I’ve been on my fitness path for two years this week. When I started in December 2013, my main goals were to show up and not hurt myself.
I look back now and understand clearly just how tough those first few sessions really were, both mentally and physically. But I kept going, because I had made an investment in a trainer and I had made a commitment to myself.
In those early days, when my schedule meant I had to skip a week or two, I had mixed feelings. When I was in the gym, I really enjoyed it.
But there were also days when I was relieved that I didn’t have a session scheduled. There were more than a few mornings when I could think of a hundred other things I would rather do than haul my sorry behind to the gym.
Up until three weeks ago that is. My trainer was going to be away and I was looking at two weeks of trying different exercises at home. Usually when I have “gym breaks,” I walk more, or I try to add a few extra sets each day while at home – goblet squats with detergent bottles anyone?
This time though, the thought of not going to the gym was enough to induce mild panic. A good friend agreed to be my gym buddy for a couple of sessions so I could use the equipment with some supervision.
Our first session went really well, and I was buoyed by the experience of spending time in the gym with a friend. However, when the day of our second session came, I woke up with a headcold. Not a mild case of sniffles, but the kind of cold that makes you resemble a dripping faucet.
Having worked in public health for ten years, I worry about germs. I wrote my friend and inquired about gym etiquette for colds. As long as I didn’t have muscle aches, she wrote, it was my call as to whether we would go ahead.
So here’s the thing: old me would have said, “I’m going to pass today. Let’s do it again so
me other time.” And then that other time would never happen.
Of course, old me wouldn’t have set up two gym dates for me to be accountable to my fitness program either, and yet here I was fretting that I was going to mess up my back up plan.
In the end new me said “okay, let’s do it,” and so I took two cold tablets, and proceeded to the gym where I stomped said head cold into submission. For that hour anyway.
As I thought about what’s changed for me over the last few months, I realize I have made fitness a key part of my schedule. It’s become something that matters. And when something is important and matters a great deal to me, I make it a priority.
That means showing up, and not letting a cancelled session or a two week hiatus become an excuse to not work out. Women are often conditioned to not disappoint others, yet we never think about the consequences of disappointing ourselves when we put our needs to the side. We have a lot on our plate – work, family, community, and friends – and often it’s just easier to put someone else first.
While I didn’t want to disappoint my gym buddy, the fact is when she made the responsibility for the decision to go or not go be mine, I realized I didn’t want to disappoint me either.
We often think about success in the gym as pounds or inches lost, or even the number of personal bests achieved with weights, sets and reps. But success can also be measured by changes in attitude. I’ve moved from showing up for training as a way of ensuring the full value of my money to seeing training as a promise I’m keeping for my long-term health.
— Martha is a writer and consultant who enjoys getting her fit on with weights.