Reality check: at the gym, nobody cares about you
Monday, June 27, 2016
So I went to the gym this morning.
At last. At last I had a full workout. I feel awesome right now. Truly I missed it.
I moved to a new city on June 4th, a Saturday. I started my new job two days later (June 6th). The next day, I took a long walk around town, visited the library to make my address change, and ended the walk with a visit to the gym to get a membership.
It didn't go well. I knew there'd be a lot of people since it's the only gym in town and it was around 6:30 in the evening, but it was crowded. There was very very loud music playing, and the members didn't look like the kind of person I was used to in my old gym. (Quiet 40+ people, and this was a crowd of young buffs in their twenties.) The girl at the counter was completely clueless when I said I wanted to get a yearly membership, and I ended up paying for the whole year then and there instead of making monthly payments like their Facebook page promised you could do.
It was a frustrating experience and it shaped my whole vision of the gym for the following weeks. I wanted to go the next morning but I skipped. I was scared. I went on the Thursday morning instead, and I was completely overwhelmed. There was a sign in the bathroom asking members not to dispose of needles in the trashcan. I thought to myself... needles? Are people here using steroids?! There were two women in the changing room - young, fit, slim, with perfect hair and makeup, while I was there, barely out of bed, after gaining a bit of weight, tired and cranky. (I'm now laughing about it, but back then it was horrible.)
I ran for fifteen minutes and left. I was too scared to check out the strength training section. I walked back home and I felt ashamed. I was such a gym rat before I moved, I loved it, I'd never skip a session, I made friends with the morning regulars. Now what?!
I went once the week after that. This time I did some strength training. But the environment was so unfamiliar, I felt clumsy and awkward. There's no real open space for dumbbell training so I felt like I was in the way standing between two benches. I couldn't find half the equipment I needed, and I was intimidated by the other members even though no one even looked at me or gave me any kind of attention. I was pressuring myself into being back at it perfectly right away even though NOTHING was the same. After a short frustrating workout I left.
The next week (last week) I didn't go at all. I wanted to, kinda, but... I slept in. The start of the week was tough, and the last half even tougher as my boyfriend left for two weeks and suddenly I was left alone still feeling a bit lost. My gym clothes were piled up neatly ready to be put on, and I'd feel ashamed again when I got up after an hour of snoozing and saw them waiting for me.
Then I read Zen Habits' article about making your own story (see my last blog). I read it, and read it again, and it's been on my mind all weekend.
I didn't make good choices either last weekend. Friday was the Quebec national holiday which I decided to celebrate with poutine. I made it at home with oven fries, homemade gravy and pizza mozzarella since I couldn't find cheese curds anywhere. It was pretty good and I enjoyed every bite. No shame there.
Then I went to see the races at the race track with a new friend of mine (a German intern at a big farm of the area, he's here until October). It was a lot of fun - I had two beers, and he got himself some pizza and really insisted I have some. Normally I'd have no trouble saying no since I wasn't hungry, and I practiced it a lot since starting Lean Habits almost a year ago, but... something inside of me cracked, it was the first time we were hanging out just the two of us, and I felt he'd be offended if I said no, so I took what he offered and ate it. It wasn't a ton, but it was still completely unnecessary since I wasn't hungry.
Then Saturday happened. I felt tired and lazy, and even though I got some things done at home, I spent most of the day reading, watching a TV show, and... eating. I kinda snacked and I ate junk food all day. I felt too lazy to cook for some reason, so I had poutine AGAIN for lunch (and barely gave it any attention since I ate it while reading my book) and for supper I had... fries. That's it. I then had a ton of beer by myself while watching a new serie and went to bed past midnight.
Sunday morning I decided I had no energy to waste on being ashamed. I made choices, they were wrong, I'm moving on. I started my day with cleaning the whole apartment. We received our new vacuum cleaner Friday, a Dyson (the model for pet hair), so after cleaning the bathroom and dusting I could try it for the first time. I fell in love with it! And the apartment looked so much better. We didn't have a vacuum before so it'd only been swept, and the area rug in the living room was looking miserable before I vacuumed it. That was a solid half an hour of hard work - I was sweaty when I was done. I forgot how much vacuuming makes me sweat lol.
Ensued a long Skype conversation with my boyfriend, that was fun, and then I had lunch and went for a half an hour bike ride around town. We've had nasty weather for days now so it was cloudy and windy, but not enough to ruin it.
When I came back I had a few hours before another Skype session with a friend so I sat down and thought. I thought about the article I read and the story I was telling myself. I acknowledged the fact that the new gym was scary because it's different, the fact that I was categorizing the members I'd seen the same way I was scared they'd categorize me. I acknowledged that I needed to go back to my routine at last and to make a habit out of it again. I acknowledged that it SUCKS that I lost this habit when I moved, but that I couldn't go back in time to fix it, so the only solution was to go back at it ASAP until it became natural again.
After that, I felt at peace. I made some red beans taco filling with a ton of veggies for supper, Skyped for two hours with my friend, and ended the evening with a cup of tea and a new book.
My alarm rang at 5:30 this morning, like it had done so many times in the previous weeks. But this time I didn't snooze, I didn't set it to 6:30 and went back to sleep. It was tempting, sure. My first thoughts of "but I'm tired", "but I don't wanna" hit my brain first, as usual. I brushed them away. I told myself: I don't care, you're going. Those are silly excuses. You promised yourself. Keep your promise.
I put my gym clothes on, prepared my water bottle, and left. I walked to the gym (it's about 7-8 minutes). When I got close I started getting nervous again. I acknowledged that I was nervous and scared, but I didn't let it make me turn around. I could still hear my bed calling me. "If you turn around now it's fine, you went that far, it's better than nothing", my brain was saying, but I ignored it. Turning around ten feet from the gym door felt like a worse failure than staying in bed.
I entered, took my shoes off, scanned my card (and struggled with it as usual, but this time I laughed about it instead of being embarrassed). Went to the changing room, prepared, and went straight to strength training. This time I made use of the wide open room at the back of the gym to do my dumbbell and pushup exercises, and used other machines for the rest - back extensions, pull-downs, and diagonal pull-ups in the cage. Then I did some intervals on the treadmill, and left.
On my way home I thought about the whole experience. I finally did a whole workout (from my Lift Like A Girl program), and it felt great. I dared using the machines and equipment and being with the others and not hiding. And guess what, once again nobody gave me an ounce of attention. Nobody cared, because they were like me - doing their thing.
I also noticed different members. I saw the usual young buff guys, but also two women in their 50's and a man in his 40's. I don't know why but this comforted me, maybe because all my gym buddies at the old one were in that age range. I even smiled to a couple of them and nodded to the man when I went to use a machine next to his.
I got home very hungry, tried a new savoury breakfast (a disaster, but hey, I tried lol) and got ready for work. I know I'll be sore tomorrow - and the rest of the week as I go back to regular gym sessions, which my body isn't used to anymore after a three weeks break. But I'm fine with that. I actually like the soreness, unless it makes it uncomfortable to walk or sit, which has happened before when I had a crazy trainer who didn't respect my limits.
I'm already excited for Wednesday morning, and a little nervous about Friday, which is my non-set day (with few reps of very heavy lifting) where I'll have to mingle with the younger crowd at the barbell and dumbbell area. But hey, if they keep on not caring about me, it's all fine lol!