Went To Gym. Did Not Die. Time For Cake!

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*

*ding!*

At least 3.5 years.

Yyyyyeah.

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.

That hurts.

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.

How To Kill Yourself While, Ironically, Trying To Improve Your Health

There are so many super-cool, trendy ways to get a workout these days. Newest one to enter my awareness spectrum: TRX group suspension training.

What. The hell. Y’all.

One of my (very brave) friends at work took a class the other day. Naturally, now her Everything hurts and she’s having trouble using the bathroom without injury. She sent me a short video so I could see what this workout is.

I was six seconds in when I decided I would probably:
A) accidentally hang myself;
2) lose my grip on a strap, fling it across the way and smack someone else in the face with it, costing them an eye, then stand there agog as the strap rocketed back toward me and hit me in the back of the head, knocking me over;
and/or
Third) let the strap go slack at exactly the wrong time and fall down.

It struck me as I watched further that this looks a lot like the rings event in a gymnastics competition, only most of the time you’re in some variation of a standing position. Note: that allowance would not make me any less likely to badly, badly hurt myself or others.

The coworker who did this just lunged by my desk, trying to stretch out her legs.

Last week, she took a Zumba class. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically Latin dancing to work off calories. Fun, right? She had a good time, but she lamented that she can’t do classes like these because she’s always at least one step or instruction behind everyone else and therefore going left when everyone else is going right, back to their forth, down to their up, etc. I can empathize. I suggested she have a drink before the next class, as, if she is anything like me, she’s a total white girl when sober, but she can cut a rug with the best of them with a nip o’ grog.

I personally have often wished I could take a fitness class instead of slavishly trying not to fling myself off the back of a treadmill (two sisters and a mother have done it – it’s genetically predetermined to happen to me at some point) or hit myself in the face with an arm pole from a cross-trainer. Clearly my gazelle-like grace is more oriented toward an activity requiring coordination and group-togetherness. But my gym never offers (who am I kidding… offered… past-tense) a class at a time I could attend. And when I see the kind of stuff they’re doing these days, I have to wonder: whatever happened to plain old aerobics? Step class? Olivia Newton-John in legwarmers, gently sweating?

What? That wasn’t about exercise?

Why was she wearing legwarmers? And a leotard?

Okay, what about jogging? Or is it yogging? “It may be a soft J, I’m not sure. But apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.”

(I ripped that from Anchorman.)

Nah, screw yogging. I’ve never yogged with any kind of commitment. Two miles, max. In climate-control on a treadmill. That’s it. I can’t yog. I run when someone is chasing me with a weapon. End scene.

Step class it is.

Step 1: rejoin gym.

(“Gime? What’s a gime?” The Simpsons.)

That’s Life

Yesterday was one of those days on which everything I tried to do seemed destined to be a failure and made me cry.

Indulge me; this is going to come across as another post of complaints. I write it because I’m sure some of you can relate, and that makes it a little better for all of us, yes?

For the last several months, I’ve been dealing with significant lower back issues. It started when I threw it out in March, not for the first time, but definitely the worst time.  I have no love for chiropractors, but it seems I will have to go see one. Art the Indistinguishably Asian Massage Therapist said to me on my last visit, “You don’t trust a doctor, but you trust someone like me?”

Not a comfort to hear from a guy whose hands have been all over your naked body for the last 90 minutes.

Point is, the back issue is making it harder and harder for me to do anything productive, or, you know, not. Lay on the couch and watch a movie? Nope. Sit on the couch and watch a movie? Nah. Sit in a chair? No. Drive to work and back? Not without pain. Get out of the car? Oh, fun visual for anyone who happens to see it. Get out of bed? It’s a process. Put pants on? We’re damned lucky I’ve been clothed for the last 10 months.

Anyway, it’s better if I’m moving, and I had stuff to do at home yesterday so I figured I’d make it work. But a couple of things wound up making it harder. For instance: the cat peed on the guest room floor, for reasons she still has not explained, and got the bed’s dust ruffle, too. So the dust ruffle had to come off to be washed.

You know how hard it is to flip a mattress by yourself?

There was no way I was going to be able to get the mattress off the bed. I’ve done it before, but it wasn’t going to happen this time. So I had to settle for attempting to lift the mattress just enough here and there to pull the dust ruffle out from under it. It sounds like a perfectly feasible plan, but it wasn’t working.  After several minutes of trying to nudge the mattress up and pull, I was about 15% done and the dust ruffle was stuck. A few more attempts yielded no result. I tried a different approach to little effect. My back wasn’t making it easier, and on top of that, the bending and lifting wasn’t helping the acid reflux I’ve battled of late.

At one point, squatting next to the bed, I really did put my head on it and cry.

I wasn’t crying from pain. It was frustration and fear. I wonder how many people, at the age of 34, feared for their future because of their present. Maybe a lot, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it lately. I am, indeed, too damned young and too damned healthy to have to eat boring, bland food and do stretches every hour just to get my body to function. I don’t understand why it’s happening, but frankly, it scares me. What will I do if things continue on this track?  If I just keep getting worse? Will I be one of those sad old women who can’t do anything, stuck in her house all the time? Will that happen sooner than later?

