Guest Blog Post: I’m the the New Year’s resolution gym “newbie”

Meghan

Meet Meghan, lover of sriracha, scarves and all things vintage!

I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful friend, inside and out, Meghan. She’s a third grade teacher and creator who’s wanted to be a teacher as long as I’ve known her (the day when I wore this God-awful watermelon dress – photo below), and she’s perfect for the job. She’s also an avid clean eater who enjoys trying new recipes. A little more than a year after I reached the maintenance phase of my weight loss journey, I looked to her for help with this lifestyle. *Meghan, I still refer to that email you sent me almost a year ago, on Jan. 21, 2014, for recipes!* Just one of the many things that we share in common – in addition to having been cheerleaders, dancers, musicians, good students and one of four – is our success with Weight Watchers. She successfully lost 30 pounds in 2013 through a combination of Weight Watchers, clean eating, yoga and now the gym. We’re going to follow Meghan’s experience as, what she calls herself, a “gym ‘newbie’.”

watermelon copy

Watermelon dress circa 1994 (me on the left; my older sister, Adrienne, on the right) – This was taken on my first day of school at Hampden Elementary, May 3, 1994, after moving to Mechanicsburg, Pa., which was also the day when I met Meghan. She loved me without regard to this dress!

For many people, New Year’s has always been so much more than a day off. It represents a second chance; a second chance for love, job opportunities, friendships, bettering oneself, and most commonly, a better health and body. However, before you pass judgment on all those “newbies” that you feel are invading “your” space or hogging your machine, I urge you to pause and think twice and put yourself in my shoes for a brief moment. Why my shoes? I’ll admit it. I joined a gym this week, and this is the first time I have set foot in a gym in years. Now most people who are gym regulars would be quick to roll their eyes at me, chuckle under their breath, group me into the “she’ll last two weeks” category, or look at their co-worker and smile when I walk in the front door (I’m looking at you Planet Fitness girl!). While this is a common reaction, it’s also an unfair reaction as well. Here my story.

My journey began in November of 2013 when I joined Weight Watchers at the urging of my mother and sister. I was overweight, unhappy with my diet, had high blood pressure, and was on medication for depression and anxiety. I was extremely successful with Weight Watchers, consistently losing weight each weigh-in…all without any exercise. My sister (an avid athlete and gym-goer) would get so angry at me, and claim it wasn’t fair. I wasn’t doing it the “right” way. But for me it was a personal victory, because all I was looking at was the number on the scale. I wanted it to get lower, and I would do everything I could to lower it…without exercising. I’m a teacher, so organization and planning are a daily part of my life, and I applied that to my weight-loss routine. I counted points and food-prepped meals with the rigidity of a drill sergeant. NOTHING went in my body without being counted. Within a year, I had lost 30 pounds without any exercise. I was so proud of myself…until I realized I had lost too much weight. Weight Watcher’s couldn’t help me anymore. Now what? I truly was lost without counting my points. Luckily, while losing the weight was wonderful, it was the nutritional knowledge I received along the way that truly changed my life. I began to embrace a clean eating lifestyle, which really opened my eyes to the importance of knowing what goes in your body. If I couldn’t pronounce something, or I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t eat it. I threw myself into educating what my body needed and how to listen to what my body was telling me. This was where I began to reap the benefits of clean eating. In July 2014, I found out that due to my clean eating I no longer needed high blood pressure medication or my depression and anxiety medication. WIN. That same month, I also was broken up with by my BF of two years and lost my job…on the same day. LOSE. As I sat on the couch listening to Taylor Swift (don’t judge me, it was a rough day), I realized that this was something that my clean eating couldn’t fix. All the research, all the planning, all the new recipes, all the cheerful Instagram pictures, all the weight that I had lost, didn’t mean I still wasn’t going to struggle with OTHER unhealthy choices in my life. Something needed to change. Perhaps it was me.

It is now 2015. I nervously stretch in the corner of the gym floor, shaking my long legs, and hoping no one notices my chicken arms (a red flag that I am a gym “newbie”). I, along with so many other people this month, have joined a gym. Why the gym? I joined when I realized that it was something that terrified me. I was comfortable with clean eating, I embraced yoga, I loved being outside, but the gym scared me. It represented some “unknown” entity that I didn’t want to meet. It also was something I knew I needed in my life. For days after I purchased my membership, I was too nervous to even set foot in it, afraid of the stares, the questions, the judging…the unknown. It led to an anxiety that I hadn’t felt in months. People refer to me as “skinny” and “thin” when asked my body type and this was how I was reacting…I could only imagine how someone bigger must feel when they joined the gym. That’s when I realized something. People are always going to judge you in your life, whether it’s personally or professionally. At some point, you have to ignore it and do what’s best for you, whether you are comfortable with it or not. This gym membership wasn’t solely to improve my body’s physique, but it represented me stepping out of my comfort zone to improve my INNER SELF. My clean eating was always my security blanket of sorts; it showed people that I DO care about my body and that I genuinely am a healthy person…so don’t judge me for not exercising. Now, as I enter the gym I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. While I like to think I bounced back, (I returned to the teacher profession after two years of working in Finance, and I found an AMAZING new BF), to say I was happy to leave 2014 in the dust was a gross understatement. I like to think that I’ve grown in the past year. I went through a couple months that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, and realized that no matter how diligent you are at planning things are still going to happen unexpectedly that will challenge your mind, body, and soul. To all my new gym-goers, when I say, “I know how you feel,” I mean it. It’s scary to know that people are judging you, especially when we are bombarded with it on FB and social media. Is it frustrating? Of course! We all have a story, a personal struggle, a health issue, a reason that has led us to join the gym. Do we get to share it? Unfortunately, no. But WE know why we are there, and we cannot forget.

charm

One thought on “Guest Blog Post: I’m the the New Year’s resolution gym “newbie”

  1. I’ve been going to a gym since 1996 and I still get super insecure at times and try to go at times when there won’t be that many other people there 🙂 Thanks for sharing and good luck!

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