No one should ever be made to feel bad about who they are.
That’s the motto of my life.
I’ll be upfront with you. I’m not the smallest person in the world. I’ve got meat on my bones.
And sometimes, having that meat on my bones makes things difficult. It’s hard navigating the world as a larger woman. Things that smaller people may not think about, like can I squeeze into that restaurant booth are things I think about every day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going out. I just love going out where I feel valued and respected. My friends and I had been going out once a week to this coffee shop where I didn’t have to worry. The booths were spacious. They had comfy leather chairs anyone could sink into. I never had to squeeze, and I never got a weird look.
That is until Covid hit.
Once the ‘rona hit my town, all the restaurants stopped seating people indoors. Now, everybody had to sit outside. Gone were those comfy leather chairs. Instead were tiny benches of wood, tiny chairs of metal, and tiny tables that could barely fit a coffee cup.
I didn’t feel wanted. I didn’t feel respected.
The entire experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Whenever we went out, I’d find myself asking if we could just take a cup to go, head on over to the park, or even just do a zoom coffee.
But I didn’t want to be the friend that put the monkey wrench in everyone else’s plans. I wanted to go out and hang out!
I heard that not being at a healthy weight could make my risk of getting sick much higher. I was worried about that, so I saw my doctor. My doctor told me that, yes, being at a higher weight was associated with worse outcomes when it comes to covid.
I don’t know about you, but I love life, and I’m not looking forward to parting with it anytime soon.
That real risk, combined with maybe losing one of my favorite events of the week, my weekly coffee date, gave me the encouragement to get serious about my lifestyle.
Now, I knew that right away I wasn’t aiming to look like a stick. That’s not who I am. I wanted to look like myself, just maybe a bit healthier and with fewer anxieties.
So I decided I wasn’t going to track pounds. I wanted to go about this another way: inches around the middle. I wanted to lose five inches around my waist. That was my goal: five inches.
The first thing I did was research a bunch of diets and exercise routines. It was if I’m being honest, pretty discouraging. I kept finding out that a lot of these diets ended up with people putting weight back on after they got off the diet.
I don’t want to put in all that effort just to get back to where I was! That’s a rip-off.
I will say that this explained why all the diets my mom made me do through middle school amounted to a big fat nothing. Thanks, mom.
I decided then that maybe I should look for a lifestyle change, one that would help me put on a little muscle because muscle helps boost your metabolic rate.
Now that everyone was working from home, I had a little more time on my hands to get up and get moving. Plus, again, my doctor mentioned that simply being a little more active was way better for my health – even if I didn’t shed a pound.
The problem for me was which exercise routine do I commit to? I didn’t want to do a gym, because indoor exercise sounded dangerous. A couple of gyms in my town had started offering outdoor classes, but I kept feeling nervous that people would judge me.
I’ve been judged my whole life, and the last thing I wanted was judgment while I was trying to get into shape.
So I started simply walking. I got two feet. I’m gonna use ‘em. I decided that going out for a walk would be the best way to get started. And, honestly, I loved it.
I put on my podcasts, and just walked wherever I wanted - 15 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. It didn’t matter. I loved the sunshine, loved the fresh air, and felt good about myself. That was my me time, and it was great.
And I did notice a change. I began to look a little slimmer. I was able to walk for longer distances. I felt good about myself. I’d say that, if everything stayed the same, walking would have been my ticket. Walking would have gotten me to my ideal size.
But, not everything stayed the same.
Winter came, and I saw the steps on my pedometer plummet. I tried to bundle up as best as I could, but it got too cold and too snowy.
I had already made such good progress (I was down almost an inch!) that I couldn’t risk going back to my old lifestyle. I needed help!
I needed an exercise routine that I could do anywhere. At home, out and about. Anywhere. That’s when I discovered CoPilot through everyone’s favorite encyclopedia - google.
I’m pretty sure I googled “flexible fitness coach” or something like that, and CoPilot popped right up. I was intrigued.
A flexible exercise program! Could it help me? Would the coaches be respectful of my health goals and not push some sort of crazed health routine or diet down my throat?
I didn’t know. But the reviews were positive, and I decided to check it out for myself.
CoPilot is a remote coaching method that pairs you with a real-life coach. You take a brief quiz about your health goals, then choose your coach. They recommend a few but you get to pick who you want.
