By Erin Bloodgood
Elm Staff Writer
Every year since the 7th grade, I’ve been telling myself that I need to get in shape. I needed to work on my exercise and eating habits and this year I’m finally buttoning down and doing it (don’t judge me for taking this long to do it; change is hard). Since I’ve been back on campus this semester, I’ve been hitting the gym on a regular basis, eating better, feeling better, and seeing some results.
Let me just say that I’m a girl who likes bad food and Netflix a little too much. What I’ve realized over the years is that it’s very hard to change your ways and it’s difficult to step out of your comfort zone and try new things sometimes.
That being said, I’ve put all of the bad athletic experiences behind me. I’m from New Jersey where they force you to take four years of gym in high school (really, every year beginning with elementary school). Four years of strange smelling locker rooms, gym clothes, and sports such as dodge ball, floor hockey, soccer, football, tennis, and track, my most hated physical activity. They also forced us to square dance every year in high school (a strange form of torture that my school district decided on 50 years ago). Regardless, I would consider myself “athletically challenged.” Sports and I do not go well together and this point was proven in 7th grade when I was involved in a very embarrassing kick ball incident.
All of these experiences left me scarred, quite literally in some instances, and scared to join a gym. It would be ignorant of me to say that the media and our culture’s perception of beauty standards had nothing to do with my yearning for change, but even then my fear of looking stupid at the gym held me back (there are still a lot of machines in there that I have no idea how to use).
The next thing on my mind was dieting. The media is always talking about dieting fads and if you search for diets on Google you could be there for months reading up on the latest trends. I knew the basics of eating healthy: limit sugar, junk food, and fast food intake; eat fruits and vegetables, etc. Many diets want you to buy special products or eat specific things, and I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of information I took in while searching the Internet.
I recently saw a Yik Yak that someone was nervous to go to the gym because they were in a situation much like my old one. I saw many kind remarks to that person, and it inspired me to write this article and tell them that they aren’t alone at all. It can be extremely intimidating to walk into a place and not know where to start or what to do. What I’ve realized from all of this, my past gym class experiences, my uncertainty with gym equipment, my fear of looking foolish, and my indecision and confusion when it came to diet plans is that you have to do what’s best for you. If you want to start going to the gym or eating better, then just try. Don’t jump right in and spend two hours at the gym. Take it slow and let your body adjust. Once you start a routine that’s right for you you might really enjoy something that you never thought you would. As for eating better and dieting, I do not conform to any one specific diet. I’ve found that you need to live your life; and if one day you want to eat chicken nuggets in the dining hall go ahead and do it. Life is about living and if something is keeping you from doing what you’ve always wanted to, then you need to confront it and figure out a way to conquer your fears.
I’m still the same athletically challenged girl deep down; I’ve just gotten better at knowing what I want and not letting my fears stop me. To that person on Yik Yak, I hope you don’t let your fear of looking silly at the gym stop you. To anyone who is too afraid or feels uncomfortable braving the gym can feel free to find me. We can look silly trying to figure out some of those machines together.