Fear and Loathing at the Gym

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Why the fear and loathing quote you may ask. Well, sometimes I can be a little dramatic, but that is the thought that came to my head when embarking on a new journey. My husband Rick and I started recently going to the gym together. This is a HUGE deal for me. First, I have been married for 10 years, and I am very neurotic about everything in my life, but especially my marriage. This may sound weird, but there is no bottom to my insecurities and neurosis. If you could live in my thoughts for one day, you would give me the golden medal of honor just for walking outside of my house.

I have been steadily gaining weight ever since my children were born, and I always tell the joke many of us tell, “still trying to lose that baby weight.” Reality has been sinking in with me lately as I am a solid 50 pounds heavier than I was when I was in college. More if you count my brief moments of traumatic break-ups making me not eat and vow to lose 15 pounds as if that in some way would make whatever loser I was with realize what they were missing. I know, freak, right?

So, I have been steadily been more and more self deprecating when talking about my weight to my husband, and he always responds by telling me he loves me and my body. I fully realize this is a no win situation for any significant other. If you agree that your loved one is overweight, you’re a jerk, if you disagree, you’re not doing your over weight loved one any favors. The only way this doesn’t pertain is if you are that asshole that complains about being overweight and you’re actually perfect. That’s right, you are an asshole, but I digress.

Right before Christmas, Rick suggested we get a gym membership and start going two days a week together. They have a daycare inside the facility for the kids, so we will have no excuses not to go. Holy Shit! That was my first thought as the fear set in. One, because I haven’t REALLY worked out in like a year, and two because I have to be in work out clothes in front of my husband. I feel really bad about myself and I feel weird being in front of him all vulnerable in yoga pants. Not to mention I kinda run like Phoebe from friends, and I don’t want my crazy running style to make my husband lose his boner for me.

Our first day walking into the gym I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be slowing him down? Are we going to be using the same work out machines? Will I be one of those uncoordinated people on the treadmill that accidentally puts their foot down on the side plastic part which makes their legs whip out from under them and then fly off the machine into the row of machines behind them? (See??? I told you there is no bottom to my insecurities.)

I will tell you it went so much better than I had anticipated. I don’t want to go too far into how much I love my husband, but when I really allow myself to fall, he catches me. And that is a metaphorical catch, I didn’t actually wipe out at all while we worked out.

We did start on the treadmill, and we ran for 20 minutes. We were both huffing and puffing together and struggling through the entire run. When we finished, we went on to the exercise equipment. This was a bit of a struggle for me. Not because of the actual weights, of course that part was tough, but because of the ass/vagina sweat print left behind after every turn I took. At first it was mortifying. I did what I would think any neurotic sister of mine would do in that scenario, I tried to do a one cheek slide after every turn to ass wipe my sweat away. It’s weird, in the moment I am so self conscious and aware of my sweat that it wasn’t until the ride home I stopped to think about it, and my husband left his sexy ass print of sweat also. His sweat didn’t bother him or me, so why am I so worried about mine?

We ended our night on our couch talking about how sore we were going to be tomorrow, and how it was so much harder than we expected. It was a scary hurdle we did together, and doing things like this, going outside of my comfort zone, and being each others cheerleader is what keeps up strong, and not silently resenting him everytime he tells me he weighs the same he did when he was in high school. Which makes me silently add more butter to every plate of dinner I make for him to try to have us on even playing fields. I mean … hypothetically.

I will say we have been going to the gym for about a month now, and although the fear of the experience in front of my husband has mostly gone away, loathing for the other girls at the gym around me has set in.

Like I mentioned, it’s been a couple months, and I have lost about 5 pounds. Ugh. Seriously, only 5 pounds. So I am running and sweating my vagina off and what do I get to look at in front of me, but a bunch of 20 something girls that have makeup on and not even a glisten of sweat. There are other women there too, of course, women my age in great shape, but are working their asses off and I feel like they are shining warrior queens that I am aspiring to be myself. There are also very overweight women that I feel pride in and encouragement for. But the girls with the makeup and the no sweat, I Just … Can’t!

There was this particular girl last night that I felt followed us the entire time we were there. Just so you can get a perfect visual, she was wearing spandex leggings with a geometric print that were high waisted and a long sleep black spandex top. She had a messy blonde ponytail, and full makeup done complete with fake eyelashes. In between going on machines, she would bounce (yes, it was bouncing) up to different guys around the gym. Every time she would bend over, which was a lot, there was a geo print right on her butt that was either meant as a beacon to draw the guys attention, or as a directional pattern to her preferred method of intercourse.

I know how this sounds, and I know I am being super bitchy, but if you were there with me I swear you would understand.

I, the other hand, was wearing 5 year old running pants that used to be black but now look more like a sad gray and a bleach stained University t shirt. My hair was in a low ponytail, with absolutely no bounce to it, because I was drenched in sweat.

Here is why I loathe this little girl, and myself at the same time. Why do I care? Why can I be happy for the Xena Warrior Princess my own age, and hate the young blonde that could have been me in my twenties? I think one part of it is realizing I never appreciated what I had or what I was when I was her age. I remember my early twenties, and I wonder why I let break ups bother me or men put me down? Why didn’t I appreciate my body, my mind, and truly think of myself as someone worth knowing?

While I don’t have the time machine needed to go back and bitch slap 21 year old Colleen; I can give myself a verbal bitch slap now. Wake UP! You are awesome! You have a body that yes, may be a work in progress, but is wonderful. It is healthy and has given you two beautiful children, countless orgasms, and has carried you through this life so far.

I think this is a lesson we can all learn. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves, and wishing we appreciated what we had back whenever, and start appreciating what we have right now. If you are not happy with yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally, don’t let fear and loathing of situations or those around you prohibit you from making a change today.

I’m not foolish enough to believe this was the mental wake up call that will magically make me love myself every minute of everyday. This will also probably not totally turn off the loathing of geometric tight pants that likes backdoor. (Hey, I’m a work in progress!) I will work everyday to try to be a better person.

After all when you get a gym membership you have to remember; “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Colleen Lieberstein

Colleen Lieberstein, Executive Administrative Assistant, is the heartbeat at two award winning and fastest growing companies in the Chicagoland area. She lives in New Lenox with her two energetic kids, and her supportive husband. Colleen loves to read, play with her children, and go on adventures with her family. Exploring new places and eating new foods is the best.