It’s winter. It’s cold. Do not let the bad weather stop you. Pick a race, set a goal, and go for it. Setting goals turns dreams into reality. One of my favorite quotes is, “dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” Setting goals is the second part of this quote. By setting goals, you’re living like you may not get another chance to make your dreams come true. I’m taking my own advice. On January 18th, I am running a 5k with my friend Tricia. I am finally getting back to running outside. I’ve been working out a ton, but running outside still gives me anxiety (and I’ve been avoiding it). I’ve set a goal, though, and I am going to kill the 5k! I’ve always dreamed of being a runner, and I don’t care if it takes me a million tries, I am going to be a runner. So, I ran outside at the park today with Sophie, and I did surprisingly well. It’s all mental, people!
Along these same lines, I’ve wanted to write a blog for the past couple weeks about the anxiety and shame overweight people have when they first start working out. I said to myself too many times to count that I’d join a gym once I lost enough weight to not be the fat lady at the gym. I know I am not alone on this, either. I also always wanted to grab some shoes and run on the sidewalk, but I didn’t want others to see my belly bounce or see my terrible form. Worst yet, I didn’t want them to look at me a think, “look at her trying to be thin, she’ll never lose weight” and laugh out-loud at me. I didn’t want people to know if I failed. I’m telling you, I had these thoughts daily as I ate Taco Bell secretly in my car at night. I’d think this would be my last fast food meal, and I’d start working out soon. Then all the anxieties and images of super fit and “perfect” people at the gym pointing and staring and actually coming up to me and saying I’m too fat to be at the gym. My fears were really, really detailed! Sometimes I’d cry and sometimes the Taco Bell was comforting. I’d go back home and go back to Taco Bell the very next day.
I remember when I first started running with Jessica (who is very slim but works out a ton) at LA Fitness. I was done with my run, and she was going to run a little longer. She told me to stretch. There was another row of treadmills behind us packed with people (all really in shape people). She kept looking back and telling me to stretch. I just stood there paralyzed. I didn’t want the people to see me try to touch my toes and stretch, and I didn’t want to admit to her I was too embarrassed to stretch in front of others. Finally, she finished up and we stretched off to the side.
I was surprised when I read Fit to Fat to Fit, because it’s about a male trainer who purposely gained weight to understand his clients better and to show them weight loss is possible. He went from super confident to experiencing some of the same fears of judgement and social anxiety I’ve experienced since gaining weight. He stood in front of his closet trying on clothes over and over to find something that made him look less fat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late to hang out with friends, because I’ve tried on twenty shirts to find out that hides my back fat roll (which I no longer have!!) and my stomach bulge. I’ve actually canceled many, many times with friends at the last minute, because I couldn’t bare the thought of being the fat chick at a bar or swanky restaurant. To all my friends, I apologize. I’m surprised ya’ll stuck around with how many times I’ve shown up late or not at all.
Being heavy consumed me. It took over my life. I couldn’t get up from my desk at work without thinking about looking fat in front of my coworkers. I could go on and on and on. I never changed, though, because I had irrational fears of active people rejecting me. The funny this is, now that I work out at the gym and in a challenging group exercise class, I know my fears couldn’t be further from the truth. At my group workout class, Blast 900, so many of my classmates have come up to me after class to tell me good job. They’ll comment and say it’s great I’ve made it to so many classes. If my form is bad, they’ll stop to show me lift the weights the right way. In the gym, no one has ever looked at me weird or said anything mean. My fears were all in my head. Furthermore, I now know a lot of active people are really positive people. They’re excited you’re getting healthy, because they’re passionate about health. They want everyone to be healthy! They’re proud of you for trying to get into shape.
And you know what, if I ever do run into the one negative person who does say something about my weight, I don’t care what they have to say about me or my form or my fat rolls or anything else for that matter. I’m out there trying. I’m out there trying to be better. That’s what matters. You’re out there trying. You’re out there trying to be better. That’s what matters. Please don’t allow yourself to be trapped in the same cycle I was stuck in for years. It’s such a debilitating state to live in– just step into a gym or go for a run outside– you’ll be glad you did.
It’s all mental, people!
P.S. Check out this kickass kickboxing class you can do with dumballs or just your arms at home. I loved it!