Working Out to Stares and Whispers

57 Responses

  1. Ben says:

    You can also take comfort from the fact they weren’t man enough to say anything to your face. They’re just catty gym db’s…of no real consequence.

    Keep on keepin on.

  2. Tom says:

    I applaud you for your take on this issue. Always remember, people put others down (whether to their face or behind their back) to make themselves feel better, its their self esteem that is lacking.

  3. Jill says:

    They probably have not lost over 100 lbs. like you did. You’ve already shut them up.

  4. Scott says:

    Great subject to bring up and even better way to handle it! Remember (even though it can be tough sometimes) “Sticks and Stones……..”

  5. joyce says:

    My trainer & I often talk about the larger new people we see at the gym and try to come up with ways we could approach them without them feeling offended. I was once in their shoes at over 400lbs. I couldn’t bring myself to walk into the gym until I was down to 300, and even then, if someone had approached me. I don’t know what my reaction would have been.
    I have been angry for a while thinking that no one cared enough to approach me about my weight, but looking back, how could have anyone? without me sinking into a deeper depression. The mindset just wasn’t there at the time. I view things so much differently now.

  6. BossyMommy says:

    This is great, T. Most people do not understand just how much courage this whole weight loss thing takes. Many years ago, I joined a gym, went a couple times, and when I got those ridiculing whispers and stares, I took my ball and went home. Never went back. I’m a much more courageous person now, but many of us have feelings about our weight that run very, very deep. It’s very easy to become discouraged. I’m glad you shared this.
    Love your guts!

  7. Michelle says:

    When I used to go to a gym I used to applaud the ladies who were there day in and out at over 250-300+ pounds sweating their shirts of.

    Being someone who has tipped the 200lbs mark and now plateauing at 187, I think nothing of the people who try their best into getting down to a weight that’s comfortable for them. Getting their body moving, there’s no more motivation than feeling great about yourself.

    Instead of those arrogant ego’s being proud of the fact that people are trying to straighten out their life, they belittle those who they think are below them. They don’t know the effects that can happen to someone with lesser confidence.. those little whispers and stares can cause a person to just give up or even worse. Shame on them.
    However, it does make you wonder what their self esteem is like when they need to make fun of other people to make themselves feel good? Twisted circle.

  8. greg says:

    Hard to say for sure if it was really directed at you, I wasn’t there. I know people who are that big of douches. I also know that I have a paranoid bent of mind and will imagine things that aren’t true. But if that’s what I think’s happening, that’s what my mind will be dwelling on. I’ll psyche myself out.

    I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to taking some solace from not being the heaviest guy at the gym. It helps drive home the progress I’ve made.

    A very heave couple visited the crosstraining class last night. I’m terrible at estimating weight but I do believe the guy was half again as big as me at my heaviest. Had to be a 65 inch waist, 400 lbs, immense. His wife was about as big. They stayed for about ten minutes and realized they needed to start out a little slower. God bless ’em. I know this class is kicking my butt left, right, and sideways. My form falls to pieces at the end and there’s some exercises I can’t begin to do right. But I know I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the end of the class a month ago so progress is being made.

  9. Dan says:

    I cannot stand assholes at the gym. I never understood the “i’m better than you” attitude…

  10. Raker says:

    Are you positive they were talking about you or is it possible you are being paranoid/insecure? My experience in many of the gyms I have been a member of is that people don’t give a damn about what you’re doing as long as you’re being respectful and not endangering yourself.

    I have never seen or experienced anything like this…even with some of the idiot meatheads I have encountered.

    (On a side note, I don’t know how anyone could laugh at the weight somebody is lifting without knowing their history (recent injury, etc.))

  11. Angie says:

    T – thanks so much for this post. I haven’t tried going to the gym in years for this reason. I was even embarassed to walk down the street outside of my neighborhood. But now, I put on my walking shoes and get my butt out there. I would much rather have someone ridiculing me while I’m exercising and doing something about being obese than have someone making comments while I’m stuffing my face at a restaurant. I take pride in the decision to regain my health!! And if I’m going to be laughed at for that – so be it. I will have the last laugh when I run my first 5k in October…

  12. Jim says:

    Gym rats are obnoxious. I would’ve turned to them and said, “Am I doing this wrong? Do you have some suggestions for me?” That would’ve shut them up, probably scared the crap out of them, and stopped it from happening from those guys again (at least not while you’re in the same room).

