Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Fought the Gym and the Gym Won

Which I suppose means that I won, in the end, but we'll get to that.

I'm an inherently lazy person. Yes, I've just admitted that to the entire blogosphere and all of mankind. But it's true. I have to fight my natural tendency toward lethargy if I want to get anything done. Even the things that I love doing, like writing and decorating my house. Growing up, I was the kid who would rather lay around reading a book than be out riding my bike or running around playing with the other kids. Any activity had to have a clear and very high benefit to cost ratio. Walk a few blocks to get ice cream? Definitely. Run around tagging each other and rolling in the grass laughing about who caught whom? No thanks, I'll pass.

Because I can see this history clearly, it's not surprising to me that I battle my own will almost every time I decide to go to the gym. I go through phases where the gym is fun and exciting and the expected benefits (more energy, weight loss, firmer muscles, time to read my magazines or watch some cable television) easily outweigh the costs (90 - 120 precious minutes of my already packed days, buckets of sweat, getting up earlier or getting home later). More often than not, though, on days when I plan to go to the gym, I'm weighing the pros and cons from the moment I wake up until the moment I start up that treadmill or lift the first weight. It's me against the machine. Literally.

Take yesterday as an example:

I packed my gym bag in the morning and put it in my car, ready for a lunchtime or after work workout. At 10:45, my workout reminder popped up and I immediately dismissed it. I'll go after work, I thought. I'm too busy right now and I'm in a groove. In actuality, I was checking my email or some other nonsense, but my brain didn't care. It just needed an excuse.

At 3:30, when it was time to shut down and go home, er, to the gym, I got caught up in a conversation. By 3:45 I had convinced myself that it was now too late to go to the gym and I might as well go home and take a walk in the park. When I mentioned to a co-worker that this was my plan, she said, "I always say that, but then I never do it." I grudgingly agreed and said, out loud so that she could hold me to it, that I'd be going to the gym after all.

Walking to my car, I went over all the errands and task that needed to be done immediately. We're talking trips to the grocery store for things I didn't really need and household chores that I didn't get around to this weekend. Clearly emergency tasks that could. not. wait. As I approached the gym parking lot, I scrambled for more excuses, finally resorting to the "I just don't FEEL like it" tactic. I made it into a parking spot and turned off the car, but I was still bargaining with myself. It's so nice out. I really could take a walk when I get home. Right after I feed the cat, take out the trash, cook dinner, read my email... You see where that was going.

I pulled my gym bag out of the back seat and walked into the gym, handing over my membership card to the desk attendant. You'd think by this point I'd be resigned to the fact that I was going to get on a treadmill, but no. By the time I'd reached the locker room I had mentally inventoried my gym bag hoping I had forgotten some essential piece of gym wear. Alas, I had not.

While I changed, still fighting the pull of the cardio machines, I promised myself that I could do a short workout: just 20 minutes including a 5 minute warm-up and a 5 minute cool-down. That wouldn't be so bad.

As always, the minute I started up the treadmill and plugged in my headphones to watch Sandra Lee make some Semi-Homemade chocolate treats (oh, the irony that my favorite thing to watch while working out is the Food Network) I was fine. No more mental fights. I was happy to be there, sweating and breathing hard, and drooling over trail mix and scones.

All that fighting, and for what? I really, truly, enjoy my time at the gym once I'm there. It's getting there that seems to be the issue. And some days I'm not nearly so successful at fighting the anti-gym sentiment. I'm glad I did yesterday, though, because tonight I have way too many errands to run.

What? The gym can't win every time.


Anonymous said...

I could have written this post, except I do not belong to a gym. I fight the urge to go on the treadmill, and the treadmill is DOWNSTAIRS.

Now that's a lazy ass.

My word verification is eeezz!! How easy!

Kayris said...

This is so funny. I don't belong to a gym, but when I do work up the effort to exercise, I always feel so great afterwards and wonder, "Why don't I do this more often?"

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Erin, and I.AM.LAZY!! See we could start a support group. Last year I was in "the mode," I walked every single night when it was possible. I was in the best physical shape of my life. This year...not so much. I make up excuses (like checking email, making grocery lists, reading a book, taking a bath, etc., etc.) to avoid getting any exercise and then I have the gall to complain that I have lost my bum. Literally. It's gone. I have a back that turns into legs. And the only way it will return to me is if I get off the "thing that was once bum" and go walk, or jog, or something! Okay, I'm going for a walk. I just talked myself and my butt into it : )

And good for you on conquering the excuses and going to the gym!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great writing! If the gym starts winning too often, it's easy to shut up your Jimminy Cricket if you just go nestle into bed "for a five minute nap." ;)

Ami said...

Betsy - Don't feel bad. When I moved into my house I bought a used treadmill and put it in my dining room. For about 2 months it got pretty good use, but then I got into the habit of pretending it wasn't there. I finally sold it a few months ago to recoup some of the cost since it was just gathering dust.

mommyk - If only we could bottle that feeling!

Erin - I go through phases, too. For about 8 weeks I was going 4-5 times a week during my lunch break. Then my routine got interrupted and now I can barely get my butt off the chair.

Angie - I do love my naps. :)

Anonymous said...

This perfectly describes me, except I usually listen to my inner voice - too busy, too tired, etc. I need to learn to stand up to myself, lol, but it's so easy to give on in this issue.

34 Years said...

I'm lazy too!! Feels good to admit it, although I live with a cloud of 'you should really get moving on that' hanging over me.

So many things on my list...work out, laundry, organize house, write more...blah blah blah.

Working out is all about stringing some days together, and getting addicted to the way it makes me feel. I had a little phase last month, but I lost that loving' feeling when the calendar flipped to August.

Ami said...

Sherri - I've been listening to that voice a lot lately. I'm starting to turn down the volume on it, though, and that seems to help. :)

34 Years - I agree that it's all about getting that ball rolling. Once I've got a few days in, the memories of how good I feel afterward outweigh the desire for a nap. But just one day off can throw me right back to square one. *Ugh*

Anonymous said...

LOL, I have to force myself to work out too-- and there always seem to be so many more important things to do!

patresa hartman said...

ah-HA! THANK YOU! Thank you for writing the post, b/c at this EXACT MOMENT IN TIME. The exact moment I logged into my blog, I was giving myself several reasons why it would be okay to not go to the gym this afternoon. I was planning what I would do instead and weighing the value of those things against sweating at the gym. And then I read this, and now I will go to the gym.

Melanie said...

I totally understand. I just joined a new gym which I wasn't sure I could justify because I almost never made it to my old gym. My new gym though has so much more to offer that I find myself looking forward to it...

I hate cardio machines, though. I get so bored. If that's all I was doing I'd never go (which is why I never made it to my old gym, I guess). My new gym has lots of great classes and two pools. I love swimming and I'm enjoying the classes, which offer everything from free weights, to dance cardio, to yoga and pilates, to stretching. It's great.

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