How I Fell in Love with the Gym

October 2016: In the month leading up to the 2016 election, I was miserable. A change in medication had added 40 pounds since moving to Austin, I was slow, bloated, exhausted from work and my eye had developed a twitch. Knowing that nothing was going to change until after the election, I felt stuck.

Then November came and I joined the gym at 10:30 on a Wednesday night. I am so glad I joined that night, because the next morning I walked into work and was let go. Had I waited until Thursday, I may have never joined the gym. When I think about things like that, I realize just how fragile timing really can be.

How I Fell in Love with the Gym

Having lost my job, I now had all the time to go to the gym if I wanted to. Just a few weeks before I lost my job, I had gone to a new doctor to look at my thyroid. She mentioned me meeting with her dietician to lose some weight, too.

Now, looking back I don’t remember much about the day-to-day, but I started out with just thirty minutes on the elliptical. Back in college, I would do an hour and I’m still now sure how I managed that. But for a while, I just started with the elliptical. Enough to build up my endurance and keep going. Over the few months, I realized that I felt better. I got more done on the days I worked out.

As I worked with my dietician, she had tips for eating and for going to the gym. Eventually, I started adding more weights in. The weights were hard at first, I found them slow and boring. I would do weights before my cardio and it never felt like I was getting anything out of my weights.

Until probably March or April when my dietician told me to shake it up. Do five minutes of cardio to get my heart rate up and then go do weights.

That one tip has made a huge difference for me. I’ve become the person who goes to the gym three or four times a week. I’m so addicted to this feeling of working out, despite all my work changes.

I’ve woken up at 5:30 to go to the gym several times. Last year when I worked the 6:45 a.m. shift, I got up at went to the gym a few times at 4:20. I won’t ever do that again (I hope) but my new work schedule was specifically designed so I could go to the gym before work and not be waking up at the crack of dawn. I already average a whole five and a half hours of sleep at night, I’m trying to minimize the part where it cuts into my sleep.

I try to aim to go to the gym four times a week, and I still try to exercise in some fashion the other days – whether it’s a walk or some kind of workout video. Given my autoimmune disease, I know it’s important that I don’t stop now, and I don’t want to.

In the months since I’ve started adding weights and extra cardio, I can feel the difference. There’s something powerful in making your legs feel the pain (or maybe I’m just into some strange self-torture habits), building up the muscle, and knowing that you’re going to be better for it.

While I’m no means a workout guru or anything similar, I’m hoping to do some posts more about what I do at the gym and more posts where I hold myself accountable. Why? Well, I feel stuck in a lot of other aspects of my life – writing, dating, career, and my health and the gym are, like, the only thing I have going for me.

Sometimes you have to take what you have to work with and make magic out of it.