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.

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