Thursday, December 8, 2011

Caitlin vs. Gym and Exercise

I'm going to go ahead and say it: I get stressed out about going to the gym and, in a broader sense, exercising.

There are several reasons for this.

I think part of my hatred of exercising is the fact that when I am not instantly good at something, I give up on it and throw my hands up in frustration.  I've always been obnoxiously very competitive so I tend to lash out--either at myself or at others--if I'm not succeeding and excelling at whatever I am trying to do, be it exercising or learning a new language.

The other problem I have is that I'm so afraid that if I'm not good at exercising I am ipso facto a weak and certainly lazy person. I also get bogged down in the fear that Rob will fall out of love with me if I don't take care of myself physically, or that he will find someone (like this girl or this girl, both of whom he finds attractive) who shares his love of exercising and will leave me.  Not particularly fair but I guess it goes without saying in my crazy brain.  This cycle of thinking leads me to the inevitable "why bother?" attitude which just makes me even angrier at myself and even less likely to go to the gym or go running.

And the center of the shrubbery maze that is my dysfunction is that I am excellent at absolutely mind-f*cking myself (if you'll pardon the phrase).  I am one of the only people I know who does better mentally while running on a treadmill rather than running outside.  If I am running an actual distance and know how much further I have, I get tired instantly and can convince myself to stop or slow down.  I finally figured out that if I run on the treadmill, blast music at a volume far higher than normal and cover up the amount of time that's gone by I do much better.  How bizarre is that?

You know the other thing that works with me, shockingly enough? Guilt and shame.  Today I was feeling ashamed of myself for wanting an iPhone even though I just got a new phone a year ago (in my defense, the current phone is close to malfunctioning and won't let me download any apps) so I decided as "punishment" I'd force myself to go out into the cold, drive to the gym, and run a 9-minute mile.  I did it (admittedly slowing down for about 5-6 seconds) and I felt proud and sweaty, but I imagine I'll have the same battle to fight tomorrow.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

want to be good at going to the gym, I want to love running.  I want to get healthy so that my body pays me in kind when I get old. There's just some constant mental block that I am having a damn hard time overcoming. I get pissy and frustrated when I can't run more than a mile without feeling like my heart is going to explode, and if I stand in one place too long (like when I am working with free weights) I get bored and annoyed.   Rob, on the other hand, loves the gym and loves exercising.  I think if he couldn't exercise he'd quite literally go insane.  It's his release and how he gets out any nervous or uptight energy.  I get that. I just wish it held true for me.

I guess my hatred of the gym and exercising is (surprise!) an extension of the hatred I have for myself and for my body.  I doubt I'm alone in any of these aspects, but sometimes I sort of wish the hatred would magically transform itself into a never-ending well of motivation to do better, to work out harder, rather than to give up and go home and read blogs.

I'm sorry there isn't much coherence to this post.  This has just been on my mind for awhile--since I bought a very expensive membership to our gym--and I kind of wanted to get it out there. Kudos if you made it through my word vomit!

How do you get motivated to exercise?


  1. I look in the mirror and that's all I need to get motivated. The problem is that I look in the pantry later and find all kinds of wonderful fattening things to graze on. Not a combo that works very well.

    Hey, I see you're on twitter. I just signed up. I'm going to go check that out.

    Hope your exercise mojo improves. I wish I had some good suggestions.

  2. you know, my bf is a professional athlete and it can put SO much pressure on me to workout and be active, especially when we go to races and events and we're surrounded by people just like him. I've finally found my comfort zone in the gym and doing yoga. I've accepted that i'm not like him and that he's also not going to leave me if i don't have a six pack. i like to look at "fit-spo" on tumblr, workout with friends, and workout once a week with a trainer. i tell myself over and over again that i'm doing this for ME and no one else, and that seems to really help.

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  4. I have the same vicious//dysfunctional cycle of thoughts. I screw mySELF over in my head before I ever get started. Last gym trip was... 1.4 months ago. And THAT was the first in 2 months. I'd love to hear suggestions and motivational tips too.

  5. That's exactly why I don't go to the gym anymore. You don't have to go to the gym to exercise and you sure as hell don't have to spend 2938457023 hours a week to get fit. I spend 15 minutes a day doing high-intensity workouts. And here's a little known secret: that's all you really need. Google CrossFit. Enough said.

  6. I second the crossfit or some sort of HIIT with muscle building. I'll typically do some weights and then 5-10 minutes of HIIT and I'm done. Or some workouts--those are killer.
    I workout at home, 4-5 days a week for no more than 30 minutes a day (normally about 20). I'm STRONG which is awesome. It's so much fun to be able to lift heavy things. That sounds weird, but it really is fun. Or wrestling with my boyfriend, who gets upset that I can now hold my own against him. I love it.

  7. Just know that about 90% of the other people working out in the gym right next to you probably feel the exact same way. I regard exercise the same way I do everything else: baby steps. Just take it one step at a time. The first week: hit the treadmill. Next week, maybe try some weights. Next, try a class or two. Be patient with yourself and take some deep breathes and pat yourself on the back for doing something healthy for yourself and your future! It's not easy, but ultimately so good for you. Once you find your groove and those endorphins kick in, those shiny happy feelings just might slip in!!!

  8. When OccDoc was deployed I started seeing a trainer. It was expensive, but it really helped me gain the confidence I needed to actually go to the gym. I was always afraid everyone would think I was an idiot because I was exercising wrong. Um, yeah.

