Confessions of an Evil Gym Bunny

I do not believe in New Year’s Resolutions, and thank goodness it seems like not many people in this town do either. The great onslaught of new gym-goers with crashing blood sugar have not appeared in the post-holiday season. Or maybe they have traditional jobs keeping them away during my 8:30-10:30 time slot.

Whatever the reason, you’ll hear no complaints here. While the media constantly reports on obesity and I think people benefit from physical activity, I prefer not to fight over the 12 bikes in Spinning class and 13 stations in circuit training.

But I’d fight if I had to. After all, exercise is one of the only things keeping me out of the funny farm at this point. We have been waiting for company paperwork critical to house-buying plans in Edmonton for two months. We have had to deal with at least a half dozen people in a half dozen locations in this bureaucratic nightmare. All for one f*&%ing letter.

So yes, I need my spinning. And my circuit training. And my pump n’ flex (which is no girly weight-lifting class, by the way. Doug couldn’t walk for several days afterward). And my yoga. These are the things that allow me to burn off my ‘crazy’ energy so I don’t lash out at people in the grocery store line whose only fault is they haven’t memorized produce ID #’s (bananas are 4011! 4011!!!).

But then I hear my yoga instructor’s voice in my head “inhale gently,” and my spinning teacher’s voice “push it out” and I remember that the woman holding the bananas with two squalling toddlers is probably at the end of her rope too. And being in Wyoming she’s probably got a gun in her diaper bag. So I hold my tongue and just chant my ancient mantra quietly on the inhale and exhale: chill…out…chill…out…chill…out

And patiently await my next mind-saving butt kicking.

Not a resolution

If you’ve looked at the newsstands lately you probably noticed that just about every women’s magazine (and quite a few men’s) feature New Year’s Resolutions. “Half her size!” One of them exclaims. “This is the year you reach your goals!” Another promises.

I personally don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, guilt-fuelled vows made after a night of too much drinking (and a month of too much eating, spending, etc) often aren’t backed up with much commitment. But maybe that’s why it’s the people who celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s on January 1st who make resolutions. We are all in serious need of detox by then.

When I was 18 years old I took a yoga class. I had just gotten over a horrible case of mononucleosis and I was weak, stiff, and feeling completely non-physical. So I took this gentle yoga class at the local recreation centre to try and ease myself back into the land of the living. At the end of every class, our instructor would take us through guided meditation. She would ask us to focus on our breath and try and clear our minds. This was tricky for me -my mind is always going a mile-a-minute – and the first time I got really frustrated with myself.

Then she said something revolutionary: every time you stop focusing on your breathing and find thoughts cluttering up your mind, acknowledge it, and then return to meditation. No guilt. No failure. Just awareness, forgiveness, and re-committal.
A week ago I found my thoughts wandering and my breathing shallow, in a sense. I wasn’t being as mindful of my health as I had promised to myself. Instead of getting angry, feeling guilty, or giving up and giving in to the all-you-can-eat IHOP gorgefest (it exists!) I sat with my awareness. Then I bought a rec centre membership, went to a couple of fitness classes this week, and began tracking my nutrition more closely.

One of the reasons I think so many people give up on New Year’s Resolutions – or any commitment to themselves – is that the second they slip-up they feel guilty. They think they’ve failed. As that yoga instructor would remind us, we’re only human and we’re bound to get off-course on our road to enlightenment, healthy living, or any other type of goal. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, why not accept the moment and resume our journey?
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.