One of the things that I decided to do about two months ago was get my butt back to exercising on a regular basis. The impetus for this was that I had to shoot a video for a completely different project I’m doing (non-writing-related) that I’ll talk about in the future, and when I saw the edited video, I wanted to cry. It’s a whole lot easier to lie to oneself that that extra five, then ten, then fifteen, then twenty pounds isn’t really showing, because my clothes still sorta fit (which, translation, the final few “big” clothes I had left in my closet before going up yet another size), but when you see a video of yourself and you don’t even recognize that person? That’s depressing.
I had already ignored it for too long, and I loathe wallowing and it was either wallow or change something. I cut out a lot of the extra carbs (the crackers, the chips, the snacks, and a lot of white bread, rice, etc.,). I’ve almost completely cut out fried foods (not an easy thing, living in the Quarter), and I’ve cut waaaaay back on sweets (though I confess, I do have them on occasion). I’m eating far more protein / salads these days, and that’s helped, but it wasn’t enough.
I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, and I have been, to put it mildly, very very grumpy about that fact.
Just walking on a treadmill (or outside, but let’s be honest, when it starts hitting the upper 90s here, I’m not walking outside)… wasn’t going to cut it. I needed aerobic movement, and I am not the kind of person to go join a class. Wait, check that. I’m totally the kind of person who would join a class. I’m apparently just not the kind of person who actually attends said class. No matter how much they try to seduce me with sweet talk, goals, rewards, music, camaraderie, promises of a pool boy to feed me grapes afterward. I mean, theoretically, I love classes. I even love the concept of getting out of the house and going somewhere else to be joined by a dozen or so other women who have similar problems/goals so that we can encourage one another in sisterhood, rah rah rah.
In my fantasy, I show up at one of these classes and there are a bunch of women there who are roughly my level of fitness, all of whom hate exercising as much as I do, and we bond over how annoying it is, how hard it is to fit into the day when the characters actually decided, ten minutes before the stupid class, to finally show up and start cooperating. Then we realize that we’ve passed an entire hour of bonding while managing to float through the exercises, all dewy and having dropped a size already, and we head back to our respective corners of the universe, knowing we’ll bond again the following week and we’ll all be skinny three weeks hence.
I am not just a little irritated that it doesn’t happen like this.
Instead, there’s one of two scenarios: half of the class is made up of tiny little scrawny pipsqueaks who claim to be overweight because they need to lose two pounds, who show up in attire that looks straight out of Hookers R Us and then they pinch 1/4 of an inch while proclaiming how they just don’t know how they got so out of shape (wherein I contemplate snapping their heads off their shoulders–that’d save ’em the two pounds right there), or there is an entire class of sadists/masochists who just luuuuuuuvvvveeee to exercise and they look at me like I’m the most pathetic thing they’ve seen since God invented walking. For the former group, I just cannot exercise while thinking that I need to feed them cookies before they fall down, faint, and then I’m thinking about cookies and how fabulous chocolate chip cookies would be for a reward for having endured an entire hour of Little Miss Size Zero waxing poetic about her new Nikes, and before you know it, I’ve left the class, headed straight for the corner grocery, and I’ve downed half a bag of cookies before I regain awareness of my actions. For the latter group, I inevitably start thinking if they’re so damned fast, I wonder if they can outrun a bullet? Probably not the healthiest of attitudes. (Still…. fun.)
I’ve even tried to grit my teeth and just accept that I’m not going to like anyone in the class, not going to bond, not going to enjoy it, not even going to be happy that I did it until many moons later, and I tried all of this when I took a spin class. I have to preface this with, I didn’t know what a spin class was at the time. I thought it was some sort of dancing class when I signed up. (Shut. Up. I did.) So I get there, and there’s all these stationery bicycles in one room and a freaking mirror in the front of the class, so we can see ourselves, and a single bicycle facing the room for the instructor. They kept the lights down low, thankfully, and I saw quite a few women filter in there who were easily fifty-to-a-hundred pounds heavier than me, which, frankly, gave me hope, because this class would surely be one I could relate to. I wouldn’t be a failure at spinning, because if that eighty-year-old in front of me, who needed to lose at least 75 pounds could do it, I could.