And of course, I’ll be broke, because there will be no social security and I will have been trapped in a career that paid well enough to handle the bills and food but not well enough to buy real estate on my own that would (allegedly) earn me some money for later. The market has done very little to increase my IRA or 401(k) since 2008 – what if that continues, too? I will have spent too many years getting older in a windowless basement, nights and weekends, never able to retire, only forced to stop working by disability. Living somewhere that’s filthy because I’m physically unable to clean it and financially unable to hire someone. With no one to take care of me.

Yup. That’s where all this went in my head. What started as an additional load of laundry ended up an existential debate about my life.

Don’t you love it when that happens?

I never hear anybody talk about this stuff. It happens to people, but nobody talks about being afraid it will happen to them. I suppose that’s either because I’m a crazy neurotic freak and nobody else goes down these roads, or it’s because everyone figures the same thing I ultimately figure when I do: that’s life. Independence is a great thing when your body allows you to be independent, but when it doesn’t, you start to realize: this is why people got married back in the day, and had lots of kids. It wasn’t for love. It was so someone else was around to help with the hard stuff.

And back then, you died at 50. I’m starting to see why.

Thank God my brain works in circles, because just as I started feeling very Grapes of Wrath about the whole thing, that thought led me to this one: okay, so you’re falling apart, and you’ve got this other person around, but they’re falling apart, same as you. Fat lot of good that does you both. Now neither of you can get the dust ruffle off the bed, at least one of you is laid out on the floor and the other can’t do anything to help, and you wind up getting rid of the cat because it’s the easier solution.

Not better. Just a misery loves company situation.

I am, before you laugh at me (or after), very well aware that the reflux might yet go away (six more days of the OTC stuff, and then, I promise, I’ll go to the doctor if it’s not gone) and a chiropractor might be able to help me with the stupid problems I’ve had for nearly 20 years. I am very well aware that I do not suffer nearly as mightily as many others. I am aware that I am mostly able-bodied despite having a back that cries for massive doses of ibuprofen and a gut that won’t allow it. But I’m also aware that I’ve got a ways to go (quite possibly) and it’s a scary thought sometimes.

Yesterday, though, after I cried with my head on the bed for about fifteen seconds, I just got really mad and got the damned dust ruffle off. And then I spent a while in the icy chill of high winter winds trying to get the Christmas tree that’s been lying out on the balcony for a week out of the stand that it had apparently grown fond of, over the balcony railing and down a block to its rightful post-Christmas place. Despite the challenges, I got stuff done. Because that’s life.

But I can’t say when that dust ruffle will be back on that bed.

Of Cramping, Coffee and Coal Miners

“Why do I do this?” Jack whined without energy. “Why do you support me doing crazy things like this?”

“I support you,” I explained, “not necessarily the crazy things you do.”

I’ve been to two of Jack’s 24 marathons, and we’ve had this conversation after both of them. We look at running very differently. He loves it and won’t stop if he doesn’t have to. I only run when someone is chasing me with a weapon. Still, it’s gratifying to know that an insane person who punishes his body for 26.2 miles in what I believe is an effort even God would react to with incredulity (“You did what?! Are you off your head?! I didn’t design you for that!”) is at least logical enough to admit he’s nuts when it’s over.

We road tripped to his latest endeavor on Friday. Runner’s anxiety gets the better of him the day before a marathon, so he gets quiet. Happily, our drive took us through some country scenes that lent themselves to easy wisecracks from city slickers. We mocked Christmas decorations and counted at least seven plastic light-up nativity scenes. I threatened to rain violence upon inflatable decor. He laughed at a Kiwanis club’s hand-painted claim that its bar-be-que was “really good.” When I saw the “car dealership” comprised of three new, identical vehicles distinguished only by color, sitting in someone’s front yard, I laughed so hard I choked. (“I need a car,” says the buyer. “Okay,” says the dealer. “What kind of deal can you give me on the red one?” says the buyer. “Same as the blue one,” says the dealer. “What about the white one?” says the buyer. “Same as the red one,” says the dealer. End of haggling.)

I did voices and accents. That made it funnier.

We accidentally spent dozens of miles in the Twilight Zone, where highways appearing on Mapquest don’t actually exist, east apparently doesn’t really mean east, and growing hunger contributes to the threat of all-out hostile grumpiness compounded by the fact that he was driving and therefore did not stop somewhere for directions. We made it to our hotel after an extra 90 minutes on the road. Relaxing in the suite, Jack searched for answers to Friday’s crossword in the New York Times. He finds them relaxing, while I find them maddening. So I read local magazines. It was very quiet and cozy until…

Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptap.

We looked up at each other.

“I’m thinking it’s the heat?” I suggested. Jack had cranked the thermostat up so his muscles would be relaxed, and I turned it down when the room hit 78. Maybe the cooling was causing the noise in the walls.

“Hey, these are weird,” Jack called in to me as he prepared for bed. He came back to the couch with a pillow in hand. “Feel this.” It didn’t have much give, and was neither square nor typically rectangular. Weird, indeed. But that was all the thought I gave it. It was a pillow. Until I went to bed about an hour after Jack, and realized there was no way in hell I could sleep on these things.

