Last week at a potluck when I was offered a chocolatey, gooey, nutty, cherry-y, dessert, I passed it up. “I just can’t write another column about eating dessert and not making it to the gym!” I cried, backing away from what looked like the most amazing dessert of all time, while trying not to let my eyes focus on it. “I just can’t do it!”

By the same token, all week long I’ve been nagging myself to work out. Aside from all that sameness turning my column into a boring read—something no self-respecting writer can tolerate—I was sick of hearing my own excuses.

So on Monday, my last day to get to the gym before this newspaper goes to press, I made it there, and had a fantastic workout. I was met by friendly greetings and encouraging words, and Family Fitness gym in Edgewood felt like home, like meeting an old friend for a cup of coffee and a good chat. My daughter (who is also my workout buddy) and I got right back in the swing of things, pushing ourselves hard, the first workout for both of us since we went to the rock climbing gym before Thanksgiving.

Here’s one thing I knew going in: I was going to feel fantastic afterward, and I was right about that. There is something so deeply satisfying about following through with that self-care, for me. Physical activity coupled with keeping a promise to myself feels wonderful, in body, mind and soul. I’ve said it before, but sometimes I think I should have it tattooed on my forehead: Exercise. Feels. Good.

Here’s one thing I didn’t know going in: I would have laid cash money on the table and bet anyone that I had gained at least five pounds since the last time I had weighed myself before Thanksgiving. To my complete astonishment, I found that I had not lost or gained a pound. My daughter had the very same feeling, and she actually lost a pound since the last time she had weighed in.

I lost track of how many columns I wrote, moaning and groaning about how much I had not done and how far I had fallen. Turns out in real terms I had not fallen. I can still lift weights; in fact we both lifted heavier weights than usual, for good long sets of reps. I am feeling it today as I type! I can still run, and was surprised by how good it felt to do that also, even on a treadmill, albeit for a very short time. Nevertheless, it felt good.

What a weird perception, though, this doom and gloom feeling that all was lost, or if not all, that at least most was lost. And what a happy surprise to learn that in the end, it was just a handful of missed sessions at the gym, not the end of an era or the final fizzling of my ultimately insufficient efforts. What a silly tale I was spinning for myself. It’s funny, except that the silly tale had an end: Just give up. All is lost anyhow.

The human mind never ceases to fascinate me. I know that elite athletes will say the hardest part of what they do is mental. I totally believe this. The physical part of working out is a piece of cake compared to talking myself into doing it.

Did someone say cake? Oh crap, was it me? Sigh. Another thing I’ve learned recently is that cake, sweet, lovely, innocent cake, is my Achilles heel. And the world is full of cake.

What insights have you gained as you work toward health and fitness? You can contact me at 505-286-1212 or [email protected], or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]