I Work(ed) Out

As I write this, I’m eating lasagna. So if you’re hoping for fitness inspiration or – dear God – advice,  it’s best that you leave now.

If you’re instead hungry for whining and ramblings about failed weight loss attempts, you’ve come to the right place and I welcome you with my soft, doughy arms.

It’s not that I gained a ton of weight during my pregnancy. I mean, I did! But ever the keener, I actually started gaining weight before I got pregnant. I had a weird couple of months, including breaking my elbow when a suicidal groundhog ran infront of my bike. And then we went to Europe and drank heavily ate beige food with reckless abandon.

In Prague, my husband and I made our own pub crawl… which is just a turn of phrase to make our day-into-night drinking sound like it was organized.

I tend not to get hung up on my weight. Sure, I ate only saucy carbs while pregnant, but my weight gain was within my midwife’s recommended limit, and I had a baby for f*ck’s sake… I’m okay to be jiggly after achieving the most incredible thing my body has ever had to do. Baby weight seemed normal and expected. And leggings are super comfortable, so really, what was the problem? Buuuuuut, then I started to realize that the “baby” had become a toddler.

And I began to wonder: when is “baby weight” more appropriately categorized as “bad decision weight?”

I had burned a few calories here and there since becoming pregnant and since having the baby. I went to Strollercize once a week during most of my mat leave. And always cut the last half-km of the 5 km stroller walk to instead inhale some pancakes at the diner with my friend. What am I, training for the Chinese Olympics team?

Swinging burns calories, right? And selfies are like a bicep workout.

While in Spain for 6 weeks near the end of my mat leave, I did exactly 4 exercise band workouts <<pause for applause>>, and totally slayed the ropes course we found in a park in Madrid. WAIT! HOLD EVERYTHING. It turns out that the past-tense of “to slay” is slew. I totally slew the ropes course.

I’m generally more of a team sport person. I excel at drinking wine and watching reality tv in small groups. But I’ve had a few gym memberships over the years.

These experiences usually involved me going to a spin class or a bootcamp-style session every now and then. During those classes, I spent most of the time figuring out how to cheat without being noticed. It was a workout for my mind and body! I became adept at fake stretching and slowly turning down the RPM’s on the bike.

The last time I worked out.

Recently, my husband and I went temporarily insane and took advantage of a corporate membership rate and a discount package of personal training sessions at a nearby gym. I knew then that my days of faking it through workouts were probably over. Or at least on hold.

I began my relationship with my personal trainer by aggressively screening his calls. Because I’m an adult. One time, I even tossed the ringing phone across the room and onto the couch and hid my head behind a pillow. To which my husband responded, “You know he can’t see you, right?”

When I finally answered, it was worse than I feared. He was peppy. Lines like “Let’s get cracking!” came out of his mouth as I felt bile rising up into mine.

He continued with, “When you come in for your first session tomorrow, we’ll talk about your goals.”

I responded, “My goal is to be less of a fat ass.” He sort of coughed/laughed and I decided we would never be chummy.

He then said, “We’ll also see how you move.” And I said, “Slowly, and poorly.”

The next day, I walked into the gym and felt like a vampire crossing the threshold of a church.

I had the baby with me, and dropped him in the child minding area. Oh yes, this is a ~fancy~ gym. It has a massive daycare space, and for $5 they will take care of your spawn. But you have to stay in the building. Trust me, I checked.

I found myself sitting with my trainer in a little office. I realized this would be even more difficult because, ugh, he was hot. He was approximately 7 feet tall, and his shoulders were approximately 4 feet broad. His posture was as straight as the side part in his hair and the sharp lines of his beard on his olive cheeks. I later learned (through aggressively asking him personal questions) that he spent 7 years as a professional model in his native India. FML.

I am sorely tempted to put a link to the modelling shots of him I found online, but I don’t have his permission and I try to get ppl’s permission before associating them with the ramblings of my blog. So I’m taking the high road and leaving him anonymous. It’s my first time on the high road and I’m not sure how I like it.

Midway through this initial consultation, my PT gently inquired about my postpartum exercise experience. I told him I’d signed up for a mini-triathlon. His perfect eyebrows arched and he smiled and said, “Right on!” And then I had the sad duty of telling him I went to Spain and missed the event, and that knowing I would miss it, I also decided to skip the training. To be efficient. He looked sad and I mentally took a snapshot of the first of many times I would disappoint him.

I decided not to tell him that I had done a weekly swim class for people training for triathlons, starting when I was 6 weeks postpartum. I omitted this detail because the class involved me huffing and splashing my way through countless lengths, while trying not to pee in the pool with every mild exertion. And I was mostly there for the long, uninterrupted shower anyway.

