I was working out today with my trainer. As I pushed myself to new heights with free weights, he told me I’m an animal. I acted hurt and told him it’s not nice to call a girl an animal. But I knew he meant it as a compliment, even while I teased him. This was a far cry from the exercise I did when I was a DoorMat.

Part of what kept me stuck in DoorMatville was feeling very fat. While I wasn’t the big fat pig I saw myself as, I did have extra flab and the cellulite most women have. Back then, I thought I was the only one. I had a boyfriend who once let me lift free weights with him and I loved it. I finally got up the nerve to join a gym, excited to try working with free weights again. But when I arrived, I was directed to a room with some simple machines and women chatting as they acted like they were working out. The people who worked there told me that was where I belonged. And the DoorMat in me accepted it.

I hated using the machines designated for the chicks while the guys got to use the free weights!

One day I got brave and went into the free weight room. My desire to work out was too strong to ignore. I wandered around the room, trying to figure out what to do. I had so little experience with weights. No one offered help. I asked one of the guys who worked there for guidance but he told me to go back to the girls room. The guys watched me with smirks as I tried to figure out which weight was right for me. It got too uncomfortable and I gave up. I never went back to a gym again.

Over the years the memories remained strong. I avoided gyms. That seemed the best way to deal with my frustrations—until my desire to work out got strong again.

This time I felt more in control of myself. No more DoorMat acceptance of my “place” in the gym! I decided I needed to work with a trainer to guide me. I researched and found one who could do slow motion weight training with me. It taught me form and made me strong fast. After a year of that, I joined a local gym and got a trainer who continues to push me. Since I began, I’ve been determined to become as good as I can be.

So I push myself hard, practicing having excellent form and enjoying every minute.

Now I feel completely at home in the gym! My training has paid off. The muscily guys in the free weight room accept me. Sometimes they encourage me when I’m using some heavier weights. Even when I’m there without my trainer, I belong now! Today when my trainer called me an animal, I knew I’d come far. He reassured me that it meant he was impressed with what I do.

No more DoorMat who cowers on the side and doesn’t belong in the free weight room! I’m an animal who’s earned her place there and it feels great! Overcoming a fear of doing something or tackling something you’ve been told you can’t do is a great way to improve your self-esteem. Next time someone says “You can’t do…”, give them my un-DoorMat response—“Why not?” And then I make the effort to do it. I never thought I’d like being called an animal but now that I own myself, I can feel good about it. You can do things you thought you couldn’t do too once you let go of old messages and decide to do it!

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