So… I haven’t been to the gym in a while. How long’s a while? you silently ask your computer screen/smartphone lightsquare. Um… well, let’s see…
*does mental math*
*carries the four*
*looks at ceiling for answer*
At least 3.5 years.
I used to be pretty good about it. Time was, I was at the gym at least 3 days a week, usually five. Not because I liked it, but because I paid for it and didn’t want to get fat and gross at too young an age. I liked being able to say, “What did I do today? Oh, you know, went to work, hit the gym…” When I was in college I reached my highest weight, and it was when I joined the gym that I lost that weight, so it stood to reason I should continue working out. For like 11 years, I did it. Maybe not devotedly. Maybe I missed a couple months here and there, but I kept going back.
But as I’ve said in other posts, I had no problem looking for reasons not to go. No parking? Are you kidding? How am I expected to work out if there’s no parking? How am I expected to attain a level of fitness without being able to drive 15 minutes, get into the basement of a building by the mall, inhale other people’s BO, learn who colors their hair and who doesn’t with a simple five minute visit to the freestylin’ locker room, and pay for it all?
No parking = no exercising. Also = tremendous irony.
Once I fell off the wagon completely, I was rarely motivated to climb back on that sucker. I weigh less than I did then, which is completely counterintuitive (muscle mass is for sissies). I’m squarely in my mid-30s and I’m sure my bones are degenerating by the second, but I haven’t noticed any fractures. I can still pick things up. Between the renegade discs and the pinched nerves and the regular soreness of being active, well, I’m just not interested. Who likes pain? Sickos. I go to a chiropractor because I’m pretty much always in pain without doing anything, and in some bizarro-world demented twist, the crazy bitch is suggesting that a regular workout routine will help make the pain stop. And I’m scared she’s going to ask again tomorrow, “Sooo, when you getting back into those workouts?” and I’m going to be all, “Um…”
So I went.
It’s in my complex and it’s free, so no excuses there. If I’m not willing to walk my ass the .10 mile to the facility, I’m hopeless. (And there are days. And there will be more days. Like when it rains. Or is cold. Or is hot.) I don’t love the setup and I don’t love that there is no ab gear there (we know at this point that I’m a weirdo, so we should not be shocked that I actually love doing crunches), and I totally hate that the TV is in a corner and I have to turn my disc-hobbled neck to see it. But it’s a functional place and it’ll do the job because I’m not going to become that Crazy Workout Person who has to shred every muscle in her body.
Once upon a time, I had my system all set up, automatic-like. I had a gym bag. Inside the bag was my sweat towel, a water bottle, my sneakers and some other stuff I can’t remember. Today I had to struggle to recall where my sneakers even were. Then I was halfway out the door when I remembered I needed a sweat towel. Oh, and water. I never go anywhere without water, so why would I forget I needed it to go to the gym? Honestly, it’s a miracle I can identify exercise equipment at this point. What is that odd conveyor belt at the bottom of that big metal contraption with the screen? Is this the airport security line?
So I’m on the odd conveyor belt at the bottom of that big metal contraption with the screen, and I’m figuring I should take it pretty easy to start. Good call, since I nearly fell down. Twenty minutes on that baby and I was starting to glisten. Never having been a gym rat who socialized more that I sweated, I was grateful that it was a cool 67 degrees in there and I was by myself, not inhaling anyone else’s humid fetidness or waiting for someone else to unoccupy my machine.
After the conveyor belt, I hit the cross-trainer. Oh, I used to love me some cross-training cardio. I could do 45 minutes on that thing if my knee didn’t lock up (old volleyball injury – sometimes resulted in me dragging my right leg behind me like a zombie). Today? Let’s keep it to 15, cardio setting. Don’t get too crazy. No resistance, no incline, nice and easy to get back into the game. Now I’m sweating. This is good. The heart rate’s up but I’m not hating life. Since I don’t trust the machine to tell me my actual cardio rate, I put a hand to my neck and…
…holy crap I’m about to blow.
It’s not that I was really hauling. My heart rate at the time was probably around 150. But my carotid artery felt awfully flimsy. Whoa, has it always been this close to the surface of my neck? I wondered. I was suddenly struck by an image from one of those hospital dramas I’ve watched in which someone’s jugular spontaneously erupted into bubbling jets of blood. (I’m using these arteries interchangeably. I know they’re both around there somewhere and I don’t remember which one I can actually feel, but it probably doesn’t matter because if one of them shreds, I’m going down and nobody’s going to care about vocabulary.)
But I made it through the cardio and a half-assed attempt at a little weight-lifting, just to see what the spine would allow. (If you don’t have disc issues, you might not know that every freaking thing you do, whether complex or simple, acts as a pulley on your spine, either compressing or extending it, and if you have compression issues, your nerves will shoot fire through whatever limb corresponds to them for days.) No major arteries blew. Everything in there feels normal now.
I think I’ll go back tomorrow.
If I can move.