  13. Caron Mosey says:

    Good for you!!! Love your blog and this post, especially. People can be so cruel… and sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it. At work last year, they were asking for shirt sizes for an event we were participating in. I ordered a 1x, and another gal in my department who wears a small (if that) looked at me and said “they probably don’t have your size. I think they only buy regular sizes.” So I applaud your drive to succeed. The fact that anybody… absolutely anybody… steps foot into a gym means they are trying to do something to make themselves healthier. Walking in the door is a successful step in the right direction. GOOD FOR YOU!

  14. Amy says:

    I’m proud of you.

  15. Jaime says:

    Way to go Tyler. People that do things like that are usually so insecure about themselves that they don’t know any other way to deal with it than what they did. I have found a way to calm my fears about what people think and say about me this way. If people are so insecure about their own lives they look for unhealthy ways to cover it up, and making fun of others is a big one. I used to do it all the time at work, even though I have no room to talk. Good for you in not letting them get to you, you are an inspiration!

  16. Lance says:

    Way to go!

  17. Cassandra says:

    Kudos to you! ….I always try to remember that 95% of what people do and say is more about them than it is about me. I feel bad for those guys. They think so little of themselves they had to find someone they perceived as weaker to make fun of. If they were mentally, physically and spiritually full & complete human beings they would have thought it was great that you were trying, or even offered you a few pointers.

  18. Tyler says:

    I’m keepin on, that’s for sure.

  19. Tyler says:

    I want to do so much more, though. I’ll never be satisfied, I don’t think, but I am grateful of what I’ve already been able to accomplish.

  20. Tyler says:

    I would have died if someone would have approached me about my weight. But, then again, I would’ve died if I stopped going to the gym and sat at home and ate myself to death. Maybe somebody 5 years ago could’ve said something to change that.

    Who knows.

  21. Tyler says:

    Nice to see you around these parts again!

  22. Tyler says:

    I love when I see people trying like that. It’s so awesome, and hopefully it didn’t discourage them and they’ll start to try things at a slower pace.

  23. Tyler says:

    I’m not positive. I’m not positive about anything. I can only tell you what my educated guess was. Heck, I’m not positive my new car isn’t going to stall and leave me stranded on the way home, but I’m fairly sure it won’t.

  24. Tyler says:

    You’re right, the effects are enormous. If I had just started my weight loss journey, I would’ve been devastated. I would’ve definitely picked my ball up and headed for the exit.

  25. Tyler says:

    I’m a non-confrontational kind of guy. I don’t like being walked over, but as long as you don’t steal my stuff, touch me, or offend someone I love, I can handle a few stares.

  26. Tyler says:

    Yeah, you will. You’ll run that thing with ease, and next year you’ll be looking at running your first 10k with me in Charleston.

  27. Tyler says:

    That’s so cruel. I would’ve punched her in the face. What did you do when she said that to you?

  28. Brian says:

    Everyone starts at the bottom. For some people, the journey takes so long, they forget where they started at. They can’t remember that far back.

    I remember being a freshmen in high school, going to the weight room the first few times with the football team. I felt so embarrassed when switching off that we had to take all the weights off the bar, and put 2 five pound weights on a 45lb bar. I mean 65lbs? and this guy was doing over 200. he could see it all over my face, and heard a few other seniors snickering.. he leaned in and whispered that a few years before, he couldn’t even put 5’s on there, that we all gotta start.

    That just fueled my fire, a few months later, I was warming up with 135, and by the time I was done with high school, I was in the “300 club” (and could lift 295 six times…) Keep it up. Turn that into fuel to burn. Think about the snickering the next time you are half way done lifting your last rep, and don’t think you can finish it, and finish it.

  29. Rev. Mike says:

    β€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. β€œ

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Speech at the Sorbonne
    Paris, France April 23, 1910

    Those guys may never really know what greatness is. A shame so many people live in such petty little judgemental worlds…
    Thank you, Tyler. You are an inspiration. You honour us with your openess and giving spirit.

  30. So, SO true Tyler!

    Another thing to remember is that it’s a lot easier to change your body than it would ever be for them to rise above their insecurities. Because that’s what it’s all about – people only make fun of others if they are insecure about themselves.

    I have thankfully never been the target of a “fat” comment, but if I ever were, I have a great comeback: “I can fix fat; you can’t fix stupid.”

  31. Scott says:

    Good for you. When I go to the gym, and see these guys stacking insane amount of weight on the bench, it looks like it’s all for show to me. I am not there to perform. I am there to change my body and change my life. My bench press is pitiful, but I don’t care who is watching me. Six months ago, I had never been in a gym than 3 times. Now I go three times a week. My success and value is between me, the scale and God.

