I have been diligent about getting to the gym lately which has been doing wonders for my brain chemistry but bad things to my personal appearance. I don’t bother showering if I know I’m going to a workout class and I don’t always have time to shower afterwards, so I’m sporting greasy pigtails and a scuffed baseball cap for all my errands and school pickups and it just seems kind of ironic that my effort, in part, to improve my hotness quotient has resulted in me looking like fried shit pretty much 24/7.

Hygiene levels aside, it is truly amazing the difference regular exercise makes in my mood. I’m just a happier person when I’m working out, and I wish it wasn’t such a massive ongoing effort for me to overcome the part of my brain that continually tries to convince me I’d be much more content sitting on the couch powering my way through a box of Triscuits instead of lacing up my shoes and breaking a sweat. The math seems so basic: one activity triggers short term pleasure but long term lethargy and eventual feelings of despair; the other requires maybe 45 minutes of discomfort followed by hours and hours of confidence, energy, and a positive outlook on life. Yet even knowing the respective payoffs of each choice doesn’t stop me from spending days weeks months in the Triscuit Zone.

I’ve been slowly cycling my way through a bunch of challenging classes at the gym and even though they all involve some level of ridiculousness, they also allow me to completely outsource that pesky issue of motivation. A class will always push me past what I would do on my own, and I’m also finding the group setting to be—well, I’m not sure if the word is enjoyable, but it feels good to be around people. Even if I don’t really talk to anyone, it still helps with the crazymaking isolation, you know?

Last week I was epically, tragically sore from head to toe, and had the depressing sensation that I was starting over from flabby out-of-shape square one for the eleventy bajillionth time, but after two or three days in a row of showing up and doing my thing I was infused with a general overall sense of fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, I feel good.

It shouldn’t be so hard to stay on track, but god, it just is. At least for me. I don’t suppose I’ll ever get to a place where I don’t have to do battle with myself over fitness. I just hope I’m always willing to pick myself back up and go after it again.


41 Responses to “Red pill”

  1. Bel on December 12th, 2011 10:02 pm

    RE the greasy pigtails – have you tried dry shampoo? I’ve recently discovered its wonders. It doesn’t help with hat hair unfortunately, that invention is still to come!

  2. Aimee on December 12th, 2011 10:25 pm

    I will never be self-motivated when it comes to working out. Ever. I have to have a trainer appointment, or friends to meet, or a class…etc. It’s one of the reasons I started rowing – I need a sport/activity where I have assigned times and groups, or I will simply not do it for myself.

    That said, I’m taking a break from my trainer on Tues/Thurs until February (FSA’s run out!), and I’ll be on one of the rowing machines at the Club those mornings sometime between 9 & 10 if you want to give it a go.

  3. Kevin E on December 12th, 2011 10:38 pm

    I swear by LesMill’s BodyPump. Haven’t tried their other classes, but after 3 months 3xweek, I’m in better shape then I’d EVER thought I’d be. Not sure if you’ve tried it.

  4. Sparky on December 12th, 2011 11:11 pm

    Soooo right there with you. I am envious of those who have a natural love for fitness and/or sports. I just don’t. Last year I spent a bunch of money, time, and effort working out several days a week with a trainer and then fell off the bandwagon. So I’m back to square one and the feeling just sucks. You’re right about how it’s illogical, but somehow the motivation still escapes me. Finding it is on To Do list.

  5. Serrorserror on December 12th, 2011 11:19 pm

    Right there with ya there on classes being the way to go. My current work out requires me to sign up for a class, and I get charged if I cancel within 90 minutes of start time. Interesting how that sign up process gets me there, and then the group environment provides the drive to do more than I would ever do on my own. That is also why team sports work for me as well. Otherwise, those Triscuts win the battle almost everytime.

  6. Jenny on December 12th, 2011 11:27 pm

    You must be in my brain! I’m right there with you trying to get back on the workout horse wondering why, oh why, did I stop making it a priority a few months ago. And why, please oh why, does it take only a few weeks of no excercise to turn to mush and put on weight and f-o-r-e-v-e-r to just get back to where you once were? I’m trying though and do feel great when the effort is put forth. Yeah for us!

  7. Jenny on December 12th, 2011 11:29 pm

    Umm….*exercise*… Where were you on that one spell check?!

  8. NancyJ on December 13th, 2011 6:05 am

    My new mantra is “exercise every day IS the way”. I can’t take credit for it though. It comes The Nine Truths about Weight Loss. Keep it up!

