Getting on My Nerves (or why I want to be a fitness inspiration)
Dancing moomins

Image by Leenk via Flickr / Creative Commons

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. I’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, I’ve had to stop going to yoga, BodyJam and dance fitness, and I’ve had to ask my mom to tie my shoes and help me put my tights on. It’s humbling to ask for help but also to be one of the people in the gym I’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 I’ve also been proud NOT to be “that” 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 haven’t been without a gym membership in years.

I’m not back to my heaviest weight yet but I know how easily I could get there, and it’s both scary and something else that borders on shameful but that I can’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 doesn’t. I know health inequity isn’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. I’ve been told I’ve inspired some women to keep coming to dance fitness and there are women in BodyJam who tell me they’re lost when they don’t have me to follow.  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 I’m okay by Christmas so I can sit through “Les Miserables” with my mom in our Christmas Day movie tradition, and to tell me I’m okay at 12 pounds over where I want to be.

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