This morning I was up and off to the gym. I figured it would be relatively quiet, being a holiday and all, and again I was mostly right. The group fitness room where I usually do my floor and strength training exercises was relatively empty – no classes today. I walk out of the locker room and straight into one of my clients from the law firm. Ugh – not a good or happy place to unexpectedly run into someone I know professionally. He stopped to chat, introduce me to his wife, and all the while I was wishing for a sudden sinkhole to ope and swallow me whole. Does anyone ever feel like they look their best going to work out? Dirty hair wrapped up in a pony tail, workout clothing that are only flattering to the very fit or thin, and my not normal anxious feeling about being there in the first place. So not the place for me to be.

So my workout morning got off to a poor start, and after wishing them a pleasant day and turning to escape upstairs to the cardio room, who do I see but trainer J doing his own workout. My day is just getting better. I force a smile, exchange the briefest of pleasantries (while at the same time feeling as if I am intruding), and finally escape to the elliptical upstairs.

Why this bothers me this many hours later remains a mystery. It’s like yesterday after I got home and realized I had not put away a piece of equipment and agonized over that, to the ridiculous point of maybe needing to drive across town in the other direction to another location. My anxiety about going to the gym has been evolving into an obsession since Saturday. Yesterday I could not make myself go despite my best efforts. The feeling of self-consciousness and as if I do not belong there have been overwhelming previously, but it’s evolving into a genuine phobia. My more rational nature quizzes me about what I am afraid of, and I have no clear answer. I don’t feel sporty or fit so therefore I do not belong there with all those other folks who are somehow making far more progress on getting healthier and fit. The abundance of negative self-talk is getting completely out of hand.

While I should be feeling triumphant about getting there, staying, and actually going through at least 2 full sets of this week’s training exercises, I am worried about seeing my client tomorrow and what I will do about going to workout tomorrow. Typically the only cure for this is to just get up and do it, go for at least a 30 minute cardio hit as frequently as possible until my emotions calm down. M does not really understand it, other than the avoidance of pain and exercise is a painful endeavor for me no matter how I try to pretty it up.

On the brighter side, my hair stylist/esthetician did a brow shaping for me today and remarked that I looked thinner. That made me feel a better, even if I mostly feel she is being very kind to me. My brows look so much better now, though, and that’s a concrete positive reality in the face of my otherwise irrational brain overload.

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow, so this weekend’s extended anxiousness will be my first item on the agenda. I have been putting off seeing him, because I have had a lot going on and been mostly coping with the stress and anxiety of such sweeping life changes. Apparently my stay well card has nearly expired, because I am evolving into a basket case this weekend.

What perplexes me, though, is I know this will pass. I will be okay, I will be better. Soon. But for right now, driving the crazy brain is no fun at all, and my reassurance that this is just another phase is not convincing.

6 thoughts on “Labor Day – Driving the crazy brain

  1. Starting on a light comment – it could have been worse – trainer J could have worked out with you as trainer D did with me today. We occasionally did the same exercise – at vastly different weight levels or did ones next to each other – I would rest between my sets while he did his & vice versa. The only upside was that I did more ab crunches than he expected in each set and since he felt he had to do what I did plus 1 – he did more than he expected to do. Tiny victory for me.

    I have nothing helpful on the anxiety about the gym – especially seeing the client. I know you know that your client didn’t expect to see in a business suit, etc; that they likely didn’t look their best either; that no one there really cares; etc, etc. – but even knowing all that rationally doesn’t stop the voices in our heads/panic we feel. I hope your therapist can help – perhaps identify what makes you so anxious and how to avoid it (workout in different areas, etc). Honestly if I wasn’t meeting trainer D – I wouldn’t go to the gym. The anxiety of how I look, how I do the exercise, etc – is so overwhelming. On the cruise ship I went to the gym 4 times – it was the hardest thing to do to force myself to go. If I hadn’t agreed to be accountable to D – text him workout results – I would have avoided it. I didn’t do full routines or the toughest – but I did some. Frankly I even criticize myself on how I do cardio (not fast enough, long enough etc etc). All I can say is acknowledge how you feel but do your best to not let it stop you.

    On your hair stylist compliment – I *know* it was real. We see ourselves every day and don’t notice the changes. Hell if I wasn’t wearing small sizes I would claim I look hardly different at all. M sees you every day too – so again – not as noticeable. My yoga instructor is actually a great asset for me in this area – we only meet once or twice a week (still trying to make schedule work) and so she can see the difference and is incredibly honest – she won’t say I look different unless I really do.

    Bottom line – a huge hug from someone who knows how tough it is and is cheering you on from here. Keep going as much as can – the imposter syndrome will lessen. You are doing better than you give yourself credit for and in this case I also urge you to be as kind to yourself as you would be to your friend or daughter if they were feeling the same way.

