I’m thankful that yesterday the jaw of hell, otherwise known as my job, did not prevent me from going on a run at the gym. It has been a little over a week or more since I have been able to get out of the office to take a run on the treadmill. It’s funny to think that just a short while ago I had a love/hate relationship with running. I hated to run, but loved how good I felt afterward. Today, running has become something that I am determined to incorporate into my life to sustain balance and shape. Balance and shape are two things that were in very short supply for my mother prior to her death. For as long as I can remember, my mother had always struggled with weight, although there is photographic evidence from her youth that reveals a once svelte woman. Somewhere along the line, the svelte young woman became a mother of four with a husband that she wrapped her whole world around, and when that husband passed away, she turned to what she felt would comfort her. Instead of being a sustaining life force, food became an enemy in my mother’s life that when coupled with no exercise, loneliness, and depression led to a headlong collision with death.
I’ve never personally struggled with weight, nevertheless, my slim exterior covered the fact that I was desperately out of shape. Little by little, however, I am beginning to take control of my fitness level and may I say that I am loving how strong I feel, that and the added little extra of fitting perfectly into a dress I haven’t worn in years. Other people have been noticing my transformation as well, and except for a few people who I am convinced think my transformation has more to do with grief than time put in at the gym, I’m glad that what I have been doing for my inside is reflecting on my outside. With this transformation has come the “What have you been doing lately?” and “We have got to hit the gym together” statements. “What I have been doing lately” is not a problem for me to answer. I love sharing tales from my gym classes and leading people to workout videos that perpetually challenge me; it is the “We have got to hit the gym together” statement that sets me running for the hills. It’s not that I don’t want my friends, coworkers and acquaintances to get fit, I do, it’s just I don’t want to be there when they do. You see, gym time is “me time,” a time when I feel that I have some semblance of control over my life. I can run on the treadmill and/or take a cardio sculpt class, all while sweating profusely and blocking out everyone and everything around me. I like the fact that I am not strapped down to someone elses’s schedule, along with not feeling obligated to carry on a conversation with my “gym buddy.” Virtually every time I go to the gym, I see people with their gym buddies (usually woman) who instead of pushing each other to go deeper, spend time gabbing about celebrities, what they watched on TV last night, what is happening at their jobs or their relationships. For me, that is called brunch, not a workout.
I am fully aware that not all gym buddies work to suck the vigor out of a workout. There are countless stories of gym buddies who have served as a constant source of motivation and inspiration for one another down the path towards good health and fitness. Unfortunately for the people that ask me to go to they gym with them, I am not one of those people. I like going it alone which is something that is entirely about me, not the person that is asking me to go to the gym with them. This is something about me that will probably never change and so if you are ever at the receiving end of one of my awkward “I like to go to the gym alone” proclamations, please don’t take it personally. When it comes to going to the gym, it isn’t you, it’s me.