The long road to fitness: starting from scratch


The above photo was taken in June, 2006. Barbara wanted to put that on a refrigerator and to track her fitness from there on. I just wanted an excuse to take that photo….
Nevertheless, she has made progress over the past couple of years or so and is now smaller; she hopes to join “Building Steam” and work toward finishing the Steamboat 4 mile run/walk. She won’t be working with me as she’ll be doing the “pure walk” and I’ll be working with the “run to walk” group again.

The idea of this post was motivated by both the upcoming Building Steam program and by what I’ve read on someone’s wall: a fitness newbie was worried about “being the fattest one in the gym” and about comparing herself to the fit people that she saw.

So, I’ll offer some words of encouragement, but hopefully, they won’t be a bunch of politically correct bulls**t that people sometimes hear.

No, I won’t say that fat, out of shape people aren’t judged when they go to a gym; of course they are. Now there are different kinds of judgment; for example I sometimes find myself thinking “OMG, this guy can probably bench press 300 plus pounds” or “she is probably running 6 minutes per mile” or something like that. And some might have negative feelings toward an out of shape person. But that is THEIR problem.

And as far as comparing yourself to others: I think it is just human to do that; don’t feel bad about doing that from time to time. Just don’t let it consume you. Remember you are probably seeing someone who has done it regularly for some time.

Now yes, I’ve been at the gym at 320 plus pounds. But I had a sports background and knew how to do the exercises; in fact, I worked out when I was morbidly obese and I even walked..I was just slow, slow, slow (36 minutes for a “fast” 2 miles…no kidding). So this isn’t so much about me.

So my unsolicited advice:

1. Try to find the type of fitness activity that you enjoy the most. The more you like the activity, the more likely you are to stick with it.

2. If you can afford it, working with a personal trainer the first couple of times might help. Or persuade your “workout fanatic” friend to go to the gym with you and show you how to do some of the exercises.

3. Some of us are genetically programmed to not be attracted to exercise. In that case, it is a big help to make the exercise a social activity either by joining a class, workout/hiking/walking/running group, or at least going often enough that you feel like part of the “community” of those who work out at roughly the same time. The latter takes some time….but eventually people will start talking to you.

4. If you are feeling less than stellar when you start a workout and are tempted to skip, go ahead and do the first 10-20 minutes anyway. Force yourself. You might find that your fatigue is more mental and emotional than physical; you’ll often be surprised at how much better you will feel once you get warmed up. For me: I know that I am ready to go when I start sweating. And if you STILL feel bad after that initial period, then maybe you do need physical rest. But it is worthwhile to find out.

5. Turn off your phone or leave it in your locker or at home. Ok, many people successfully work out with their phones, but personally I love to disconnect from the world. Everyone is different. 🙂

6. Take baby steps. You took some time getting out of shape, and getting into shape isn’t going to happen in a couple of weeks. Don’t exhaust yourself in your initial workouts. A good guide for the inexperienced: go hard enough to breathe a bit hard and to get sweaty, but have enough left so where you could run a few errands on the way home.


February 4, 2016 - Posted by | big butts, spandex | , ,

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