Monday, July 2

i went to the gym today

This photo was taken while parked outside the gym as Mr Silas took a 20min power nap and I got caught up on blogs.

I went to the gym this morning. And it was awesome.

It seems that for every awesome trip to the gym, there is one that is mined with small disasters: either we don't ever make it to the gym because the boy naps at times which are incompatible with the gym's childcare hours (8am to 12pm), or my time on the treadmill is interrupted by diaper emergencies, or a baby who is either throwing up or inconsolable. But when it's good--man, it's so good.

Later this month it will be one year since I started going to the gym. I started to go last summer because it's too hot in Central Texas to exercise outside, even first thing in the morning, and never mind while pushing a stroller. Also, since 2 hours a day of childcare is included in the (very reasonable) membership fee, it seemed to make good sense. What better motivation to work out for a new mama than free childcare and the promise of time alone? Over time I found that going to the gym provided much-needed structure to our anchorless stay-at-home days, and gave me a good excuse to get out of the house every day.

I found my rhythm pretty quickly. There is always at least one empty racquetball court at my gym, and so once the boy is settled in the childcare room I duck in there with my mat and do anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes of yoga. Most often it's either a Sadie Nardini routine that I follow off my phone, or I do my own stuff, which is still heavily influenced by her. Then I hit the treadmill. I have started the C25K program over a bunch of times (I love this app.) I find that I don't mind so much where in the process I am, so long as I am doing it. And I certainly have fallen off the wagon many times, not darkening the doors of the gym for weeks at a time. But eventually, I always bring myself back.

Because here is what I found out: I love to run. I don't care how slow I am (read: very slow) or how long my running segments are, or how often I have to walk. I love running because it makes me feel awesome. On the best days it makes me feel strong and beautiful and capable. I love running because it gives me that BRING IT! feeling, like I can handle anything that life has to throw at me, and with a toddler to care for, there is lots of throwing. I love running because no matter how shitty and miserable everything else feels, at least when I get off the treadmill, I know I have spent some time in my day building towards health, happiness, and wellness. And also, when everything feels shitty and miserable, I have found there is nothing quite so cathartic and healing as pounding it out on the treadmill with Madonna and Adele blasting in my ears.

I came across this article this weekend (via Tsh), and while my own kid is nowhere near that articulate in his whininess, I could so, so relate. I run (hm, really, I jog, but it doesn't sound as sexy) because there are so many demands on me that I need that space and time to build up my strength and sanity, to recharge and renew. And also because there is no better way I know to move through the frustrations of a mama's daily life than to run through them. There was also this article earlier this year which also really resonated with me. Karen writes :

I love the idea of exercise being more for your brain and emotion than your body.  It sort of takes all that weird baggage of trying to look like some warped societal ideal of beauty completely off the table, doesn’t it?

I won't lie to you--I have a lot of weight to lose. My yoga practice keeps me reasonably fit, but I'm nowhere near where I need to be. Still, I found that if I focus on working out as a weight-loss-only proposition, I get despondent, and lose motivation and enthusiasm really quickly. The measurable improvements there just happen so slowly, and there is so far to go. But if I focus instead on exercise as a way of improving my mental and emotional health, then BAM, I hit the ball out of the park pretty much every time. Which is super motivating and encouraging and keeps me coming back for more.

So there you have it: I go to the gym, not in order that I may look good, but so that I will feel good. And after today's workout, I feel awesome.

Where do you work out? What keeps you coming back? I'd love to hear from you--even if you haven't been to the gym in ages! I have certainly been in that place. Are you feeling the tug to go back?

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