Battling Gym Insecurities and My Recent Struggle

September 11, 2013

Who has gym insecurities? Who reading this, truly wants to work out at a gym, but is scared to death? You have so many concerns that you just tell yourself to forget the idea of ever joining one.

I did. I told myself that many, many times.

When I was 15 years old, I joined a gym. I had been working out since I was 13. I was a very overweight child. When I was 13 my exercises were "Denise Austin" videotapes and running laps on my four wheeler track in the backyard (It was nice growing up in the country, ha) but when I started cheerleading my sophomore year of high school, I wanted to really get into more cardio exercise and weight lifting. I was lifting girls constantly as I was a spotter and we wore our cheer outfits on game days to school. I needed to look good. It did not help the bullying I received though

Moving on. When I joined my gym I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, come on, I was on 15 years old. But I took initiative and I learned. I worked out religiously from 15-17 years old and I loved it. I looked great, gained a lot of muscle and lost a lot of body fat. Then I graduated high school early, in January of 2007. 

From January of 2007 until September 2008, partying, working, and binge eating consumed my life. I rarely went to the gym during that time period and had forgotten a lot of the things I taught myself about health and fitness. In September of 2008 my weight was reaching an old time high and I visited my doctor to see about my treatment for depression.

My weight had gotten so bad that I would not buy new clothes. I could not handle my reflection in the mirror in the dressing rooms. I would cry. I would sit in the dressing rooms and just cry. I would shower with the lights off so I would not have to see my naked body in the reflection of the big bathroom mirror. I would stop going out with my friends because I felt so ugly compared to them. I would make up excuses so I could just be alone, binge, and feel sorry for myself.

I decided I had to change. My doctor was going to prescribe me a pill (so easily how they do that) to help with my depression. But a light bulb went off in my head and I knew the root of my problem. I had to make a difference in my life. I will never forget that Tuesday afternoon in my doctor's office. I can tell you what I wore. I can tell you what I ate. I can tell you what I did that day. That is how monumental that day was to me.

It was time for me to hit the books and the internet to start teaching myself how to eat and exercise again. Healthy eating was OK to get back into. Sure, I was miserable for a while, but it was easy to go to the grocery store, buy the food, and then prep food and eat it. I did OK with that.

But going back to the gym... I was terrified. I was going to be in front of people that used to know and I was going to be over 100 pounds heavier. What would people say, what would they think? I could not remember how to do half of the exercises I used to do. 

I knew I had to go, though. I had to get over that fear. It's truly just that simple. I had tons of gym clothes at home, so I dressed myself and it was time to go back to the gym. Nothing fit. It was unreal how my work out clothes looked on me. I used to wear them all of the time. And now putting them on, you could see my stomach bulging through, my legs barely fitting in the pants, and it was an disaster. It was enough to make me almost never go back. But I bought new clothes and it was time to make a difference.

Some of my top questions and comments from women since I have started writing and sharing my story and journey is about how they are terrified and intimated they are by a public gym. And I get that. I was there! I am still that way sometimes. But there truly comes a time in life where you have to let go of your fears and excuses and just do it because you need too. Not everyone has the luxury of getting a hard, solid workout from home. Gym memberships are not always expensive either. Planet Fitness, which is almost everywhere now is only $10 a month. And most gyms I have ever seen are no more than $35 a month. The bottom line is, if you WANT something that bad, like to lose weight and get fit, YOU WILL MAKE it happen.

Today I wanted to write about some of the gym insecurities that I dealt with and had to make myself overcome, as well as some of the issues that I know a lot of other women experience as well.

The gym is not a beauty contest
This probably the biggest insecurity that I dealt with personally as I know a lot of other women do. The gym is not a runway. The gym is not a fashion show. The gym is not a beauty contest. Repeat that to yourself 100 times and make yourself believe it. That is what I did. If a women is in the gym with full on makeup and perfect hair, she is doing something VERY wrong. The gym is a place where you come to work out and sweat. I know not one person who works their ass off in the gym and looks glamorous when they finish. Sometimes women think they are doing the right thing by looking like barbie when they are working out in the gym, but you look like a joke. You cannot be taken seriously. If you know me or see my pictures, I am all for makeup, but the gym is not the place for it. I do not wear uber expensive gym clothes in the gym nor do I ensure my make up looks perfect. The gym is a time to work. The time to push your limits, the time to overcome challenges. 

When I feel beautiful in the gym,  I am soaked in sweat. I added one more rep. I did an extra 10 minutes of cardio. I sprinted harder than I have have before. THAT is beautiful in the gym. Your determination and dedication are things of beauty in exercise, not the make up on your face, the label on your clothes, or the style of your hair.

