Chapter 6: Being a Bigger Body
For the first time since the inception of this blog, I want to actually talk to you about existing in a fat body in the context of going to the gym.
There are so many reasons that I, as a fat woman, have avoided gyms and exercise and trainers for most of my life. Most of those reasons can be boiled down to the F-words I have already talked about in the blog thus far - Fat, Fear, Failure. Working out as a fat person - you are exposed. You are moving your body - and it jiggles. You are struggling because the weight of you quite literally holds you down. You fear the ridicule and scoffs of other gym patrons. You fear the overzealous trainer yelling at you and telling you you're not good enough. You fail at many exercises at every turn because a lot of gym routines and movements were not designed for bodies like ours.
I want to tell what I have learned though. And it's not something a lot of people think about. Fat bodies are strong as hell. Just think about the amount of strength it takes to carry around your weight all day, just doing normal things.
At the gym, I have also learned that almost any movement can be modified to accommodate the size and shape of my body. If one thing doesn't work, try it another way. I owe a debt of gratitude to my trainer for this, as he has been so understanding and able to modify things on the spot for me when I have to tell him my stomach is in the way, or that I'm a little too top-heavy for that particular movement, or that my messed up crackling knee can't quite handle that kind of pressure. Of course, every time I have to mention this, I still feel embarrassed. And I feel frustrated. And some days I don't have the mental fortitude to push through that. But most days, I try. And sometimes that attempt is successful!
I want you to know that you will be amazed at what you can do if you give yourself the chance. Working out has not become easier for me in any sense of the word. But what has become easier is showing up; making the attempts; focusing on my body's response; and dealing with that discomfort that comes with being fat (physically and mentally). The fear starts to dissipate and the failures seem less catastrophic.
I would love to see a shift in gym culture where people like myself feel more welcome. We should all be lifting each other up and encouraging each other to strive for health with strong bodies and minds. I'd love to know how you envision that change becominga reality in the comments.