100 lb. Club - feeling self-conscious at the gym

View Full Version : feeling self-conscious at the gym

08-08-2006, 07:40 PM
I was at the gym today and I felt so self-conscious!! All I kept thinking for a long while was how fat I must have looked, especially in comparison to nearly everyone else there! I kept telling myself to a) stop comparing.. I don't believe in comparisons and b) one of the reasons for being at the gym is to lose weight and I should be happy and proud of myself for being there. But still, sometimes that self-consciousness monster screams inside my head and I'm like aghhhhh! :( I know that most people probably aren't judging me and if some are then in truth I feel worse for them than I do for myself... but despite all that I still feel self-conscious :(

*Deep breath* .. I do have to admit, I am proud of myself for going :) - even though half-way through I wanted to jump off that machine and rest :lol: but I did it! I did 40 minutes, on a weekday nonetheless. And I feel like part of my motivation to go is from these great forums and communities - so thanks to all. I just needed to let it out.. but I am curious, does anyone else feel self-conscious while working out?

08-08-2006, 08:13 PM
All the time. Especially when I am new at something and I'm not sure if I am doing it right. I think most people really are at the gym to work out. They are probably thinking "good for her!"

Keep it up!!!

08-08-2006, 08:16 PM
I don't feel self concious, even when I weighed 360, I didn't. I figure if I'm there, I'm working out and everyone else there is also working out. The people that should feel self concious at the gym are those that wear full makeup and lots of jewelry and what doesn't even look like workout clothes. Just do your thing :)

08-08-2006, 08:31 PM
Yeah I'm feelin' ya. I just now (2-3 weeks ago) Unfroze my account. I started out walking, which I still do primarily with running intervals (yay!).My DH had asked me why I didn't just go to the gym...."Ummm, I'm too out of shape!" His response was "HUH?!?!" I lost the 1st 40lbs and then went. My @$$ still doesn't fit in one of the weight machines. Now that I go, there is not a person in there that would have cared less!

08-08-2006, 08:52 PM
Well said Nelie!

I really admire your way of thinking, and of course you're right, but I have to say that I feel like beautifulone. Except I'm worse - I'm to self-conscious to even join the gym! It might be different if I lived in a bigger place, where I could feel anonymous, but I live in a small town where lots of people I know use the gym - colleagues and parents of the children I teach - and I just can't bear the idea of working out in front of them.

08-08-2006, 09:25 PM
I too had a tendency to feel a bit out of place and self conscious at the gym. I often thought, they must be thinking let's see how long this fat one sticks around..we are so obvious, aren't we? Being there is sort of an admission that we are not happy with what we are and want a different body. I totally understand, HOWEVER, you CANNOT waste your energy on this kind of defeating thinking. Just focus on how you feel, get some music playing, try to challenge your self and most importantly keep feeling the fear but do it anyway! Soon you'll see those people at the gym will become your buddies. They all great me loudly when I walk in, compliment me, ask me why I am late, etc...and turned out to be very supportive. So don't mind anybody for now and just do your thing!

08-08-2006, 10:46 PM
I know how you feel too. I said that to DH the other night, that I would join a gym after I had lost some weight and was feeling more confident. I have worked out at gyms when I was bigger than I am now, and I know people probably couldn't care less what I look like...but some days I just can't face it! I figure I'd save the money now anyways while the beautiful weather is here and go hiking and biking...then in the late fall/early winter I'll join the gym.

08-09-2006, 12:45 AM
Beautifulone, I am proud of you for going >anyway< and working out >anyway< and being triumphant over those head games we all have. Good for you! Most people are worried about themselves and self-absorbed, but the ones who noticed you were likely proud of you, too.

08-09-2006, 02:31 AM
I still have conversations with the inner fat chick. I go to a shiny new gym which is only 6 months old, I was one of the first members!!!

I started gymming it at your weight, and I felt terribly self concious. My first gym was at work! I was mortified seeing my managers and big wigs and colleagues there watching me on the fitball looking like a beached whale.

