**Potential Trigger Warning: The word “FAT”, Workouts, Self-Esteem**
To provide a little background to this post, I joined a gym in May of 2012 – hurray for a 2 year pre-paid membership – and started working with a personal trainer in June of 2012. I worked with the trainer for 6 months until my sessions ran out, and I recently started working with the same trainer, privately.
I’ve never considered myself to be athletic. In fact, I would describe myself as wholly un-atheletic. Not athletic in the least. And I was never athletic as a kid….not really, at least. I was in ballet for 12 years of my life, played soccer, and sometimes ran….but I stopped doing ballet when my instructor told me I was too fat to be in ballet (add that to the list of things that you should NEVER say to a 12 year old…), and started to focus more on music and academics.
In college, I made friends who were athletic, and I tried to be motivated. I think I thought that if I was around athletic people, their motivation would rub off and would in turn motivate me. Yeah, that’s not really the way that it works. I think I can count on two hands how many times I went to the gym during my 4 years of undergrad.
It wasn’t until I met my husband that I became conscious of my level of inactivity. He used to be overweight and had become quite the bit of a runner in the process of working off the weight. He actually had hit his lowest weight right around the time that we met (December 2009….god that’s forever ago!). He was and always has been loving and supportive of my own goals, and whether I want to be active or not. He never pushed me to become more active….but when I met him, I thought…. “You know. I don’t want to be fat anymore.”
After some failed attempts with Weight Watchers, counting calories, and just trying to be more active, we both gained 40 pounds leading up to our wedding in October 2011. I’m skipping a lot, I know, but I’m trying to get to the point here. I don’t know what it was….but I remember waking up one September morning and thinking “I need to go workout. I need to lose this weight. I am tired of being miserable.” That was when I had reached about 315 pounds, and it was a month before the wedding.
Joining a gym is hard. Besides the obvious reasons ($$$, time, travel), for a fat person, it can feel like being a fish out of water. The first time I hopped on the elliptical at the gym, I felt like everyone was looking at me, thinking “Why is she even trying?”….and maybe there were a few people thinking that. But I would guess that most people were more focused on their own workout and weren’t paying attention to me.
I think the hardest thing for me has been working out with my trainer. When I work with my trainer, I’m very exposed. When I workout on my own, I can go into the “cardio theater” and workout in the dark, where no one can see me. When I’m with my trainer, we are on the main floor of the gym, using various weight machines, and using mats in the middle of the floor for ab work and such.
During those times, I feel very exposed and self-conscious. After all, laying on the floor doing jackknife crunches highlights every single bit of fat that I have on my body. Nevermind that it’s one of the absolute best ab exercises you can do…. I just feel like a marshmallow that’s being squished together from both sides. And I’m usually laying on the floor right next to the doors for the women’s and men’s locker rooms. I feel like I should be saying “Oh. Don’t mind the fat girl on the floor covered in sweat and barely able to breathe!”
That’s probably really negative.
Being fat at the gym does not have to be a source of anxiety and stress. I mean, the reality is….you’re there to workout and to be healthy, right? Everyone has to start somewhere, and the fear of other’s perceptions isn’t going to help you do what you need to do while you’re there. The reality is that NO ONE looks attractive when they are working out (okay, well, maybe some people do, but let’s talk majority here…) and everyone has their own goals that they are working on.
What about you? How do you overcome self-esteem issues when trying to better yourself? Have you ever felt this way at the gym? Let me know in the comments!