01.17.11: The First Real Workout

17 January 2010

Talk about Square One.  Today was the very sobering, first real and official workout in a gym-like setting.  I did some working out after the baby, but it was light, and certainly not focused – it was more about working out to see if I still could.  And because, to some degree, it was expected of me.  I worked in a health club, and the two girls on staff who’d recently had babies were stallions (I know that a stallion is a male horse – but “mare” doesn’t have the same impact), back in the workout groove seemingly 15 minutes after giving birth.  Teaching Spin class with the baby asleep next to them in the car seat, the sweet new life oblivious to the Spin din: yelling over blaring music designed to make everyone forget how much Spin class hurts.

So I worked out a little when Baby Girl was, I don’t know, 6 weeks old, maybe?  Something like that?  I remember carrying her on the workout floor with me, back with the free weights.  I sat on a stability ball to do shoulder presses, and I distinctly remember her looking at me as if to say, uh, Mom?  What in hell are you doing?

I didn’t keep it up, of course, and soon was consumed with packing up the house and moving, so the best I could do was to walk and do some basic stuff.

Today, though, was my real and somewhat-triumphant to the world of working out.  We’re with Mister now, living with him as he finishes training for the new job.  When he comes home in the evenings, he snatches the baby up, and I head to the small workout room to face my misspent past, my unwilling present, and my brilliant (let’s keep an upbeat attitude!) future.

Talk about Square One.

Well, I didn’t die.  I listened to Jimmy Eat World, and I was mad about some stuff, so that helped.  I’ve never loved the elliptical trainer, not even at my the peak of fitness, so one certainly wouldn’t expect me to leap back to its welcoming arms with joy.  I did ten minutes on the elliptical, then 10 push-ups and 40 crunches on the ball (20 normal, 10 to each side).  Then 10 minutes on the elliptical, then the crunches.  Then 10 minutes on the treadmill, not running yet but fast enough to maintain a heart rate of 140-ish, then 5 more minutes to wind down, then 10 push-ups and the crunches.  A decent workout, and a good example of how one can fit exercise into one’s life and make it palatable.  30 minutes in a row on the elliptical wasn’t happening for me today, but spurts of 10 minutes, with breaks of other exercises performed quickly enough to maintain my heart rate, was perfect.

How was it to be back in the saddle, kicking and screaming?  It was good.  I’m one step closer to being me again.  I shouldn’t say “again,” because the point of Square One is not to go back to some place in your past.  The point is to move forward to a new place.  The best of your past and all the lessons you’ve learned fuel your new goals and give you momentum.  Avoiding “again.”

It was good to glance sidelong in the mirror and see myself red-faced and sweaty.  It was good to get lost in a Runner’s World article and realize that 6 minutes had gone by without my noticing it.  It was good to check my heart rate and see that it was humming along at about 150, a little higher than the ideal for this workout, but not so high as to make me sick.  I remembered what to do and how to do it.

I also remembered why I was doing it.  Sure, this is about fitting in smaller sizes and being strong.  It’s about improving my life and embodying these principles that I yak about.  All that, though, is about something bigger: feeling proud of myself.  Setting a good example for my daughter.  Living a balanced and whole (and long, healthy!) life.

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2 Responses to 01.17.11: The First Real Workout

  1. Michelle Beamer says:

    So daunting! But then afterwards, I’m like “what was all the fuss about? I feel great!”. But still so daunting, maybe because we want things from our exercise? Like more energy and smaller jeans…and when you want things you have to work hard and there’s the possibility you may not achieve your goals. Just thinking out loud. Great job on getting back in the saddle, Stallion!

    • For real. The hardest part is lacing up your shoes — and releasing yourself from silly guilt, like “I shouldn’t leave the baby with him for so long,” or “I should be doing laundry,” or some such nonsense. At some point, one hopes that regular physical activity is as much a part of life as breathing, and we don’t think twice about doing it, and we don’t look for immediate rewards. We do it because we do it.

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