But it was the best thing I ever did. Just yeterday one of the managers came up and told me how inspiring my progress is..... it helped me raise my profile at work, I've even been featured in our work magazine (which is circulated to something like 20 000 in 20 countries)

My inner fat chick still, 60+ pounds later, says on occasions, who the h*** do you think your kidding??? Your fat! Go home, sit on the couch, eat a packet of chips, you don't belong here!!!

I remember years ago seeing a church billboard "church isn't a club for saints, its a hospital for sinners"

And that same analogy can be applied to the gym too.

08-09-2006, 05:56 AM
Oh Beautifulone I've been there and know exactly how you feel. I was a member of a gym for a year and never went but was too embarassed to cancel my membership either! I remember the day I got up the courage to go in....I went in and sat in the bathrooms for an hour in my gym clothes trying to somehow find the courage to go up the stairs to the gym. I did and have never looked back. Even when I started I couldn't let go of the bars on the treadmill...now I am following the 'couch to 5k' program.

I am proud of you for going, please do keep it up. I also live in a small area and a lot of the people in the gym are people I work with/live near. I sweat buckets, sometimes have to stop, am out of breath etc but I've never had any hassle and you just need to remember that you are there to do something positive for you. Well done you! It will get easier :-)

08-09-2006, 07:53 AM
I felt that way at first. Really scared to walk through the door. Now I don't care. Now I lift higher weights than some of the skinnys.

Everyone is there to get fit. Go there, do that and you'll get no trouble. Imagine if you saw a girl your size working out. Wouldn't you think 'Good for her!' I would and so would most people.

08-09-2006, 09:23 AM
I felt that way and would probably feel that way too now.. I don't go to the gym, I'm lucky to have my own private workout party at home! You may think the people there are thinking negatively about you but I bet they aren't. You'll find that people at the gym are usually worried about their own workout and health and are there to escape from home, work, etc. Just think how great it will be when you reach goal and wait till they see you then! Just keep on moving forward! You're doing a great job!

Misti in Seattle
08-09-2006, 09:37 AM
The people that should feel self concious at the gym are those that wear full makeup and lots of jewelry and what doesn't even look like workout clothes. Just do your thing :)

Well said! I see the same thing at the pool. Yes, it is a bit hard for me to rip off my huge T-shirt and climb into the water -- BUT at least I am IN THERE. I see women fatter than I am bring kids out to the pool... and the women have huge bottles of Coke and giant bags of chips, and sit there beside the pool reading and eating.

Besides as a pastor friend of mine used to say... most of the time when we worry what people are thinking about us, they aren't thinking about us at ALL, but about themselves and THEIR lives and families, etc. :)

08-09-2006, 10:13 AM
I used to be able to relate to feeling self conscious at the gym... and usually the only people that I notice who seem to notice me are the young (teens) guys in the free weight section... I get those looks that not only do I not belong in the free weight section cuz I'm a girl... but I'm a fat girl! LOL I just laugh when start lifting and it ends up being more than they could. I have more muscle under all this fat than I realize.
I haven't felt self-conscious in such a long time... mostly, I think when I got up to 350 I knew I couldn't hide my fat anymore. So I started wearing clothes that were comfortable, stopped trying to hide so much, and just went on with my own things... When you're that big, anywhere you go people notice... you just can't let it phase you. I've had this mentality for well over a year now and going to the gym isn't any different than going to walmart for me.

08-09-2006, 11:05 AM
I would just add that like Amanda, the only time I ever noticed looks was at the free weight section of the gym and I did feel a little self concious there but I got over it. Sometimes guys would even come up and say things to me like "you are doing good" or something like that. One time, I had a muscle man type come up to me and tell me that he was jealous because he couldn't get no where near the amount of weight I was doing on a leg press. The free weight section is my favorite section though but you will find few women there.

08-09-2006, 12:13 PM
First off, beautifulone, 40 MINUTES on a machine at the gym. You should be FREAKIN' PROUD of yourself. That is FANTASTIC!

