Just to be clear, I am not a knitter. But Nikki’s analogy is perfect for learning to love your body and finding your middle ground. – Pamela
I’m a knitter.
I know—this isn’t a knitting blog, and maybe none of you reading this have ever puzzled over a pattern or felt a fabulous blend of alpaca and silk running through your fingers. But maybe you can relate if, like me, you’ve been annoyed by store-bought clothes that are too loose in the bust but too snug in the waist, and too boxy in the shoulders but too short in the sleeves.
And maybe, like me, you’ve also been annoyed by the ready-made versions of fitness that are on offer and every made-for-tv diet program and big-box gym. They’re too crowded in the classes, too hulky in the weight room, too limited in their scheduling, too punishing in their calorie-counting.
I’ve been knitting for almost eight years, and it only took me… well, almost eight years to figure out that in knitting, and in life, one size does not fit all. And that the great gift of knitting, and of life, is that we have the ability to make a sweater and a life that fits us, today, right where we are.
There is no one size fits all fitness plan.
I’m also a military spouse (which means our family relocates every 2 to 3 years). I’m a mom (which means my schedule and my energies are never fully my own). I’m an introvert (which means the idea of joining a gym and finding my way into classes—and doing it all over again and again every time we move—is exhausting). Sometimes I’m afraid I use all these as excuses to get off the hook, so I don’t have to do the hard things that seem to work for other people. But my experience as a knitter reminds me that having long arms isn’t an excuse but a reason to add length to my sweater sleeves. Having a hip measurement larger than what fashion design deems “normal” isn’t an excuse but a reason to add some stitches to a hem. Having narrow shoulders isn’t an excuse but a reason to avoid wide, slippy necklines. Moving around, motherhood, and introversion may not be excuses after all, but reasons to knit together a fit life that actually fits—me, today, right here.
Recognizing my reasons has allowed, encouraged, even required me to figure out how to make a life that fits. The bad news is, it means I’m responsible for myself. I have to think outside-the-(big)-box and not rely on what everybody else is doing to show me what to do and how to do it.
The good news—no, the GREAT news—is that I’m responsible for myself! I get to think creatively and not be tied down to what everybody else is doing! And I get to learn what I love to do and discover how I want to do it!
Creating A Customer Fitness Plan
And the very best news is that I can tinker, and tweak, and even do it all over again when the circumstances, the reasons, of my life change. Just like I can knit with linen when we live in the deep South, or bulky wool in Midwestern winters, I can shift my wellness choices to fit. When my kids’ schedules are unpredictable, I can pre-plan short workouts and keep my tracking pages (in my world’s-ugliest-bullet-journal). When we move to a different part of the country, I can add new regional recipes to my repertoire. When my husband prepares for a deployment, I can ramp up my home yoga practice to help mediate the anxiety I feel.
We all have reasons that allow, encourage, and require us to take responsibility. Your reasons may be different from mine. Maybe you have a long torso and broad shoulders and short arms; the perfect sweater for you is going to look very different from mine. Maybe you work a demanding more-than-full-time job and care for aging parents and crave social interaction in an environment that pumps you up. The fit life that fits you probably won’t look anything like the one that fits me. We each have our reasons.
But we probably have excuses too, if we’re being honest. I’ve been plenty dishonest in my knitting over the years. There was a long stretch when I didn’t even want to know what my measurements were; I guessed (AKA lied to myself) and spent far too much time and money making sweaters that never had a hope of fitting properly and only ended up making me feel worse about my shape and my size. In my fit life, too, my excuses sometimes still let me off the hook—and usually leave me only feeling worse about myself.
It took me years to be comfortable enough with my knitting abilities to take control, to be able to modify patterns to fit my arms, hips, and shoulders, and to choose patterns and yarns wisely to fit the weather of the place we lived and the lifestyle we lived there.
Now I’m learning to take control of my wellness, too; not just nutrition and movement, but all the many parts of life that nourish me and that help me to move forward. At 44 years old I’m learning what it is that I love, where I’m feeling led to grow, and how I might use my gifts. I’m finally—finally!—learning that I can choose what feels good and what makes me feel good about myself, and that what is ultimately good for me is a life that fits like a glove… or like a one-of-a-kind, perfectly customized, me-made sweater.