When I meet new people and they ask me what I like to do for fun, a visit to the gym is nowhere on that list.
My favorite pastime is to sink into the softest part of my couch with the remote control glued to my hand, while I drain my brain into the television for about two hours.
And the fact of the matter is, I've always been able to do this, while maintaining a fairly good physique.
Then, I had a child.
My metabolism plummeted, my desire to eat all of the snacks skyrocketed and I still hated the gym.
I gained over 60 pounds during my pregnancy, and I only lost about 7 pounds and 15 ounces in baby-form afterward.
When you do the math, it's pretty outrageous.
The first time I tried to start my gym routine to knock off some of the extra poundage, I paid for a membership and went for about four weeks.
I saw little to no change on the scale, and I quit.
I danced that same dance with the gym about five different times before I said, "Screw this. I'll just keep the extra weight and love myself -- rolls and all."
That's when my life and relationship with the gym completely changed.
For months before starting my latest gym journey, I chose to consciously love myself, my body and the way it changed over the years.
I also decided to treat it better, like I gave a sh*t about it.
Instead of the morning donut, I had something not glazed.
Instead of soda, I had a few more glasses of water.
Then, I decided to go to the gym again. But, this time it was totally different.
This time, my self-worth was not contingent on weight loss.
The way I felt in my clothes did not depend on how many squats I did.
I didn’t track how much I was losing, how toned I was becoming or any of the things I was doing before.
I was measuring my gym success by the dedication, determination and the drive I put in when I showed up three days a week, 30 minutes a day.
These are the things I learned:
1. I am determined.
Going to the gym consistently was ridiculously hard, and I had plenty of opportunities to find excuses to not go to the gym.
It was raining, I was sleepy or I was sore.
I set a goal of at least 10 weeks straight, and I found the determination to complete it.
2. I am beautiful.
The reason I failed to lose weight so many times before was because I didn't accept my body first.
I wanted to look the way I thought I was supposed to look, and I refused to even acknowledge the beauty in myself I already had.
With or without the gym results, I am beautiful.
3. Working out is the best "me time."
With a busy schedule, chasing around a sassy 3-year-old and everything else life throws at me, I have minimal me time.
Working out clears my mind, makes me feel great and lessens my anxiety.
I feel balanced and ready to deal with whatever comes my way.
4. I am more willing to eat better.
It would be an awful lie if I said I don’t treat myself every now and again (and again).
But for the most part, I make better choices with what I put in my body, now that the gym is a part of my life.
I don’t want to ruin a great workout with a warm, gooey, sugary slice of apple pie.
After 10 weeks of hitting the gym, I learned my beauty is not a number on the scale, and taking care of me should be a priority in my life.
But to be real, sleazy reality television is still my second favorite pastime.