The Gym Diaries

The Gym Diaries

Part 2

So, it’s been a month since my first diary entry and it’s fair to say the last 30 days really haven’t gone to plan. Various celebrations, rota changes and holidays have meant my routine is pretty much non-existent, and I’ve been finding it really difficult to schedule time for my workouts. Of course, I know I could have found a way to fit them in, but a serious drop in motivation and a busier social life have done a great job of interfering with my ability to stick to any sort of routine.

I could so easily beat myself up for this, and I have to an extent, but the truth is, I don’t want to. Yes, I’ve fallen out of my routine. Yes, I’ve been eating less than perfectly and yes, I’ve made excuses and gone out for drinks and dinner rather than squeezing in a gym session after work. None of these things are conducive to maintaining a killer workout plan, but they’re not going to kill me either. And I needed them. One thing I really struggle with is balance, and as someone with an extremely addictive personality, I have to work extra hard to make sure I’m not neglecting certain aspects of my life in favour of something else. In this case, I was putting my very real need for time with my friends and family over my need to train. Now, while spending time with family I hadn’t seen in over a year and knocking back the odd margarita with the girls gave me a real boost, I used these occasions as an excuse to ‘forget’ about why I started to train in the first place.

I’ve managed a couple of mini sessions after work and being on holiday means I’ve walked a fair amount, but I really haven’t been focusing on smashing my workouts and going until I just can’t anymore. This is a big deal for me, as I generally get my biggest endorphin hit when I’m cursing my trainer on the floor in a puddle of sweat. If I’m not pushing myself to that point every time, something in my brain tells me I don’t deserve to feel any sense of accomplishment and that really sucks because any workout, no matter how short, is something to be proud of when everything in your mind is screaming at you to get back into bed.

I began this journey to manage my depressive episodes and feel better about myself, and while the short-term benefits of a couple of drinks were great, I really missed the positive mindset training gives me and by the end of the month I was left feeling a bit deflated. So, I know find myself facing the daunting task anyone who struggles with maintaining a routine will know all too well: getting back into it.

As I write this, I am sitting in an empty gym as we experience the classic lunchtime lull. I finish work in an hour and know that what I really need to get out of this slump is smash out a few sets for my long-overdue leg day, but the thought actually makes me want to cry. Why? Because I’d rather go and eat an enormous cake in bed while watching Gilmore Girls. My body simply doesn’t want to engage, and convincing my mind to switch on is going to be even harder.

I know deep down that the best way to exercise is simple and easier than it looks right now. I just need to get off my chair, walk over to the leg press and start, but the cloud that resides in my head is doing a great job of convincing me I don’t need to, that there’s no point and that I’ll be fine without actually doing anything to feel better. Now, I know this doesn’t work, so let’s see if I can actually get off my butt and work up the courage to face my arch nemesis: the treadmill.

Update - I did it!

It was short and sweet, but I managed to drag myself away from the door and in the direction of the gym floor for a mini-session and even though I wasn’t exactly a sweaty mess on the floor, my heart was pounding and I could definitely feel that little fizz of endorphins.

I don’t know if it was the exercise or simply the pride that I had done something good for myself despite every fibre of my being discouraging me, but I came away feeling really pleased with myself, an emotion I’m not overly familiar with

After a month of partying, eating poorly and abandoning my routine in the name of tequila, I was feeling pretty low and disappointed in myself. Getting on the treadmill for ten minutes may not sound like much, but for someone on the verge of a depressive episode, it was big.

Looking back on the last four weeks, I have to remind myself that I haven’t ‘failed’ by not spending at least an hour a day in the gym. Far from it, in fact. I took time to do things I wanted to do, see people I love, visit places I hadn’t been to before and made a happy fool of myself on more than one occasion. I didn’t ‘fall behind’ in my training because the finish line doesn’t exist.

I recognised when I was feeling on the verge of an episode and I used exercise as a way to combat it, which is what I set out to do in the first place. I might have ignored the warning signs a few times, and there have definitely been days where I could have helped myself more, but it’s a learning curve and as someone who has never been particularly au fiat with the concept of self-care, I’ll take that as a pretty good step.

So, what’s next? I suppose the first thing I need to get down is not beating myself up for not smashing every single workout. I have off days, and when they hit they REALLY hit, but I’m learning to take time out and allow myself to do the things that make me happy without feeling guilty for it. That being said, I fully plan on building a routine again and sticking (somewhat) to it.

God loves a trier, eh?