On the Gym and New Year’s Fitness Resolutions
Friends I’d had for years became runners–like, real runners. They ran 5K’s and 10K’s and marathons and then from one end of the country to the other surviving on only Gatorade and purchases from Runner’s Roost. Many of them found products or services they truly believed in and started selling them: health drinks, recipe lists, vitamins and supplements. People chose Keto and Paleo over Oreo. CrossFit became a lifestyle that people simultaneously loved and hated. Pounds were lost, health was gained and regained, triathlons were completed, and sore muscles were worn proudly as badges of honor.
All of it always intrigues me. I start to feel inspired and motivated to make positive changes in my own life and my own health. I start to feel like I can actually do it–I can turn my life around and get it started. And, like many people, I am someone that does better starting new routines on the first of something: first day of the week, first day of the month, first day of the quarter…first day of the year. I’ve learned something, though, from many of these health-conscious folks throughout the years, and how they feel about people like me getting started with these changes on the first of the year.
Lots of them don’t like it one bit.
If I had a dime for every time I saw someone that was previously a big supporter of people getting up and “lapping everyone on the couch” suddenly turn around to complain about the people who show up and “crowd the gym” in January, I might be able to make this freelance writing gig a full-time thing. And you know what? I get it. It has to be frustrating to walk into a place that you love–a place that is safe and has come to represent the better side of you–and find that you are surrounded by way more people than normal. It can be hard to keep your focus when some new guy doesn’t know the etiquette of machine use or when all of the cardio machines are taken by new folks. It can get easy to resent these people: Who invited them, anyway? They’re just going to quit in 2-4 weeks. I wish they’d make room for the rest of us who have actually made a lifestyle out of this.
Here’s the thing, though: that attitude, while perhaps seemingly justified to the person who has it, is also what keeps people like me from darkening the doors of any gym at all.
I don’t know if you, persistent gym-goer, remember what it was like to make the first step. I don’t know if you remember how hard it was to turn that step into the second and the third, until going to the gym and being healthy became a second skin. I don’t know if you remember the first time you skipped out and made a huge mistake and cried into your big bowl of macaroni and cheese, or got so pissed you went on a bender and hated yourself the next day for ruining everything. I don’t know if you remember what it felt like to try to push through all your shitty excuses and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. I don’t know if you remember what it was like to do the right things for weeks in a row and see no results and wonder what the hell you were doing wrong and if it would ever work for you the way it works for other people. And I don’t know if you remember what it felt like to be at that gym with all these people who seemed to be doing it so much better than you, who seemed so much more successful, and try to be like those people and still feel like you might never get there.
I don’t know if you remember, but I’d like for you to try.
Try because you believe with your whole self in this healthy lifestyle and you did the hard work and you pushed through the sweat and tears and frustration to get to where you are now. Try because you believe–nay, you know that others can do the same…that they are capable. That they are their own worst enemy and that they need to push through it the same way and see how damn amazing it is on the other side when you’ve reached that accomplishment. Try to remember when you get frustrated with these “Resolutioners” (I’ve also seen us called “Reso-losers,”) that everyone has to start somewhere. And that everyone should have a support system when trying to make major life changes for the better…or at least kind spirits around.
Some of you may think to yourselves, Well, Danielle, you shouldn’t be doing it for me. You should be doing it for you. And you shouldn’t care what other people think–you should be strong enough to push past that and let the haters hate. Why would you let this attitude stop you from becoming your best self? You’re right. I shouldn’t. And neither should anyone else. But here’s the thing: we exist in relation to one another. The first step is hard enough as it is…why make it harder for someone? I’m a pretty resilient person that doesn’t often care what others think of me…but it’s hard to bring myself to a place where people are going to see me at an extreme point of weakness and not think about the fact that I know what some of them already think of my new face. Give it a few weeks…she’ll be gone soon.
So if you’ve had this attitude towards me or others as we try to get on the track with you to a better life, all I ask is that you think twice this year. If you’re like me and you’re going to try like hell to make better decisions for your health this year, keep pushing, no matter what anyone thinks. We’ll be there for each other. Don’t give up because it doesn’t matter what other people think–this one is for you.
And everyone can have a turn on the treadmill eventually.