Also, kykaree, being featured in your work magazine, how AWESOME is that? I would be bustin' my buttons with pride over that (better than bustin's one's buttons for another reason, eh? ;))

Re feeling self-conscious at the gym, when I started at the gym I started off swimming, so basically wearing less than I would to work out on a machine. I guess I wasn't super self-conscious b/c very few people used the pool and also my hubby was coming to the gym w/ me (although not swimming). This is goofy, but to take my mind off my body, I would fantasize about being an Olympic swimmer that everyone was cheering for. Man, I won a lot of medals ;).

Once I worked my way to the elliptical trainer, I was self-conscious b/c I sweat like the dickens and get really RED :mad:. Then I told myself, that's what I'm here for and that red, sweaty face is proof that I worked my tail off! I also did a similar thing as with swimming. If someone on the elliptical next to me got on and off all the while I was working out, I would secretly exult that I had "beat" them in some imaginary race (even though I know they were probably just using the elliptical as a warm up).

Basically, I advocate fantasizing to move the focus from your embarassment to your current and future gym victories, both imagined and real! Good luck getting more comfortable and let us know what you find works for you.

08-09-2006, 12:37 PM
I started at the gym at about 340 and the first day I was so nervous I thought I would pass out. But, I did my thing, no one bothered me and each day it got easier. I now LOVE to be at the gym and I know a lot of the people that go. I am lucky to have a gym in my building at work and I now know a lot of people from other companies. In fact the problem I have now is that I see people in the hallway who haven't been going for a while and I make them feel guilty!

One thing is that if you are in a gym where you are uncomfortable, maybe you can look for other options. I know this gets complicated if you have a contract, but if you are uncomfortable in your gym maybe you can find another one that feels better.

08-09-2006, 04:14 PM
I think everyone feels nervous at first, if you're trying something new and unusual and don't know whether you'll fit in. That applies to anything new you try in life, not just going to the gym. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and do it.

Those people in the gym aren't thinking about you, or not for more than a millisecond, and if they notice your weight now, then they'll be able to congratulate you later when it's come off.

Most people in the gym will understand your situation and not judge you. You don't know how many of them have been obese, or know friends who have been obese, and know how hard it is to take that first step. I'm always really pleased when a new "fat chick" joins my gym because they're doing something for themselves. When I'm running on the treadmill you might not know that's what I'm thinking, or why I understand what the new person is going through, but I do.

Once you get used to it, it's not so bad, honest!

08-09-2006, 06:06 PM
I'm taking today off but I'm so glad I went yesterday. It makes me feel really good knowing that I spent that time treating my body well and taking care of myself :) and you're all totally right... thanks for all of your support :D I do find the free weight section intimidating!! I haven't gone yet. I'm trying to establish a routine with cardio first, add the weights a little later so I don't do everything at once. But yeah, it's usually the buff teenage or college aged guys around whom I feel most uncomfortable, though in the end... we're each there for our own purposes so I'll "feel the fear and do it anyway" as someone said (I've heard the book is good!). I can't wait!

08-10-2006, 06:02 AM
I'll tell you something that i shared about six months ago. I was working in the abs section of my gym doing my fitball thing. I saw these two young guys about 17 - 18, vry fit and buff talking to a trainer, then they walked up to me. I was thinking "fantastic, they're going to ask the fat chick to move"

Imagine my suprise when the guys said "we need some ab exercises and our trainer says your the one to help". I was stunned. Oh and I killed them, poor guys used muscles they never knew they had.

So don't be quick to put yourself down, or to judge others. You might find that guys end up being your biggest supporters. The men in my gym make so much more fuss over my progress than the women!

08-10-2006, 11:03 AM
Like Gretchen, I too am lucky to have an array of workout equipment at home, so I've never felt the need to join a gym. I just wanted to say great job - you're doing fantastic! Keep it up!


08-10-2006, 12:25 PM
These are such great points!

Something else...I bet the majority of the chicks a whole lot smaller are so busy worrying about how they look, they don't notice anyone else. I guess that's maybe the one advantage of being in such a narcissistic society.