A couple months ago I made history – I’ll tell you why – I cancelled my gym membership on New Year’s Day.  The woman at the front desk looked at me like I had four heads when I asked for the cancellation paperwork. I walked out and have never felt so liberated.

I ended my abusive relationship with the gym.

My relationship with the gym started back in high school. I think I got my first gym membership senior year.  From that day forward I always “HAD TO GO TO THE GYM.”  The key here…”HAD TO.”

So I went. . . kept going through college. . . got a gym membership when I moved to New York City and faithfully took classes on my lunch breaks. When I started working longer hours, I’d wake up before work to run on the treadmill.  Sure, when I was there I felt good about myself, we all do, at least that’s what I thought.  In fact, these obligatory dates with the gym helped me run two half marathons and complete two Tough Mudders. However, getting there was always a battle.  I wasted hours convincing myself to go and more hours self-loathing when I couldn’t be convinced.

On February 1, 2014 I tried my first barre class. My sister and I had a Facebook friend who was frequently “checking in” to a studio near us and we couldn’t help noticing how amazing she looked.  I took particular notice of her arms, which had become beautifully toned.  We signed up for our free class and attended a few days later. We liked the class, liked the vibe, but didn’t think much more.  Later in the week we texted each other and casually decided to sign up for another Saturday class. This continued for the next couple months – every Saturday we went to Barre – mostly because it gave my sister and I plans together once a week.  It’s hard for me to remember how it happened, but slowly we started going more. Yet still, despite taking 2-3 barre classes a week, I still felt like I was taking the easy way out because I didn’t sweat in these classes and I only used two pound weights. So I kept my membership and forced myself into the gym at least twice a month. After all, the gym was like church and we had been parishioners for over a decade. I kept promising myself I’d go more and do more.

Then I had a light bulb moment.  I HATE THE GYM!  It is such a chore. But worse, after the gym I hated myself, I felt guilty like I didn’t do enough, lift enough, or stay long enough.  I loathed the way I looked in my old cheerleading t-shirts and shorts that rode up when I ran.The craziest part. . .the more I was at the gym, the heavier I was. Nothing like barre class. I loved myself after barre class because I felt strong and centered and I could see my body changing. I felt beautiful and graceful in my yoga pants and colored tank top.

Why did it take me almost 10 years to come to that conclusion? Why do we have to be so intense when it comes to reaching our health and fitness goals?

Maybe you feel the same way about the gym or an aspect of the gym. Maybe you hate running, or lifting weights, or planks, or crunches, or Zumba, or yoga. When you take a second to identify what you hate, it’s easier to see what you love.

Let’s stop pressuring ourselves to love something because we think we have to. The pressure we put on ourselves weighs more than any pound we’ve ever gained. When we let go of the self induced pressure, our unwanted pounds follow!

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