RomanceTeen & Young Adult

Feelin The Burn

El Koslo

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+

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Feelin The Burn - Book cover
RomanceTeen & Young Adult

Feelin The Burn

El Koslo

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+

1: Project Peanut Butter Cup

Hannah

“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.

“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, a little inflection of awe in her voice.

Even more of a reason to stay away from this Jordan.

“He understands that people have real lives and tries to help them develop a fitness plan that makes it easy to stay committed.”

“But I could go see this…uh…” I scanned down the list to the first female that I saw. “Mallory?”

The nurse made a face and nodded. “You could…but I doubt she’s eaten a carb in the last ten years, so she might not be your style.”

“Since all I’ve eaten has been carbs.”

She gave me an admonishing look followed up by her usual easygoing smile. “Hey…everyone has to start somewhere. I’m proud of you for being open-minded about this.”

I didn’t feel that way, but I knew I needed to try.

Being a little chubby as a teen had morphed into being a lot chubby as an adult. It’d happened so slowly I didn’t recognize that it was a problem until it was apparently a big problem.

A problem that Dr. Isaacs was now expecting me to take control of.

“I’m willing to try. But the first one of those ‘coaches’ who makes fun of my thighs for being best friends will get an earful.”

I tried to sound intimidating, but I wasn’t even fooling myself much less Nurse Kellie. The first time one of these coaches said something mean, I knew it’d be the last time I walked into a stupid fitness studio.

“I promise Jordan won’t. He may work you hard and make you do exercises you really don’t want to, but he’d never fat shame you,” Kellie responded as she patted my hand gently.

“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 co-pay, I made my way down the elevator to my car. I’d taken the afternoon off work, so I had a few hours to kill until I needed to cook dinner.

My fridge was fairly bare; I’d been bad about ordering takeout lately and knew that I needed to stop relying on others to cook my food.

“Ugh. Here I come, grocery store.” I was obviously feeling enthusiastic about this whole process.

I wasn’t in the mood for all the granola fit moms and the buff guys shopping at the “healthy” grocery store, so I pulled into the one closest to my apartment and said a little prayer for myself.

“You can do this. It’s just food.” I grabbed a reusable bag out of the back seat and made my way inside.

Fresh produce always made me anxious, so I made my way to the freezer section and grabbed a green beans package, which was a good start.

Then I backtracked to the meat counter and picked up a package of pre-seasoned chicken breasts. I could eat the extra ones for lunch.

Next was eggs. Then yogurt—I passed by the ones I knew were mostly sugar in favor of the Greek yogurt with lower sugar. I could do this. This wasn’t so bad.

If I just avoided the aisles that had the things I really wanted to eat, then I would be fine. I grabbed some milk, added in a package of cheese sticks, and made my way toward the checkout lines.

“Ugh, seriously?” Of course they were having a sale on candy bars. Because the checkout aisle was where the grocery store put all the things to tempt people.

I know my mom had hated taking us to the grocery store when we were little because of the dreaded checkout line.

What better place for a small child to lose their shit than a small, confined aisle lined with candy and small toys.

Maybe there was a line that didn’t have anyone waiting. It’d make it easier to stay away from the dreaded candy bar sale.

“Fuck,” I mumbled under my breath as I looked at the people aimlessly staring around while they waited for their turn in every single freaking lane.

The self-checkouts weren’t any better, and I found myself cursing all the people who normally would have been at work at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Why were all these people here? Didn’t they have jobs?

I joined the queue and tried to avoid making eye contact with the Snickers. They’d only lure me in with their chocolaty goodness.

My phone became my distraction after I unloaded my groceries. I could do this, I was fine.

“Crap. I’m sorry.” My head popped up at the voice of the frazzled woman in front of me. She had a toddler in the front of her cart who seemed quite proud of himself for grabbing two fistfuls of candy.

“Oh…that’s okay. Here…hand them to me, and I’ll put them away for you,” I told her as I extended my hand out toward her, trying not to make eye contact with the dreaded chocolate temptation.

“Thanks so much. He’s a bit of a terror and loves chocolate.” Her voice was strained, and I knew that she was having a harder time in the aisle of temptation than I was.

“Don’t we all?” I laughed as I watched the little boy narrow his eyes at me taking away his ill-gotten goods.

“So true. Thank you. I’ll try to keep his naughty little hands up here.” She frowned as she shot her child a look meant to intimidate.

The little boy giggled as his mom pushed him out of the danger zone and past the cashier toward the end of the belt.

I stepped back and tried to find the spaces where the candy had been grabbed from, gently placing the evil candy bars back in their homes.

I was trying not to look too closely at the labels or imagine what they’d taste like as I quickly stowed them away.

“Shit…” I mumbled as I bent down and tried to pick up the package of peanut butter cups that’d dropped to the floor.

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 package.

“Here…let me help.” A deep voice sounded close to my ear as the man bent down and snatched the package that I was having a hard time reaching and gently placed it in my fingers. “I believe these belong to you.”

“Uh…” I straightened up and felt my face flush as the package crinkled in my fingers. Fuck. Of course this gorgeous man would be the one to pick up the bag of peanut butter cups that I’d been trying to resist.

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 come from the gym or running outside. He probably enjoyed running.

Clusters of freckles covered the bridge of his nose and his cheeks; he also had some on his attractively muscled forearms.

“Thanks.” My body was hyper-aware of the perfect specimen of a man who had placed a canister of protein powder, a bundle of spinach, and a package of steaks onto the belt behind me.

Entrancing green eyes glanced up from his phone and made contact with mine, and he smiled softly at me before he resumed texting.

My face was on fire as I turned around and willed the cashier to go faster. I was not too fond of situations like this.

This guy would never give me a second glance if I met him anywhere else. Nobody noticed the chubby girl as being attractive.

“Did you want those?” The young cashier gestured to the package of peanut butter cups in my hand, and I threw them down on the belt as if they were on fire.

“No…” One glance at the small smile on the face of the handsome man behind me cemented it.

Let project peanut butter cup commence.

I was going all in.

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