I really didn't want to go to the gym today. My husband is away for 2 weeks, and I have assigned myself many tasks to complete in his absence. Mostly this means keeping the house the way I like it: tidy, free of clutter (except for the large variety of dog treats always available on the kitchen island), dust-free, chairs pushed in and dishes in the dishwasher and not in the sink. This morning, I almost gave into letting those tasks occupy all of my free time and let them become an excuse for not doing something I have committed to: going to the gym 3-4 times a week. I might have considered adding a few new tasks as a distraction as well.
I did go to the gym today. I remembered why I started. It's not because I want to get "skinny". It's not because I feel like I "should". I started because I want to feel better in my skin. I started because I knew it would be as good for my mind as it is my body. I started because I am going to Italy next spring with a group of people who I suspect will be younger than me, and I don't want my age or lack of fitness to stop me from doing all the things that are planned for the trip. I started because I want to climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia in Siena. I started because I have noticed how much better I feel already after months of daily stretching and want to build on a feeling of health that I have never really been able to achieve. I'm not going to get skinny, and that's okay. But I am going to get healthier. It's already happening: my stretching and daily dog walks have resulted in lower blood pressure than I have ever had, and that's a big deal, as I was headed towards needing to go on medication.
I did struggle at the gym today. I thought of 2 memes I have seen recently: one saying something along the lines of doing cardio at the gym is like saying to yourself "30 minutes is only 3 sets of 10, 20 minutes is only 4 sets of 5..." and man, there is nothing closer to the truth for me. I smoked for years, abused my body with poor food choices and alcohol. And now I'm trying to make up for lost time. Post-menopausal, but not post-hope. My muscles still work, my bones are still strong and my playlist is fire. I struggled, but I did it. I got there, I did it and I even increased the incline on the treadmill instead of giving up. Given my incredible ability to talk myself out of things, this is a momentous feat.
I did give 100% at the gym today. The other meme I saw recently said: "if 40% is all you have to give, give 40%. Because that's 100%." Took me a few minutes to get it, but once it sunk in, I realized that is exactly what I haven't allowed myself to do: give something what I've got. I have some ridiculous vision of perfect that is not achievable where I am right now (or ever, actually), and that's okay. Not doing what I can do is not going to get me closer. I'm not going to wake up tomorrow ready to run on an incline or climb the 400 stairs that will get me to the top of the tower. But putting in whatever percentage I can every day will get me closer. Today's 100% started off feeling like 40%, but by the time I was done, it was 100% of what I have set as a goal for now.
So here's to getting out of my own way. Here's to recognizing that not only is my physical health improving, but also by recognizing I can do hard things (and then actually doing them), my mental health improves, too. I was certain I was going to crap out early today, but I didn't let that little "I don't wanna" voice stop me. Some days, that's a bigger achievement than climbing to the top of that tower will ever be. (I still wanna do it, though. All 400 steps. Who am I?? 😬)
This is the biggest physical challenge I have ever set for myself. I've decided I don't need "good luck" from people to achieve it. I need perseverance from myself. LFG. 💪🏽