Or make that, back on the elliptical.
On Tuesday I went back to the gym. Aside from the fact that my life exploded last spring and I wouldn’t have had time anyway, I quit going to the gym last fall (so about 18 months now) because I realized that I could go to the gym, or I could have a good work day, but not both. I don’t know about you, but I need to be able to do my paying job.
One diagnosis of adrenal fatigue later (requiring an out of network doctor and some out of pocket testing) I started on some medication and stayed away from the gym for a while.
I finally felt ready to go back, did some research around my new home to find a gym that suits my needs, and showed up to see how bad the damage from the combination of extremely stressful year and effectively no exercise was.
There definitely was damage. I’ve gained enough weight that I don’t want to know how much. I’ve lost enough muscle tone that I’m hoping some of my perceived weight gain will turn out to be limp muscles.
But none of of that is actually why I’ve gone back to the gym.
I went back because I LIKE the gym. I don’t really like to sweat, I’ll admit. But I like to feel strong. I like the sense of camaraderie. I like to turn up my music to I CAN’T HEAR YOU and just do something for me for a while.
A lot of fat women are very intimidated by the gym. I can understand that. The world is full of a lot of people with nothing better to do than judge. I’m sure some of them are writing me ugly replies to this post right now. But you know what? If they aren’t being ugly to you about being fat at the gym? As sure as the sun rises, they’ll find something else to bother you about.
My experiences at the gym have been very pleasant. Rather than getting sneered at for my size or shape, I’m offered inclusive smiles and encouragement. It doesn’t matter who I am or what I look like. I showed up, I make an effort, and once you are a regular, that’s all that matters. So don’t let that hold you back. I need help manipulating one of the weight machines because of how fat I am and the way I’m shaped. I asked for help, and I get it, with smiles, because I’m there, and I showed up, and I’m doing my darnedest to get to a place where I won’t need help.
The one piece of advice I can give to those intimidated by the idea of ‘the gym’ is to find one that has an active senior population. This often means that the staff is just a little more patient and its much less likely to be a meat market. They are also more likely to have easy or beginner classes where you won’t be quite so overwhelmed.
In case you care, I came back at 15 mins on the elliptical at no particular resistance. Down from 25 minutes at a moderate resistance, but still way up from the 3 minutes that kicked my butt when I was first starting.
I had to work my way up to the fitness level of the average couch potato.