It started in my 20s. It started when losing weight was just a treadmill away, when happy hours and parties weren’t detrimental to having pants that fit, when all the calories from the night before could be forgiven by a 30-minute elliptical session.
But it has turned into so much more. A way of life, a way to keep myself sane.
Because really, I can’t function without exercise.
I used to think I did it for weight control. But after an unplanned five-week hiatus, I realized I don’t need to exercise for weight loss or maintenance. I need it to feel normal.
When I took all that time off, I no longer felt normal. I felt down, I felt lethargic, I felt…crappy. I kept telling myself I’d get back into my regular, healthy routine, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. The amount of energy I knew I needed for a workout was overwhelming. So instead I wallowed and bemoaned the loss of my ability to wear any of my jeans.
Everyone told me I looked fine, but the thing is, I didn’t feel fine. I wasn’t taking care of my body, and I felt it. I was tired and felt heavy and, worst of all, my mood was down. Way down. I was letting myself go, and that didn’t at all work for me. That is not who I am. I’m a fighter. I’m a person who changes things I don’t like. Yet there I was, stuck on the couch stuffing myself with metaphorical bon-bons and feeling sorry for myself.
What got me unstuck wasn’t even myself…it was the owner of my gym, texting me to tell me it was time to get back to my “A” game.
I wasn’t even sure I still had an “A” game. My first few workouts back were certainly evidence of that. I couldn’t keep my former pace, I couldn’t lift as much weight. But in spite of all that, I felt fantastic. There is nothing in the world like a workout high. Those endorphins they always talk about? Not just a myth.
I need those feel-good chemicals floating around in my body. I need the rush, I need the movement to help me focus on the rest of my life. It gives me energy, inspiration, and normalcy. This is why I gym.
Do you have something that helps you feel normal?
Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange