Somehow I have turned into someone who goes to the gym. Regularly. I’m not quite sure how it happened. One minute I was minding my own business enjoying my walks and mulling over the somewhat distinct possibility of doing some other physical activity. In the next, I find myself with a gym membership, a personal trainer and sweating my stuff 3 times a week.
I mean I wanted to get fit. To start looking after myself better. I am fed up disliking what I see in the mirror, of feeling like I am not doing enough to combat the fear I feel when I think of all things health related. Of not fighting enough for my time on this planet. I want to feel proud, I want to love myself.
But going to the gym…this was something other people do. Not me. Totally out of my comfort zone. So I find myself confused and somewhat bewildered at the fact I now spend roughly 3 hours a week at the gym. And that I like it. Mostly.
You see I find it really hard. Going to the gym is full of so many things that trigger my anxiety that I find myself continually asking what the heck is actually going on.
Like when I need to ask a stranger how many sets they have left on the machine I want to use. When all I want to do to is walk away rather than open my mouth and risk drawing attention to myself. And sometimes I do. I actually walk away and abandon my routine rather than ask. With the feeling of failure that comes with it when that happens.
Or when I see a young fit girl in a cropped top and tight leggings and my confidence crumbles. When I feel like the middle-aged woman I am, when I am reminded how unattractive I feel in my own skin.
Or when I have to raise the seat or change a setting on the machine and I don’t get it right first time. And it feels like all the eyes are on me judging my incompetence.
Or when I worry I am going to fall off the end of the treadmill, faint, drop my weights, get looked at for doing something stupid or not belonging or like I am weak and rubbish, that I won’t be able to open my locker. That I am not strong enough. Not good enough. That I am not enough.
Every single second of my time in the gym is filled with anxiety.
Heck I even find getting into the gym terrifying with their pods that open one door for you to go in and then doesn’t open the next one till the first is closed. I worry that one day the door won’t open and I will be stuck in there. Panicking. With everyone laughing at me.
Despite all this I keep going. Because some twisted part of me actually likes it. Because session by session I feel like I am achieving something, like my body is getting somewhere. And so is my mind. I don’t think the hours I spend in the gym are going to solve all my mental health issues, far from it. They do though give me a place to start challenging myself, to start standing up to all those fears that cause so much anguish in my everyday life. They give me a routine to cling to. If I want to take my health journey seriously and believe me I do, I have to keep going. I have no choice. So a win win situation? Improved body and mind? We shall see.