I really should have my head examined. Over the last couple of months, people in my office have been discussing their individual needs/desires to start exercising regularly. Of late I have also become somewhat dissatisfied with my own flabby physique, and immediately voiced my agreement. Unfortunately, I forgot we have a go-getter marketing whiz that works in the office as well. She has now put together an exercise program of sorts. It’s a little like an exercise club. Here’s how it works: each participating person pays $1 at the beginning of each month as a “buy in” to become a member of the club, all of which go into the membership pot. Thereafter, each member must exercise for half an hour a day, five days a week. After each exercise session, the member must then check off the day next to his/her name on the posted checklist. If a member misses a day, he/she puts a quarter into the pot. Saturday and Sunday are make-up days, so if an earlier day in the week is missed, the member can make it up on the following Saturday or Sunday and get his/her quarter back. At the end of the month, all members completing all their required exercise days get their dollar back, plus the possibility of rewards depending on how many quarters got put in the pot. There are a lot of people in the office that seem to lack the motivation and/or will power to continue to exercise regularly on their own (guilty!), so the idea is to give them some kind of better incentive to keep it up. Or punishment when they don’t, I’m not sure which.
So, when the marketeer extraordinaire came around recruiting for the club, I immediately signed up. I did so for a couple of reasons: 1. because it was partly due to my complaining that this came about, and 2. because I felt like if I had something to keep me in line, I might actually be able to get a little bit more healthy and maybe lose a few pounds in the process. The program started this week, and I have now experienced my first solid half hour of real exercise in I can’t tell you how long. Probably since before I graduated from law school. I now remember why it is I haven’t exercised seriously in that long, and why it was I hated exercise even back in my heydays of high school when I was actually in shape.
We have in our basement an elliptical machine that I insisted we needed during the post-holidays sales last year. At that time, my husband’s family was taking bets as to how long my exercising would last. This week was the first time I’ve been on it. I don’t know who won the bet. It’s been down there long enough with no use that the electronic panel needs new batteries. Since I was not inclined to change them at 5:30 in the morning, I have no idea how many calories I burned, what my heart rate was and was unable to use any of the “resistance” features. (Not that I would have, since I thought I was gonna DIE after about five minutes, and the machine’s default is the easiest setting available.)
So there I was, rolling out of bed before dawn just to put on gym shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes and saunter downstairs to the torture chamber. I must admit, my attitude at that time was quite out of character for me. Though I wasn’t exactly thrilled at being up that early (since I am NOT a morning person), I was nonetheless excited to finally be doing something good for me for a change. And then I got on the machine.
I am reminded of a forward email that goes around about this time of year. It is about a parent whose sweet, thoughtful, adult child has purchased them a gift of a gym membership and week’s (I believe) worth of sessions with a personal trainer. The personal trainer suggests that the parent keep a diary as it will somehow help with their motivation to continue to work out, and the email is written from that perspective. At the beginning the parent is excited to get started and raves about how beautiful/handsome the personal trainer is, as well as what a great, motivational personality he/she has. By the end of the week, the parent can’t hardly even write in the dairy for the pain, and is calling both the child and the personal trainer every name in the book. I can relate.
I’m the type of person who needs a distraction while exercising, or else I’ll never finish more than five minutes worth. When I was in law school, I used to walk with a friend, and then later studied or read a book while on the elliptical machine. Since my IPod STILL doesn’t have any music on it (why did I want that thing again?) I took a book with me to read. The book is “A Horse and His Boy”. It’s the third or forth book in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. If you’ve ever read this, you know it is not difficult reading. They are, after all, children’s books for the most part. For the first three minutes of pumping away on the elliptical I kept thinking, “I can do this, this isn’t so bad” and read away. By the fifth minute, I was looking up about every 10 seconds to check the clock to see if my half an hour was up yet, and thinking “OMG, what did I do?!?” I started having difficulty reading, as sweat began to pour from my brow and blind me. This problem was compounded by my glasses slowly slipping down until I had to crane my neck back to read through them on the tip of my nose. (My fault for not putting my contacts in first.) This, of course, caused me to have to put the book down to push them back up again, since this elliptical does not have a nice place to rest your book and to hold your water bottle like the fancy ones at the University of Wyoming. It was either put the book down or stop exercising so I could let go of the machine with the other hand without launching myself 20 feet across the basement. I didn’t even finish one chapter.
By the time 10 minutes rolled around, I began to wheeze and cough, on top of the panting that had begun around minute 6. Now, granted, part of this had to do with the fact that I have regular year-round allergies and ran out of Claritin-D the day before. But mostly it’s because I’ve been a slug for the last 5 years or so. By the time I got off the machine and slowly, painfully climbed the stairs to go get ready for work, I was contemplating just paying my $4.50 for the rest of the month and being done with it. My face felt like it was on fire, as did the majority of my muscles from the chest down. I was so soaked with sweat I thought I might as well just skip the shower, towel off and go from there. All I could think about doing was going back to bed, and suddenly the 69 degrees that is normally too cold for me in our house felt like an oven. My husband took one look at me and, with great amusement, asked if he should call 911. If I had had the energy to lift my arm, he would have gotten slapped for that. He refused to kiss me goodbye when he left for work because I was, quote, “all sweaty and icky”. I spent the rest of the morning breaking into a sweat any time I did the least bit of anything physical. This includes washing my hair in the shower, getting dressed, putting on my shoes, picking up my daughter, yada yada. The rest of the day all I did is curse my big mouth. I think the next cross stitch I do will be this one, and I will do several copies, one for my office, one for my living room, one for my car…: