Heading out for a walk or run, or going to the gym, especially when you’re a parent of small children, is a daunting task.
It involves not only getting yourself ready, but also getting your kids ready. Even if you’re not bringing them with you, you’re preparing them to change hands.
It takes a lot of mental preparation, too. And scientists are discovering that the brain requires more energy than any single other organ in the whole body. Which explains why I have found that my technique for getting ready helps me so much.
I stress myself out about the gym, especially. There are some days that I feel like I can not deal with everything I need to deal with to get out and go. I like the group workouts. I like the equipment. I like getting warmed up and squishy and spending a long time on the mats just stretching and doing the few bodyweight exercises I don’t feel awkward doing in public. I really do. It just works me up, thinking about what I’m going to wear, what class I will take, if any. Whether my husband will be home in time for me to make a class. Will the kids behave for him? Will I feel guilty for leaving? Will I bring my own towel or mat and will that will hinder my ability to get a run in on the way there?
This is my laundry list of worries. It has always FELT exhausting. And now I know, it is because it IS exhausting! Literally, draining energy that I could be using at the gym.
Here is my technique on those hard days, and I hope that if anyone else has anxiety about getting out to exercise, that it helps you too. It requires the ability to disconnect from reality a little bit.
I pretend to be going to the gym (or on a run or whatever. We’ll just say gym). I tell my husband I’m going, so he’ll know what to expect, but that’s where my own certainty ends. I tell myself that I may or may not be going to the gym. Now knowing that I have the ability to go to the gym, I do all the things that I would be doing to prepare, just in case I go to the gym. Because, you know, maybe I’ll go. Maybe I won’t… I will feed the kids, I will get the dishes done… maybe I’ll move my wallet and keys to the gym bag with my towel, just in case I go, I’m ready to go. I will get some comfy workout clothes on, put my hair up, lace up my gym shoes…
Maybe this sounds silly and hard to follow. I’m trying to describe my thought process in a way that describes the lack of attachment I am trying to create between my emotions about leaving home for the gym, and the things I am DOING to get ready to go.
Some people say, “just do it.” And I guess that’s just about the same thing. Putting yourself on autopilot, and getting it done. I overthink all the things and find I require a more comprehensive mechanism.
Then let’s say my husband comes home at about 6:15. I have a 7pm Zumba class. I know this, and I have plenty of time to make it. He looks at me all dressed up for the gym and asks for the low-down on the kids, whether they’ve eaten, gets the news about the day, and I’m free to leave. This is the first time I really engage with the idea that I’m leaving.
This is the first time that I fully see myself leaving. And at that moment, I am dressed, shod, packed, prepared, and the children are covered. There is nothing keeping me, and at this point I can easily, “just do it.”
This is just how I deal with the hard days. Reading this, it might seem like it takes more effort to finagle my feelings, but it’s really a lack of effort. It’s a letting-go and disconnecting of my actions from the intention. Often, it doesn’t take this much manipulation of reality and I’m excited to get out and leave the apartment! But just sometimes…