After clicking on the link to join a gym, my first major crisis occurred: What to wear!!! In my mind, everyone there would be in short shorts and tank-tops, things that absolutely would not work on my 250 pound body. Searching through my closet, I found XXXL t-shirts that would work but nothing for the other half of me. So I did was any reasonable person would do: I went to Target.
I searched through the stacks in the workout area. Trying not to make eye contact with anyone, fearing that they would ask why I was there and maybe kick me out. Like somehow I was not worthy of being among the gym clothes. Once I found a pair of pants that seemed long enough and stretchy enough, I buried them in my cart and whipped out of the area as quick as I could. Eventually laundry demands would have me back in that section for three more identical pairs.
Target clothes were my workout style for a long while at the gym. They were cheap enough to not make me feel guilty, and there were enough men’s options that I could find things that fit until I slowly lost some of my weight.
It was a few years before I actually began investing in my gym clothes. And by investing, I mean spending more than $20 on pants. One of my first non-Target shirts was from Nike. I got it at a store in the airport, just before traveling. It was gray fabric with two words on the front in bright blue writing: “Running Sucks.”
That shirt felt like magic. I felt amazing wearing something with a Nike tag inside. Like finally I would not be kicked out of the gym as an imposter. Plus, if I was running while wearing it, I figured I could not slow to a walk. Running while wearing a “Running Sucks” shirt is ironic; walking while wearing one seemed mean.
These days most of my workout clothes are Nike. My body has landed in a pretty stable place and I know that investing more in a tank top there will mean years of wear instead of the months from Target. But don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy. I’m all about the Nike Outlet stores. None of that full-price yikes.
I know that no shirt, shorts, or bandana will actually do the work of working out for me. But I also know that feeling comfortable in your skin, and the clothes around that skin, will help a whole lot in the process.
I’ve survived 13 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.