Friday, May 8, 2009

Throwing In The Towel?

Breaking a good habit doesn't get nearly the fanfare that starting a new habit does.  There's no declarations of how today, this very day, is the beginning of a new way of life, and that from now on things are going to be different.  There's no marking on the calendar every day since you quit your good habit, there's no celebrating the 1-month anniversary of your lapse.  No, when you stop doing something good, you ignore it, you don't tell anyone, you wrap it in shame and hide it, preferably underneath several pounds of fat caused by Twizzlers and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I've stopped going to the gym.

I got sick a couple of months ago with a really horrible cold and was out for a couple of weeks.  Then naturally my kids got sick, so I couldn't take them to the day care, and before I knew it a month had passed.  Since then I have done everything I can think of to get myself to the gym again - putting it on a to-do list, making day care appointments, planning to go with Ryan or meeting a friend there - and somehow it has gotten all too easy to cancel, back out, or scratch it off the list without doing it.  I kept telling myself that I'm going to the gym, that I'm still a regular there, that I'm just getting back into the swing of things but fundamentally I'm still the same person that was going 4-5 times a week back in February.  

But let's be honest.  I'm going once a week.  And that's just because I have an appointment with my personal trainer, who sees through my excuses. I thought getting a trainer would be a great motivation; after all, here's a professional whose job it is to whip me into shape.  How could I fail when not only did I make a commitment to someone, but also threw large sums of money at the problem?  

I can still fail because I'm with my trainer for 30 minutes a week, and I'm with myself for the other 10,050 minutes.  She's not there to physically stop me from putting the junk food in my shopping cart, then into my mouth.  She's not there to force me to make uber-healthy foods for dinner, to stick to a 1500-calorie daily limit, to make me feel better when I'm craving something I shouldn't have.  I'm alone in that department, and frankly, I do a pretty lousy job at self-personal-training.  

At my appointment on Wednesday (my token gym appearance for the week) my trainer took measurements.  We're nearing the end of our 6-month contract, so she wanted to check and see how I'm doing.  I knew exactly what the results would be, and I was right:  5 1/2 months of personal training, going to the gym almost daily for 4 months of that, and I hadn't lost a single pound.  My body fat percentage was exactly the same.  She was very gentle about it, didn't try to make me feel guilty, but it didn't really matter.  I knew what my expectations were when I started, and I knew how badly I was meeting them.  Instead of being motivational, a personal trainer was just one more person I disappointed.

So now any potential scrap of desire to get back to the gym is gone.  I feel defeated.  I feel like the effort I made for months and months made absolutely no difference, so why bother?  Why give up two hours out of every morning, hours when Zack was at preschool and I only had one child at home, why put those hours into an activity that shows no return on my investment?  Why not just sit on the couch and read a book, or hang out with a friend, or run nearly-child-free errands, or take a shower before lunch?  On top of it all, I feel like a hypocrite.  I just convinced two women in my ward of the joys of sacrificing your morning to the elliptical machine, and they're already asking why they don't see me there.  And I've got my husband, who seems to be a never-ending fountain of determination, which leaves me feeling like something is capital-W Wrong with me for not being able to do this one simple thing.  

The weight of my disappointment in myself is so heavy that no amount of strength training is lifting it.  The only thing that keeps me going, that leaves the question mark in the title of this blog, is the fact that I am not a quitter.  Generally.  I kept skiing this season after my montrously bad first experience, and by the end of the season I was actually enjoying it.  But is this the future I have to look forward to?  Endless battles with myself over 20 pounds?  Spending 1/12 of every day walking in place in a room full of sweaty people, watching morning talk shows?  Why can't I just live with the 20 pounds and be happy?

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just having a bad day/week/month.  All I know is I'm out of energy for another self-pep-talk.  


Anonymous said...

Technically speaking, I'm sure the 4 months of exercise helped improve your blood pressure, heart health, cardiovascular system etc. Have your trainer track those things and I know you would see a difference.
I still love you, no matter what!

- Ryan

rachel said...

Emily, I feel this same way, except apply it to dieting. After 5 months, my total weight loss is two pounds. Too bad we can't take our combined efforts and get some good effect out of it. I often wonder at what point I have to say "oh well, this is my weight" and just live with it. It just sucks. I finally am giving in and buying fat clothes so I at least have something semi-attractive to wear.

Luisa said...

Well, I know people usually don't listen to me b/c I'm skinny so my opinion doesn't matter but everyone has things about their body/appearance they don't like. I love exercising b/c of the way it makes me feel but not everyone does. You have to find something you like. I've never gone to a gym and think I would probably hate it. I like running outside, or walking with a friend, sports, etc. Find something you can enjoy and then it won't feel like drudgery. But find a happy medium too. Something that makes you feel good about yourself but you don't hate it and aren't seeking for some sense of "perfection" that maybe isn't you. I know this sounds like a bunch of cliches but I really believe it.