You did it, Loey!

When you weigh 340 pounds, walking into a place like RVC can be overwhelming. Scratch that. It’s terrifying.
In an effort to begin to accept my body at its current size, I decided to find a trainer. I wanted to learn to appreciate my legs for the weight they carry, my back for supporting me, my arms and stomach and hips. I wanted to learn to stop hating myself for my fat and start treating my body with kindness and gratitude for the way it works for me.
I had very specific criteria in choosing a trainer. I knew from past experience what wouldn’t work for me. I had zero interest in coming to a training session, working out in awkward silence and then leaving. I wanted to form a relationship. I wanted to share my successes and know they’d be excited for me. I also want­ed that person to be some­one I could trust enough to share my struggles with, my setbacks and my self-doubt.
I went to the RVC website and carefully read the bio of every trainer listed. As soon as I read Garrett’s, I knew that if there was any­one I could be comfortable with, Garrett was the one.
I had a lot of fear going into my sessions with Garrett. I could only think about what I looked like, at my heaviest and gasping for breath as I walked up the stairs from the locker room. I didn’t want anyone looking at me – whether real or perceived. I judged myself.
In our initial conversation, I told Garrett all of this. I told him what I was afraid of, what I wanted out of our time together and why I felt he and I could work well to­gether. He accepted what I said, validated my concerns and my experience and made a plan that not only took into account my insecuri­ties but also challenged me. There’s a lot of shame and discomfort that comes with be­ing – as the world refers to me – morbidly obese. Garrett and I work out in a private room in deference to my fear of be­ing shamed.
Unfortunately, it’s wall-to-wall mirrors. That first session, all I could focus on was how big my stomach was, how enormous I looked, how I jiggled when I moved. It was uncomfortable for about five minutes and then I was too out of breath and focused to think about it. Garrett set me at ease from the very beginning.
Garrett listens to me. The first thing he asks me at the start of every session is “how are you feeling?” which is followed by “any aches or pains I should know about?” I can tell him that my back hurts and he’ll show me a new stretch to do. I’ll tell him I’m feeling down to­day and wanted to cancel and he’ll congratulate me on com­ing anyway and ask what’s on my mind, if I want to talk.
I would love to tell you that I now love my body. That I am wildly confident and embrace my jiggles and my rolls. That’s the goal of the fat acceptance movement, isn’t it? Right now, instead of striving for body positivity, I’m working on body neutrality. When Garrett raises the weights on my suitcase carry and I’m able to do it without any pain, that’s anoth­er small victory, another step in a positive direction. When Garrett asks if I have any pain and I tell him I walked 3 miles and I feel great, he responds as if it’s his own success.
At the start of the year, I set a goal of walking 365 miles in 2022. With Garrett’s encour­agement and support, help­ing me strengthen my back and my core, I’ve walked a mile every day since January 1st. That first day, I couldn’t walk five minutes without back pain. That first week, it took me an average of 30 min­utes to walk a mile. Recently, I walked 3 miles with no pain.
Garrett’s support, his en­couragement, and his genuine care for me has been invaluable and I’m grateful to work with him.
Loey Crooks, member since 2021

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 Jennifer Packard
Jennifer Packard

Whether you’re just starting out, trying to get back into a routine, or are feeling frustrated with your current regimen: Your fitness journey is your own. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

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‘Can’t’ is no longer in my vocabulary, and I have a sense of pride in my ability to work toward a goal and not only achieve it, but often exceed it.