All of the girls in the gym have much better bodies than I do.
This issue continues from the above, and to this I say, SO WHAT? They obtained their fit and muscular bodies from exercise and healthy eating. They were not born that way, we all have to start somewhere. Comparing yourself to other women in the gym will tear you apart. Do not focus on anyone else in there but YOU. Do you want a body like theirs? WORK FOR IT. For me, seeing women in the gym with hot bodies, motivates me even more! I want that, so I am going to push even harder. Try making that negative feeling of jealously or insecurity, and make it positive. If you keep working hard, you will have it too. And every work out is one step closer.

I don't know anything about working out, so I am not going to go. I will look like an idiot.
No one starts out at the gym knowing everything about exercise. No one is born with an expertise in exercise knowledge. Go learn. You are not looking like an idiot if you are reading the directions labeled on a particular exercise machine. That is taking an initiative; that is being motivated. If you take a couple of weeks to get familiar with free weights, exercise machines, and cardio machines, you will gain knowledge to where you do not have to do that forever. 

I took a notebook into the gym. And I did not care if anyone thought I looked crazy or not. I wanted to learn. I could not afford a Person Trainer nor did I want to rely on one. I would take notes about certain machines, tips for myself, and progress I made. I would try each machine and learn the proper form (which is IMPERATIVE). The best way to learn is just try it out. 

I do not want men staring me down.
I think a lot of times our own insecurities get the best of us. We do not feel positive or confident going into the gym so we feel as if the whole facility has their eyes on us and are watching every move we make. Most of the time people in the gym are in their own little world. They are fighting their own inner battles and worried about their own workouts. But sometimes we will get the occasional creeper who is standing there watching you work out. Do not let that keep you from joining a gym or going back to exercise. Weight loss is about YOU. It is not about anyone else. If it is that bad, go tell someone who is employed by the gym or move to another piece of equipment. Or if you are really ballsy, call he/she out on it. I would never let someone who could possibly be "staring" at me, keep me from reaching my goals.


Have you overcome gym insecurities? What are you still battling that keeps you from the gym?


  1. Liz, this post literally brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for being so honest and open. I feel like most of us have gone through some dark times where we just wanted to sit and cry about our bodies. When I read about showering with the lights off I thought back to a year ago when I used to do the same thing. You are so beautiful and to know that you worked so hard for your body is even more of an inspiration! You look amazing!! Congratulations on all your success!

  2. I am the worst when it comes to gym insecurity. And I have pretty much said all of those things before!

  3. It is awesome how far you've come on your journey and you should be absolutely proud of that. I've been in the gym for years and I've seen people come and go...and I've seen people go from large and watch them shrink and it's awesome! Everyone should take hold of their fitness and fight through the fears! xoxo

  4. What a wonderful post!! Very inspiring! You should really be proud of yourself!

  5. Great post! I'm one of those people that thinks I could never be a part of a gym, but this post gives me hope! :)

  6. So proud of you girlie! I was intimidated at first but I went to Bodybuilding.com and watched all the videos on how to do a certain exercise and went in with my notepad and kept track of my weights and reps. Now the guys at my gym are shocked at what i can lift and form a protective circle around me to keep out the creepers. They also spot me and show me new moves. People at the gym are usually really helpful and will show you anything you want to know. Keep on lifting hard, girl!

  7. Very well written! I think all of us have faced at least some, if not all of these insecurities at the gym. The first time I went back this summer, I made my friend go with me because I did not want to look like a fool alone.

    Also seeing the girls all done up with a full face of makeup drives me nuts. I just tell myself that they must want to break out from the mix of sweat and makeup! But let's be real, those are the girls who don't break a sweat at the gym most of the time!

  8. So how about I was a fatty growing up. I ate junk and had little to metabolism and also a screw ball home life. I hated the idea of the gym because that would equivocate to me saying yes I am fat. When I graduated high school I wasn't morbidly obese but I was overweight by about 20lbs. I got to college and I decided - F this idea that I'm not going to a gym F me and my screwed up way of thining. I dropped those 20lbs, I made cool new non meat head friends at the gym, and ended up working at a gym later on down my path. Here's the point: Homegirl you are on target! No body gives a rat's tail about the chunky girl wheezing on the eliptical if anything her hard work and determination are the gatorade we all need. So Liz....PREACH IT!

  9. You are such an inspiration! Being healthy is always such a roller coaster from 'falling off the wagon', getting sick, or dealing with personal stuff that gets you down. So proud of your ability to turn it all around and continually make that commitment.

