True Life: I’m Addicted to the Gym

Body. Body body body.  Bodies have been on my mind lately, as I’m sure you noticed in my last post (if you took the time to read all three billion words), and the fact that it’s the main focus of my 60-80 page SIP.  So, this has been on my mind, as well.

When my high school boyfriend and I broke up, I joined a gym called “SWAT” (it stands for (South West Athletic Training…I think).  I had been preoccupied with health for a while, thanks to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and PCOS at fifteen.  If I’m being honest with you, I joined a gym thinking I could look better, and get him back.  What I did get out of that life decision runs a lot deeper than that.

Initially, the gym really pulled me out of a rut.  I remember times when I would drive home, playing loud music in my car, sipping a protein shake, and feel like crying, I was so happy.  I was getting stronger, and the physical was starting to manifest itself emotionally.  I went to a horse show a few months after I started working out more seriously, fell off my horse, and landed on a jump.  When I was able to shrug it off and walk away without even the slightest bit of Advil, I knew I would never, ever turn back.

That’s not to say I was all-of-a-sudden the healthiest human being on Earth.  Far from it, I was still alternating between pumping myself full of sugar and starving.  Just a few months ago, I started eating “clean,” meaning: small meals every 2.5-3 hours, protein and some kind of carb (either whole grains or produce) at every meal, and none of the “white stuff” (white flour or processed sugar).  I started going to the farmer’s market every weekend (FINALLY!), and mourned its loss at the end of October.  I began to eat more food—a LOT more food, and stopped counting calories.  I found that, when my system was free from sugar and was actually receiving nutrients from REAL food, I felt fantastic and the crazy-sugar-addict cravings were completely gone.  I am so thankful to have come to this, I can’t even describe it.  I went so long beating myself up mentally and physically as a result of food, it’s so refreshing to start developing a healthy, sustainable relationship with it.

So, needless to say, shit got pretty serious in the past few months.  I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and it makes me feel like I can do anything.  I realize that I should be grateful that my health problems are not more serious, but they are numerous enough that I sometimes feel like my body just does not work.  When I’m pushing it at the gym, I feel like we’re finally working together.  It might be an uphill battle, but it’s a battle I can still win, damn it.  Plus, hills are great for your glutes, so TAKE THAT, I’ll be stronger in the end.  The clean eating and the tough workouts go hand in hand, because I realize that I need to thank my body for the work it’s done, and give it what it needs to do what I ask of it to the best of its ability.  When life circumstances lead to the urge to binge (and I mean any kind of binging), I think to myself do not punish your body for this, it works hard for you.

There’s a group fitness class at SWAT to which I am completely addicted.  It’s called “BodyCombat.”  It’s a group cardio mixed martial arts class, so it involves a lot of punching combos, kicking, and shuffling.  There’s something about it that just gets me every time.  I leave drenched in sweat, red to the point of being borderline purple, feeling like I am just worth so much more than I ever imagined.  I can go in feeling like crap, with all these problems in my head I can’t seem to work out, and I leave genuinely liking who I am.  I feel strong, I feel fulfilled, I feel capable of being loved.  I am never giving these feelings up. Ever.

I wanted to write this because the impact it has had on my life is something I just can’t keep to myself.  I also feel like there can be a strange societal stigma against it, at least, in some of the circles to which I belong.  There are stereotypes about people who spend so much time in the gym, and many think that a commitment to clean eating is some kind of eating disorder.  What I’m trying to tell you is that I am by no means doing this because of vanity, or because am obsessively dissatisfied with my body.  It’s quite the opposite—it’s giving me my body back.  It’s giving me the courage to live my life.

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