  9. Ris on December 13th, 2011 6:46 am

    Group classes are KEY to getting my butt in gear. I must have someone else to compare myself to, shame me into not stopping, etc. I even do better on the treadmill if there is someone next to me that I can “compete” against (even if that person has no idea we’re competing).

  10. cakeburnette on December 13th, 2011 7:01 am

    This entire blog post IS MY LIFE. I honestly wish I was one of those people who ENJOY exercise, but as it is, I only enjoy it after I’m done. And getting the motivation to DO it is a regular struggle. But I’ve gotten myself into a rhythm that is working–no more than 2 days off of exercising. I’ve found that the excruciating pain caused by ‘starting over from flabby out-of-shape square one for the eleventy bajillionth time’ is enough motivation to keep me on track.

    It’s so great to know someone else out there in the Internets knows exactly what I’m feeling…helps to motivate me, too!

  11. jen on December 13th, 2011 7:17 am

    I have to have a race or something to keep me going. I had been struggling with being consistent since going back to work. And yet the moment after I spoke to a friend about doing a marathon this coming Fall? Instant kick in the ass.

    Also? I LOVE the My Fitness Pal app. I have never ever been a conscious calorie counter. I always just winged it in my head but wow, that app made a total difference for me and made me realize those chocolate covered mints I was having every afternoon were totally going to sneak up on me in a couple months time.

  12. Kate on December 13th, 2011 7:18 am

    It is SO hard. I quit smoking for over a year, started working out regularly and eating right after my last pregnancy, and lost 30lbs (not including the 20lbs of pregnancy weight I had to lose first). I felt AWESOME. And then for some godforsaken reason, I started smoking again, stopped working out as much, eating like shit…

    I KNOW this sucks. I feel every day that this sucks. And yet…arg, so, so confusing and discouraging.

  13. Lori on December 13th, 2011 7:22 am

    I recently asked my step-father how long it took him to get in the groove. The groove, that is, of getting up at 5am for the 45 minute drive to the gym 5 days a week. He said about 3 months before he was doing it easily. (He has now been doing this for 8 years, started after a heart attack at age 48.)

    So… there you…. 3 months.

  14. Nikki on December 13th, 2011 7:38 am

    Working out is so great for the after “high” feeling or that endorphins release or whatever the hell it is. But I’m right there with you on the fact that making yourself get to that point is difficult. I’m having a particularly hard time since Thanksgiving this year and I guess it’s because schedules get busier and all that. But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s easy to be a fat ass on the couch! I find that setting short term goals for myself usually works best.

  15. Dorie on December 13th, 2011 7:51 am

    I could have written this post. I’ve been in a slump since around Thanksgiving. Blah. I haven’t gained any weight (very surprising since my diet over the last month has included nothing but crap) and that just makes it even easier for me to decide to stay on the couch. Even though I NEED all the other benefits of exercise. Maybe in January.

  16. kakaty on December 13th, 2011 7:57 am

    I’m a total group fitness dork. I don’t care if it’s a Zumba class or a boot camp, I NEED someone to tell me what to do in order to push my limits. My last gym had an awesome power lifting class that I adored. Cardio and heavy barbells – my favorite combo. But, the class schedule changed to basiclly welcome only SAHP (no classes after 5:30 – WTH?) so we eventally quit our memebership. I haven’t found the right fit for my group-fitness dorkatude and schedule since.

    Yay for you for finding what you like and what works!

  17. Moira on December 13th, 2011 8:40 am

    This totally resonates with me. I am toying with the idea of joining this cycling/spinning gym that just opened in my neighborhood. The group environment really does help, but I am so terribly uncoordinated that the thought of step or Zumba makes me retreat to my couch with peanut butter cups. (And your kickboxing story did nothing to help in that regard).

    I keep thinking that I am on the verge of being “that person.” The person who works out regularly, who has a set spin class she goes to every Monday, and takes a long walk every Saturday morning, and grows her own kale. It hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t given up hope.

  18. Pamela on December 13th, 2011 8:51 am

    I think maybe I need to print out the second paragraph and tape it to the snack cupboard in the kitchen.

  19. willikat on December 13th, 2011 9:00 am

    To me, it’s the one flaw in evolutionary theory—not to start a war here or anything, simply a joke—if we are drawn to things that help us survive and thrive, why are we not drawn to exercise. The dilemma you discuss here is absolutely 100% my problem too. I love how I feel afterward, but never want to go. I have to tell myself “Remember, you will be calmer and happier all week if you put in this one hour of yoga.” Silly, isn’t it? The important part of your story is that you do keep getting yourself there after every Triscuit cycle.

