I was so intimidated by the gym. Thought for sure people were going to judge me when I started. I actually “started” three times in recent years. Each time was an act of courage. And the third time was the scariest. Why? Because I had started and failed twice before. Prior to that, I probably started and failed diets a dozen times.
Now that I’m not “fat chick” on the outside anymore (FYI – fat chick is alive and well inside my head. That’s another blog someday), I’ve learned that the ONE place I was NOT judged was at the gym. People look in each other’s grocery carts in line – you know it happens. I got drive through instead of going inside at Taco Bell. Told myself it was “convenient”, but I knew I didn’t want to be seen ordering what I was about to order. I’d eat moderately when in public and binge by myself or when it was just Paul and I. I hardly ever went clothes shopping – the clothes I liked didn’t fit, or if they did, I didn’t like the reflection in the dressing room mirror.
Truth is – even if the gym was the most intimidating place for me to go, it really was the safest.
I’ve learned that everyone at the gym – really everyone – is doing their own thing. If there were guys looking around, they weren’t looking at me. I was invisible to almost everyone. I did my own thing with my headphones – as did just about everyone else. Truth is, there are a LOT of former fat people at the gym. Everyone has a story. And most are happy to see someone new start the same journey.
When I was comfortable enough and when I knew I needed it, I asked for help. Then I wasn’t invisible anymore. That’s when a support team materialized. My bodybugg came with a coach – and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Then the trainers took over. I just had to show up and do what I was told. I didn’t need to worry about whether I was doing the right stuff the right way. And despite the fact that there were problems that ended my training, I really didn’t need it anymore. I had guidance and support when I most needed it – when I was at risk of quitting. And not just the trainers – the other members became “gym friends”. It was just another layer of accountability. They all got me through.
I felt intimidated when I started at American Iron, too. By that time, I was in better shape, but I was a little scared of the place because I didn’t think I knew enough about lifting to really fit in there. That might have been true, but when I showed up, I was welcomed and made to feel comfortable. I was introduced around. It felt like I was “adopted”. I still have some insecurities about looking stupid. Doesn’t matter. I do it anyway. I’ve got plenty of experience at looking stupid in the gym. I’ve gotten used to it. I know that after a bit, I get the hang of things.
Look – you won’t feel comfortable right away. The trick is to show up every day. Become a “regular”. Pretty soon, the place feels very familiar and people notice when you aren’t around. There is a sense of belonging, even if you workout alone. People say “hi” and leave you alone. Or, they may even compliment you on your progress. I’ve learned that everyone appreciates a “Hey – have you lost weight? You look great” comment every so often.