Gym Dandy

Last week I went back to my gym.  It had been a long time since I last stepped foot in the doors – almost exactly six months.  Time flies when you break from routine!

Here’s the back-story…

During the winter I had gotten into a good groove of consistently attending group exercise classes at my local community center.  A typical week included four days of classes broken down into:  two cycling, two yoga, one each of pilates and strength training.  (The other three days I did cardio at home and strength training with my mom and our trainer.)  Then came a planned hiatus for a Spring Break ski vacation.  But the little break became a long break thanks to a bone break.

And my gym membership lapsed as I languished at home.  I was unable to lift my arm up high enough to even type on my keyboard, let alone reach for bike handlebars in a cycling class.  My doctor told me no weight bearing for at least the eight weeks it would take for the bone to heal, and then until I was pain-free.  And those eight weeks grew into several months as I started physical therapy to gain back mobility and strength.  No point returning to a gym when you can’t lift your arm, let alone weights.

Fast forward a few months… I was well on the road to recovery.  It was time to start spreading my wings again.  But not at the gym.  Because while I was sitting home recovering, the seasons had changed and my window of opportunity for outdoor biking was passing me by.  So with my arm and shoulder almost healed, and my doctor’s okay, I cautiously climbed on my bike and began pedaling.  And my almost daily rides took precedence over exercise classes as I made up for lost mileage with my husband by my side.  I kept telling myself there was no point returning to the gym until I was ready to get off the bike and back to several classes a week.  I wanted to wait until the timing seemed right to get back in the groove, whatever the groove might be.  Maybe that was an excuse; maybe that was logical thinking.

It is hard to restart.  Hard to go back to something I haven’t done in so long.  Hard to walk into a place where I feel like people might be looking at me and wondering where I had been.  Hard to find the mojo.  Hard to remember to watch the clock and get out the door at a certain time each morning.  But mostly, hard to start over again, especially that first time back.  Hard to just get there.

But I finally got there…  and I was so glad I did!  Once I got over my initial few moments of discomfort and awkwardness, it was great.   My instructor saw me in the hall and immediately asked after me, concerned but not judgmental, clearly having wondered where I had gone and why.  The class was more crowded than I remembered with very few familiar faces.  (Where did all the other faithful participants go?)  The music was new; there had been no Lady Gaga blaring last winter!  But the rest was like a familiar old friend, picking up after time apart like we had never left off.  And I was glad to be there and glad that I had finally returned.  Just like with most things in my life, just getting started is the hardest part, then momentum builds.  Holds true for me for dieting, working on family scrapbooks, cleaning the house, lots of things.  The hardest part was behind me – I had made it back to the gym.  Rebooted.  Started over.  And the second time was easier.

What have you put off doing?  Do you find it hard to restart when you have taken a break or been away from something?

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46 Comments

Filed under exercise, making a change

46 responses to “Gym Dandy

  1. I definitely have a hard time restarting something. Like you, if I purposefully set aside the time, and just start I find I can then get back on track. Lately I’ve been off track in many, many things (too many actually). But at least I know it and am working on getting me and my schedule back on track.

    Visiting from SITS

  2. Yes, Karen, I am finding it incredibly hard to return to a daily exercise routine after a 3-week break. I found that when I set myself a challenge the other day — 6 miles on the treadmill — and blogged about it, that I felt compelled to keep my word and I was able to accomplish it. Yesterday….not so much. The dialog I’m hearing in my head is that when my husband returns to work tomorrow (he’s been on a long weekend), I’ll be able to get back into my routine. How stupid is that? He isn’t preventing me from exercising….in fact, he encourages it. Okay, 5 miles on the treadmill today…my pledge.

  3. Karen, I think this is a very familiar story for many.. exactly why I don’t take long breaks & only planned breaks which are usually no more than a couple days off to MAYBE 4 in a row. I may one it down but I don’t stop for ever for more than 4 days unless forced too. Even on vacation, I do less but I still do something.

    When I have been injured, like the dog attack, after a couple days, I was on the floor doing some very careful core work & butt work.

    In older days when I had some foot work, I was in the gym doing light weight s& hobbling around. A years or so I had a rotator cuff issue & could not swing one arm. I was in the gym walking on the treadmill & doing the Stepmill & whatever weights I could.

    I just do what I can, under the circumstances, with doc approval.

    I so understand that you could not but I am more talking to people that could still do stuff but don’t. Just because you can’t do one thing does not mean there are not other things that you can do with doc approval…

    • I always approve of you, Jody!

    • Dr. J.. you are funny!

      Karen, sorry for all the typos! I might have to stop commenting after my gym workout & before I get sleep! 🙂

      • Karen

        Funny Dr. J! I also love the math analogy from the other day.

