I was practically born coordinated. According to my mom, I walked before I crawled, and I tied my shoes at the age of three, the same year I began taking dance lessons in tap, jazz and ballet. So, the past month has been hard. Iâ€™ve been having pain in my hip and buttocks since early November. This could have been caused by fall I took right on the rear on Halloween, or delayed damage from any one of the seven car accidents in which I’ve been involved. My sciatic nerve is damaged; my physical therapist can tell from the pain that shoots down the back of my leg.
Nerve damage takes a long time to heal, and I am not a patient person. Since the first day I REALLY felt the pain, on election day (I probably thought it was just psychosomatic anxiety) and during a yoga class, Iâ€™ve had to stop going to yoga, BodyJam and dance fitness, and Iâ€™ve had to ask my mom to tie my shoes and help me put my tights on. Itâ€™s humbling to ask for help but also to be one of the people in the gym Iâ€™ve always been so glad NOT to be. And as I spot another black woman in the YMCA doing pushups (I can type in Evernote as I walk on a treadmill and copy the text to my blog later), I realize Iâ€™ve also been proud NOT to be â€œthatâ€ black woman.
I’ve mentioned before that I was once among the 4 out of 5 black women (and 25 percent of black girls) who are obese. When a fast and prayer for help to keep the weight off ended that stage of my life in 2004, I never wanted to go back. I had gone from dancer to sedentary slug, and I loved the active life I rediscovered at the gym. I havenâ€™t been without a gym membership in years.
Iâ€™m not back to my heaviest weight yet but I know how easily I could get there, and itâ€™s both scary and something else that borders on shameful but that I canâ€™t find a word for.
See, I’m proud of the shapeliness of black women and often wish I had more of it. But I want us to take care of ourselves and I don’t want to be in the group that doesnâ€™t. I know health inequity isnâ€™t just about personal responsibility, but I like being an example of how fit you can be when you use the resources you do have access to. Iâ€™ve been told Iâ€™ve inspired some women to keep coming to dance fitness and there are women in BodyJam who tell me theyâ€™re lost when they donâ€™t have me to follow. Â I want to get back to encouraging them. I want us to have a healthy, shapely community.
But right now, I need someone to encourage me, to tell me to give physical therapy just one, maybe two more weeks, to pray Iâ€™m okay by Christmas so I can sit through â€œLes Miserablesâ€ with my mom in our Christmas Day movie tradition, and to tell me Iâ€™m okay at 12 pounds over where I want to be.