Your name is gym?

I think I mentioned that I joined a gym last week. I meant to go to water aerobics last night but with the all the traffic, I missed class. That set me off into this downward spiral of body loathing and total frustration. I’ve been feeling really uncomfortable in my body and totally embarrassed by it. . . for like my entire life but there were a few months where I was feeling okay-ish. But now that’s completely gone.

I’m not really a “gym person.” I prefer working out without a crowd around me. This comes from my monumental mortification of being ridiculed. It’s not like that is an unfounded fear. I have had my share of bad experiences. Being heavy is like the last “acceptable” way to make fun of someone. It happens.

It’s never been that easy for me to just “go exercise.” The exercise itself is not the problem but the getting there is. All those years of being chosen last, of being teased, of hearing people who claimed to love me wish I would just lose weight already. . . those memories have taken up too much property in my head. I intellectually realize that most people are not thinking about me being fat when they see me at the gym or exercising but the idea that they could preoccupies me into a semi-anxiety attack. This is the one place where my self-esteem is low. Everywhere else I have made great strides in feeling better about myself but when it comes to my body, I’m stuck in a holding pattern of hatred.

My fat makes me feel worthless.

I tell myself that subconsciously. I treat myself that way. And yet I don’t feel that way about other people if they carry extra weight. And yet I don’t even want to be thin, just lighter, just comfortable and I still cannot get my mind and body to sync up and get the fucking job done.

Everyone has a way in which they totally fuck themselves over. Some drink. Others smoke. Many choose and settle for the wrong partner. Me? I don’t stick to what I know works because if I actually did get right with my body then what would I have left to hate myself for. It’s my last remaining scapegoat.

And so I am wallowing in this yucky feeling hoping against hope that steeping myself in its stank will make me so sick I will stop being a whiny bitch about it and just GO do something. Just walk into the gym and put on my swimsuit. Just lace up my shoes and get on the treadmill. Just do something. Just take action.


“When there’s nothing left/On this plate you’re handed/You find yourself/Running the gauntlet/Of all these double standards/It’s very thin ice over which you’re skating/And after this black winter the thaw/So what are you/Tell me tell me what are you/And what have you become. . .” – What Are You?, David Gray


32 thoughts on “Your name is gym?

  1. God, I completely get you and could have written this myself. It’s hard to undo years of mental torture no matter what life is really like today. I hate gyms but like walking with a non-judgmental friend or something fun like that. I always worry people are thinking, “what is that fat ass doing in the gym?” and have a hard time getting there too.

  2. I hate the gym too, but I can promise you that unless you are that girl that doesn’t wear a sports bra and lots of makeup and “runs” on the treadmill… no one will even pay attention to you. Most of the people at the gym are too busy worrying about how they look than looking at other people….

    I am having a hard time getting started again, so I made a goal. And in order to reach my goal (running in 10k even though I’m not a big fan of running) I have to get to the gym. Might work for motivation purposes!

    Good luck!!!

  3. big hugs to you miss sizzle. everyone has something that gets to them. don’t beat yourself up about it. perhaps, subconsciously, your body is trying to tell you that it’s not ready to do the gym thing right now… and that’s okay. you will know when you’re ready, and at least then, you’ll feel more comfortable doing it and not like … you have to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do.
    i get like this sometimes about the gym too. i just… don’t want to go. and i make myself do it, and sometimes i feel good after, but the times that im really not feeling it, i end up doing a half assed workout and it’s not even worth it.
    so… what im saying (because i dont feel like this makes a spec of sense!), is… just go with your gut- when you feel like heading to the gym, that’s the time you’ll probably have the best workout. otherwise, don’t beat yourself up for not going. there’s always tomorrow. you have so much going for you my friend… cheer up.

  4. Uh, yeah. What you said.
    I got a new bike and made my whole family go on a bike ride in a totally boring, low traffic location. Which I felt totally justified after I fell over on my bike while trying to get on. (I’ve moved up to Greenlake, but still am mortified when I have to get off and walk my bike up a hill, even if my husband, who runs marathons, has to do the same thing.)

  5. Before going to the gym routinely, I felt the same way. Until, one day I just said the hell with it. And I went, and I told myself that I didn’t care if I looked like a nincompoop trying to work the various machines.

    I realized quickly, that although there are some that judge, everyone has a common goal. Ok, maybe two. Either to look better, feel better, or both. Screw the people that don’t realize that, they don’t matter anyways.

