I joined a new gym last week.
This is not a new thing for me, I’ve been a member of various gyms before. Some of them I even viewed the inside of more than once! But I have a good feeling about this gym, it has a good atmosphere – mostly because it was empty at the time (at 5:45pm on a weeknight, that’s unheard of!). Some people might say that this is a bad sign. Not me, I consider this to be a very good sign because it means I have half a chance of getting a bench in the weights area without some burly man with massive biceps and chicken legs hurling 20kg dumbells over his head while grunting so audibly that I have cause to wonder if the purpose of said grunting is to hide the noise of muscles tearing and vertebrae crunching… or maybe it’s to scare away the little girl in the corner (that would be me- except maybe I’m not so little) who is taking up a valuable bench that should be reserved for grunting men who lift “real” weights. Hence, why I often find myself avoiding eye contact and ferociously doing my 5-10kg sets so I can run away quickly to the only area of the gym where you are guaranteed to not have to deal with burly, grunting men…the ladies change room. (Actually, that too is debatable).
No, it is a good sign. After all, the point is to get in, do what you have to do and get out, right? Waiting around for a bench or equipment is undesirable. I was not at all put off by the fact that the “health consultant” was all of 12 years old, nor was I put off by the comment “So, you could join for just 12 months as a temporary fix OR you can make a real lifestyle change and join for 2 years”. I looked at him for a moment, confused. Dude, the mere fact that I am still here at 6:30pm and not on my couch with my Sara Lee appleberry pie and A Current Affair is already a lifestyle change!!! I bit my tongue and politely explained that I’m all for the lifestyle change but perhaps I should just go with the 12 months in case the gym or gym location doesn’t suit my new fabulous lifestyle after 12 months… sheesh!
So I joined a gym. And today I went running with a couple of girlfriends. It was a bad choice of run day. There were a lot of other people out running too. Fast people. Really fast people. Let’s just say, I’m not new to running either (although to call what I do “running” might be a bit of a stretch, for the purpose of this blog, I’ll just call it running). I was training for my first marathon earlier this year. The marathon was about a month ago, and I was not on the start list. I was injured. I was not happy about it but I’m also not the type of person who will risk permanent disability so as not to “lose face”. No. If my physio says its not a good idea to run, I don’t run. I still have a long life ahead of me (well this is an assumption but it’s a fair one according to the local psychic so I’m sticking with it) and I would like to keep my options open as far as physical activity is concerned. I don’t relish the thought of being told that my only option for physical activity at the age of 35 is aqua-aerobics – because I was stupid enough to try and run that marathon against the recommendation of my physician…just because I’d trained so hard for it. I’m not that die hard. Sure, I’ll give something a go, but don’t for one millisecond mistake this as meaning I have any sort of talent for physical activity. I assure you, I do not. However, I do suffer cabin fever quite readily, so I need to do something to get me out and about. Plus, its a good way to catch up with your friends (although, admittedly sometimes a simple coffee is easier as talking can be a little tricky when you are gasping for air).
So there we were, enjoying our post-run coffee – and still remarking about the “elderly” lady who ran past with her race number and how fit she looked and wondering if we would look like that one day, and the other nameless, numberless lady who passed us like we were standing still (at this point I would really love to insert “oh wait, we were standing still, oh that explains it then! hahahahaha”, but alas, we were not standing still)- when in strolls a local celebrity model/footballers fiancé, looking cool, and slim and beautiful and wearing the most ginormous diamond on her left hand and all of a sudden I wasn’t feeling so great with wispy strands of hair plastered to my red, damp face and to top it off, I woke up with a rather large pimple on my chin today. I have been ill with the flu all week, remained indoors, have not seen a soul, and my skin has been flawless. The moment I decide to step out into the sunshine in all of my flawless-skin glory, to interact with other human beings, the “Powers that Be” smite me with their spitefulness and in an instant, destroys my happy bubble and places an undisguisable blotch on my chin, which as far as I have been able to determine, would be easily visible for broadcasting on the news bulletin on the moon- if my blemished chin were to fall under the heading of “Moon Newsworthy”, which I’m sure it does not- but that’s ok, I have my 12 month membership, with my 2 months of free personal training sessions thrown in, and I have my girlfriends who are keen to continue running and summer is coming, as is next June and hence, next year’s marathon, which I intend to actually start this time.
