A Farewell To Arms

I was standing in the bathroom the other day, doing my hair, and when I turned around to look at the back with the handheld mirror, I noticed that the arm that was down at my side was suddenly a lot chunkier in the area just above my elbow. I say “a lot”… I really can’t tell you what it looked like before this. Just… not like this.

Then, on another day, I caught sight of the other elbow in the mirror and thought, “Why does my elbow look swollen?” Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn’t swollen at all. It was surrounded by a soft cushion of blub.

I’m sorry, what?

No. No no. I will not have this problem this early in life. Preferably I will not have it ever, but definitely not now.

I’ve never had the slimmest arms in the family – sisters 2 and 3 do. But I used to have pretty rockin’ arms. The weight lifting I used to do at the gym had them toned and relatively, sort of average level sexy looking. Then I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that if I didn’t want to be in nine kinds of pain from the bad disc in my neck, I couldn’t lift weights anymore.

And now I’ve got this situation going on.

I was thinking about this today while I was standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover half of the 10″ pizza I got for dinner last night (and the remains of the sizeable salad I didn’t finish – so that makes it okay). I’ve never been super-lean. I’ve also never really been clinically overweight. At my heaviest, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, and that was in college, because I dated Ben and Jerry and Colonel Sanders more than any other guy. I lost the college weight my junior year when I joined a gym and I’ve never put it back on (thank God), though maybe a couple pounds here and there have shown up. And then I get rid of those.

I know, I sound obnoxious to anybody who has had a real struggle with weight. But don’t get me wrong. I come from a family of overweight people. Only one person is obese, but the rest could definitely stand to lose 30 pounds. And it happens not at my age, but in about 10 years. I’m aware of the problem. And just because I’m not overweight doesn’t mean I don’t have body image issues. I have a butt, and I have hips. I’m a very healthy weight for my height, but it doesn’t matter; for about 15 years I was unquestionably a size 10 and sometimes a 12. Now I’m an 8, and I feel pretty good and generally fairly confident, and I don’t want to go back.

My most reliable indicator of weight gain has always been my stomach. I am fortunate that I don’t carry much extra around my middle; what extra I have is all in the trunk. But if my stomach started to get a little gutty, I knew I had to pay attention and knock off whatever stupid eating I’d been doing recently. Then, when I turned 30, I was terrified of what my metabolism would do. But in a bizarro twist, it actually got better. (I know. Please don’t throw things or cancel your subscription. I was shocked. I totally expected it to go completely straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.) But I think the real kicker was that I was singing all the time in rehearsals and concerts – two nights a week for rehearsals and then some runs of concerts that were a week long, every night. So I would eat something like a PB&J on wheat, or even just a few handfuls of trail mix, at around 6:30 before I left work, and then I would go sing and never eat for the rest of the night. That, combined with going to the gym most days (alright, some days) and eating about every four hours during the day made the difference. I lost a few pounds.

Lately, though, I have paid zero attention to my metabolism. It’s fine if I don’t eat late (now I don’t get home from work until 11 or midnight). But for some reason, I’ve started noshing at night.

And I haven’t been to the gym in a Time Period That Shall Not Be Named. To say it’s been since at least the fifth Harry Potter book release is probably fair.

And apparently, it’s going straight to my arms. It’s been sort of hiding somewhere and then, like, Tuesday it decided to show up.


You suck. (image from losearmfatinfo.com, which I'm pretty sure is a scam site)



I have been thinking for a while that I should go back to working out. I really have no excuse not to. I can’t do upper body weights anymore. Lat pulls, seated rows, deltoid lifts and pectoral fly – the “I must! I must! I must increase my bust!” motion – have all been ruled out by the ortho; I can do bicep curls and triceps extensions if I keep my shoulders down and level, but even that can cause problems. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still do cardio, lower body weights and abs.

Truthfully, my excuse for not going anymore was that there was never any parking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I hate working out. Over the last ten years or so, I have come to know many marathon runners and regular workers-out. Three of the men I’ve dated have run multiple marathons and triathalons – one is a repeat Ironman. I don’t understand them. I used to be a regular worker-out, but I never liked it. These people love it.

What is wrong with them?

And why were they dating me? Shouldn’t they be with other exercise freaks?

