This story was recently published in the 8th edition of Route 7 Review’s literary magazine. I thought I’d share it with you on WordPress.
And in case anyone is wondering, the woman in the above photo is not me. Sorry to disappoint. I’m packing a bit more than her. And I don’t mean muscles.
I can’t run. Literally, cannot run. It’s like I was born with two left feet that are incapable of coordinating steps at high speeds. Not to mention arms that tend to flail around like a fledgling bird thrown out of its coop. I simply look awkward trying to run, so I don’t. The powers above didn’t grant me the ability to run like a gazelle, and that’s fine with me, seeing how much I loathe sweating.
How anyone can tolerate sweating is beyond me! Sweating itches my face, pools around the pits, and causes chafing between the thighs. And don’t even get me started on underboob sweat! The act of sweating offends my sensibilities.
So it comes as no surprise that the lack of exercise and sweat has resulted in some weight gain over the years. Oh, alright, maybe a helluva lot of weight, enough to warrant some concern if I’m honest with myself.
I dread the idea of spending hundreds going up a dress size and the subsequent feelings of shame for letting myself go to the point of no return. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. A future of swinging from dieting to comfort eating is unhealthy for the body and mind. So I decided it was time to address the elephant in the room – pun not intended. It was time I made sweating and exercise my biatch.
I can’t even remember the last time I stepped into a gym, but I can recall the feelings of self-consciousness, anticipation, and vulnerability. I never felt comfortable inside a gym, feeling overweight and awkward in tight-fitting clothing, pretending to know how to work the machines. I knew that returning to this setting for exercise would not work for me.
Instead, I booked my brother for fitness training. Ironically, he is the muscle-kissing, Insta-loving, gym junkie to my couch potato, trashy TV, chip eating self. The world needs balance, right? And being the lazy ass that I am and needing accountability, I dragged a couple of friends to join the sessions.
The morning of the fitness session, even with the familiarity of friends and family, I was a nervous Nelly. You know how humans have that evolutionary thing called the ‘flight, fight or freeze’ response? Well, let’s say I was that anxious mammal alleviating a load or two for a lighter flight.
“Why are you so nervous?” asked my brother’s fiancée, who had come for support. “You will be fine!”
Have I mentioned that my brother’s fiancée is a young and fit woman? She couldn’t understand my fears; how could she? She hasn’t birthed two boulder-sized babies from her canal. She’s in no danger of accidentally peeing herself because her pelvic floor muscles won’t play ball. I bet her joints are springy and cushiony. Sigh, I’m so envious of people with pain-free springy joints. Ah, to be young again.
Anyway, I digress. After my brother’s welcome speech, we laid out our yoga mats on the grass. We had met at a local reserve to do the group fitness training as lockdown restrictions meant we could only gather outdoors in small numbers.
“… burpees, then lunges… work with dumbbells… repetitions… 36 sets…” explained my brother to the group.
Have you done a burpee? It looks simple, doesn’t it? Deceptive movements that work every muscle in the body. After the first two attempts at a burpee, I was basically face planting instead of planking. It felt like torture, especially with sweat dripping from every surface of my body.
“Come on! You can do it! Ten more seconds. Push through!” yelled my brother as he mirrored our actions.
Counting down ten seconds in my head, I gritted my teeth and pushed through the pain as I continued with brutal leg flutters.
“Ten more seconds,” informed my brother.
Wait; what? “You said ten seconds before!” I chastised the liar. “Not funny!”
Huffing and puffing, each one of us committed to the fitness regime, giving it our best. Even my brother broke a sweat and admitted at the end that he was hurting. It gave me a sense of achievement that I had persisted, despite my discomfort. There might have been the benefit of a bit of endorphin release. We left the park, feeling good pain, and looking forward to the next session.
It’s been two days since, and gosh, I am feeling the bad pain. I can barely walk. I shudder at the sight of stairs. I prefer not to go to the toilet because then I have to unceremoniously drop onto the seat. I roll out of bed; it’s the only way off. The other ladies aren’t faring any better.
Despite the muscle soreness, I’m looking forward to the next session. The hardest part was taking that first step, getting the motivation in turning a thought into action. That action means that I’m no longer hiding behind excuses of sweat and my inability to run. It means that I’m working towards taking charge of my own destiny for a healthier and happier me. Plus, sweating has its benefits, right? I’m basically getting a natural facial while losing weight. I call that a win-win.
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