Hannah Daniels has always been a little bit bigger than other women, but it’s never been anything she’s cared about. She’s happy in her own skin—most of the time, anyway. But then her doctor recommends she start seeing a fitness trainer. In fact, she even has the perfect guy in mind: Jordan Mathis, who’s determined to make Hannah sweat…in more ways than one.
Age Rating: 18+
“Looking at these test results, we need to start talking about lifestyle changes,” Dr. Isaacs sat down across from me and sighed as she scanned the contents of my file before looking up at me.
“I already go to the gym.” Most people assumed I didn’t, based purely on my size, but I frequently walked on the treadmills or used the light weight machines. It never seemed to make a difference, but I still went.
“I know you do, and it’s been a blessing that you’ve tried to stay active. But we need to start looking at a whole-body approach.” The older woman peered over the bridge of her glasses with a calculating look.
“Dr. Isaacs, I get it. I’m a big girl. I’ve always been a big girl. I’ve tried dieting before, and it doesn’t work.”
My weight had been an ongoing conversation with every medical professional and family member for as long as I could remember.
Han is carrying a little extra weight… It was always the same.
I wasn’t huge, but I definitely wasn’t skinny and I never had been.
“I think we need to talk to a nutritionist and get you into something a little more strenuous than just walking on the treadmill a few times a week.”
The word strenuous made me cringe, but I knew that to make a difference, I’d need to try something new.
“It’s not going to make a difference. It never does. I’m okay with that.” Saying I was resigned to my fate was a little dramatic—I was just over trying to please everyone.
“You may be okay with that, but having a heart attack or a stroke before you’re forty will be a lot harder to come back from,” Dr. Isaacs said with a frown.
She wasn’t pulling any punches today, but I thought she was being a tad dramatic.
“I’m not gonna have a heart attack.” My voice was a little shaky, as if I were trying to convince myself that health problems weren’t inevitable.
“Your cholesterol is elevated, your stress tests indicate you may already be developing a blockage, and your body fat percentage is in the morbidly obese range.”
Okay, maybe I was skating a little too close to the unhealthy line.
“I’m not telling you to go be a supermodel. I’m telling you that you need to take your health more seriously,” Dr. Isaacs sounded genuinely concerned, but in my late twenties, I had a hard time taking this information seriously.
“Fine. What do I need to do?” I asked as she smirked at my response.
“I’ve got a list of personal trainers who I think have some programs that could be tailored to your abilities,” she said as she typed something into the computer on the desk.
“No. I don’t want a personal trainer. They always start lecturing me on keto this and Atkins that.”
I was not getting myself into another situation where a “fitness professional” lectured me on my lifestyle choices. I liked Peanut Butter Cups. So what?
“A few of them teach group instruction. We could start with that and see how comfortable you are.” The arched eyebrow she aimed in my direction indicated that she was not planning to let this go.
“Please don’t let them single me out. I hate being the lone fat girl in those classes and having everyone stare at me.” My voice wavered as I took a deep breath.
“I’m going to recommend some high-intensity interval training classes to start. You can go at your own pace, ease your way in.”
She made it sound easy, but I knew it was anything but. It just seemed like torture. High-intensity anything sounded like torture.
“Is this really necessary?” I asked, knowing she probably wouldn’t budge.
“I’m gonna be honest, Hannah. I’m concerned about your overall body fat percentage creating major health problems for you down the line.”
Well, that was ominous. Dr. Isaacs pretty much nailed the coffin shut on me protesting this.
“I’ll have my nurse give you the contact information for the fitness studio I think you should check out.”
“Thank you.” I sighed. The woman really was just trying to do her job. I knew that…but I didn’t have to like it.
A crinkling sound filled the small room as I shifted on the uncomfortable white paper under my bare butt cheeks. My apparently too large bare butt cheeks.
“I want you to make a follow-up appointment for three months from now. I’d like to monitor your progress. Our goal is to keep you off medications if we can.”
She stood and nodded before disappearing out of the exam room door and closing it behind her.
I pulled back on my leggings and flowy top—it hid a multitude of sins, and I didn’t feel the need to dress up to go to the doctor’s office.
“Knock, knock.” A chipper voice sounded from the other side of the closed door.
“I’m good.” I sighed as my fingers toyed with the sheet over my lap.
“Hannah?” A tall, slender brunette peeked her head around the corner with a tablet in her hand.
“That’s me,” I responded, hoping my voice didn’t sound too bitter. Of course, the nurse looked like a supermodel.
“Okay... so I’m gonna give you the contact information for a few of the coaches at the fitness studio that I think would work for you. Personally, I’d try to get into a consultation with Jordan.”
She winked as she thrust a packet of information at me.
“Uh... are there any female coaches on that list?” I asked as I bit my lip. Male fitness trainers intimidated me.
Who was I kidding... all fitness trainers intimidated me, but a six-pack-laden, sweaty god telling me how out of shape I was did not sound like my idea of a good time.
Nurse Kellie nodded as she pointed at a name midway down the list.
“There are. But Jordan is probably the best. He helped my husband once he got out of the rehab center after shoulder surgery,” she told me, with a little inflection of awe in her voice.
“He understands that people have real lives and tries to help them develop a fitness plan that makes it easy to stay committed. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a total catch. I mean, obviously, that’s not the main reason to go to him, but this guy makes Zeus look like a stick figure.”
I smiled numbly, feeling the butterflies in my stomach.
I had a mental image of some faceless muscle god running his hands down my flabs as he guided my push-up form. I shuddered inwardly.
The nurse, sensing my discomfort, gave me a reassuring look. “I’m proud of you for being open-minded about this,” she said.
