After lots of contemplation about time and money I finally did it. I joined a gym. And since that time I’ve been having an internal debate about whether or not I should post about it.
For one thing I have a tendency to think I’m doing something for myself and the intrinsic value but as soon as I put it out publicly it becomes something else. I worry too much about pleasing people, letting them down, proving them
my inner critic right about my shortcomings. This needs to be for myself, not other people.
There is also the issue of how it feels when others praise me for exercise. It makes me really uncomfortable. I am a people pleaser BUT I get awkward and, at times, even oddly defensive when people actually express pleasure in my actions/choices. This is partly because it feels vain to accept praise and partly because I often feel condescended to from certain types of praise (especially the “Good for YOU!!” or “I’m SO proud of you!!” variety where people indicate that they’re glad you are FINALLY doing something about this godawful fat body of yours).
But more than anything, these Sunday Size-Up posts are a place for me to explore the ups and downs of my journey to be healthy without the trappings of weight loss and it feels necessary to explore the things I’m discovering during through this process. So, I decided to put the other issues aside and dive in.
This is by no means the first time I’ve joined a gym (or purchased equipment to use at home, or tried to start an exercise routine) but it is the first time I’ve done it without the ultimate goal of weight loss. I didn’t weigh myself to “track my progress”. I didn’t take any pictures of my body now to compare with my body later. I didn’t drag out a tape measure. There is a still small voice in the back of my mind that whispers, “Maybe you’ll lose some weight though.” But I CAN’T let that voice get too loud. For some people (most??) it wouldn’t be a big deal to have this thought, this secret hope. But for me it is. I don’t know if my eating disorders are the reason these little thoughts tend to take over or if I have eating disorders because they do but the result is the same. It will derail all of my efforts if I make working out about weight.
So, after the decision not to weigh, measure or photograph myself the next thing I had to do was figure out what type of movement makes me feel good. In the past I’ve based decisions about when, where and what type of exercise to do based on a lot of “shoulds”. I SHOULD exercise X amount of time Y times per week. I SHOULD save money by doing this type of workout in that place. I SHOULD do this type of exercise because it’s most efficient at burning calories. But not this time. I let go of the shoulds and just asked myself when do I feel strong and energized? What continues to bring benefits to my mood and physical self after the workout is complete? What types of exercise do I look forward to? What conditions make me want to avoid exercise? How can I plan for/prevent those conditions?
I took my time figuring out the answers to those questions and it feels really good to be focusing on exercise as a pleasurable endeavor in and of itself instead of a chore that must be endured for future happiness. One of the recurring themes we hear in weight loss propaganda is that we are wasting time being fat. But I wasted time worrying about being fat. Enjoying the way my body can move and the perceived limitations it can shed isn’t some distant dream that will come through work outs that punish my body but something I can have right now through movement that celebrates it. What a freeing concept!