Lose The Shame: This Is Your Pep Talk
EDITOR'S NOTE: Staff Writer Coshandra Dillard is attending a health journalism conference in Atlanta. Staff Writer Vanessa Pearson is filling in.
Each week, this section is full of success stories, new fitness ideas and nutrition ideas. A lot of it revolves around losing weight and being fit.
But these pages don't always talk about how to get over the hang-ups stopping us from taking those first steps.
It's hard to start -- and to keep going.
I get that.
I'm living that.
I spent the first 28 years of my life avoiding all things physical because I'm not an athlete who can run fast or do it like "everyone else."
In a nation where obesity is at an all-time high, I'm the "everyone else" and the athletes of the world are the minority.
A few weeks ago in the Travel section, I wrote about my wake-up call -- I couldn't buckle the seat belt on an airplane. It was the ultimate humiliation.
I was embarrassed to look the way I did and worried about how I looked when I tried to do anything active.
I was ashamed my weight and body had gotten so out-of-hand.
I was ashamed I had done this to myself.
And I know I'm not the only who has felt that way.
I knew I needed to start doing something, so I started walking every day.
It helped, but my soda consumption and eating habits weren't much better.
In January, we kicked off fitness and weight-loss challenges here at the newspaper for our employees to make healthier choices.
A little competition spurred me on. I joined a gym and started following the advice this section imparts.
And it's working -- I've lost more than 30 pounds since then, and more than 60 since the fall, by getting active and eating right.
Since I started this journey to being fit, I've heard so many shame-based excuses such as, "I couldn't do what you do -- people will stare at me," "But aren't you worried about how you look?" or "You're so brave. I'm too ashamed to go to the gym/wear a swimsuit/exercise."
Lose the shame.
Go ahead, take five minutes -- that's it -- and look at yourself in the mirror. Feel those feelings. But then, go put on your sneakers and take a walk. Eat some fruits and vegetables instead of potato chips and fried chicken.
Do something about it.
I'm not brave; I got tired of being tired of the way I was going, so I'm dropped the shame and started dropping the weight.
I had to accept what I'd done to my body before I could move on and get moving.
You can't let other people's opinions stop you from working out or eating healthier.
Yes, there will be a diet saboteur putting cookies near your desk or begging you to buy cheese puffs at the store.
But you've got this -- you can say no.
It's not about them -- it's about you, your health, how you feel in your skin.
It's your life, not theirs.
In a Men's Health list of excuses not to work out under "I don't want to look stupid," the magazine's website wrote, "Nobody's looking. 'They're so into themselves that they're not even thinking about you,' (trainer Gunnar) Peterson says."
I know I'm not staring at other people when I'm doing my workout. I'm too busy being upset my trainer wrote burpees and chinups into my routine or wondering how I'm going to make it to the end of kickboxing to be paying attention to what you're doing at the gym.
And if someone who loves people watching as much as I do isn't paying attention to you, then neither is anyone else.
So just go outside and move. Or pick a salad instead of a burger. Incorporate small changes such as walking 15 minutes a day to start or reading the nutrition labels on the foods you're eating.
You don't have to join a gym to get started -- try one of the area's walking trails or the blocks around your house. Pull up YouTube videos of workouts that you want to try.
I've joined gyms before, but it never really clicked for me because I held onto those worries about how I looked in the gym, imagining that everyone was judging me.
But I wanted to be better, healthier.
This time, joining a gym is likely the best thing I've ever done for myself.
The first week I went, I felt out of place. And every time I went to a new fitness class, I always was the worst one -- the most out of shape -- and I wondered whether everyone asked themselves what the fat girl thought she was doing jiggling around in Zumba.
But a few days in, I discovered I didn't care anymore because the staff is welcoming and the people I work out with are encouraging and always asking how my weight loss is going.
That support system is invaluable to me.
When I started this process, I couldn't run once around the track. Now, I can run a mile without stopping and I've done two 5Ks so far this year.
I have so much more energy than I ever imagined I'd have. I'd read over and over that I would have energy if I exercised while I edited and designed these pages (and ate horrible-for-me snacks), but I didn't really believe it until I proved it to myself.
I'm still heavy and I've got a long way to go -- but I didn't put all this weight on in a few weeks, so I won't take it off that fast either.
There's no magic pill and no one can do this for you.
And getting healthy isn't about anyone but you.
You are the one that can end the shame and bad feelings about your body.
So get out there, put on your blinders and dangle that carrot in front of you.
It's time to shed the pounds -- and the shame.
Vanessa Pearson is a staff writer for the Tyler Courier-Times--Telegraph. She can be reached at 903-596-6267 or email@example.com