Quick note about my picture…I took this on my very first run/walk around our local track…it was so beautiful and encouraging! God is so good!
This is a really emotionally raw post for me, I am still hesitant, but I want to encourage others, so I am closing my eyes and jumping.
UGH, MIA Again! A few reasons, one of which is summer school; yes, we do school ALL SUMMER here at Young Academy in Central Oklahoma because many days are too hot and miserable to do anything else! One other thing that has made me considerably busier AND more exhausted is the fact that I have finally taken charge of my health and am going to the gym almost every morning. Yes. Me. Every.single.morning. AND since it IS summer, after I have tortured myself for an hour and a half at the gym I find it necessary to take the kids to the pool/splash area of the gym for another hour or two and AFTER all that we do school!
What I really want to talk about is why people who are overweight and obese avoid the gym, and hopefully I can reach a few of you and help you to overcome the fears you have.
So the first reason is probably pretty obvious, you are afraid everyone is going to stare, gawk, and laugh. And if you have never had a weight problem, don’t chime in here and say nobody will do this, because I can assure you, it is done. You see, about a month ago I was running with a friend (before I joined the gym) and we were doing well and making great progress, but someone drove by and yelled at us (though probably me as this friend is much leaner than I) “run fat @#$ run”. Now, while I didn’t actually take offense to this (though it does make me sad that some people weren’t raised with basic manners) I know MANY people would be discouraged by this. I mean, as if someone isn’t hard enough on themselves, you want to take it upon yourself to put them down for this situation. Sure, many people get themselves into this ordeal, but it isn’t always a problem of overeating and sedentary lifestyle. While I may have not been working out for the last few…several…ok many years, I am a very active person and eat relatively healthy!
So, no, they don’t want to be put down because it is hurtful and makes the first step even harder to take. So PLEASE, consider your brother/sister before you make harsh judgments and spew unkindness out of your mouth. The first step is hard, but support makes it so much easier.
Another reason people shy away from the gym is intimidation. I mean, those machines are scary am I right!? I started on the treadmill (with the same friend who went running with me) and then went to the weight “machines” with picture instructions but avoided anything else if my pal wasn’t with me because I didn’t know how to use them and they looked scary. I mean, I do NOT want to end up on an episode of AFV being the person who flies off the treadmill or busts the mirror in the weight room when I send the weights flying! (As I edit this, I really feel the need to mention a gym episode the other day where my gbff and I were using exercise balls and repeatedly rolled off of them…I am really waiting to see us on AFV because we were laughing at ourselves at that point!) I just want to hide in a corner and do my thing, but I also was too…proud or nervous or something to go and ask someone how things work. I mean, what kind of world do we live in when we are afraid to ask for help for fear of looking stupid? When I was younger I was always told the only stupid question is the one left unasked and here I am in my 30’s (ok hahaha, that is a total lie…I’m a teen alright 😉 ) and I am afraid to ask a simple question about a piece of machinery that could possibly hurt me if I were to use it incorrectly! GUYS, THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS! But really, this is a huge factor is gym fear. It’s intimidating. AND we live in a world where we are afraid to ask questions because people laugh at everyone for everything…which kind of stinks.
So the final reason I am giving today is the cost. Now, we are BLESSED that Scott has a workplace which reimburses us for HALF of our membership. That is an amazing blessing to us because it actually makes joining and going a goal that we can reach instead of being something we just wish we could do. Now, we do give up other things to afford our gym membership, but these are probably things we didn’t need anyway so we don’t miss them, but the reality is that gyms are generally expensive. There are some gyms who have wonderful prices of something like $10 a month or so, but these aren’t available near me, so not a feasible option, and I don’t know that it includes the family (read that as ‘childcare) so we still get a steal with our half off deal. The Y in our town also does scholarships for up to 40% off monthly, but the kicker to this is the fees have to be paid 3 months at a time which ends up not being affordable after all. SO (yes, I know, I say “so” a lot”) ya, affordability is actually a big deal.
Any who, so my point is…well, there are a few. One is, if you happen to have a few extra bucks lying around, think about donating it to a gym scholarship fund at your local Y. Even though the dues must be paid up front and it can be hard, they offer up to 40% relief with their scholarships and that can be a huge blessing for someone struggling with their weight or self-image that has a tighter budget. Another thing we can ALL do is support our local parks and participate actively in our community by hosting and/or walking in charitable events which will support health and well-being in our communities. We have a decent track with some basic work out tools in a park just off the track. This is an AMAZING tool for those who simply cannot afford a gym membership! BUT, these things are paid for by communities and businesses, so get involved!
My next point is, if you are a member of a gym and see a new face AND you see that new face looking confused or seeming to struggle with using equipment, jump in and offer some tips and advice! This stuff is overwhelming! I mean, you’ve got weights and balls and stretching machines (I am seriously SO thankful I ran into a friend from church who showed me how to use the stretch master 5k [ok, I made the title up], it’s a new favorite!), there are rowing machines and elliptical machines and arc trainers…seriously, I don’t even know the names of everything, but help your fellow man out, please! It takes like five seconds to be a kind person, and you could change the other person’s life!
Finally, be a gym buddy to someone. I am SO thankful for my gym bestie (that’s your new name, Erica, I JUST made that up!). We hold each other accountable; we cheer each other on when one of us wants to give up; and we take turns looking up different workouts to do. This journey is so hard sometimes, and having a friend makes it so much easier, and I want to tell you a little why taking this journey with a friend is so important for me, personally, and why it can be so important to someone else. I struggle. I KNOW I have mentioned this before, but I have stupid hormones that don’t work right in a body that also doesn’t work right and it takes me twice as long to lose one annoying pound as it does for “normal” people. And it is frustrating! Just last night I was literally crying to Scott about how frustrated I am because I began “running” two months ago, joined the gym the Monday after Mother’s day and I have lost roughly ten pounds. I don’t eat terribly; I actually eat pretty wholesome foods 85% of the time, so this super Galapagos tortoise speed of weight loss is SO frustrating to me. Thank GOD I have my friend, and now my sister, joining me almost daily during this struggle because I honestly feel like people wouldn’t believe how hard I work if I didn’t have witnesses, and I would give up on myself without them. So, you see, being a gbff (gym best friend foreva) could change someones life…foreva! Plus, it’s just nice to have a friend!
So again, I just want to urge you, be kind to your fellow man. You have NO IDEA what their struggles are. I have never had an eating disorder, and until I was pregnant, I never struggled with my weight, but it isn’t something that is easy to overcome. Be NICE to people you see putting effort into bettering their lives! Lift up one another in love and be humble. You may not struggle with your weight, but you have your own struggles and you don’t want to be put down.
It’s amazing how far away our culture has come FROM practicing the “golden rule”.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).
I’m not a hippie, but really, sometimes all we need is love…and support…and encouragement.