Reader Question: Help! I’m Self-Conscious at the Gym

I hope everyone had a better holiday weekend that I did. I’ve been fighting a nasty cold, and I hope, by the time you read this, the worst will be behind me. I’ve thought that once already, on Friday, when I was feeling pretty good. But then I woke up on Saturday a sneezy, snotty mess. Now, as I type this, I’m feeling like I did on Friday… and keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t regress again.

Meanwhile, a reader recently reached out to me looking for some advice, and I wanted to share how I replied:

Hi! I am currently a college student and I am trying to lose weight, but I’m having a really hard time. I try to go to the gym as often as possible but I get really self conscious and am afraid people are judging me. Do you have any advice for someone like me?

Hey! Awesome to hear you’re working out and trying to lose weight! KEEP IT UP! I’m certainly familiar with the difficulties, and familiar with that feeling of being self-conscious.

One part of me wants to tell you that, in regards to anyone else at the gym, FUCK THEM. Who gives a shit what they’re thinking? Just get your workout done and get on with your day, and if you make eye contact or pass in the hall, flash them a smile or a thumbs up. Rise above.

Or, another approach: Assume the best. Maybe they are judging you, but they’re impressed and proud of you. They see you working hard, taking control of your life, and your presence at the gym is inspiring them to work harder.

A couple more thoughts: go to the gym with a friend. Having a friendly face, someone to laugh with, someone to help pass the time makes all the difference, and might make you more comfortable on your own. If that’s not an option, see how you can meet people at the gym. Are there classes? Can you get a free session with a trainer? Does the gym have a Facebook page where you can interact with other members?

Mostly, though, remember that it doesn’t matter. You belong in that gym just as much as they do. They don’t know squat about you, and any presumption or judgment on their part is baseless and probably inaccurate. If ever there’s concrete evidence that people are treating you disrespectfully – if anyone ever says anything rude, purposely makes you feel uncomfortable, or interferes with your workout in a negative way, you have the right to report it to management. I guarantee they will listen, as they want their facility to be a safe, welcoming place for all their clients. (And, if they don’t, time to find a new gym.) Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you need to do, and then… KEEP IT UP!

If you have other advice or thoughts, share them in the comments section. And if you have a question for me, don’t hesitate to reach out!  (If I share your question on the blog, I’ll keep you anonymous.)

I suppose the one good thing about being sick is that I got to perfect a couple recipes I’ve been working on. I’ll share them in my next two posts… and they both feature the same spring vegetable! Any guesses?

Keep it up, David!

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6 Responses to Reader Question: Help! I’m Self-Conscious at the Gym

  1. Charlotte Cavaluzzi says:

    Very good advice for your follower David! I know sometimes if we don’t have a good feeling about our bodies, we can falsely think that others are judging. We just have to keep going and try not to worry about others. Keep it Up, right David? Okay, I’m guessing asparagus??

  2. Sugar Lee says:

    You’re absolutely correct about assuming what others are thinking. I’m a size six from a 14 and walk three miles every day, always including some stairs! (Stair climbing has made such a difference, even just six flights, thank you for that!) Anyway, when I see someone who is just starting their journey to better health, it humbles me. I know how difficult it is to start. I don’t enjoy exercising but I do it because I feel so good when I’m done. My hat is off to anyone who is trying to improve their health in whatever way they choose. If I’m looking at you, I’m thinking good for you! 🎉
    A little humor, when I started and would feel discouraged, I’d think that every minute I’m walking is a minute I’m not sitting on a couch eating chips.

  3. Pat says:

    Here’s some helpful advice: Lose the Michigan garb, and suit up in the Green & White. Just a thought.

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