My selfish workout: A conversation with a douchebag jock.

It takes a lot of courage for a fat girl to go to the gym.  It is something that skinny people, or even moderately chubby people, don’t really fully understand.  Because the overall message is this :  You don’t belong here.  Think I am being dramatic?  Consider this:  Most clothing specifically designed for sports and workouts do not come in my size.  I just miss the cut.  I can’t find sports bras in my size, I have to wear men’s sweats, a lacy decorative cami instead of those awesome tank tops that actually help deter sweat from pooling, and an oversized zip up hoodie to cover the fact that I am wearing a tank top.  The bounciness of my boobs (because I can’t even find a decent sports bra, remember) can only be described as indecent.  So I sweat it out in my pink hoodie.  And boy do I sweat.

Nonetheless, I am not going to stop going to the gym because I don’t look as fashionable as those cute, ponytailed blondes who can wear yoga pants without the slightest hint of a sausage reference.  I’m not there.  And that’s fine.  So I wear my sweats and get my ass over there.

Because, you know….  

Now, normally, I have a very healthy attitude toward working out:  I do my best.  Let’s examine those words closely, because I am a word nerd.  The first part is “I do.”  Working out is a commitment to myself.  No one else is going to do it for me.  No one else cares if I succeed.  I do.  The next important part is “my best.”  That doesn’t mean that my workouts are worthy of being in an exercise video.  That doesn’t mean that I try to keep up with the skinny girl next to me.  I do what is right for me.

For instance, I cannot do this… yet…  

But I can do this… 

And not just what is easy for me.  The “best” part of that means I push myself, even if my “best” is someone else’s warmup.  If I can go 5 more reps before collapsing, I go the extra five.  If I can up the speed or the incline of the treadmill without dying, I do it.  Because doing my best is about not cheating myself.  I do my best, no exceptions or excuses.

But I don’t work out in a vacuum either.  There are other people at the gym too, and unfortunately, sometimes they do judge.  Now, 90% of the time, they don’t.  Most people, shockingly, don’t care what speed I go or how many reps I do.   Just as I don’t count Mr. Bodybuilder’s number of reps, he’s not counting mine.  Most workout people do their thing and ignore me, which suits me just fine.

…and then there was today.

I had my first workout in this journey where I felt judged.  Let me set the scene for this conversation.  The gym was pretty busy tonight, busier than it has been before.  I got on the second-to-the-last treadmill, and someone took the last one shortly after.  Keep in mind there are 8 or 9 treadmills, plus lots of other equipment.  Now keep in mind, as a musician, my workout schtick is that I walk in tempo to my music, which I have arranged to increase in speed until the halfway point of my workout, at which point I start lifting instead of treadmilling.  Admittedly, my mix starts at a fairly easy walking tempo just to get going.  I’m listening to “Brand New Day” From Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.  In the words of Edgar Allan Poe  “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.”  I look over and see some dude I don’t know tapping on my arm.  Hark!  A wild conversation appears!

Muscly guy:  “Hey.  I was wondering if I could use that treadmill.”

Me:  “Well… I actually just got on not too long ago”  *looks around and sees that indeed, there are many people who were on before I even arrived.*

MG:  “Well, I just thought since you were walking, and I was gonna run, maybe you could just go walk somewhere else, since treadmills are really for running.  Like you can walk anywhere.  Like you could walk outside.”

Me:  *I had 3 quick reactions to what he said.  I will express them in the form of GIFs.*

and then…. 

followed quickly by…
“Sorry, man, but if I wanted to walk outside, I wouldn’t have a gym membership.  You could also theoretically run outside, and I got here first.”

Muscly guy:

  “Yeah, but treadmills are more made for running.”
Me:

“Look dude.  I think what you are getting at is that your workout is more important than mine because you’re better at it.  The fact that you run and I powerwalk doesn’t make your workout more important than mine.  Look at me, then look at you.  If anything my workout is probably more important in the scheme of things.  So… sorry, but I’m gonna stay on this treadmill for awhile.  I will be about 15 more minutes.”

I then jammed my earbud back into my ear as if to say…

*Muscly guy huffs away and goes and lifts weights or something.  I don’t know.  I stayed on the treadmill an extra ten minutes longer to be a douche.  Oops.*

Here is my workout declaration after this encounter:
I don’t work out to be the best in the gym, I work out to be the best I can be.
My workout is just as important as anyone else’s.
My progress may be slower than others’, but it is still my progress.
I don’t care if you think I don’t belong here in the gym; I know I do.
I don’t care if I look good while working out.  I know I look a mess.  But the idea is that eventually I will stop looking a mess and look awesome instead.
I will be fair to my fellow workout people as long as they are fair to me.

This also really gets me thinking:  There’s a lot of hate for fat people right now, which to some extent I understand.  People see fat people as lazy people who don’t have a ton of willpower.  Obviously this isn’t true of all people who are fat.  There are plenty of medical issues that lead to weight gain.  But I would absolutely be lying if I didn’t own up to the fact that I got here, to this weight because it was easier to give in and eat what was fast and easy than making the conscious decision to be healthy.  I was absolutely lazy about my diet, and my exercise consisted of walking to and from classes.  So yes:  I got here because I was lazy and had a lack of willpower to change.  I own that.  Am I lazy overall?  Nope.  But in the area of fitness, I sure as hell have been.  So the judgment I got as a fatty… was at least somewhat deserved.

But the thing is, I have made a decision that I’m not going to be those things anymore.  And yet, I feel like I get more judgment now than I did when I was just okay with being fat.  Why would you judge a fat person who is at the gym?  Clearly they are making a good decision.  So let’s stop creating this idea of “You don’t belong here,” because it is bullshit.  And fellow fatties, declare your worth.  We DO belong here.  We deserve to make this change, without judgment.  We are taking and sticking to a really, really difficult journey.  You have my respect, whether you are taking the first step of your journey or the millionth.  So can I have your respect in return?

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Sarah (4 years ago)

That guy obviously has absolutely no clue on God’s green earth how hard it is for some people to go to the gym! You go girl!! I’m a heck of a lot thinner than I used to be but somehow I am mentally still huge when I try to step foot in a gym. Dude was obviously selfish beyond belief. Sounds like you’re doing awesome!! Keep it up!!

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