Gym, week 4-6: Commitment, schmommittment

That’s not gone well.

– Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear

Dear reader, I have a confession to make.

I failed.

There, I said it.

I set myself a target and I didn’t meet it.

You see, I haven’t done my prescribed five sessions per week since week 1.

Do I feel bad about this? Honestly, no. I did for a moment but I got over that pretty quick. Why? Because I learned a few things from this experiment. And that’s what it was – an experiment. Just another in the continual series of experiments that is my life.

I didn’t just fail. I failed forward!

Why did I fail?

I made failure an option. I defined the experiment in such a way that it was possible – nay, inevitable – that I’d fail sooner or later. The rules are simply far too strict: miss a workout and you’re basically done. Guess what? Life happens. Something will keep you from the gym at some point. Maybe for days at a time – or even longer. Sure, I added in some caveats after the fact, but they don’t come close to covering it.

I didn’t listen to my body. Put another way, I did too much too soon. I didn’t mention this at the time, but my first weights session was a group class – not my usual weights-machine/dumbbell routine. The classes encourage you to push really hard for the whole time (typically an hour), which feels amazing at the time but really takes it out of you. It’s also a one-size-fits-all approach (besides choosing your weights) and doesn’t consider your own needs. My PT told me I was lucky I didn’t get injured. As it was, I had sharp pains in my shoulders that took three days to fade.

Even with the standard weights sessions, I found I needed two days to recover. (Day 2 DOMS is real!) Seasoned pros can come back and do it again two days later. I can’t. Which means I can only do weights every third day. Let’s do a little math:

  • Days in a week: 7
  • Days per workout: 3
  • Maximum workouts per week = 7/3 = 2⅓

“But wait,” you say, “you could just work out Monday, Thursday and Sunday. That’s three times a week!” Hmm… That reminds me of a funny video I watched one time!

THE DUMBEST BOY ALIVE. PRETTY GOOD, EPISODE SIX. (Warning: language.)

(Once you’ve read this post, go check out the rest of Pretty Good. It’s brilliant.)

Ahem. Where was I…

I didn’t find the time or energy for gym. I have other interests besides gym – blogging, meetups, and quiz nights, to name a few. I have chores to do to keep things ticking over. I work full-time. I also need time to recover, physically and mentally, from these activities – my body makes this clear to me, whether I like it or not! Basically, my schedule is booked out – not necessarily in terms of time, but definitely in terms of energy. To make the gym thing work, I’d have to make big concessions elsewhere, and my options here are honestly pretty terrible:

  • Go out less? I’m putting together a social life for the first time in years – I’m not about to undo all that hard work. Knowing what I know now about the importance of social connections, that’s unthinkable.
  • Skip chores? Ok… so, hire a cleaner and eat out every day. I mean, I guess I could afford it, but there’s no way it’s gonna pay off.
  • Cut into my rest time? That’s a one-way trip to another mental health day.
  • Work less nope
  • Blog less nope nope nope

Exercise and physical health are important, sure. The thing is, I’m already doing ok on that front. How much am I willing to give to push for something I don’t really need?

If the above sounds like mere excuses, then how about I put it this way: I didn’t want it enough. If and when that changes, I’ll find a way.

Look on the bright side!

While this was technically a failure, I’ve had some successes along the way too.

  • I’ve been able to up the weights on every exercise. Just to the next one up – but in some cases that’s a 50% jump!
  • I’m having fun! Going 2-3 times a week instead of five means I get to keep some sense of novelty. On a good day it feels like play rather than work.
  • Stress relief. The various exercises give me lots of options to decompress after a tough day. It’s more effective than my previous methods, and healthier too!

Let me make one thing clear right now. I’m not quitting the gym. The weekly updates on the other hand? In case you haven’t noticed, they’re dead. To which I say: Good riddance! There are so many other stories I want to share, and the gym posts were getting in the way.

This little experiment is over. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more to come – that’s life!

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