Why are all these skinny people in the gym?
(Re-printed with permission from The St. Louis American Newspaper)
consuel

By: Consuelo H. Wilkins, M.D.

Those of you who have seen me recently may have noticed that I have lost a few pounds. Okay, more than a few, but I’m not saying how many. I certainly needed to lose those extra pounds and I know from past experience that it’s not easy.

I am very appreciative of the compliments, encouragement and positive feedback that I have received along the way but recently people have started to become rude. Around the beginning of this year (seven months after I started my training program), several people told me that I needed to take a new picture for the American, one that showed the slimmer me. I smiled and thanked them but didn’t take a new photo. As the months passed, more people commented on my photo, saying that it needed to be updated. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, my hair stylist threatened me! “If you don’t take a new picture, I am going to stop reading your column!”

Now that was too much. Of course, I was really afraid that Miyasa would threaten to stop doing my hair. She gets up as early as 5 am on some Saturdays for me so I need to keep her happy!

The truth is that I delayed taking a new photo because I didn’t want to ‘confirm’ that I have indeed lost some weight. In a sense, the new photo brings attention to the change which means that everyone will know (at least the 70,000+ people who read the American will know). I didn’t want to have that ‘Oprah’ effect take place. You know, lose weight, show off your abs, then you feel pressured by everyone to keep it off and you fall off the wagon, gain weight and start hiding behind chairs.

I certainly intend to maintain my healthier lifestyle but it is definitely a challenge. Over a year ago, I started working out with a personal trainer for an hour a day, five days a week. On day six, I do cardio on my own. (I go to church on day seven and thank God for the day off.)

“Over a year ago, I started working out with a personal trainer for an hour a day, five days a week. On day six, I do cardio on my own.”

I decided to use a personal trainer after two years of step aerobics three days a week with no results; I knew I had to do something different. One of my good friends was starting with a new trainer and encouraged me to give it a try.

My first day at the gym was interesting. It’s a small gym and at 5:30 am it’s not very crowded so everyone knows each other. The first thing I noticed was how ‘fit’ everyone was. “Why are all these skinny people in the gym?” I thought. Actually, I probably grumbled it under my breath. Everyone was nice and cordial though, and Ashley, my trainer, made me feel very comfortable.

I must admit that I was initially skeptical about working with a trainer. I’m a physician and I know how to lose weight. I eat right and I exercise already so I just need to increase the length of time that I exercise and stay away from the bread. I don’t really need this weight training, strengthening stuff. Wow, was I wrong.

“I don’t really need this weight training, strengthening stuff. Wow, was I wrong.”

The benefits of the trainer quickly became clear to me. I was being pushed much farther than I would push myself, I was going to the gym consistently, and I was sweating!

More than a year after starting, I am still going to the gym five days a week. And yes, those same fit and skinny people are still there (Hi to Bill, Kevin, Celeste, John and everybody!). What I’ve learned in the last year from all of them is that on most days, they would rather be some place other than the gym. However, they have made a commitment to have a healthy life and that means hard work. I was hoping to learn something easier but at least it’s reassuring that I’m not the only one who doesn’t think that it’s ‘the most fun I’ve ever had’.

“However, they have made a commitment to have a healthy life and that means hard work.”

So I’ve finally taken a new photo. Hopefully, I won’t have to go back to the old one.