“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Yesterday…I went to the gym. I’ll just wait right here for a second while that sinks in for you.
OK, now that you’ve had a second to read that I’ll say it again. Yesterday…I WENT TO THE GYM!! Why would I celebrate this astronomically huge achievement you say? Because for me it was a GIGANTIC step forward!
Working out and being physically fit has been a large part of who both Greg and I have always been. He loved football, basketball, and lifting weights. I loved volleyball, basketball, and softball. We both earned college scholarships to play sports. Although turning his football scholarship down was one of his biggest regrets in life. I had no clue how my life would be forever impacted by my volleyball scholarship. My coach, Sandra Holliman has been one of the biggest blessings in my life! She still gives me encouragement and support on a nearly daily basis. I could not make it without her, that’s a fact.
We got married before Greg found out how big of a Alabama football fan I am! I remember him laughing his head off the first time we watched a game together. He told me that night that “he couldn’t have picked a more perfect woman to share his life with”. I laughed because I had just gone slap nuts over a great play and I couldn’t have cared less what anyone thought about how excited I was at that moment!
Over the years we learned how to read each other better during Bama games. I was the one yelling at the TV, calling the flags and refs all kinds of stupid, and jumping up and down on the couch. He was much more reserved…on the outside! He might pump his fist and say “Yeah!” if they did something extremely awesome, but those moments were rare. He would get so mad sometimes that it would take him hours to calm down after a bad game. He had to go outside and walk around or spend 20 minutes at his punching bag to get his anger out. I was fine within minutes of the clock hitting zero. Not him! One time he even grabbed one of his best friends hats and threw it into the fireplace when Auburn won the Iron Bowl. I don’t think he ever did give Colby a new hat…
But, as much as he loved football it never held a candle to weight lifting. He truly lived for the gym. He has owned a gym, competed (and won!) body building and power lifting competitions. He was a personal trainer and could answer literally any question imaginable when it came to making gains in the gym or cutting body fat. And it showed.
He admitted one day after he had his last set of heart stents that he was completely addicted to the rush he got from making gains in the gym. He loved it. Every time he went to the gym he was all business. It was get in, get his workout done, and get out. Only, that rarely happened. People were always asking him questions or wanting his advice on this or that. Early in our marriage I remember getting so irritated because he would spend so much time at the gym. We had to learn over the years how to incorporate our life so that we could have gym time and family time. It took about 12 years before we finally got it to a happy medium.
I was always fine with walking with my friends. I really didn’t know anything about weight lifting other than it made you better at sports. When I stopped playing team sports, I stopped lifting weights. He tried to get me to work out a lot in the early years, but I just wasn’t interested. It was slow and boring to me. Gimme a team sport and I could play all day. Put me in a gym and I’m bored out of my mind. So, I just really didn’t get why he loved it so much. Now, I do.
Staying healthy was always important to us, but we also like to eat. When you work out, you get to eat a lot more. I didn’t realize that for a long time. Yes, I am that naive sometimes! It amazes me too! LOL
The day Greg died we completed 3 rounds on his homemade cross fit course. He had stations set up all around our yard. One of them is still where we left it that day. I can’t move it yet.
He had made the decision to workout at the gym and at home about a year before he died. It was great for me because I just wanted to be with him and if we worked out at home nobody would “bother” us. It was pure selfishness on my part. I wanted his attention and I didn’t want to share it. Only, I didn’t have his attention…the workouts did. But, there wasn’t anybody talking to us when we were home. It was just family time since the girls did it with us.
The days we all went to the gym together were good days too. The girls love playing in the kid room and I enjoy the way this gym is set up. Greg would go to two of the gyms in town just so he could mix his workouts up. It didn’t take Dylan (his partner) long to catch the gym bug either. Every shift they were at the gym. Many calls were answered as they ran out the door to get into the fire truck!
We have so many memories there as well. If he was on duty, the girls and I would always stop by the gym to see him before we went home. They loved seeing him push heavy weights and would pound him with questions about why he was doing this or that. He was so patient with them and would tell them why he was doing this move a certain way. He couldn’t be in the gym without teaching somebody something.
Since his death, I haven’t been able to make myself workout at all. The last time I worked out…he died. The last time I gave it all I had…I lost my best friend. The last time I had sweat soaking my whole body from my own hard work was the day he left me. So, you can see where I might have major anxiety about working out again. The thought of even walking into the gym made me hyperventilate. It’s not because I don’t want to do what I know I need to do for my body. It’s the flood of memories that hit me when I even think about going. So, I just quit doing anything physical for three months. As a result I ended up with pneumonia.
I promised myself after I got over the pneumonia that I would get myself back into the gym and do what I needed to do to keep myself healthy for me and my girls. And for Greg. So, the week after Christmas I mustered up my courage and I took my still sick self down to the gym. I walked in. I got on the treadmill for exactly twenty minutes. I got off, walked out the door to my car, and burst into tears. Just being in that building was emotionally more than I could take. Everywhere I looked I saw him. Every machine he had touched. Every weight he had lifted. Every treadmill he had walked on. He had laughed, talked, sweated, and loved everything about this place. I just couldn’t stay in there.
That was the same week I hit rock bottom. Dylan had given me the straight up words that I needed to hear to turn myself in the right direction. That night I had cried for 5 straight hours after he left. I had to realize what Greg would have wanted me to do with the rest of my life. And, he would not have wanted me to keep going like I was at that point. I made up my mind that I would go on living and that I would do it in a healthy way.
It took me a week and a day to find the courage I needed to walk back into that gym door. Yesterday, I went to the gym. I changed my plan to a single plan instead of a family plan. I paid my money, signed my forms, and activated my key. Then, I went to work. When I left there I knew that I would be sore today…and I am! But, I also knew that I had conquered one of my biggest fears. I have a long way to go to get back into the shape I used to be in, but I will do it. I’m confident of that now. I don’t have to fear the memories I have of the gym or working out…I cherish them. This whole thing was a huge part of my life and I want the confidence that I once had physically as well as spiritually.
What Greg taught me is still with me. I can do this and I will…For me and for my girls. I know without a doubt that he would be proud of me for pushing past my fear and doing what I need to do in order to enjoy my life with or without him. So, if you see me at the gym crying my eyes out through a workout…please encourage me to do it again and again and again. I know it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it!