    Now, I go to the gym on post at the same time every day. It's usually just me and another guy there when I go (that's why I go then because no one is there). And, get this, it actually feels good to exercise now. Weird, right?

  9. Oh, wait, I just said I went to the gym every day. Not every day. 3 days a week. Every day would be way too much for my fat little body to handle.

  10. dear some people don't think yoga is a good workout because you don't feel like you might throw up your heart and you aren't typically in pain the next day (or days!)...but actually, yoga is THE best exercise for everyone! can do it at home anytime you want. if i could think of a practical way to give you private skype lessons i would. is totally proven to help with stress and anxiety (i can attest!) and give you body confidence effortlessly. if you want to know more let me know! i personally despise running, i've tried to love it, but i just can't get into it. but i have a million videos i do at home and being a certified yoga instructor, i obviously fully approve of any and all yoga routines. build strength and endurance, build long and lean muscle tone and improve your mental health? i mean really...what are you waiting for? clear some space in your living room and work it out girl! ;)
    much love...

  11. do you ever feel like you have ups and downs with the gym? used to get on kicks where i would go all the time but then i would hit a low point and loose my motivation. it is frustrating. i've been having a hard time getting up the motivation these days ;/ but i try my hardest to workout because if i don't then i get depressed.

    did you get your hair cut? it looks good!
    oh, and if you still need a guest post let me know.

  12. Lol, I love this post. Me, I'm just lazy. That's my only real excuse for hating running. Go you for doing it though!
    I like to watch America's Next Top Model while I use my little mini elliptical runner. Those skinny girls are the perfect motivation. I aim to be twice their size. =P

  13. aw, I understand how you're feeling.
    sometimes when I don't have that spark to go run or exercise, just beginning it will help me. and sometimes I realize that my body needs rest, and I don't.
    sorry that's not too helpful! I don't have it to an exact science.

  14. My issue is that if I don't see instant results, I get bored. So one or two times working out (which only happens when Scott physically "helps" me), all I get out of it is exhaustion and tiredness, I'm over it. HOWEVER, when he does help, by holding my feet for crunches, motivating me, whatever, I find it much more doable than just squiggling on the floor by myself. We also play Wii Sports or the PS3 move every now and then. When I'm sore from that the next day, I know that it's probably time to get off my butt....

  15. I know EXACTLY how you feel with the whole "if I can't do it right the first time I shouldn't ever do it" kind of thing. I always do that. It's stupid. I want to exercise as well but I have really horrid joints so it's easy for me to get frustrated when I can't physically do something. Which leads me to my point, that exercise comes in MANY forms. If you're not into lifting weights, but swimming comes easy to you, then that's where you push yourself. I hate running but I love walking, so I try to push myself with that. Yeah it's not as effective immediately, but in the long run it will because it's something I know I like to do, so it's easy for me to do it! And walking every single day is way better for you than running never haha!

  16. If you want to learn to love running I highly, HIGHLY recommend the Couch to 5K program. I used to feel like dying before finishing a mile, and now I can run 3.5 miles without stopping (albeit very slowly, but working on that is the next step). Of course your heart feels like exploding after a mile because your body is not used to running. The key is slowly building up to it. Couch to 5K starts really simple, like run 1 min then walk 1.5 min and repeat for 20 min, 3 times a week. It slowly, progressively gets harder, and kind of like that analogy of slowly heating a pot of water with a frog in it, all of a sudden you'll say wow, I can run two miles without stopping. It's also lenient, in that if you have trouble with one section, you're allowed to keep working on it until you're ready to move up, you can take your time. It's so much easier to motivate oneself through small goals that increasingly get harder, than to jump right into a big one (that's why so many New Year's resolutions fail). And I think breaking it up like that can help with the self-hatred because it can feel great to achieve goals. I hope that helps. (:

  17. You are so stinkin cute!

    I just read your *about me* bit and laughed my head off.

  18. I think going to the gym is something you *learn* to love, but also consider this: actual GYM isn't for everyone. Some people prefer running, some people enjoy weight lifting, circuit training, fitness classes, etc. You just need to find what WORKS for you. I personally hate the gym but I don't think that has anything to do with how I feel about myself.

    I think you need to use your self-conscious feelings to really make a CHANGE, rather than let it overwhelm you as it sometimes seems to. Why don't you try going to a fitness class? I LOVED doing zumba, boot camp, etc, it's a really fun way to get fit and you hardly realize it. I went to 3 classes a week for one month and my family was like OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU LOOK DIFFERENT AND GOOD. It doesn't take much, but when you find something you ENJOY doing, people will take notice.

    Caitlin, don't force yourself into doing something you don't like. If the gym isn't for you, why are you going to force yourself? There are lots of ways to exercise and you're bound to enjoy one of them at least enough to motivate yourself to do it. Just remember, you'll never regret a workout; it's the ones you don't do that you end up feeling bad about :)

    Little food for thought from the things I've learned in the last 6 months! It's a long road to feeling healthy and fit, but you can totally do it.

    PS: why not try Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred or something at home? I loved doing that on the days that I had no motivation to leave my house!

  19. I freakin' love you and your posts. Always.
    <3 That's all.

  20. you are to cute. i wish for results. i will continue to go to the gym if i see results ... but wanting to continue is tough when you don't see the results you want. frustrating. (:


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