I would think, of all the places in the world, a gym would be the most welcoming place in the world to a fat girl. Seriously, the staff should see a chubby person enter the doors and they should flock to that persons side with help, assistance, and encouragement. A round of applause should go up from the others working out when they see a sheepish chubby person step onto the stairmaster. Cheerleaders should pounce out of the locker room and start rah rah rah-ing their little hearts out with each step that person takes towards a new future.
Ok, perhaps that might scare the beegeezers outta someone, but the point is that if the world were rational, we would all be celebrating and encouraging that person's desire to change their lives.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
My gym is filled with fit people ... like uber fit people. In the last three days, I've seen muscles pop out from places I didn't know they could pop. It's been quite alarming. I've only had experience with small gyms in the past so now that I'm going to a big conglomerate, I'm seeing a whole new side of workout life. Did you know some women actually wear make-up and do their hair to go workout? And, seriously, don't most women know they need to put t-shirts on over their sports bras? Really? Come on now. And men ... wearing muscle shirts and eying themselves in the mirrors as well as checking out the girls butts (and sports bras) as they walk by.
Am I at a bar or a gym?
I show up serious and ready for business. I don't look cute. My hair is tossed up in a pony, I'm not focused on what I'm wearing ... old ratty t-shirt? PERFECT for getting sweaty! Speaking of sweat, I pour sweat. I can sometimes literally wring out my shirt when I'm done with the workout. I leave it all at the gym. That's the reason for being there, right?
When I was working out yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that the fat people were few and far between. Those that were there were doing their thing but they were holding back a bit too. They choose the machines in the corners, in the back, away from the muscle shirts and sports bras. They were focused and determined but I swear the fear of being noticed was oozing off them.
I could sympathize. I was reminded of how I felt when I was 300 pounds. I was fearful. I didn't want people to think "what's the fat girl doing here?" and judge me accordingly. What if I looked like a dork while walking on the treadmill? What if I couldn't do the stairmaster for more than 5 minutes (more like 2 minutes back then)? And what if, god forbid, someone actually noticed how overweight I was?
Those feelings, although often self inflected, are what kept me from going to the gym.
Being in touch with those feelings yesterday, pushed me forward. They propelled me to go faster on the treadmill, stay on the stairmaster for an extra few minutes, and even try out the elliptical (TORTURE!) before I left the gym.
There was one women there that really caught my attention. She was probably as heavy as I was when I first started my weight loss journey. She had been on the stairs when I first noticed her and her pace was slow but steady. She was struggling but trudged forward and pulled out 15 minutes on those things. I was impressed. I had a hard time doing 15 minutes now let alone when I was 300 pounds! She then came over to the treadmill and proceeded to push herself for another 20 minutes at a slow and steady pace.
Wow, I thought. She's doing this. She's committed. She's dedicated. She's inspiring.
As I was leaving, I intentionally walked by her treadmill. Her face expressed a mixture of determination, fear, and pain. As I walked by, I gave her a HUGE encouraging smile and said "you're doing great". Her face went from scared, to shocked, to happy. "Thanks," she panted as she picked up her pace and smiled back at me.
I'm not saying my smile will change her world, but I hope I left her a bit of encouragement for all the encouragement she'd unknowingly given me. I hope I see her at the gym again. That woman was so inspiring. Watching her struggle and push forward was far more inspiring than the teeny tiny beeboping girls and beautifully built men that traipsed by me. This woman was a reflection of who I used to be and seeing her struggle and succeed was amazing. If she can do it, so can I.
And I did at one time. And I will again.
Here's to working toward the goal, encouraging those on the journey with us, and celebrating together each victory we have along the way.