, SO what? Never again will I allow my size the power to define me… life’s too short to hide in the shadows. And guess what? I’ve another swim scheduled for this week too 😉
Do you suffer from body-image blues? How do you deal with your bare-it-all fears?
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. As always, thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to say hi in the comments below – you all know by now how much I enjoy a good chatter 🙂