        Jody – I looked for a plug in that would allow commenters to make edits but could not figure them out. Oh well. I don’t even see them when I read! I missed that dog attack; must have been before I discovered your blog. Sounds horrible. When I broke my arm I was walking and ellipticalling holding it pinned against my side! I did not want to give up exercise completely. Which is amazing considering that most of my life I spent as a couch potato:)

  4. I think you were right to concentrate on biking (making hay while the sun shone?), but am glad you’re back at the gym. You must have broken your bone just before I started blogging. I’m not sure I realized that you were going through physical therapy. That must have been tough. Good for you for getting back to the gym. It’s funny how we think everyone is tracking us and noticing whether we are or are not being regular about going to the gym. My gym has a computer sign in and the computer gives me “attaboys” when I reach milestones but, equally, chides me if I haven’t met my lifting goals.

    • Karen

      I have to admit that I have always noticed when a regular vanishes. The class I went back to was my biggest; I suspect when I return to my small cycling class I will have more comments and questions. It was a pretty friendly group of regulars.

  5. Yes, restarting after time off is really hard. Like you said, that goes for most things in life!!! I LOVE the gym, and I’ve never really stopped going for any length of time, but with eating – that’s another story!!! Sometimes it’s like I am restarting every day! But that’s the whole point, is to just keep at it day after day, and keep trying.

  6. Good for you for getting back to it! I’ve been spending time outdoors, too, but I’m finding that it’s creating a real desire to get back to my “regular” workouts in the gym. We’ll see how long that lasts. LOL

    One of the things I verified with my gym membership is that I can suspend my membership in the event of injury or extended travel. I’m not sure where I think I’ll be going for 2or 3 months at a time, but it seemed important when I was seeking a new place to exercise. 🙂

    • Karen

      I actually called to ask about that. I had only a month left and I would have to get a doctor’s note saying when I could return and that was up in the air so I decided it was not worth the aggravation. Right now I am paying as I go until the weather changes:)

  7. So exciting! I fear the same thing will happen to me after I have my foot surgery. I was just telling Clay last night how much I miss going to the pool and swimming my laps. I can’t even drive now due to the pain of walking so after the surgery I hope I heal fast so I can get back to the gym too. Way to go girl!

    • Karen

      I suspect that as dedicated as you are it will not be a problem to get restarted and motivated. Your problem might be the opposite – staying off the foot while you heal!

  8. Ewa

    Congrats on restarting your routine. I think the first day is the worst and then it is like an old shoe, it feels comfy and soft.
    I am restarting my whole fitness program after a long series of this and that. I find it frustrating at times I cannot lift as much, run as fast or as far, bike as hard. And then I tell myself that at least I have a lot of room for improvement. In my previous training streaks it was getting harder and harder noticing many positive changes. Now I will have more opportunities to pat myself on the back. 🙂

    • Karen

      That’s a great spin! I did not mention in the post that I am lifting less weight with my upper body than I have since I first started years ago. Frustrating, but I know I will get it back eventually.

  9. sunnydaze

    Re: ” …just getting started is the hardest part, then momentum builds…” I posted on this exact same thing today. I didn’t exercise for the past 2 days and now I already feel sluggish and lazy about getting back on track. I hate that feeling but I never hate the way that I feel after exercising. Funny how that works…

    • Karen

      I know!!! So hard to get motivated but always so glad I did. It’s just like how I know that if I eat well I will feel better but then I go binge. Sigh.

  10. sunnydaze

    Oh yeah, the most important thing of all – WTG for getting back to the gym!!! 😀

  11. Oh, I know, it is so hard to restart. I am restarting my weight loss efforts after letting it slip for a few months… and I really struggled to get going again, but I’m ready, I’m only on my second day since the restart, but I can tell that mentally I am ready to be committed to it again. (My family would tell you I’m just ready to be committed!:) )

    Good job on starting up again, that is the hardest part, now as you said the momentum will build and soon it will be a habit again!

  12. Good for you for getting back. I haven’t been to my gym since early August because i’ve been turbo walking. BUT – my membership is debiting my checking account each month until February when I will either re-up or cancel. I need to get my self back and take advantage of it esp. since I’m paying for it! You’re serving as a good role model for me.

  13. I do know how hard it is to restart the gym routine. Even after bring sick for 10 days it was hard to get back into the routine for me. Glad you enjoyed your class so much!

  14. Yes, of course most everyone faces this challenge. Remember the quote from Spiderman? “It isn’t what you say, it’s what you do that defines you.”

    By the way, I imagine you are too busy to go back to my column, so this was my reply to your comment of Perseveration.

    No matter the emotional component, old unhealthy habits must be replaced by new healthy ones. Understanding the why of it all will rarely make a change just happen. Once the habits are established they take on a life of their own. I can’t stress this enough.

