Melissa and Loralie have partnered with Advocate Condell Medical Center Centre Club to spend the next year working to achieve their health goals. They’ll be documenting their steps to get Movin’ and Improvin’ and be fit by 40. This is not a weight loss series, this is a journey towards health. Read the series introduction to learn more. Today we hear from Loralie…
Once upon a time, I was afraid to enter a health club. Even at my lowest adult weight, and arguably the fittest time period of my life, I was convinced I would be identified immediately as a fraud.
I had a membership to what some would consider an elite gym. It was a mecca of hard bodies that sold giant tubs of magic protein powder and amino acids. This gym catered to a dedicated clientele of competitive body builders, and even the locker rooms sparkled from the light reflected off the hammered copper sinks.
Despite having recently conquered daunting athletic feats, my emotional fitness had not caught up with my physical fitness.
I imagined that everyone was staring at me when I walked onto the gym floor. While working out on the cardio deck, I could never keep my eyes off of other people’s dashboards. If my neighbor was running at 6 mph, well darn it, I had to run at 6.2 mph. I would show them I belonged!
I was convinced people were actually counting my bicep curls or assessing my form on the power tower. While at the time I could fit into a size medium athletic tank, I was constantly pulling and readjusting my clothes for fear a roll or crease would reveal itself, like a giant blinking red arrow that would announce “Intruder Alert!”
Doesn’t that all sound completely exhausting?
Fast forward eight years… I am now at my highest adult weight and I could care less what level your elliptical machine is on. I’m far too busy cycling through Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on the screen of my stationary bike at the Centre Club in Gurnee. Frankly, I’m more concerned about raising my own heart rate than knowing yours.
Is that my belly jiggling? Why yes it is, and it must mean I’m working hard.
My shirt is clinging to various crevices. That means I’m sweating. Sweating means I’m alive. Sweating means I’m moving and capable.
While catching my breath between deadlifts, I take a look around. Who’s at Centre Club today?
There’s a woman in a wheelchair getting rehab with a Physical Therapist. There’s that older gentleman I see on Wednesdays on the rowing machine. There’s a heavyset couple on neighboring treadmills–I love seeing couples exercise together! There’s a muscular young woman in Lululemon running stairs with the boot campers. She’s worked hard to be strong.
At Centre Club, I see people of all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds. There are teenagers playing a game of pick-up basketball, and retirees headed to the pool for laps.
I don’t know why they are here. I can really only imagine their stories. Maybe that elderly woman is training for a triathlon, maybe that thin woman is in recovery from an eating disorder, maybe that man is rehabbing from a football injury, or maybe he just doesn’t want to have a heart attack at age 40. Does it really matter? All that matters is that they are here, today, making the choice to do something positive for their health. They’re not looking to see how many pounds I can deadlift, they are on their own journey.
I wasted too many years worrying about how big I looked on the outside. If only I had taken the trouble to really see how small I had become on the inside.
Maybe you’re not interested in all that touchy-feely stuff. Maybe you just want updates on my physical progress? I’ve been Movin’ and Improvin’ for six months now. I’m not going to tell you how much I’ve shrunk (and I have) but I am going to tell you how much I’ve grown.
Last year, I took my kids to a rock climbing gym in Milwaukee. They begged me to climb with them, but I told them I would just watch. I was afraid of being embarrassed. I didn’t want to be humiliated in front of my children when it was discovered the harness wouldn’t fit. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to haul my body up onto the wall and so I didn’t even try.
Here’s a picture of me taken just a few weeks ago.
Wherever you are in your fitness journey, may you find courage. May you find growth.
Advocate Condell Medical Center – Centre Club is a Hospital-based health and wellness club owned by Advocate Condell Medical Center and operated by Midtown Athletic Clubs. They offer a choice of group exercise, basketball, racquetball, weight lifting, swimming, indoor track and more. They also offer various health programs, personal trainers and massage therapy.
Disclosure: Loralie and Melissa have received a one-year membership from Advocate Condell Centre Club in exchange for sharing their journey and progress with our readers. All thoughts and opinions belong to the writer and no further compensation was received.