With the first semester of my Junior year over, I’ve found myself 15 pounds heavier than I should be. (Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a weight-loss blog, I just need to explain a bit more.) I’ve been struggling at the beginning of this year to take charge of my situation and do what needs to be done for the sake of my health. For the past two weeks I’ve been eating better, going to the gym almost regularly, and fighting off nightly temptation. There hasn’t been much difference yet but I know my plan is in its infancy, and I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Even though I’m not always eating right and consistent exercising is a tough habit for me to start, I’ve always tried to make it to the gym for their weekly BodyPump class. Everyone grabs a bar with various weights and does weight training and resistance-type exercises to great tracks with songs like Welcome to the Jungle and Summer of ’69. Though I love the music and the sense of accomplishment, mostly, I just go to socialize with my friends. I have about 4 or 5 good buddies who always join in and laugh along with me when another member of our group is totally out of rhythm or unable to use much weight. And after, we all sit around eating fruit smoothies.
This past Friday, after a rockin’ session of BodyPump, instead of going right for our fruit smoothies, my friends decided it’d be good to head to the weight room and do some ab exercises. Not good. The weight room is full of ripped guys with intense grimaces and torn shirts, drinking protein shakes, talking sports, and other manly stuff. Meanwhile, my stomach is bulging, my shorts are too tight, I already worked my butt off, and the last thing I want to see is a room full of big, bulgy men who are probably laughing at my body. We find a machine where you sit on an incline and lift yourself up to work your abs. I think people are watching. I don’t want to do it. I’m nervous I won’t be able to lift myself up and people will laugh. I’m scared and uncomfortable.
But, that’s not the worst of it. A few minutes in to our routine (rotating between ourselves) a beefed up guy in a sweaty, dark blue muscle shirt approaches. He briskly asks us when we’ll be done because he has been cycling between machines and needs this one. Right away. We all look at each other, then back at him to politely explain how we are a group who all want to take turns. He huffs and puffs and gets into it about being rude that we are going to monopolize the machine. “Excuse me, the gym is packed, you’ve never encountered the problem of someone using your machine before? With all the steroids you’re on, you can probably stand to miss one rep on this machine. Why don’t you go flex for yourself in the mirror instead?” He left, but kept giving us death stares while on another piece of equipment.
But, once my anger towards the insensitive jerk abated, I felt nervous about using the ab machine. I obviously wasn’t in shape enough to use it (like Muscles McGee), let alone be in the same room with this intimidating equipment.
I politely passed on my opportunity to use it, and after confused and slightly concerned looks from my friends, we went to get our smoothies.
Now for reflection time. I feel like I am perfectly comfortable with who I am, but sometimes, when confronted with things I don’t like about myself (my fitness level), I get nervous and upset. However, this situation should not have merited those feelings. Why did I feel so uncomfortable? Who really cares what I do? There probably wasn’t even anyone noticing me! I need to get out of my head, accept all of myself, and be fearless in the pursuit of being “true to myself”. Largely meaning doing what’s right only for me. Heck, I’m the girl who took pictures of the artwork in the lobby! I’ve been trying my best to be healthy! And it’s just a stupid machine! While I may have failed in the moment, looking back on the experience has shown me that I really shouldn’t care about my weight, fitness level, or bulked up gym comrades. All that matters is how I perceive myself, and the rest of the world can readjust itself to suit my perceptions.