  6. I agree with DCChick. I don’t typically pay attention to anyone else at the gym except those who WANT the attention – the full makeup and jewelry girl on the treadmill or the guy who grunts and groans from all the weight he’s trying to lift – and I don’t even want to notice them.

    I like to zone out at the gym. But I have noticed new people walking on the track or working out and I think, Good for them! I hope they stick with it. See? Good thoughts.

    Be good to yourself.

  7. How many times have I said a similar thing to myself in my head? Countless. I’m with you on this one, *bear hug*

  8. Self sabotage seems to be something we are all great at. Whether it’s with relationships, our body, or our careers, we always seem to go for making that self proclaimed prophecy come true, why?
    Have you ever tried finding a gym buddy? I find I exercise more if/when I have someone to do it with, who pushes me a bit.

  9. Holy Crap…are we on the same wavelength or what?
    I nodded my head on everything you said, Sizzle. I too, am afraid of going to a gym for fear of WTH and ridicule, and what if i know someone there and I have to be so-nice while struggling to hide and play it cool while wrestling with my insecurity and vulnerability issues??? yeah, that. The other thing, is the inertia, which DOES seem to grow by the year. I’m trying to figure out a way to knock down that barrier, and without will to borrow? It is soooo hard.

    I miss my good influence friends.

    So body loathing, it is hard to live with. I have started working out this past week again here at home–and I cuss myself out almost the whole time. I hate myself, and then I realize I have to make friends with myself, because we are conjoined Twins. Tough. Deal with it. Make friends already, Bully! If you won;t be poor You’s friend, who will?? She’s your Twin! Help her out already! So I end the workout talking to poor You(me) urging her to just keep it up, and be healthy, and a friend that not only I will like, but that will do better in the world too.

    Oh, and read about Second Fiddles in your Opportunity book. It’s a disease…and we suffer.

    *Hugs* because you really ARE beautiful.

  10. I’m with you on the feeling bad about my body. Admittedly, I am 20lbs heavier than I’ve ever been and it terrifies/horrifies me. I am beyond sensitive about it. So, just the other day I walked over to the mall at lunch, got a fruit/yogurt thingy for my lunch, feeling quite happy with it all and this very fit dude approaches me. He initially asks me for the time, then says that was a line to introduce himself b/c he is a personal trainer and though, and I quote, he doesn’t want to offend me, but he feels that I have great potential to look a lot more appealing if I would hire him for 6 months. That it’s his ‘niche’ to make OK looking girls get hotter. And certainly I realize I need to lose some weight? He even pinched the fat on my upper arm to make his point. I swear to you, if I’d had a weapon at the time, I would’ve used it on him. Well, I said a firm, get out of my face, and hauled myself out of there. I almost cried I was so devasted by his assault. But, had to work, so no tears. Point being, I share your fear of being judged. I thought that I was past the age of being picked on, but apparently not. Screw the gym, I wasn’t even safe milling about the mall! And people wonder why we feel this way and have a hard time throwing it all out there. Hmm, no big mystery.

    So you very much impress me that you are doing the gym thing. Good for you and I hope it’s a big success! Know that you have much support from all of us out there that know how hard it is. I will be in my spare room riding my elliptical machine. In private b/c I’m a scaredy-cat! Maybe I’ll be braver if I can ditch this extra 20…

  11. I think most people get this way about gyms. Their nature is such that we’re there for one reason only: our body. Though I do it to myself, too I do promise you that you’re paying 500 times more attention to you than anyone else. Anytime I find myself in a group workout environment (gyms, running clubs, biking trails, etc.) the first couple times are always the hardest, even all these years later.

  12. I was the opposite. In January 2005, I was 205lbs and everything mostly sucked. Turns out my weight was the one thing I COULD control after a life time of chubbiness.

    TODAY exercise is my way of working out my deamons and kicking someone’s ass. I race against myself because I am my own worst enemy, and I want to kick my ass.

    I still struggle with GOING to the gym, but now that i’m addicted to the endorphins I don’t know that I could ever give it up.

  13. Putting aside the seriousness of the topic… can I just say Kudos on the awesome, Pretty in Pink-inspred title?

    and then I would like to give you a {{{DERRO-HUG}}} for support.

  14. I’m not going to tell you to ignore everyone around you at the gym because there are days when I, too, get anxious about others watching me. Though I don’t personally enjoy swimming, one thing I remember about training for a triathlon was the isolation of swimming laps. Even if there were other people in the pool, too, their sounds are drowned out by the water. After a while, it became soothing, almost relaxing. Maybe that can be your baby step into feeling more comfortable working out around others? Just a thought.

