The gym has changed me. The gym has changed me not just physically, but also mentally. I no longer look at myself, critiquing my body every time I pass by a mirror. I don’t hate how big my calves are in comparison to my thighs. I no longer feel the need to find something wrong with my body. I spent too many days, months, and years disliking parts of my body hoping it’d magically fix itself overnight. Guess what? It won’t.
Body confidence had been an issue for a while. I’ve always been a small, petite person, but people always commented how I needed to put on weight because I looked too small or how I was so short or how my hair looked better straight than curly. Yeah those comments bothered me, but they bothered me more when I gained 10 pounds freshman year. I know 10 pounds may not seem like a lot of weight to some people, but I went into my freshman year weighing 110 pounds, and that 10 pound gain is close to almost 10% of my body weight. My freshman year was more difficult than good – struggling to fit in, not getting along with floor mates, and feeling isolated and lonely. Add a 10% weight gain to that, and life was awful. I felt terrible about the way I looked, wishing the weight would just go away.
How did I gain 10 pounds anyways? I was a stress eater. Food was my comfort. Classes and life stressed me out so I’d eat to make up for that. Then I’d feel bad about the way I looked which made me depressed and stressed which led me to eat more. It was a never-ending cycle.
When I moved home for the summer, my dad insisted I join a gym. And then he insisted that I get a personal trainer. For months and months, my dad had stressed how I needed to start training with weights and not just do cardio. I listened, and since he was going to pay for it, I wasn’t as opposed. That’s when my life changed.
It’s been six months since starting a 3x-a-week workout regime, and I’ve never looked back. (It’s now a 5x-a-week routine, but who’s counting?)
I pass mirrors looking at my muscles, being proud of what they are and what they can do. I love wearing tank tops because I get to show off my shoulders and arms (my two favorite muscle groups to work. Actually, no. Let’s be honest here, I really love working every muscle group). I walk with a sense of confidence that I never had before.
The gym has become my new sanctuary. It’s my hour a day that I get to be alone, ignore my responsibilities, and just focus on lifting heavy things. And it’s a sanctuary I never want to lose.