by Raquel Gilkes
Well, I survived my early experiences with the gym, and kept going back, perhaps I was tapping into some masochistic streak that was hidden deep in my psyche. Initially, I had decided to give it a few months and rather optimistically bought a year’s membership. I would slink into the gym in the middle of the day when it was practically deserted and tackle the machines methodically. They fought back. Although I refused to be defeated by a room full of inanimate objects, they were daunting. After 15 minutes in the gym I would be drenched in sweat and gasping for breath.
I would do anything to avoid working-out. Some days I would take along a book and read, I would listen to my iPod, fiddle with the playlists, I distracted myself with games on my mobile phone, I found any amount of reasons. During my sessions with the trainer, I was even worse, I would whine and moan that I could not get the weights to move, my hand hurt, I feel lightheaded, I think I sprained my toe on the cross trainer, I need juice. She was very patient.
Through it all, I just kept going. After last week’s article, some people wrote to ask me how I keep myself motivated. I wasn’t too sure that I knew, so I couldn’t answer, but I have thought about it some more since then. Maybe I still don’t understand myself.
When I first started, I went because of the dire warnings ringing in my ears about this debilitating ‘lifestyle diseases’ like hypertension and diabetes that will strike me down in my prime along with the myriad other things that could go wrong if I don’t get moving. I supposed most of us have been told this, but it really does not resonate with most people until something actually happens. It certainly didn’t encourage me to run uphill on a treadmill for 30 minutes every day.
Why did I just trudge on? Was it boredom? Desperation? A burning desire to wear something that did not have an elasticized waist band? I don’t know. I can’t stay what kept me at it those first few months. My muscles had gotten sore from day one and never recovered, and my hair seemed to be permanently plastered to my skull. And of course there was the sweat. To my utter consternation, gallons of the stuff appeared all over my skin. What was that about? Ladies shouldn’t sweat.
Maybe I should look at it the other way. After all, I wasn’t exactly giving up much. Let’s fact some facts; there are almost no benefits to staying overweight. The only one I can think of is never having to stand while using public transportation because inevitably, some polite person will surrender their seat to you, erroneously assuming that you are pregnant. That is a bittersweet moment at best. So it’s not like I had anything to lose (but fat).
Then there were the little things that got me all excited. Despite the sore muscles, I moved better. I regained my ability to jump, and climb stairs. I didn’t notice the exact moment when going up to my room became such a Herculean task, it happened gradually I suppose, but it happened. Now I could run up the stairs without needing a restorative drink at the top. I could now also buckle my shoes and tie my own shoelaces. I discovered a whole new world. It was so liberating.
Then slowly but surely, I started to enjoy working out. I couldn’t wait to weigh in to see if I had lost weight, I bought a measuring tape; I delighted in my progress and did my little uncoordinated dance of joy every time I reached a new milestone. If I had to say in one word what keeps me motivated to exercise, I would have to say: Results.