Gym Time Diary: You are not them

“An object at rest tends to stay at rest.”

Or something thoughtful about something…scientific. 

Anyway, you pulled up to the gym. But, see, you’re already tired because you had to get two kids ready, after sending the third one-off to school no less, just to make it there. 

You’re a mom of three or one or four or two. Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe you just had a c-section. Or maybe you are not a mom at all yet. But you made it to the gym with about 37 minutes to do your best, or your worst. Congratulations.

Maybe you haven’t worked out in a while. Maybe you’re just glad to be out of the house, even if it means that you’ll be in a room with treadmills, free weights and air tainted with sweat and the faint odor of paint. 

You and your toddler get out of the car. Thankfully, someone kept the baby for you. Or maybe not. But you still spent an hour of prep time getting the three of you ready to even get out of the door. Breakfast for the middle child, clothes and shoes. Fighting the battle with her to put on actual shoes because she wants to wear crocs even though it’s 36 degrees outside and she can’t understand that they really aren’t all that great for windy, wet, wintry days.

But it really doesn’t matter to her, so you give up knowing full well she will tell you that her toes are cold in about an hour’s time.

You nurse the baby. Get yourself dressed. Brush everyone’s teeth. You look at your unwashed hair in the mirror and decide that it really doesn’t matter anyway because you’re going to the gym. You squeeze your nursing breasts into your sports bra from before the baby in the hopes that they fit. They do, just barely.

Now you feel like you have cement bricks on your chest, but after a few minutes it either doesn’t bother you anymore or your too distracted to notice. 

You pack the diaper bag – milk, bottle, wipes, outfit, diapers, binky, spitter. You put shoes on yourself. The baby decides that she needs to nurse again. So you somehow finagle your bra up so that you don’t have to take everything else off. You finally get the three of you out the door and into the car you were smart enough to turn on to warm up. 

You drop the baby off and drive across town. You get your middle child up the steps and signed into child watch. 

By the time you make it downstairs you feel like you have already run a marathon. Only the kind that doesn’t really burn calories. You’re the tiniest bit discouraged that it takes so much work just to show up. You already want a cheeseburger as the clock flirts with lunchtime. 

But you have to do what you came to do. 

You start rowing or walking/running on the treadmill, or stomping on the elliptical. 

Maybe you haven’t worked out since well before the baby arrived. Maybe you just haven’t worked out in a long time period. Either way, you know that it’s probably not a good sign that you are huffing and puffing ten minutes into your workout. You know that it’s not good that you want to give up already. You know that this should take longer as the compatriots on the machines to your right and left carry on like nothing is amiss.


Or are they really your compatriots? So much as shining examples of why you’re here today?

Are they the yardstick that you feel like you can’t measure up to?

You feel out-of-place. With every stroke of the erg, or step on the treadmill, you feel your belly jiggling to remind you of why you’re there. Motherhood parts are unseemly. You don’t look like the people next to you.

They have on lime green colored headbands over top of seemingly coiffed hair that rests at the top of their heads in shiny pony tails. Under Armor tops and pants that stretch over their toned bottoms and thighs and hit just the right places. You’re in your maternity yoga pants and your shirt emblazoned with the letters “USMC.”  They remembered to bring their ears buds. They have this seasons running shoes.

Your shoes are almost 10 years old. But they are your old faithfuls. And they might also be the least used thing in your entire wardrobe. Along with high heeled shoes and that black dress you bought five years ago.

The people next to you thump away at the gym equipment with ease or lift 15 pound free weights like they are nothing. You’ll have to start all over again. Or start for the very first time. 

Everything will be an uphill climb for you. Everything will be a monstrous amount of work. It isn’t for the people next to you. 

You think that success means looking like that. Toned and lean and glossy. They make it look like it isn’t much work. You’re happy for them to some degree. And sad for yourself. It takes so much work to get to the gym. And with every stroke or step on your machine, you’re counting, even though you’re not supposed to be. Willing the clock with your mind to tick faster, willing the calorie counter to count higher, the mile tracker to tick lower.

“One…(a cheeseburger sounds great)….two…(shouldn’t have had that second cup of coffee…now I have to pee)…three…(why do carrots have to be so boring?)…four…..(they’re jut not exciting like donuts…which I could get on the way home)….five…(why must this be so hard?)….six…(I don’t need to check my phone I don’t need to check my phone I don’t need to check my PHONE)….

It doesn’t take long before you stink. Are you the only one who can smell yourself? Did you even remember to put on deodorant before you left the house? When did you last shower anyway?

You don’t hate the people next to you. The ones that make it look easy. You admire their dedication and success. But while your paths are intertwined, they are not the same. Or are they? 

Success isn’t always toned. At least, not right now. Success is getting kids to remember their ABC’s or off to nap time with ease. You can handle phone calls, making lunch, wiping noses and emptying the dishwasher practically at the same time. Just perhaps you aren’t successful at the gym. 


The girls on Pandora set you straight…

“You’re gonna hear me roar…”

“It’s going down. I’m yelling timber. You better move…”

“Shake it off. Shake it off.”

Yes, success is often lean and toned and glistening and wearing Under Armor and making it all look easy. But mostly, success is just not giving up when you want to. Success is starting from the bottom and paying for every pound lost, toned muscle and weight lifted with sweat and sometimes your tears. It’s not giving up when it would be so easy.

It’s showing up even though it takes you an hour and twelve minutes to even get there for only 37 minutes and you’re tired about 12 minutes in. It’s having your own goals, your own resolutions, your own idea of what makes something a success. 

You are not them. You are you.

And the you of now isn’t there for New Year’s Resolutions. You aren’t there because you’ve always been there. You’ll still hopefully be there in April. Claiming some victory, inching forward ever so slowly. Feeling empowered, knowing that even in your hectic life, there truly are some things that you can control. Some small, microscopic things that you can do for yourself when you are always doing for others.

You are there today because you’re ready to be there and you’re ready to try. 

And that, my friends, is half of the battle. 



2 thoughts on “Gym Time Diary: You are not them

  1. andthreetogo says:

    I just started working out again about 8 months ago and I now am hooked. It is hard to get there and motivate, but I feel so much better when I do it!
    I am so impressed that you are already back at the gym! You are a gleaming example and encouragment to me. Thanks!


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