Yesterday I went to the gym for the second time this week. Crazy, right? I almost wasn’t going to go but decided that even 10 minutes was better than nothing. On the way, my office mate called and we decided to meet there. Nothing says motivation like a workout partner…although sometimes the opposite effect can also happen…on occasion. But hey. Something is better than nothing.
“Every one’s PUMPED over there. PUMPED!” he exclaimed as he rose the roof with his hands all the while running for his life. “Not like this place. This place is nothing compared to over there.” giving his best exaggerated stink face.
My office mate muttered something about being tired because we were both walking well below optimal speed for fitness. That is when He-man looked over and winked.
“You know those little arrows that point up and down? Try hitting the up one a couple times every once in awhile.”
Me, being a closet self-conscious person, instantly hit my up arrow three or four times. Sure this guy was a little over the top but I couldn’t help but want his energy! This guy was pumped. Super pumped in fact and in amazing shape. This guy was the epitome of how I wanted to look and feel! It was like the personal trainer I always wanted and he was just two walker’s down. We chatted about Cross Fit for a bit and I hit my arrow up a few more times. By the end, I walked 35 min and actually had my heart pumping at an endurance rate. My back wasn’t hurting so much and I felt good. Really good!
I read something not long ago which I thought was really kind of inspirational as a fatty trying to lose weight and get in shape. Dear New Girl by Erica Millard
Dear New Girl at the Gym,
You stand across from me in boot camp or on the treadmill next to me or a few bikes over in spin. I have never seen you before, but here you are. I can tell by the look on your face you are embarrassed. Embarrassed that you can’t do a pushup or don’t know how to adjust your bike or that you walk on the treadmill when the girl on the other side of you runs for a full hour at the speed of a cheetah. You look around and wonder what on earth you are doing here. You glance at me and I smile, but you look away pretending you didn’t see, because that would mean I noticed you. Maybe you are discouraged. Maybe you tell yourself this was a huge mistake and you’re going to ask for your money back. Maybe you wonder if I’m judging you.
I am not.
I want you to know how proud I am of you. You see, even though it might not seem like it, none of us are judging you. Why? Because so many of us were just like you. We know what it is like. We know how hard it is, especially in the beginning. Really we do. Maybe you woke up one day weighing forty pounds more than you did five years ago. I have been there. Maybe you stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office, had the nurse cluck her tongue, and then had the doctor say something like, “Now let’s talk about your weight.” I have been there. Maybe you recently had a baby, and you wonder if there will ever be a time when you don’t have to tuck your stomach into your pants. I have been there. Maybe you get half way through the warm up in a group fitness class and wonder if you are this out of breath now, is a full hour going to kill you? I have been there. Maybe money and time are tight and the idea of spending $30-$70 a month and an hour a day on yourself feels awfully selfish. I have been there. So many of us have.
You see us running or biking or lifting weights, and may feel discouraged or that we are judging you. Please, please, PLEASE know that we are not, because so many of us have been in your same shoes. You see us for what we are now, but many of us started out just like you, on a journey to find our best selves.
Please come back. I know it is hard, but it will get better, I promise.
And then you will wake up one day and wonder when you became that person. You know that person who can jog a few miles or do a whole spin class or even do boot camp without being sore the next day. And you will be the one, standing across the room, smiling at the new girl hoping she knows how lovely and wonderful and brave she is. Hoping she knows she is worth all the work. Because you are. You are so worth it. You deserve to be your healthiest self.
Now there might come a time and a place where someone will judge you, even someone at the gym. Maybe they make rude comments or give you that look. Maybe they have never known what it feels like to struggle with their weight. Maybe they have low self-esteem. Maybe they have never eaten an entire pan of brownies by themselves (I have) or an entire bag of Halloween candy before a single trick or treater came to their door (I have). Maybe they forgot what it was like to be the new girl. Please, don’t waste your time on them. You are on a journey to be your best self, and they don’t belong on your journey. Find people and a place where you can begin where you are.
Come back. You are so worth it.
Erica Millard — ericamillard.com
I referenced this piece in a gist, adding something about not giving up. I so needed that weird encounter in a place that makes me feel self conscious and awkward. I’m the new guy. Struggling to just be there let alone sprint a 5K. But at least I was there. At least I took that first step. I pushed myself to go again today, secretly hoping He-man would pop by, pushing me to press that arrow up. Encouraging me to push myself and get pumped. I may not be there yet but I know that I’m on my way.