I’ve been thinking for a long time about writing a post about going to the gym and exercising, both from the size acceptance perspective and the cancer survivor perspective. There is so much that I want to say about it, I almost don’t know where to start. So I’ll just start at the beginning.
I didn’t give exercise much thought after I survived the required P.E. classes in high school and college.
Until I was living in California in the very early 1990s. My employer had made available a free one-month membership to a gym a couple of buildings over, and several other people in the office were taking advantage of it. One day, I mentioned that maybe I would try it out.
“That would be a waste–you’ll never use it anyway.” So thought a blonde, native Californian surfer-dude whose name I have conveniently forgotten.
I said something like “We’ll see–maybe I will.” (I’ve never been able to do an effective quick retort–I always think of the good things I could have said hours or days later.)
I joined the gym, met with a personal trainer, and started to go to water aerobics classes after work. Soon I was walking on a treadmill and doing weight training. I was surprised at how much I loved the weight machines. Then I was walking 3 or 4 miles after work down the beach to get to the mall. I tried skiing, hiking, karate, and camping. Once I hiked 7 miles around a lake south of Oakland, all by myself, in an afternoon.
I think I probably did lose weight. But I wasn’t tracking it, because I had already embraced size acceptance. What I knew was that I felt great, and I was able to rely on my body to do things–somewhat strenuous things like long walks and hikes. Maybe I wasn’t a runner, and would never be thin, but I could get strong and move 55-gallon drums at work. (Yes, that was a part of my job description.)
I only lived in California for nine months, but, by sticking with the gym during that time and finding movement I enjoyed, I learned that you don’t have to be fit to exercise and enjoy it. You don’t have to think of it as punishment for eating badly, or as something you have to endure. If you’re not having fun, find some kind of movement you can have fun with.
I also learned that it is sweet to prove someone wrong, especially when they underestimate you because of your size!