I felt like going to the gym again after I stopped pressuring myself

55 €  – that’s how much I pay for my gym membership every month. I  used to miss going to the gym, and after moving to a new area in Stuttgart, where we’re planning on staying for a longer time, I decided to join the gym again after a half a year of break. The first four months were good. I felt active, I did a good free weight program for myself with a trainer, and went twice a week to interval training. I felt balanced, organized and happy. Doing sports has always made me feel like that.

Then came October and a new hobby. I started playing roller derby, to which I instantly fell in love with. Exhausted by the learning process of my new freetime activity and the time I spent travelling to the practice eventually forced me to reduce my gym time. In the beginning I made myself a strickt weekly schedule to fit the two activities together: I planned on going to the roller derby practice on Monday and Friday evenings, plus an occasional Saturday at the skate park. Then on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays I’d go to the gym. Besides that I wanted to make sure I went stand up paddle boarding at least once a month. For me it was also important to include as much writing and reading as possible. I made it maybe two months with my new schedule. Then I stopped going to the gym completely, because I was physically and mentally so exhausted.

I haven’t been to the gym at all for the whole December and January, and I hated myself for that. In Januray I travelled three times a week to Frankfurt and back, stretching the working day sometimes up to 14 hours. I was able to go to roller derby training twice a week, but unable to do anything besides that. Even the monthly SUP-trips, that I was always so eager to do, were not interesting to me anymore.

Watching my body losing it’s form with all the stress eating and over-consumption of sugar, and seeing the gym membership fee being taken away from my account every month, I did something, that many other people also do in this situation: I started being mean to myself. I started feeling guilty about not going to the gym. I started telling myself, how that money is going on waste every month. I started to become annoyed, how every piece of clothing looked on me. I made sure I showed myself, how disappointed I was in me.

There’s a fine line with encouraging and pressuring. Or maybe the line is not that fine, but in my case I thought I was mentally sparring and motivating myself, when eventually I realized, that calling myself weak was more comparable to bullying. I skipped breakfasts and then ate a huge bar of chocolate in the afternoon travelling back from work for a mood lift and to get a quick peak in my energy levels. I refused to admit, that the problem was something else than me being lazy or weak.

Two months is a long time be beaten up by yourself. Turned out February was the time for a change. The last couple weeks have been changing me: applying to a university and generally planning my next steps in life, reducing the overhours and the stress eating. Most importantly, accepting, that I cannot always be perfect. It’s fine, that I had two months of doing less sports and more snacking. It was hard few weeks because of work, but as well starting a completely new hobby: getting to know new people can be tiring, and learning a new skill always consumes you before you feel fully comfortable and confident about it.

Last week on Wednesday evening I finally felt like going to the gym again! So I took my gym bag with me to work, and headed straight there after the day in the office. And guess what? I didn’t even blame myself for not being able to do as many push-ups as I was before. That’s how I eventually made a truce with myself. At least for now.

So in a nutshell, what I learnt was:

💡 Accept the fact that, even though you’re an energetic and capable person, you don’t have to be able to do everything all the time

💡 When doing sports stops being a positive experience, take a look at the big picture and how all the elements of life fit together

💡 Be nice to yourself. Who give’s a shit, if you have a break from sports for one week, or have a piece of chocolate.

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