I have a bad disc in my neck that pinches nerves, so I’m fairly concerned with matters of bedtime head cushioning. Within 20 minutes of lying down, these pillows and I were at an impasse. Atop a single cushion, my head felt about a foot above the bed. I could already feel the pinching down my left arm. There was no beating the pillow filling into submission. To my left, Jack was tossing and turning, clearly struggling with them, too.

The frustration of knowing I would be exhausted and in pain all day because of these stupid pillows triggered a mild anxiety attack. Which, of course, kept me awake.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptap. The walls continued their percussion not only unabated, but seemingly louder and more frequently.

The room was stuffy. I threw off the blanket.

I moved between the two positions in which I can sleep: my right side and my back. Repeatedly.

Whoosh! The pillow sailed off the bed and I tried going without.

I dozed.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAP!

Sigh.

Creak rustle squeak rustle sigh. Jack flopped.

He’s not getting enough sleep, I worried.

A door down the hall opened and closed. Loudly.

I dozed.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAP!

Godd@#%it.

It’s too f&^#ing hot in here. I debated getting up and checking the thermostat, but I didn’t want to wake Jack or give him a muscle-clenching chill.

Laughing in the hallway, men at full voice.

Are you kidding me? It’s– what time is it? I feel like I’ve been lying here for days. Don’t you know people are running a marathon in a few hours?

Doors. Rattling. Opening. Closing.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAP!

Jack levitated, turned, and crashed back down onto the bed.

I tried a different pillow so I could move to my side.

Someone in the next room apparently did not understand the concept of door handles.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAP!

That’s it. Get me a sledgehammer. I’m going in after the godd@#%ed Chilean miners.

You guys are a$$holes.

Jack picked up a pillow and covered his head with it.

I dozed. Jack got up and went into the other room to get ready for his race. After several minutes, he came back in and told me he was heading out. I woke up. It had been a dream. Jack was still in bed. My head ached. I sat up to look at the clock. 5:14am.

“S#!t,” Jack whispered. The alarm clock in the room didn’t work, so he’d set his phone alarm before he went to bed, and when he’d turned off the light it had cut the power to the phone’s charger. He was 30 minutes late getting up. He heaved his way into the other room to start his ritual while I lay fretting about whether he’d have enough time to digest his oatmeal, whether he’d be anxious that he woke up late, whether it would throw off his whole run. In the hall, some idiot was talking loudly on his cell phone. Doors were opening and closing regularly. The godd@#%ed Chilean miners had not given up their completely inconsiderate struggle to be freed from the wall. At 6:00, I gave up the ghost and got up, much to Jack’s chagrin. I told him I’d try to get more sleep when everyone had left for the run, but by that time, young children had awakened for the day and were roaming the hallways.

After a cup of hotel room coffee, a shower, a walk down to the finish line and a cup of Starbucks coffee, I wandered some shops while I waited for Jack to cross the tape. I hid my puffy, tired eyes behind sunglasses and picked up a Christmas gift or two. There is something patently ridiculous about sipping a Starbucks and munching a croissant while watching an endless stream of wild-eyed runners either stride or struggle their way toward a 26.2 mile goal while their friends and family cheer them on. I saw some of them hitting the ground hard with their feet, grunting and gasping to the end. I wondered whether Jack would finish ahead, or on time with his expectations. I wondered if he was lying somewhere at mile 17, defeated. I debated at what time I would start worrying.

I chewed.

And then suddenly there he was, having cast off various layers of the clothes he started in… Jack, coasting confidently toward the finish. I checked my watch. He was more than eleven minutes ahead of his 3:40:00 goal time and looked strong. I stood up and shouted to him as he passed me, “You’re about to beat it!” I followed him around the corner to the finish and saw the clock register his time. On maybe four hours of interrupted sleep, against two miles of strong headwind halfway through, he’d cruised to an extraordinarily successful race. As I approached the line, I saw him stretch, smile and exchange congratulations with other runners who gained silent respect and admiration for each other through the run, who had unspeakingly paced one another and pulled each other through tough miles. Jack and I grinned, high-fived and hugged with controlled excitement. He told me about the strong parts and the rough patches. We both knew this was a big run for him, after a difficult year fraught with injuries and minor but significant crises of confidence. He had done it, and done it well.

Not so well that he didn’t later, nauseous in the hotel suite, ask me why the hell he does this kind of stuff. But still, very well.

I bought a little extra time from the guy at the hotel desk so we didn’t have to rush out and Jack could let his body work through some of the least-pleasant bits of post-marathon recovery. The four guys in the room across from us complained about the jerks who had made so much noise overnight. Jack slept a little while I drove home to the sound of music on low volume rather than rattling doors and tapping in the walls. By evening, he’d recovered enough to eat without fear.

He wants to do another one next month.

Turns out, one of the Chilean miners ran the NY Marathon after he was freed. I bet he got more sleep than we did.

 

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)

 

Bollocks.

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.

Sigh.

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