I also didn’t tell him that I had a Fitbit. It was really good at making me feel superior to my 5 Fitbit friends while we were in Spain and were walking 18,000 steps per day. It motivated me to take the dogs for longer walks, but hadn’t been the weight loss silver bullet that I had hoped for. What’s that you say? There is no silver bullet? Well, I plan to allocate my energy away from proven weight loss methods like eating less, and channel it directly into finding a silver bullet, thankyouverymuch.

Our interview over, my trainer then had me step onto a machine and asked if I would like to see my body fat percentage.

Okay, guys. If you find yourself in a position in which someone poses this question to you, I highly, highly recommend saying, “No thank you, kind sir.” Because it is a number you cannot unsee.

Feeling light-headed from this jarring experience, I followed my PT to a fenced in area of the gym reserved for trainers and their clients. I made a joke about heading into solitary confinement, instead of kicking it in gen pop. He didn’t laugh. I thought maybe he hadn’t heard hear me, so I said it louder. But no, he heard me, he just didn’t think it was funny. AS IF THIS COULD GET WORSE. I guess this guy puts the PT in uptight.

He asked me to do some basic movements (his words, not mine) so he could see (and document!) all the ways in which I was a blubbery disaster. After a few squats, a plank, some kind of pulling motion, my hilarious attempt at a push-up, and some other bullshit, I was dripping with sweat and officially done my first session. He gave me a robust high-five and, in the understatement of the year, declared that there was “room for improvement.” I think the volume and length of my ensuing laugh scared him more than a little bit.

He told me that like many moms, I overcompensate with my arms and am not using my big muscles effectively. I told him I probably just don’t have big muscles and again, he didn’t laugh. Was he a robot? A sexy fitness robot?

He said my homework was to track my food and to show it to him next time.

I said, “Or I could just shoot myself in the f*cking face.”

I told him that while the baby always eats according to nutritional guidelines, my husband and I either eat grilled fish, broccoli and quinoa… or greasy shawarma and there is no in-between.

He gently suggested that I consider putting as much effort into my own health as I do the baby’s. Buuuuuuuurn. Apparently, he also puts the PT in perceptive. But I put the PT in sceptical, and responded by leering at him.

I headed towards the daycare area, but spotted my baby across the gym. A gym employee was carrying him around as he smiled his hillbilly half-toothed grin, waving at people on the cardio machines. The worker said it was the only thing that kept him happy. Go figure that my kid goes to the gym and cries unless he is chatting and cracking jokes with strangers.

During the next PT session, I asked my trainer how many times he works out in a week. He said, “Six, and if I miss a workout… oh man…” His face contorted like someone watching for the first time the scene where Bambi’s mother dies. I said, “That is how I feel at the prospect of missing a meal.”

He later mentioned that he doesn’t have a TV and that when he goes home, he reads books from the library… about fitness. He and I are very different people — another massive understatement. But he loves his job, and I respect how dedicated he is to helping his clients.

A couple of weeks later, many squats, and a few lost pounds, I completed my last PT session. This involved sitting through a high-pressure sales pitch about continuing with personal training. Putting the PT in bankrupt, am I right?

I’ve kept going to the gym, against all odds and expectations. My time with the sexy fitness robot got my sorry ass to the gym, got me doing basic exercises safely, and got me tracking my food and thinking about what I shovel down my throat. These are the building blocks for becoming healthier, and my trainer helped me put those in place. It wouldn’t have killed him to laugh at my jokes, but he’s hot so I forgive him.

Will I ever do a chin-up? Unlikely.

Will I ever run a 10 km? Not unless I’m being chased by a bear. But that would last maybe 10 feet so I revise my answer to no, never.

Will I ever do more PT sessions? Maybe, but not immediately.

I know enough(ish) to workout safely for now. I’m motivated by getting closer to being able to do badass sh*t like push ups, or whipping those big ropes up and down without hyperventilating. The extra weight is budging, and I continue to be pretty “meh” about it either way. It’ll come off. Or it won’t. But I’ll get healthier bit by bit. And until then, I’ll put the PT in voluptuous.

The best part about going to the gym, including the health benefits, the endorphins, and the long shower, is the free massage chair. 

Yesterday at the gym, I waved to my trainer as I passed by the solitary confinement area. He was in there with a client and I noticed that she was in a wheelchair. He was guiding her through a movement with resistance bands and she was smiling. And I realized how far his job goes beyond gently telling me I shouldn’t eat pulled pork 4 meals in a row, and not laughing at my stupid jokes because it would distract me from keeping safe form during a kettle bell swing.

He did a good job of launching me into a somewhat healthier phase of life. And if I have to lift some heavy junk in order to get rid of some of my heavy junk, I’m okay with that. Just don’t ask me to miss a meal.

4 thoughts on “I Work(ed) Out

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