What I am learning about myself by being a fat person in the gym!

What I am learning about myself by being a fat person in the gym!

My New Friend

My New Friend

  1. Mirrors are not my friend
  2. Sports clothes are not my friend
  3. I am my friend
  4. Most gym users are not my friend
  5. Some gym users could be my friend

My journey from disordered eating to health is an interesting and (so far) an incomplete one. I feel like I should explain my journey thus far, as briefly as possible (famous last words.)

Here is the cliff notes version of the last 35 years of my life.

I started feeling sad and bad about myself at around age 10, I felt different for a variety of reasons, and I didn’t know what to do with my feelings so I ate them.

Cut to 27 years later and after trying to feel better about myself in a variety of unhealthy ways, one of those being by trying to find someone to love me, I ended up single and pregnant. This turned out to be the catalyst for me wanting some answers about why I used food the way I did. I also I felt damn sure I didn’t want to mess up the life of this glorious little boy who had entered my world, by repeating the same destructive patterns of relating that I had previously used to try and make myself feel better.

I went to therapy, I then trained to become a therapist, I had more therapy, and then gradually throughout that training, I got to know me. As it turns out, this was all I needed to do all along, know and love and accept me for the wonderful me that I am.

It seems obvious to me now, that any lasting change needs to come from a place of love not hate. I spent 30 + years wishing I was different, hoping to be loved for me, hating how I looked, hating the lack of dignity I had, hating that fact that I was equally invisible and noticeable.

I fell in love with me, I learned to find other ways of coping with my feelings rather than eating them and I have finally realised I no longer need to hurt myself with this particular coping mechanism of over eating and self hatred.  I now seem to be able to naturally make decisions about what is good for me based on the fact that I deserve good things. If you love something, you want to take care of it and treat it well.

BUT I had no idea how to do that. So I turned to Google and my cousin!

One of the problems about being very overweight is that any exercise, can feel painful, uncomfortable and downright embarrassing. Just walking into a gym takes balls the size of Texas, fortunately I have those, and I also managed to pluck up the courage to ask for help.

I googled how to lose weight and avoid excess skin sagging when you are very overweight and found this little gem of a site http://www.stumptuous.com/no-fat-chicks

Turns out that weight training is a perfect start for someone like me, who can’t do massive amounts of cardio or aerobic exercise, not to mention how that’s almost next to impossible when you are carrying so much extra weight.  Also it makes the body more efficient as well as helping to avoid saggy skin.

I booked a session at my gym and took the suggested training schedule from the site with me in the hope that a) she wouldn’t laugh at me or make me feel bad, and b) she’d be able to tell me what some of the words meant. For someone who has had no connection with their body for a long time, Lats, Bench Presses, Shoulder Presses and various other terms, meant nothing to me at all.

My trainer was excellent, very supportive and clearly told me everything I needed to know about how to use the equipment.

My cousin is all about the weight training and she gave me some excellent pointers as well as recommended a great app (my fitness pal) and fitness people to follow and has been super supportive when I’ve had a bad day.

So all that leads me to here, today. Week 5. I never thought I’d be here, I never thought it would feel so easy to take care of myself. I never thought I would be weighing, calorie counting or enjoying the gym.

It’s early days, but so far so good. I’m less worried about what I’m losing or weighing or eating, more it’s become about making good choices, choices that my body and soul thank me for.

This leads me to the points above about what I am learning about myself through being a gym person.

  1. Mirrors are not my friend: Truth be told, this isn’t always the case. Part of learning to love who I am has been about learning that I will have good days and bad days. Like any healthy relationship, there are days when you might wish things were different, you might have a day when you don’t particularly like the other person. But healthy ways of relating require communication and honesty. Now I can say to myself, ‘right now I might not like what I see in the mirror, but tomorrow that will change, even in half an hour that might change and I don’t need to punish or hurt myself any more’

    I now have way more days of loving myself, than not. At the gym though, there is one mirror that is really not my friend which leads me to my second point.

