It turns out, you get a two-fer. But I have a purpose here, so you get the back story first.
A couple of months ago we joined a local gym/fitness center.
I have been secretly wanting to join a gym for years. There just seemed to be so many reasons holding me back for so long. The expense, for one. It’s not cheap. The idea of putting my child, and then children, in a gym daycare with strangers so that I could do something so just-for-me. (Oh, the guilt!) The idea that I would have to actually sweat. On purpose. On a regular basis. The fear that I would be intimidated by the beautiful, fit people who “really belonged” there. All of the combinations and permutations of all of the above.
And meanwhile, over these last six or seven years, I have been less and less active. I’ve been spreading wider and wider and getting less and less comfortable in my body. And at the same time, I’ve been getting more and more aware that something truly needed to be done. I tried Weight Watchers last year, and lost a few pounds. But I do like to eat, and while I know how to eat healthy, and usually do, recording every single thing I ate and scrutinizing points felt like punishment. Still, I could see myself slowly spiraling into the abyss of inaction. It was only getting harder to get off the couch and do something.
Here’s scary picture number one. This is a picture that Julie took over the summer while we were out flying kites. it was a good day, and I was feeling good that day. But oy, look at that gut! It’s the star of the show here.
How on Earth did this happen? Well, it took about six years for me to reach this state, but there you go.
So I finally worked up the nerve to ask Joe if he thought maybe we could consider joining a gym, and he totally surprised me by saying that he’d been thinking about the same thing! The next weekend we went and checked out the gym near us that some of the moms I know had mentioned, and ended up joining right away. Since then, I have been working out an average of four times a week, and enjoying it!
I was really nervous at first. I started off with a water fitness class because I figured I could handle it – I probably couldn’t hurt myself, and it would be easy to at least keep up with the little old ladies who make up the majority of the group. And it turns out that I really enjoyed it. I even got a pretty good workout. It was just what I needed. It felt like fun splashing and jumping around in the water, rather than just something I needed to get through to avoid becoming the 500-lb woman dressed in a tent and no longer able to leave the couch in her living room. No, I’m not making fun of people in that situation – I’m honestly a little afraid of that happening to me on some level.
But back to the gym. There is a nice schedule of routine group workouts. I’m totally addicted to the pool, although I’m not entirely against using a treadmill or an elliptical machine if I can’t make it to my regular workout. The girls love the daycare there. They run into some of their friends from school and other activities there, and they get to do arts and crafts and play games and even occasionally watch cartoons on TV that I would never consider showing them at home (Dora! The Horror!) And after my workout, I have time to take a nice, long shower with no small children screaming at me outside the door, or worse, getting into some quieter trouble down the hall. I leave the pool feeling utterly relaxed and refreshed, and then get an hour to myself to clean up and dress and primp guilt-free. What a treat!
So I’d been doing four water fitness classes a week, and then my girls’ fall schedule started, and I realized that I’d booked something else for Friday mornings and thus would oh!no! miss my workout. Yurk! And then I mentioned the fact to one of the water fitness teachers, and she told me about a lap swim workout on a different morning each week. I thought “no way!” I can’t keep up with people who actually know how to swim laps. I have no idea how to do those cool flip-turn thingies. I’ve never worn a swim cap in my life. But she reassured me that they don’t do the fancy turns, and they have a lane devoted to beginners.
And guess what – for the last few weeks I’ve been swimming laps and enjoying it. I can’t believe how quickly an hour goes just swimming back and forth in the pool. And boy howdy, it is a good workout. The people are a lot closer to my age, and I fit right in with the others in the beginner lane. Growing up, people always commented on my long fingers and told me I should play the piano. Really, between the giant hands and feet, I have a great aptitude for moving in the water. Who knew?
And here comes the second embarrassing photo. The one that is truly nerdy and really pretty funny, so feel free to laugh with me here. The second week during my lap swim, I was thinking all this stuff to myself, and I realized that being in the water made me feel a little bit like a super hero. I finally found my element, the place where my body actually works well and moving it feels right. I feel like I can do anything when I’m in the pool.
And then that thought train led me to thinking about the superhero outfit I happened to be wearing at that moment. The cap, the goggles, the skin-tight spandex. It is pretty funny, really. And I’d been thinking about taking a “before” picture so that eventually I’ll be able to look back and see how far I’ve come. And it just so happened that I had my camera in my purse.
Yeah, I know it’s not exactly acceptable to use a camera in a locker room, but there were only two other women in there at the time, and I explained to them what I was doing, asked if it was okay, and they just laughed and encouraged me. I even warned the woman in the background that she would be in the picture if she didn’t move, and she didn’t care.
So anyway, this is something that has been taking a good portion of my energy these days. I love this working out business, but it does leave me more tired at the end of the day – it a good way. My goal is not to lose a bunch of weight – at least not in a hurry. I would love to see some pounds drop off, but first I want to feel healthier and more active. I want to enjoy being off the couch. Whatever weight I lose, I want it to happen slowly so that it is hopefully the more permanent kind of weight loss. So far, I’m down a few pounds, and that’s exciting but not exactly instantly gratifying either. It’s all good.
The gym we joined has free fitness tests with their trainers that you can do every so often to monitor your progress and help plan your workouts. I had an initial baseline one the week we joined, and just had a followup one last week. I improved in every area they measure. My body fat percentage went down by two points, and my strength and flexibility have improved significantly. I left the gym that day walking on air! So now you know my superhero secret.