Friday, February 08, 2013
**This was totally fun to write. I do not know why. I think it's a little less PolyannaPositive than I usually am on SP, but it feels more authentic to me. Please don't take anything snarky as a negative or as about you even though you totally know I'm using your example. One awesome blog post sort of was the tipping point on this, but her's was awesome, not sad. There are a lot of sadder message board posts that made me want to write this. Also, be aware that the farting-in-the-weight-room example is all me and totally happened. Twice.**
Ok, I know everyone on SP is all hearts and sunshine and unicorns that shoot rainbows out of their butts...but sometimes we gotta be real. I keep seeing a lot of people post about being embarrassed at the gym because they don't know what they are doing or they feel fat or whatever. And most of us respond with something like, "Oh, it's all in your head, they aren't judging you!"
But that's totally not true.
I can't judge people on most things, but I'm a rower. Which means I'm a snob about the rowing machine (called an "ergometer" or "erg" or "Satan Incarnate" by rowers). So I totally judge people who use them improperly at the gym. It's actually become a Thing before - when I sit down next to someone who DOES know what they are doing and demonstrate that I also know how to use it, we usually end up talking. I've also found rowers at the gym by noting who silently rolls their eyes at the guy who puts the setting on 10 and then just uses his arms. I'll grab a treadmill next to them later and ask if they get on the water. Judging others totally brings us together.
So I'm extrapolating here - if I get silently judgey about people on the erg, I'm betting that others are silently judging me on whatever their equipment is. I am tired of pretending it doesn't happen. It's TOTALLY happening. You are NOT paranoid.
The question is - what are you going to do about it? I can think of a ton of better responses than sitting on the couch and eating cupcakes. Though that has it's appeal during certain times of the month.
*LAUGH. A snowboarder once told me the way to get better at snowboarding is to make sure that no matter what insane thing you just did - laugh. If there is a bone sticking out of your leg at the end of an epic fall, YOU MUST LAUGH FIRST. Then you may cry. Also, scream. Also, narcotic pain killers. So when you can't figure out how to turn on the equipment or when your balance ball shoots out from under your a$$...laugh. And share your story. Everyone does something dumb at the gym and it helps both you and them for other people to hear about it.
*If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning. Maybe your wiggly bits are being judged by the superfitguy over there, but I bet at least once in a while someone else with jiggly bits looks at you and thinks, "Well hell. I always wondered how they turn on the ellipticals. I'm glad she showed me that so I didn't embarrass myself." There, you can feel good because if nothing else, you saved someone from looking like a fool too.
*Let go of it. You can't control other people. Ever. E-V-E-R. All you can control is your response to them. If you change the way you respond to someone, they HAVE to change in response to you. So make eye contact with Judgey McJudgerson and smile. Or ask them what you should be doing. I especially like doing this to guys who have headphones in because it forces them to stop what they are doing and take the headphones out. It's a bit of petty revenge. Also, sometimes I actually learn something. BONUS! You can only control what YOU do, not what THEY think.
*Learn something. Go hire a trainer. If you go to a gym, they are probably all over the place. They're like roaches in red teeshirts except they don't scatter when you turn on the light and they are actually helpful and they won't survive a nuclear apocalypse. So maybe they aren't like roaches at all. Get one. Even if s/he's not a great trainer, you'll learn SOMETHING and you'll get some confidence. And someday, you will discover that something they told you is "wrong." And then you can judge THEM silently.
*Buy some cute clothes and wear earrings. Yep, I said it. Vanity, thy name is ME. I don't mind looking like a doofus as long as I do it in a pretty blue tanktop and I have on my small silver hoop earrings. I do not know why this works for me, but it totally does. My husband actually takes a shower BEFORE he goes to the gym. And he must wear something yellow when he goes because that color makes him so happy. If I'm going to drop things and fart while doing deadlifts and pass out in the middle of the floor, I'm going to look decent doing it.
*Remember how much worse it could be. If you don't go to the gym and gain another 10 lbs...it'll be worse. You'll be even more jiggly and you won't be any more coordinated. If you DO go to the gym, you'll learn something. Remember the old saw from Edison: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." So you did something not-right today - that's one less mistake you'll make next time. I have explained to a few people that it's not that I fell on my face and scraped it all up when learning to ski - it's that I discovered that while you CAN stop yourself from falling down a mountain by using your face, it's better to use skis. At least I learned something from it.
*STOP DOING STUFF YOU HATE! This is the most important thing I can think of. If you really can't stand the judgement-in-the-gym and you can't get past it, then stop going to the gym! Exercise is not punishment - it's a reward. It makes you stronger, faster, better, and happier. If the gym workouts aren't doing that for you, go take classes, do exercise videos at home, join Curves or PlanetFitness or a different gym, find an outdoor sport....ANYTHING ELSE. If anyone has read "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl", you'll know about "Vampire Running" (running in the dark when no one can see and judge). Do something like that if that's what floats your boat - just do SOMETHING.
What about you? Do you have something to add? Good advice? Bad advice? Horror stories that you need to share and laugh about?