Friend or foe.

Tonight I felt like I was physically dragging myself to get to the gym. I didn’t sleep well last night. Today, I ate a fair amount of food that would fall into the “garbage” category, AND it was kind of a weird day all around. I felt “off” for most of the day, and it seemed like nothing could snap me out of it.

But I went to the gym because I e-mailed my trainer on Monday morning to tell him that I was missing Monday night. I might have signed off, “See you Tuesday!” I do things like that on purpose. I hate to break my word, even something as simple as saying that I will see my trainer on Tuesday is like a promise to me.

And I didn’t break my word. I dragged myself there, feeling antsy the whole time, nervous at the lack of soreness in my body – realizing as I walked that I had better enjoy it, because it might very well be the only non-sore walk to the gym that I have all week.

When I walked in to class, my trainer was writing the workout on the board. I saw the number 50. Then I saw it again. And again. And, yes, again. When it was up, I walked closer to get a good look at it.

50 push-ups (wall)
50 toe to bar (v-ups)
50 burpees with box jump (BW squats)
50 weighted situps (no weight)
1 mile (~15 laps)

This was a workout for time, meaning the goal is to get it done in a timely manner. I panicked when I saw this list, and I quickly realized that I would be living in parentheses land this evening. Those were the modifications for people like me (OK, for me, since I am the only person in the class at what I would consider a “remedial” fitness level).

Here is what went through my mind:

“I know I can do SOME wall push-ups, but there is no way I can do 50. And v-ups! 50?! Ow.

Now, there is NO WAY I can do 50 body weight squats! I almost threw up from doing 10 wall squats a week ago!

And forget about 50 situps. I can’t even do ONE!

This is going to be humiliating, and to top it off, we are probably supposed to RUN a mile. Hello, presidential fitness test flashback. Still just as out of shape as I was in high school, probably more!

Well, let’s get this spectacle started, and hope I don’t cry in front of these people for being such a failure.”

It’s not easy for me to put my self-talk on display like this. I look at it now and know it’s wrong. Not just on principle, but in reality.

I DID do the workout tonight. It was not a spectacle.

I DID do 50 wall push-ups, and my trainer stopped by twice to tell me how good they were looking. I DID do 50 v-ups. I also did 50 body weight squats. And for the weighted situps, my trainer came by and told me to do 50 crunches instead.

And then, I did do the mile. I didn’t run it. I jogged parts, speedwalked parts, normal walked parts.

And, for being someone at a remedial fitness level, I only finished a couple of minutes behind another girl in the class. Not half an hour, like I feared.

I know it’s just fear that makes me think things like that about myself. I have had many bad public experiences with exercise in my life. I have ALWAYS been the fat kid, and I mean, always. I wasn’t just fat, but uncoordinated. I mean, you didn’t want me on your team, and that’s all there was to it. I just waited to be picked last, every time. It’s my default. Stay out of the way of the fit people, the athletes, the thin people.

But I’m not a kid anymore. That thinking doesn’t serve me at all, here and now, today. It just makes me afraid to do a challenging workout in front of other people who aren’t even close to being considered fat.

I want to be on my own side, not psyching myself out and making myself anxious. I want to be a friend to myself – encouraging, supportive, and saying, “hey – just try it out! you never know what might happen.”

I was thinking about all of this after the workout. How I surprised myself. How maybe I am not a completely lost cause, maybe one day I actually will do a push-up. How maybe I need to use my power with words for healing and strengthening myself, rather than cutting myself down.

And then this e-mail came through on my phone, from my trainer:

“Just wanted to reinforce how great you did tonight. I can already see a lot of improvement. Rest up. Tomorrow is an easy active recovery day.”



Steps today: 11680


4 thoughts on “Friend or foe.

  1. Amy, your words are so true: sometimes we do amazing things despite our own negative self-talk. Try to be your own best friend, and when the less than pep-talk thoughts come in, respond as gently as you can, positively, to turn it around.

    I sometimes do a 2-column journal entry, where the left side is everything I’m thinking and feeling, raw and unedited. On the right-hand side of the page I respond, point by point, as if I’m responding to a friend. what would I say to her, if she was saying these things about herself?

    Amy, you’re such an amazing, positive friend to others, I encourage you to shine that same light onto yourself. Big hugs–I’d pick you first for my team, any day.

    • Kalika! You are so awesome. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

      I really like that journal strategy. I used to do something similar, actually!

      Thank you again for the sweet things you said.

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