Exercise, we’re in a fight

Exercise, I don’t think I love you anymore.

Dear Exercise,

We’ve known each other for a long time now. Off and on for years. There was that long stretch when I was really young where you and I did gymnastics together. Remember? You let me pretend that I was a real competitive gymnast and I stuck with you longer than I wanted to because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do the splits anymore if I quit. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have quit much earlier. Because I can still do the splits AND a back walkover (if I had to).

Things got tumultuous for us in middle school when the state of California required me to do things like run a mile and do a chin-up. That’s when I began to hate you. When a class I used to call PE actually became Physical Education and turned from kickball and tug-of-war to running on a track and trying not to die. It didn’t help that I simultaneously quit gymnastics and went through puberty. I didn’t like running, let alone running with boobs.

Then in high school, after puberty turned me into a soft and round teenager, I forced myself to join the volleyball team because my parents were convinced I wouldn’t make friends otherwise. I had no business playing volleyball. At 5’2”, out of shape and not super springy or athletic, our love affair petered out after a year. And then I discovered that I could get out of PE with dance classes which felt like cheating because it was mostly only fun, and my dance teacher never made me run. And while you brought me joy in dance class, you also brought me heartache, Exercise. Because when you’re 50 lbs. overweight as a teenager, putting on a leotard and standing next to a tall, slender girl with no boobs makes you feel bad about yourself. But I did it anyway, Exercise, because I loved you then.

When I lost 100 lbs., I thought our love affair would never end, Exercise. You brought me a kind and supportive personal trainer who showed me my own strength. You showered me with dance classes and long, hilly walks. You opened my eyes to the world of spinning and yoga. You motivated me to take the stairs and park at the far side of the Target parking lot. We were deep in love, Exercise.

And then you broke my heart.

You started mis-treating me, giving me aches and pains that didn’t go away for days. I began to resent you. I began to avoid you. We would go for days without seeing each other and then weeks. Even when I would try to reach out, to connect with you, you would ignore me and offer me no motivation. So now, we are stuck in an abusive relationship. You berate me when I don’t see you enough, and I come crawling back for more. You convince me that all we need to be happy is 30 PopPhysique classes that I’ll never be able to use before they expire, and I buy them and I feel badly about myself for not going. You taunt me with the promise of walking buddies and massages as rewards for my hard work, but you rarely follow through and I am left disappointed and alone.

I don’t think I love you anymore. In fact I don’t know if I ever really did.

But just like a desperate, codependent girlfriend, I know I’ll come crawling back for more. Because I need you. I’m nothing without you.

Will our relationship always be this dramatic? Will you ever roll over in the morning and say, “Hey, Lover, how ’bout you and me go for a little walk?” Or will we always be this angry? This unforgiving? Maybe we need couples therapy so we can work out our issues in a safe, non-threatening place. Where would we go for that? It’s certainly not at the gym.

Maybe we just need some space, to figure out how we feel.

Wishing you all the best,

Jen

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