So, I’ve Joined a Gym

We’re now deep into February and I still have my gym memberships, and more importantly, I’m still using my gym membership. Not always the same way from week to week, but using it more than I ever have in decades.

My first gym experience came in high school when I had fleeting dreams of being a fitness model. I wasn’t tall, so I knew I couldn’t be a fashion model, but this whole idea of a fitness model was just starting to take shape and my overly inflated sense of confidence in my looks convinced me all I needed to do was lift some weight and get a tan, and I’d be home free. Well, I lifted weights, a lot. I remember being in the locker room of that gym during the OJ Bronco chase and just sitting down on one of the benches and watching it on the TV.

Aside from that, the most memorable moments from that gym membership involved the daughter of the owner and several of the tanning booths. Also, the fact that it was my first brush with credit infamy as I stopped paying at some point but never canceled and had it charged off eventually. I briefly joined a Powerhouse Gym when I took my first real job out of college and moved out on my own, but I’m not sure I ever went and, yes, that one was charged off as well.

After that, I mostly stuck to running outdoors once or twice a year and relying on my metabolism and general genetic luck to get me through. Then I got old. And I got fat. I crested the 200 pound mark that had always been my line of demarcation for trouble and it’s only gotten worse. Every once in a while I would fiddle around with a calorie counting app and maybe walk a little more, but never was able to find the motivation to do the work to get my health under control. Until last year.

I’d suffered a couple of years of pretty relentless health and mental issues and I just wasn’t in a great place. Then Becky and I went camping with the kids and her family for a long weekend over her birthday and something happened that reset me in ways I’m still trying to figure out. I came out of those woods changed and finally ready to make the necessary changes to save my life.

I’ve written a few times already about how I reconfigured my creative processes to maximize this new energy, but I haven’t talked as much about the health side of it. Becky and I had already started eating better because of the previous mentioned health issues and just a general feeling that it was terrible all around for our entire family. I started running a bit more outside and then downloaded this Couch to 5k program and finally had the structure I needed to start working my way back into running with a purpose. For a couple of months I was running and writing regularly and feeling pretty good about myself. And then things kind of fell away and the running was the first to go and then, before I knew it, we were looking at the ass end of 2018 and I’d lost all of the momentum I’d built up.

But instead of quitting, I felt energized to try again. Writing-wise I started with the #1000wordsofwinter project and for fitness I knew I wanted to run, but I hate treadmills and they hate me. Luckily, I live in one of the few areas with multiple gyms nearby that have indoor tracks. I settled on our local community center gym and from the first day, I’ve sensed a huge difference in how I approach things. It’s not just lifting weights for my looks or running just to get in steps, it’s a purposeful attempt to change my lifestyle and make this gym a regular part of my weekly activities. I try to run 3 times a week (and once the weather warms up and I can run outside again safely, I’ll begin some weight training to address my pathetic upper body strength), and on Sundays I found a drop-in volleyball group that I play with. I’m terrible, but they’re an understanding group and I’m getting less terrible even as my heart is getting stronger. I’ve even gone to a yoga class and hope to go again tonight.

This is all part of me finally growing up, not by wearing collared shirts and sport coats like I thought I needed to, but my treating my body respectfully and not like a rental car in an action movie. I’ve been getting up early to make sure I have more quiet time to myself for writing and reading before the chaos of the day begins, and I’m even flossing regularly, all so I can work my way through whatever tiny speck of time I have left on this planet with a clear head, a strong heart, and a sound mind.