“I’m too tired.”
“It’s too late.”
“It’s going to be too crowded.”
“I’ve got too much to do at home.”
“I just can’t get up that early.”
These were all excuses that I have used over the years (months? weeks?) to not go to the gym. Early morning is much too hard. After work tends to be very crowded and, well, I am tired and it is late and I do have a lot to do at home. I have been ignoring the obvious solution and allowing myself to make excuses.
When I was in the sixth grade I was required, as was every other student in the school, to take PE. I happened to have PE in the second to last period of the day. This was fortunate as we were not required to take showers after gym class and I can’t imagine having sat through the whole day in my sweaty skin. Not having to take a shower was a blessing for me, because I was terribly insecure about my body and the last thing I wanted was to subject myself to the taunting and teasing and ridicule that I was sure would come from the other mean, mean boys in my class. We were however required to change into gym clothes and I remember I used to stall as much as I possibly could in the locker room. I didn’t want to look at anybody and I didn’t want anybody to see me looking at anybody, thereby subjecting me to yet another round of “Kevin is a faggot” jokes that I endured entirely too often as it was. But that wasn’t the motivation that kept me stalling in the locker room. It was my own shame and embarrassment at the idea of having to change clothes in front of other people and I waited till the last possible moment to change.
In High School, I was required to take one year of PE, however I could trade that one year of PE for three years of music. This was a no-brainer for me because I loved music and was in choir class every year anyway. I would have taken choir even if it hadn’t gotten me out of taking PE. That it got me out of PE class was just icing on the cake.
Through-out my childhood, teenage years and most of my early adulthood I avoided any situation that precipitated taking off my clothes in front of other people, opting instead to change clothes in bathrooms and closets if necessary. Anything to not have to take off my clothes in front of people. Even people I was related to. Even people I was having sex with.
I was sort of enjoying running the lake after work because, even though it was late, I didn’t have to worry about the crowds or knowing what I was doing. I just got out there, ran the lake, and then went home. No crowds, no locker rooms, no gang showers or public nudity, just the open “fresh” air (everything’s relative when you’re running around a man-made lake – by the way, those of you up north would consider this a pond, what with being able to see from one side to the other with the naked eye.) It worked for me. I was getting regular exercise, I was burning calories and I was making progress. But as you know if you read this blog, I was also having problems.
Shin splints were getting the better of me and on the advice of a Physical Therapist I stopped, temporarily (or so I intended) until I get some more weight off and/or make some progress in other areas. The PT’s recommendation was to work on the elliptical machine until I developed more endurance (and lost more weight) and she said once I could consistently do the elliptical machine for thirty minutes then I could start incorporating running in my routine again.
I took her advice and stopped running the lake with the best of intentions of going to the gym and using the elliptical machine and, oh yeah, I really need to buckle down and start lifting weights too, only… well… “It’s too late.” “I’m too tired.” etcetera, etcetera.
Last week-end, while doing my weekly shopping, I bought a couple of cheap towels, a bigger gym bag, a bottle of body wash, a can of deodorant, a pair of rubber flip-flops and a pad lock. I made up my mind that despite my fear and anxiety, despite my deep seeded, residual shame and embarrassment, it was time I gave going to the gym “on my lunch break” a try, and yet I still managed to make excuses all last week.
This is a new week. I made up my mind. I scheduled it on my calendar.
I went to the gym today. I went to the location closer to my office and I went at 1:30 in the afternoon when I hoped it would be less busy. I took my bag, slung it over my shoulder and I walked into the locker room with my head held high. I acted like I owned the place – well, anyway, I acted like I belonged there. I found an unused locker that wasn’t surrounded by other guys in various stages of changing clothes and I set about preparing myself for my endeavor. I sorted out my things and changed out of my work clothes and into my gym clothes. I didn’t pay any attention to anyone else. I didn’t about worry whether, or knowing if, anybody was paying attention to me. I just did what I went there to do; what we had all gone there to do. I locked up my things, headed to the floor and did my work-out.
I managed to spend ten minutes on the elliptical machine which is five minutes longer than I thought I could and only the last minute and a half sucked. When I finished that I spend 35 minutes on the treadmill walking at 3.5 mph. I have to admit it felt a little like going backwards. The last time I exercised, I ran for several minutes and walked the rest of the 3.5 miles of the trail. But on the other hand it felt like a step forward. It felt good just to be there, just to be taking action and working toward my goals.
When I finished, I went back into the locker room to face my biggest fears, but once again, I acted as though I were perfectly comfortable with the situation and just hoped that no one could see that I was shaking. After stripping off my sweaty clothes and grabbing my supplies, I walked into the shower room found an open stall and cleaned up. I was taken aback for a moment when I realized that while they have individual shower stalls with glass doors at the gym by my house, this gym by my office just has glass partitions between each shower head, but no doors or curtains for privacy. I wasn’t very happy about that, but I was already committed.
But you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. Nobody was paying attention to anyone else. Nobody was pointing and laughing. Nobody made “Kevin is a faggot” jokes. It was no big deal at all.
And the best part is, as soon as I hit the “publish” button on this post, I can go home and make dinner and take care of the other stuff I have to, without delaying it by going to the gym first, or feeling guilty ’cause I didn’t do anything for exercise today.
Despite my lack of regular gym attendance, I have continued to lose weight albeit slowly. Among many other, far more quality reasons, I pushed myself to get back to the gym because I have been hovering in the neighborhood of 250 pounds for some time now and if I want to push past that plateau, I’m going to have to do more than just eat properly 80% of the time.
That being said, I have lost a grand total of 58 pounds and it definitely shows in the way my clothes fit. Last Friday, I wore this shirt for the first time in 5 years, It was purchased to be part of a New Year’s Eve outfit, worn that night, and never again, because I soon gained back enough weight that it never looked right on me again. I’ve still got a way to go, but for those of you who read my posts about meeting Aisha Tyler last year and saw my fat ass picture standing next to her lovely thinness, you will see that progress has indeed been made!