I Resolve to Exercise

I hate working out. I hate that I ever loved working out. I hate all of the pictures of toned girls with Helvetica font saying things like “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

Margeaux Perkins

January 29, 2014 | Sweat | February 2014

“Three, two one, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” everyone around me hugged and kissed and for all I know, made some resolutions. I reflected on the past year, called all of the people that I’d become close with over the past year and gushed how I was so thankful to have met them and spent time with them. I thought about my resolution from 2013 and couldn’t remember it. Was it to be more kind and patient? Was it to meet new people and make new friends? I wrote on a cocktail napkin three things that I wanted to change for the new year. I resolved to tell the people that I love that I love them more often. I also resolved to experience and learn five new things in the new year. My third resolution was one that thousands of people were typing in their phone notes or jotting down on pieces of lined notebook paper, “to work out more often/to get healthy/to lose weight.”

new years resolutions

People don’t talk about gaining weight in college for no reason. Running from class to class to meeting to coffee date to class to meeting barely allows you enough time to do your homework, let alone to eat a full meal filled with veggies and fruits and whole grains. And forget about the 45 minutes of cardio that you’re supposed to get everyday and the 30 minutes of weight training. I quickly gained a significant amount of weight, but never fretted because all of my clothes from high school still fit me. It wasn’t until I realized there was a reason I didn’t like having my pictures taken that I knew I needed to make a change. The summer after my second year, I worked out religiously. But when my third year started back up again, I realized how little time I had to finish my assignments, let alone to work out and make a salad. But since the new year is always a wondrous time filled with hope for the better, I resolved to get back on the horse.

When I’m in the middle of a workout, I feel wonderful. I love working out. I love the feeling of sweating and the soreness of my muscles. When I’m thinking about working out or deciding whether I want to break out the workout clothes and get my butt to the gym, I hate working out. I hate that I ever loved working out. I hate all of the pictures of toned girls with Helvetica font saying things like “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” or “Get up, get out, get running. You’ll thank yourself later.” or “The hardest part of working out is starting.” So naturally, on January 1st, when I saw all of the leggings-clad women jogging around the block, I thought to myself, do I have to work out today? Is it really going to change anything? I thought about the fact that I’m a pretty healthy person. I eat vegetables and fruits at least twice a day, my blood pressure and cholesterol are that of a very active, healthy individual. I can lift heavy boxes on my own and run for a mile or two without gasping for breath. I just didn’t look like my high-school self and I wanted to lose that stubborn bit of weight that I’d gained in college. I rationalized with photos of curvy celebrities, and looked up pictures of women who were my size, thinking of whether I appeared skinnier or fatter than them. I told myself that everyone gains weight in college. I even told myself that new year’s resolutions are a joke. That no one really follows them. That all of those gym memberships and personal training sessions all amount to nothing when people stop on February 1st.

The culture of new year’s resolutions hasn’t been a supportive one for a very long time. I remember in my first year of high school, my friends and I gathered around and watched the ball drop while sharing our resolutions. I confessed that I wanted to have a boyfriend in the new year and I was scoffed at. “Is that even a resolution?” they said. We spent the first hour of the new year discussing what a resolution can and cannot be. From then until a year ago I never had a resolution. Those that did, I supported them to their face but mocked them behind their backs. Resolutions are stupid. Resolutions don’t happen. The whole point of a resolution is to shout to the rooftops and brag to your friends about how different of a person you’re going to be at the end of the year. People say that change begins with you, but really, I believed that change happens to you, like the fifteen pounds I gained in college.

The number one new year’s resolution is to lose weight. Out of the 45% of people who make resolutions religiously, only 8% actually complete those resolutions, according to the University of Scranton’s statistics. Articles pour out of every news outlet starting around Christmas and ending around February, condemning resolutions, saying that they’re bad for you, slamming the mere 8% that achieves them. Those who made resolutions, that 45%, read these and hear their friends laughing at the fact that they’ve only worked out 5 times and it’s already January 25th, and they begin to laugh too. They begin to realize how silly it was for them to think they could lose weight, or get more organized, or spend less money. These things just don’t happen. But they do. Even though it’s 8%, those people are doing things. Those people kept going despite the fact that everyone was rooting against them. I wanted to be one of those people.

exres

When I arrived back at school after my winter break ended, I worked out for one hour the first four days I was back. I didn’t work out for the four days after that. On the fifth day, I got 30 minutes of weight training between cooking breakfast and cleaning my apartment. I think the key to new year’s resolutions, like most everything in life, is to keep going even when you mess up. Even though I neglected my workouts for four days, that doesn’t mean that I can’t keep going and do better next time. Resolutions aren’t completed because it’s hard to complete them. It’s hard when your friend (who’s probably not really your friend) asks you if you’ve worked out today like you resolved to and you have to murmur no while they smirk. It’s hard to miss a day and think, well I fucked up, why did I do this in the first place? It’s hard to look at the 300 some days ahead of you and wonder if you’re going to make it through. Today, I realized that I wanted to change my resolution. I wanted to change from losing weight to feeling better about myself. If that means working out only a few times a week and eating as many veggies and fruits as I can fit in, then so be it. And instead of feeling bad about not working out or choosing junk food, I’m going to feel good, because that’s what I resolved to do.

Illustrations by Laura Caseley and Esme Blegvad.

Margeaux Perkins has made it her life's mission to never be described with the terms "shy", "boring", or "quiet". She tries to find happiness in the little things in life, like making her boyfriend's lunch with the early morning sun peeking through the windows or going pee after holding it in for too long. Writing has been her thing since she wrote her first short story at age 12. It was an 18-page Microsoft Word Document about a 20-something New York gal who falls in love with her male best friend. She's been tickling the backlit Mac ebonies ever since.

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