I have never been the most athletic person nor the most fit. In junior high and early high school, I played volleyball and basketball. However, once I transitioned away from sports to other activities, exercise was left out of the picture. It wasn’t fun, so I pretended I didn’t need it in my life.
After arriving at Loras, a few of my friends invited me to go to the gym with them a few days each week. Instead, I chose the comforting thought of a few more hours of sleep, and I continued to tell my friends, “Maybe next time.” Unsurprisingly, next time never came. I told myself that by eating well I would be okay. However, as is the case with most college first-years, it was not enough.
Going into my sophomore year of college, I knew something had to change. Friends offered to go with me, but I was still too conscious of myself. So, I would work out in my room while my roommates were gone. Sometimes, if they slept in or had a class canceled, I would skip that day all together. Slowly, excuses came up and I worked out less until my dedication dissipated to nothing.
Junior year went similarly. I began with the intention of using my mornings to exercise in my room. Yet, everything seemed to be against me as my time was overtaken by unexpected meetings and I sprained a muscle in my arm. I gave up again. It didn’t seem worth the effort. By the time second semester came around, I tried again, but it didn’t last long.
However, in this time I realized that it wasn’t my hatred of sweaty exercise that kept me away from the gym or made me give up three weeks after working out in my room. It was pride. While working out is a habit everyone should fit into their schedule, no matter how healthy they may be, I was very conscious of what other people thought. I didn’t want others to know I needed to exercise. Eventually, I realized it didn’t matter what other people thought: I owed it to myself. I deserve to be healthy and to take care of my physical health. It didn’t matter what other people thought. This was something I needed to do for myself and myself alone.
This school year has been different. I went into the semester wanting to visit the gym, and I was lucky enough to have a group of girls that also wanted to go with me. My schedule is open enough that I have time to visit the gym before classes, so the excuse of time does not exist anymore. Already, I have noticed a difference. Maybe not on the number on the scale or the reflection in the mirror. That is not what matters anyway. It is how I feel and perceive myself. I have more energy in the morning and throughout the day. I feel more confident and accomplished each day, which in turn makes me more eager to go the next day. I am choosing to love myself more so I can live my life more fully, for myself and others.
So, if you are like me and avoid the gym, let this be my invitation to you. If you’ve wanted to go but don’t feel like you have time or energy, find a little time a few days a week. Ask friends to go with you. They probably want someone to invite them just as much as you do. If you are conscious about yourself and what others might think, kick that thought out of your head. Other’s opinions don’t matter. Do this for you. You are made with dignity, and you deserve more.