The Fitness Con.

Hello, there!

It's just me, Henrietta Hermit coming to you from the desolate tundra of my Social Media Fast. Perhaps "desolate" is a bit of an overstretch, but when I am finding about the babies of friend's being born long after their first gasp of air outside the womb and missing out on the particulars of another friend's posts that went viral (and then having to explain to my older-than-I husband what, exactly, "going viral" means), the word does not seem so exaggerated. On the upside, my mother who refuses to succumb to such privacy-robbing forums is thrilled that she has one lone clueless person left to whom she can inform with "hot off the press" news to. I hear her pleased inhale of air when I answer, "No, I hadn't heard". If she's happy, I'm happy.

Seriously, though, I'm not feeling desolate. I miss Facebook and Instagram, but not nearly to the degree I thought I would when I switched off their light into and onto my life. It's not just a matter of relinquishing their place in my daily life, it has also - and more importantly- been a matter of replacing the lackluster time wasters with habits that I either used to have and abandoned or are completely new to me.

For instance, I've been reacquainted with the ancient art of READING. Yes! I read books! Lots of them! And very few people know what I am reading or what I think about it or beg me to offer my review. I read for the sheer delight of reading. I am waking up earlier! No, let me rephrase that: I am TRYING to consistently wake up earlier. And no one has called, texted, telegrammed or sent carrier pigeon, lamenting over my lack of early morning instagram pictures of a steaming cup of coffee by my open Bible or candle burning brightly by my vintage yellow chair with it's comfy chevron throw, casting a glow on an open journal and ballpoint pen poised on it's pages, all of which subtly suggest I am a woman of both great spiritual depth and a keen eye for trendy living room throws (who would not want to be "me"?). No one is impressed or under any wrong impression because I haven't left any tracks. It's kinda freeing.

I had thought this lack of daily documentation would work well in my favor, in one particular "new to me" endeavour that I have been TRYING (notice a trend here?) to make into a habit: Going To The Gym. No one wants to hear of my sweaty misfortunes, and perhaps you are in that group. If so, google Jillian Michaels. She's your gal. If not, it is:

Let me be clear: I am not a natural athlete. Never have and never will be. A pull to push-through physical discomfort is not a default, built-in mode of operation in my genetic make-up. Actually, my instincts are to find and fall on any legitimate sounding excuse to curl up with a hearty slab of cheese danish and a People magazine then to work myself up into a sweaty lather. Of course, that was easy to do when my body and metabolism lived in harmonious accord, allowing me to eat what I wanted, when I wanted with no great consequence (go ahead, slap me). But times are a'changing. Oh yes. As my forties loom large, my formerly speedy metabolism is dealing with faulty stamina. I actually have started to strangely relate to the Viagra commercials and the poor men who benefit by them. My metabolism has it's own dysfunction. But I digress. I WANT to be healthy, not skinny. I know my good friend Sarah swears by exercise as an anti-depression tool and almost everyone I know who takes a little time to stay in shape gush over their increased energy levels. It seems to me that most people, most gym-going, running-lovers have a trigger that turned them on to their enthusiastic passion for fitness and it has become apparent that my trigger (if in existence at all) is hidden deep....very deep. I've yet to reach it.

In former attempts to find and possibly jump-start my trigger to a lifetime affinity for fitness, I bought myself a humble wardrobe to fake myself out. I tried to stay away from going overboard on a gym-acceptable wardrobe which would have given the same effect as a botched up plastic-surgery job on an obviously old face. The gear had to be believable and understated. It must be understood, when one is not naturally inclined towards athleticism, in attempting a foray into that world they feel akin to a con artist...even a "whipped up" ponytail reeks of fraudulence. In other words, I am an fitness con.