    • Karen

      Thanks for sharing that here Dr. J; you are right, I rarely go back to check for comments. Just today I read a post about the whole habit thing. I certainly have some that could use some reconditioning.

  15. Karen, I love this post! And I love that you named all these gazillion excuses and then YOU WENT ANYWAY! I sometimes think if not for paranoid delusion, I’d have no thought processes!

    I had to switch Jazzercise locations for the summer because of my son’s football – I went, but to a center closer to his high school. Then school started and I was too paranoid about going back. And maybe someone took my spot. And it’s farther away. And there are still some scheduling difficulties that require me to be closer to home. Long story short: I pay two memberships now and haven’t seen all my old buddies for 4 months! Good news: I still go 6 times a week; bad news: no guts. 🙂

  16. It IS super hard to go back to the gym after having to cut back. Next week, I’ll probably be in your same shoes!! One of my classes is ending so I’ll have my early evenings back to devote to working out! I’ll be as tired as a dog the first week, guaranteed.

    I do hope that you’re super proud of yourself for going back! That’s the hardest part!

  17. oh yes, it’s sooo hard to get back started. I try to avoid it, but not always 100%. Yet I find it easier to get back on the bandwagon with healthy eating, opposed to exercise.

  18. What I find hard to do is to acknowledge the disparity between where I was and where I am. I tend to think, “pshaw, I did that just ____ It will be easy.” It’s not, and it does matter to my performance if I miss.

    Even if the lapse is legitimate.

  19. I definitely have a hard time restarting, but once I do I love it. And it seems that the more times/things I have to restart the easier it gets each time.

  20. Karen,
    I swear we are on the same path together…I’m restarting right now, and I’m bound and detetermined (and guilty and embarrassed) that I need to do this. The good news is that it is 20 lbs, not 100, but damn…

    We can do this, girlie.

  21. Wow, Karen. I LOVED this post! It’s been about 2 weeks since I stepped foot in the gym (and ran..gulp!) and I’ve been putting it off, even when I do have the time to do it. Grr. No more putting it off. No more!

  22. Bravo to your Karen! Yes it is hard to get back to things once I have left them.

    My hurdle has been working out with weights and getting these upper arms in shape. Too many excuses and not enough determination. But I too got back at it last week and now am well on my way. I am such a creature of habit, good or bad!

  23. Cleaning cleaning cleaning. Ugh.

    I don’t have a problem getting back into exercising action after a break, because I have intense guilt stemming from my years of non-practicing but guilt-building in the realm of Catholicism. 😉 Seriously, guilt gets me back in, so I guess it’s not a completely wasted emotion…

    Polar’s Mom
    http://www.polarspage.blogspot.com

  24. Woot-woot! Go you! Restarting IS hard but you are overcoming it and that’s wonderful. I always put off and have a hard time restarting with exercise too. I hate and dread it. When I start, I make it a habit and routine and don’t break it for a long stretch, but once I stop, I stop dead. I probably haven’t exercised regularly in over a year but I’m starting again mid-October when I’m off the HCG drops. I’m not looking forward to it but I know once I start, I’ll get back in the swing of things quickly.

  25. Yeah, I have an active gym membership I’m not using too. Not sure I really want to return though, I think I’m happy with what I’m doing, so may just keep it up my sleeve as another option.

  26. Hey, Karen…been thinking about you. I haven’t had time to stop in lately…I walk outside 5 days a week but will head back to the gym soon when the weather is colder. I miss a few things about the gym but truly I’d rather be outside!!!

  27. Reboot is a great word for restarting… maybe it will help me get back into my walking and stretching routines when I get home again… Good for you! You’re my shining example!

  28. I need to use my gym membership. I have one and never get myself there.

    Stopping from SITS!

  29. It is REALLY har to restart and get the momentum you need going. I think what makes it harder in the fall/winter is giving up the gorgeousness that is being able to exercise outside. I’m fearing it getting too cold to run, as running outside has been the core of my success. So I’ll be in your shoes soon… evil gyms.

  30. thanks for stopping by my blog today! this is a great post for me – i am currently on month 3 of my hiatus of the gym…i feel guilty every.single.day. it’s always that FIRST time back that’s so hard. i’m thinking i just need to do it. thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Genie@dietof51

    Absolutely, it’s hard to restart, but you did it and I applaud you!

    Go, Karen, go!

  32. short answer: YES!! it’s SO easy for me to fall out of a groove. writing especially, but if i take time off, it’s THE HARDEST thing to get back into. that said, the first step is always the hardest, everything after that falls into place rather quickly. have fun at the gym, girl! good for you and your re-start 🙂

  33. I joined my local gym last week after years of being away. Have been to 2 yoga classes and am so happy! I stayed away because I’m so cheap when it comes to treating myself.

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