I’ve been the fat girl in the gym. It is interesting. Luckily, I have never been the object of any ridicule or nastiness (in the gym anyway), but the mannerisms of those around you can be interesting. My favorite was usually the lady – its always a lady – who would set up a couple of treadmills down and match my speed. It didn’t matter if I sped up, she would always match it. Eventually, she would get tired and have to stop. I always took a perverse pleasure in “winning” – please don’t use me to try and raise your self esteem level.
But I digress. I joined a gym and started sticking to a strict exercise regimen in an effort to become a skinny wonder woman. This was the kind of thing that was supposed to work and I was determined to make it so. My mother-in-law bought a series of personal training sessions for my husband and I with her trainer as a gift. I was super-psyched. The trainer was wonderful – just a really nice person overall and I really liked her. She had once been fat, so I felt she was going to be realistic about my progress and expectations.
Instead, she was just constantly surprised by my stamina and strength. Or maybe she was just trying to be encouraging in an odd way. I remember one time in particular she kept going on and on about the weight I was lifting. Well. . . my kid weighed that much. I was used to carrying it around. That is hardly surprising.
One day as I did some light cardio, she decided to talk a little about eating habits. She told me that she had a weakness for McDonald’s hot cakes (to each their own, I guess) and liked to indulge herself once a year. Once a year, no big deal. Except the story didn’t end there. She explained that this one-time indulgence often made her feel so guilty that she would dramatically decrease her calories for the rest of the day in an effort to ward off the damage. I felt so bad and just wanted to give her a hug.
She was trying to be helpful, trying to illustrate that you could still splurge and maintain a healthy weight. I didn’t see it that way though. For me, it marked the absolute disappointment of realizing that she was no different than me. True, she might have found the magic combination that allowed her to fit into tiny pants, but her food issues were still there.
At the time, I was a healthy person with an average fitness level. But I couldn’t see it. All I could see was the number on the scale and the size of my pants. In the end, I lost exactly .3lbs at the end of my training sessions. She didn’t even bother to take new measurements. Overall, I lost 2.5 pounds in six months of 4-5 days a week at the gym. For me, regular exercise has very little to do with weight loss and everything to do with fitness and strength. I wish I had realized that at the time.
Disappointed that I had failed – once again – at something that was supposed to always work, I abandoned the gym and got back on the ridiculous diet train. My weight has since decreased and ballooned and I’m struggling to get my fitness level back to where it was a few years ago.
I miss that healthy fat girl. I wish she had known she was awesome.