Like I Knew I Would

This is Gym Week, like, negative 48. Because I ain’t been to the fucking gym since before last Christmas.

And I’ve gained some absurd amount of weight like 50 pounds since then.

And, no, there’s been no pregnancy involved, although my gut gets a lot of suspicious glances on account of the junk food baby gestating in there.

So what happened? I quit going to the fucking gym, that’s what fucking happened. I can tell you all the events that led to my gym cessation and persistence in gym truancy, like how my gym closed, and the place that bought everyone’s membership was inconveniently located and didn’t have the classes I wanted at times I could go. I can tell you how that second place then charged me and wouldn’t refund my money like the crooks gym bosses are known to be, even though I followed the instructions for quitting the gym, and this made me too poor to join another gym that month and also too pissed to go to the new gym that had my money but not my required amenities. I can tell you how I was busy around the holidays, how my long-distance relationship had me going out of town or having company every weekend, and how every time I told myself tomorrow was the day I’d go join the Y or something, I inevitably balked at the cold or my fatigue or some other excuse and never did it.

I could tell you all of that. But that’s all bullshit. I quit going to the gym, because I fucking quit going to the gym. I quit running, too. That’s what happened.

Do I regret it? Sort of.

I mean, I had a good thing going there for a while. I’d gotten past the agony of starting at the gym. I was seeing results. I was feeling good about my body–not only my appearance, but my ability to do shit with my body I’d never thought I’d be able to do. I’d run some 5k races–and I still have the bibs pinned to my wall to prove it. The fact that the race T-shirts don’t fit me anymore tells another story.

When I started this blog last year, I didn’t hide how much I hated working out. I also worked in an escape clause by saying over and over, “I might get sick of this shit soon!” and “I haven’t quit–yet.” That way I could always say I never fully expected I’d stick with it, so it should come as no surprise if I dropped out.

I wasn’t wrong. I did get sick of it. I quit. Like I knew I would.

The intervening months have brought about a different kind of introspection: on body image and self acceptance. Those are confusing to me. When I was younger, the biggest hurdle between me and accepting my body was the chest region. And when I say “biggest hurdle,” that’s actually the opposite of what it was: these tits were tiny, and that’s the one thing I would have changed about my body. The rest of me was skinny, and I never worried for a second about things like how much I weighed or what size I wore. The first time I noticed my clothes starting to get snug, when I was in my early 20s, I stepped on the scale and didn’t really know what to think of the number I saw. I had no idea what I had weighed before and so had no idea if I’d gained any weight.

Now, I’m all too aware of how much I weigh, and of how much I’ve weighed at times since those first inklings it might be more than it should be. Right now, I weigh more than I ever have, even fully pregnant, and I feel baffled to think I might have been disappointed at my weight 20, 30, or 40+ pounds ago.

My boobs are bigger now, so there’s that. It’s only fair. It’s the least nature can do if I’m going to have a belly, right?

Even so, I’m not what I would call “happy” with my body. I’m often conscious of how much more of it there is now, how ill-fitting my clothes are because I’ve outgrown a lot of shit and don’t really know how to dress my current shape in a way that flatters. I don’t even know what to think about the word “flatting,” like what it means in practice, and how much I should care about it.

I did the Mud Run again this year, and it was much, much harder than last year. By the end, I was running as fast as I could, and I was barely keeping up with my friend next to me who was walking. I attempted all the obstacles but was literally unable to finish some of them. I actually had a difficult time mustering the strength to lift my legs at the end of the thing, by which time I had a real appreciation of what good shape I must have been in last year.

Today is the one year anniversary of my quit-smoking date, and in spite of varying degrees of temptation over the last twelve months, I’ve never lit up. That can be a contributing factor in weight gain, they say.

There are three goals I had for myself around the time I started going to the gym: first, start going to the gym. Second, start eating better. Third, quit smoking. It seems like I can’t ever do more than one of those things at once.

At any rate, while I may not be “happy” with my body, I’m not consumed by self-hatred. Sometimes I even like how I look. There’s a certain womanliness I like sometimes.

And truth be told, my dude likes my bod the way it is. I certainly appreciate that, though I also question how much or in what way I should appreciate it. I want to feel the way I feel about my body because it’s the way I feel about my body. I don’t want to hate my body because it’s not as skinny as some man thinks it should be, but I also don’t want to resist making changes I want to make because a man likes how I look now.

Lemme tell you, it’s hard to know, as a woman, exactly what your own thoughts are about your body. Sometimes what makes me feel bad about myself is seeing images of other people and comparing myself to them. Is that a good reason to want to make a change? That doesn’t sound sustainable. There will always be some part of some person’s body that I’ll think is better than the same part of mine.

Sometimes I think about my age and being a mom and having a mom’s body, and I feel like I should just accept that’s where I am. Is that a good reason to find acceptance? That seems like giving up. But giving up what? Would that be giving up something I want for myself or something I think I’m supposed to want for myself?

Sometimes I see cellulite on my thighs or observe my belly, and I’m not sure what I think about those things. Do I hate them? Do I feel neutral? Am I just casually observing? Is noticing body fat the same thing as feeling ashamed of body fat?

I will say this: I felt accomplished when I could observe my body getting stronger, when I noted I could do things I’d never done before or thought I could do before. When I could lift more weight in Body Pump. When I could last through a hard track in RIPPED. When I finished my first 5k and ran the whole thing without stopping to walk.

But it’s very daunting to think about starting it all up again. Those six a.m. classes? Those evenings at the gym when my couch is calling to me? Those aching muscles, those gym showers? I already can’t get all my shit done that I feel like I need to do, like make sure I take the laundry out of the washing machine before it goes sour, or pick up my kids in time to get in piano practice and reading and baths and a nutritious dinner and a little recreation time. Imagining throwing in another element that I don’t really even want to begin with, to the end of achieving goals that I know would make me feel good but are not necessarily a part of my personal values–impossible.

Which is why I never joined a gym before last year.

What to do next? I don’t know. Like with the whole thing last year, this is open ended. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get motivated to start training for an Iron Man or some shit, and this time next year I’ll be winning body building competitions. Or maybe tomorrow I’ll watch TV and take my kids grocery shopping and not smoke any cigarettes and eat some carbs and fat, and this time next year I’ll be no closer to making any changes than I am today.

Until next time.

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