Monday, September 12, 2005

that which does not kill you...

…leaves you half-dead.

I began a new aerobics class today. Now, I’ve already mentioned that I’ve lost 65 pounds in the last one and a half years, so you have to assume that I’ve been exercising at least a little during that time, and to lose that large of an amount, probably more than just a little. And that is true. I walk an insane amount of miles at what I’ve been told is a “kick ass” pace, and I do a workout with hand weights at home. I figured I was up to this “intermediate” level class.

I was wrong. Alas, five to seven kick-ass walks a week and three nights of go-at-your-own-pace hand weights does not an aerobics-class-champion make.

I thought I was going to die.

Really. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I should have known, from the moment I dropped my son off in childcare amidst all the muscle-showing racer-bra-wearing blond-ponytail-waving mothers that I was out of my element. But I did not heed my inner alarm and proceeded to class anyway, where I was instructed by similar women to drag out all the equipment I would need from the closet at the other end of the room. I’ve never been in a medieval dungeon, but I’m sure the torture devices had to be similar in nature. Hand weights, resistance bands, weighted body bars, step risers, and floor mats. All for a one-hour class. I guessed at what I needed, based on the amount of weight I was using at home, and created my own little space in a spot I hoped would be inconspicuous, should I need to pass out or fall to the floor in a heap.

Our instructor bounced in, and I hated her instantly. She was perfect. Blonde. Tan. The perfect body—probably about five-foot-ten and buff. Not an ounce of fat anywhere. Did I mention I hated her? So, in she bounced, clapping her hands and hopping about with a more enthusiasm than any one person should be allowed to generate, let alone subject others to. The woman did everything with a bounce or a hop. Every step, every movement, everything. I believe I mentioned I hated her.

And that was before she began to torture us.

There was no warm up. Not for me, at any rate. For the 15-20 women who looked as if they could teach the class, I’m sure it was an actual warm up. For the 5-10 of us who actually looked like we needed the class, we hit the ground running and our poor little hearts just never had the chance to catch up.

I have never known such pain in my life, outside of child-bearing, which did not, for the most part, require the use of the muscles in my legs that are now crying for mercy at every turn, bend, and lift. About a fifth of the way through, my legs began to burn. A fourth of the way through, they were quivering. A third of the way through, I abandoned all pride and walked past the entire class and declared my not-in-shapeness by trading my weights for a lighter set, so as to not collapse before we even got to the half-way point. When faced with the choice between shaming myself and dying, I decided shame was an option I was much more comfortable with, and, quite frankly, much more used to.

My only consolation was that I was not the only one who couldn’t keep up. The 40-year-old and the 50-year-old and the one that was 50 pounds overweight couldn’t either. It was a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless. At least I was not alone.

I struggled through the best I could, trying to keep up whenever possible while also trying to not pass out or throw up. Finally, we got to the cool down, which really was a cool down, and I laid there on the floor, sweaty and panting and weak, and nearly cried. I hate working out. I hate it with a passion. I love sitting. Sitting and reading, sitting and writing, sitting. Walking and hiking are okay, but only if they include or culminate in sitting. Physical exertion is just not my thing.

At home, when I work out with the weights, I have to confess that I often do conclude my workout with tears—partially because the point at which I reach cool down coincides with a couple of songs on my Rita Springer CD that just really move me, but, to be honest, I really am crying because I hate what I’m doing and I know I have no choice and I hate that I have no choice. And I feel weak and spent and tired. Tired of the fight, tired of the pushing through, tired of the work out that is the life-long battle with my body. And so I cry. Usually. But not today.

Today, I pull my sweaty, quivering body up off the floor and go to pick up my son from childcare, who literally wants picked up. I try to explain to him that if Momma picks him up she will die, but he doesn’t understand. He throws himself on the floor, his mere 25 pounds mocking me, but considering I’ve just tortured myself, I refuse to take the bait. I coax his whiney body out to the car where my yogurt smoothie is waiting and I chug it down so that I can muster the wherewithal to drive home and remain conscious. And I wonder all the way back what the heck I’ve gotten myself into.

I went to the class willingly. I did this to myself. I’d say I don’t know what on earth I was thinking, but I really do. I was thinking about ten more pounds, about maintaining the monumental amount lost, about burning fat and building strength and all sorts of that horrible, torturous stuff they tell me is good for my body yet feels like crap. I know, in my intellect, that it is good to be strong, to be healthy, to be fit. I just wish it felt as good as sitting.

So, I suppose, in this case, that it is true—that which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

The problem is, I’m not entirely certain that it won’t kill me…


Cynthia said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of fitness!! My heart began to palpitate at the idea of doing this class. Where can I find it? ha ha. Lorie, you are sooooo made for this. If I thought you would have I would've recommended a class a LONG time ago. This is the thing you need to break the barrier. You should be proud of yourself...You are in control...just think about that class and say out loud.."You didn't beat me, I beat you!"

Oh yeah, why the hell are they all blonde???

lorie said...

I LOVE that you are the ONLY person in my world that would be thrilled that I nearly killed myself...

I will do it. But I'm going to have to work out extra hard at home just to survive my once a week class!

Krista said...

Oh Lorie,
You are so funny, I know you don't feel funny when you are dying... but you shout out what everyone else is really feeling when they start a new workout. Oh, the fit girls can just drive ya crazy! I remember "anorexic girl" at Jazzercise who would stay around for 2- 1hour sessions in a row. One time she was so crazed, she knocked over her water on the linoleum, and they could hardly stop her to clean it up so she didn't slip and break her rear.
I'm so proud of you! Soon the new girls will be hating you!

lorie said...

I don't know about THAT, Krista!!!

annie said...

I love your stories Lorie! I read this one while overeating because Vineyard paid for my lunch. I feel a little convited, but conviction is way better when it comes wrapped in an entertaining story.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! Have you ever tried water aerobics? I took a class this summer and loved it. When you jump in the pool, your joints don't feel it as much. It is a hard workout, but the best part is--no sweating!