I have never, in my life, been so tempted to get down off a bicycle and commit cold blooded murder than I was in that class. In fact, if I could have felt my legs and they still actually worked at the end of that class, I would have.
We started off biking and biking and biking and doing all these stand up/sit down combinations, and I was breathing hard, but keeping up, and had, up to that point, managed not to fall off the damned bike when the perky little instructor, who probably hadn’t eaten an entire sandwich at one sitting her whole life, said, “Okay, now we’re going to turn up the tension on the bikes!” And she said it like this was a good thing. While I’m back there thinking, “Tension? This wasn’t with tension? We’re supposed to make it harder? On purpose?”
Then the eighty-year-old in front of me increased her tension and had absolutely no problem keeping up with the group, and I thought, “Okay, okay, how hard can this be?”
Let me tell you how hard: there was a point where I was in tears, trying to keep up, and the instructor was up there saying crap like, “Now it’s okay if you can’t keep up, some of us are just not yet in good enough shape, and you’ll get there, don’t give up,” and I was telling my legs, “STAND UP! STAND UP NOW DAMMIT” and my legs very clearly said, “fuck you, we quit.” And they collapsed. And there was this brief moment, this microsecond, when I thought, “wow, I bet everyone else is having a hard time,” and when I forced my 500 pound head up, even the eighty-year-old woman was looking over her shoulder with pity as the entire class biked even faster and the 90-pound instructor said, “Now I see that some of us need to rest, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed that we need a bit more time to adjust to exercising again–after all, we didn’t get into this shape overnight!” I sat there–the only member of the class unable to keep peddling–not even able to pull my feet out of the bicycle’s pedal contraptions and plotted the murder of the instructor. I’d have done it, too, if I hadn’t had to crawl out of the door to lie in a pile of drool for a few hours before I could stand up again.
So this time, I eschewed the lure of the classes nearby (the Zumba class looked kinda promising until I saw the instructor was all of fifteen) and decided to do the Couch to 5K app. This app allows you to create an exercise playlist with your own music and it is, essentially, interval training, where you start off slow (walking) and at set intervals, you run/jog faster. In the beginning, those intervals are about 30 seconds, or a minute, and then a minute-and-a-half. Nine effing intervals. I found myself saying things like:
inner child: Why do we have to do all of it? Nobody will know. We can just do half. That’s half more than yesterday.
grown up toni: We’re doing it all. We can run two more times. Just two more. It’s not going to kill us.
inner child: It might. I don’t feel good. I need to throw up.
grown up toni: You do not need to throw up. You’re fine.
inner child: Do, too. And I need to pee.
grown up toni: You do not need to pee. Shut up. Get ready to run.
inner child: Can I at least have a couple of cookies when we’re done?
inner child: I hate you. Wait… I see that run time…. that’s THREE WHOLE MINUTES OF RUNNING? Like, WITHOUT A BREAK? We’re gonna die! That’s just MEAN!
grown up toni: We’re not gonna die….. [mid-run]…. okay, we might die, but we’re gonna die skinnier!
inner child: You’re really sick, you know that?
Sadly, I cannot shoot the instructor.
I have sort of evolved from the point of wishing the inventor of the program a thousand ugly deaths to merely hexing off his or her body parts. Progress!
My goal is simple: get healthier. I may or may not actually lose weight and get skinnier, (though I’m seeing some progress there, it’s small), but my real goal is to be able to move around and feel good in my body. I want to be able to wear a pair of shorts this summer while walking around in the Quarter because blue jeans are just too damned hot, and I’m going to have a lot of construction/remodeling/decorating projects to work on where there’s no a/c, so I need to be able to not feel horrifically self-conscious in shorts. (Which would require me to actually go shopping and buy shorts, something I haven’t done in ten years.)
So how about you? How do you feel about your body? Want to lose weight? Happy where you are? Are you doing anything specific to affect a change in your life/health?
(btw, I am giving away five copies of my friend, Robert Browne’s, new legal thriler, TRIAL JUNKIES — this is an ebook only. I’ll pick five of you from the comments section and announce it on Sunday. And for those who are awaiting their prints, still, my apologies. I found out yesterday that the printer had a glitch and I think it’s fixed now. I hope you’ll be getting your print by mid-week next week.)