A Conversation with my Vivofit.

I’m forty-five minutes into an hour workout with my trainer, Carrie.

I’m dripping in sweat and about to go into another super-set of exercises.  I casually glance down at my Vivofit.  It’s the fitness band I wear that tracks my activity levels.  If there’s an extended red line across the top of the display screen then that indicates you’ve been inactive for to long and need to step it up.  As I look at the band, the red line is blazing across the display because it doesn’t count anything but a full stride of movement, walking or running.

So I say, “Look at this Carrie!  The red line is mocking me!  It says, move your ass fat girl, you’ve been stationary too long!”

Carrie is quietly laughing at my outrage.

So I look at the Vivofit on my wrist and say, “Fuck you Vivofit!  You don’t count the 100+ lunges I’ve done today, or the eighty squats I did with weights!  You don’t count the rowing machine, or the fact that I bench pressed 45 fucking pounds!  Screw you and your red line of ridicule and judgment!”

Carrie is still laughing.  And then she says, “That could make a good blog post.”

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You’re number one, Vivofit!

Wanda Says…I can do anything for a count of ten!

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that in my attempt to increase my levels of physical fitness, I walked over 12,000 steps yesterday.  The bad news is that I’m pretty sure my knees and ankles are now plotting to murder me in my sleep.

I’ve been plugging along with my diet and exercise routine with somewhat slow but still fairly decent results.  The first week with my trainer I gained two pounds which she assured me was normal.  Then I lost the two pounds and gained them back when my bestie came into town for the weekend.  Apparently drinking gallons of wine and eating out two meals a day is not exactly healthy or good for my diet.  Whatever.

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Even though I’m not shedding pounds quickly, and I accept the fact that this is my fault and directly related to my weekend activities, I am getting stronger.   I can feel it in my arms and legs.  And I notice the difference in what I can do in my workouts.

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My trainer, Carrie, is amazing.  I actually look forward to working out with her.  Can you believe that?  I look forward to an hour of physical punishment twice a week.  I describe it as punishment because after the workout I feel like I need to crawl into bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  The other day I came home from the gym and went into my son’s room to play with him.  I laid down on his bed and passed out for over an hour.  I slept in his bed in the middle of the day while he played around me.  That one hour with Carrie is so exhausting, and my whole body has been continuously sore for weeks.  My armpits are even sore.  I actually feel like someone punched me in the armpit, repeatedly.  Who knew that was possible?  But during the workout I don’t feel exhausted.  I just feel strong and curious to see what I can do.  I never watch the clock, either.  When I workout with her I never feel like I have to check and see how much time is left before I can be done.

exercise-would-be-so-much-more-rewarding-if-calories-screamed-in-agony-as-you-burned-them-f568c[1]Prior to our workout, I do a quick warm up on the treadmill in a small, woman’s only section of the gym.  This room has mirrors on every wall, so while I’m on the treadmill I can see my body from every angle.  This has proved to be very motivating for me.  By the time I’m done with that warm up and join Carrie in the larger section of the gym I am mentally prepared for her to put me through my paces.  Seeing my body from every angle while I walk on that treadmill reinforces why I’m there.  I told Carrie about this and then said to her, “I don’t care what you ask me to do as long as you help me get rid of my second ass.  I only need one, and this bitch has been free-loading on my backside for long enough.”

She also pushes me in ways that I would never think to push myself.  I’ve learned to not even look at the amount of weight she hands me.  My first workout I thought she was crazy when she handed me ten pound dumbbells.  Now, I just trust that she knows what she’s doing and she wouldn’t give it to me if she thought I couldn’t really do it.  It is hard.  I have to fight through the exercises and I’ve learned what people mean when they talk about the mental aspect of pushing through physical barriers.  I mentally chant to myself during difficult exercises, which is almost every exercise she asks me to do.  I quietly tell myself, over and over, “I can do anything for a count of ten.”  Of course, it’s actually three sets of ten, but in that moment I just need to get through ten.   I focus on that and it helps me to wrap my head around what I am pushing my body to do.

My first week I could only plank for twenty seconds.  My whole body vibrates with the effort necessary to hold the position.  At week four I can do fifty seconds.  I hate that fifty seconds.  Carries says, “Close your eyes, breathe and go to your happy place.”  Instead, I close my eyes and repeatedly think, “I can do anything for fifty seconds.”

And I can.

Wanda Says…Drop and give me twenty!

workout with trainerToday, I had my very first session with a personal trainer.

I was nervous about it.  My stomach was in knots all morning imagining the horrific exercises she would make me do.  I imagined her yelling at me and telling me to get my fat ass on the ground and give her twenty.  Twenty of what, I wasn’t sure, just twenty of something hard, and grueling, and painful.

And of course my insecurities about working out in a gym had me worked up about many different, ridiculous scenarios.  I imagined being the only out of shape, non-muscular woman in the room, among sweaty, adrenaline high gym rats who look down on us lesser mortals for being out of shape and having imperfect bodies.  I realize this is ridiculous.  But that’s how insecurities get the best of us, by mind-fucking you into believe that sort of nonsense.