This was my inwardly apologetic aura as I ducked into the gym two weeks ago. It had been roughly forty-eight hours since my most recent shower and as there was an annual appointment with a pair of stir-ups and a smear of the pap variety slated for soon after my Body Pump initiation class (shiver!), I hardly thought it worthwhile showering twice. Thus, I donned my lavender high v-neck tee (Kohl's, generic brand) with the word "RUN" deceptively emblazoned across my sagging chest cavity with my black and slipped twice-washed Nike shorts purchased at Goodwill over my unshaven calves. I walked in, kept my head down, doing my best to make no eye contact with other humans. I had applied zero make-up and could feel the heaviness of my unwashed hair hanging limply in it's sturdy black elastic rubber band. My bangs spurted forth from my forehead like it was 1992. It's possible I was excreting oil before I had worked up my first bead of sweat. I prayed I wouldn't see anyone I know, because I was certain that even though there are a few minor skirmishes happening worldwide, it's my image-on-the-line at the gym that God prioritizes above it all.

And then I made the terrible mistake of lifting my eyes off the geometrically designed lobby carpet. It was a slow-motion moment. Three of my youngest sister's friends from her high school years came bounding around the corner, dressed in coordinating, effortless athletic wear, their ponytails bouncing with each step taken by their long and chiseled calves. Their eyes, God bless 'em, brightened as they recognized me (which I didn't think would be possible--both the recognition and the brightening).  It was Charlie's Angels meets Miss Garrett (The Facts of Life) and Miss Garrett has no where to run, no where to hide. These girls that are now full-fledged WOMEN where so kind to me, so benevolent. I told myself to act confident, to pretend that I didn't look (and smell) like chicken excrement, but of course I broke the first rule of self-confident behavior: I immediately blurted out that I had PRAYED I wouldn't see anyone I knew. I said it aloud. And after a bit, when the bombshell blond invited me to join the YOGA class she teaches on Tuesday, I listened with alarm as the words escaped through my caked teeth (of which I had just removed whitening strips beforehand):

"Oh yes! Absolutely! Sign me up! I need a class that won't require me to break a sweat! Haha!"

She cast me a kind, almost sympathetic look and suggested gently that yoga actually DOES generate a fair amount of physical exertion and that her class is a "great" workout. Suddenly, my brain and mouth went to all-out war against each other:

"Oh my word{Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! NO ONE says "Oh my word" anymore!}, hahaha, what do I know?  {STOP TALKING! No, no, no.....}...I thought Yoga just required a little criss-cross applesauce leg action and some meditation....hahaha! {JUST GO DIG A FREAKING HOLE. GO. LEAVE. NOW}.

When it was all over, they left with plenty of fodder for happy hour conversation tucked in their firm booty pockets as I walked away tightly clutching my big fake alligator mom-purse, straight towards workout hell pummeling me into what I was sure would lead to permanent paralysis. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G hurt afterwards. I thought mean and nasty thoughts about the supposedly "friendly" instructor, who had this sick ability to lift 200 lbs AND TALK conversationally at the same time (this is not human). They call it "Body Pump". I called it "Body Slump". My thighs are still quivering in fear and the flaps under my arms beg me daily not to go back. But I have gone back, several times even.

Even though I still feel like a fraud, and my trigger has yet to be uncovered, I'm determined to push through until I find it and push this form of health/self care take root in my life.


I share this humbling experience with you for three reasons:

 1.) My sisters wanted me to and they too sweet to say no to.

2.) I DO feel better with a little bit of exercise fit into my life (you were right, Sarah!)

3.) Even though I'm carrying out my stint of Henrietta Hermit, my real name is Jeane` and I love the sharing of stories that remind us of our commonalities and humanity.

Cheers! To the stumbling and unflattering journey that is growing up and into one's own skin. I am growing ever more convinced all the good, the bad and the ugly is used towards the making of the beautiful.

Keep on keeping on!



Amy B said…
Jeane', you are such an amazing storyteller!! I love reading your blog posts! I wouldn't need to do ab workouts if I would just hang out with you each day...I would be laughing all the time.
Have a super week!
Anonymous said…
BAHAHAHA! Love it. Someday I shall relate to you the combined horrors that learning rowing in Chile in a club full of teenagers brought me. Think sweat. Think uncoordinated. Think....spandex.

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