I didn’t feel that way, but I knew I needed to try.
Being a little chubby as a teen had turned into being significantly overweight as an adult. It had happened so gradually that I didn't realize it was a problem until it became a major issue.
A problem that Dr. Isaacs now expected me to take control of.
“I’m willing to try. But if any of those ‘coaches’ make fun of my thighs, they'll hear an earful,” I declared.
I tried to sound intimidating, but I wasn’t even fooling myself, let alone Nurse Kellie. The moment one of these coaches said something mean, I knew it would be my last visit to that ridiculous fitness studio.
“I promise Jordan won’t. He may push you hard and make you do exercises you really don’t want to, but he would never shame you for your weight,” Kellie reassured me as she gently patted my hand.
“Here... this is a four-class free pass. Just go and try a few classes first. Then you can worry about talking to Jordan later,” she advised as she dropped a paper pass into my hand.
I could do that. I was good at being anonymous.
“I look forward to seeing how far you’ve come when you come back in a few months,” she said with an encouraging smile.
“No pressure, huh?” I smiled back as she stood up and moved toward the door.
“You’ll do great.”
I wasn’t convinced her words were true, but I was trying.
“Thanks,” I answered quietly. I think. I still wasn’t sure about this whole thing. But I needed to make something happen if I wanted to avoid filling my medicine cabinet with prescription bottles.
After paying my copay, I made my way down the elevator to my car. I had taken the afternoon off work, so I had no excuse not to go sign up for this gym. Shit.
It was about a twenty-minute drive to the gym, which was located in a strip mall.
I turned off my car and sat there for a few minutes, trying to psych myself up.
Finally, I grabbed my gym bag from the passenger seat. I always left it in my car because I didn’t want that sort of evil thing to enter my home.
My body was literally trembling as I walked across the parking lot toward the front entrance. Places like this made me nervous.
This wasn’t one of the big gyms I typically attended. You could be anonymous there. You could hide on a machine in a corner, and no one would notice you.
The personal trainers who floated the floor had long since left me alone, knowing my speed never went past five, and my incline was always the same. I knew what I was capable of, and I was just there to get in my steps and go home.
This place was a different story.
The moment I stepped into the building, I was hit with the scent of sweat and the sound of weights clanking and treadmills whirring.
The place was jam-packed. A couple of muscle jocks by the free weights glanced over at me when the door opened, then quickly looked away again.
Clearly, I wasn’t interesting to them.
My face reddened as I noticed how fit everyone here was. I was the heaviest person in here by about a mile.
Why the hell were there so many people here? I thought as I shuffled over to the front desk. It was 3 o’clock on a Wednesday. Didn’t they have jobs?
“Can I help you?” A gorgeous, lithe blonde in form-fitting black fitness gear and a high ponytail inquired from behind the desk.
“Um... yes, I’m... I’m Hannah. I want to start working out...” I babbled, trying to explain myself.
The woman behind the desk just raised her eyebrow, surveying me like you might look at a bit of dirt on your shoe.
“Do you have a membership?” she asked dryly.
I shook my head nervously and watched an even more incredulous look cross her face.
“B-but,” I managed to stammer, “I have a coupon for four free classes.”
Reaching into my pocket, I fumbled for the flyer the nurse had given me.
I felt the glossy paper in my fingers and pulled it out of my pocket. But it got caught in the seam of my pocket, and before I knew it, the paper had fallen to the floor.
“Shit…” I mumbled as I bent down and tried to pick up the flyer.
A pair of large, well-worn, gray tennis shoes appeared in my periphery, and I wanted to avoid encroaching on the personal space of the person behind me as I reached for the paper.
“Here... let me help.” A deep voice sounded close to my ear as the man bent down and snatched the paper that I was having a hard time reaching and gently placed it in my fingers. “I believe this belongs to you.”
“Uh...” I straightened up and felt my face flush as the flyer crinkled in my fingers. Fuck. Of course, this gorgeous man would be the one to pick up my free classes flyer, which basically screamed, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here.’
He was tall with a trim waist, massive biceps peeking out the sleeves of his fitted, navy-blue compression shirt, dark athletic shorts that led to sparsely-haired, defined calves, and of course the gray tennis shoes from earlier.
His reddish-brown hair was a little matted; he looked like he’d just finished a long and challenging workout. He probably lives at the gym.
Clusters of freckles covered the bridge of his nose and his cheeks; he also had some on his attractively muscled forearms.
“Thanks.” My body is hyper-aware of the perfect specimen of a man whose musky scent tells me he’s been working out for hours.
Entrancing green eyes glance up from his phone and make contact with mine, and he smiles softly at me before he resumes texting.
My face is on fire as I turn around and shove the flyer into the woman’s hand. I am not too fond of situations like this.
This guy would never give me a second glance if I met him anywhere else. Nobody notices the chubby girl as being attractive. They see us as nothing more than Peanut Butter Cup consumption devices.
“Need something, J?” The woman behind the counter is looking past me at the beautiful man, batting her eyelashes. I try to stop myself from rolling my eyes.
“It can wait,” J says, a dimpled smile creasing his lips. “You can help this lovely young woman first.”
When he said ‘lovely young woman’, I literally looked over my shoulder, trying to figure out who he was talking about. He couldn’t possibly be talking about me, could he?
But when I looked back at him, he was looking right at me, a wide smile on his face and those glittering green eyes staring straight into mine.
Instantly, I felt my face go red.
The smile on that man’s face cemented it.
I turned back to the woman behind the counter and mustered all the courage I could before confidently saying, “Sign me up for a full training course with Coach Jordan.”
Let project peanut butter cup commence.
I was going all in.
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