I was inspired to write this post a couple nights ago after a hard day. I think that most people can understand that all you want to do after a hard day, no matter the reason for it, is lay in bed. And trust me–that’s I all I wanted to be doing too. Yet, I wasn’t in bed–I had just finished my workout at the gym.
My biggest struggle with going to the gym is just that–struggle. Often, I feel like I wake up in a different body. Some days I feel great–no pain, no fatigue, no weakness. But a lot of days don’t go that way. I’m still not used to feeling different, and going to the gym can make me feel even worse. I feel unbalanced, out of shape, weak. I feel like people look at me. I certainly don’t feel confident. I feel like I’m struggling.
It pains me to let others watch me struggle. If I’m sick, I’m up running errands. If my back is hurting me during class, I still wait until breaks to take a lap around the building. I hide the handicapped placard on my car. I don’t want anyone, even the people I love most, to see me struggle. So going to the gym where I’m surrounded by strangers isn’t just hard–it’s often the hardest part of my day.
I could lie and say that I keep going because I love exercising or because it makes me feel better afterwards, but that’s not the truth. Working out is really hard for me. I feel horribly un-athletic and I struggle with the easy stuff. Endorphins after exercising can make me feel energized and refreshed, but that’s only part of the story. Those endorphins are paired with cramping muscles and whatever pains I walked in with doubled. The next day, I usually wake up feeling ten times the soreness I left with, and then I go back and do it all again. So why? Why do I put myself through emotional and physical pain just to hop on the treadmill or my yoga mat?
The truth is I often feel guilty for being sick. I feel like there’s something more I should be doing. I feel terrible after I eat something I know I shouldn’t or after laying in bed resting for too long. I know that my body is especially sensitive to how it’s being treated, so I feel ten times as guilty after treating it poorly. When I go to the gym, I feel like I’ve done something good for myself. I feel a little bit of that guilt go away. Deep down, I know that, no matter how hard it is for me to get going, exercising is something that is good for my body. So I go back day after day with that in mind–remembering that I can still grasp control of how I feel in the long-run.
I do things to hold myself accountable–I keep up my Fitbit streaks, I schedule my workouts into my calendar, I post on my Instagram story, and so on. And when I’m there, I make a pact with myself to let go of the guilt. If I need to go into child’s pose during my yoga workout, that’s okay. If I need to take the speed down on the treadmill, that’s okay. If I need to sit down and have some water, that’s okay. I know how hard it is to get myself there everyday, and that’s enough for me.
That being said, this doesn’t make it any easier for me to finish a workout or stop myself from wondering what the strangers in the gym think about me. It’s hard work, but I try my best, and I like to believe that it gets a teeny bit easier every day.
Its hard for me to open up about my chronic health problems and my struggles. My experiences are just one of the millions and millions of others. Its often hard to remember this when I rarely ever hear anyone my age talk about it. It’s hard to have an ally that understands what its like when I feel like I’m all alone in this. I hope that I can be an ally to someone else who is struggling with these things.
This post is just a snippet of my story, and I’m excited (but also terrified) to share more. If you are having similar experiences, regardless of health or medical complications (let’s be honest–I think most everyone struggles with exercising in their own way), feel free to leave me your story in the comments. There are so many people on this planet, always remember that you’re never alone in whatever your struggles are–no matter how much it seems that way.