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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Don’t Be Scared.

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Working out and being overweight can be intimidating for a lot of people. I’ve always made an effort to workout, even at my heaviest, I was going to the gym as often as I could. But let’s be honest, working out can be intimidating, probably for everyone, but if you’ve been overweight or are overweight, or you just jiggle in places you’d rather not, it can be difficult to work up the nerve.

When I go to the gym, I’m convinced that it is a rule that there must be a very fit woman on a treadmill or elliptical machine, and she is required to wear shorts or sweat pants with a word across the butt. It usually says “PINK” which I don’t really understand, though I get it is from Victoria’s Secret, I just don’t know what exactly it is advertising. This fit woman who seems to never leave the gym (ANY GYM) casually pats her brow, sometimes while reading a magazine, ON THE MACHINE (which I don’t understand, but then again, maybe I just jiggle more than her).

Don’t get me wrong, this is never the only person at the gym, there is always grunty guy, fast walking person, person who I’m convinced will fly off the treadmill at the speed they are going, person who is training for something. But it’s always the words across the butt woman who seems to stand out. Maybe she is really working hard, maybe she just doesn’t want anyone to know. Me? I wear workout clothes that fit, which is harder than you’d think. There are not a lot of plus-size workout clothes that are comfortable, with LONGER shirt lengths, so that every time you lift your arms, you don’t expose yourself. Someone get on that idea, it’s a billion dollar idea, you are welcome.

Anyway, back to the gym. I go first thing in the morning, before my brain can talk myself out of the ordeal. I’m too tired to argue with myself, and I really don’t want to break my streak. I have this calendar, and I mark off each day I go, and once there is momentum, I really never feel like starting it all over again. So I go, with my bottle of water, my hand towel, and I walk into the gym, smile at words across the butt woman and get on my treadmill. It’s just walking/jogging/jiggling, nothing earth shattering. I can’t read and walk at the same time, so I listen to books on tape which is kind of the same thing. I remind myself that it was not that long ago I couldn’t walk 5 minutes without being in severe pain, and that I can keep a pretty good pace, I can even jog/run most of the time. For me, it’s a victory, a measure of success.

But it was recently that I decided to push myself. I signed up for hot yoga.  I go to my hot yoga class at night. This is because it takes me that long to work up the nerve to go. I argue with myself until about 30 minutes before class, and then think, I can’t miss an X on the calendar, so I should go.

The studio is really nice and new. So I thought I’d give you a play-by-play of my hot yoga experience, which is only a few days old, so I’m probably totally off on most of this.

I was prepared, I read every “how to survive hot yoga” article on the internet. They were mostly all wrong. There is not a lot that you can prepare to do, except show up, don’t eat before and know that you “probably won’t die” as one of these articles so wisely advised. So I show up, and the instructor greets me, I go back to the locker room (which thankfully is nice and spacious) and get ready for class. I have a brand new yoga mat (as in I seriously took off the paper wrapping in the car), a towel that absorbs moisture, a big bottle of ice water.

I walked into the room, and my glasses fogged up. It happened to be a cold day in the first night, and the drastic temperature change was nice  for about 2 minutes, and then it was hot, really hot. I was sweating before the class even began. Like most situations, I was the biggest person in the room. I’m used to that. There were people with very little clothing on, and I kept thinking “one of these things is not like the other”. I started to get really worried, there was a huge mirror in the front of the classroom. I didn’t really want to be staring at myself for the next hour+, and I thought that I’d look ridiculous trying to do whatever the instructor was about to instruct us to do.

Funny thing, in about an instant, all my worries went away. This is mostly because when it’s that hot, and you are attempting to do things that you were not aware your body could do, you have NO TIME to think about anything else, let alone what you look like. It just went away. The  instructor was encouraging through the class, giving lots of instructions without demonstrating what to do. At one point as he told us what to do, I had to keep from chuckling. He wants us to do what? With what? I realized at that point that I was missing the point. The point was not to be perfect or to get it all right, the point was to try, and to make it through the end of the class, that was it.

There was no competition, and I realized at some point if I couldn’t even begin to think about what others looked like while doing their postures, they sure as heck were not worried about what I looked like.

One of the things that the instructor said at one point that stuck was “don’t be scared.” I thought about it the entire class. It became my mantra.

“don’t be scared”

“don’t be scared”

“don’t be scared”

I told myself with each posture, I’d just go for one more, and then I’d sit down, or I’d leave class if I needed to. I mean, I’m not going to be a master hot yoga ninja anytime soon, but just finishing the class felt like an accomplishment.

As it should. It doesn’t matter where you are in this journey. It doesn’t matter if you can walk 5 miles or run a marathon. What matters is that you do something, anything, and that you finish what you set out to do. There is so much to be said for just making that commitment, no matter what it is, and sticking to it, day after day.

Focus on just today. Don’t let all of those doubts crowd your mind. Get some momentum, no matter what it is, how long it is, just find the momentum. Try something new. No matter what your size is, try it anyway, especially if it scares you. Decide that you’ll go for it one time, and then maybe you might try it again.

There is a whole world out there with possibilities undiscovered, and things that you never thought you could do that you can definitely do. But how will you know if you don’t give it a try?

Don’t be scared. See what is possible.

*I’ll keep you updated on my hot yoga progress. Right now my goal is t show up.

About the author

NatalaE2
Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.
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  • Leah

    Thank you for highlighting the positive, non-competitiveness of yoga. :) If you walk into a room and do a yoga session and leave feeling it was competitive or negative, then that is not a good yoga studio. Nearly every place I’ve been has been welcoming, encouraging, and everyone is trying their best in their own minds and own bodies. Welcome!

  • Karen

    Are you familiar with JunoActive? They make great active wear for plus size women up to 6X. I used to wear their stuff when I was larger for years.

  • natala

    Thank you karen!!! That is what I was looking for :)

  • Jennifer Crews

    Wow, thank you for sharing your thoughts; you are not alone. I am so happy Bikram yoga has opened a studio near my home in East Austin. You’re right on about ‘don’t be scared’ because this class, although difficult, I always feel wonderful after. The instructors are very encouraging, and sometimes, that’s what I really need. Good luck and keep up the great work!

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