Let's face it. Going to the gym can be an exercise in self loathing, diminished self confidence and the over whelming urge to hide every minute role of flesh that plagues our very existence. We come up with millions of excuses, I mean reasons, to avoid the mental and physical torture every day.
And before you think otherwise, let me tell you that I am no gym rat. I haven't stepped foot into a public gym in over a half a decade, but in the last week I took my first trip to my local Planet Fitness and you know what, I walked out feeling good about myself. It might sound corny or a bit cheesy, but this was a milestone that was years in the making.
Feeling good about myself is not always something I talk about. I am compulsive when it comes to down grading any sort of positive self worth. But that trip was one of those days that I got a positive feeling from.
In case you were wondering, I am no hot model - not even close. I have curves in all the wrong places and I have about 15 pounds that came to visit a few years ago and they have refused to leave. Being a little flabby around the middle and a sports bra compressing me from a B down to an A- doesn't do wonders for the self confidence. I hate to talk about it but I have the added issue of having to hide certain hated body parts. So all this has always been enough reason, or excuse, for me to stay away from the gym.
But there comes a time in our lives when we have to weigh the options and override what we might be feeling. I have to stay active to ward off the affect Fibromyalgia has on my body, so I have to put aside what ever body image issues I have and do what is best.
It was in the Summer or Fall of 2009 when I last attended a gym on a regular basis. It was my haven during the last days of my marriage and the parking lot became my nightly resting place when I was homeless and living in my minivan.
For a multitude of reasons, going to the gym since those days has never been a huge priority for me. For one, I like my sedentary lifestyle just a little too much. My health on the other hand has forced me to rethink, at least in part, how I should be living my life.
I know that there are many studies that say that people with Fibromyalgia should do their best to stay active and keep moving. And for the most part, I agree. I can't do anything strenuous but walking on a treadmill is something I can do. It's as close as I can get to the long hikes I take during the warmer months.
Now you might think that my new found confidence was from being able to walk on the treadmill further than I had expect. Another possibility is that I was able to lift more than I had in the past. Or maybe you think the confidence came from a growing knowledge that I was taking steps to benefit my body. All those are great reasons, but they would all fall short of the real reason.
Walking into the gym this time was very different than the last. A lot, and I mean A LOT, has changed. The last time my I.D. had the dreaded 'male' marker on it and being in the men's locker room was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. The whole time I felt as though I was in some foreign world.
Being in the male locker has never been something I have been comfortable with. I not only hated my own body, but just being in there made me feel unsafe. Let's not even talk about the nightmares I still have of the P.E. locker room from my junior high and high school years.
Now that the coin has flipped and the marker on my I.D. is corrected to female, the experience is entirely different. Using the women's restroom was nothing new to me when I transitioned, I had been wandering the world as Meggan since the days I could drive, but using the locker room was a horse of a different color.
What I experienced the first day back to the gym was something I didn't expect. The confidence was something I hadn't experienced in a long time. It's one of those feelings you have longed for your entire life, but you always felt it was a pipe smoke dream and something you never thought you would ever experience.
All my life I have longed to be accepted as a woman. I knew it was and is who I am and, from time to time, I need the world to recognize it too. In nearly all aspects of my life these days that has come true. I chose Planet Fitness because they boast a "Judgment Free" environment but they also have a history of standing up for transgender individuals.
The locker room is one of those areas that you can't help but feel exposed. Many women are mindful of what might be on display and some bear just a little less than what they would in their own bedroom. I won't say I wasn't on my guard, but my fears of being read as anything but another woman using the facilities went unfounded. As I shared the locker room, that private space for just women, I exchanged several friendly smiles with others and with each smile back, my confidence in myself grew.
Sometimes it is in the most unique of places where you find confidence in yourself. I would have never thought I would find mine in the locker room.
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