Resolutions, Rants, and Choices

Like a lot of other people, I joined a new gym this month. It’s been rather interesting. Let me assure you, dear reader, that this gym is awesome. It has every kind of equipment I’ve ever seen, awesome classes that I can’t get enough of, it’s clean, and every staffer I’ve met has been quite pleasant.

If I weren’t this far along in my fitness journey, I’d have stopped going already. Not from lack of motivation, but from the sheer intensity of unpleasantness from anyone special enough to have been a member of this gym before January. I’ve been there 3x/week minimum since I started, and only one of those nights did I manage not to hear some sort of unpleasant comment about the January influx of new gym goers.

I don’t like to rant on my blog. I don’t presume my opinions are better than yours. But if you are someone like this, please, knock it off already. If you have never struggled with being overweight, insecure, or unfit, I can only assume you’re unaware of the amount of nerve some of us have had to work out to even walk into a gym. I’ve cried in cars outside gyms after workouts, before workouts, and sometimes even just in the parking lot, fully dressed for the gym before driving away without managing to work up the gall to walk into the door. I’m not even dealing with major limitations or a 100+lb weight loss goal. I can’t imagine the struggle for others.

I also don’t like to judge. I prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt. I prefer to think that you’ve never considered how a casual comment you make can so profoundly affect someone else. I like to think that you would feel really bad if you learned that your joke about the January crowd was the jenga piece that made the whole tower of motivation fall for someone.

Maybe by this point you think I’m a fat crybaby wimp sticking up for other dumpy lame crybabies who are just looking for excuses to not “get over it”, and move their asses already. Maybe you think if I was serious, I wouldn’t let those kinds of comments bother me. You could be right. I don’t have any particular proof that it’s better to encourage a stranger than to roll your eyes and anxiously await the day they fail so you can have your gym back.

What I AM sure of, though, is that my mother taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned, and it is this: Your life is made up of a series of choices. Some are good, some are bad, and some are that puzzling shade of grey. Any way you choose, you live with the consequences. Those consequences, all piled up and twisted together for you to examine when you can’t sleep–that’s your life. My mom is a smart lady.

You’re free to feel any way you want about a person’s size, looks, or life choices. You’re free to express that opinion any time you want. Freedom of speech, though, isn’t freedom from consequences. When you choose to make a fat joke, a snarky judgement about how people should live, what they wear, or any old thing people judge each other for, you’re accepting the consequences for that, whatever they may be.

I’m not perfect. I say mean things sometimes. The consequence for me is playing those moments of meanness over in my head at 2am sometimes, and thinking about how to be a nicer person. I’ve learned, in my own life, that making the choice to be kind, even if it means I keep a strong opinion or two to myself, has never ever resulted in a sleepless night or the guilty ache of regret.

January is the month of resolutions. I very truly hope all of you who resolved to make 2014 the year you get fit keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and reach every goal you set despite any obstacle. It’s also not too late for any of us to resolve to make this year the year we think a little more before we speak, and consider helping a stranger before tearing them down. Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to make a better choice.

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Thoughts on two months of fitness.

It’s hard to believe that the halfway point of this challenge has already passed. In two months, I’ve cried from both frustration and happiness following workouts, sat in the parking lot outside the gym arguing with myself about getting out of the car, completed a 5k, lost 8lbs, gained new friends, tried so many new things, and learned a lot about the difference a real support system makes.

I’ve also spent my fair share of time on treadmills, holding planks, and engaged in all manner of physical scenarios wherein my brain attempts to keep me distracted enough to keep going just one more second, one more minute, one more set. The following are a few of my assorted thoughts over 60 days of fitness.

Sometimes working out is like an out of body experience. Well, more like I spend it trying to figure out how to get out of my body until it’s over.

I learned you can get so sweaty that your sports bra becomes one of those chinese finger traps, except you know, not for your fingers. Someone ought to invent a removal tool for them before I have a very awkward and floppy accident in the locker room.

They say that sweat is fat crying. I’m pretty sure most of the time it’s just me crying.

Some days, not puking is the most exciting part of your workout.

Ladies, occasionally you will only be left post workout with enough flexibility and stamina to shave one body part per shower. Choose wisely.

If you are one of those people who say, “I only run if something is chasing me,” and then you decide to try running, eventually there will come a day where a bee will actually chase you for nearly a minute on your run. Consider this a funny little inside joke between you and God, and try not to think about what you look like to passing vehicles.

Learning to face the mirrored gym wall objectively is often more challenging than mastering the movement. Learning to accept that reflection is the hardest of all. It’s a work in progress.

