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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#2: Addicted to the Gym or Afraid of Losing Progress?*

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

It's 3pm. Suddenly, I'm in a terribly, grouchy mood. Plans for the remainder of the day are influx. I snap at my mom for wanting to walk around the mall, or worse… treat me to frozen yogurt, but I can't explain why. A few hours later, I'm back from the gym. I can breathe again. I’m in a good mood as if nothing was ever wrong in the first place. It’s taken me years to realize that I get this way when I'm anxious about finding time to workout.

The best way for me to explain is that I need to workout the way normal people need coffee. It's the first thing you think about in the morning. You won't function like yourself without it, but everything is better as soon as you have it.

For the last two years, my gym addiction has been so "bad" that I have anxiety months before just one day of travel if I know that I’ll miss a workout or won't have access to a gym. I was petrified of going abroad because I knew that it would take me at least a few days to find a gym. I almost didn’t live in Boston for a semester because I was worried about not finding a gym immediately. I'm already texting anyone I can find in Seattle to ask about a gym months in advance. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but you’d send me to the gym if you had to interact with me at 3pm on a busy Saturday before my workout.

Most people ask, “Why don’t you go for a run when you don’t have gym access?” or “What about a home workout?” Unfortunately, I can't settle for any kind of workout. I need to lift. While I'd prefer to go for a run over nothing, it's not enough. If I go on a run or to a spin class with my sister, I'll still need to lift later.

It’s irrational, but I’m afraid I’ll lose my progress if I miss a lift. No amount of scientific research can convince me otherwise. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) I wasn't always like this. When I first started lifting, I’d occasionally miss a day, but it wasn’t the end of the world. My body would be grateful for the extra rest. The more time goes by, the more intense I become about missing a lift. I'll occasionally force myself to take an extra day or two off, but I always plan far in advance and second guess myself. I haven’t missed a workout in eight months now.* I'm good about not exercising the same muscle two days in a row so that I don't hurt myself.

There are fitness fanatics that hate their rest day so much that they often skip it, but this has never been me. I look forward to my rest day because it means I can wear real clothes and have more free time without feeling guilty. I guess I have less of an "addiction to the gym" and more of a fear of losing progress or becoming out of shape. I don't feel bad on my rest day because I feel like I've earned it. I get crabby when I miss a scheduled workout because the fear creeps in.**

There are times when I feel burned out, get concerned that the gym is taking over my life, or forget why I'm so dedicated. But at this point, lifting is such a big part of my life that I will always go to the gym even if I have zero motivation. I often joke that nothing else matters in the day after I’ve worked out, but it's not really a joke.

*I'm editing this post 9/14/21 and still haven't missed a scheduled workout. It's been over a year. 🤠

**This was true at the time, but lifting is also great for my mental well-being. See follow up post.

This is a photo of Rufus and my dad doing push-ups during one of many quarantine workouts.

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