My On and Off Relationship with the Gym

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If relationships were a metaphor for exercise, I admit I’m a cheater. I make promises. I make plans. I commit in my head, but my heart isn’t in it. I find every excuse to be unfaithful.

If walking the flight of stairs to enter my house doesn’t count, then my exercise status is “it’s complicated”. I really want to give 100%, but can’t even manage a 50/50 love. And as with any relationship that is pursued half-heartedly, therein lies the question, WHY?

I find every excuse to be unfaithful.

Someone once told me, “If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. If not you will find an excuse.” Motivation and passion for exercise. I don’t have any. I have reasons and really good ones too, but no motivation. And I definitely do not get a rush or a happy fluttering heartbeat from running on a treadmill. I successfully balance motherhood, a relationship, work, a household, art projects, writing, and catching up with friends, but exercise is still pending.

In my teenage years, I was active for fun. Hiking. Hashing. Swimming. Dancing. However, a hectic and demanding adult life has sizzled spontaneous fun activities like these.

In an attempt to schedule a healthy lifestyle, the gym seemed a practical idea. Our relationship lasted for the full term of my one-month membership. We haven’t seen each other since.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t try.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t try. I once bought the matching gym bra and shorts, some vests and a water bottle. I proudly jotted on my calendar, with a thick sharpie marker, the three days per week that I was allotting for my workout plan. Then my real life caught up with me again, and I just couldn’t find time for the gym. So, apart from cheating, I couldn’t spare even a few minutes to show it some love…not even a lil caress for a three-pound barbell. You understand, don’t you? It’s not Gym; it’s me.

I always had a high metabolism. Even with 40 extra pounds, post-childbirth, I couldn’t muster enough vanity to make Gym a habit. If I were still 18, and in the prime of my health I wouldn’t even read an article like this, far less write one. But the 30s came with a bang. From hyperglaecemia to having one kidney, I had to consider various health issues.

In a practical world, I should be waking up at 5 a.m., getting hot and sweaty, eating my veggies, and counting my calories. In the real world, I changed my diet (with occasional fall-backs), but exercise – until recently – was still a shoulder shrug.

Gym just isn’t for me. It may work for some people, but I love repetitive exercises, as much as I love folding underwear, or filing away receipts. So step one for me was to try something else, to get creative.

A few days ago, I decided to do zumba via DVD. I love music and dancing, and this was more tempting than going to see Gym, or walking around the savannah. It can’t compare to some good Soca, or old-time Dub, but I enjoyed it. And I encouraged my daughter to join in. My excuse of no time, fear of child neglect, and dislike for exercise were greatly diminished, all in one half an hour.

That leads me to my realisation: JUST DO IT!

Let’s be honest, putting off that big change in lifestyle is always easier tomorrow. Then tomorrow has its own tomorrow. Saying you’re going to make time for Gym is easier said than done.

After thinking too much about how difficult this was, I decided that I was starting at the very moment I was having the thought. The same goes for my dreaded intake of more green vegetables. I opened the refrigerator, cut one up, and ate it at that moment. I’m onto a week straight, and I’m trying to make this a habit. Sounds easy? It isn’t. After the rush and the ecstasy of one “JUST DO IT” moment comes tomorrow. And tomorrow you just don’t feel it.

Sometimes the “JUST DO IT” way is extremely important when introducing something really important to your life. It’s the hurdle destroyer, ice breaker, getting your ass into gear moment. And when you’re doing it, you think, so…why couldn’t I do this before?

It’s how we get trapped in the on-and-off relationship. We start hot and heavy. We take a break.

Once the slap to the face has been achieved and you’re awake in this new venture, the other hurdle is maintenance. We all know this one. It’s how we get trapped in the on-and-off relationship. We start hot and heavy. We take a break. We miss each other and make up. Then we need space. Press repeat.

There will be days that “JUST DO IT” will not work for me. There will be days that it had better be tomorrow, because today was a bad day. This leads me to the pivotal moment I call the flexible plan.

I have realised that the every Monday, Wednesday or whatever day programme was flawed, at least for me. A meeting may crop up unexpectedly with a client. The stew chicken might run out, and I might have to cook that evening. Or a best friend’s birthday might land on that day.

I have therefore loosely committed to a number without details. Every week, I am going to exercise for a minimum of three times, each for a half hour or more. If I happen to be at the beach, I will do some laps and forfeit the DVD. If I happen to go to a party, I will wine and jump a little harder.

I am simply just more conscious about what needs to be done, and I have moved beyond obsessing about the details. In a weird twist of irony, this makes keeping a schedule easier. And I am amazed at how much I accomplished this week alone.

It’s really just that simple and just that difficult at the same time. The key is starting with baby steps (I won’t be running a 5K soon), yet jumping right in at the onset. So once you’re in, it can become easier to stay in. It’s important to just know yourself and what motivates you, and to figure out a way to make it successful

All relationships need work. It’s a mix of passion and genuine attempts to nurture them and give them attention. One thing is certain, exercise is going to become important to maintaining your health and healthcare from at some stage of your life. Realistically, Gym and I will continue to have our ups and downs. But maybe Zumba might be the one to get me to settle down.


Omage credit:

Jaime Lee Loy

Jaime Lee Loy is a local contemporary artist and published writer of fiction. This single mom founded Trinidad Home Studio Ltd in 2011, offering her services in photography and video. With a genuine interest and past experience in working with NGOs, this single mother steers her creativity towards human-focused projects, and aims to be successful or die trying.

1 Comment

  1. Joanne Briggs

    July 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    that sounds so much like me…lol…

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