Like ZipperJJ, I tried to be nice to myself but I also made myself go to the gym. Not go and whale on myself for two hours, but just promise myself I would go. If I got there, and I didn’t feel like it, I had permission to leave. But that never happened. You get to the gym and you feel tired and you go “well, I drove all the way over here, I’m not doing that for nothing, let’s start the workout and see how it goes”. While I didn’t always meet my predetermined goals, I pretty much always did more than I thought I could have, when I felt “tired” or “sick” (not really sick).
The next step was finding ways to enjoy it. I said to myself, “I don’t want to do a ton of stuff I hate, but I need to do this to live longer, so I need to find ways to make this as enjoyable as possible”. Now, at one time, you couldn’t have convinced me that I could get even from hating it to merely severely disliking it (mostly, before I started even trying to go to the gym, I assumed I’d hate it). But, I determined, I’m willing to try new things. Let’s try to try as many things in the gym as I can. And, surprise surprise, some of them weren’t abhorrent. I found that, after the habit got established, I kind of… enjoyed… my gym time. I’d load up my phone or MP3 player with music I was excited to listen to or podcasts I was looking forward to, and after I got past the nervous newbie stage, I could just sort of zone out and think for awhile. I found I liked doing weight training when I could log it all and see my week-to-week progress. I found I liked to swim. I found I even liked Zumba, even though I was terrible at it.
I later got sick and could no longer go once the muscle wasting got bad enough, and I was surprised by how much I missed it. Now, when people complain about the gym, I think, “I wish I could go.” But I applied the same rule to my recovery. I don’t have to go to physical therapy and rock it every time – I just have to go. I don’t have to meet my walking goal every day – but I have to try. And I find that my odd desire to log and track things is very helpful, and so I play with lots of apps and websites, I got a Fitbit, et cetera.
One thing I’ve also learned is that you don’t need to be perfect or some amazing human being to get your shit together. My family is heavy into fitness now, and some of them are in amazing shape (like literally-on-a-poster-for-a-workout-program, won-money-for-after-pictures shape). But I’m with them and I see, they don’t have to be perfect and live on wheatgrass and protein shakes alone. They still eat junk food, they still put things off or get sick and miss a workout, but they’ve made working out and eating right the habits and the bad stuff the occasional thing, rather than the other way around. So I figure, maybe I’ll never be like them, I’m always going to have my illness too, but I can be a little better than I am right now. I want to do more next week than I could do last week. And I’m still not running marathons after a year of recovering from illness, but hell, I went from unable to stand, shower, dress, or do practically anything and living in a damn nursing home (where I was this time last year), to where I am today - working full time, living back in my own house by myself, getting around, enjoy social occasions, and such. I did that, one tiny little effort at a time.
Make small, attainable goals that emphasize the effort and not the end result. Don’t say ‘I will lose 50 pounds’, say ‘I will log everything I eat for a week and go to the gym 3 times’. Once you give yourself a chance to succeed, you can bounce off that success, rather than every time you go to the scale going “still got so many pounds to go”. Make it fun, make it positive.