This post is brought to you by the Arby’s Pork Belly Sandwich. Pork Belly is one of my favorites, and pretty hard to come by. Well, until I could get ahold of it from ANY Arby’s located every five miles on any road. Thanks, Arby’s, you jerkface. You have the meats, and you also have the lure of curly fries. Boo.
One of the best statements I have ever heard about going to the gym or working out is this:
“No one ever says, ‘Damn, I sure wish I didn’t go to the gym today.'”
I believed that whole-heartedly until one day, I saw some dude breaking up with his girlfriend in the parking lot outside of my gym. That girl probably wished she hadn’t gone to the gym that day.
But other than that? I think it’s a pretty solid motivator to get my butt in and work out, even if I’m sore, tired, feeling lazy, or like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is far more pressing an issue than the leg press. This statement has kept me on track through my contest prep, and I’m so thankful that others have used it against me when I start whining about having to do upper body in the afternoon.
In fact, this very statement was what got me to a PR last week.
My legs were thrashed. A two and a half hour ballet rehearsal for our upcoming school performance on Monday, and another hour and a half ballet class on Tuesday left my legs screaming for a break. It also left me bone tired as classes get out late and work comes really damn early. It’s also the end of the school year. My seniors have completely worn me out. I was two episodes behind on RHONY, the Deadliest Catch, and a Frequency binge on Netflix. (Haven’t seen Frequency? Check it out, it’s pretty good.) The thought of sucking down another protein shake before a workout engaged my gag reflex. I didn’t even have to work out, really. I’m not in contest prep, I’m in maintenance and dammit, I’d like to maintain a nap if I could, thankyouverymuch. I felt like a tired, used-up pencil eraser. I just. Wanted. To. Go. Home.
To make matters worse, it was leg day. My legs were screaming for a break. I figured as soon as I made it into the squat rack and loaded the plates, I’d get one squat in and tip over. And then everyone in the gym would see me. And probably laugh at me. I was definitely going to tip over sideways doing my Bulgarian (Bavarian? Balaclavan? Bernese?) Squats. Oof. They burn even walking up stairs why oh why on Earth would I load them up with weight on purpose???
Sigh. But no one ever says, “Damn, I wish I didn’t go to the gym today.” (Well except for breakup girl, and let’s be honest, she really only ever said that once.) So I relented. I gave myself 45 minutes. I told myself if I really felt like bagging a set or two on squats, then I would give myself that. Show up. Warm up. Move the plates. Leave. Just engage the muscles. That’s all you have to do. It won’t be that bad. It won’t be that good, either.
I found an open squat rack. I bargained everything with myself. The whole workout was up for discussion. Maybe just the bar for the first set. Maybe only 4 sets. Maybe only six reps. I felt like one of my students begging me to accept a late assignment, or not have to hand an assignment at all…I could argue with myself all I wanted, but I just couldn’t bring myself to cave and go home. I started my squats.
Let me tell you something. The absolute worst place for self doubt to creep in your brain is mid-squat. And there I was, on rep number 3, all the way down with my booty sticking out…asking myself what I thought I was doing. Why are you even here? Do you actually expect your glutes to get any bigger? I mean, seriously. You’ve been doing this same exercise for six months. Your butt is still small. Negative, negative, negative. But I just kept going. I was at the gym. No one says they wished they hadn’t gone. Soon, I was done. And it wasn’t so bad. I loaded on two more plates. And I started again.
By the time I got to my last set, I was feeling pretty good. My self-bargaining veered in a new direction. I felt so much better that I wanted to try to bang out four more reps at a new high weight for myself. Shoot, it’s a bonus at this point. It’s a damn miracle I even showed up today, so why not create another miracle? If I get in two, I get in two. I have two more reps in me. Maybe. I put another ten pounds on the bar.
And I got 3 reps.
And then I did leg curls to work my quads. And hit my last set at ten pounds heavier than the week before.
I almost didn’t even go today. I almost didn’t even go.
Just GO to the gym. Just GO. And here’s what I will say. It’s not a guarantee that something Earth-shattering will happen. It might still suck. But the feeling of stiff and overworked and crunchy will break loose eventually, and you’ll get your stuff done.
And hopefully you’ll say, “Huh. I’m glad I went to the gym today.”