Yesterday was a great day at the gym.
No, it was awesome.
Correction: It was frakin’ phenomenal and this morning I’m still grinning ear to pierced ear.
Yesterday marked the end of my fourth week since I started this new exercise regime*. After I changed into my shorts and pirate festival tee shirt, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of the scales in the locker room. Dare I? Do I really want to know what number represents me? “They, Inc. always say to go by tape measurements and how clothes feel, not by weight,” I said to no one in particular.
Curiosity grabbed the hem of my shirt and placed me upon the scales. I adjusted the little slide thingy and when it stopped moving, I stopped breathing.
No way. Really? Are you certain? I almost looked around the back of it to see if there was some technical failure that needed a reboot until I realized this was a basic mechanical scale. Damn. No technological glitch to blame. Just me.
My heart sank. I had no clue I had allowed myself to get that heavy. What scared me more is that I HAVE lost weight since I started**, which makes my beginning weight the most I have ever weighed in my existence. I frowned and fought back the shameful tears that attempted to trickle out of my eyes.
No. No way. I grabbed my water bottle, my ipod to wire myself for sound, and my inner Shame by the collar as I made my way out onto the gym floor. Shame smirked at first, but when it saw me head, quite determined, to my elliptical machine, it started to kick and scream.
My elliptical is the only one in front of a window where I get the scenery of a robust tree and where I can talk to my Leafy Friend. It also the only one that is never in use when I need it. On each side of me were two men. Both runners. One had been going for about 30 minutes and had already clocked an insane amount of miles. The other, who was quite cute, was also doing a virtual marathon. I stepped up onto the machine, pressed START, focused on my Leafy Friend, and RELEASED.
One step after another and another and another and another. Shame started to scream in agony and I told it to bugger off. Fuck the numbers. Fuck them all. “You can do it kiddo,” I heard my father say in my head; his voice loud and clear and golden. “You’re tough. You’re one of the strongest people I know. And you’ve done it before so you can definitely do it again.”
Hell yeah. Then scenes of me teaching myself how to ride a bike, learning to touch type, doing summersaults in the pool, dancing the West Coast swing, writing a 53,000 word novel in 30 days, teaching myself how to knit — all things at the time I thought I could not do, I DID.
With my eyes lasered onto my Leafy Friend, I pushed and then I entered the slipstream. It became an active meditation as I allowed my body to flow and BE the magnificent machine it truly is.
Finally, the warning buzzer went off in my head. I could feel my face getting really flushed so I figured it was time to cool down. The display read: 20 minutes, 3 miles.
I blinked and looked again. It was still there.
Twenty minutes. Three miles. Level 3.
MY PERSONAL BEST!! To give you a comparison, four weeks ago it took me 25-28 minutes to run 2.7 miles on easy, no resistance, Level 1.
I was ecstatic. So much so, it pumped me up to exercise more (Yes, I know. Who ARE you and what have you done with lazy ass Ember??). So I did my customary ten minutes of stretching and decided it was time to give my arms a go.
At my gym they have all shapes and flavors of exercise equipment. If you prefer old school, they have the free weights. But if, like myself, you have a sensitive knee or a tweeked neck, you want something that can focus on the muscles you’re working, not strain your entire body. In an answer to that need you have space age weight machines. Not only are they very easy to follow (directions are simply written, with diagrams) and easy to customize to your height, they move with you as you exercise. Very cool! I felt like I was working out in a low gravity room. I did my biceps, my back, my shoulders, my lats, and the one that truly hurt was the chest press. Ow. Today my arm muscles feel like I’ve slipped into that giant cargo mover Ripley used in “Aliens”. And it feels good.
*Yes, I misspelled “regimen” on purpose.
**My hips have slimmed down and the three rolls on my tummy are down to two. Plus I can stand without my my inner thighs touching and fitting on my bra I’ve moved in to the second set of hooks rather than the most outer. So yeah, I’ve lost some weight.