Anonymous asked: How do you motivate yourself to work out? I just exited my first year of grad school with a midsection that I LOATHE + some weird perpetuating form of depression that inhibits me from being a good person. HELP ME.
I first started working out in college after I found out my boyfriend cheated on me with his girlfriend that he never broke up with back home. I was home for the summer and my parents had a treadmill and I just started running. I had no idea what I was doing and I never even liked it but I just started running because I was mad and I didn’t want to think about anything so I put on Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” on repeat and lost like probably 10 pounds not even trying to.
I got back to school and everyone was like, “Oh my God, did you lose weight?” and I was like, “I guess?” I honestly didn’t really notice or care. I never thought about my weight until I was 20 years old—when everyone started asking me if I lost it. I could never even tell if other people lost weight or gained it. I knew people “looked different,” but I was never in tune with my body (or others’) other than seeing it as a place to put food and alcohol and kiss boys. I didn’t think that it could look better or worse. It was just what it was. What an innocent time.
But when a whole bunch of people start asking you if you lose weight you start to think, “Damn, was I obese?” And I became obsessed with it. I wanted to get really small. “If I could lose that weight not even trying, what would happen if I try?” So I started taking diet pills and shit. Which were totally basically speed. I tried to eat very little food. I was doing 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the elliptical almost every day. (I would also dabble in the weights, but not really.) Even after all that, I was still ON FIRE. Those pills are bad news, guys. They made me mental. I only took them for like two weeks because I couldn’t handle it. My heart was gonna beat out of my chest.
And then I was in this weird mental space where just wanted to be small. I didn’t even know why. Because other girls were small? Because clothes look better on small people? Because girls aren’t supposed to take up space? I think it’s because being small made me feel better than bigger people. And being better than other people at something gave me validation. I think I was trying to prove I deserved a spot at the table, whatever table I was trying to sit at at the time.
So I subscribed to that mindset for a few years and then I graduated college and I was like, weighing my trail mix and shit. I look back now and think that I had a problem. I was very obsessed.
The obsession faded away as I got older and got involved in more things (now that I think about it, writing, most likely) but I don’t think that stuff ever completely goes away. I don’t think I had an eating disorder, per se, I think I had a thinking disorder. I have anxiety. When I’m stressed out, my mind goes on a downward spiral of “What if…” and it can lead to some weird places. And being able to think about your calories and your exercise all day long is kind of beautifully satisfying.
But it’s not a way to live. Like, the universe is so huge and we are just a speck of cells all mushed together on a pile of bigger cells all mushed together, so if I want to eat 10 Tate’s cookies in one sitting (last night), I’m going to. I don’t eat 10 Tate’s cookies every night, so who fucking cares. Shut up.
That was a really long intro to get to the crux of the answer, but I think it gives you some back story on my answer. What motivates me to work out? It really helps my anxiety, mostly. I work out fairly hard, I always feel like I put in a good amount of work at the gym, and it makes me sleep really well. When I sleep really well, I don’t feel anxious. Free solution!
It’s not quite that simple, though. I also do it for vanity. I feel better about myself now than I ever have, and I think that’s due to a lot of factors. I’m working at a job I really like and I get to do really cool things. I’m living in a city I always wanted to live in. I have a great relationship with my family and my friends, and I’m in a very healthy, honest relationship with a totally great dude. I’m also more comfortable with my body than I’ve ever been, and I finally think it’s okay to think I’m pretty and smart and funny at the same time. I’ve also come to terms with parts of my body that I could never forgive myself for back in my early 20s. FLIRTY THIRTY, Y’ALL.
I did a lot of reading (and continue to) about weight training and fitness on the Internet. One could say it’s a “passion” of mine. But one could also feel really weird saying “health and fitness is a passion of mine” out loud.
I started a weight lifting routine a few months ago and I feel that it’s changed my body quicker than all the running and cardio I used to do back in the day. I also like to box from time to time. Because mama likes to punch a bitch.
OK but what REALLY motivates me to work out is that I know the end result will be me feeling good. “Working out,” by the way, doesn’t have to be going to the gym. I happen to like weight lifting more than most activities. I also really like boxing and rowing. The stairclimber also calls my name ocassionally. I regularly do intervals on the elliptical. But I do not touch that fucking treadmill. Because I hate it. I’ve never been into organized sports (besides bowling, obviously), but that is also a way to move your body.
I really think it’s all a cycle. You feel shitty ‘cause you don’t work out and then you don’t work out ‘cause you feel shitty.
But the opposite of that equation is also true. Just give yourself a week. Commit to one week of exercising in whatever way you want to. However many times you can manage to fit in to your schedule doing some physical movement at a pace/intensity that doesn’t make you want to die… Just see how you feel at the end of that week. And then try to keep doing that.
It’s honestly that first step that’s the worst. But every single step after that is easier.