A few weeks ago, I sat down at the table with a bunch of my pageant sisters when one of them brought up the subject of exercising. She said something along the lines of, "Do you now how people commit themselves to working out? Well, it usually happens after a life-changing event. Something that's strong enough for them to actually want to commit in changing themselves." I couldn't agree with her more. Exercising has become my go-to therapy session about three and a half years ago. I was almost done with my second semester of Sophomore year and still unsure as to what school I would actually be attending in the fall, and of course, there was the breakup that kickstarted everything. At the time, I would try to convince my friend Anne to go with me but since it took more effort to wake her up in the morning than it was to walk myself to the gym, I began to hit the gym by myself. Unlike a lot of people, much of that first year was spent with just me doing my own thing. I started out with doing a lot of cardio (running, elliptical-ing, biking, etc.) and it wasn't until I attended USC that fall did I started to implement other machines into my daily workouts. By my final year of college, I was working out consistently and at times, I even got to train some of the girls in my sorority. There were also a few sessions with my guy friends because they all knew that I had no other down time to catch up with them unless it was at the gym.
About a year ago, I reconnected with an old high school friend at...well you've guessed it, a gym. It was so refreshing to see his face so much so that we agreed to work out together from then on out. The first month was great. I finally had a consistent workout buddy and it was nice to relieve some of my stress with him since we tend to take turn talking in between sets. I felt like I finally found my groove again (post-college speaking) and more importantly, I had someone to keep me accountable. It wasn't until the second month or so did I realize that our workouts were pushed a bit back because he would arrive 5-10 minutes late. Now if you know me, you will understand that I don't deal well with lateness. I think it's a sign of disrespect when someone doesn't value your time, especially when it's a routine that is set in stone for four out of five days a week. I tried to show him the same courtesy I would show my future boss who is perhaps interviewing me by always arriving 5 minutes early or being there on time.
When it happened the first couple of times, I tried to not let it bother me as much. I figured my friend was tired from work, therefore, he must have over-slept. Generally speaking, that was always the case so I tried to emphathize as much as possible. However, when it happened over and over again, I knew I had to speak up and so I did. For a few months after that, he was never late again and our friendship began to blossom. You know that point when you finally realize that your friends get you? Well, we've reached that point and more. I had almost forgotten what it was like during the initial moments of our rekindling friendship until one day, I arrived at the gym and he wasn't there. "Uh oh," I thought to myself. Here it goes again.
You know, at first, I was very angry at the entire situation. Blaming him for his lack of courtesy and later blaming myself for being so heavily affected by it. [Insert angry emojis here] I didn't understand the difficulty that comes with standing by your words and showing up on time and then everything started to blow up in my head. I questioned our friendship, his character, and etc. It took me quite some time to settle down and understand the entire situation from a third person point of view. Maybe he had a really good reason as to why he couldn't show up. Maybe he's tired and Khanh, you really need to give him a break here. That's when it hit me. I started to make excuses for other people's inactions and that has also led me to my being extremely frustrated. It was in that moment that I took another step back in order for everything to really sink in and that was when I finally understood the situation.
First, I came to a realization that our priorities were different and that I needed to respect that. Just because working out is a top priority of mine doesn't mean that I can assume it's also somebody's elses. Secondly, I have allowed something I had no control over (ie. whether or not he shows up) to affect my overall performance at the gym aka I wasn't seeing as much results as I should have. More than half a year later, I finally took the time to make sense of everything and have decided that if I wanted to save our friendship, I needed to just do things on my own...even if it means missing the quality company that I had before.
Nowadays, he works out on his own time and as do I. I went from working out 3 to 4 times a week to 4 to 5 times a week. Out of those days, I train with my personal trainer (LOL my boyfriend, he's certified) and I've been more than happy with my results. He and I, well, we stay productive. While we do get to talk here and there, most of the time spent at the gym is dedicated to actual productivity. I later learned that I never needed someone to keep me accountable, I have been accountable for my physical health for all these years already. The only difference now is that I actually have a professional who corrects me on my form (if needed) and pushes me to do an extra set or two.
So do I miss those early gym dates? Sure. Do I miss counting all of the times I had to workout on my own after setting the expectation that I wouldn't be by myself? Definitely not. At the very least, our friendship stays untouched and I get to enjoy some alone time. Just me and my thoughts and a pair of dumbbells.
What's the biggest takeaway of this post? Do you. It's not selfish to put yourself first and to be your own company. There's something very liberating about being responsible for your own choices and not other people's.