  20. el-e-e on December 13th, 2011 9:49 am

    The mood lift is the most remarkable thing, isn’t it? I mean, one day I’m angry, unable to cope, and stressed out, and the next day I workout, and I’m totally FINE. Good, even! I have to re-learn it, though, every damn time.

    At least your couch involves Triscuits (whole grain!) and not chips & cheese dip like mine…

  21. Fay on December 13th, 2011 10:46 am

    It’s almost as if maybe we should focus on the effects of activity on our (physical and mental) health, rather than on our looks. Hmmm.

  22. Kelsey on December 13th, 2011 10:47 am

    I am working my way back into working out after having my first baby. I have always worked out, and the year (what? I took a YEAR off? Oh yeah. My baby doesn’t sleep. EVER.) was about 10x longer than any other break I’ve ever taken. I have also noticed that the mood lift I get from working out is AH-MAZING. I have totally forgotten what those lovely brain chemicals can do for you…Next go ’round, rather than feeling sorry for myself that my baby NEVER. SLEEPS. EVER.! I’m going to try to remember that working out makes me feel better, not worse.

  23. Jen on December 13th, 2011 10:50 am

    Group fitness classes are where it’s at for me, too. I know you’re on the East Side, but there is a place in the U District called Community Fitness that offers two studio spaces of JUST group classes, from Zumba to spin to yoga to body pump to barre, all for a reasonable monthly price, and without the grossness of a traditional gym.

    Have you tried Zumba? It’s mostly ridiculous, but if you can get past the awkwardness of shaking your booty and gyrating your hips in a room full of strangers (99.9% of them female — there’s also one weirdo guy in a class), it’s so much fun. Sometimes Community Fitness has last-minute deals on Groupon so you can try a class for like $5. Highly recommend. :)

  24. Terri on December 13th, 2011 11:57 am

    Hooray for getting back to working out. I swear by it! It relieves stress and makes me a better mama!

    Have you ever thought of training for another type of race? I know you’ve done road races, but there are also obstacle races. Insane fun. The Spartan Race is my favorite! Spartanrace.com. Orrrr feel free to email me for more information, they are all over the US. I have a discount code if you (or anyone else!!) wants to sign up.

    Terri.McConnell at gmail.com

  25. Kim on December 13th, 2011 12:09 pm

    This is *precisely* how I feel. Luckily, my food struggles have mostly settled into a nice middle ground, where even when I go off the rails, it’s not really that insane. But exercise? I will probably never find long term motivation and will be constantly getting either into or out of shape. Luckily, I’m taking on a very physical, but largely seasonal, job (farming). So I should only need motivation 4-5 months out of the year and the rest of the time the job will keep me in good enough shape!

  26. Clueless But Hopeful Mama on December 13th, 2011 12:16 pm

    Add me to the legions of your readers who feel the same way!

    The ridiculous part of it for me? I used to be a Pilates trainer – one known for kicking people’s butts – and today I still need to either be meeting a friend or going to a class to get a decent workout. Whenever I go by myself, I barely sweat and am not sore in the slightest the next day. Not a good sign.

    I think the key is to keep falling off, and keeping getting back up and trying again. I’m not sure I know anyone who is always perfectly fit, and if I did, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like them. :-)

  27. Sarah on December 13th, 2011 12:33 pm

    Yes! I need the class structure, otherwise I wander around the gym, saying to myself “what should I do next…” Then I say, “Ok, that’s enough! Time to go home.” Awful.

    I love the BodyPump class – works every muscle group in an hour accompanied by cheesy music.

  28. Shannon on December 13th, 2011 1:31 pm

    totally share your feeling of ebbing fitness and good eating motivation. Group classes and goals like a 5K race (just to finish in good grace)are key “pushers” for me. Another thing is visualizing my 30- pounds-heavier- much-less-foxy Former Self. She’s the one telling me I don’t really need to go for a run and that a junk food binge followed by a fat-incubative long nap is really much more what I need. My Cougarlicious Present Self is much more of a bitch but she looks and feels WAY better!

  29. Kristin on December 13th, 2011 2:10 pm

    Thanks for your post Linda. I was so on track last year and even finished a triathlon…and then after a back injury and pressures of work, have been sedentary for a few months. You’re right it affects the mood to not workout. This post gives me hope though that it’s never too late to get back on the band wagon.