    1. Ohhhh SAK – your comment has me in tears. Good tears. Grateful tears. Anxiety-relieving tears that I’m not the only crazy brain about he damn gym. THANK YOU!
      It’s funny you mention that about trainer D working out with you – I was reading on another blog tonight about investing in ourselves and she remarked about one-on-one personal training being very expensive and paying a guy to stand around doing nothing while watching her do the reps. I was actually mildly offended for J – even if he is merely watching me work out to ensure I’m doing it right, he works damn hard all the time on my behalf. Half the time he’s lying on the floor doing the same things with me, or demonstrating again and again and again. But even before and after our sessions, he’s planning what we’re going to do, prepping handouts for me, responding to my texts and my emails, etc. Whenever I run into him at the gym and he’s assisting another client, it’s a mere wave and keep on moving along. When he’s working out himself, I try to keep to brief and move along, because that’s his time and he doesn’t need to spend it holding my hand as I stand there wringing them. My fear of imposing on people causes me to do the stupidest things.
      I have been down this road many, many times, and the only things I can do to combat imposter syndrome is to get my ass through the door and upstairs onto my cardio equipment long enough for it to pass so I can move through my routines or do my 30 minutes and go home. This morning I was doing pretty well … until I ran into my client. Ugh! He must think I am the villiage idiot for my inability to string coherent sentences together under such pressure, which tends to make me incredibly broody and self-destructive. Thankfully I was getting my brows done this morning and then having my daughter practice her presentation on me directly after that. By the time both were concluded, I was safe from random online shopping.
      Tomorrow is another day. I do not typically go to the gym in the mornings during the week, but I do not typically feel so … gross … about going. It’s on the schedule. Despite having acceptable cardio machines in my livingroom, I will drag my butt out of bed, get dressed, and go down there and sweat for at least 30 minutes. If I don’t, I anticipate 2 days of thinking 20x daily that I need to cancel with J on Thursday. I can do this. It’s probably why there have been daily posts about the gym and exercise. Tuesday is yoga night, so I also have that to anticipate. For whatever reason, lately it is a lot easier to go to yoga practice, probably because it is designed to be an individual endeavor.
      As the old saying goes, if this shit were easy everyone would be doing it, right?

      1. Yea you for going to the gym this morning! I’ve heard variations on this comment before: “she remarked about one-on-one personal training being very expensive and paying a guy to stand around doing nothing while watching her do the reps. ” Drives me nuts. If you have a good/great trainer they are doing what J & D do – right there with you – demonstrating, encouraging, planning ahead, providing feedback, pushing you beyond your fears/self-imposed limits, etc. Actually even my husband has said something like this when I offered training sessions to him (with D or a trainer he picked) – he didn’t want his workout dependent on someone else being there. My response was I wish mine wasn’t but this works for me and the results show it – better that than not working out at all or only sporadically. Yes, this is not cheap and not an option for everyone – I wish it was frankly. But I’m fortunate to have the means to do this and it is a heck of a lot cheaper than on-going health issues/complications.
        Your client does not think you are the village idiot – he has practically forgotten he saw you and couldn’t tell you what you wore/how you looked if he had to save his life. 🙂
        Have to laugh about your yoga preference – there is nothing more of an individual endeavor than personal training. That is exactly why I like personal training more than yoga! No one else is doing what I am doing at the same time – I can’t see others hold the pose longer/better or transition more fluidly, etc.Yoga class scares the hell out of me – which is why I do private lessons. I have to get over that PDQ though because I have a trip coming up that includes a photography, hiking, and yoga retreat for part of it – and it is a yoga class – eek!
        So get thee to the gym, to the doc and to see J on Thursday! Heck if you can make time – see J sooner than Thursday.
        BTW -are you going to add a 2nd weekly session with J? It might help a lot – not just with exercise but breaking through the gym anxiety. Expensive I know – ask for a discount too. D has a set scale based on number of sessions you train with him each week – more sessions each costs less. Our arrangement has changed over time based on schedules, etc – but I now basically have an “all you can train” package at a much discounted price and while I have a set time that is *mine* no matter what – we tend to be flexible on scheduling to meet each others needs and do make up sessions on weekends/holidays when I have been traveling. I’m not saying 5 days a week for you – but consider 2x weekly.
        Off to work I go – the east coast is getting to its desk by now – so time to check in on them (I’m in AZ but at the moment most of my clients are on the east coast – thank goodness for coffee!).
        Take care!!

      2. Yes, the perception about training drives me insane as well. M has done a complete 180 about it since I started with J – he sees that I’m fully engaged and getting results, despite my crazy brain and insecurity over the process. I haven’t discussed adding a second weekly appointment time with him yet but it’s on my mind. I’m going to wait until we get back and see where my head is going. But as this stuff gets more complicated – I’m having issues this week with a simple chest press! – I can see the need for more time for additional reinforcement. We shall see.
        I hear ya about clients and client work. I was at the gym at 5 this morning to get it done and saw no one I know, thankfully. Completely different group of people at that hour of the morning, so I may try to get there earlier instead of later in the evenings.

  2. You can do this! I am so proud of you for doing so too! Hugs coming your way!
    Not sure if you can see my email addresss, but if you can would you email me please

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