There’s something about being fat as a child that’s more scarring than anything else. Humans can go through some really rough traumas but it’s the people who used to be fat and couldn’t run around a field without throwing up a burrito from last week who have the real issues. There’s a strong feeling of inadequacy that one acquires after they fall down and actually have to rock themselves like a turtle to get back up onto their feet.
However, as someone who managed to lose the blubber and is no longer teetering on the edge of obesity, that feeling hasn’t gone away. I’m not trying to get deep here, I’m just trying to explain why I weigh myself every other breath. With this fear of being fat comes, at least for me, the urge to be in really good shape. However, I’m not in very good shape. I’m in decent shape, don’t get me wrong, but if I jump up and down, things still jiggle. (Side note: how great of a word is jiggle? It just brings to mind images of cheeks to squeeze and children’s laughter.) So, to get rid of my winter fat, I decide that this summer would be the “summer of me.” I was going to “take ownership of myself” and “redefine who I was.” It sounded like a Jennifer Aniston movie and I was happy with that. However, in order to “embrace the true Julian,” I had to make some changes. The most major change was that I started going to the gym.
1. I go to the NYU gym because my father teaches there and it’s on my block. It’s kind of a bummer that it’s so convenient because I have no excuse not to go. When I walk in the door, I try to act like I go there but I can tell that nobody believes me. I hand my ID to the security guard and he looks me up and down suspiciously. I’m already sweating.
2. Since I normally go the gym right after my internship, I have to go down to the locker room to change. The men’s locker room is the most disturbing place I’ve ever been and I’ve been to some strange places. There are so many naked elderly men, I feel like I’m at a competition for who has the most wrinkles in the weirdest places. The worse part of it is that they feel no shame. They just walk around with a towel slung over their shoulder, looking at things and sweating profusely. I refuse to even consider walking barefoot in that room because not even God knows what has dripped onto that floor.
3. I start off by going to the mats for my abdominal exercises. These mostly comprise of me lying down and trying to decide what song to listen to. Then I do something strenuous for a minute or two and then tell myself I deserve a rest and lie down for another five minutes. It’s not efficient, but hey, it’s the “summer of me.”
4. Once I’ve “done my abs,” I go to the cardio room. Every day, I tell myself that this will be the time I don’t sweat enough to fill up a bathtub, but twenty minutes later, I leave the room literally pouring liquid. I’m sure that this is very uncomfortable for you to read but I think it’s important that you understand just how sweaty I am. Imagine a four hundred pound man wearing a fur coat while running a marathon in Bangkok in July. That’s me.
5. Finally, I go to the weight room. This is pretty much just half an hour of me apologizing to much stronger men for having gotten in their way. It’s a very humbling experience and it’s also very sweaty but I’m really dedicated to becoming a “brolic” dude who can be considered “swole.” However, I never make myself stay too long because this is “the summer of me” and I have to “watch out for my inner Julian” if my “outer Julian wants to keep his game face.”
6. I then run through the locker room, pushing through a crowd of wet, unclothed men and grab my duffel bag. When I finally leave the naked, sweaty, hot hell that is the gym, I walk home by myself and call my mother because I need to be told that I’m a big boy and that everything is going to be ok.
I hate the gym.