My first exercise experience went too well. I found myself leaping off the treadmill in Victory! But the next day I barely kept up with the previous day’s pace. I moved slowly. My muscles were sore. My back ached. I felt my abdomen moving against my hipbones. It was brutal. I was worse than out of shape. I was a blob. The following day I walked to the gym and then walked back. Wasn’t that exercise enough? I became a terrible procrastinator. I would get dressed to work out. I’d walk up the stairs. Then look at the time and realize I had class in twenty minutes. Better head back down the stairs, change into regular clothes, and then get to class. Study time was more important than exercise time, right?

I forced myself to go on days I had the afternoon free. I trudged up the three flights of stairs to the deserted section of the gym and found a corner stationary cycle. I set the timer for 30 minutes. I let my mind wander to my assignments, weekend plans, and funny YouTube videos. I checked the time. It had only been three minutes! I calculated that in my head. Only 1/10 of my exercise was complete. Wait.

Three minutes equals one-tenth of thirty. At five minutes, I would have completed one-fifth. Around 7:30 would be one-third . . . At the half-point mark, I pushed myself. Come on, Lauryn. Just one more fifth. Then you can get off. I reached that segment. Two-thirds down. Are you really going to leave a third out? Then again.  Four-fifths! Four-fifths! Are you going to give up, now?! You’re so close! Of all things I thought exercise would give me—a good physique, clearer skin, maybe a better immune system—I would have never imagined MATH to be one of them. I wiped my face with the towel meant for the bike.

Math may be the best part.

Or at least the most applicable. By segmenting the duration of my workout, I ended up completing it. Counting down the minutes motivated me.  I knew where I was and how much longer I needed to go. Yes, it was simple math; but it was practical math. It didn’t even hurt my brain. It was easy.

I watch Youtube every twenty minutes or so. Checking Facebook is absolutely acceptable in my study hours. Why? Math. At 1pm I’ll start reading an article. If I get bored or distracted, how far through the article am I? One-third? How long did it take me? Five minutes? I can afford to check my email. It takes less than a minute. One-fifth in five minutes? Nope. Better keep reading until I get to one-third, at least.

BBjJEj1CIAEsOvBLauryn Ash studies English, creative writing, international studies, and entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and would love to cook, blog, and take pictures of food all day. Connect with her erratic passions through LinkedIn, Twitter, & her personal website. Her other writings can be found on Tumbleweed Words and Niche Mag.