Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: How Going to The Gym Affected my Self-Esteem.

Back in 2017, I signed up for a gym membership to a gym that opened up in my neighborhood. I told myself that it was finally the right time to go and start working out in hopes that I can lose some weight that I noticeably gained since starting grad school.

I never went.

During the time that I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery, my doctors recommended that I start going to the gym and try to start losing weight on my own so that I could try to lose weight and tone my body as I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery. I told myself I was going to take the doctor’s advice and go to the gym to get my body ready for the year of testing it will go through in order to get the surgery done.

I never went.

After officially hitting my one-year anniversary since having weight loss surgery, I was getting nervous that the weight was slowing down. I thought I wasn’t going to lose any more weight because the momentum officially plateaued. My nutritionist recommended that exercise and weight lifting would be good to keep the momentum going. I’m not going to lie, it was something I dismissed because I was just really scared of going to the gym on my own and be sweaty in front of other people who have probably been loyal gym members for years on end. Something told me to take the chance and at least try it for the sake of my weight loss journey.

I finally went.

Hi, my name is Liz, and going to the gym has affected my self-esteem in a way I never thought it could.

It made me even more confident.

Going to the gym is something I feel like you have to be in the right mindset to actually join and go to. It’s one of those things that are easier said than done; I mean, it’s literally why most gyms market their businesses at the start of the new year because people always say they will start going to the gym at the start of a new year. Do people actually stick to their word? Maybe some, but there’s a reason why it’s such a common response to the whole “New Year’s Resolution” question. But, I get it because I was one of them.

When you don’t feel good in your own skin, you do whatever you need to cover it up and hide it from the world. You don’t purposely got to the place where you are at your most vulnerable to work on something that you don’t want to show to the public. You constantly think that people who are more fit or tone look at you different because you are out of shape or think you’re “fatter” than everyone else.

Sadly, it’s the mindset that most people have about the gym; I did.

But it wasn’t until I found myself weighing out the pros and cons of going to the gym. Of course, my biggest con was that Iwas afraid to simply be sweaty and out of breath in front of people in public. I was also afraid of the superiority personality that some gym goers have and judge you for going too slow or too fast on a machine (or perhaps you are using the machine wrong). I was just afraid of entering a new world that I never really belonged in, but it was my major pro that finally got me to the gym.

I worked hard to get where I am on this journey and I was going to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

I told myself that the gym was the next step in my journey and that I couldn’t rely on my body to naturally lose the weight like it did at the beginning. I now need to take the additional steps, and I guess when it came down to the wire, my journey meant more to be than my anxiety, and it didn’t hurt to try it out. Now that I finally joined a gym in my neighborhood, I find myself not worrying about those things. To come and think of it; I actually found myself debunking all these gym myths once I started going myself.

Now, the gym has become my escape to distress after a long day, or if I need a quick pick-me-up after being down all day.

I won’t lie and say that I had to push myself to a gym. I was nervous, yeah, but I was already at a place in my life where I felt the confidence needed to join and actually keep going after the first time. It’s natural for us to gain some confidence when we lose weight, even if it’s the smallest amount. It’s not easy losing weight, and when you do lose some, you gain a wave of confidence! For me, I was finally at a point in my life where I felt comfortable with my body in public and showing it more to the public whether it was in tighter clothes or going to places like the gym.

There’s nothing like blasting music through your headphones and go to different machines and challenge myself for about an hour. I started on the treadmill, which then began rowing, and eventually I got to the point where I am experimenting on different machines and seeing which ones I like working on the most! As I’m writing this, I definitely have to go back to the gym since I’ve been slacking off badly, but I legit always feel the greatest when I leave the gym, and that’s something that I didn’t know the gym would give me that experience.

Whenever you feel ready to go the gym (even if it’s just for an escape), I hope that you are able to use the gym as a place where you can just feel better in the moment if you’re having a bad day or a bad week and whatnot. Sometimes, I solely go to the gym just because I need to get away and release some stress and anxiety in a more healthier way. It’s come a part of my “coping mechanism” options, and it works every single time that I need to calm down from whatever was bothering me or making me anxious.

It’s okay to not be ready, and if you are ready; do it for your mental as you work on that physical!

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