My husband and I have a new deal going. Three mornings a week, he will do the morning routine with the kids, and I will get up and go to the gym. This arrangement is fair on a number of levels, not the least of which is that getting the kids up and dressed in the morning is like running on a treadmill: lots of flailing about, sweat, tears and motion but you never actually get anywhere.
Its not that I don't like exercise, I do. Really. I totally understand that it is good for me, that it makes me healthier, gives me more energy. I don't know how it happens, but walking into the gym before a workout I feel slow, sluggish and middle aged... and walking out of the gym after a workout I feel like Jane Freaking Fonda in her glory days (minus the striped leotard and leg warmers). I even have a playlist on my iPod of workout songs; it is called "Run, Ellie, Run".
The problem is motivation. Once I'm up on the treadmill or pumping weights I'm good to go. It is getting there that is the issue. First there is the problem of what to wear. I marvel at the women I see working out in these matching sexy outfit type things. My workout gear consists of one of my husband's old tee-shirts, some black lycra biking shorts that I bought about a million years ago (LOVE that lycra - it just stretches and stretches ... I wouldn't want to be on the treadmill next to mine when it finally spontaneously combusts), and some cross-training sneakers I found on sale that are so white a ship could navigate safely to shore using just my feet as a source of light. I'm not completely hopeless, though - I realized a few months ago that white athletic socks that go up above your ankles are, apparently, no longer in vogue.
Then I have to figure out what time of day to go. Let it be known that I detest mornings - I have never been a Morning Person, and never will be. My husband, who is a Morning Person, leaps up out of bed every morning full of zest and ready to face the world. I don't fully wake up until 10am and several cups of coffee. But if I wait until 10am to go to the gym I am going to see lots of people I know. This sounds like a good thing, but even if I overlook the fact that they will see me in my gym clothes, my tendency to chat makes it more of a social hour than a workout hour.
And, of course, by 10am I will have the kids with me. We are fortunate enough to have a terrific YMCA in our town - it is new, clean and has a fabulous playspace complete with babysitting for the kids. I know of Moms with young kids who put on workout clothes, drop their kids at the playspace, and then duck around the corner to the Y's cafe for a peaceful cup of coffee. The problem with the playspace is that it is a complete crap shoot as to whether my kids will agree to go. This creates a situation full of pleading, bribery and tears (and sometimes the kids cry, too) that I find detestable. And there is another problem.. the space itself has no solid walls: the whole area is surrounded by glass so loving parents can wistfully watch their kids play. It creates a problem for me, though, because once I manage to get my kids to go into the playspace and get them settled, if they catch a single glimpse of me as I sneak over to the workout area they dissolve into tears. So I need to engage in all kinds of bizarre, clandestine moves to get past the playspace to the adult workout area. I have crawled on my hands and knees, or put my gym bag over my head. It is embarrassing.
If I manage to do all this successfully - drop them off, get to my workout area, get on the treadmill - there is still no guarantee I'll be able to complete my workout. The Y has a policy that if a child is inconsolable for more than 10 minutes, they will come find the parent. Nothing strikes dread into my heart like the sight of one of the playspace workers, wearing their happy little blue aprons, come around the corner and start scanning the treadmills for the offending parent. Nine times out of ten it is me.
So each day I would become exhausted thinking all of this through, and everyone knows you don't get a good workout when you're tired.
But I'm about to turn 40. And I realized that 40 is one of those ages where things just start to go. As in south. And since some of my parts seem to have already went, I decided it was time to crack down and just do it. So I'm getting up early, skipping my morning coffee, and going to the gym, alone, three mornings a week. It is not pretty. But there is nobody there to (a) see me, (b) socialize with or (c) hear me singing along to Eminem. Maybe for my 41st birthday I'll buy myself one of those sexy matching outfit type things to workout in. Its good to have goals.