  30. Dianna on December 13th, 2011 2:48 pm

    Way to get out of the Triscuit Zone! Let it be known that you do motivate other people, even if it’s difficult to motivate yourself. I just started training yesterday for a half marathon in Kirkland in May. I can’t even run a mile right now, but I was really proud of myself that I got off my ass last night and went for a run. Keep up the good work!

  31. Jessica on December 13th, 2011 3:49 pm

    I was on a great track to getting in shape with a friend and then I decided to get pregnant and my morning sickness stole every single ounce of energy I had and I haven’t gotten it back yet. Glad to know I’m not the only one who has a hard time motivating, even when the results are so great!

  32. Alex on December 13th, 2011 5:45 pm

    You are in my head on this one.

    So glad you are blogging ’round these parts more often these days. I so enjoy you.

  33. shygirl on December 13th, 2011 7:17 pm

    Yep, you’re in my head on this one too. Absolutely with you 100% every step of the way. Rock on.

  34. Lori O on December 13th, 2011 8:21 pm

    I’ve had these thoughts and battles so many times! I’m the closest I’ve ever been to making working out a habit. I miss it if I haven’t done it in a couple days. Or I should say, I miss the sense of accomplishment and overall positive mental well-being I get. What has worked for me to finally make this progress is what a previous commenter also said about shifting the focus from working-out-to-look-better, to working-out-to-get-and-stay-healthy. The appearance-focus is defeating, b/c we don’t change enough or see progress after each day of working out, but we KNOW and can be confident in that we are healthier. This focus also can help the Triscuit battles, but not all. I still fight the food temptations on a regular basis!

  35. Lauren on December 14th, 2011 12:16 am

    could it just be possible that some people are more drawn to fitness activities than other? it’s far too damn hard to stay motivated all the time, AMIRITE?! but fuck yea, when you feel that mood spike, can we bottle that feeling?

  36. alyn on December 14th, 2011 9:56 am

    Can you swing by my house and shove me out the door to go to the gym, too? I’m supposed to be augmenting my PT with some simple exercise, but am I doing it? NO!

    Stop by any time to give me a kick in the ass……..I have Triskits.

  37. Artemisia on December 14th, 2011 11:03 am

    But you DO get yourself there. I still find that to be such a huge hurdle. It is a time hurdle, physical hurdle (out of shape plus -20 weather = don’t want to do a thing) and a mental hurdle.

    It seems the mental hurdle is the tallest and has that yucky ankle-breaking pool on the other side of it.

    This is to say, you inspire me, and depress me. WHY CAN’T I DO THIS, TOO?

    However, good job!

  38. sweetney on December 16th, 2011 10:04 am

    OH THE GUILT. Mine, reading this, I mean. In the past year I went from exercising every fucking day – Monday-Friday at least, but oftentimes 6 or even 7 days a week – to half-assedly tread-milling MAYBE twice a week? Once? I’ve totally fallen into the Fat and Happy abyss (my personal life is now insanely good, which seems to have been an excuse to just stop trying exercise-wise, whereas in the year after my marriage tanked it was kind of all I did). I need to cut that shit out.

    Classes though? I’ve always steered clear of those. Somehow I think being FORCED to be somewhere at a specific time with random strangers in spandex (maybe) might actually trigger a fight-or-flight response in me. Maybe I’m wrong. Have you always liked classes? Or are you a new convert?

  39. Kari on December 16th, 2011 11:50 am

    Hey! Thanks for this post. I, too, am getting back on the horse (again!). I was in great shape three years ago, and now…oh so not so much. I didn’t feel like running yesterday, but I thought about what you said (45 minutes of discomfort = exponential feelings of good) and ran my three miles. Felt like a rock star when I was done :)

  40. Jen - Mom of 4 on December 16th, 2011 3:43 pm

    Can I just say “Amen Sister!” to this post. I’ve been fighting the same thing and at kick boxing class last night (which I almost skipped Again!) I felt that I was back in square one and that I could barely lift my knees.

    Constant fight, I tell ya. Constant!

  41. Alison on December 21st, 2011 2:07 pm

    I’m in the same situation right now. Last April my husband and I started working out together and eating better. He lost 36 lbs, I lost 22. We were working out at least 4 days a week, but usually more. I took a new job and the working out stopped completely, for both of us. I haven’t put any of the weight back on, but I just feel gross in general from no physical activity. Like you, I love nothing more than to be lazy. I am currently doing the whole “I’m getting back into it after the holidays are over.” I know damn well that I should just start again now, but whatever. I too will always have to push myself.

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