Going to the gym every day in September was Doug’s idea originally: he wants to lose some belly and gain some definition in his arms before we go to Texas for a wedding and Virginia to visit family next month. I jumped on his bandwagon because I believe in the healing power of physical exercise. Look at the words we use to describe the benefits of working out: strength, endurance, flexibility. Wouldn’t these be part of a good emotional vocabulary/repertoire as well?
Above all else, I want to be stronger. Physically stronger, for one thing. When I started my job, three years ago, I was in the best physical condition of my life: my unhappy relationship was a powerful driving force in getting me to the gym as many as six days a week, for an hour or two each day. Now I’ve noticed that I can’t lift as much as I once could at work, that I go home some days with an aching back. I’m only 28; it can’t be the passage of time. I’m just not as strong now, and I’d like to get back to where I once was.
Emotionally, also, I need strength. I give off the illusion of being strong because I put up walls of sarcasm and self-righteousness, but in reality, I am sensitive and shy. Needless to say, I need strength now more than ever, to fully rebound from everything that has happened to/around/because of me in my recent life.
Because we were out of town on September 1 and 2, this “every day in September” plan began today. Early this afternoon, after halfway unpacking the stuff from our trip and getting our pet rabbits situated back in their own homes, when all I wanted to do was answer emails and blog comments, or maybe take a nap, Doug and I went to the gym. With him acting as my only slightly frustrated personal trainer, we spent about an hour targeting our abs, arms, and chests.
I do not feel stronger already.
Instead, I feel tired: my arms were shaking while I was trying to wash my hair. I feel codependent: I nearly cried when Doug had to leave for work, even though I’d be meeting him there only an hour later. I feel frustrated: there are only so many hours in the day, and sitting on all those silly machines, trying to figure out how to get my muscles to do the work instead of my elbows, ate up one of them. And I feel sad, mostly because of something I learned last night, which I plan to write about, but which I am not quite ready to write about yet.
Aside from my frustration with the equipment, none of these things are direct results of having gone to the gym today, but they are things that I was hoping going to the gym would have fixed. They are reminders that I am not stronger yet. They are things that all used to disappear in my regular-gym-going days; I remember leaving feeling energized and happy. And if I can’t even get those endorphins from a workout anymore, I fear I may be in worse shape than I thought.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to get back into a routine since my divorce ended my crazy gym habit/escape plan. Doug and I have been members of three gyms over the course of our relationship: one for every apartment we’ve lived in together. But life always seems to get in the way now. At first, we would blow off the gym just to be together, since we enjoyed each other’s company. Or we’d justify sex as a workout. Then I had my miscarriage, and we fell further out of the habit: for months, I simply could not tolerate any physical activity greater than walking (and we did go for a lot of walks, some as far as eight miles).
And now… Honestly, I just don’t see how I’m going to fit this into my life anymore, between working and writing and getting some decent amount of sleep. And if I’m not even going to come out of it feeling any stronger than I went in…? But Doug wants to do it, and I will be tagging along, skeptically, for as long as he’s motivated and drags me.
Oh, and I will do my best not to drive him crazy with my whining about how tired I am or my hurting elbows. I plan to hang in there.