The Gym Never Beckons

Almost two weeks of sticking to my getting to the gym guns got blown up for a legitimate reason (bad headaches).  That was just enough time for my brain to rationalize why today was yet another day that we supposedly shouldn’t go to the gym.  That mindset had to get beaten into submission ASAP.

To recap my experiment, I’m trying to work out 6 days a week (up from zero) and keep my relatively good diet stable in order to see if I can get some good health and biomarker changes over the coming several weeks.  I do not have any hobbies or activities that substitute for planned exercise.  I don’t play in a basketball league. I don’t take pleasure in doing heavy yard work, or any yard work truth be told.  I don’t have miles of walking built into my work day, nor anything more strenuous than having to carry my computer bag to and from my car less than 300 steps away from my office.  So the planned exercise is really about getting some reasonably natural level of activity that I don’t otherwise get.

As I powered through this first full week of the experiment I really started looking forward to the gym a bit.  It may have been the build up to actually starting some running that goaded me on.  I had a week of getting several days of exercise in leading up to this period, but having day after day of getting my butt moving and lifting did make me feel good. I almost didn’t even mind getting up at 5:30 to go to the gym before work.  Perhaps I was cresting the first little hill that would make going to the gym even easier, or it was one of those early exuberance feelings that people get when they are trying something new(ish).  Yet by Thursday morning it was clear I was going to have some stumbling.

I had allotted myself one day to not exercise.  That was either going to be Friday or Saturday. We had friends coming into town and I knew that it would be difficult to get all our schedules aligned on those days.  I was going to try but was giving myself that one day a week totally off anyway, and it would fall on that day.  That is until about I woke up groggily at four am with a dull hangover like headache.  I didn’t have a drop of alcohol on Wednesday, but I did spend a ton of time in the hot tub, steam room, and sauna as a post workout warm-down.  My six minutes of running at ten minute mile pace with a mile of walking on either side of it may seem pathetically effortless considering I was running 13 miles at a whack not too long ago but it was still a big improvement from maxing my heart rate out and getting delayed onset muscle soreness from a light elliptical machine workout two weeks before.  I was conscious of drinking fluids and electrolytes throughout, but I guess not careful enough based on the mild headache.

As the day wore on I had hoped that by eating and drinking more it would go away but instead it got worse; much worse.  By early afternoon it was a full on headache and by the time I was driving to the gym (on the way home) it was turning into a full blown, back of the eye piercing headache.  I ended up laying out rather than going to the gym and the headache came and went throughout the night and early the next morning.  By mid-day Friday I felt pretty good and had considered heading off to the gym but a quick trot to get out of the cold on the way back from lunch brought it back with to almost where it was 24 hours before.  The idea of lifting or running when fifteen seconds of trotting irritated things seemed silly. I would simply make up for it by forcing myself to exercise on Saturday.

Of course Saturday arrived and schedules collided as I had imagined so my original “one day off” for Saturday still happened but this was now the third day of no exercise.  The first two were due to the headache so I wasn’t going to shame myself over it, just lamented the loss of time.  It wasn’t until today that the real loss of inertia became apparent.

It’s crazy cold for this area, a mere 8 degrees when I woke up this morning.  So there was no running outside.  I ended up sleeping late again, making up for some lost sleep earlier in the week from those 5:30 am alarms, and with the cold weather just needed to get going to the gym and supermarket in one fell swoop.  By 9:30 I had waited long enough that I should have started going after doing some brief e-mails and correspondences.  Then by 10:30 I was starting to read some good articles that caught my fancy while I had some television on in the background.  Before I knew it the clock read 11:30 and that meant that I really needed to go and we could have a late lunch when I got back.  Of course on the way I was rationalizing why I could maybe skip again today.  What if I got another headache?  Do I really want to eat that late?  Don’t I have a whole bunch of stuff around the house I should be doing?  Can’t I think of any less than a dozen reasons why today was not the day to go work out.

I flipped my schedule to do the supermarket first and the annoyance factors of the packed store made me want to just pick up our stuff and get home.  Gym be damned.  There was always tomorrow.  I could maybe do some light yoga when I got home.  I can do weights tomorrow.  I had no choice at that point but to bite the bullet.  “The weights workout and all the warm up and cool down take less than thirty minutes.  You can make thirty minutes in your schedule to do anything.  You are going to the the gym now,” I said to myself as I got back into my car.  And so I went.

I felt so good afterward I don’t know why the endorphin rush doesn’t make the gym beckon me.  Maybe it’s because my current state of strength fitness has me lifting the same weights as some of the women and elderly people in the weight room.  I found out my dad, god bless him, is lifting twice what I do right now.  Maybe it’s because I always feel like an imposter in the gym, although no one or nothing besides my own internal dialog would lead to that conclusion.  Either way allowing myself to skip several days almost could have been the downfall of my whole experiment.  Even with the impending weather I can’t let that happen again for fear of having the whole thing go off the rails so early in this experiment.