WARNING: this thread is half advice column, half weepy personal confession (yes, it's one of those threads). Please don't feel like you haveto read/comment here if you don't want to. Sorry if I kill the mood this evening.
BACKSTORY: Last summer, between my last place and grad school, I had two-and-a-half months completely off. Since that's a lot of free time, I decided that I would do something that I'd been putting off for most of my life; get healthy.
Apart from the couple of months where I was able to use my parent's elliptical machine, all of the weight loss that I've accomplished so far has been through dieting. I never followed any one, particular diet regimen. I gradually weaned myself away from my bad eating habits, increasingly getting to the point where healthier eating was the new norm.
Between July and mid-February, I lost close to 40 lbs, which finally (according to the CDC) pushed me back from "obese" into "overweight" (hooray for small victories). If you want to do the math at home, I'm 5'6 and (three weeks ago) weighed 184 lbs. In order to get to a "normal" BMI, I need to lose about 30 more lbs.
PROBLEM: However, I feel like I've just about done all I can do from dieting-only. I don't know if I'll be able to lose any more weight via eating unless I do some sort of crash dieting/calorie counting kind of deal. As a stressed-out grad student, I really don't want to go that far.
However, the idea of working out in public terrifies me. I'm not even going to try describing these feelings to you, they're completely irrational and can't be put into words. While I have never gone inside of a gym, none of the overweight people I have ever known worked out publicly. I really don't know if I could belong inside of a gym.
QUESTION/TL;DR: Given the above info (5'6" / 184 lbs), can I comfortably work out in a gym and expect it to be, without fail, a safe space?
(And by safe space I mean free from fatphobia, not in terms of LGBT tolerance).
This probably sounds completely silly to most of you. Everything I've read online says I'll be fine (although it's all done with a wide-eyed, "just be yourself!" "don't care what other people think!" BS attitude that makes me doubt its authenticity). But I just can't convince myself that gyms can be safe spaces for overweight people.
This is a step I know I should take, but it's one of the absolute hardest things I've ever tried to convince myself to do. I'd appreciate any advice or truth you could share with me, but please make it as honest as possible (even if it may be hurtful).
And now here's a gif to relieve the tension: