Conquering my fear of the gym

Submitted by Hillary on Mon, 10/09/2006 - 12:28am.

Changing my diet and paying attention to portion control has had a lot to do with my weight loss success so far, but exercise has played a huge part in the way my body has changed shape.  I actually belonged to a gym before I started trying to lose weight and get fit – I just didn’t go very much.  I’d show up periodically for yoga class, but that was pretty much it.  I didn’t like the gym.  Everyone else seemed so confident and so in shape already, and there I was, an uncoordinated loser who’d let herself get out of shape, who didn’t know how to use the machines and who didn’t fit in at all.  I was convinced I’d get on the elliptical machine and it would be exactly like the scene in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray’s character tries to use some piece of exercise equipment and it starts shouting instructions at him in Japanese and he can’t control it.

Well, my friends Amy and Becky belong to the same chain of gyms that I do, and when I knew I really had to commit to making a change in my life, I made plans to go with them to the one near my office.  I was terrified, but they showed me how to use the machines, didn’t laugh at me when I could only last 25 minutes or so, and kept me company while I got used to working out.  I got them to try yoga with me, and they both liked it.  Now Tuesdays and Thursdays are gym nights.  I’ll go on my own, too, but I never miss Tuesday or Thursday.  All that stuff you read in articles about having a workout buddy to help you stay motivated really is true.

Anyway, Becky and I signed up to do the Baltimore Race for the Cure in a couple of weeks.  It’s a 5k run, which works out to be 3.1 miles.  I regularly do 4 or 5 miles on the elliptical machine, but that’s not quite the same as running, so I thought I should try running it on the treadmill this weekend, just to be sure I could do it.  And I can…but it turns out I’m not nearly as fit as I thought I was.  25 minutes into the run, I had only gone about 1.7 miles, and I was completely miserable.  I was red faced and sweaty, my heart was racing, my tired legs were aching and I ended up having to slow down and walk for two minutes a couple of times.  Naturally, just to my right, there was this incredibly fit couple gliding along barely even breaking a sweat, looking perfect and most definitely not needing to slow down to a walk, ever.  And than I realized that finally, after months of going to the gym, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care.  Now I can just focus on me.