I Didn’t Die Today

by swellsbennett

I only weigh twenty pounds more than I did when I started college, which would sound like bragging if I hadn’t already been overweight at the time. In a lot of ways, I’m very lucky – at 6’0” tall, I can carry a lot more weight before I start to look really fat. But the BMI charts don’t lie: I’m obese. In fact, I’m forty pounds over the maximum suggested weight for someone of my height. Now, the last time I saw 184 pounds, I was a teenager. I’m not opposed to seeing it again – I’m just not sure how to get there.

This week, I finally followed through on my plan to join a gym. This is the third time I’ve taken this step in the last twenty years, so I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable. Despite the encouragement of the very nice woman selling me the membership, I stuck to my guns and only paid for one month; anything more seems like tempting fate. In the past, I’ve fallen for the year-long-contract sales pitch – the one where they tell you how much better the rate is if you commit. When it comes to fitness, I guess you could call me a commitmentphobe. The fact that I’m joining a gym when I have a perfectly serviceable treadmill at home proves I’m a cheater. So, this time, I’m going with the one-month-at-a-time approach.

The gym I joined has an indoor-walking track that circles over the basketball courts. Fifteen turns around equals a mile. Yesterday, I resolved to walk at least a mile – two, if I were up to it. The joy of speeding along the track, lapping senior citizens like some kind of athlete, was pretty sweet. I made two miles, plus a victory lap or two. Cue the Rocky music.

Coming off that triumph, I resolved to go to a class today: the 9:30 Strength 101 class, to be exact. “101” means basic, right? I set my alarm an hour earlier and ran through my morning routines. At a little before nine, I hopped in my car and sped down to the gym. I was a few minutes early, so I sat and watched the Silver Sneakers class – the class for senior citizens – as they finished their routines. I confided in a friendly woman that this was to be my first class and she swore that I could do it. The classes are geared toward people who are less than perfect specimens. Encouraged, I followed her into the room when the seniors had filed out. The instructor, an enthusiastic young woman who reminded me of Sandra Oh, told us what equipment we would need. The friendly woman helped me gather those items, and I set up right behind her.

Sandra Oh at a Writer's Guild of America protest

Seriously. Just like Sandra Oh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first twenty minutes or so went fine. As it turns out, I can grapevine with the best of them. I marched wide, lunged, and stretched, all in shoes that are better for walking than aerobics. Things didn’t start to fall apart until we picked up the rubber tubes to start the arm exercises.

Just to be clear, I ate breakfast. I drank a lot of water before I went to the gym. When the thirst kicked in during the workout, I drank some more. The dizziness and the sick stomach were unexpected. I waited a few minutes to see if it would pass, then got back up and tried to join in again. It turns out I may have overestimated my physical ability. My blood sugar crashed through the floor as the class reached the halfway point. Okay…so not what I thought would happen.

I did the fat girl walk of shame, putting all my equipment up before I left the room as the rest of the exercisers – including more than a few who looked to be a lot more than forty pounds overweight – continued to exercise.

Down in the locker room, I managed to open my combination lock and find a bag of peanuts in my purse from that trip to Arkansas a few months back. As I chewed a few of them, I texted Dan to tell him I’d nearly killed myself in a class. At first, he thought I was talking about muscle pain and made a joke. When he realized I’d had a sugar crash, he got worried about me. After a few minutes of sitting quietly and allowing the peanuts to do their work, I grabbed my purse and drove home, where I proceeded to drink orange juice and sulk over my failure.

Then it hit me: I didn’t die today, as one of my favorite bloggers is fond of saying. I didn’t fail. I did half of a workout, which is more than I did last week. Okay, so I didn’t plan well. Next time, I will wear different shoes and carry my purse with me into the workout room, so that I have something with me to prevent a sugar crash from getting away from me. Next time, maybe I’ll make it through three-quarters of the workout before my body gives out.

And I won’t break up with the gym just yet. Though I might go back to speeding past the over-eighty crowd on the track for a while…you know, just to build my confidence.

A public demonstration of aerobic exercises

No one was actually dressed like any of these people, thank goodness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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