I really enjoy going to the gym. Working out is not only something I do to physically stay in shape, but regular exercise keeps me in good mental shape as well. For the last twenty years, going to the gym has been a great stress reliever for me. During this time of year, however, my exercise routine can be more stressful than relaxing. Most days, I usually have to wait to go to the gym until after work. (Honestly, I don’t want to get up at 4 am just to exercise—don’t judge me!) Now, I typically get to the gym around 6:15 pm when the parking lot is full. (It always surprises me how many people who go to the gym fight to get a parking space right in front of the door. This seems somewhat counterproductive.) By the time I get to the gym, I have to park on the far side of the lot and walk in the dark and the cold to the entrance. When I walk into the warm steaminess of the gym, it is already crowded with people sweating, grunting, and, sometimes, complaining. (Okay, that’s usually me!) My regular workout routine is continually interrupted. I can’t exercises on the machines I need or I have to wait in line for a cycle. I also tend to be a bit of a klutz. I have dropped weights on my feet, tripped over benches, and rolled off the treadmill with a gym-full of people watching me.
But all of these situations don’t discourage me from working out. First, I need to be thankful for being healthy and strong, even on days when my workout has been disturbed. Besides, and I hate to be so negative, but this is the simple truth: this jam-packed gym situation doesn’t last long. Most of the people who joined the gym around the first of the year are there because they have made resolutions to lose weight and get in shape. In the twenty or so years I have been working out, the gym always gets crowded around the beginning of January but is empty again by the time spring blooms.
It’s sad that so many people don’t fulfill their New Year’s resolutions, but I don’t blame them. I don’t think weight goals go unresolved because people are weak or lazy. They aren’t quitters. This is a situation that can happen to anyone no matter what his or her resolution may have been. People set big goals for themselves every year. It can be hard, though, to break old habits and start new routines, especially when life gets in the way. So many times, good intentions are put aside due to family emergencies, work demands, and monetary troubles.
And, honestly, I know that I am no better. I may have made a solid commitment to the gym, but I struggle when I set arbitrary goals. I know that I will only disappoint myself in the end. I stopped making resolutions when I realized that a lot of goals I was setting were based on what I thought other people wanted from me. Or what other people thought I needed to be. That was probably why I couldn’t commit to any resolution.
And as I looked around the gym today, I wondered if that was the reason most people were here. Were they actually here based on their own desire to be healthy or were they at the gym trying to lose weight based on society standards? How many people are motivated to go to the gym because they have been bullied or teased about the way they look? Were they concerned about their health or did they feel unloved because of their bodies? Is that why they can’t commit?
Maybe this just isn’t a good time to join a gym. That’s another strange thing about setting goals. Timing is everything. Maybe people leave the gym in the spring because it just isn’t a good time to achieve that particular weight loss goal. And that’s okay, because time is an illusion anyway. Time is a man-made tool so what does it matter if people accomplish a goal in one year or ten?
So no there is just one promise I commit to every year. Each year, I try to spend more time with God. I believe that if I pray more, if I concentrate on my faith more, than all other aspects of my life will fall into place. I don’t worry about breaking this resolution, because every year, my faith has just grown stronger and I find myself praying more now than I have ever before. It’s amazing how much easier this particular “goal” gets every year.
So now, I wish everyone the best in fulfilling any goals they may have set and hope that no one feels bad if they aren’t 100% perfect. Just pray, believe, keep trying, do the things you enjoy, and above all, just resolve to love yourself no matter what the outcome…there’s always next year…or the next life…or whenever the time is right!