Eight weeks to nowhere
Trying to get into the habit of going to the gym by telling myself that from now on I would go at least 4 times a week and exercise for at least 30 minutes on something, anything, wasn’t working. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t constantly thinking that I really ought to make more of an effort to stay fit (in case of the Zombie Apocalypse), and yet my laziness always won out. Then in September I had my cholesterol checked and got depressed over the numbers. What was the use of trying to eat right or exercise? I love eating and even if I ate exactly right all the time my body oversupplies itself with cholesterol all on its own. All signs pointed to a lifetime of medications to reverse a condition already a problem at 28 years old. Stupid genetics.
My genetics are against me in many ways. They have given me a set of hips that should have absolutely no fear of childbirth and as such go against almost every fashion trend since the Marie-Antoinette-style dress that could part the red sea with its girth, wide shoulders that don’t fit well in sweaters, an underdeveloped sacrum that will probably betray me and snap in half when osteoporosis finally sets in, light-sensitive blue eyes that are so nearsighted I feel I ought to have a pet bat just so I won’t be the most blind thing in my house (also because a pet bat would just be effin’ RAD) and a stupid liver that makes tons of cholesterol just for the fun of it. It took me a while to snap out of the self-loathing and finally decide (with lots of encouragement from Husband) what I was going to do about my cholesterol.
I started eating GoLean Crunch every morning for dietary starters and at the beginning of January I challenged myself to a 10K race. I could already do a 5K during my lame “just exercise every day” (aka “minimum amount of exercise to do once in a while when you’ve finally decided you hate yourself enough for today”) regimen and felt the need to (wo)man up a bit. I didn’t sign up or register for anything official. I decided to stick to a training schedule and when the time came I would run (elliptical running—I get wicked shin splints when impact is involved) the 6.2 miles and be proud of myself. I tried to get Sister in on this challenge, but she had her own thing she wanted to do.
Somehow, sticking to and completing the training was the easy part. I followed the schedule exactly except when life interfered and made me work out a day sooner/later. The longer runs could be mildly torturous since my toes would go numb and afterward my feet felt like they were clenched into fists, but that was the only muscle soreness to speak of. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the training. I had finally found the trick for fixing myself long term: Set a short-term goal.
Could I keep it up for 8 weeks until it was finally time to run a 10K?
Turns out I could. This past St. Patrick’s Day I completed my 10K in 59:10. The hour somehow felt short, easy. My heart rate was under control, my pace was relatively consistent and my toes didn’t go completely numb. I couldn’t do that 8 weeks ago. I could be proud, right?
I wasn’t. I’m not.
I thought I would have graduated to actual running at some point in the 8 weeks and wouldn’t feel like such a weakling trying to protect my dumb shins, but I couldn’t.
I thought I might have dropped at least one pant size by the end of 8 weeks, but I haven’t.
I thought I’d have someone to run with and feel a greater sense of accomplishment that two goals had been met, but I was alone.
I thought I wouldn’t have to talk myself into going to the gym anymore, but I do.
I thought the sky would be filled with rainbows and someone would throw me a parade. A damned parade with elephants!
I finished my 10K, the longest distance and time I had ever completed in my entire lazy life, possibly one of my most accomplished moments, and all I got afterward was a barely enthused, “Have a nice day,” from the gym employee who saw me leaving. Husband was waiting at home with a very large smile and very kind words, and I still didn’t feel very good about myself. Why did completing this goal still somehow make me feel like a failure?
Because this didn’t work out the way I thought it would. I thought I’d experience some sort of dramatic transformation; that I wouldn’t be able to live through a day without visiting the gym, that after 8 weeks of really, actually trying to make this change to my life I’d be rewarded by fitting into some of my old, smaller clothes and this would, in turn, motivate me for the next 8 weeks. I thought it’d all be so fucking easy and I’d be happy by now.
But it’s still a struggle, an uphill climb where I can’t see the top, and I feel doomed.
The good (?) news is my cholesterol is down by about 20 points, a short lived victory when considering that my “lowered” cholesterol is still in what Dr. Kenny Loggins would describe as “the danger zone.” Seeing as how the results of the exercise proved to be nothing like I thought, I’m going to go ahead and blame this small improvement on the cereal and not my increased physical stamina.
Of course, nothing is easy. I’ve been eating GoLean Crunch every day for almost three months now and I am officially sick of it to the point I don’t want to eat breakfast at all anymore. Le Sigh.
I know I made an effort. I know I made progress. I know something has changed. Yet, somehow, I still feel like I’m back where I started.