  15. i remember joining the gym when i weighed almost 200 pounds – i felt so stupid taking a step class and doing the weight machines… what were people thinking? are they talking about me? are my shorts too tight? it’s hard NOT thinking like that but you said the right thing – JUST TAKE ACTION… it doesn’t matter why you’re there, it’s doing something – anything – that really matters… :o)

    p.s. i was always picked last too, in elementary school, and now i could probably kick all their asses! :o)

  16. I swear, I could have cut and pasted this post on my blog and everyone who knows me would think I was talking about myself. We are just that much alike, especially where body image comes into play. {{{hugs}}}

  17. I hate to exercise almost as much as I hate cleaning bathrooms. I tried the whole gym thing. What a joke! I found every excuse in the book why I couldn’t make it there when in reality I totally just didn’t want to go.

    And for what it’s worth, I think you’re beautiful just the way you are.

  18. Sometimes the first step in doing anything is just that: Taking the first step, and you’ve already done that, and that in and of itself is excellent.

    I just joined a gym again about three weeks ago. I totally self-sabotage myself over and over and over again while I am there, and on my way there, and when I leave, and when I even think about going (wow, healthy, eh?)…Until I step on the scale, or put on a pair of jeans that aren’t quite as tight, or don’t lose my breathe walk up more than a single flight of stairs…There’s my empowerment. It’s not about a number, it’s about feeling like I matter enough to myself to take back my life and feel good about it.

    This having been said, it’s hard as hell and I respect your honesty and your ability to keep moving forward.

  19. I love to hit the gym. You could say that i’m an addict… gym addict and exercise addict. As far as I’m concerned, when I see people in the gym that are overweight or out of shape, I think “yeah! they are hitting the gym!” I dont think “fatass shouldnt be here”. I love to watch people come and continue to work out and make a transformation that they are so happy with! When I was at Chaos College, there was a girl that came to the gym every day…. very overweight! She needed to drop about 200lbs. Day after day she stuck with it and chatted to those of us in there… followed some of the things we did… asked for advice, etc. She managed to drop some serious weight and shape up. She looked good the next time I saw her.

    Anyways, I could go on and on. Dont feel like people are sizing you up (no pun intended). Its true that most probably arent even paying attention to you because they are too concerned about themselves. PLUS i’ve learned that most are very supportive and will do anything they can to help you out!

    I’m more apt to notice anorexic… need to eat a steak people…. than overweight! 😛

  20. *hugs* I too could have written this.

    A little advice… if you can stomach it, go EARLY in the morning. Less people are there, and you start to get into the rhythm. Soon, as more and more people start to trickle in to your time slot, you won’t be as weirded out by it.

  21. Just commit to one day a week. In fact, limit yourself to one day a week. Maybe reverse psychology will work in this situation? I think a lot of us have felt how you feel. The important thing is that you recognize it but keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    PS…love the Sixteen Candles reference….that was the reference, right?

  22. A few weeks ago at the end of a massage with a new-to-me therapist, she said “You know, if you want to lose weight, you have to do it from a position of self-love rather than self-hate.”

    And I wondered how she knew.

    Since then, I have been trying to see myself differently. It’s not easy. But I am trying to love me, love this new extra weight, before I take steps to get it off (or get back to the gym, or walk every day, or whatever.)

    So try to love yourself, Siz. You’re beautiful, you know. Love yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

  23. I had one of those chats with myself yesterday, not about exercising tho. It worked too! I hope it worked for you as well 🙂

  24. I feel the same about working out.. especially when the “gym ” is crowded .. I rarely see overweight people there.. Why? because they feel that they are being scrutinized and ridiculed instead of being accepted for wanting to better themselves health wise.. Swimming and walking are the best ways to get exercise and oh sex too…

  25. Long time reader, first time writer!

    Sizzle, I joined a gym three months ago, with many of the same issues of self-loathing and fear of ridicule. But I can assure you of this- everyone from the trainers to the zero-body-fat rockstars on the stepping machines respects their fellow gym-goers motivation to work out. When I signed up, this totally hot, fit, 20-something guy behind the counter said “I’m really happy for you!” and it was the nicest thing he could have possibly said.

    So even though you’re having a tough time for understandable reasons, I’m happy for you! You’ll get over this feeling you have, and you’ll fall into the habit of going, and before you know it, you’ll be seeing results. You’ve already changed your life with this one decision. So just go, just do it!

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