Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy in my jimjamjarmikins*

How long until I exercise again? My bike chain slipped off and the pedals spun back; one whacked my knee and it blew up like a balloon. As it subsided, I came down with a cold; I wanted to write something; I had a few bad nights and just had to nap; a friend in hospital needed a visitor; I helped someone move; and now it's raining. Also, I need a haircut. When I get out of bed my hair stands on end. It flattens only with a shower, but I don't want to wash twice in a day and I don't want to go out looking like a rooster and I can't exercise without knowing there's a hot shower at the end of it. So I stay home from the gym, feeling flabby.

Somehow, in the space of a few weeks, I lost the motivation. I am The Motivator, the one who gets children dressed and out the door and usually looks neat herself; who invites people over and cooks from scratch every night; who reads with young children and draws up crosswords for her daughter's class; who squeezes writing and thinking into every spare minute of the day; who finds it terribly hard to sit still even with friends present and chatting. After dinner, when most people rest, I do the dishes and fold the washing and run around with a vacuum cleaner. Sickening, really. But I just lost my oomph, for the gym at least.

Here I am now. It's 13 degrees and the heater's blasting; I'm curled up in PJs and hoodie with coffee and chocolate to hand, and wondering about throwing in the towel. Why, oh why, do I need to hurl myself at the wretched machines, headphones in? It takes so much time and effort to get there; it's expensive and undignified; and now I'm so unfit that it will be like starting again.

And how many times have I started again? Between babies, holidays and a twice ballooning knee, between sickness and colds and exhaustion, I've had to start over and over. Back to walking, not running; back to feeling wrecked not exhilarated by the experience.

At some level I feel like I should get sorted; that there must be ways to live that I don't need the gym's artificial construct. Surely gardening and walking and riding should be enough. But they are not.

My back aches, and I have little points of weakness from years of picking up children. Without regular weight training, I hurt. And without intense cardio activity, so much harder than the walk to school, I feel tired all the time. As if to prove a point, my back is starting to niggle again; last night I went to bed at 9.30, and slept for ten hours.

Exercise is not just physically beneficial. In the mindless activity of the cross trainer, I do some of my best thinking, and some hard emotional work. Small essays, sharp sentences, are plotted and planed as I row and puff and pull down weights. Despite all the sweating people in the room with me, the headphones and gym etiquette give me such a feeling of solitude that when feelings bubble up, I have the space to work out what's going on, and why.

For these reasons and more, I should go. Yes. But looking at the clock I see that yet again I've left it too late, fiddling around with a bio for a magazine, a submission, this blog – and I'm glad, glad to be home in the warm, glad to have done these things instead.

But where has my motivation gone, I wonder. Sure, the writing's good, but I need both. I'm feeling lopsided, but the more I get out of balance, the harder it is to exercise again.

On Thursday I have another chance, another couple of hours without children. Perhaps I'll make it then, rain, runny nose and all. Or perhaps I'll pour a glass of wine and bunker down instead, leaving it for another week. I wonder.

*What we call pyjamas, of course.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't exercised regularly ever before, but I can relate to the losing motivation thing. And then the shoulds creep in and it's a huge pile of bad tangled thoughts.

    There's an audio teleclass by one of my favourite online people (she helps people out of their stucknesses) about this very thing. Maybe it could help?


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