I am now a person who goes to the gym. And it really, truly sucks. But maybe this will be helpful if you are on the verge of becoming a person who goes to the gym too.
A lot of people will lie to you about the gym, and about exercise in general. This may be in part because they are not fat people, so their experience of their bodies is different, I don’t know. But let me be clear – the gym sucks. It is not a happy place. You are a human-sized hamster going nowhere and sweating and chafing while you do it. It does not feel good. It does not open up vistas of health and flourishing. It is total CENSORED.
You do not go to the gym to have fun or to make friends. You are there to serve time. So don’t worry about dressing a certain way or making eye contact or smiling. Who smiles and makes contact in a prison yard? No one, that’s who. No, you are there to serve your time and get out.
You’re there because you don’t want diabetes, or because you don’t want your diabetes to get worse, or because you’ve lost digits to diabetes and you don’t want to lose more digits. You’re there so you don’t die in agony from a heart attack in a few years. Or you are there because you had a heart attack but survived and don’t want another one because that CENSORED hurts, and it’s scary. You are there because you want to keep having brownies for breakfast and people should get off your case about it! You are there because your spouse keeps bothering you, and it takes courage for them to bother you, so they probably are doing it because they love you. Whatever. You are there because you have to be.
If the universe was governed by a merciful deity, things like this would not be necessary, but there it is.
Seriously, Why Would A Person Do This?
It’s important to plan to go to the gym every day. Every. Damn. Day. See, here’s the thing – half the time CENSORED will happen and you won’t be able to go. So if you plan to go two or three times a week, when CENSORED keeps happening, as it always does because life is a bunch of CENSORED, then suddenly you’re going once a week because of all of the CENSORED.
Don’t go to the gym once a week. That’s a waste of your time. It’s like eating once a week, or drinking alcohol once a week – not enough. You have to do more for it to help. Pretty soon the CENSORED piles up and once a week turns into zero times a week, but diabetes and heart disease and a bunch of health CENSORED still has a gun to your head and you still have to go.
So you commit to going to the gym every damn day, and then CENSORED happens, and you end up going to the gym four or maybe five times a week. Remember to give diabetes the finger when you go.
I Hate This So Much
Here is some specific advice from a fat curmudgeon to help take the edge off of your captivity:
Dress like CENSORED. Wear a ratty hoodie and sweatpants or your own equivalent. Wear a shirt that doesn’t fit anymore under the hoodie because who cares? The hoodie part is important, though, because you can put your smartphone in the pocket of the hoodie. If you put it in the pocket of your sweatpants and start moving around, your pants start falling down. #fatpeopleproblems Or wear something else with a pocket. That smartphone will be your lifeline, to remind you of all of the wonderful places in the world that are not a gym, and all the joyful things to do in the world that are not exercise.
Come to terms with the fact that you will just lose time now. I don’t live far from the YMCA where I go, but measuring from getting up, driving over, getting on an elliptical for enough time to matter, driving home, showering and dressing back in human clothes totals about an hour and a half. That’s an hour and a half out of my life – I don’t get that time back to do things I’d rather be doing, which is almost anything. Remember, you are a hostage. You are serving time. The gun is to your head. I dull the edge of this loss of time by listening to music and listening to podcasts on my phone. iTunes or whatever Android podcatcher you like (I like Podcast Republic, but whatever works) are your friends. Learn a new language. Listen to the news. Download the NPR One app and listen to NPR shows. (Whatever you do, do not look around at other people, or up at the damn TVs they have, or listen to their CENSOREDty gym music. The people, the TVs, the music, it’s all just terrible. Bring your own auditory world and make peace with captivity.)
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you must not give a duck. You need to not give any ducks, not a single duck, not even a sneaky duck that just slips out. No ducks are to be given. I put in my earbuds and turn them up. When the person greets me at the entrance and scans my card, I have no idea if I’m shouting at her because my music is so loud. But I don’t let myself give a duck. I go in and don’t stretch anywhere near a mirror, because who the duck wants to do CENSORED near a mirror? What am I, some kind of deranged narcissist? What’s with all the mirrors anyway? I’d join a gym that had no mirrors solely for the fact that they had no mirrors. But, again, no ducks are to be given. Stretch wherever you want. Right in the doorway – people can go around you. No ducks. When you’re on whatever machine, make noises, grunt, sweat, fart, swear under your breath, wheeze, whatever gets you through it. Give. No. Ducks. (And while exercise is awful, practicing not giving any ducks is probably a very valuable thing) You can say it to yourself in rhythm with whatever torturous thing you’re doing – I. Give. No. Ducks. Say it out loud. Whatever.
Probably pick an elliptical. It’s a good choice for a number of reasons. First, jogging is total CENSORED. Your bones will hurt almost immediately, and stuff is jiggling around uncomfortably, and you won’t be able to jog very far, and it’ll be demoralizing. (Couch to 5K is total CENSORED. I did 1/8th of the recommended first workout for a week and felt like I was going to die. Whoever came up with that was not fat and did not have asthma) Just…just ignore runners. I don’t know what’s wrong with them either. But jogging and running are awful, even compared to everything else at the gym. The elliptical is better because it doesn’t jostle your bones and joints and jiggly bits as much. It also has some technology in it, so you can do things like set a calorie goal. And it can do things like raise the resistance, and make things slightly less soul-crushingly boring than a treadmill. Which is, again I cannot emphasize this enough, literally just a human hamster ball.
Do not get a personal trainer. If the gym offers free time with the personal trainer, do not take them up on it. Because…come on. Do I have to say it? Just don’t.
And, a crucial note on any machine: remember to input your weight. This is absolutely necessary for us fat people. Me on an elliptical is like a normal person on an elliptical with 100lbs of rocks stuffed in their clothes. I burn way more calories than a skinny person doing the same thing. If you don’t input your weight, the machine assumes you are some kind of lilliputian, and you will feel like you are accomplishing nothing. No, put in that big fat number and watch as you burn twice the calories as the skinny person next to you. The more you burn, the quicker you can get home and back to things that don’t suck.
This Is Total CENSORED, Isn’t It?
This is when it hit me, a few days ago. It was freezing and pouring rain and windy – just awful, miserable weather. But to the gym I went, because I serve my time now. So I got there in the morning, which was unusual, as I’m usually there after work. But in the morning, the place is packed. The parking lot was full, and even the overflow lot only had a few spots. I drove around looking for a spot, and decided, duck this, I’m going home. The weather is miserable and I don’t want to walk across a huge parking lot in horizontal freezing rain and I’ll just come back tomorrow or something.
I was heading out, and then it hit me: No, I am a person who goes to the gym now. And with a feeling of sinking despair, I realized that I would have to turn around, park in the damn overflow lot, walk through the damn horizontal freezing rain, and get on the damn elliptical. So I did.
And that’s probably what has to happen – you have to decide that you are now a person who goes to the gym. Then you go to the gym, because reasons. And then you go again.