It’s funny how it can make a lot of difference.
Before getting sick, there were two words that people would generally use to describe me: powerful and confident. That of course trickled into my dancing.
From my very early days at my first studio, I had decided that I was going to be a dancer and if I was going to be a dancer I had to project an image of a dancer and KNOW I was a dancer, even if others might not think so.
As my dancing began to grow and develop and I felt more and more sure of my steps, I started to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone, but to also make sure that I put everything I had into every.single.step.
I went to my first competition having absolutely no idea what to expect, but I knew I would step on that floor and would give everything I had to do my best, no matter how anyone else danced.
I was always the bigger girl on the floor, but I never let that bother me. I knew my weight and fitness was something I was actively working on myself, and that despite how I might look I had done the training to bring everything I could to the floor. I knew that even though I was overweight, I would be able to give everything I had from the first step to the last.
I knew I might fall (and in my second competition I did–in a solo!), but I knew I would get right back up again and pick up where I needed to like nothing happened. I attacked my spins and turns and steps with so much power I sometimes overdid it.
Even if everything else seemed to go wrong in the dance–whether I forgot my steps, or turned the wrong way or had to adjust to other couples–I knew nothing would stop me. I was a dancer full of strength, determination and perseverance.
But I have been struggling with all of those things lately, and it came to a bit of a head for me at the last competition. Today something occurred to me, which I wanted to share, that I think explains a little why it sometimes seems like all the things I mentioned above are missing.
When I graduated from University, I was a size 28, even though I weighed almost the same as what I do now. I was depressed, lonely and extremely out of shape. Walking even 1 kilometre seemed hard. Stairs were impossible. I would get out of breath just thinking about exercise. Shortly after, I hit rock bottom and realized I had to make some changes if I wanted to make things better in my life and be a better person. I realized it was time to take care of me.
So I started working on me. Talked with a trainer for strength training and cardio. Stopped allowing myself to binge eat and tried to eat healthier. Set goals for myself and looked for the tools to reach them.
It was hard work and took a very long time. There were detours on the way, but eventually I went from a size 28 to an 18, and even though I was still quite overweight (I actually weighed more than I did at a size 28), I had a lot of muscle, strength and cardio. I could run 5K (and enjoyed it).
My life went into flux for a bit as I changed jobs, got married, moved, got divorced, moved again. I started to dance and then moved to where I am now. Shortly after that I found the keys to make things work for me and I got down to a size 12 and was lighter than I had been since graduating from high school, although still overweight.
I felt good and confident. I had a lot of power and strength and every day I was improving. One of my biggest assets in dance was speed, especially of my legs and in my spins.
Then I got sick and everything changed. I got derailed some. Being sick and treatments negatively affected my body and fitness. I regained 30lbs and went up to a 14. I had major surgery. For the longest time, physical activity made me sick, light-headed and dizzy, so I had to learn to be careful with what I did and how I did it.
In my reflection today, I realized what is missing is my confidence. But more than that, I feel right now the same way I felt when I was a size 28: heavy and slow and unfit.
As I was practicing tonight, I was working on running through my routines on my own. Things were being difficult tonight and I felt distracted and out of sorts. I was making mistakes I don’t usually make. But I was also trying to do things to the music. One of the things that struck me very strongly was that I was moving a LOT slower than I used to.
Two of my latin routines are similar to my old silver ones and as I was working through them I found myself frequently getting behind the music on spins. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make myself spin faster to stay with the music. It was just physically impossible.
But I used to be able to do it. Yes, I am doing more technique now, but not enough that it should make that much of a difference. I think tonight is the first time I realized how much slower I am now than I was before, and I often feel like I am trying to move a tank around the dance floor. Even though I am smaller than I was before, I have lost enough strength to make it feel like I am trying to move around more–like 200lbs more.
I think it is necessary for me to figure that out. With that, comes the realization that I have lost confidence in my ability to move myself. I have fallen twice in the last 3 months working on spins and that is making me a little ‘gun shy’. I am worried to put all my power into what I am doing because I might not be able to control and I might fall.
I don’t know if it is possible to get that confidence back, but I intend to go searching for it. It’s only Wednesday, but already this week I can feel a difference in me and my approach. Despite the disappointments from the weekend, I haven’t let that derail me.
I know my confidence is out there–I have to find it again.
I did it before, so I know I can do it again.