Every time I went to the gym, I had to gut out the workout. I hate sweating, I hate being out of breath and I hate feeling like an under-achiever. I always had to cover the cardio machine displays with my towel so I wouldn’t look at the clock every 47 seconds thinking, “Am I done yet? Am I done? How ’bout now? Am I done yet?” while sweat dripped off my elbows and rolled down my back into the waistband of my clothes. I can’t listen to music while I do cardio because I find myself timing the workout according to song lengths. “Okay, that was three songs, so like ten minutes.” And then I’d look and find that those songs were apparently shorter than I thought, and I’d be all, “UGH!”

As soon as I’d walk into the place, the stench of body odor would smack me in the face and I’d want to turn back.  The women in the locker room were astonishingly free with their bodies, treating me to a precise knowledge of who colored their hair and who didn’t. So when I’d drive all the way there and then find that there was nowhere to park, well, forget it. I’d huff and mentally cross my arms and stomp my foot and say, “Well then I’m not going!”

And the supposed “endorphin high” apparently never happened to me, even after ten years of decently regular exercise. As soon as I was done working out, I wanted to A) eat, and 2) take a nap.

In short, I am an uninspiring model of fitness.

But I was in much, much better shape than I am now, and that’s another reason I dread going back. I’ll be on a treadmill or a crosstrainer for like three minutes and think I’m going to die and soil my pants and vomit. Since I joined a gym at the age of 20, I have never been away for this long. It’s going to be like starting all over again.


Maybe I can just walk around with my arms over my head all the time. That still looks good.


18 thoughts on “A Farewell To Arms

  1. haha that’s how i am too! my excuse for quitting the gym though was because i could save more money by jst buying my own home gygm and workout here at home. a month later, it just stays there in the garage unused. i really don’t care much about getting ripped, but what i really aim for is pure functional strength. but i guess that’s out of the window for now.good luck on your efforts!

    • Yeah, if I bought equipment I’d never use it, either. The reason I joined a gym to begin with was because if I had to pay for it (at age 20), then damn, I was going to go. Now the membership is long since paid for and I just pay monthly dues if I go. IF I go.

  2. I don’t hate working out but I don’t rank it up there with fun either. What keeps me going to the gym 3 times a week without fail is I like keeping my weight down and keeping things from jiggling. At 58 years old things go to sh** pretty fast unless you eat right and exercise. I typically wear a size 2 or 4 depending on the maker but things sag without the workout. (That size isn’t all that small for my height or frame)

    My being happy in my clothes trumps my dislike of time spent at the gym.

    • Yes, it’s the fear of jiggling that’s got me going. You’re clearly small; that can be even less forgiving! My height (5’7″) helps me out there. But I totally agree with your point about being happy in your clothes. I refuse to buy the next size – and so far I don’t have to.

  3. I go to the gym 6 or 7 times a week. I can’t tell you my specific reasons for doing it; it’s just such an ingrained habit now that I set aside an hour or an hour and a half for it daily. I’ve experienced the “runner’s high,” and I want to tell you it triumphs any discomfort with sweating or visual concerns. You just have to keep at it (hopefully that doesn’t sound awful).

    • really? how do you do it?i mean i got the hype of working out at the gym for about the first 3 months and then i started getting real lazy.

    • Well, you’re clearly insane. 😉 Kidding. I admire people who have that much discipline. There was a time when it was a regular part of my day, but I can only do that when it’s not inconvenient (e.g., parking)! As for the runner’s high… I don’t run. So I don’t hope to ever feel the high. I do other cardio (when I go, that is)… I used to do 45 minutes on a crosstrainer at a time… but apparenty there’s no cross-trainer’s high. 🙂

  4. I’ve just read your post and am now very aware of my own body. I checked my arms (they seem ok), I checked my (middle)….. It could have a little work done. I think gym membership would help. Do I need to go to the gym or is just joining enough?

    …..Now where’s my chocolate bar? 😉

  5. Welcome to my world, welcome to my world….

    I am only 5’3″ and everything’s puffy and most of it also jiggles. I like the idea of the gym but that’s about as far as it goes. I will say that I loved water aerobics, but it adds a whole other level to the locker room discomfort. Changing out of a wet suit is a pain in my humongous ass, but the other choice is to go home wet (which I have also done).

    PS: my membership ran out years ago, but I still have that little sign-in key chain thing. It’s the only way I can quickly tell my work keys and home keys apart when they’re all rolling around together in the bottom of my huge purse. So, I’d say that membership has paid for itself.

  6. Are you sure we don’t know each other? That’s been my experience as well. Except I’m an “apple” according to the nitwit who decided we needed fruit analogies to characterize our weight gain.

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