Growing up, I was never proud of my body. My body was something to be hidden, tucked away because it (and my extension) myself was not good enough.
My life consisted of “if onlys”: as in “If only I was thinner, I would be happier.” The “if onlys” quickly took over my life and I developed an eating disorder that hospitalized me on numerous occasions.
Through all my treatments, therapies, and nutritionists I still struggled with the “if only” and truly believed my life would be better if I accomplished my goal of being thinner (the number on the scale that was “good enough” ever changing). For almost 10 years I struggled and saw my body as something that needed to be punished rather than celebrated.
I vividly remembered the first day I stepped into an indoor cycling studio. It was a whim, something I decided to do after an intense workout session because the “if only’s” were going through my head. It was a hard class and I struggled to keep up.
However, something changed that day. I remember sitting in that studio riding to the beat and dancing along, while the instructor walked around the room giving us encouragement. It was then, I realized there is no “if only”. There is only now and I was wasting my life (literally and figuratively) to something that didn’t matter.
My first indoor cycling class six years ago turned my life on its head. The music, the instructor, the pedals, the beat, the other riders led me to a focus on my body that was actually healthy: After my first class I was proud and grateful and thankful that I had a body that let me do amazing things.
After that day, I kept going back. Even on the bad days (when the “if onlys were rearing their ugly head), I know I have a place that focuses and centers me. Indoor cycling brings me to a place of gratitude and peace and has expanded my athletic abilities to feats I never knew I could. The studio became a sanctuary; the one hour of my day where I could focus on what I could do and not on what I wasn’t doing.
I am turning 30 this year and I still struggle with where I think I should be but one thing doesn’t change: I am proud of how far I have come. Ten years ago, I would have never thought I would be in a place where I am proud of my body (“imperfections” and all) and I have indoor cycling to thank for sending me on a journey of peace.