I arrived a half hour early for my appointment.  I have a thing about being late.  I couldn’t help but notice how busy the gym was at 10am on a Tuesday morning.  Like, so busy, there were almost no parking spaces in the HUGE parking lot.  Doesn’t anyone go to work anymore?   After putting my gym bag in my locker (it only had my purse in it but I brought it anyway because carrying a gym bag might make me look like I belong there.  GI JaneYou know, I was trying to blend in with the natives!) I found a seat in the waiting area where I was told to meet her.  I had only spoken with her once on the phone and although she seemed nice I was still bracing myself for GI Jane to come charging at me in the lobby.  I killed the next twenty minutes by trying to look busy reading emails on my phone.  (I’d already read all my emails, but I was pretending to read them again.  I know, insecurity makes me do stupid shit).

And then, there she was….and she was….pretty normal.  She was nice and friendly and made me feel very comfortable.  I’m guessing she’s in her early 50’s, but I could only surmise that based on the natural lines in her face.  Her body was rock solid and there were no typical tell-tale signs of physical aging outside of her face that I could see that would allow me to say for sure how old she was.  Except when she was writing down my information, she asked for my age and when I told her I was forty, she said, “Oh, you’re just a baby!”  LOL!  If she thinks I’m a baby at forty, she’s got to be at least ten years older than me, right?  Oh, and I want to look that good at fifty!

Anyway, she put me through a fitness assessment and after talking for awhile about my metabolism and my multiple failed diet and workout routines, she determined that weight lifting was what we should focus on.  She felt that was the best way to amp up my metabolism and get everything firing on all cylinders again.  She said I could focus on cardio on my own, but she would work with me specifically on weight training.

So we began to work out, and she warned me that she would challenge me a bit because she wanted to see what I could really do.  And I was like, “Sure, let’s take this girl out for a test drive and see what I can do!”

In times like these, I really need to remember that I’m not as much of a badass as I’d like to think I am, but she had me feeling comfortable and confident and like I could do anything.

And then she handed me ten and twelve pound sets of weights.

WTF????!!!!!!!

woman with weightsWhen I work out at home, I never use more than five pound weights, and after a few reps, I can really feel my muscles working.  She wants me to use ten and twelve pounds?  Is she out of her mind?  Oh, okay.  Here’s where the crazy kicks in.  Here’s where she turns into a sadist and starts screaming, “No pain, no gain!”

Except, she didn’t, and I could do it.  I could and did lift that much weight over various exercises and sets.  Who knew?  Who knew I could successfully lift that much weight with the right guidance and form?  I certainly didn’t!  There was only one exercise she had to modify for me and that was toward the end of our workout.  She wanted me to lunge up on a platform box, but my legs were jelly at that point and crumpled under me on my first attempt.  And I didn’t have time to be insecure about myself while working out among real athletes because she had me so focused on what we were doing, I was barely aware of anyone else in the gym.

It was great.  She was great, and I have to admit, I’m a little bit excited about going back.  I’m excited for the possibilities.  I’m excited for the realization that I am stronger than my fears.  You would think that at the age of forty I would be past that sort of thing.  Past being a victim to the ‘what ifs’ and doubts that complicate something as simple as going to a gym to workout.  But insecurity is an asshole, and I just have to keep reminding myself not to listen it.

Of course, even after my great workout with a great trainer, and after realizing my own potential in this foreign land of exercise machines and athletes, reality decided I need a quick slap to the face.  As I was walking out, a woman stepped into my path to walk in front of me.  And it was impossible not to notice her bouncy butt-cheeks hanging out of her skin tight panty shorts.

(Insert gusty sigh and eye roll here).

Wanda Says…I lost my mind, and joined a gym.

I did it.

Today, I did what I swore for years I would never do.

Today, I bought a gym membership.  And signed a contract.  For one year.  And paid money (or a small piece of my soul) to have several sessions with a personal trainer.

Whhhhhaaaaatttttt??????????

I know.  I must be out of my fucking mind.

This vector is proof that I'm not wrong in my opinion of this.

This vector is proof that I’m not wrong in my opinion of this.

I hate gyms.  I’ve always hated gyms and the culture of organized fitness clubs.  I find the atmosphere in these places to be very intimidating, shallow, competitive and judgey. I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, but I will say it again….it does not motivate me or make me feel good to work out next to a person wearing panty shorts and a sports bra.  Or a guy who looks like He-Man on steroids and refuses to put on a shirt.

While I can appreciate the hard work it takes to maintain that level of physical fitness, and I can admit to a small amount of envy for my own lack of mental strength and stick-to-it-ness in achieving my own fitness goals, it’s more the flaunting of flesh and show-boating that turns me off.  It’s the fact that the gym is as much of a meat market and pick up joint as any trendy Hollywood club.  It’s the cancerous feeling that screams if you don’t look like this, something is wrong with you and not the culture these attitudes create.  (And for the record, I have several really fit, attractive friends who work out in gyms regularly and they admit this environment is also a turn off for them as well, so I’m not just making this shit up, folks).

