Wednesday, November 08, 2006

gains and losses

Some days, it is all I can do to not throw up. My muscles scream, my lungs implode, my head pounds with the driving bass. Driving me to move. Driving me to sweat. Driving me to “feel the burn.” Today is one of those days. I quiver and pant, wondering what the heck I was thinking, as I concentrate very hard on not vomiting in the middle of kick-boxing. Punch-punch-kick-lunge. Punch-punch-kick-lunge. Throwing up would throw off my rhythm, just when I’d finally gotten the hang of it. Finally.

I bounce and kick and jog and squat and all the time I’m thinking, “I’ve been doing this over a year now—when does it get easier?” The questions won’t stop—when will my legs stop begging for mercy a third of the way through the leg workout? When, for that matter, will I be able to complete the entire leg workout? When, if ever, will I not collapse into a puddle of molecular goo on the floor during the leg workout? And an even more important question—is it poor aerobic-etiquette to lie down on the floor and cry in the middle of the leg workout? They are questions for which there are no answers.

There are days—rare, but existent—when I don’t feel like I will die in aerobics class. Nausea-free days when I leave feeling like I’ve worked hard but I can still make it to my car without needing my three-year-old to carry me. There are even moments, rarer still, of victory over weakness. Heart-pumping, pulse-quickening, adrenaline-flowing moments. I am powerful. I am strong. I am Wonder Woman. I am She-Ra, Princess of Power. I am not going to throw up. It is short lived. Before long, I am a quivering puddle of goo again.

The cycle repeats itself ad nauseum. I feel stronger, I feel weaker. I increase the weights, I decrease them. I increase the reps, I decrease them. I increase the intensity moves, I decrease them. My weight comes down, my weight goes up. Nothing is constant. My strength. My endurance. My fitness level. My will power. No gains are permanent. I don’t like not permanent.

I like things that are done when you are done. Grad school, for instance. I graduated in 1998 and I still have my Master’s degrees. Once I completed the requirements, I was done. Once I was licensed, I was done. Once I was done, I was done. Sure, I have to do CEU’s, but I don’t have to redo the flippin’ degrees every year. I’m done. Exercise is never done. I want to get in shape and be done.

I want to come back after the three-week break and still be able to make it through class without collapsing. I want to make it though a workout all four weeks of the month, not just one, two if I’m lucky. I want my weight to level out and stay put. I want to invest my time and energy up front and then have it pay out consistent returns for the long haul. I want to get to a point where it’s easy. Where I’m coasting. Where I’m done.

I look around me at the other women in the room. Women in their 20’s. Their 30’s. 40’s. 50’s. Perhaps even older. Women in for the long haul. Women who get that this health and fitness thing is never done. I must be honest in questioning if I want to be one of those women. I have never been one of them before—this is a newfound persona, birthed out of the desire and need to lose weight. But therein lies the issue—it is always about losing the weight, never about maintaining. Health and fitness is about maintaining, and that has never been my strength.

When I step back from the dumbbells I can see I have made some gains that have not been lost. The ends of the weights say 8lbs and 5lbs now, not 3lbs. The bar reads 15, not 12. And my Monday class, which once threatened to kill me, has been conquered, thanks, in part, to the class that is yet to be slain. It isn’t easy. But perhaps, on a good day, it is easier. And with time and perseverance, it will slowly but surely become even more so. And, perhaps, that is the point. Some things are never done. But they can get easier with time.

I can only hope to God this aerobics class is one of them.

1 comment:

Julie Morrison said...

I can sympathize. I always got that way when I did aerobic work outs and felt like I never got strong enough very fast. never felt particularly toned, even at a size five at 118. I love my ellip-tical machine and my weight bench with a healthy dose of Pilates. Before those came along I loved Callanetics. Joyce Meyers book Look Great Feel Great I love. She despises working out, but reminds us that eating right is a series of decision everyday, hence a battle everyday. Or, It's only a battle if you eat everyday. The days I work out, I eat less. Somehow it maintains a status quo instead of doing a total burn. I confess to inconsistency but at three days a week I maintain. Midlife. Your middle develops its own life. Despicable. Exercise is like prayer. a little is good alot is better. Can't get enough.
I also heard once that life is in a constant state of decay. I look around and think, I'm not in a hurry to get there, I think I'll exercise.