Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imaginary Audience

From "issue - something proceeding from any source, as a product, effect, result, or consequence"

I have many issues with going to the gym, but a few have really made my training program difficult. One I want to address today is feeling self-conscious in the gym.

A lot of people joke that they won't go to the gym until they've lost some weight, and I can clearly see the point. Even though my fitness class meets at a time of day where it's not that crowded, most of the people in there look like they've stepped off the cover of FITNESS magazine. Maybe they have something to prove. Maybe they used to be overweight and feel like they need to show the world that they look good. Maybe they're narcissistic and believe that everyone in the gym wants to admire their rock hard abs and tight thighs through their painted-on clothes.

Whatever the reason for the showiness, it makes me feel like a lump of lard in my comfy exercise pants and t-shirts. I walk into the gym with my long, black pants and unisex Sci-Five shirt, and the feeling of alienation is compounded. Could I go to the gym in tights and a form-fitting tank top? Probably. Would people talk about me? Possibly. Would I feel incredibly uncomfortable? Definitely.

The trainers are, of course, perfectly fit. They look fantastic, they're enthusiastic, and they can work on any of the equipment blindfolded. What's interesting is that they aren't part of the problem! I suppose I've seen Dodgeball one too many times. I expected my trainer to wear spandex shorts and a tank top. The first day of training she wore tight exercise pants that came to the knee and the loose, unisex t-shirt all the trainers wear. She took our measurements (awkward!) but put me at ease by cracking jokes. When she had to measure my calf, I quipped that I wish I'd known so I could've shaved my legs that morning. She laughed and said that it was winter and that the only reason she shaved her legs was that she knew she wanted to wear shorts that day.

Every day I'm in the gym I think about it a little less, but it still bothers me. Especially when I'm in the free weight area doing shoulder presses and can see my bare upper arm. Hopefully I'll be able to move past this issue, but for now, it keeps me in t-shirts and long pants.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Friend Makin' Mondays

This is an event of the blog All the Weigh.

What's the first thing you would do for yourself if you won 100 million dollars? Note: this question is specifically for you...what would you do for fun after the family and the bills and the obvious stuff was taken care of?

I'll list the "obvious stuff" that relates directly to me first: Nico's veterinary bill (almost paid off!), my credit cards, and my student loans. I'd also put $10 million into a high interest CD that I couldn't touch for at least five years.

That'd still leave me with almost an entire $90 million. I imagine most of that would end up in a savings account because it's just so much! I'd like to buy a house with a beautiful library, and I would fill it to the ceiling with books. I'm a fan of old and rare books, which are surprisingly expensive. A few million could be invested in those, easily. After that, I'd take a vacation. For years I've wanted to travel the world, so it would be great to travel and stay in nice and safe places without worrying about counting every penny. It would probably take me a lifetime to go through the money, but I would feel really good knowing that I wouldn't have to worry about money.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time to Change

From "obese - very fat or overweight; corpulent."

No, that's not just some sappy realization. It's the Time to Change Weight Loss Program though my university. In November 2010, I received a notice in my email that they were accepting applications for the Spring 2011 semester. They only take about fifty people a semester, and it seems to be a first-come, first-serve process. Of course I signed up that week! In early January they sent me an email to let me know that I was accepted, and I arranged my meeting time for 9am-10am Mondays and Wednesdays. We meet twice a week with a personal trainer and are supposed to work out another two hours a week on our own. Most groups have four or five people plus the trainer, but mine has only two students plus the trainer. My group is all graduate students, so we have something small in common. The main purpose of the program is for weight loss, with each group competing against the others, but the secondary goal is to teach us to create our own workout programs so that we can continue without a trainer.

It's a great program, but the application process was a little embarrassing. First of all, applicants must have a BMI of at least 30 to be considered for acceptance. For the unacquainted, a BMI of 30 means that you are classified as obese. Do you know how difficult it is to walk into a program embracing the idea that you are obese? It's not a pleasant feeling.

We also had to undergo a fitness examination, presumably to make sure we were healthy enough to begin a weight loss program. (Ironic, right?) Before the person taking my information arrived at the desk, I had to wait in the weight-lifting area. I don't believe I've every felt so out of place--and that's saying a lot because I used to hang out at a biker bar. The only people on the first floor were men; I felt like they were all staring at me, wondering what the fat chick was doing in the free weights section. The most physically fit man I've seen in recent memory took my assessment. He checked my weight, height, bicep strength, blood pressure, pulse, and flexibility. Unsurprisingly, everything was great except for my BMI. The man was professional and cheerful. He didn't bat an eye at my scores and even complimented my excellent bicep strength. He make an awkward situation a little less painful, and for that I am grateful.

I was accepted. I was thrilled! Still, getting into the program was an uncomfortable experience. I wonder how many people shy away from applying because they don't like the idea of having a stranger perform a fitness assessment or needing to work in the gym--with other people!--twice a week. Hopefully, the number is small.