A few months ago I decided I needed to get fitter. If any of you are women and have had a baby, you will know how terribly unfit you feel after giving birth (and by ‘after giving birth’ I mean during at least 12 months after delivery). Everything is hard. Everything hurts. Nothing is back where it should be and some things never will be (yes, I’m talking about your pelvic floor and your bladder).
Either way, in order to achieve this goal I decided to go back to the gym. I used to go years ago, when I had no other responsibilities than myself, and hence could even afford a personal trainer. I had a really great one, too. What I wouldn’t give for having that girl help me again, but oh well.
When it came to going, though, I had the negative thoughts I get every time I do something different or unusual. For example, when I was getting married, although I had no intention of buying a proper wedding dress, my sister-in-law booked an appointment at a bridal shop. I have to say it was a lovely experience, even if I didn’t buy anything. But for a whole day before we went I kept thinking somebody would comment on my weight and say I was too fat to get dressed in that place, a bit like Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman being to poor to shop in certain boutiques on Rodeo Drive. When it came to going to the gym, I had the exact same thoughts. I kept expecting somebody to tell me I was too fat and unfit to attend those classes, that they would be too hard for me.
Well, they are hard, but I manage. I mean, I stop quite a lot, and some things I can’t do. I still have aches and pains from the pregnancy too, so that doesn’t help. I do know my limitations though, so I know when to push and when to stop.
I’m telling you all this because most of those thoughts, although they are still there, I know they’re irrational and I can ignore them. But today, for some reason, they were louder than other times. I think it might be because it was a bit harder than usual (it was a step class) and I had to stop quite a lot and I had the impression that the coach was looking at me quite often. He probably wasn’t, I was at the back and I wasn’t wearing glasses. I tried to get back to the exercise as fast as I could and I was hardly the only one struggling. There was a very thin girl who stopped about as much as I did, so size is not necessarily related to fitness, but still, there I was thinking that that coach must wonder what the hell I was doing there.
Let me tell you, in case you wondered, that it doesn’t matter if there are other people like you in the room, you still think about yourself. Body image issues are very selfish and self-centered.
The issue are always the same in the case of gym classes. Firstly, most people are fine or very slightly overweight, but rarely do you see somebody who is big. Secondly, there are the teachers and coaches who are constantly at you, in their ‘motivational’ manner, ‘don’t stop’, ‘keep moving’, ‘dig deeper’, ‘you can do it!’. And you think ‘can I?’ ‘but I can’t. But he says I can. I must be able to, it’s just I don’t want to…’ And here comes the forever damning ‘willpower’. The very thing people like me apparently ‘lack’.
These are the things that go around in your head. But, ultimately, I have to stick with what I felt in my own body, that that was the best I could do and, hopefully, next time I’ll do better. And that’s just the best I can do right now as positivity goes.