February 24th, 2012 - 10:36 pm

» glutton

In school, I always hated gym. A self-conscious kid to begin with, gym class focused all the unease, the fear, the shame that roiled in my young, chubby heart. I was awkward and desperately afraid of failing, so I wouldn’t try. I would hang back, hook up with the kid with asthma or a broken leg. It was torture, feeling on display. Now Presenting: The girl who can’t do a chin-up! The slowest to run the mile! Shy girl takes a soccer ball to the face!

It’s strange, then, that I now find myself spending Friday evenings at a gym. I still haven’t quite shaken my dread of them; every time I walk in there the uncomfortable preteen inside of me cringes. But I go — and, more than that, I like it.

It feels good, to push myself. To be exhausted and wobbly at the end of an hour. It’s a drop-in class, and everyone who drops in is incredibly nice and supportive and fun, and the personal trainer doesn’t mind when I talk about setting the weight sleds on fire. So it’s nice that I’m doing something nice for myself. Unicorns and rainbows, tralala. It has a lovely way of turning a bad day around. But, if I’m being honest, what’s really doing the trick about it on those bad days is the chance to be mean to myself.

I push until I burn, and then I dig in. I think about being fat and wimpy and sad, and I push harder. It feels good, gritting through the pain. Grinding out another rep. Staying, just barely, on my feet. It feels like a weird sort of justice. Like something I deserve as much as something I’m earning.

I’m not sure what the point is, really. I feel like I should be sad about it, should try to disown the impulse to beat myself up. But I’m not. I’m glad to have the ability to push through. I’m still proud that I can go and do, that I can go to a gym and set aside the worry about being judged. Some days I’m mean about it, but ultimately I’m doing something nice for myself, and in the end that’s what I’m going to count.

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