So what’s this all about then? Why the need for drastic self-improvement all of a sudden? Why, after I had started to feel ok about sleep-ins and a squishy tummy and elastic banded pants, am I choosing to attempt a marathon again AND join a gym?
Well, it has to do with a few recent events, although some not so recent… you see, 10 days ago I turned 32. Not a big deal in itself really, its not a hideous number and you are as old as you are, not much you can do to change it. Also, my birthday started out relatively well, but by a stroke of good luck, I happened to have half the day off from work, the sun was shining, which is unusual for my birthday as my birthday falls smack bang in the middle of winter so its usually pouring with rain and freezing (well, freezing by Western Australian standards anyway).
After deciding that such a beautiful sunny day off work should not be wasted I went and bought myself a coffee near the coast and enjoyed the ocean view, then I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to buy myself a new pair of pants from my favourite pants store (they are often termed “the good butt pants” around town as it seems these designers have an amazing ability to make anyones butt look good). Not half an hour later I find myself standing in the very spacious changeroom in which an entire wall is mirror…..in my underwear. Oh Lord, why oh why did I decide to do this today. Sure, I knew all of those hot chocolates and Sara Lee apple pies weren’t exactly doing me any favours, but…it is winter!
And that is how I found myself standing in my underwear, in front of a mirror-wall, with nowhere to hide, sobbing quietly.
(I guess there is one ray of sunshine in the whole birthday ordeal…I didn’t have the worlds biggest pimple on my chin!!)
I have been through a few life changes over the past couple of years, scaled some major hurdles and at other times, crashed and burned, but sadly through all of this, I never really pictured myself as being recently single and overweight on my 32nd birthday. Logically, I know I should have perhaps viewed it differently, perhaps I should have felt empowered (well to be single that is, not empowered to discover my butt was bigger than two basketballs). But, add to that the anxiety that comes with the first few weeks of starting a new job, which in itself was the embarkation of a career which I had spent many years studying and training for, and had at one point in the not too distant past, believed I would do for the rest of my life and be very successful at.
Yes, I was having a very real and, I think understandable, internal meltdown.
Now, I know that all in all, my life is not so bad, I have a good job (I think….I leave that open for further comment in a few months), a tertiary qualification so I must have some basic level of cleverness, I’m ok looking (after a good hour in the bathroom with a hairdryer and plenty of makeup), even with the few extra kilos and a few grey hairs (but they are easy to cover), I have good friends, loving family and two adorable but dopey dogs to keep me company. Life is actually pretty good, there are a lot of people that have a harder time than I do. But I guess it’s all relative, and relatively my situation is less than desirable when compared to what I had been picturing for myself not so long ago. I had envisaged my life being quite different by now.
2 years ago I was crazy in love, and I mean c-r-a-z-y, thinking this was it, I had found that thing that people always seem to be looking for, I was even fantasizing about a wedding, a family and the stereotypical “white picket fence” fairytale, with lots of friends and dinner parties and people laughing and smiling and generally, gooey happiness everywhere. I have to tell you, that in itself is entirely out of character for me, having never been that interested in having children of my own and having only a vague conception that there would inevitably be a wedding at some point in my future, with someone. Yes, I was delusional.
But as luck would have it, the bubble burst, cynicism- oops I mean common sense- prevailed and here I am, back to my normal self, only this time a few kg’s heavier, many muscles lighter, and a failed marathon attempt.
1) Lose the flappy arm bits -I swear, if I had to sky dive from a failing plane next week I could just stick out my arms and glide to Earth’s surface unaided…
2) Gain strength – I like to imagine that one day I might go for a run and not have my quads protesting after only 20m.
3) Be able to run at Zap! Speed- One day I would like to pass someone running like they are standing still, and I would like to imagine that this will inspire THEM to bring about a drastic life change. There is, IMO**, not enough Zappiness in the world today.
**please note the use of the abbreviation for which I even know the meaning, how cool and knowledgeable am I? SO up with the lingo…
4) Be ultra successful and beautiful (even at 9:30am on a Sunday morning on a casual coffee outing, sporting my ginormous diamond -on my right hand, bought by yours truly as a congratulatory gift for achieving my goal – and exhibiting my flawless up-to-the-minute fashion appreciation) and generally super-wonderful at everything, of course!!!
Hmmm…perhaps I should have taken the 2 year gym membership after all, this could take a while…