  2. Sports clothes are not my friend: It’s a bloody mission to find clothes that fit when you are bigger than this ridiculous ‘average’ that most shops and media seem to pedal in an attempt to make you feel shit about yourself.  So times that by 20 when trying to find comfortable, and attractive sports clothes. It’s one of the things that I have to come to terms with, so I won’t moan about it too much here.
  3. I am my friend: I love going to the gym! It’s so weird to say that. 4 weeks ago I wouldn’t have said that. But I am loving that I get to go and use the weights and feel my body working. It’s making me connect with myself in a way that brings tears to my eyes as I write this. (Good tears, not painful tears)

    I feel connected with myself in a way that I have NEVER felt before. I love the feeling the next day when I can feel that ache that tells me I’ve used my body in a good way. I have given my body a gift and it’s thanking me for it. (Ok that’s a stretch, but that’s how I’m trying to look at it)

  4. Most gym users are not my friends:  People at the gym do not make eye contact or chat! This is both a good and a bad thing. I’d rather not be hassled or talked to when I am working out, I’m in the zone. I’ve psyched myself up to even just walk in the door, I’ve switched off the voice in my head that usually tells me what everyone else is thinking when I walk into the room, and I am ready to work. However point 5….
  5. Some gym users could be my friend: One lady has dared to break the gym code and actually ask me how I was getting on. I really valued this, as I love human contact and it was really nice to be able to say, ‘it’s hard, but it’s going great’. She was really encouraging, not at all patronising, and it was nice to make a ‘friend’.

Eating and exercise are not the only ways that I am challenging myself to make good choices. There are many things that I am doing that are making me step out of my comfort zone, but that’s another blog.

For now and forever, I am on a journey. I will continue to fall deeper in love with myself, I will continue to make good choices and I will continue to see big changes because my insides (metaphorically) are now more healed and healthy, my outsides and physical world can now start to get in line with how I feel about myself internally.

Being prepared to be vulnerable is one of the ways I am changing. Hence this blog post!

Thanks for reading.

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About amywriting

I love words. I love the way they sound, the meaning they have, the way that they are used. I love their power, their creativity and how descriptive and evocative they can be. Any chance that I get to be creative and use words well gets me very excited. I love poetry, song, art, music, photography, baking, creating, experimenting and laughing!

Posted on September 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hey Amy – this is great. Good for you. I’ve never been much of a fan of gyms – for many of the reasons you mention. Always made me feel self-conscious, especially when someone on a machine next to me was going great guns at twice the speed, and I was turning purple and struggling to breath! Sounds like you have a good approach going – I hope you continue to enjoy it more & more.
    I completely agree with and understand what you said about connecting with your body in a way you hadn’t before. I’ve always been quite active, but it’s become a bigger aspect of my life over the last couple of years. I think the thing that keeps compelling me to get on my bike, or even just go for a walk, is that it makes me so aware of my physicality. I really love cycling (did you notice?!) – friends often assume that going for a long cycle is my ‘thinking time’, when I work things out in my head. It totally isn’t. When I go for a long cycle, I switch my mind off to the things that are going on, and I focus on what my body is doing. I’m aware of how my legs feel turning the pedals – I can feel it working all the way up into my core. I’m conscious of taking my weight on my arms, and using my weight to drive me up hills. Hills are great, because I can feel each muscle, and I can choose which ones to engage – the benefit of being clipped to the pedals. I get into this great headspace, where I’m using my body to the max, but my mind is also on what my body is doing and how it’s feeling. I don’t sort out life’s issues – I escape them. It’s made me realise just how much I had been neglecting my physicality, and not considering it as something that was important to my mental state.
    So, the short response is – enjoy the newly discovered relationship with your physicality! Oh, and the sports clothing thing, I agree is ridiculous. I usually wear size 12 – I went to JJB Sports a while back to buy running shorts. The 12 would barely go over my knees, 14 didn’t make it past my hips, 16 reached my waist but I could barely breathe – according to how they’d sized their stuff, I was an 18. I didn’t buy the shorts, and went home feeling pretty miserable about myself. The whole industry just seems designed to make women feel crap – it’s really frustrating. Have you had any joy with online retailers?
    Well done you.xx

    • Emma! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. I love what you say about cycling. I can’t believe that about the shorts. For me its the same with outdoor clothing. Someone could make a fortune making well designed sports and outdoor weather clothing for plus size people, as surely we have just as much right to get outside or exercise. It’s a horrible thing, and doesn’t leave you with a great deal of dignity! Cheers.

  2. shelley pritchard

    Amy you have written this so beautifully, All types of people can relate to this with weight issues or other issues. Thank you for this xxx

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