This month at Brave Body Project, we’re focusing our love on strong, empowered women making courageous choices and living brave lives. We’d like you to meet one of those women today. Everyone say hi to Cee-Cee Swalling! Cee-Cee is one of our original BBP Online Members and we love and admire her strength, her commitment and her courage so much we thought it only fitting she share her story here with all of you. Cee-Cee has gone through an amazing weight loss journey and turned herself into a marathoner and a triathlete with a passion for fitness. Over the next 4 weeks, we’re handing the blog over to her so she can share her story, her favorite run tips and more. Take it away, Cee-Cee!
Change sucks. There, I said it.
Not only does change suck but as you get into that place that feels wrong and uncomfortable you feel terrible. You’re scared and nervous and a big portion of you wants to pack up and go back to bed until the big, awful, scary thing is no longer looking you right in the face and baring down on you. That change for me has always been my weight.
Ever since I can remember I’ve had a belly. When I was 4 it was cute, when I was 8 it was tolerated, but from 12 on I was deemed gross and fat. Miss Piggy, Fatty, Thunder thighs- these were all epitaphs hurled at me in the hallways, in the classroom, eventually at college, at work, by passersby. When it was brought up with my family I heard in a disappointed and shaming tone, “You’d be so beautiful if you only lost twenty pounds”. My parents tried to help and I’d get “encouragement” from teachers and concerned friends’ parents passing on unsolicited advice of what I should and shouldn’t do. But it was overwhelming. At every turn I felt like I was being told I was ugly, I was disgusting, everything I did was wrong. It wasn’t that I had to change one thing- I had to change EVERYTHING. My activities, my entire diet, I was to go into a zone and a place that looked nothing like the life I was living.
And, here’s the kicker, my life was not so unhealthy. I didn’t sit around eating ho-hos, drinking coca-cola with every meal, and binge-watching TV; Sweets were not left in the house, soda was not allowed, and we didn’t have a television at home. I played sports but felt discouraged because I didn’t look like the other girls on the team, so I turned to other pursuits. I read a book a day, I joined academic teams, I just did other things. But you can imagine how shocked I’d be when I was told everything in my life needed to change. I like what I did, I liked my life so giving it up seemed silly just to appease bullies and parents alike. And that’s the problem right there, isn’t it? No one should feel like there is something so fundamentally wrong with their lives. When we look at change it shouldn’t be a monster that scares you and forces you to stop being who you are. Doing the things that make you happy, that’s what makes you YOU.
It took me years to learn this. Well into adulthood and post-college life I was still doing what made me happy. I was happy, I liked my work, and I liked my friends. One of these friends, out of the kindness of her heart, asked me to run a mile with her. I remember thinking, “A mile? Ha! I can’t run a mile, that’s impossible!” And then I stopped and I REALLY thought about it. “I can’t run a mile? One, single, mile?!” I was 24- I should be able to run one mile! And I considered my future and wanting kids somewhere down the line and thinking that I would want to run around with them, I would want to play with them and keep up. So I made a very simple New Year’s Resolution- the only one I’ve ever kept, in fact- I was going to run almost everyday. I didn’t have a time,or a goal, or a distance. I didn’t care if I had to stop and walk or if I was slow, I was just going to do it.
So I bought my first ever gym membership. I bought gym shoes, workout capris, grabbed a cotton t-shirt and vowed to go at least 6 times a week. I woke up at 4:30 to be at the gym and when it opened and I would go to the furthest away treadmill. I would listen to music or watch TV while I ran but I was going to do it. And it was hard, with every step I felt every part of my stomach bounce and jiggle. When buff guys and cute skinny girls would walk in I’d pray they couldn’t see me in my corner, sweaty and red and out of breath. I thought I was going to die a lot of the time. I would picture myself falling over on the treadmill gasping for air as the spinning belt sucked my cotton shirt up into its gears exposing my white gelatinous belly leaving me humiliated and, of course, dead. BUT, I didn’t die, and every time I ran I got stronger and better and the little voice in the back of my head who said “You’re going to be ok” well, she got stronger too.
And I can’t really tell you how I did it because really, there’s no secret trick to it. I had bad days, a lot of them, and I really wanted to quit but…I just didn’t. If I missed a day, I’d get back to it the next day. I didn’t beat myself up but instead chose to be kind when I failed. Fancy that, huh? Within the first three months I lost 30 pounds, without weight loss ever being the goal. I then decided I wanted to get faster so I modified my eating, I counted every calorie, I kept track of what made me feel good and what didn’t. And, to be clear, I didn’t go on a diet. I ate chocolate and peanut butter and I drank beer, I just did less of it. I’d see where the calories would go and I ate a lot more fruits and vegetables. Within the next 6 months I began to run outside. I bought real running shoes, and I signed up for my first race ever.
By the end of 2012 I had lost 60 pounds and had run hundreds of miles. And, as a bonus, I was fast! By the time I was ready to run my first race I was REALLY ready. I ran my first race in Disney World, the Princess Half Marathon, and it was truly magical. While I flew through the crowd I thought about how great it felt, how exciting. I remembered how when I first started I thought it was impossible to run even one mile and here I was tackling 13, my longest run to date, and as a bonus I was leaving people in my dust*! I cried at the castle running high on endorphins and emotions thinking to myself, “Here I am, I’m doing it! It’s not impossible!!!” I realized in that moment I had tackled my “change”, the monster lurking ahead of me, my impossible thing. I realized that change is not so scary and impossible.
Impossible ain’t sh*t.
Check back next Thursday for more fitspiration from Cee-Cee! Want to commit to a program, get real results and change your life? Join Cee-Cee and our amazing Brave community by joining the Brave Body Project Online Fitness Membership!