When I was first diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) I was relieved.
I knew there was something wrong with my cycle for years. It was never normal. There was never any consistency to it. I would get my period for three months and then it would disappear for another six. Or I would have it for an entire month and then just one week the next month. The doctors never wanted to figure out what was wrong with me. The gynecologist brushed me off when I was 21, scared and confused, as to why it had vanished for six months. The response was always, “You’re young.” When I finally convinced one to run some tests she said she didn’t find anything and that I was “young” and it was “whatever.” I would just have to go through in vitro “or something” in the future.
So she put me on birth control. The solution to mask what was really going on underneath and effectively making me gain ten pounds in what felt like overnight.
I was relieved when I was first diagnosed but then a heavy rain cloud of frustration and anger appeared over my head. I spent hours reading about my diagnosis. The weight gain, the hair loss (and growth in unfortunate places), and the possibility of diabetes in the future. As the weight crept on, I felt like a sausage trying to escape its casing when I wiggled and lunged to fit into my jeans.
It didn’t sink in how much my body was changing until I visited the endocrinologist. I watched with bated breath as she recorded my weight and included the word ‘overweight.’
Me? Overweight? Cue the horror screams.
I left her office in a panic. How could I be overweight? How could I have gained such a large amount of weight in a short period of time? I cried about it. I laughed cynically about it.
I took it as my strike one and then hauled my ass to the gym.
After a lot of research online, I joined The Max Challenge, in November 2017 for a small five week challenge. I had to quit about halfway through. I fell ill with a cold, which then turned into the worst cough imaginable, an ear infection and more medicine than I’ve ever taken in my life. I couldn’t go to work, speak, and the art of physically moving made me weak.
Once I took my final dose of steroids I swore to myself (and my boss) that I was finally going to seriously start taking care of myself, which is part of the reason I decided to rejoin and begin a 10-Week challenge at The Max.
A week in and I have not missed one class so far. It isn’t easy to wake-up at 5AM every morning and then rush to get ready for a ten hour work day. Being tired, overworked and unmotivated are just excuses. My name is Alyssa and I am the excuse Queen. I’m shy, anti-social and embarrass easily. I don’t get enjoyment out of letting other people see me sweat or huff and puff through an exercise.
But I keep coming back. The thing I like the most out of The Max is my trainer who is encouraging as hell. I also love that she offers modifications for every exercise so if you’re a beginner like me you don’t have to hurt yourself trying to copy a complicated move that others have been doing for years. I’m also a fan of the camaraderie. I’ve never taken a class before where the people high-five you and tell you you’re doing an amazing job.
I’ve taken spin classes where people complain if you take their ‘spot’ and studio classes where they don’t want to share their weights with you. I’ve been in classes where the instructor has called me out for not pushing myself hard enough and in turn making me feel lousy. The Max isn’t like that. It’s filled with encouraging men and women who are always cheering you on to succeed. It is a judgement free zone filled with high fives, woo-hoos and seventy year old women who have more energy than me.
After the first class was done on Monday morning, the instructor rounded everyone up in a circle and told us to never forget our why.
Why are you doing this? Why are you on this fitness journey? Why do you wake-up each morning to come here and do what you have to do? Why?
If I was posed with this question two years ago my why would have been easily answered with, “I want to be skinny. I want to be a size zero.” My why was always tied to an unattainable size for several different guys who thought I was never good enough. My why was always attached to the fact that strangers, family, friends and significant others called me fat or ugly. I felt like I needed to change even though I didn’t necessarily want too. It was always partially for someone else, which is why I always failed.
Today my why is different. Why do I workout? For me. I am my why. My health is my why. Working out not only makes me feel good but it helps with my cramps, mood swings and stress over my everyday struggles and PCOS. I don’t want to go down the path of more medication because my hormone issues and weight gain could lead to diabetes. I want to know I did everything in my power to be the healthiest and strongest version of me.
Waking up every morning before the sun rises isn’t easy but it’s worth it. I have to push myself a little harder to get out of the house on Tuesdays for arm day and Thursdays for leg day but I can barely contain my excitement for Fridays when we do kickboxing.
Week one is done and I survived the first five classes. I’ve already had my first small scale victory with a loss of three pounds. With only 45 more sweat sessions to go I have never felt more energized, determined and motivated to hit fifty out of fifty classes.
If you are on a fitness journey comment below with your why. I would love to read what you have to say and cheer you on during the process.