On the way to the gym this afternoon, for my long overdue fitness reassessment, I was thinking about the post I was going to write, all about my bodily imperfections and lack of gym attendance. C minus for effort, I thought I might call it. I was ten minutes early and decided that I might as well get on the bike, to make up for the jersey caramels I ate for lunch. I spent too much of my precious morning alone at home doing washing, blogging, emailing and talking on the phone. Not sewing and having a leisurely lunch with a book, as I had planned. As I berated myself, I realised that these days I very rarely eat sweets or chocolate in place of a real meal. Sure there's a bit of snacking between meals and some nights there is port and chocolate after dinner. But not a whole block, or indeed a whole bottle.
The instructor that I usually see sat me down for a chat and so I could cool down before doing the blood pressure and heart rate tests. She noted that on the front of my chart, my attendance had some big gaps but lately had improved. I talked about how I had gone through a patch of hating the gym, that I had become unhappy about the lack of weight loss and that with all the other things in my schedule, it all seemed like too much of an extra burden. Then how I started to feel moodier and more tense, more tired and more prone to comfort eating. We talked about one or two things in my life that aren't how I would like at the moment, and over which I have no real control. I could easily see myself becoming depressed. At that point I realised how important going to the gym was. She agreed that twice a week was better than not at all and that it is important to focus on benefits other than just weight loss. Because as she said, how we feel on the inside is more important than how we look. Not what you would expect to hear from a fitness instructor.
Then I got on the bike and we talked about her upcoming holiday and about the values of the gym. Unlike other places I have tried, I never feel intimidated or out of place here. No matter how unfit or fat or scruffy I am. And it is because the staff and clientele are so diverse. She said that that was why she liked working there, because it is not just for the young and beautiful. It is for everybody. I had a true light bulb moment. I really enjoy watching the kids having swimming lessons, the old people doing physio, the muscle men, the fat teenagers, the mums and all the different sorts of people that come here to swim or work out or just to relax. I feel like I am part of something good.
As it turned out, I had lost a kilo or so, lost some girth and gained some fitness. Not as much as I would like, but progress nonetheless. Going to the gym really does make me feel better. I stand up straighter, I'm not as tense. I have muscles that can do things. So I have decided that I am not going to stress about the dieting thing because really, it sucks. Instead I am going to try and make exercise as much as a habit as eating proper meals. So that in ten years time, I'll still be going to the gym or something. So that exercise will become natural, like breathing.
More about the imperfect nature of human existence here.