That stupid treadmill. Sometimes it is the epitome of a dull, repetitive soul-killing exercise machine. But… somehow, I love it. Wait, wait, wait, allow me to rewind. Some days I love and it and some days I detest it, as with many things in life.
This time of year is tough. If you’re an avid exerciser the gym has a tendency to become a jam-packed breeding ground for bacteria with sweat flying, machines taken, weights misplaced. If you’re a new exerciser the gym might seem intimidating, overwhelming, and circus-y. In fact, these feelings probably overlap for seasoned and new exercisers alike.
My career with the Y began in membership. I was a first face for the organization. I was the peppy, short, blonde-headed girl who talked a mile a minute (wait, I still do this), loved to give tours (hated riding the elevator to the top floor of the Downtown Y, I’d much rather have taken the stairs), got in trouble for not tucking in her white t-shirt under the red polo (sorry ‘bout that one, boss), but loved, loved to work. I’ve always loved to work.
My favorite part about working in membership was January. I felt inspired by the New Year gym-goers. All of these new people diving in, making goals, feeling good. I used to wish, though, that the membership folder they walked out of the double doors holding came with one of those obnoxious scrolling LED signs that read “IT WON’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT”.
I’m no pessimist. My weight fluctuates by the hour (I’m about as certain of this as I am that the devil created Doritos – those stupid chips are SO GOOD), I gain a pound every time I even LOOK at chocolate, and if I’m not feeling a workout one day, I’ll do my best but have learned that I just can’t push it; I wait it out and the next day I’m usually back in my groove. Here’s the thing, though; people get frustrated, they lose hope, it gets to March and the time they came up with in January to hop onto a treadmill suddenly disappears into thin air. It’s hard, it hurts, and a regular gym routine requires a lot more willpower than many of us can find in ourselves. I’ve found, though, that if you have 20 minutes (20 minutes!), it’s better than nothing. It may feel as though it isn’t worth it to change clothes, drive to the gym, and get sweaty for less than a half hour but it IS. In fact, by the time you’ve finally decided you’re going to go exercise for the little time you have, you probably could have already changed and laced up your shoes.
I learned something new about my runner-self yesterday. I stepped on the treadmill armed with my iPad and the newly downloaded NBC app, determined to find an hour-long television show that would entertain me long enough to crank out 6 feel-good miles. Let me preface this run synopsis by saying that I’m no new runner. I’m a running junkie, I’m familiar with the runners’ high, but not every run is swell.
Mile 1: Feelin’ good. Man, Bob Harper looks good this season. Has his 6-pack turned into a 12-pack? I’m not talking about beer here, people.
Mile 2: They eliminate someone the FIRST EPISODE of the Biggest Loser? Ugh, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?! I’ve forgotten I’m running at this point, I’m so irritated with NBC.
Mile 3: Um. Where did this knee pain come from? My knees never hurt. Am I getting old? I’m only 25!
Mile 4: Okay, a little cramp here, a little cramp there. No biggie. Don’t fall on your face, J.
Mile 5: Lets go girl, one more mile.
Mile 6: Cool down. Hop off. Reflect. Good run.
Not to get all insightful and mushy on you guys, but I realized something through my random knee pain (seriously, this is new for me), and my weird peanut-butter- wasn’t-a-good-pre-run-snack-option cramping. This run is for ME. I’m not running for my husband, I’m not running for my job, I’m not running to keep my spot on some ranch in some random television show, I’m not even running for the overpriced race registration I swiped my credit card for last month. I’m running for THIS GIRL (pointing at myself). Nobody else cares about my awesome 6-mile run, or the fact that I went home and pushed through a short (but effective!) strength workout (complete with hitting myself in the head with a 15-pound dumbbell… completely beside the point, don’t ask questions). Encouragement from others is good but we need to learn to be self satisfied, to be proud of our own workouts, our own health milestones. It’s all part of making what might feel like a short-term goal a lifestyle change.
So, my friends, find it in yourself to exercise for YOU, and don’t make it about anyone or anything else.