Getting fit doesn’t always feel easier as the time passes. Some days are so very easy, and others are frustrating and long. Learning to keep going anyway is it’s own challenge. That IS getting easier.  I’m a work in progress, too.

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I might be trying to make a metaphor here. More likely, I just thought you might enjoy a picture of a me in a hot dog costume eating an apple.

The Tale of Kevin The Trainer and the Second Session

6pm. Anytime Fitness. I walk in, already anxious. Maybe a drink of water will help, I think, as I move to the bubbler. This is where I discover a new poster for the Mayor’s Challenge–it’s me, my name and “before” photo, plastered to the pinboard right at eye level. All I can picture are the buff young things adding water to their protein powder while staring right at the most unflattering full body picture of me ever released in public.

This is already not going how I imagined.

“So, you thought you hated me last time….”  This is how Kevin The Trainer greets me. I briefly imagine what it would be like to run screaming from the gym, move to a new city and start over. I give up on it–KTT, Destroyer of Dreams, would surely catch me before I even made it past the ellipticals.

Today I get to do a version of squats holding a medicine ball and sitting down on a box. I like the sitting down part. I’m good at the sitting down part.

I also learn to do something called a Russian Twist. After 20 of them, I suddenly understand all the stereotypes about vodka.

My first cardio interval is jump rope. KTT has made sure to tell me, “If you can talk, you’re not working hard enough.” He likes to ask me questions and make conversation during my intervals. It’s a lot like going to a talkative dentist. My vocabulary has become limited to the following, “ok” “uh-huh” and a very ironic “awesome.”

“Your next interval won’t be so awesome,” declares Kevin The Trainer.

He was informed at the start of this that I’m a bit of a Puker. I thought I was providing a warning. He clearly sees it as a challenge.

Turns out the last set of cardio intervals is shuttle runs. Outside. In the parking lot. The busy parking lot. Busy with people. Strangers. Looking at me.

Did I mention Anytime Fitness is two doors down from Toppers Pizza? Carryout customers stare as I run back and forth between the parking lines while Kevin stands there smugly with his stopwatch. I should be proud, instead I want to scream at them, “I hope you feel bad and your pizza tastes bad!” Only we all know it doesn’t, and I don’t have enough air anyway.

Before my last interval, Kevin asks how I’m doing.

“I hate you so much right now.” I say between ragged breaths. He just laughs. Kevin is a twisted cookie.

Finally, the hour ends, and we cool down with a casual walk around the parking lot. He gives me a pep talk about sticking with it, and getting out what I put in. I can’t decide if I want to hug him or punch him in the face. Since I no longer have any conscious control over the muscles for either act, I settle for a nod. Nodding doesn’t hurt. Yet.

To Sneeze or Not To Sneeze

I’ve been sick. That sort of scratchy throat, sneezy, sleepy cold garbage that makes you want to find a cup of soup and a snuggie and take up permanent residence on the couch. Let’s, for a moment, ignore how sad it is to be sick on my birthday (insert chorus of ‘awwww’ here, please), but I’ve got The Mayor’s Challenge going on here! I can’t be sick!

I used a very special 4 point plan to attack this boogery invader and triumph over my malady:

  1. Begin regimen of airborne, zinc, and soup. Sternly inform the virus, “Cold, ain’t nobody got time for this!” This is your new mantra, repeat whenever noticing a symptom.
  2. Frantically Google “cold remedies.”  Try them all within a 5 hour period. Burp, discover the new and intriguing flavor of raw garlic clove-ginger and cayenne tea-apple cider vinegar-mentholated cough drop.
  3. Go on out of town casino trip with Mom. Surely the slot machine noise and loss of income is a solid distraction from the virus that is slowly destroying your will to wear pants and be out of doors. Use copious amounts of hand sanitizer–you’ll feel like a jerk if you get anyone’s sweet old granny sick. (This step is probably optional, but was part of my birthday weekend plans).
  4. Get home. Succumb. Wallow. Spend the next 24 hours hiding in bed, alternating between feeling guilt over not meeting your gym commitments, and taking incredibly restful naps with a kitten.

I should probably mention I’m still sick. Your mileage may vary.

I can tell you what did make me feel pretty great, in the end. I showed up to work out, still feeling sick, but determined to do my best and not skip another day. Deciding to weigh myself at the gym was a pretty big gamble, but finding out I am down 4 lbs made me forget about my cold for at least five whole seconds. And it didn’t leave any weird aftertaste.