I don’t know about the rest of you, but working out has never been fun or relaxing for me. I don’t ever take a leisurely jog through the park or experience a cathartic release of stress on a Stairmaster. Oh no. I agonize through an excruciating torture test of pathetic coordination, erratic breathing, and legs that shake between steps. My face looks like a wet, soggy tomato, and I sound like I have chronic asthma with each breath. It’s not a pretty sight.
I guess this is no surprise, but I was never a very active child. While most children itched to run and play outside, I much preferred the cool and quiet of my room, tucked away in my bed with a book. I could never understand what exactly they were doing out there. Were they just running around in circles, taking breaks only to wrestle one another in the dirty grass? It just didn’t make sense. This doesn’t mean I never went outside, but when I did, it was a more structured event. I would plan exactly what I would do, which was usually: garden, ride my bike up and down the street while I sang songs, or climb the occasional tree. But I was only outside for a couple hours, and never when it was very hot outside. God forbid I get sweaty.
I remember being about 8 years old and getting in trouble for something minor (which was rare – I was pretty well behaved). My step-brother was always sent to his room when he got in trouble, so I figured, This will be great! I’ll be sent to my room, and I can just read for hours. Except my mom knew me all too well. I wasn’t sent to my room. I was sent outside. I was sent outside to play for my punishment. Seeing this in print makes me realize how much of a dork I really was.
I participated in sports for several years in junior high and high school against my better judgement and to the dismay of my teammates. Coaches forced me into a strict workout regimen which I followed for fear of failing gym, which would have been completely mortifying (seriously, who fails gym?). And even then, after months and months of the same routine, I hated every minute of each gym period, every second of each after-school workout.
My non-athleticism was never a big problem for me in my younger years. However, now that I’m older and I’ve gained a few pounds here and there, I find that working out is slowly becoming a need rather than a want. I don’t have much choice in the matter, and that terrifies me.
I’ve tried working out sporadically, only to lose interest after a couple of times. It’s hard to keep enthusiastic about something at which you are god-awful. Every time I complain about how much I loathe exercise, everyone always tells me that I just have to keep it up and, eventually, the Endorphins will kick in. Just wait for those Endorphins!, Endorphins will make you crave exercise!, Once you get those Endorphins going, woowee!, and so on. These magical Endorphins will suddenly appear and turn me into a regular Jane Fonda. (Not the Academy Award-winning, political activist Fonda of the 70s, but the spandex-clad, pastel-loving Fonda of the 80s.) Except, they never have. And I fear they never will.