  32. Hey Tyler,
    I had an accomplished bodybuilder tell me to be extremely careful when doing lateral raises. The shoulder muscle is small and can be damaged easily. 15 lbs is more than enough.

    I told this same thing to a friend of mine who was relatively new to weightlifting…but he didn’t want to be seen lifting such small weight. So he used 25 lb weights instead. He injured his shoulders, and it took months for him to recover. That was the beginning and end of his weightlifting program.

    All I know is I feel really good about myself after a good workout in the gym. Every day brings a little more progress. I still have that Gym-Phobia thing that makes me want to run away, but there’s less of it every time I hit the gym. Heck, it may never go away entirely…but I guess that’s where a good Jay-Z song comes in handy.

  33. Amy says:

    First of all any person who goes to the gym at the beginning of their journey should be applauded. When I started I lost 80 lbs before every stepping foot in the gym. I just want to run over to women in the gym who are at that starting point and tell them how proud i am of them. But then I don’t want to offend them either. Most of the time in the weight room I am one of the few women, and I am definately the only one who is not a buck 25 and very defined. I am not the one those guys who made fun of you flirt with, or anything like that. But I am not there for them. I am there for me. I can do more things now than I could six months ago. I look at my trainer when he tells me to do something, I tell him he is crazy and then I do it. This is way better than anything else. You keep on it Tyler and to all of you who are just starting, if some woman is looking at you sometimes remember it is in awe and not out of judgement.

  34. jeanette says:

    It’s all good. You will always rememeber where you came from and how hard it was on the way down. When you get to goal and you see so many starting out on the journey they will be so lucky to have you reaching out your hand to them for that little bit of encouragement that will make all the difference in the world. Compassion.

  35. Greg says:

    Oh Tyler. So funny you should post this today. I was at the gym over lunch and this issue came up for me in a different way. Not that anyone was staring at me. I have lost 40 pounds now and am not looking so huge anymore so I don’t get the stares now. But I used to. I saw this very large woman in the weight room. I had seen her there once before. She can barely walk and hobbles in with a cane. She was sitting on a bench doing her arm lifts and working her triceps with a 10 pound weight. She would stop every now and then, hang her head and look at the other people in the gym. She seemed to be a little depressed. I so wanted to go over to her and tell her that she shouldn’t feel down. I wanted to tell her how inspiring she was to come into the gym and put her all into it. If all she can do is sit down and lift 10 pounds, by all means lift it with pride. I didn’t say anything. She did see me looking at her. I hope she didn’t feel the way you felt when you were being stared at. Next time I see her I will tell her what an inspiration she is. Thanks for this post.

  36. Lisa says:

    UGH What jerks! That happened to me a lot in the beginning of my weight loss. I didn’t care. I was determined. And I’d tell them off in my head and feel much better about myself. LOL

  37. Yeah, I know these types.

    Actually, I may have been one of these types when I was young, stupid and in shape (high school years), but to be quite honest, they’ve got their own insecurities. And, I’m sure the gym is the only place they feel like King Kong.

    Not that I’m a confrontational guy all the time, but knowing myself I probably would’ve gone over and asked them what they were talking about. But, you did the right thing.

    Great you’re using it as fuel to the fire.

  38. Tara says:

    Gah, what does one say to this post? Man I hate asshats like that. They have no idea what you’ve done to get to where you are. Hopefully they’ll drop a weight on their foot and it will swell up to the same size as their over inflated egos!

  39. Tom B says:

    Hmmm – I sense that they are feeling completely inadequate and maybe are seeing the results in the gym that they long for but instead of looking in the mirror, digging a little deeper and pushing toward the goal they took the losers way out by putting someone else down to make themselves feel better.

    I hope that they think about how they have acted and next time they see you they apologize for their lack of class… but I wouldn’t hold me breath.

  40. Tina says:

    That’s SO nice of you!!! You really should, or at least go over and work out next to her for a bit and talk with her. She might have thought you were staring at her and judging her… being paranoid, I probably would have πŸ™‚

  41. Tina says:

    All that time and energy they put into building their muscles and they STILL aren’t happy with themselves. Don’t even worry about what they were saying about you… just feel sorry for them.
    Keep doing what you do πŸ™‚

  42. Sean says:

    That is why I enjoy lifting at home – I am still afraid to go to the gym. I went in the past not really having a plan and trying to figure out the machines. The physical part is difficult enough without the looks from others. In my case getting to 300 pounds involved a lot of insecurity and depression and even though I have lost weight and healed myself physically I am still working on the mental/emotional part. I am really proud that you are able to handle the criticism/stares.

