What People Don't Tell You About Going to the Gym

Last semester, I wrote an article titled, "Why Going to the Gym Makes Me Happier." In it, I listed how I’m more productive, energetic and positive. I also stated how going to the gym makes me feel better about myself. Most of what I wrote was true – in fact, an overwhelming majority of what I wrote was true. But recently I’ve found myself struggling with my self-image and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until last week, as I was scrolling through my articles and came across that one in specific, that I figured out why I haven’t been happy with myself.

When people mention the gym, 99% of what they say is appraisals about why everyone should be going. And I support that because I agree with it. Everyone should implement a healthier lifestyle into his or her life and going to the gym is a part of that. But I feel as though people don’t talk about the negatives, which is also important because, sometimes, people need to know what they’re getting into. So I’m going to tell you why my self-esteem has been tainted and how that relates to the gym.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I am emotionally dependent upon going to the gym. When I do go and I have a great workout, I feel amazing. I feel as though I am unstoppable and that there are no tasks that I can’t accomplish. I physically feel my progress. And it’s great! It’s a natural high that I experience and I never want to come down from that feeling. However, there are some days where I skip the gym altogether or I have a “bad” day. What people don’t really tell you is, there will be days you would rather pull your teeth out than go. And there are days when your body is exhausted and you physically cannot workout to the fullest extent that you are used to doing. And on those days, I feel terrible about myself. I think, If I can’t even hold myself accountable to go to the gym/have a good workout, then I can’t hold myself accountable for anything. It’s like, if I can’t prioritize my health and exercise, what can I prioritize? And the answer I am always left with is nothing.

It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to look at myself in the mirror on these days because I feel as though I let myself down and, somehow, all of the progress I’ve made at the gym has disappeared. The scariest part is this: Logically, I know I’m fine. I know I’m still fit and I am still healthy. But emotionally, I can’t convince myself of that. No matter how hard I try. 

There are times where I wish I never started working out because ignorance is bliss. Before I began hitting the gym regularly, I was able to look at my insecurities and think, These problem points will go away as soon as I start working out. Well, here I am one year later, still looking at my puffy cheeks and my double chin with hatred. They haven’t gone away and I’ve convinced myself of the fact that it’s because I don’t go to the gym seven days a week. Logically, I know it’s genetics. Emotionally, I think it’s because I’m lazy. Forget that I’m in 15 hours this semester and holding down three jobs. I still think I’m lazy.

Part of why I’m writing this is so that this could be an emotional outlet. And, if it hits the right audience, I’ll come across some advice, even if that is to go see a professional. But the other reason why I’m writing this is because misery loves company and I want to know whether other people struggle with this as well.

Overall, I’m glad I workout and I wouldn’t trade my progress for the world. But I think it’s important that people know the slightly less-glamorous side of what working out entails. It’s important to understand the ups and downs of everything you’re about to get yourself into.