Here I am with the Mighty Women Paddling Club during our first race
in Tacoma last month. I am on the starboard side, second from the back,
with the dark hair and red hat.
Tomorrow is my second dragon boat race with the Mighty Women Paddling Club.
I hope I remember everything I've learned in the past five months of paddling three days a week with my team.
In my head I can hear coach Jeannie Zinn barking instructions:
"Get off your bench!"
"Straighten your arms!"
"Rotate to your bench partner!"
"Use your legs!"
"Use your core!"
"Give me ten powerful strokes--now!"
Paddling a dragon boat is much harder than it looks. There is so much to remember. The most important thing is to paddle in unison with the rest of the team.
When I first started paddling in early February, my biggest worries were that I would fall out, capsize the boat or drop my paddle in the water. Thankfully, none of those missteps have happened.
Six months ago, I was obese and incredibly out of shape. The only exercise I got was waddling to the fridge to get more ice cream. For two decades I had taken care of my family, a house and the needs of my job. But along the way to midlife, I'd forgotten how to take care of me.
As my crumbling marriage and demanding work life became more stressful and I became more unhappy, I packed on the pounds. I am only five foot two, so any extra weight is noticeable.
I felt so uncomfortable with how I looked that I didn't want my picture taken.
I didn't like to be out in public because I imagined other women looking at me--the fat woman--and thinking: "Thank God I don't look like her!"
In October I was laid off from my job. It was sobering to begin a job search as an obese, middle-aged, unhappy divorced woman with low self-esteem. I have an impressive resume, but once I got a face-to-face interview, who would hire me? I certainly wouldn't.
So I started moving my body. I joined our community gym and started doing 30 minutes of cardio a day, and soon ramped it up to an hour a day. My workout buddy, Henry Sessions, urged me forward.
I bought exercise clothes and a yoga mat. On January 1, with great difficulty, I managed to do 20 crunches. It was excruciating. I added five crunches a day until I was doing 200 crunches each morning. Yesterday, the song on my ipod was particularly long, and I did 250 crunches with relative ease.
I dusted off my weighted hula hoop, a piece of exercise equipment I had used a couple of times and then had promptly stuck in a closet. I started hula hooping 15 minutes every morning while listening to my ipod. I had a blast! Since January 1, I have spent 12 to 15 minutes a day hula hooping. What a fun way to change my body, my outlook and my life!
In February, after losing 25 pounds and gaining some courage, I showed up on the dock for my first dragon boating practice. After that first paddle, I was hooked. I love being on the water and the camraderie of my team. I even love Coach Jeannie barking orders at me.
In the past six months, through mindful eating, dragon boating, doing cardio, crunches and working out daily with a weighted hula hoop, I have achieved the following:
- I have lost 40 pounds.
- I have trimmed 3 inches from my waist.
- I have trimmed 7 inches at my naval.
- I have trimmed 4 inches at my hips.
- I have trimmed 2.5 inches from my upper arms.
- I have trimmed 2 inches around my knees.
- I have trimmed 1 inch around my calves.
- I am wearing clothing that is four sizes smaller.
- I no longer wear "extra large."
- I have firm biceps--and no upper arm wiggle!
- I have a trim, strong core!
In only six months, I've changed my life.
Tomorrow is my second dragon boat race, and I can't wait!
I'm no longer afraid of capsizing the boat or dropping my oars. I'm not afraid of anything anymore.
The best news is that if I can do it, so can you!