I am now fifty days into my journey, and I have taken a few stumbles. My great plan to go cheap and active is a shambles. I have been walking in the evenings, trying to extend my time and increase my pace. Well, I stretched something — I think I have done some major damage to my left knee. Granted, my left knee has been bothering me for about a year, but now, I have really aggravated it. I’m limping all the time, and when I wake up in the morning, I can barely put my weight on it.

Yes, I have an appointment to see my doctor. In mentioning what I was doing for my weight loss, she said good work on the diet, stop the evening walking. (Gee, who would have thought that all the disclaimers that say to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program is really good advice.) She said if I was to continue exercising (which she recommended), to do low-stress activity on my knee — no treadmill. She did recommend an elliptical. Which means, alas, I need to join a spa or gym.

Achhh!  Having to work out where other people — thin people, fit people — congregate. Horrors! I’ll be stared at, laughed at, chased out by the beautiful people: all my worst nightmares coming true.

Putting aside the paranoid fear, I joined a gym. Oooooh, that sounds so unlike me. A “gym.” Isn’t that for people serious about exercise? Jocks, muscle men, body builders? That’s not me. But the gym was cheaper than the spa, closer to home, and had extended hours. So I now am a member of YouFit gym. Me fit? Ummmm, not yet.

My first night, I went with my little towel over the shoulder, my old Dasani plastic water bottle (which I’ve been refilling for months), and fear in my heart. I kept telling myself that the fat police would not kick me out of the gym. The fit and beautiful would not be offended by a fat old broad in their midst. As I climbed onto the elliptical, I kept telling myself no one cared that I was there. Everyone was focused on themselves, and no one would be staring, pointing, and laughing at this obese invader. I kept my eyes down on the display; that awful display that seemed to have a broken clock, surely the seconds were actually registering minutes. But I kept going and, making sure my knee wasn’t being strained, kept pushing my heart rate up to good aerobic levels.

After a pitifully short amount of time, I knew I had reached my limit for a beginner and climbed down. I surveyed the gym to make sure nobody was staring and laughing. I didn’t catch anyone in the act. Drenching my little towel in brow sweat and downing the last drops from the bottle, I headed for the door, trying to make eye contact with no one. I was nearly to the door, glad that my paranoia was unfounded — nobody cared that I was there. No one was watching me.

Tap … tap.

I turned around at the woman who was tapping my shoulder. “Hi,” she said, “aren’t you a teacher at Pine View?”

A mother and daughter were looking at me. Checking me out. Well, at least they weren’t pointing and laughing. We chatted for awhile and talked about Pine View and the new school the daughter was attending.  I told them I had just started at the gym, and they recommended I try the circuit training. He-he-he. Yeah, right, A circuit designed to do step-ups in between each machine? Oh, that’s a great thought for a bad knee. In parting, I thanked them for their suggestions and, lying, said I hoped to see them again at the gym and made my exit. Don’t get me wrong, they were very sweet. It’s just, I don’t really want to run into anyone I know when I’m exercising.

I had been telling myself that no one was watching. I was wrong. I wasn’t being paranoid after all. Okay, maybe I was a little paranoid. But, as they say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t actually watching you.


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