The New “F” Word: Fitness

Oh where to begin, where to begin!

Last week, I cried mid-session in front of my personal trainer. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t devolve into any Biggest Loser-esque whiny, tearful moments. My leg, from calf to tippy toes, had gone all pins and needles and my lower back was hurting so much that I was beginning to doubt its ability to keep my hips and legs going. I had a horrific thought that I’d developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and that a pulmonary embolism was imminent. Why else wouldn’t I be able to feel half of my leg? I think I had a panic attack right there in the middle of the strength training equipment until I came back to hearing my trainer say “come on, keep it up, keep moving, a little faster!”

No, I cannot go a little faster! This IS as fast as I can move in this body. Seeing my distress, he finished the workout with me, distracting me with idle chat about god-knows-what now. I checked my foot – good color, good pulses. I loosened my sneaker laces and wiggled my toes. The leg would be saved. I would not die at 26 from a blood clot shooting to my lungs. I might die of that, though, if I don’t stay committed to this new thing in my life called fitness.

Later that night, I realized my insoles were pressing painfully on my arches. I replaced the original insoles and – voila! – no more pins and needles.

I’ve always thought of fitness as something for perky-breasted women with boundless energy who flit from yoga, to pilates, to spinning classes without breaking a sweat. I am not fit. Never have been. I belong in the dough-ball category of people who squish and jiggle.

This week, as I was struggling to heave 20lbs over my head at the shoulder press machine, the thought crossed my mind that I, too, could be one of those fit people. I’ll never be perky-breasted without the help of significant bra reinforcement, but I could be healthy. I could learn to work with my body instead of against it. I could go to spinning class. I could leave the other dough balls behind once and for all!

My trainer seems to see something in me that I am clearly missing. I think he frequently imagines strength, stamina, endurance, and muscles where there clearly are none. The only way I successfully make it through my time with him is to squeeze my eyes shut and make noises reminiscent of a woman in labor. I have had to look at my manifestation poster quite a bit this week. My eyes immediately found this that I had pasted to it: “Try seeing exercise as freedom, as opposed to obligation.”

What a novel idea! Now, when I am mid-workout and wondering why I am bothering at all given the incredibly slow progress I am making, I repeat “freedom” over and over in my head. I think about all of the things I will be free from or free to do with my new fit self:

– freedom from chronic disease

– freedom to wear what I please

– freedom from airplane seat belt extenders

– freedom to ride roller coasters

– freedom to run and jump and hike and bike and climb

You get the idea. Freedom, however, doesn’t come without a fight.


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