  43. Bonnie says:

    I so love the way you put things. Just straight forward, deal with and move on. That makes for successful living!

  44. Jay says:

    It’s weird.. most other situations I’m anxious about (I have social anxiety), but going to the gym is not an issue for me.

    I mean when I first started going to the gym, I felt as everyone was looking at me.. which they probably were, I was 300+ pounds at the time.. but it didn’t bother me at all.. I don’t know why.


  45. Nataki says:

    Very inspiring. I like how you coped with the situation by turining up your ipod and listening to some confidence boosting tunes. I will remember this when I become self conscious as I start to sweat like crazy while I’m working out at my gym.

  46. Cory says:

    Late to the show, but good for you. I am always amazed at people who think they are better than everyone… I think it shows great restraint on your part, I would have confronted them and that is usually not the way to handle things (My hubby always says I need a filter between my brain and mouth, or a leash :D) Your way is better!

  47. SandraLee says:

    There will always be people who criticize and/or judge us, but there are also lots and lots of people who applaud our efforts, admire and respect us. Although its hard to convince ourselves not to feel self-conscious or bad, the truth is that getting out there and doing something for myself feels so great that eventually I just didn’t care what other people were thinking about me.

    By the way, I just hit my 100 pounds lost mark (100.8 pounds to be exact). πŸ™‚ Thanks for the motivation Tyler!

  48. Drew says:


    I check in all the time and I’m impressed and inspired by your results. I think life is all about how you choose to interpret situations. Maybe those guys were jerks; maybe you miss-read the situation. Who knows? I’d recommend being the optimist about other people’s intentions.

    A while ago you wrote about watching an overweight man eating cheese fries. Maybe he noticed you looking, and could have miss-interpreted your interest in him.

    Just something to think about. keep up the good work!

  49. misha says:

    When I got the looks and stares, when I walked past them I always winked at them and said, Hows it going? That usually stopped the chatter.

    Sorry, I will not be denied my chance to change my life because the stares and snickers of the weak. RAHHHHRRRR!!!!

    I am very glad that you ignored them and did what you knew you should be doing. Tuning out that crap becomes easier and easier!

  50. Ruthie says:

    Tyler you are awesome and so good looking! Its about being healthy and strong not about how much weight you can lift. Thanks to you I have lost 20 lbs (10 ish more to go). I am really focused on strength training (still do cardio and practice portion control) and loving it. Thanks for being honest and open about your journey. You rock!

  51. Mercedes says:

    you fucking rock….love the attitude!

  52. Anele says:

    Isn’t it funny how some carful of people will yell out the window “go to a gym fat @ss!” or something else derogatory and then when you get there they make fun of you for being there!?! HELLO, make up your mind! We’ve got a ton of equipment in the house that we use so we don’t go to the gym but when we did, I always wore my shirt that said “you think I’m fat now, you shouldn’t seen me 100 lbs ago.” Shuts ’em right up! πŸ™‚ Congrats on your success!

  53. Anele says:

    That’s you SHOULD’VE seen me 100 lbs ago. Yeesh! Sorry!

  54. MaryAnn says:

    Every day that I go to the gym, I see people of all shapes and fitness levels. Some of them who are way bigger than me, run faster and lift more and I’m so jealous because I know that they are burning 4 times as many calories and that as long as they keep at it, they’ll lose 40 pounds before I can even lose 10! πŸ™‚
    I usually don’t even notice, and I don’t notice if anyone else does either, but I work out at a hospital and so the mentality is all about health improvement, so that probably makes a difference. But most of all, when I see someone that is in that situation, I feel a sense of pride FOR them. Even if they’re not feeling it for themselves. It’s a huge accomplishment to go from inactive to active. I know!
    I only have about 30 pounds to lose, but it’s 30 that I’ve been trying off and on to get rid of for the past 10 years. I’ve lost motivation so many times I can’t remember, but I do keep going back. Each and every time it’s hard and I feel like a fat ass. I know my ass jiggles when I’m on the elliptical, I know it doesn’t look like I’m going very “fast” and I know I seem to be straining while lifting a 12.5 pound plate! ha! But I could really care less what they think. I’m there for ME, not them πŸ™‚ They could care less about my health and if they want to laugh, let them laugh at me. And then live with themselves.
    No worries πŸ™‚ I’m just happy I’m there, and when I’m done, I feel healthier, stronger and confident that each time I go I will be able to go a little longer, a little faster, and lift a little more.
    And lat raises are hard dude! πŸ™‚

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