Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

This week marks me getting back on the horse of working out, which is bringing up all kinds of awkward and icky feelings with regard to my body that I thought I should just go ahead and tackle out loud rather than internalizing.

I’ve always been bigger. I was smaller for a little while, when I did martial arts back before high school. I remember distinctly and adult telling me that I would “balloon” if I quit fighting. I laughed it off at the time. I was 13.

By the time I was 14 I was bigger than a lot of the other girls I knew. And I was super self-conscious about it. I ate too much and didn’t really move around a lot and I hated my body with all the vehemence of a teenager hating a thing. So that wasn’t super healthy.

Over the years I have gone through health binges in fits and starts. Nothing really worked too well for me. My biggest success was with Weight Watchers. I started doing that when I crested over the 200 pound mark. I dropped down to 168, which is the lowest I have been in my adult life. But I didn’t feel good. I was hungry all the time. And I didn’t get into the habit of adding workouts to my routine so I could eat more.

Eventually, I quit. And my body put all the weight back on in record time, with an extra ten pounds for good measure. Because insult and injury are good friends.

When Frankie and I got together, our first date was actually her helping me work out. We did all kinds of fun workouts in the park and I sweated and ached and it felt really good. As our relationship developed, I started eating healthier and craving healthier meals that she would make. I would work out in fits and starts, but I felt like I was making progress, albeit slowly, on feeling healthier and stronger.

When we moved in together, I joined the PSC gym near our apartment and started going 4 times a week. I found that, if I was going to a class, I could make myself go. Working out alone was a misery. But the classes at the gym were good and scheduled at a convenient time so that I could get off work and hit the gym on my way home to avoid procrastinating. I felt good. I felt like I was getting stronger and healthier with every passing week.

Then one day I went into the gym and picked up the class schedule for the next month and felt my heart sink. All of the 5:30 classes had been moved to 6:30 or 7. The only classes left at 5:30 were yoga (which is great, but not the kind of cardio and weight training I was after) and a class with an insane guy that made me feel like I was going to throw up and die on his floor. I was crushed. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I was not capable of the type of motivation it would take to get me to the gym on time and put in a workout that would actually challenge me at that point.

I tried to stick with it. I went to the gym alone and tried to work out. I never felt as good or successful (or sore!) as I did when I was in a class. I tried waiting for the classes that were later in the day, but I would inevitably fail to get out of the house again once I was home with the dogs and in my comfy clothes.

So I fell off the wagon. As so many of us do.

Then I joined Sweat. And their classes have been great. And well scheduled. And for a while I was going every day. I felt better. I slept better. My skin cleared up. I even felt like less of a grumpy bear in the mornings. I swear, working out is like magic.

Of course, I fell off the wagon again. And now I’m getting back on.

It’s hard to keep doing this stuff. Even when it makes me feel really good. And I’ve tried talking to groups of people doing the same things, but I always find myself getting super defensive and upset when people try to have any type of dialogue with me about my weight or my health.

So I’m going to maybe write about this once a week here. Chronicle the things. Talk about what happens when I stop working out for whatever reason. Talk about when I’m successful. And just kind of feed this whole process into the ether of the internet in the hopes that it helps me and maybe some of you in our respective health journeys.

2 thoughts on “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

  1. OMG THANK YOU for writing about this. I can identify with a lot of these struggles. Feeling connected enough to my body to actually prioritize its health is still hard for me, and I have a very deep self-concept as “not good at physical things, so why even bother?” Plus all the regular motivation struggles. I’ve learned after many repeated failed attempts that the more business surrounding a workout routine — in terms of getting equipment together or getting a room set up or getting to a certain place (god forbid a certain place at a certain time) — the quicker I will fall off. And the more I can make it part of “stuff I would have to do anyway” — biking to a destination to shop, for example — the more likely I am to keep at it.

    I’ve just started running, motivated solely by the fact that there’s a 5k that features inflatable bouncy-castle obstacles. It’s been good, but we’re only one week in. I’m hoping that I will learn to enjoy it the way so many people do, because it seems like the most sustainable type of exercise for me.

    And then food stuff, oy. And I try very hard not to post about food stuff (and only minimally about exercise stuff) on public social media because of people’s ED triggers. But there’s so much around it. Trying to eat more healthily and also more ethically while keeping the joy in eating, and also finding out a place for food as self-medication and comfort without letting it take over.

    So basically, I might camp the comments whenever you post about this, is what I’m saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have totally categorized myself the same way that you have. It sucks. And since the weight lifting thing is kind of slow going (not losing weight quickly due to building muscle mass and making the scale pretty much useless), that adds to the frustration. I have to focus on how strong I feel after a workout and all the other things that surround it that make me feel good. Like last night at the gym when I kept my reps per minute at 90-100 on the bike and Frankie told me she even has trouble doing that. Or keeping my rowing speed below a 3 minute mile. Little things that feel really big to me.

      Making it part of stuff you have to do anyway is really what I’m doing by stopping on my way home from the gym. My day isn’t done until I’ve done a workout. I’m actually thinking of starting to go in the morning, that way I get the endorphin high all day long.

      Food is such an issue. I find myself doing all kinds of crazy things around it. I will probably post about it with a content advisory or something, just because it needs to be talked about at some point.

      I look forward to seeing your tent in my comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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