I forced myself to the gym the other day. In the winter the gym is just what I do. On this particular day at the gym I was slow jogging on the treadmill and despising every minute of it. I couldn't help but think about all the great things about life I was missing out on because I was trapped at the gym. It got me thinking, which is one thing I can say about the treadmill- it is good for serious thinking.
I was thinking about my relationship with the gym. The gym has always been my free ticket to eat what I want. Meaning, I can cancel out calories consumed by logging gym hours. In my past life this was a pretty fair trade because I had time to kill. Why not have an extra glass of wine or a big fat slice of cake if I am just going to burn it off later? In fact it was a perfect system. I could eat what I want and avoid being bored during daylight hours. The gym gave me a purpose and a place I needed to be. Plus, the gym was a good place to impress hot men with how tight my shorts were. I won't pretend that the gym is not a great place to flaunt ones sexuality... because that would be a farce. I even scored a date with a personal trainer for that crazy bike race guy Lance Armstrong. See? The gym really did work for me.
Now I am a mom and wife. Definitely not looking to pick up men (one is plenty for me- thank you very much), my stretch marks are not exactly something I want to flaunt and most importantly, I don't have the luxury of being selfish with my time anymore. A trip to the gym simply takes time away from a multitude of other things I would rather be doing.
It is time to face my new reality: Two hours a day at the gym is just not practical nor desirable. This leaves me with a couple of options. Option #1: be okay with carrying around extra weight. Or, option #2: figure out a way of eating that is healthy and negates the need for a whole lotta gym time. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that option one isn't really an option at all.
I suppose this is one reason why the vegan lifestyle has become more attractive to me. As much as I would like to lose weight and get back into my old jeans I am just not as motivated by my vanity as I used to be. The idea of looking a certain way no longer propels me to restrict foods or slave away at the gym. I am much more motivated by healthy, sustainable living. Having a husband and family has altered my body image and the way I view food and exercise. In short, it has changed my priorities.
I want to eat to live, not workout to eat. It is a whole paradigm shift for me. Wanting food to be a sense of nourishment and pleasure is a far cry from my old attitude that food is nothing more than a bunch of calories that need to be counted and then burned. The past month and a half of vegan living has been one of my most peaceful periods of time, in terms of my relationship with food. I firmly believe that this is due in great part to the fact that my personal beliefs about food are now congruent with how I am actually eating. Eating healthy has become a whole lot simpler now that I am at peace with what I eat.
I am discovering that when I stop battling calories, my need for the gym decreases. Oh, I still will go... because a part of me enjoys the challenge and a good sweat. Plus, I fully believe in the benefits of exercise and having an hour to myself while my boys socialize with other kids in the daycare is a good way to keep my sanity. But I strive now to go to build fitness, not to justify a second serving of extra cheese pizza.