I’m addicted to the gym.
I blame the endorphins.
Up until recently, I never really bought into the endorphin-induced surge of post-workout happiness. It just sounded like the trite ‘tips’ every single women’s magazine regurgitates, trying to convince their readers to partake in regular exercise. But now? Well, call me a believer. On most days I wake up in a panic. I drink some coffee (caffeine is great for panic and anxiety, right?), eat some breakfast, get Caroline off to school and drive to the gym. All in a panic. Hands at ten and two, firmly gripping the steering wheel; white knuckles and all. I think about how life is changing. I think about my puffy eyes and crows feet and how my concealer doesn’t do what its name explicitly states. I think about switching utilities to my landlord’s name and having our old washer and dryer hauled away. I think about how I ate one too many bowls of cereal the night before and
probably some ice cream, too. I think and I worry. I worry and I panic.
It’s a long five mile drive.
Getting my workout started isn’t always easy. Often the idea of hiding under a blanket all day and eating cookies sounds much more appealing, but once I take those first few heavy steps or lift that weight a few times, I’m hooked. It’s kind of odd, don’t you think? You know, to want to make yourself hurt physically. There’s something so gratifying about pushing your body beyond its comfort level. Seeing results makes it even more gratifying,…but on a daily basis, checking my baggage at the gym door and not claiming it after my workout, is what keeps me functioning. It’s probably wrong to place such importance on something so self-centered. However, I suppose it’s better than finding peace in alcohol or Jimmy Choos or Coach purses.
I’m sure some may consider it misguided to find comfort in a gym, a sweaty, stinky gym, when comfort should be found at home or from up above. But hey, I’m not perfect. In fact, I feel incredibly, horribly selfish that I allow my mood to be dictated by the amount of sweat I’ve shed. I certainly don’t worship at the altar of Gold’s Gym, but I do hold in high regard the physical and mental benefits of a good workout. I’ve never had a chemical addiction. I don’t drink; I don’t smoke; I couldn’t even tell you what pot smells like. Yet, I think I know what it’s like to be an addict. When I tell Craig I’m going to the gym on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when I should probably let my body rest, I feel a fair amount of shame. I sort of say it in a small voice, hoping my words aren’t met with an eye roll or deep sigh. It seems absolutely insane to be ashamed that I want to go to Body Attack at 8 am on a Saturday, but I can’t help it. It doesn’t keep me from going…..but the feeling does exist…which adds a whole different level to my panicked drive to the gym.
It’s not about looking a certain way or weighing a certain amount (although, that part is pretty rad); it’s about mental clarity and stress release. I always leave the gym feeling much more optimistic than when I first walked in the door. And for a pessimist like me, any ounce of optimism I can muster is greatly appreciated.
I realize that on paper my life is ranked in the “unicorns and rainbows” category. We’re healthy. We’re not broke. We have too much food and all of our teeth. Our cars are paid for. Our kid isn’t a brat. We’re moving from one great place to another. It’s all good. Really. It’s all good. For which I am truly grateful. But, even when all the dots connect and everything looks good on paper, people in the “unicorns and rainbows” category can still feel quite messy on the inside.
Messy. That’s what I am.
Messy and hopelessly addicted to being drenched in sweat.