Now I go to the gym more sporadically. I aim for 3 times a week, but it varies. And sometimes I get so wrapped up in my thoughts that I stop running after 30 minutes and 5 seconds. And it only bothers me a little. Being mentally healthy has taken its toll on my waistline, and that panics me sometimes. Some days the thought of parading around the gym in yoga pants is too much and I consider skipping lunch and doing lunges in my office while repeating horrible thinspo taglines like "time wasting is never time wasted" to myself. But luckily, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, I don't have quite enough anxiety to work up a proper self-loathing, so instead I just say "fuck it" and go to the local bar and eat nachos and read a book.
But on meds or off, the worst, most anxiety producing part of the gym is certainly the locker room. I hate the locker room at the gym. Actually, if it were empty, it would be fine. I guess what I really hate is the social interaction (or avoidance) in the locker room. As I see it, there are 3 types of locker room users:
- The brazenly naked lady. This lady is bare as they day she was born. She's walking around. She's chatting with friends and strangers. She's spending 10 minutes rubbing lotion on every part of her body while everybody else tries to avoid looking at her. When I was younger I wanted to be this brave naked person. I held out hope for a long time that one day I would be so comfortable in my own skin that I could walk around nude as if it was no big thing. It's not going to happen.
- Towel magic woman. This gal can get totally changed while wrapped and hidden in a towel. I've tried to do this. I think every girl does it in junior high. As an adult I realized I lack the magical third arm needed to shovel my DD boobs into a sports bra while holding up a towel. Also that it's almost more awkward than brazen naked lady because everybody can tell at a glance that you're painfully self-conscious. Or maybe you just don't want them seeing your third arm.
- The nonchalant changer. This is the rest of the population. They come in, change their clothes, perhaps remark upon the weather, and go to the gym. They look so damn casual. They make it look easy. This is the person I hope I appear to be on the outside.
I try really hard to look nonchalant. And if nobody is in the room I am nonchalant as hell. But each additional person in the room piles on another layer of anxiety and so on the outside I'm just another lady changing into her gym clothes, but on the inside I'm doing this:
And that's on days when I don't have to make small-talk. TL;DR version: I'm crazy, and the gym makes me crazier. But I keep going. I always hope I can keep going.