Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Gym

I biked three miles yesterday. I never understood when people said they felt good after exercising. In my past it was always enmeshed with shame, self loathing, embarrassment, and a million other negative emotions brought on by the people whose only goal was to make me thin, regardless of what it was doing to my physical and emotional health. It's a completely different animal when you do this shit for no one other than yourself. When you work with your limitations instead of being forced to do things that leave you feeling broken and completely incapable. I totally get it now.  I wake up wanting to go.  It’s weird, really, but awfully nice.

I asked when it was the least busy and intentionally go when there are fewer people there.  It’s me and dozens of older folks.  Which is probably why I’m enjoying it so much.  Little old men exercising in their jeans and polo shirts, women in shirts covered with flowers and rhinestones.  The recumbent bikes are next to and face the indoor track and I watch these couples in their 70s slowly walking around it, holding hands.  This place is just so welcoming and helpful and non judgmental.  I really lucked out in this place being so close to me.  I know that in any sort of typical gym I’d dread going and would probably run in the other direction instead. 

I get on a recumbent bike and pedal my ass off.  Not caring about how my shirt keeps riding up or that I’m sweating like a motherfucker.  For whatever reason, I feel strong and determined and amazing.  And I love it!  I actually find myself wanting to go.  I think, eventually, I’ll care less about the place being empty but right now it helps a lot that it is.

My current goals are fairly basic.  1) Bike for five miles, 2) build up the courage to use the machines in the weight room, and 3) walk a mile - 12 laps around the indoor track.  They’ll take some time but they’re manageable goals that I know I can make happen.  I’m excited to do this for my body.  I’m excited to move my body, to make it feel better, to slowly push myself little by little.  I’m excited to give my body what it needs.  Because my body deserves it.

9 comments:

  1. I used to ride the bike too back in the days when I exercised faithfully. I got so that I could ride for about 60 minutes....then I got caught up with life and work and never could get back to the previous goals. Good for you, though.

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  2. YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

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  3. I've been lurking on your site and Twitter for years, and never had any reason to post, but as one of those workout fiends, I had to post. If you ever feel self-conscious at the gym, just know that those of us who live there are not making fun of you. If anything, we're focused on our own workouts and don't really notice anyone else. But nothing makes me happier than seeing a fat person hauling ass on a treadmill, machine, bike, or even just running down the road. When you're working and sweating and grunting and ugly, that's when you're at your most beautiful, and you get nothing but respect from all of us. Anyone who would dare to make fun of a person for improving her health has bigger problems than fitness. It's easy to get to the gym when you're already in the habit of going, so we understand how hard it can be the first few times. And we don't judge...or if we do, we judge you favorably.

    If you're concerned about the weight machines, try to get a session with a trainer. They can show you how to operate the machines and perfect your form so you don't get hurt. You should only need one or two sessions just to make sure you operate the machines safely; if you're not going for the Olympics or training for a dance crew, there's no reason to have a standing appointment with a trainer. But I'd hate to see you stop going to the gym because the machines intimidate you or you get hurt on one.

    Also, I love going to the gym with the olds. They're so chill. And some of those old guys and gals can totally kick my ass. The worst is going to the gym with college kids, who treat it like a happy hour minus the drinks.

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  4. Heidi! No machines! No! Free weights! Free weights are great! And they promote natural range of motion and the development of assistance muscles. FREE WEIGHTS.

    I'm sorry, long-time reader, first-time poster, but seriously seriously SERIOUSLY FREE WEIGHTS, I am going to have a conniption from my compound lifting zealotry. Read Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength, and look forward to a physical experience of joy and wonderment.

    PS, I'm a fat woman in a weight room full of jacked dudes, and no one's ever been anything but nice to me ever. FREE WEIGHTS.

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    1. I never even considered free weights until you left this! I'm excited now. Especially because a lot of the machines have these really small seats that I know I won't be comfortable in. Look at you making me all excited!!! <3 <3 <3

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    2. OMG YAY. Because the great thing about free weights—aside from the fact that they develop muscular support, not just one targeted muscular group, which I imagine might be really good for your particular physical situation—is that they fit EVERYONE. You do what works with them. Also, a simple beginner's compound lifting routine is incredibly, mind-bendingly simple and adaptable—no circuits, no "bodypart days," no "muscle confusion," no broscience, no bullshit. Krista at Stumptuous.com has some information for beginners that I read when I was precontemplating starting to lift (she's reasonably HAES-friendly).

      I will say that I have enjoyed the use of the hip ab- and adductor machine, but because machines are so targeted, they're only really valuable if they address a very specific need or imbalance.

      Also I will talk to you about lifting ANYTIME. I LOVE that you're excited!

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    3. I'd love it if you could maybe help me figure out a beginners routine? Only if you have time, of course. I'm at thesugarmonster @gmail

      Thank you so much!

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  5. Heidi!! I have been a lurker on your blog for...wow, guess it's been years now! I first found you through a link from Shapely Prose. Anyway, I just wanted to say how excited I am for you to read this post, that you have a way to move your body in an accessible, shame-free environment. We've never met, but I'm cheering for you all the way. You'll make it to five miles before you know it!

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    1. Awwwww!! Thank you for being so sweet! And, I promise, you cheering me on helps so much! <3

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