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Trying to Find Love for the Gym

For those of you who innately find joy in exercising I applaud you and hope to one day find the joy you have found. If you are like me and the idea of going to gym only seems slightly better than a root canal, making it to the gym can often feel like an overwhelming task. I have tried many times to make exercise a part of my daily life. However, each and every time I seem to fail at it. It’s like I set myself up to hate it, and I had created this persona as the person who doesn’t work out.

Honestly, it was all fine and well when I was in my early twenties when eating beef jerky and drinking soda was a plausible way to sustain myself. I am no longer in my twenties and still tend to find myself in this space of bad food choices and remaining the person who doesn’t work out. All of my life I have been “healthy”. My blood pressure was always perfect, sugar levels fine, cholesterol no problem. And generally I have remained that way despite less than ideal life choices.

In January of this year I made the decision to leave my stable, all be it stressful job and venture out on my own in private practice. I found myself and others asking, what is the vision you want for this business. Vision, what vision? I just want to get back to providing counseling in a meaningful way and helping others through life's obstacles. After years in the community mental health field and time spent in administration, I didn’t so much care about a vision. I was stressed out, burnt out and getting pretty jaded about the whole thing.

Then, as I was trying to fill out the piles of paperwork to become an official business, it hit me. I needed a name to my practice. I did a lot of research, and was trying to find something that felt right. Then Andover Wellness and Counseling jumped into my mind like it had always been there. This idea sitting in my brain covered under Cheetos, soda and piles of work. So there it was, an official name to this practice, and within that a vision and mission. I want to create a space of calm, wellness and openness so anyone who comes through the doors feels relaxed, safe and able to begin to explore themselves and their journey of life.

It was all going along, notices were put in, transition plans were made, weekly phone calls to insurance panels happening. But something was off, it felt in-congruent driving to the place dedicated to wellness and self-care while downing a bag a M&M’s after literally sitting at a desk all day, because that can be the life of anyone who needs to be in three places at once and carries three cell phones, just in case someone somewhere may need you.

Carl Rogers, the father of counseling, says that clinicians must be congruent with who they portray themselves to be. I fancy myself a good clinician, so it was no wonder that things felt off. I decided baby steps, I will start back at yoga once a week and make better decision about what I eat. All was going well, still avoiding the terrible place called the gym. Then one day a friend, several years younger than me, informed me that her health wasn't what it could be. Well, I can be a bit of a fixer, a supporter and at times a rescuer. So it was a no brainer, let’s go to the gym. Let’s join and go and then you will be healthier.

I wouldn’t do it for myself, but for another, of course I would. I didn’t even think twice about it. We joined a few days later. And after signing up for the expensive package because I obviously need access to the hydro-massage and the weird shaking machine that blasts you with vitamin D, I knew that in order for this decision to have all the extras worth the cost I would have to actually go. So I did, and do.

It really is a time out. Currently working 2 jobs and having a family, I now more than ever need this time out. Also, the feelings of not being aligned with my business which I find so much pride and energy in has vanished. Wellness isn’t about doing everything right, it is identifying what you can do make yourself a better version of you and then doing it the best you can. I don’t always want to go, and sometimes I phone it in while I am there, sitting a little too long between reps, only doing cardio for 20 minutes. But it’s okay because I am there. And I am working hard to learn to love it. It’s not as bad as it had once seemed.

In order to further ingrain this new quest of finding love for the gym, I have created a space in my day for a mommy time out. There is no one there who needs anything from me. I am free to watch TV which does not revolve around repetitive songs about shapes and colors. I listen to whatever music feels right without a worry if the content is appropriate for little ears. And in a way this time out is an hour a day where I can focus only on myself, and let's be honest the hydro-massage is a nice little reward. It has been amazing to have this space where my mind is free to be creative. More than losing a few pounds, increasing healthy cholesterol and trying to stave off the diabetes I am predisposed to have, the gym has become a place of peace, something that is often missing from many of our busy lives.

I have found that re-framing the goal of the gym into this peaceful place of thought and solitude, all the negative ideas and defeat I had felt before are gone. The side effects of being physically healthier are now just an added bonus. So if you are not the biggest fan of the gym or you have found yourself in a rut where the motivation is lacking to get up and go, perhaps trying re-framing your purpose for going and see if it breathes some new life into important self-care task.

Take Care.


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