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Exercising Your Fears: The Gym

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This will be the first in a four-part series about some of the mental blocks that we as obese people MUST overcome in order to live a fuller and healthier life.

I weighed around 320 pounds the first time I walked into the gym in my town. I had already lost close to 15 pounds in what was to become my 100+ pound weight loss journey, but I could only hide in my house to exercise for so long.

I bought a treadmill AND an elliptical machine when I decided to lose weight so that I wouldn't have to be seen exercising. I really didn't have room for them at the house, but I sure as hell wasn't going to go run outside or go to the gym. That is where scary things happen to fat people...

2013-12-21-ecofitness.jpgI found out that there was a person who lived near me who had ties to The Biggest Loser show (she worked as a trainer for the contestants once they left the ranch). I called her up and asked her if she would mind talking to me about my new weight loss endeavor and give me her thoughts on the way I was going to go about it. She agreed and at our meeting she told me that I should really consider getting a gym membership. Hmmmm.

The problem was that I was afraid of going to the gym. I am not saying that it was a rational fear, but let's be honest here, how many of our fears ARE rational? I mean, fear of spiders? That one is completely understandable. They are out to get us and will do God-knows-what to achieve their devious little plots. But the gym? What is there to be afraid of at the gym? Right?

Let me tell you what I used to think.

I used to be afraid that if I went to the gym, people would stand around and look at me and make fun of me. I used to to think that they would wonder how the walrus had wobbled through the door. I thought they might whisper about me in the locker rooms, or worse yet, speak openly about the stay-puff fatty boom boom invading their sacred hall. I was afraid that they would be disgusted by the copious amounts of sweat that I might produce. I seriously thought that people at the gym were all perfectly crafted beings whose sole purpose in life was to keep Lululemon in business and to make fun of fat people.

Let me tell you how that changed for me.

I walked into the gym that day with my head held high, ready to do combat with the first meat-head that uttered any ill words about me. I walked in with a chip on my shoulder, thinking thoughts like, "They can think what they want, but I will show them one day when I lose a bunch of weight!" I walked in AND... and no one even looked at me. No one seemed to even notice me. I suddenly realized that every person there was more interested in what they were doing than they were with what I was doing. I spent an hour watching other people, waiting for them to watch me. And then it hit me.

I was the only one in the gym concerned with what other people were doing. Nobody cared that there was an overweight guy in the gym. And if they DID notice me, no one said a thing or even shot me the stank eye. Well, I didn't see that coming.

Suddenly, I was the person that I was concerned that other people there would be. I will give you a second to go back and read that line again. I had to and I am the one who wrote it. That's right! I WAS the person who was watching and judging other people. Ouch.

In summation, allow me to make this applicable. I do not think that I am or was the only person on Earth who has a mental block about going to the gym. If you are someone who is trying to lose weight then you might also struggle with this. Even if you aren't overweight, you may struggle with the thought that people at the gym aren't going to accept you. I may not have a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology with a concentration in athletic club behavioral science, but I can tell you this... people at the gym are more interested in bettering themselves than they are with bothering you. Give it a shot. Most gyms will give you a week or so pass to come in and check out their digs. Take them up on it. You may find that you actually enjoy it.

You may even find new inspiration to take your weight loss to the next level.

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(obligatory gym selfie)

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