Earlier I wrote about how I joined the gym and one of the things I set out to focus more on this month is to get myself and go there as often as I can. Although I joined back in November, I only went about 5 times. I didn’t go in December at all – a combination of going on holiday, then Christmas and New Years meant that I just found too many excuses. In January I went all of three times, and February wasn’t more of an improvement with five visits either. After a three week gap of just being plain lazy I decided to up my game and set myself a goal of going ten times in March. In the end, I only managed to go nine times, but it still seemed like an improvement. Something shifted, and by the end of the month I felt edgy if I went two days without working out.
As April arrived I decided to challenge myself – go every other day if possible. That would be 15 visits, making my membership fee seem a little more worth it. Well as of today, I am one visit behind of going every other day, but I’ll try and make up for it.
The gym has a few motivational sentences on the walls, stickers to keep you going. On of them that I find myself glancing at as I wipe sweat off of my brows says “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better at it.” I can definitely say that it does not feel like it’s getting easier.
Some days I feel like I’m going to melt right there on the elliptical, my heart pumping and sweat rolling off my body. I try not to look in the mirrors that line the walls, as the sight is not pretty. My face is red and wet from my exertion. My breath is laboured and I know my lungs are burning as they try to produce enough oxygen to power me through another half an hour.
Other days, although those are less often, I just go. And I keep going. I find myself 15 minutes into the cross-trainer session when my breathing becomes laboured enough that I force myself to take it down a notch, and my heart rate is still in the ok-zone. Unlike other times when 5 minutes after entering the sweat house I’m drenched in my own stink and exertion, sometimes I can go half a workout without having to keep wiping my face as water is literally running down my nose and cheeks. True, these are the less frequent occasions, but I’ve noticed that they occur when I’m mentally or emotionally detached and let my body go on auto-pilot. I might not beat my personal bests or reach my self imposed targets, but I still keep going, and I even had to explain to myself that while might not be mentally exhausted and could hop on the stationary bike after half an hour on the cross-trainer and twenty minutes on the treadmill, I probably should not do that. While my mind went off the grid as I was trying to figure out how I will pay the next rent or doing my best not to think about the argument of the previous night, my body most certainly went through a lot in the last hour, and if the machines are to be believed, I will be walking out with 700 calories less in my body than when I entered.
It is so easy to over-do it. I never thought I would say this, but it is. I can be quite competitive with myself, and I always try to do better than the previous day. Obviously, that doesn’t really happen all the time, but I also have developed some targets, and I keep going until I reach those (X kcal on the cross-trainer, ideally in 30 minutes, or as long as it takes). On the other hand, it is so easy to fall out of the routine. I might go three days in a row and feel great about myself, or I might go one day, then be busy the day after, tell myself I was there just recently the next day, be unmotivated and spend all day in bed binging on tv series the next two days, and beat myself up on day 5 after my last workout that I let it go this far.
To be fair to me, I should not beat myself up at all. I should be proud of myself whenever I go, and be happy that I have the opportunity to do so. Progress requires long term commitment, and even if I only go 5 times a month, that’s five times more than I did last year.
Personally, the whole gym-going is just the physical manifestation of my latest attempt to shift my world from the comfortable but unhealthy life style I led before to a more health conscious approach. I have put this body through a lot over the years, mostly out of hatred. But if I don’t take care of it, it might just decide to give up on me, and I can’t have that. I might not be anywhere close to loving my body, but I’m hoping I might get there. And in the meantime, I can certainly learn to accept and appreciate it.