The Dirty Little Secret That Got A Skinny Girl To the Gym

When you don't have a bunch of weight to lose or a marathon to train for, there are plenty of excuses not to go. But this one thing got me going to the gym regularly.

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I was always the skinny kid. You know, one of those bony types that weighed about 90 pounds in high school, flat as a board, with a face that belonged in kindergarten. It never occurred to me to ‘watch what I ate’ or exercise regularly outside of gym class or softball practice. In fact, when I experienced my first significant ‘weight gain’ my first year of college (the typical freshman fifteen), it took me awhile to realize that all my pants hadn’t magically shrunk…I just didn’t fit in them anymore. Looking back, it’s not surprising that a steady dining hall diet of pizza, ice cream and Dr. Pepper led to a few extra pounds over the course of a semester. But at the time, I was shocked. So I started to dabble in going to the gym. I had no idea what I was doing, of course, so I mostly stuck to running on the treadmill and a couple of Ab Blast workout classes with a girlfriend. Between this and slightly modifying my junk food diet, I was able to lose a few pounds and maintain (what I considered) a healthy weight. A few years after college, some of my extended family got a membership at the YMCA, and included me on their pass. So I started going, maybe once or twice a week, still not having much of a clue how to properly work out. The machines looked complicated and intimidating, but no way was I asking for help like some kind of square. So I stuck to the simpler ones I could figure out: elliptical machine, seated leg extensions, shoulder press, etc. I used these machines in no particular order, with no real consistency or tangible fitness goals. But hey, I was ‘going to the gym,’ and that’s what counts, right? I had never struggled with my weight, so taking exercise seriously wasn’t a priority.  Why spend hours at the gym if you don’t need to shed some serious pounds? As I entered my late 20s, I started to realize something: I wasn’t in shape. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see fat…but I didn’t see muscle tone either. Working in an office means a lot of time spent sitting, and since I lived in a one-bedroom apartment, so I couldn’t even justify getting a dog to walk. My time at the gym was sporadic and unfocused. It wasn’t getting me anywhere and I didn’t feel good about my body. And I feared that if I didn’t get into a healthy workout routine soon, I would most likely pay for it later. This is when I started to consider a personal trainer. The frugal part of me balked at the thought, what a waste of money! Why pay someone when there are so many exercises you can do for free? There are hundreds of lists online about “how to stay fit on a budget.” Run around the block, do sit-ups while you watch TV, push ups before bed, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away at work…the list goes on and on. I’m going to be totally honest and say I just wasn’t that motivated. So why pay for a personal trainer? Because it would motivate me. I didn’t have fifty pounds to lose that would light a fire in my belly.  When I got home from work, I wanted to crash on the couch, not crunch on the carpet. I wasn’t miserable with my body; I just thought it could stand to look better. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there are many people out there who feel the same way. We want to make a change, but we’d rather make it tomorrow. Now I know there are countless fitness fanatics that claim to get an amazing high from working out, others who have to work their butts off just to maintain their goal weight. There are also people who flat out aren’t as lazy as I am. I also know there are plenty of people out there who really just can’t afford it. Having a personal trainer is a luxury, there’s no doubt about it. And I didn’t take the financial aspect lightly. I was 27 with a monthly rent, car insurance, student loans, and all the other bills that come with being a grown-up. But when I got to thinking about it, what was that money going towards anyway? I went out to eat for lunch almost every day at work. Averaging 8 or 9 dollars a meal, Chipotle and Panera were already accounting for roughly $150 of my monthly budget! Not to mention going out to eat for dinner, which was also a regular occurrence. How about $10 a pop to see a movie these days? Or the $30 sweater I bought at the mall? The point being, I could afford it. My dirty little secret was…I chose to believe that paying for a personal trainer would put a serious crimp in my budget. It didn’t. I’ve been going to the trainer once a week for over a year, and I’m getting something invaluable for my money. My workouts in the past had been passive at best. I didn’t push myself, I didn’t sweat and I didn’t burn. It was like showing up to class twice a week just for the lowest passing grade. Now I feel myself getting stronger, and I see myself actually making progress. I can ask her questions about my diet, my fitness goals, and my overall health, and get an answer from someone who knows what she’s talking about. I now feel good about my body, and that’s definitely worth the price.

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