Raise your hoof if you go to the gym.
I'm right there with you, my hot-pink-clad arm flapping in the wind. In fact, I just got back from the gym. This is no huge surprise or revelation. Y’all know I’ve been going to the gym now for over 5 years.
That’s 60 months of pumping iron, peddling through cycling class and stretching TRX bands like Gumby.
I look back on these 5 years and see a lot of progress. I also remember the days when I first started, many years ago, and I can’t forget what it felt like then, grossly overweight and hoping nobody would notice the fluffy girl in the corner trying to figure out a weight machine or slip into cycling class without someone raising an eyebrow.
I knew what they were thinking. I knew what I looked like. I knew what my history was, too, so they weren’t far off. How many times before had I joined a gym, gone outright kamikaze-style for a few weeks, hitting it hard and promising myself it was that ‘aha’ moment I needed to kick myself into high gear and finally shed the weight?
Then, within a month, I was back to Cheetos and Mountain Dew for lunch, the gym membership forgotten.
More times than I can count.
So, 5 years ago, I knew what the odds were when I walked through the gym doors again. But this time was different. I’d woken up one day and decided be like Nike, and "just do it."
I didn’t think about the next week or month or year. I didn’t think about anything more than that day, and on that day I made the decision to join a program for help instead of trying to go commando and do it alone.
I joined Jenny Craig, which gave me the support I needed to go from one day to two days. Then I went to three days. Then the days started to string together to a few weeks. And weeks turned into months.
When I went back to the gym 5 years ago, I went back with the support I needed to make it past those few weeks of good intentions but empty promises. I was still the fluffy girl in the corner. I remember getting on the cycling bike, wondering how many people were staring at the new chick trying to balance on the tiny-ass seat. I did the mental math, figuring out how many minutes I had to stay in class before I could sneak out and call it quits for the day, hoping everyone else was too focused Lance Armstronging it to notice.
Something happened, though. For once, I stayed. I peddled all those extra pounds through the whole class. I sweated it out, like everyone else, and when I stopped finally and looked around, I realized nobody was looking at me at all. Everyone else was a sweaty mess, too. We were all huffing and puffing: the skinny girls and the fluffy girls and the firefighter who sat on the same bike every single class and gasped up hills just like I did. Nobody cared who I was, how much I weighed or if I came back to class the next day. So, the next day, I went back to class.
After a while, heifers, I sat in the front row.
Did you hear that???? I sat in the front-freaking-row.
I put my buns front and center and killed it. I also put my buns front and center and didn’t kill it, on many a day, but no matter what, I was there.
I kept being there.
I kept showing up.
I kept eating healthier and sticking with my program. As the weight fell off, I felt empowered. More than that, though, I was starting to get into a groove at the gym. I felt stronger and more confident, not because I was thinner but because I could make it through cycling class without my throat aching and my heart thumping like a cornered animal.
I started to come out from the periphery, from the outskirts, of the gym and found myself in the middle: of the weight room or cycling class or picking the treadmill available instead of waiting for the one off in the distant corner.
Five years later, there are still days when I kill it. I am Rocky Balboa on the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum. That’s fitting, as Philly is my hometown and all. But, there are also days when I still stay on the periphery, hovering near the edge of class or ready to skip out when the lights go low. I have my ups and downs, my strong days and my weak days, even 60 months later.
But the thing now is that I realize one day of feeling like I can’t make it is just one day. The next day, I will likely drink a blender full of raw eggs and pump my fists in the air after a ten-mile run.
Just kidding. I would never drink raw eggs.
But I do keep going.
The point isn’t perfection; it’s progress.
I still make progress. I make it when I’m in the front row, and I make it on the days when I think I can’t run another mile. I make it when I walk. I make it when I flop down after an ab workout and think to myself: Cheetos would probably help.
I make progress during the weeks when my eating is on-point, when I am present at the gym and when I get plenty of sleep. I also make progress when I hit the DQ drive-thru for a mini-blizzard (Salted Caramel Truffle, thankyouverymuch), skip cycling and fit in only a walk.
Progress is progress, the little steps and the big steps. The key to all of it is knowing that showing up is what matters, because no matter the size of the steps, they’re still steps. We can race up those art museum steps or we can walk. We can even sit down every once in a while and take a breather. But we keep going.
Whether we’re in the middle of the room, front and center or up against a wall, the point is: we’re there. We’re showing up. We’re doing it.
Relentless.Forward.Motion. Just Do It.