Olly Olly Oxen Free

I’ll admit, I’ve been hiding lately. Specifically, I’ve been avoiding the gym. Before I get into it, I want to admit publicly (this is how I’ll hold myself accountable) that I have plans to get to the gym to work out today at 5 PM- I have a staff meeting at the same gym at 6.

By missing workouts, I’ve become a player in a vicious cycle. It doesn’t matter that a large part of these misses have been for legitimate reasons- a family member wasn’t feeling well, I was injured, or just too fatigued. The point is, I didn’t go and I’m now feeling the pressure. This is especially true because friends and family friends whom I haven’t spent a lot of time with lately still remember me as I used to be. I was the gym rat, the athletic friend. And that was nice, I liked that feeling. You could find me donning fruit in one hand, a bottle of water in the other. Sneakers were like a second skin (gross but true) and I ran- a lot. I ran in snow, I ran in downpours, and I ran on days when it felt like Satan himself was cooking lunch in an oven just the size of my usual route. To be honest, it maybe even made me feel a little superior. Wow, my friends can’t even run a mile? They clearly aren’t willing to put in the work to get there. She overslept yoga? She’s obviously not as committed as I am. 

One day recently, I stopped going to the gym and then I stopped working out at home. The expensive speaker I purchased over the summer to practice my Zumba teaching is currently collecting dust with greater energy than anything I’ve felt in the past few months.

Now, I’m too afraid to go back. To feel lost progress. I know I can’t run a mile without feeling short of breath or sharp pain just outside my right knee. I probably can’t squat or bench like I used to. If I am confident in one thing, it’s that I’ll feel out of place at the staff meeting tonight, knowing that I only taught Zumba this past week after a month and a half of injury and depression-driven avoidance.

People offer suggestions that would make complete sense to even the worst of listeners, but to put them into action is the issue. My counselor asked me to commit to just 5 minutes of yoga and see where it goes from there. What I can’t explain to him is how I’m having trouble to motivate myself for even the first 60 seconds. It’s no longer as simple as getting off the couch and just doing it. I have completely fallen out of a routine that was once a lifestyle and the idea of even easing back into it overwhelms me.

It’s 3:30 now and I can’t help but nervously count down the minutes to when I finally make my way over to the gym and exercise for the first time in a long time. I don’t yet have a game plan. I don’t know if I’ll do cardio or weights or neither. I don’t quite know if I’ll make it to the gym, or if I’ll find another excuse not to go. I’m not shaming myself for finding excuses- I really do have to help my little brother with his homework and I really do have ankle pain which has insisted on sparking at the worst times over the past few months. But I also know that I need to start somewhere.

I can’t make the lifestyle jump back into who I used to be, not all at once, and maybe I shouldn’t be aiming for that anyway. I used to cringe at the idea of soda and never touched pizza or anything of the sort. I worked out 6 days a week and gave myself the necessary rest day. I counted calories and estimated macros and could look at photographs of myself without immediately wanting to shut my eyes and turn away. None of that is true anymore, but does it really have to be? I have been feeling okay in my body lately. I was able to buy clothes with size tags indicative of where I used to be before my big weight loss journey began- and I did it without tears or self-hatred.

To answer my own question, yes, I probably should get back to exercising for my health. I don’t know how to do that yet- how to exercise for health rather than weight loss. To aim to lose stress rather than lose inches. But I’m sure I’ll figure that out one day. I just hope that when I do, it isn’t too late, that I haven’t wasted away more years of my life hating myself and keeping myself in hiding from the activities and the people who once made me happy and energetic. It’s 3:37 PM now. I have a little over an hour before I have to leave for the gym.  And even if it doesn’t happen, I’ll know that I have tried. Maybe that’s all I need to push myself just a little bit farther out of this cycle I’ve found myself trapped within. Hiding gets tiring and I can’t do it forever.

Olly olly oxen free.

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