If you happened upon this post, you know that gym shopping was an intimidating experience for me. I mean I love you muscle heads and all, but sheesh! When you feel like you have (or had) pillars for legs and saddlebags a plenty, it’s hard to see all those tight, chiseled, arms, firm glutes and six packs everywhere.
Then I started to think about this woman I saw on a local documentary recently. The show is all about people who undergo cosmetic surgery to feel better about themselves. This lady went from a whopping 275 pounds to a slim and sleek 160 through clean eating and exercise, specifically weight training, power walking and Pilates. The segment focused on this lady being set to undergo cosmetic surgery to remove the excess skin from extreme weight loss. I recall her talking about the first time she walked into a gym when she hit rock bottom, and knew she needed to lose the weight. Let’s just say, she wasn’t exactly made to feel welcomed. Some gym patrons snickered, laughed and whispered as she went by in the locker room. They were not whispering so low that she couldn’t hear the insults though. She said she felt so humiliated and distressed, she didn’t return to the gym. On her way home, she stopped at the grocery store and bought a box of Pepper ridge Farm cookies. As she remembered the hurtful words that cut like a knife in that gym locker room, she ate the whole pack. There could have been a much better outcome here. Of course, it was a happy ending. She initially started a home gym and did end up losing weight and later joined a gym.
This really sickened me. When I see obese people in my gym, I always am encouraging. This is my duty as someone who has embraced health to encourage others in their journey and struggles. The gym is not a place for physical elitists. It is not the place to make fun of someone who is trying to make life-altering changes and is probably feeling vulnerable to begin with. It is not a place to be rude, disrespectful or hurtful. I was not obese, but I felt frumpy, lumpy and yes, dumpy. I have struggled with emotional eating, and to this day a poor body image. Everyday is a struggle to affirm something positive about my physical progress, but I do. I have to. If someone who has a weight problem is at the gym, they obviously have come to the realization that it time to make some lifestyle changes. So if you see someone who is a beginner to fitness, try to encourage, not discourage, try to build up, not knock down. Whether we are a size 4 or a size 24, we are all there for a common goal. There is one thing that binds us, we are all striving for wellness.
My tips for fitness newbies.
- If unsure about equipment, ask a trainer or floor staff for help. Remember safety must be considered first.
- If you are able, hire a personal trainer. They will get you on your way and devise a workout plan that is specific for you. Also, they will monitor your workouts to ensure safe form and your progress.
- Visit the resident dietician to help you along the way with your eating plan. This service is often covered in your health benefits. They will advise you about how and what you should be eating. If you do not have health benefits, your family doctor can help you with nutrition.
- Do not attempt an intense class like Tabata or Insanity right way. It is not safe for beginners, and will only discourage you. Ask a gym staff member about suitable classes for all fitness levels, and work your way up in intensity as you become fitter and stronger.
- Utilize the buddy system. Find a friend to join you on walks, workouts and to keep you motivated.
- Take one day at a time.
- And lastly, keep your eye on the prize. You are there for you, not anybody else. If someone happens to make a rude remark, that is their insecurity, not your problem. Keep on working out, and don’t stop because of another’s ignorance. Enjoy the fitness train because once you board, you will never want to get off.
- Visit the phenomenal link below to see some more stunning transformations, success stories and tips.