I was so intimidated by the gym.  Thought for sure people were going to judge me when I started.  I actually “started” three times in recent years.  Each time was an act of courage.  And the third time was the scariest.  Why?  Because I had started and failed twice before.  Prior to that, I probably started and failed diets a dozen times.

Now that I’m not “fat chick” on the outside anymore (FYI – fat chick is alive and well inside my head.  That’s another blog someday), I’ve learned that the ONE place I was NOT judged was at the gym.  People look in each other’s grocery carts in line – you know it happens.  I got drive through instead of going inside at Taco Bell.  Told myself it was “convenient”, but I knew I didn’t want to be seen ordering what I was about to order.  I’d eat moderately when in public and binge by myself or when it was just Paul and I.  I hardly ever went clothes shopping – the clothes I liked didn’t fit, or if they did, I didn’t like the reflection in the dressing room mirror.

Truth is – even if the gym was the most intimidating place for me to go, it really was the safest.  

I’ve learned that everyone at the gym – really everyone – is doing their own thing.  If there were guys looking around, they weren’t looking at me.  I was invisible to almost everyone.  I did my own thing with my headphones – as did just about everyone else.  Truth is, there are a LOT of former fat people at the gym.  Everyone has a story.  And most are happy to see someone new start the same journey.

When I was comfortable enough and when I knew I needed it, I asked for help.  Then I wasn’t invisible anymore.  That’s when a  support team materialized.  My bodybugg came with a coach – and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.  Then the trainers took over.  I just had to show up and do what I was told.  I didn’t need to worry about whether I was doing the right stuff the right way.  And despite the fact that there were problems that ended my training, I really didn’t need it anymore.  I had guidance and support when I most needed it – when I was at risk of quitting.   And not just the trainers – the other members became “gym friends”.  It was just another layer of accountability.  They all got me through.

I felt intimidated when I started at American Iron, too.  By that time, I was in better shape, but I was a little scared of the place because I didn’t think I knew enough about lifting to really fit in there.  That might have been true, but when I showed up, I was welcomed and made to feel comfortable.  I was introduced around.  It felt like I was “adopted”.  I still have some insecurities about looking stupid.  Doesn’t matter.  I do it anyway.  I’ve got plenty of experience at looking stupid in the gym.  I’ve gotten used to it.  I know that after a bit, I get the hang of things.

Look – you won’t feel comfortable right away.  The trick is to show up every day.  Become a “regular”.  Pretty soon, the place feels very familiar and people notice when you aren’t around.   There is a sense of belonging, even if you  workout alone.  People say “hi” and leave you alone.  Or, they may even compliment you on your progress.  I’ve learned that everyone appreciates a “Hey – have you lost weight?  You look great” comment every so often.

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