As someone who is not society's ideal body type, I have extreme anxiety about going to the gym. And, no, this isn't me trying to be quirky about mental illness, these are my real feelings. I am so envious of the people I know that view the gym as a safe space where they can focus on being healthy and happy.

I have been trying extremely hard this year to dedicate time every day to make sure my body is getting the proper care it needs. This means I have been eating healthier and adding more to my self-care routine. Something I have been trying to add to my schedule for the longest time is going to the gym.

I really want to work on my general health and so many people I know have told me that the working out helps with stress relief, releasing more endorphins, and sleeping issues. (Yes, sign me up, I need help with ALL of that.) Losing weight is an added benefit, and I do want to work on my weight, but my main concern is just feeling happier and healthier.

This all sounds great, right? You're probably reading this like "yes girl then go to the gym!!!" But it's not that simple. I know that it is an irrational fear, but I am so afraid of being judged at the gym for the way I look. And I am extremely saddened to know that I am not alone in this fear. I cannot think of going to the gym without overthinking about standing out from all the other people there.

@elizabethwhibley on

I struggle every day with my body and judge myself against my peers because I am overweight. I have had a long fight with hating how my body looks when I look in the mirror, and I am simply just tired. It's exhausting to be at war with yourself every day. A lot of my body dysmorphia and issues come from real events where I was made fun of or judged for the way I look.

I read horror stories online about women who have had bad experiences at the gym because of the way they look, and it rationalizes my fear of the gym.

I want to be fearless. I want to wake up in the morning and love my body no matter how many rolls, scars, or stretch marks I have. I've come a long way, but I know that there is so much more work to be done.

I know that I am not alone. I know that this is a personal problem, but I really want gym environments to be better spaces of self-care and love. To do that, I think it is super important for me, and others, to be brave. I am afraid of going to the gym, and that is okay. I know that I am strong and I want to work towards being confident enough to not care about what anyone thinks. Physical and mental health is a personal journey, and it is time for there to be less stigma in caring for one's self.

@positivelypresent on

Slowly, but surely, I am confident I will get there. I am not lazy. I am not "too fat" for the gym. I am growing, and growth takes time and patience.