Enduring the hard to get to the beauty
I usually hesitate to write about going to the gym because I don’t want to sound preachy or judgmental, or make other people feel bad for not exercising.
But this is my blog, and when have I ever held back my opinion? Plus, I am realizing more and more how much this commitment I’ve made to physical wellness is impacting my life in other ways. So not writing about it is starting to feel, well, weird.
It has been a little more than four months since I started going to the gym at 5 a.m. most weekday mornings, with the occasional exception for Mike’s work schedule. (For a recap of my first Spinning class, read “Morning madness.” It should give you a laugh.)
Every morning when I wake up at 4:30, I have an argument with myself. I complain about how tired I am, and I threaten to sleep in. Then, I remind myself that all of my workout buddies will be exercising while I’m sleeping, that I will feel worse if I don’t go, that I will feel guilty later. So I get up and go.
There has never been one morning when it was easy for me to get out of bed and go to the gym. Never. Not one. In the beginning, I thought it would get easier, but it hasn’t. It is part of my routine now, but it is still hard every morning.
This experience has taught me so much – about fitness and strength as well as previously unknown items like heart rate monitors and cycling shoes.
But mostly, it’s taught me about myself and that I’m capable of more than I thought. As Momastery’s Glennon Melton always points out, I can do hard things. Just like getting out of bed is hard each morning, so is every workout. Spinning and running are hard. Doing squats, push-ups, pull-ups and burpees is hard.
So I complain a lot in my head – OK, I sometimes verbalize my grumbling, too – at the gym. That’s why working out in a group environment is so important for me. I can – and I do – look around at 20 other people who are also at the gym at 5 a.m. and feel motivated. Twenty or so of those people. In that blog about my first Spinning class, I described my reservations about becoming one of those people. But, as my mom has told me, there’s no denying it anymore; I am one of those people.
What I’ve learned is that those people are not just there because they want to exercise. In the beginning, that was my sole reason for going to the gym, but now there is so much more to it than that. Working out consistently at 5 a.m. has shown me that I can be disciplined, and I can set goals. I can even achieve those goals.
Historically, I am terrible at those two things that are linked so closely – being disciplined and meeting goals. I am an instant gratification type. When I’m working up a news release, I check the email that just dinged even though it has nothing to do with what I’m writing. When I’m cooking, I eat as I go because I just can’t wait to taste the deliciousness. I want what I want now. I don’t want to wait for it.
But one doesn’t lose weight in the now. One is not instantly able to do pull-ups on the first try. One does not get out of debt overnight. One does not get a book published quickly. Obviously, these things happen over time, with hard work and sacrifice.
I used to exercise at home occasionally, using a set of Jillian Michaels DVDs. During one of those workouts, she says, “When you see how strong you are physically, it’s going to transcend to every other area of your life.” I’m not going to dissect that statement word for word, but I think it can be true. I am proof that physical wellness can, in fact, influence other areas of health – emotional, mental, spiritual and relational.
Every day I’m learning that I’m capable of enduring the hard stuff because when I do, there is beauty on the other side of it – the exhilaration of completing an hour-long circuit training workout peppered with half-mile runs when running any distance at all used to be unthinkable, the joy when the trainer notices I am getting stronger, the happiness of fitting into clothes I haven’t worn in years, the surprise when family members and friends join a gym because I have inspired them, the delight when a co-worker says, “You sing more often now.” Those things might not have happened if I’d stayed in bed at 4:30 a.m. on that first, chilly morning back in November.
Enduring the hard to get to the beauty will take weeks, months or years. And that applies to all of life, not just the physical aspects.
Originally published on ovparent.com.