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I’m Lovin’ It

by on April 13, 2013

Hopefully the title triggers the McDonald’s ad tune in your ear.

Since this is “Fat Guys vs. Gym” you can imagine that I’ve had a large fries and a Chicken McNugget or two… and plenty of bad food from other sources on top of that. The sad fact is, I like my junk food. I probably won’t ever give it up completely.

In one sense, I love it, probably too much.

I never was a huge fan of fitness, though. Constant pain, a general lack of athletic skill, and a tendency toward sloth team up to provide weak but easy excuses. Fear of failing a PT test in the military was about the only thing that kept me motivated to work out, and even then, it wasn’t enough to keep me out of trouble.

The fact is, to get fit, you have to love it.

This post went a little off-course, but I think it’s something that needs to be said.

For many, exercise is a best friend, an old flame, a constant companion. They welcome going to the gym and getting their fit on.

But for some of us, it’s difficult to get up and get moving. It’s embarrassing to be seen at the gym, pushing our floppy flabby selves around. We fear the snickers when we settle for the weighted bar at the bench or when we huff and puff around the track. It’s frustrating and shameful sometimes when our bodies rebel and we feel like we can’t do a particular exercise.

Comments like “Well, maybe if you weren’t so fat…” and “Then put down the fork” don’t help. They don’t encourage people to improve. They only put people in their place. It’s funny that in a culture that values respect and tolerance for others seemingly above all else, it’s open season on fat people. And the response is, “They deserve it, because they can go do something about it, but they don’t.” And that kind of response is part of the reason why so many don’t.

It takes guts to walk into the gym or onto the track, knowing that you “don’t belong,” under the gaze of staring and judging eyes. Some people are amazing and resilient, and they lift their heads up proud as if to say, “Yes, I know, but I’m here and I don’t care what you think.” Not everyone is that strong.

So what makes the difference?

I’ve had friends come alongside to say, “I would like to run with you, if you’d like.” I’ve had co-workers take time to meet with me and include me in their workouts. One friend would knock on the door at 3 AM for weekday sessions.

I’ve met fitness professionals who were friendly and welcoming, encouraging and inspiring. When I applied to become a Spin instructor, they did not laugh or roll their eyes or say “You don’t fit in.” They were excited with me, knowing that we all were in the business for different reasons.

I worked out with people who weren’t willing to see me put myself down for failure, who challenged me to do better because they knew I could. They celebrated my successes, and they critiqued my failures, but always with a desire to see me meet or beat my goals.

I had a co-worker come out and run my PT test with me. He knew the time I wanted, but on the last quarter mile, he told me, “Dude, you only have 20 seconds left. You gotta hustle!” I sprinted out the last bit, and was shocked when my time was about 30 seconds less than anything I’d ever done before. He tricked me, but he got me to exceed my goal. And he celebrated with me at the end.

I’ve felt the camaraderie and collective misery in group fitness, when we’re all tired and the instructor tells us to do another circuit, or to add more resistance on the bike. And my friends and I have complained to each other later as we struggle to make it up flights of stairs or to lift heavy objects, muscles burning from that strenuous workout. I’ve felt the difference between rushing up a hill to feel invigorated at the top, and plodding up the hill out of breath. I’ve seen how much better I feel when I stay active.

Now I want to work out. I’m excited about getting back to the gym. I’m eager to walk around now that my cast is off, not just to get the foot healthy again, but to get that feeling of exertion back. Nike+ Kinect is calling to me, saying “It’s been a while.” The rowing machine looks inviting. I don’t flee at the sight of scales, or wince every time I think of what I’m eating.

I really do love it. A little, at least.

None of that would have changed if I didn’t have support, friendship, encouragement, and affirmation.

How about you? What do you love about fitness, and more importantly, what made you come to love it? Maybe there’s someone who needs a friend to come alongside and encourage them, to be their supporter, silencing any self-hate and gently reminding them, “Yes, you can do this.”


From → Take a Breather

  1. DL Hammons permalink

    I’m a member of the A-Z team just checking in. Glad to see that everything is going smoothly for you during the Challenge! 🙂

    • It’s definitely proved to be a challenge! But it has been great fun too. Thanks for checking up on it.

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