Then, you get virtual video check-ins/calls with your coach, unlimited text messaging, and custom-designed workouts that you can do anytime, anywhere!
As long as you have a smartphone or smartwatch on while you’re completing your workout, CoPilot can track and register your exercise movements, providing corrections and feedback in real-time, in the voice of your coach.
It’s like your coach is right there with you, even if it’s 2 am and they’re probably sleeping.
So, I went through the quiz, got paired with my coach, and began designing my workout routines. I made it clear to my coach that I had been burned in the past by some diets, and that no one should be made to feel bad for who they are.
I told her I wasn’t here to change who I am, I just wanted to be a little slimmer so that I could go out to restaurants without feeling bad about myself.
My coach totally understood me. She and I agreed that my exercise plan would be all about empowerment, not focusing on pounds lost, but about increased strength, flexibility, energy, and endurance. The slimming down would follow naturally. I thought this sounded great.
When it came to designing the workouts, I let her know how successful walking had been for me. I explained that I really loved getting outside, enjoying my podcasts, and having a low-impact exercise that had positive impacts.
We decided to focus on aerobic exercises that I could complete in my home when walking wasn’t feasible. I don’t own a treadmill (and don’t have the space for one), so we came up with some fun aerobic workouts that weren’t too far off. We focused on marching in place, jumping jacks, and even jumping rope.
I hadn’t jumped rope since kindergarten, but I found that it was really fun and easy to get into a groove with.
I stuck it out with CoPilot throughout winter, going on walks when I could, and using the great aerobic workouts with CoPilot when it was too chilly. The jumping rope really helped me build up my muscle strength, and I found that I had definitely slimmed down.
I hadn’t been to the café in months, but just looking in the mirror showed that I had made some progress. Plus, I could walk further without getting tired. That’s proof enough for me!
I did end up purchasing a stationary bike, though. The snow was getting terrible, and the jump rope had gotten tedious. My stationary bike allowed me to get that relaxing cardio I loved from walking.
I could increase the resistance as much or as little as I liked. CoPilot was great at incorporating my stationary bike into my workouts. By the end of the winter, we had created some great aerobic circuits that combined biking, marching, and jumping rope! It was really engaging!
Once winter let up, the outdoor seating arrived at the café, and the next thing you know, my friends had invited me to get a cup at our old hang. I had slimmed down enough to make a sizable difference.
I was still nervous though. I didn’t want to be embarrassed, and I didn’t want to make my friends leave the café if I couldn’t fit.
Here’s what I didn’t expect…
When we got to the café, I found that their outdoor dining had been upgraded. Sure, they still had some wooden benches and some tiny tables, but they also now had a whole row of booths.
Clearly, someone had complained that the old chairs weren’t comfy enough.
So, we all slid into the booth, and there were no problems at all. But, and I am proud to say, I do know that the booth was a little roomier than it would have been, had I not gone on my CoPilot journey.
No one should be made to feel bad for who they are. I know that the café didn’t set out to make me feel bad by including those small seats, and I am glad that they upgraded their seating.
Now, people like me don’t need to make the choice between going out with friends or not being embarrassed. That’s progress.
But, I know that the whole world doesn’t work that way. I know that there are plenty of places that aren’t accessible for plus-sized people.
And it isn’t feasible for all of those places to change overnight. So, for me, it made sense to make a lifestyle change, so that I could go out with my friends, do what I wanted to do, and not feel inhibited.
I’m still using CoPilot as I continue my lifestyle journey. My coach’s workouts incorporate my favorite exercises, let me enjoy my podcasts, and help me get stronger. I’m really pleased by how much my endurance has gone up, and that I have slimmed down around the middle.
One of the biggest fears I had when starting my exercise routine was that I would be judged. I’ve been judged by strangers my whole life, and I really didn’t want to bring on more judgment.
Judgment doesn’t motivate me. It just makes me feel bad about myself.
My coach totally understood that. She focused on exercises and communication that would make me feel great about myself! And who doesn’t love feeling great? This method is great because then it helps you associate exercise with feeling great.
Then, you want to exercise more. Makes sense, right?
CoPilot understood that. They got that you have to meet your client where they need to be met. My coach became my partner, and she has been helping me achieve my goals in the way I needed.
I’m a big fan!
The story of CoPilot member Justine F.