Gym Dandy

It took me a while to find a topic for this week’s blog posting. Usually an idea comes to me on Wednesday morning while I’m on the treadmill at the gym—except that this Wednesday, I didn’t go to the gym. So, no new idea.

I joined the gym in January, one of my New Year’s goals. I knew regular gym attendance would be a catalyst for losing weight and improving my physical health. I didn’t know how much the gym would improve my mental health.

When I joined, I was in the middle of a long-term, high-stress project. After a few weeks of regular gym attendance, the project felt much less stressful—despite the increased workload.

Then came The Blizzard. Being snowed in for a few days made me realize how much the gym had helped me. I became edgy, cranky, restless. (Can you say “withdrawal”?) As soon as I got back on the treadmill, those feelings evaporated. 

Now, even though there are days my brain says, “I don’t want to go to the gym today,” my body says “Let’s go!” So I do. Except for this Wednesday, of course, when my brain said, “It’s too damn hot to go to the gym,” and my body responded, “I hear that!”

The treadmill, it seems, has become my meditation machine. I climb on, turn on my iPod, and pick a view outside the gym windows, usually the geese in the field across the way or the cars speeding by on the main road. My feet start moving and my mind starts wandering.

My wandering mind has found topics for my blog, issues to vent about in my journal, ideas for short stories, new scenes for my novels, ways to improve existing scenes in my novels, and a billion other ideas that I have no idea how to categorize. The gym, it seems, is the door to my unconscious and the treadmill, the key that unlocks it. (Now if I could only figure out how write down all these ideas while working out….)

My mind has also wandered down Memory Lane, often to embarrassing or hurtful moments in my past. Because I’m on the treadmill, I have to walk right through those memories. I can’t dwell on them, as I would otherwise be prone to do. My legs are moving, so my mind has to keep moving too. I have to leave those moments from my past behind me, which is where they belong anyway, right?

That might be the most helpful thing of all.