Wedding Woes

Find new friends in your new city...Your old friends suck.

Dear Prudence,

I just moved to a new city and joined a gym I’m excited about. I’ve been unhappy with my (lack of) fitness for a few years now—I have trouble keeping up with my fitter friends, and I have some body image issues that have been popping up more and more often. I really like this gym and the community they’ve created. I also absolutely love the workouts—they make me feel powerful and strong in a way I haven’t in years. The problem is, quite frankly, my old friends in the city I just left. I know basically no one in my new city, so my old friends are a crucial social connection for me. They are very into body positivity/health at every size. This is great! I think everyone should feel comfortable in their bodies! But my closest friends make negative comments whenever I bring up my gym or how happy I am with it. They say I’m “selling out” and make disparaging remarks about how I represent the patriarchy because I’ve internalized messages about thinness. It’s pretty upsetting to feel excited about a new development in my life, only to get shot down by folks who I’ve supported in their own endeavors. Do you have any thoughts on how I can get my friends to be more supportive, while not coming off as judgey for choices I’m making that they’re not?

— Fraught Fitness 

Re: Find new friends in your new city...Your old friends suck.

  • I would tell them this. And then drop the rope.
  • Your old friends don't make sense to me.  If they are truly into body positivity/health at every size, they should support you feeling "powerful and strong in a way I haven't felt for years".  If they don't after you've expressed your feelings about it, then it's time to move on.
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited July 2021
    Ugh, it sounds like these friends are into the whole radical acceptance part of the body positivity movement. It can be just as toxic as diet culture.  I really think LW needs to stop talking to their friends about the gym and maybe try to make some connections in said exercise classes since it's an easy common ground. 

    Don't stay in a room, relationship, conversation, etc. that makes you feel like shit (paraphrasing Glennon Doyle). And you won't even see these friends since you moved away from where they are. 
  • They say their friends are into "body positivity/health at every size", but it sure doesn't sound like they are.  Because that phrase includes...or should include...people who go to the gym.  People who are fit or trying to get fit.  People who are thin, whether they go to the gym or not.

    The one thing I am not sure about is HOW the LW is talking about their lifestyle change.  Are they the one focusing on "how much weight they've lost"/"how thin they are" vs. "how much healthier/better they feel"/"great community they found at this gym".

    None of those are necessarily bad subjects.  But if "weight" is a sensitive subject for those friends, I'd suggest the LW stay off that topic about themselves.  Because, although the LW may not mean to, their friends are feeling judged.  They don't have to avoid talking about the gym completely.  But keep the focus more on how much healthier they've been feeling.  The supportive community they've found, especially being a new transplant to this city.  Accomplishments they've made in their physical fitness, as long as they aren't "inches" or "weight" related.  Like, "I'm so excited, I finally reached my goal of running an X-minute mile (or bench pressing X weight, whatever their goals are)."

    There is nothing "selling out" or patriarchal about improving one's health, fitness, and wellness.  But, if that is the kind of stuff their friends say no matter what the LW says about the gym, then unfortunately they are getting a glimpse of the negative side of and limitations these friends have.  The LW will need to either stop talking about the gym completely and/or let these friendships fade away.

    I think these friendships will fade away over time, anyway.  But, either way, the LW should develop friendships in their new city.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Talking about your gym routine is boring. 
  • Talking about your gym routine is boring. 
    What's that meme..."I don't want to hear about the gym unless you fell on the treadmill so I can laugh at with you."  LOL  
  • I only talk about running with my running friends. It sucks for anyone else because who cares. 

    That said, your old friends suck and aren’t as body positive as they think they are. 
  • This is why I get uncomfortable sometimes with "body positivity" - it often seems to me like people who are into it are suggesting you're not allowed to want to change your body, even if you are doing it for yourself and because you want to feel better than you do. It's still judgmental about other people's bodies, just in a different way than we've all gotten used to. 

    LW, try to cultivate some friendships in your new city - it's tough to make new friends as an adult, but maybe the people at the gym are a good place to start? And if you want to keep up your old friendships, I'd recommend curtailing your discussions of weight and the gym with them, as it seems to be a sensitive subject on both sides. Surely there are other things you can talk about with them.
  • Getting friends from the gym is a good idea.
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