Just Call Me Gym Gerbil

That's what I call myself sometimes. Yeah, I know, funny right? Well, I have to laugh at myself because if I don't, who will? I felt like a gerbil in the beginning of my weight loss journey 2 years ago. I actually joined the YMCA. Shocking really. I never thought I would. It's as incomprehensible as a creme brulee that has no delicious hard sugary topping.

Posted on | Bonnie Matthews | Comments ()

That's what I call myself sometimes. Yeah, I know, funny right? Well, I have to laugh at myself because if I don't, who will? I felt like a gerbil in the beginning of my weight loss journey 2 years ago. I actually joined the YMCA. Shocking really. I never thought I would. It's as incomprehensible as a creme brulee that has no delicious hard sugary topping.

But there I was, walking on the treadmill at my YMCA in a 265-lb body. Feeling awkward in white tennis shoes. (Heavens! Me in white shoes!) Feeling strange that I didn't have any fancy workout clothes. In fact, I had very large baggy clothes so that no one, including myself, could see the real me under there. I was judgmental back then. I'd look around at all the thin athletic-looking people and think, "Man, they must have good genes and eat whatever they want. What are they doing here anyway? They drive me nuts looking so good with their skintight nice workout stuff on. Do they even break a sweat?"

I had some hard days 2 years ago when I was getting started at the Y. I was the best procrastinator EVER! Excuses, excuses. "Oh, I should stop and get a coffee first before going to work out - that caffeine will help." I remember putting on my “gym gerbil” outfit and driving to the YMCA; sitting in the parking lot listening to a song on the radio. Procrastinating!

Yep. There I would sit, call people on my cell; listen to another song on the radio. Then finally, finally I said to myself, "Gym gerbil, you've just gotta get your fat butt in there and get on that treadmill. You can do this, and you WILL DO this. You really actually WANT to do this, you just forgot." Oh yeah, I did forget! I wanted to do this for at least 18 days so that it would become a habit...for life.

And so I did. And I went the next day, and the next day and the next day...and I realized the thin people were working really hard at the gym too. And I wasn't intimidated by them anymore. They were actually really nice and encouraging! How about that? I made friends at my Y. I created a stronger desire to workout and be a part of something bigger!  I was now a part of a whole community of new friends and support. It made me want to be accountable, not just to myself, but to my new friends! Black, white, young, old…even Katie O' Malle, our First Lady of Maryland works out there.

So I kept going...and embraced my body right where it was...and it was getting smaller! 260 lbs...then 250...then 248... And I was getting happier with my progress! Some of the folks shared taught me to use the weight-lifting machines and I integrated that into my workout. And each day, I became less and less intimated by the machines. The gym became a second home in a way. What do you know, it became part of my life! Not this big scary unknown world of intimidating people. It was my new community. A place to feel proud in my body - no matter what size! I was there for wellness!

How about that! Little ol’ me – who used to be scared of the gym – actually learned to love it! I was having FUN! I would have NEVER thought in a million years I would have said that. I was losing weight, and I also let go of my judgments of thin people. I learned that they too have to work out hard to maintain their fit selves. Some of them even shared with me that they don't really like to work out. So I felt ahead of the game, because I was actually enjoying it. And I was excited to see what I would be able to achieve next with my body. I had just burnt off 30 lbs in no time on that treadmill.

How far would I go?

How far could I go?

What could I achieve at age 44? I decided I may as well shoot for the moon. I hired a trainer to help me understand how to build muscle and burn fat. I'll write about him more next week. He stepped into my life when I needed him most. I wanted to stay excited and not waiver. I knew that if I could continue to see results that I would stick with it. And he helped me understand all of that.

I never procrastinated anymore when I drove to the Y. – I zipped in there like I owned the place, said hi to my peeps, smiled, stretched and got down to business! Retraining my body to be a healthy fit one!

And this ol’ gym gerbil is smiling proudly now! My gym clothes are smaller and more form fitting. I'm even wearing sleeveless shirts when before you'd never catch me in them. I was so extremely self-conscious of my arms before.

I'm happy weighing 143 lbs. now...2 years later. I am strong, and muscular and feel great. Dr. Oz said I should create a new nickname for myself that's more fitting than “Big Bonnie Balloon Butt.”  Well, I think I'm going to stick with Gym Gerbil.

Blog written by Bonnie Matthews
At age 44, Bonnie decided to take control of her body and health. Despite having never exercised before, she lost 130 pounds the...