Gym anxieties of a self-proclaimed semi-attractive female
A little bit about my recent, old self…
Growing up as a competitive gymnast, working out and staying fit has always been a priority in my life. However, training 40 hours a week with the goal of going to the Olympics, my focus was working hard on my sport, the body came with it. But at the same time, as a hopeless romantic girl in elementary school, getting attention from the boys about your build was not the kind of “flirting” compliments I wanted to receive (and by “flirting”… I mean not flirting at all). “Whoa Kimberly, you’re arms are bigger than Geoff’s” or “Ugh… is that your abs through your shirt?”, have never been taken as positive compliments back then. The idea of a hot female “built figure” had been ruined.
After I quit, it was definitely going from 100 to 0 REAL QUICK in terms of staying active. I would run here and there and participated in track and field (which was easy because of muscle memory), but I was nowhere as active as I could have been and went through waves of “working out”. I would only workout if a birthday party or vacation was coming up, other than that there was no motivation to do it because I was “okay” with the body I had. My workouts also just consisted of cardio in the form of incline walking or the elliptical machine, and some sit ups. I knew how to workout from gymnastics but just got really lazy…I wasn’t the stick skinny figure that I wanted to be (thank you social media for that pressure), but I wasn’t fat… I was okay with my image. These waves of working out for a week and then not for two weeks (or when my parents pointed out that I was getting fat) was considered my fitness from high school through university.
Fast forward to graduate school. After choosing the career path that I had, I knew fitness would be a part of it. But after moving to school in California, huge shocker when most of the student body had…well, hot bodies. It was the kind of fitness that looked like these people never really tried too hard working out but they just naturally had that built figure after doing two push-ups (I’m sure they actually work hard and eat right… but for some reason my mind went to that bitter place of “they’re just born with hot bodies and don’t have to work hard, wtf I’m jealous”). After months at school using my old workout pattern of half-ass cardio, sit-ups and eating semi-healthy, the results I was seeing was as you would expect, half-ass results. For some reason I was okay with that, but my subconscious knew I could do better. I just never wanted to admit it because that would mean I would have to get my ass up and head to the gym (the school gym… with the hot bodies and the equipment that I have no idea how to use and being surrounded with people doing cool workouts and weights and this excuse and that excuse, and this anxiety and that one…).
The Game changer
A party. A guy. A driven, motivated guy who for no reason at all thought I could shoot for the stars when all this time I was content/okay/just fine staying on the ground. That kind of person, find yourself one.
I realized that “just okay” wasn’t good enough for me anymore. This new mentality came upon me: “bish (motivating name I call my less productive self... and that's not straight up “you bitch”), you need to step your game UP”.
It was time to step into the school gym. Now, our school is not too big so imagine a regular gymnasium size, with the basket ball nets and a few treadmills by the bleachers. Not bad... but then another room with some intimidating cross fit equipment, weights, deadlift racks and a rope (which was actually the least of my fears because I knew I could sill climb it with the muscle memory I had from gymnastics, but no way would I attempt to do it in front of people because that might be “showing off”, or my muscle memory I think I have might fail me and I can barely make it up, making me look like a complete idiot in front of the “hot bods”). But, the time came when I had to set aside my completely irrational fear of working out at the gym in front of my fellow peers, and just go in and lift some damn weights.
Tid-bits of getting over this shiz
For some reason, gyms had always scared me because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. However, I already had a set of exercise that could get me through a solid hour of working out; start with 15-25 minutes of cardio (actually running this time…), classic 3 sets of 10-15 reps, varying lunges, push-ups and abs. But the problem was that everyone talks about having a “workout routine” and a “whichever body part day” etc. I just knew some exercises, and not calling it a routine (and not knowing what order I was going to do them in) was just an excuse I told myself that made me keep putting off going to the gym.
I had to STOP telling myself “I don’t know how to workout”! Of course it’s important to learn how to exercise properly and make a plan of what you’re going to be doing (find a trainer or a friend to help you, watch videos, Instagram etc.), but the problem was the way I was thinking about it. When you believe you can do something, you can perform it better than when you think about it in a negative/“I suck at working out, all these people look so cool and I’m going to be there looking like a noob” kind of way. “No excuses, I can do this”.
Clearly, working out for the sole purpose of looking good was not enough for me. It didn’t help me stay consistent because as soon as I looked a little bit better, I would fall back into a wave of a few weeks not working. My body type allows me to lose weight really fast by working out and eating clean for a week… but what goes around comes around… as soon as I start eating like shit and not working out for a few days, it’s like I have a sign on my forehead that says “welcome back fat, I missed you”. I started reading motivational books (I was skeptical and thought they would be cheesy AF, but something actually clicked), and what they had in common was the importance of your “why”. I want to be the best at what I do, and being in the career I chose, I have to be consistent with my future patients. I absolutely detest hypocrites, so if I am going to be giving health advice, then I have to live it.
2. Find a deeper reason than “to look good” for working out. It pushed me to HAVE to get over this anxiety of not wanting to go to the gym.
Oh yeah, the guys, and the hot bodies. After getting to a point where I accepted that I will go to the gym, I was still nervous. Is it just me or if you consider yourself a good looking person (warning - rant about to happen - don’t know why it’s so weird to type in this blog that I consider myself a good looking person. I mean shouldn’t we all think we’re good looking? Is it the wording of it then? Is “I am happy with my looks” better? I hate that thinking you’re good looking has come to the point of being seen as cocky… but then are we not suppose to think of ourselves as attractive… isn’t that just as sad?) and you’ve noticed you get some looks here and there (and you let yourself assume they’re looks ;) or it’s obvious), that somehow adds to the anxiety of going to workout. There’s this imaginary perception I think people have of me and if I don’t live up to that, then I’m letting them down (even though we all know, nobody actually really cares what you’re doing, so just do whatever the heck you plan for yourself to do). I also don’t have the best vision and refuse to wear my glasses at the gym… so if a distant social interaction were to happen, I can’t always see the person’s face.. Anxiety. Clearly, I have a problem with caring what people think about me (thankfully, in the process of getting rid of that. Highly recommended).
3. Push yourself to go to the gym and workout, it doesn’t get easier until you experience the nervousness (and then you realize it’s actually not bad… AT ALL).
The fear of working out unfortunately didn’t go away before I set foot in the gym. I had to just walk in there, experience the nervous feels and get through my workout. There were (and still are sometimes… rarely) moments when I said to myself “bish, that looked stupid”. But ultimately, I realized that the pros of working out and utilizing the equipment and space had highly outweighed the one anxiety con. That was enough for me to keep working out consistently at my school gym… with the hot bods.
Author: Kimberly B.