The Real Reason You Won’t Find Me at the Gym

I feel pressure every single day to go to the gym.

Between the constant advertisements on my computer for cute workout clothes, new diet and weight loss tips popping up in every women’s health magazine and Cosmopolitan’s daily “butt challenge” videos, it’s hardly a suggestion.

Not to mention that one of my roommates runs 15 miles per day and the other gets up at 6 a.m. to hit the gym early.

No pressure, right?

Wrong. Every day, I come home kicking myself mentally for not finding the time to squeeze in a quick, half hour run on the treadmill.

It’s not just that I can’t seem to find the time to go – it’s that I adamantly hate working out. I find absolutely nothing about it enjoyable.

A lot of people enjoy the day after the gym, where their muscles ache to the point of discomfort. They say it proves that they did a great workout, and it makes them feel good.

I’m sorry, but in no world do I want my arms to be so sore that I can’t even reach above my head to wash my hair in the shower.

I haven’t been to the gym in so long that I’m painfully uncomfortable working out in front of people I know. God forbid that cute guy on the baseball team sees me sweating like a pig trying to finish one mile. And what if I’m lifting incorrectly? I’ll look like an idiot. Not to mention the fact that at this point, the most weight I can lift is 10 pounds and I can’t do more than 20 sit ups in a row.

I’m out of shape, out of time and out of habit.

Every time I try to start making the gym a habit again, I skip one day and fall right back off the wagon. If I skip two days, I tell myself that I’ll start again on Monday. Every Monday, it’s suddenly 11 p.m. and I find myself wrist-deep in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s instead. Oops.

The only type of exercise I actually enjoy doing is yoga, which just so happens to be one of the instructor-taught classes that got taken away from my university due to underfunding. Of course.

Sure, I could always pop a yoga video into the retro VCR that adorns the recreation room in the gym. That’s if I can ignore the door swinging open and closed as each new group of noisy people comes in to get free weights or a mat.

With yoga out of the picture, I’ve tried coming up with numerous ways to get my ass to the gym.

“The hardest part is getting there,” I’ve had people tell me. But honestly, the hardest part for me is staying there.

I’ve worn gym clothes to class, sneakers, sports bra and all, and walked into the gym, got on the elliptical, completed one mile and left, completely unmotivated to do any kind of weight lifting or abdominal workout.

So what gives? Why do I hate myself at the end of each day for not doing something that I loathe? Why do I feel like I have to put myself through the torture of bicep curls next to some sweaty rugby player?

Because society tells me I should. Because people tell me I should. Because doctors have told me I should, since 30 minutes of exercise per day is the healthiest way to live.

Because the kids in my 3rd grade classroom told me I should when they found out I weighed 120 pounds. Because my coaches in high school told me I should to bulk up to improve my game. Because my parents have told me I should, my friends have told me I should and most importantly, because no one has told me I shouldn’t.

No one has ever looked at me and said it’s OK that you don’t work out. It’s OK that you hate exercising. It’s OK if you’d rather lie in bed for an extra hour in the morning and eat vegetables all day instead of putting yourself through a monotonous workout.

No one has ever told me it’s OK not to work out because that’s not what society tells us. That’s not what workout apparel advertisements tell us, or social media tells us or magazines tell us. They tell us to drink lemon water, buy cute, strappy sports bras to wear to the gym, find a boyfriend that will fulfill your “relationship goals” by working out with you and do certain uncomfortable-looking exercises to tone your butt in time for bikini season.

Hats off to those that enjoy running or swimming or exercising in general – it is very healthy and has a lot of life-long benefits. Good for you.

But to those that consider walking to the car each morning enough exercise for the day, you’re not alone.

I don’t want to come home at the end of a long day of exams, club meetings and LSAT prep just to stress myself out more with the promise of going to the gym.

Fuck that. If you need me at the end of the day, I’ll be accidentally dropping food down my cute, $60 sports bra, thank you very much.

How to Have a Bad Day

When I wake up in the morning, I slowly pull apart the blinds next to my bed. Then, I either groan as I fall back against my pillows because there is some form of precipitation coming from the sky or I debate skipping class because the sun is shining.

Either way, I slowly pull myself out of bed, drag myself to the bathroom to do my hair and makeup and coordinate my outfit based on the proper footwear for the weather.

Today it is raining. Rain boots it is.

Rain boots are heavy, clunky and simultaneously make my feet really cold and really hot. Plus, they look very awkward when paired with yoga pants so I’m forced to put on jeans, AKA leg prisons.

Then I pull on my rain jacket, which is too thin when it’s a cold rain but too confining when it’s a warm and humid rain. I have to make sure I remember my umbrella too, even though it turns inside-out with high winds.

After about 5 minutes of walking across campus, my hair that I took time to straighten is now frizzy, my makeup has practically melted off my face and my wet jeans are uncomfortably sticking to my legs.

Once inside, finally away from the rain, all motivation drains from my body. There are fewer things more depressing than watching the rain fall.

Rainy days are the kind of days that make you want to curl up in bed under several blankets and drink green tea while watching movies. They don’t exactly motivate me to sit in the dreary, dim library studying for a biology exam.

Rain sucks. If you want to have a bad day, just go to class in the rain. Bonus points if it’s a Monday.

What Makes Me Happy

I’ve fallen in love before. I’ve been to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been in a car going so fast down tall hills that my stomach tickles. I’ve eaten an entire death by chocolate cake. I’ve laughed until I cried, rode horses along the coast of Aruba and taken a tour of Venice in a gondola.

I’ve experienced true, earth-shattering happiness before, and yet nothing has made me as happy as achieving my goals.

Maybe that’s a sad thing to admit – the money I’ve spent, the countries I’ve traveled to and the people I’ve met pale in comparison to crossing a long term goal off of the list I keep on the desktop of my computer.

The grueling and draining hard work that I’ve experienced in my short 20 years of life amounts to more than some of my happiest moments.

Maybe it’s the American idealist in me. We’re often criticized as a country for overworking to the point of exhaustion and not taking the time to stop and smell the roses, for lack of a better term. Often, the goal is to work hard enough to have money that supposedly makes us happy.

But I don’t get much pleasure in working hard for monetary purposes. In fact, most of the work I do doesn’t involve compensation at all.

What makes me happy is the accomplishment. Being able to watch the work I’ve put in, the long hours I’ve spent and the dedication I’ve maintained turn into something I’ve dreamed of for a week or for my whole life makes me happier than money ever could.

That’s why university breaks are a mystery for me. Relaxing by the pool with a drink in hand is nice for a day, but any longer and I’m ready to break out my laptop and start working again.

If you were to ask me what I love, I’d say my friends, family, chocolate, wine, dogs, fashion and traveling.

If you were to ask what makes me happy or satisfied, my first answer would be my accomplishments.