Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting to the bottom of my dislike/fear of exercising. - Part One

I have been thinking a lot lately about exercise. I read some incredible blogs about fatties loving exercise first there is Shaunta  who inspires me so often as she blogs about setting realistic goals and find ways to move her body that she loves.  Then there is Ragen Chastain, she makes me long for a fat friendly dance studio around my area because I have always loved the idea of dancing and would love to learn how in a safe space.

Both of these women are inspiring and they are making me want to get my body moving more in ways that I love but in thinking about that my brain hits a dis-connect and I have been pondering why. The thought of exercise fills me with this sense of dread, fear, and failure and it is so deeply instilled that I am realizing it is something that has become ingrained in me at a young age. I was never really an "athletic" person but the more I think about it the more I realize somethings were very off.

Of course back when I was very young I was not as fat as I am today but even back then I remember always being the slowest one, the one struggling. I can vividly remember walking with the rest of my family through a parking lot or mall and crying cause I couldn't keep up to everyone, and being scolded or prodded to hurry up. Even at that young age I my stomach would churn and i would be filled with anxiety when thinking about having to walk a long distance or do something strenuous like walking up a very steep hill. I find that very puzzling because I could do it fine when left to do it on my own pace, but there was just something inside me that fought against it.

My first memories of sports and exercise was in kindergarten/first grade where the dread, failure and ultimately fear started. I remember having a gym teacher who was very competitive and into winning. His idea of motivation was to yell, scream, and ridicule any student who did something wrong.  My first memory is of being up at bat and due to the fact that I had severe astigmatism which means I have very little depth perception so keeping my eye on the ball was pretty much impossible. I kept striking out and therefore getting yelled at by my gym teacher and then insulted and ridiculed by the other kids. We were thrown into games without really being taught the rules of how to play them, and so if and when I made  mistake it was a repeat of the same thing. People would get so focused on winning that if you messed up or didn't do something right you were yelled at and made to feel like a failure. Often times I didn't really even know what I had done wrong because it was never explained to me. I would see other kids being made fun of or ridiculed and I hated it but I couldn't do anything cause the teacher was just as bad. I still hate competition, hate it with a passion. I hate what it does to people and I hate the feeling of being competed with. Competition is such a frustrating thing for me that I will willingly take myself out of it or in the words of my awesome nephew "choose to lose" so I can avoid it.

I realize that some people really do like competition and they respond well to insults and getting yelled at, but I am not one of those people. Even when I am playing Online Role Playing Games I prefer going through quests and conquering bosses rather than competing with other people.So that is one thing that has cultivated my lack of enjoying physical activity. Next post I will talk about the other main reason, and then maybe I can figure out how to find enjoyment through movement. See you in the next post!


  1. Oh yeah, I hated organized sports in phys ed in school - or tumbling or folk dance or just about anything else where you had to be good and compete against classmates. Recess in grade school was fine, nothing there was organized, we could do pretty much whatever we wanted (I was into jumping rope and hopscotch). But in jr high and high school, I had a phys ed teacher for 5 of the 6 years who expected everyone to be able to do everything well. I don't like sports, never have, never will, so I didn't care if I could do them well. I don't have a sense of rhythm, so folk dance was a royal pain, I was out of step with everyone else. And gymnastics/tumbling - well, let's just say the only thing I could do well there was a forward roll (balance beam, headstands, handstands, tripods, etc - forget it, my fat body said no way and fell over every time). About the only thing I excelled at in phys ed were calisthenics and avoiding phys ed (forgetting my gym shoes/suit, being late to school when it was my first class of the day, etc).
    If bike riding, roller skating, and swimming would have been offered, I would have loved phys ed - those were things I did all the time, weather permitting. I was good at them, and liked to do them (so of course, none of them were available at school).
    Now that I'm older, much fatter, and have tons of mobility issues, about all I can manage is riding our stationary bike while I watch television. It's better than nothing, but it's not what I would call fun (it's tolerable). I do swim when we stay in motels with pools when we go see my son or on short trips (that's fun), but it's not something I can afford to do on a daily, or even couple of times a week basis.

  2. Vesta, I LOVED bike riding, swimming, rollerskating, even dancing and stuff that I could do by myself at my own pace. I would spend hours making up dances or riding my bike and would have spent all day in the pool as long as it wasn't something where I was being compared to others.

    I remember asking my mom for dancing lessons, like jazz or something cause it sounded so fun, but she kind of laughed at the idea and I never brought it up again.

    Then I got it drummed into my head that exercise or movement was no good unless you went crazy and overdid it cause it was to lose weight. So that became my focus because I wanted to be acceptable, so I would bike miles and miles, as fast as I could and soon all the joy of movement was gone because all I could relate it to was getting skinny, or a punishment.

    I wish that that love of movement hadn't been taken away..... and it scares me to know that that is probably happening to kids like crazy these days.