Anyway, although I prefer to work out at home, that hasn’t been working out too well for me.  It’s too easy for me to find a thousand excuses to put it off because I have so many other things that need to get done.  I don’t have any real accountability, and I’m sick of feeling like a big, fat cow.  I’ve been holding onto this baby weight for too long and its aging me.  I feel it in the slowness of my steps and the daily fatigue that is not commensurate with my activity levels.

So at my husband’s suggestion, off to the gym we went.  We took both kids and had an appointment to take a tour.  Dan chose an upscale, popular gym in our area that has several amenities he thought would appeal to me.  Amenities that make this gym feel more like a resort than just a fitness club.  There’s a restaurant/café and day spa on the premises in addition to the pools, basketball courts, group exercise rooms, daycare, and equipment areas.  There is also a women’s only workout room, which Dan thought I would really like.

This is NOT allowed.

This is NOT allowed.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the gym.  There were a lot of middle age to older people working out and most of the clientele were dressed in appropriate workout gear.  And it turns out that this gym has rules with regard to how you’re allowed to dress in the public areas of the club.  There was a whole list of ‘gym etiquette’ rules the sales rep gave us to review that had my head spinning and challenging all my preconceptions about what this gym experience would entail.  (Most of you probably already knew many gyms did that, but I’m the ignorant one because I’ve refused to step foot in a fitness club for years).

I began to feel hopeful that maybe this could work.  Maybe I could actually join a gym and not feel like Martha Dump-Truck working out in my baggy t-shirt and sweats.  Maybe there would be real people working out next to me, and not caricatures of Ken and Barbie, and I would feel supported in my efforts to lose weight and be healthy instead of judged and laughed at for being the only person in the room who doesn’t have a clue how to use a spin cycle.

We also met with the personal training director, and he was incredibly attentive and considerate toward my concerns with working out with a trainer.  I admitted that I need someone with experience to help me set up a fitness plan and check in with me every month so I can keep moving in the right direction. I need someone to push me and kick my ass a little. But I adamantly explained that I had no interest in working out with a 25 year old that had never had kids and had no personal experience with how the body changes in middle age after having children.  Again, he totally understood and said he had a few trainers he thought would work really well for me.

I was shocked!  I couldn’t believe that this could be so simple.  That I can have a trainer who is a middle-aged woman with kids, and understands how the body changes after advanced maternal age pregnancy, and I don’t have to work out next to Adam Ab-Crusher is more than I could have hoped for!

Until……I toured the women’s locker room.  Sigh.

I guess it was too much to expect that everything would be perfect.  The locker room was as nice and well-appointed as any locker room at a high end spa.  It was clean, beautifully decorated with a state of the art steam room, sauna, private whirlpool in the room for women only and curtained changing areas to protect your modesty, if you care about that sort of thing.  What I found shocking on this part of the tour was how many women didn’t care about that.  Their modesty, that is.

naked towel ladyTo quote my friend Stacia, who is intimately familiar with gym locker rooms, the atmosphere is very “YWCA circa 1964.”  All the younger women were decently covered with towels or their clothing.  However, most of the older women were strolling around naked from head to toe, with the only towel they had wrapped around their head.  Bryn was with me on the tour and she got quite an eyeful.  To her credit, she kept her composure and didn’t say anything to reveal how embarrassed she was.  It was a lot of National Geographic style boobies and gray pubes on display for everyone to see.  Now, I was raised to appreciate my body and not be ashamed of it, but I was also raised to have a sense of modesty in the presence of others.  These women had no problem being stark naked in front of complete strangers!  While I could never do that, no matter how good I looked, I would still kill for that kind of confidence!

So, the upside to all this is that I don’t have to work out next to someone wearing panty shorts and a sports bra, and I get to have a trainer who will understand my body and how to help me change it.  The downside is that I have to share a locker room with naked grannies who like to rock what they’ve got.

LOL!  Wish me luck!

Wanda Says…Jumping rope is hard.

In my never-ending quest to bring sexy back, I’ve been trying to incorporate some oldies but goodies in my workout routine.  I still haven’t mastered the jumping jack, but to be honest, after my last humiliating attempt and fail at that childhood standard, I haven’t put much effort into it.

And recently, my fellow blogger, Elizabetcetera at da Vinci Total Hysterectomy 2014, encouraged me to try jumping rope.  She assured me the experience would not be at all similar to my experiences using the jump rope as a child.  And she was absolutely correct.

jumping ropeAfter attempting to jump rope during my workout today, all I can say is that gravity is an asshole.

I was able to jump rope, but half the time I couldn’t get both feet up off the ground fast enough and I ended up tripping on the rope with one foot while the other cleared it.  And forget the continuous jump-bouncing of the past.  Now I remember why teenage girls typically lose interest in jumping rope after going through puberty.  Even with a sports bra on, my boobs kept trying to spring up and slap me in the face.  Not cool, girls.  Not cool at all.

I’d like to be all ‘I’m not a quitter,’ and tell you that I won’t stop until I master the beast, but the truth is that I am totally quitting this.  I have no interest in doing that again, ever.