    When I started going to the gym in high school I was afraid I'd look ridiculous since I was a swimmer who couldn't run and I had very little upper body strength. Only by pushing through those fears and going did I realize that even if I did look ridiculous, nobody cared. haha

  10. What an awesome post!! So very inspiring and look how hard you have worked! I have always hated going to the gym because some people there are going to look at you and judge you....but those people are EVERYWHERE. You are leaps ahead of the people that are at home on the couch. I always remind myself of that!

  11. you're so inspirational, beautiful and perfect. i love you!

  12. Amazing post!!! Thank you for sharing. We all have our insecurities about body image and like you said we really want it we will make it happen.


  13. Love this! And girlie, you look amazing. I'm always so insecure with trying new machines and things at the gym because I know I'm probably not doing them right. But I always tell myself "hey, you are here and trying to make yourself healthier". Also, Amen to the girls that look perfect at the gym. I'm in nasty clothes and red from sweat. Nothing cute about that!

  14. nope; never had them. i figured i was there to workout as was everyone else and those who did otherwise..well, that was their business and a waste of their money i for damn sure was going to get my money's worth!!

    and all those bitches to give the staredown? they can all suck it. i've had that happen to me but for real, i ran out of f*ucks to give a LONG time ago :D

    Vodka and Soda

  15. You're such an inspiration! I have had these gym insecurities plenty of times. But I am working on it! I have been steady going to the gym, I just need to get my eating completely in check.

  16. I am so proud of you, girl! You are such an inspiration and taking care of yourself is SO important. :) love ya!

  17. Such an inspirational post!! So very true and I struggle with going to the gym for all of those reasons

  18. Great post!!! These are all of my insecurities! I HATE the gym due to all of these insecurities I have. You're beautiful and a huge inspiration!
    Thank you!!!

    Manda D

  19. What an inspiration you are gf!! Keep it up :)

  20. You are awesome and that's all I can say. This brought so many goose bumps to me and I want you to know that you are reaching people through your story and to just keep at it! Keep writing what you love to write and keep being you! xoxo

  21. Yay...what a great post. I think you hit on all the gym insecurities. I always look at other girls and instead of being jealous, I let them motivate me. It's not like you are seeing the super skinny girl eating fast food...if they are at the gym, they have to work for it and I love that.

    Keep it up sista! :)

    Classy with a Kick

  22. I love that you post before and after pics because they are very motivating! I look like a goober at the gym but I love group classes so much so I keep going. It's like a new addiction instead of ice cream!

  23. So inspiring, you look amazing!

    Indulgera Blog

  24. Wow this is extremely inspirational. You are awesome! I still don't know how to use some equipment. I like notebook idea. You're right: who cares what other people think? I work out for me.

  25. Thank you for sharing your story! The gym is super intimidating, and even if you go in thinking you know, it's so easy to get sidetracked and nervous.
    Good for you for getting fit and making a change to make yourself happy :)

  26. So inspiring! I have yo-yoed a lot as well. I think this story makes you even more beautiful because it proves that this is not something that has come easy, but that you have fought for it! You look fantastic - keep up the awesome work.

  27. Love, love , love this post! When I was in my teens and early 20's I worked out religiously and weight lifted like a mad woman. I wasn't in bad shape after kids 4 & 5 but after my one and only daughter, number 6, my health tanked for 2 years. I had to have 8 surgeries for female issues, digestive issues and foot and ankle tendons. Spending almost 2 years barely able to walk caused me to pack on major pounds. Now I don't even now where to begin at to get back in shape. I am working on walking to do a 5K in November though.

  28. I love you!! you are such an inspiration & motivating!!! :) thanks for everything you do

  29. This was an AWESOME, much-needed post! I thought of it yesterday when I was getting ready to go to the gym and hating all my clothes, and it pushed me over that awful mental block. So, thank you :)

  30. I love this post (and found it via the link you posted in todays post!) Good for you for sharing such an inspiring story, you have no idea how many women will be able to change their lives because of it! xo

  31. Hi Liz!
    First of all, thanks for your comment on my post. It made my day to have someone I don't know come over and comment.
    Then I followed you to your blog, and the first thing I thought was: What a blondie ;) I am just a girl next door kind of person and girls like you would never talk to me (I am not saying that I am sad about it, but in my youth and at school, man, it was hard...). Then I went over to read this post, I am curious and love to read a good story. And this touched my heart! You have experienced quite similar things... the depression thing and just keeping to myself...
    So: Thanks for your blog and your honesty. We totally need more of that in the world! I am definitly a follower now! Keep up the good work!

  32. I get SO insecure at the gym sometimes! I'm only really confident on the elliptical so I stick to that, and some of the group classes. The weight area is terrifying still!

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  34. Nice post. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up .Thanks a lot for sharing.
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  36. f you are working out on your own, I think wearing a crop or bra top and working out in front of a mirror is another great motivation technique. Joshua


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