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Anxious Thoughts

In case you haven't been able to tell, I'm pretty excited about this new partnership with my local training facility and the opportunity it provides me to meet my goal of becoming fit and healthy in every way. So I was taken by surprise this week when anxiety snuck up on me. I went to bed a little late on Sunday night, frustrated with myself for not getting to bed earlier. I was determined to get up early on Monday morning, spend time in Bible study and prayer, then make it to the 8:30 a.m. class. Instead, I tossed and turned all night long, checking the clock to be sure I hadn't overslept.

When the alarm went off, I struggled to get up, surprised to find that I was dealing with a little acid reflux. I ate my typical protein bar and drank a cup of coffee while I slogged through my Bible study. (It's not always rainbows and revelations.) I got in the car for the gym a few minutes late, realizing that I hadn't done my "Valor" essential oil (I'm not huge on essential oils, but someone recommended this one for one of my kids whose struggling with courage and I've been using it for myself too. (Whoa. Big results.) I'd also forgotten my water bottle.

I decided that I'd have to be courageous without the snake oil (as we've come to lovingly call it in our home), and I could buy a bottle of water there. I walked into the gym a couple minutes before class started and saw a woman jumping up and down on a really high block. As high as her waist. Over and over. My stomach lurched. Nope, nope, nope. The trainer saw me and pointed me to the group fitness room for my class. Whew!

I was greeted by my trainer, Jill. She gave me a kind of ornery smile, back from vacation and looking forward to the pain she was about to cause me. I laughed, ready for her. As she went through the circuit training type exercises we were about to do, I tried to figure out what size weights I would need, and got set up. She got me heavier weights. I'd intentionally used lighter weights for the first two weeks as my body became accustomed to the exercise routine. I felt like it was enough of a challenge just to do a bunch of squats and wasn't excited about adding an extra weight to my already heavy-enough body weight! Jill clearly did not agree. I guess maybe she's been reading what I'm writing and saw that I haven't been terribly sore, but rather noticeably uncomfortable? (That's what I get for being so open! ha!)

As I moved through the exercises with the heavier weights, the reflux came back much worse. I was getting pretty miserable. I kept having to stop between sets to try to deal with my rebelling body. When I told Jill what was going on, she said, "Oh. That's anxiety."


After all the different ways anxiety has manifest in my body, you'd think I could figure it out when a new way hits, but I hadn't. Jill had my number though, and as I considered what was going on, I knew she was right. I excused myself to the bathroom and took a few minutes to try to chill out. I gave myself a little pep talk. I was NOT about to give up. The exercises were challenging, but they weren't impossible. There was no waist-high jumping, or even the dreaded burpees. I was not going home until I was done. Period. Then, I puked. The reflux wasn't going away on it's own, and it had to leave, so I gave it an exit strategy. So gross. I don't recommend it. But after that, I was good to go. I went back out and finished the entire workout. God bless Jill. She didn't give up on me either.

It occurred to me later that I had also been very intimidated by the little laptop computer set up on the side of the room where a couple people were doing their class virtually. I saw it as soon as I walked in the room and made a point not to stand where that video camera could see me. I put myself out there all the time, but I'm in control of the images. The idea of being seen on camera doing something I'm not confident about was appalling. I did my darndest to stay out of the line of that camera during the whole class. Like those two women on the other end of the camera cared what I looked like while I was exercising? They were just trying to get through the class themselves! But it wasn't what I expected and I had trouble adjusting.

I left that class feeling very accomplished. I am Redmond's mother, and I can do hard things! I went home and worked all day, had my bible study friends over last night, and stayed up way too late watching a movie with Rick after all the kids were finally in bed. Why do I do that??? I slept through my Bible study and prayer time, then barely made it up in time to eat a little breakfast before I had to leave. The muscles in my back, shoulders, and arms were screaming at me. My legs were crying a little. This time I got my water, used my Valor oil, and got to the gym a full four minutes before class started. (My goal is 15 minutes, but hey, gotta start somewhere.)

Jill wasn't my trainer that morning, but she was in class right beside me and word had spread through the gym pretty quickly that "she had made me puke." (I really can't blame her. It wasn't like she pushed me until I puked.) I watched the trainer, Jenn, explain the circuit we were going to do that morning (more arms and back. yay.), picked out some weights (still unsure of the right amount), and got ready to go.

The reflux came back. This time I recognized it for what it was, reassured myself that I could do whatever was coming my way that morning, and barreled on through. I forced a big smile, then told Jenn that I wasn't sure if my weights were heavy enough. She brought me a significantly heavier weight and I did my first set of reps. The last two in each set were very hard, but I was able to do them.

Jill told me that I actually don't have a problem with cardio, but with breathing correctly. That actually wasn't much of a surprise since I have a crappy breathing system already. One ENT wanted to do major surgery a few years ago to set things right, but my insurance changed and stopped covering him before I could get the surgery. The new ENT recommended a nasal spray that causes me to get all jittery and have trouble sleeping. I really ought to get a third opinion, but that seems like a lot of work. I determined to pay more attention to my breathing, and I did a lot better keeping up with the cardio requirements of the class.

As I was considering what to write about this week, it occurred to me that many of us stay home from the gym because we're intimidated. I am not the only one! We don't like the idea of putting ourselves under the scrutiny of a trainer. We don't like the idea of being seen when we're a sweaty mess, struggling with an exercise, or not at the top of the class. It's a challenge to walk into a group training class where everyone else is more advanced than you are! We don't know what to do when we get to the gym, and we don't want to admit that to anyone so they can show us. We don't like feeling ridiculous in public, trying to figure out new equipment or exercises.

I want to challenge you to think about this today: everyone else in a fitness training center is sweaty, pushing themselves to reach new levels, and often feeling a little insecure. They aren't likely thinking much about you at all.

Why did Jill know I was dealing with anxiety? Because it's a common thing! Lots of other people have it too. She isn't some mind reader; she's experienced. You are also most likely to do significantly more work in a group setting. The people around you push you to do more than you normally would as you try to keep up with them or admire what great shape they are in. And the trainers watch you to make sure you don't injure yourself by using incorrect form, make sure you're pushing yourself hard enough with heavy enough weights, and encourage you to keep going.

If you're anything like me, get yourself some of that Valor snake oil and put it under each ear like perfume. Go buy some cute new exercise clothes so you don't have to worry about what to wear. Get used to the way you look when you've sweated off all your makeup. Then get out there and do it. And hey, if you get so anxious that you puke, just remember me. If I can get through it, surely you can do it too.

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