How I wish I were one of those people for whom a love of exercise came naturally. I am not. I’ve learned to appreciate it over the past two years and think that I can say with all honesty that I like it, but doubt that I will ever love it. I am not one of those chicks that dress in their color coordinated spandex outfit and do an hour on the elliptical, while their pony tail swings back and forth to the rhythm of their work out. Having a sense of fashion in the gym is not high on my list of priorities, although I am really into wearing cool sneakers.
My first priority in regard to the gym is to get in the car and drive there. Once I’m there then everything else falls into place. That is unless the battery has gone dead in my mini disc player leaving me without the Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty or Third Eye Blind to work out with. Then, I either have to go and buy batteries… or go home. Without something other than the Dance Party music they play in the gym, I can’t concentrate on what I’m there to do. It’s hard to work out when you are perseveratively thinking about how crappy the music sounds. My second priority would be making sure I have a pony tail holder so that as I sweat, my hair is not sticking to my neck, driving me crazy and causing me to loose my concentration, or the Zen place I sometimes manage to achieve as I climb treadmill hills. And my third is to work hard enough to actually sweat.
Tonight was the first night I’ve been to the gym in a month. It’s been a long *gym vacation*. The longest I’ve had in the two years that I’ve had a membership, and I’ve missed it. Some of what I consider my best writing has started in my head while on the treadmill. After walking up and down hills anywhere from two to four miles I find myself sitting in my car, scribbling down all the random thoughts I’ve thought about while sweating. I’m not sure why that happens. Maybe it’s because I walk with my eyes closed, music in my ears and no other distractions, allowing my mind to free associate and go where it wants…. running amok without a mother to say “stop that…you can’t possibly think you can do that!”
My original purpose in joining the gym was to become healthier. I made a decision that I did not want to become permanently imbedded on a couch, only to get off of it every ten years to shop for a new one to sit back down on. I did not want to wake up at 60 with diabetes and a heart condition and not be able to participate in my life, nor end up with the osteoporosis that the women in my family seem to be prone to…..so the only choice was to get off my butt and get to the gym. A recent consult with a cardiologist, that required me to participate in a bit of torture called a Thallium Stress Test, has proven that the gym works. (And I do thank all of you who I moaned and groaned to about “the test,” calling you all to say my final good-bye’s, thinking I might die of the side effects of said test. I would like to add here, that for me this particular test rated right up there with child birth, and I’m still not sure which I think was worse.)
I am in excellent cardiovascular shape. That alone should be enough to keep me going, and actually it is. Yet, the benefits for my mind far surpass the benefits for my body. In the first year of my “getting a new life,” I cried….a lot. Without the gym I would probably never have gotten out of bed. Some days, other than work, the gym was the only place I went, at times working out very late at night in order to be exhausted so that I could sleep. Physical exertion made me feel better. I even experience from time to time “runners high.” I may not run, but I work hard and once through that wall of resistance I feel as if I can go on forever. I think…. I meditate…. I visualize my new life…a new job….a new apartment….new people in my life….I write. I do all of this with my eyes closed, music in my ears and beads of perspiration trickling down my neck.
Yes, there are some days that the only thing I’m thinking about is that Quizno’s is next door and they sell small bags of Salt & Vinegar potato chips….which I really love and rarely ever buy. Once in a while I'll play “Let’s Make a Deal”…….walk 800 calories worth and buy a bag of chips. It’s not like buying the big bag in the grocery store. I can have the small one and be content, knowing that I didn’t just consume 800 plus calories worth of a food item that is horrible for me. And, that’s OK. I like the gym and I like the Salt & Vinegar potato chips and if I want, I can have both. My days of thinking about all the other things I think about, far outnumber the Salt and Vinegar Potato Chip days. And, it’s probably a good thing that they do....