Thursday, December 07, 2006

I will not appologize. You shouldn't either.

This post was inspired by a woman (on the nest) who was asking for encouragement to be brave enough to go to the gym. Like a lot of us she was worried that because of her size/lack of experience that people would stare.

I'll be the first to admit it's intimidating to go to a gym for the first time. You're surrounded by all these fit people who know what they're doing and here I am bumbling around on the machines, dropping weights, pressing buttons on the equipment and just plain being an idiot. Lord knows I felt intimidated!

Just some thoughts that went through my head... Will people make fun of me? Will they laugh at my inability to lift much weight, if any at all? Will I be the joke in the locker room? Will people point, gawk or whisper to one another? Or even worse... all of the above? Will the big spotlight follow me around so everybody can see my every sweaty move?

The answer to all those questions is no. And now that I've been going to the gym for a while I realize that whole heartedly but it really did take a few times before I was comfy.

First of all I am by far the biggest woman in our gym that I've seen. I would go so far to say I am one of the biggest PEOPLE in our gym, men included (meaning overweight people, obviously there are the muscles heads who are bigger than me).

I know all about feeling intimidated or actually 'less than worthy' of being there. How messed up is that that I should feel 'less worthy' to be in a public place that I pay for because of my size?

So here's how I got through it. It may sound cheesy or corny or I may just sound salty (just wanted to get a third food reference in there) but it's what I had to do to really get through my first week or so at the gym.

I had to give myself a pep talk. See, I told you it was corny. But really, here are some of the things I had to tell myself before walking into the gym and actually throughout my first couple of workouts.

I told myself (literally) that "this isn't about what those people think, this is about me." I am doing this for me, my body, my life.

This wasn't about impressing anybody. I'm not in high school, I don't need the 'cool kids' to like me anymore.

I have just as much right to be in this place as anybody else does. In fact I may need this gym more than anybody else here.

I will not continue to live unhealthy because of fear. I fear being unhealthy more than I fear what others think of me.

I don't owe anybody an apology for my body. I am here now and that is what counts. From this moment forward I am here and I belong here. Go ahead and look at me, I will not say I'm sorry.

But of course I occasionally catch people's eyes at the gym. When I see somebody looking at me I just smile kindly. More often than not they smile back. They're not the enemy, they're just people trying to stay healthy, just like me.

Sometimes I even go so far as to think for them. I think they think "wow, if she can jog on the treadmill, I'm going to do it too."

They sometimes think "holy crap that girls kicking ass!"

Occasionally I see a "man, I'm impressed" behind somebodies smile.

It's all about perception really. And what you don't really know... improvise!

The skinny girls aren't really whispering "can you believe she is sweating after only 15 minutes" they're really saying "She's walking at a steeper incline than we are, we better step it up!"

That guy isn't looking at you thinking "what the hell is that women doing with those dumbbells." He's really thinking "isn't that cute the way she almost dropped that on her toe. I should go talk to her."

The trainers aren't gathering around the desk at closing time saying "Did you see Sarah this week? That girl has some major work to do." but they are saying "hey, my trainee Sarah lost 12 pounds in 6 weeks, she's really motivated!"

It's all about what those little voices are telling you in your head. You just have to train those guys to say what you need them to say.

You have to know that you are worth every ounce of energy you're spending at the gym. You have to know that if you don't do this for yourself nobody is going to do it for you. You have to know that your life will be better for it. You have to know that this is about YOU and only you. No apologies just PUSH.


Jayne said...

I know exactly where you're coming from! I felt the same way when I started at the gym a few months ago. I wondered why there were so many skinny people at the gym.... where were the fat people like me, that needed to be there?

I spent some time with the trainers, informally asking them how to use certain machines and generally getting tips from them. It made me feel more confident.

Now there is another woman who works out at the same times as me that is bigger than me. When I see her on the treadmill givin it her all, I think, "Good on ya sista!"

Anonymous said...

hi, sarah - i stumbled across your blog on the nest - i'm princessbride3. i just wanted to say GO YOU! you should be so proud of yourself...what an accomplishment! congratulations on all of your hard work, what a journey for you ;)
happy holidays!