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New Years Resolution Revolution

Wirtjo Leonard



Every year I told myself that I was going to go the gym. Every year, I was going to get healthy…. I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy. But come the first week of January, or any time really, I would be in that gym for 10 minutes max.

Sensory overload is the loud noises of weights dropping. The massive amounts of people. Someone engaging me in a conversation that I really don’t care about. It's uncomfortably bypassing a group of extremely buff people on my way to the water fountain. Why do I drink so much water compared to everyone else, have they noticed that? Why am I sweating so much when that girl over there is hardly sweating? I can’t do this anymore,. Imagining the feeling that I get when my sweat rubs into the car seat is torture, and I’m certainly not showering here. In public. Ewww. This isn't even getting started on the sensory stimulation that occurs from the drive home when i'm already tired and burnt out. 

I’m not going to the gym this year.

So much of being autistic is needing to mask, needing to conform to the norms around me. To do anything possible to avoid some random stranger from thinking that something is wrong with you while simultaneously trying to process and understand the different sensations and feelings that you encounter on delay. It’s exhausting, sometimes terrifying. This year, I’m accepting that going to a gym is not for me. Just the way I’ve come to realize that my style of learning is drastically different than that of many. It’s not better, nor is it worse. It’s me.

This year, I’m basing my health goals on me, and what I can do, not on what other people have done. Success for me is trying, failing, making adjustments, and finding a way to achieve my goals. You don’t have to do things the “normal way.” No one should ever have to do things the “normal way.” My favorite poem by Laura Hershey is titled “You get proud by practicing.” Let’s start with that, I’ve already got my yoga mat and some YouTube videos lined up.

From AE we wish you all the luck in doing the best you can with the emotional capacity you have, all in very non-normal ways. Here’s to a new year! 

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  • AE Staff
Danny Raede


I feel like we live in complete opposite land on this lol. Every year I was never interested in going to the gym. Not even a consideration. Then this year I decided to join a gym and just waited until after Jan 1 because I knew a lot of gyms would have special discounts 🙂

But I agree on the general principle of focusing on you, not on "should"!

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Dear Danny and Team...

BRAVO!!!  It is e-mails like this that help me understand my son the most.  (I really thought Danny wrote this, and then I saw his comment.)  BOTH, the article AND Danny's comment, HELP tremendously!!!!  

I read the article and thought (stupidly), "OK, that's how everyone with Aspergers must feel.  Good to know."  THEN to see DANNY'S comment...  Wow.  Mind enlightened even more.


I don't have the finances to do all of your wonderful offerings, but, THIS kind of e-mail HELPS!!!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all your team does!


Tricia Bennett

Mom of Adopted Son, 15, with Aspergers.




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Elizabeth Free


Social pressure used to be something I thought helped me overcome my Asperger's traits.   Than I realized all it did was shame them into hiding under masks.  I learned to LOOK neurotypical.  Now I realize that most of the social pressure out there is nothing but noise that interferes with me looking after my own welfare..

On top of Asperger's, I'm also dealing with Cushing's Disease, which means I've gained a lot of weight (200 lbs).  I can't wrap my head around so many people who feel entitled to offer unsolicited advice on how I should lose the excess weight, but also backhanded comments on how pretty I would be if I lost the weight.  NO!!!  REALLY?!? Why hadn't I thought of that?!?  Amazing how no one seems to think I have a mirror, a brain.. or a scale.

I'm with you.  I'm not going to the gym.  For the reasons you have mentioned and because of all; the "concern trolls', there is not enough incentive in the world to get me back in there.  There's a channel on Roku I can use if I want to bring into high relief how much my fitness has suffered, and I won't have to expose myself to public scrutiny in order to do so.  I'm concentrating on healthy eating this year and cooking at home (which instantly peels off LOADS of calories and prevents diabetes from being added to the mix).  I'm resolved to do everything I can (learning about AS, yoga and meditation) to reduce my cortisol (the stress hormone behind all the weight gain).

The most important thing for me to remember is that this is MY life -- no one else's. I answer to ME and my God.  I chased after other people's approval for far too long.

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Oh wow, I am so glad to read this about the gym. I'm a 62 year old woman and have finally realized that I indeed have been on the autism spectrum my whole life, covering, constantly covering. I just joined a gym again for the first time in several years. Fact is, I LOVE the gym for some pretty autistic reasons, actually. Yet, what you've described here with the sensory overloading, and the people everywhere is also my worst nightmare. How to cope? First, I'm going to start using earplugs if I can get over the unpleasant sensation of having something in my ears. Second, I go really early in the morning, like 6am - less people, and the ones that are there are alot quieter than the later crowd. I've found a "spin" bike to ride that doesn't make any noise or have any flashing lights or anything. Also, I count. The minutes, sometimes the seconds, sometimes in 5 or 10 minute increments, and then also meditate - I can ride the thing closing my eyes. BUT, the MAIN reason I go to the gym is they have a pool there. And most of the time it's empty except for me. It's the most incredible feeling to swim back and forth for 45 minutes with my head under water, I can't hear anything but my own breathing. It's heaven. And the feel of the water is heaven. And the opportunity to basically self-stim with the repetitive movement is heaven. I come out refreshed, revived, centered and alive. Any repetitive motion is so good, a way to stim without looking weird so while the machines can have a sensory overload at times, the pool is a safe place. I so appreciate hearing about your gym experience and would love to hear how others manage. I also feel so much better being able to connect with you and others who go through the world in this way. It sure can be a challenge!! You're a blessing. Thank you. ~ Linda

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Andrew Burke


Remember to breathe.  The only thing you have to do in order to practice yoga!  Namaste 

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