Some of you know Trish from her comments here on HealthyGirl.org—she’s been a regular reader almost since the beginning. I first got to know her when she asked me how on earth someone was supposed to start to change the way they think about their bodies. Well, not only has she actually managed to change the way she thinks about her body, Trish has made some inspiring strides in her recovery overall. She’s here again today, this time in a guest post, to share with all of us. Thanks, Trish!
Of course I know exercise is key to being healthy and feeling better about myself…but I always found myself asking, “But how do I start?” The whole idea of the gym freaked me out—the one I belong to has mirrored walls basically everywhere and rows of cardio machines and weight machines (that look a lot more like medieval torture devices).
But my biggest problem with the gym? The people. I suffered with this complex that everyone at the gym was healthy and fit and thin, and that I would walk in there with my size 16 rear end and everyone would just chuckle to themselves. Here comes another one, they’d say to themselves, she’ll never make it past a week. I was also terrified of the locker room…women double my age with better bodies and perkier boobs and stronger arms would have to suffer watching me change into my too-tight sports bra and wide hips.
These thoughts are what plagued me through college and now in law school, before I started to make a change in the way I looked at myself (thanks a lot in part to HealthyGirl.org and you guys). But as the clothes I already had started getting tighter and I barely went out besides to go to class and get groceries, I knew a change needed to be made.
I’m 23 years old, I told myself one day, I shouldn’t be hiding from the world. I bought a gym membership, and I felt good. But then it was a matter of getting there with these thoughts still running through my head. It took a few times of me putting on my gym clothes, driving to the gym, sitting in my car for about 30 minutes then driving home all because I was too afraid to step inside. Then one day, after about 25 minutes, I told myself to stop being a big baby and get out of the car.
Step by step I walked into the gym, and actually got on a treadmill. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, people looked at me, but when I was on the treadmill I realized that I was casually glancing around at people too—not making judgments, or thinking poorly about them or myself, just looking. I walked for about 30 minutes and left, a little embarrassed that I didn’t even go a full mile…but I went back again, and that’s what matters.
What I, and what so many girls fail to realize is that those thoughts are all in our own heads. We must realize that what other people think does not matter. The bottom line is that no matter what size you are, you are getting your ass to the gym to feel healthier for yourself. When you walk a mile on that treadmill, those 45-year-old size 4 women with implants aren’t the ones who are getting the benefits of those endorphins—you are. When you get on the elliptical for the first time and go crazy for 10 or 15 minutes, and your legs feel a little wobbly when you get off, those women are not the ones who will feel a little stronger the next day—you are! So why should it matter what they think about you when you’re in there? They aren’t living your life, so why should they have this kind of influence over it?
By going there and focusing on what I was doing and how well I was doing it, I started to respect myself. I gradually stopped changing in the locker room and mentally apologizing to everyone around me for having to look at me. If they don’t like the way I look, then they don’t have to look at me. I’ve met plenty of people who are happy to look at me and don’t give a damn about my waist-to-hip ratio. I don’t have a stake in these strangers’ bodies or health, so they shouldn’t have a stake in mine.
I’ve been going to the gym pretty consistently for the last 6 months. I haven’t dropped a size, but I can definitely say I walk around with my head held higher. I feel tighter in places I didn’t know I could tighten. I’m confident even when I’m still the biggest girl in the room. And not only did I stop abusing myself and start going out and having fun, but I actually starting dating someone (which is a huge step for me).
Of course going to the gym isn’t a miracle worker—if you go to the gym you will not magically have all your dreams come true, but it’s a step in the right direction. So am I still a size 16? Yes…but I’m a happy 16. —Trish
And being happy and comfortable in our bodies, that’s what matters most, isn’t it? What gym experiences have you guys had lately? Please share wtih me, Trish, and the rest! xo…Sunny
Follow HealthyGirl.org on Twitter for a new BODY-SANITY or FOOD-SANITY tip every day!