I joined a gym.
Yes, I know…WHY?
Let me explain. Last fall, a few things happened, starting with Hurricane Sandy. Along with everything else that happened because of that Superstorm, an unusual phenomenon occurred among Jersey women called the Sandy Ten. It was the result of us sitting around, with no refrigeration or means to cook food, for eight or more days. We all ate anything that came in an Entenmann’s bakery box. In my case, we’re talking chocolate frosted donuts and crumb cake. Collectively, I think women in New Jersey gained 1.379 million pounds. I was personally responsible for about, yes, ten of them.
Then I quit my day job, which was as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble. My job had a downside, of course, but one of the great things was my daily 10,000 steps, back and forth to the main desk, during an eight-hour shift. Because I quit as winter was starting, it was hard to make up all that walking by heading outside. So I sat around. I was writing, but that doesn’t really qualify as a physical activity. When I finally stepped on a scale, I was stunned. The last time I weighed that much, I was three days away from giving birth.
So I joined a gym. It’s right down the street, literally three minutes away. It’s open 24/7, so I could, if so moved, walk down there the next time I was awake at four in the morning and felt like putting a little time on the elliptical machine.
Now, here’s the thing. I know how exercise is supposed to work. You repeat a specific activity until you’re sweaty, tired, and your muscles start to hurt. That helps built muscle tissue, which increases your metabolism, and increases strength and stamina. All good things. I know that.
But there’s a problem. When I get sweaty, my first inclination is to stop what I’m doing and get a drink, preferably something that’s served with a cute pink umbrella. When I get tired, I want to stretch out somewhere and read. When my muscles hurt, I want to first dull the pain (preferably with something that’s served with a cute pink umbrella) then rest (and stretch out and read). So, left to my own devices, any work-out would probably result in my becoming a well-rested, well-read alcoholic.
Obviously, intervention was going to be required if this was going to work.
Enter Jarrett. He’s a trainer He’s also an ex-Marine. His mother lives right in town. When I saw her in the Post Office the other day, I yelled at her.
“Your son is killing me!”
She laughed. Hey, he’s her son, so she’s probably in amazing shape and therefore completely unsympathetic.
So, Jarrett and I sat down for a chat. First, he asked me what my goals were. I recited the long litany of weight-gain woes that he listened to without his eyes glazing over. Obviously, a complete professional. Then I told him I also wanted to build muscle mass and increase my flexibility. And oh yes, I wanted really buff arms. I was going to reference Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It, but figured he was way to young to know who I was talking about.
He gave me as assessment, which required me to do things I hadn’t done since high school gym class. I went on a few machines, did a killer sit-up or ten, and he wrote all sorts of things down. At the end of the session, I was tired, but thought, hey, that wasn’t so bad. Next day, every single part of my body hurt, and continued to do so for three days. But I toughed it out – no pain, no gain, right?
Now, when I mentioned building muscle mass, I was thinking we could find two or three muscles, you know, really big ones, and work on those. Jarrett, however, devised a program that will target a different muscle group every time I go in for a workout. I go to the gym two or three times a week. It takes two or three days for my muscles to stop hurting. So I’m going to be sore every single day for the next three months.
And did I mention cardio? It is SO boring to go on a treadmill at eight in the morning and walk and then run and then walk…even listening to great disco music from the seventies on my iPod cannot make the time go faster.
I’ve been at it about a month and haven’t lost a pound. Yes, I know, muscle weighs more that fat. Maybe my waistband is a little looser. My brother-in-law asked me if I was losing weight, so my body shape is changing. And now, when I walk the dog, I’m pulling her along, instead of the other way around.
But, once I accomplish all my goals – slim down, get a little buff, finish a mile at a respectable jog rather than a brisk walk – I know that it’s not over. I can’t relish the feeling that I’ve done the work and can now power-walk triumphantly into the sunset.
All I can do is keep going, three times a week, for the rest of my life.
Because as soon as I stop…