Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Oh, Sweet Lord...

I have returned to the Promised Land, and it is good.

I was sitting at my desk, pretending to work today and thinking about why I felt things have been kind of off with my weight workouts this time around. I have been doing about 45 minutes of weights on the Nautilus machines at my gym three times a week, and while they were certainly serving their purpose, something just seemed kind of...not great. I wasn't thrilled, and I remember how I used to be euphoric after my weight workouts lo these five years ago.

While I was picking at my sugar free Jello, I had an epiphany: I used to use free weights! Well, sort of. My trainer at the uber-fancy gym I used to patronize during the first Ass Reduction was named Tiffany, and she was a tiny, gorgeous, little fluffy bunny of a gymnast/cheerleader/trainer, and the weight routine she devised for me used both plate machines and free weights. So it all finally made sense...the pin-in-the-hole machines in the main section of my current gym just weren't cutting it for me.

I spent about two hours re-reading Stumptuous today. I've long had a serious girlcrush on Krista, not only because I would kill to have a body like hers, but also because she is just so matter of fact about doing things I could never dream of doing the gym...the bench press, the squats, the deadlift. Five minutes into reading her sample workouts I realized, "Dude. This was you the first time around. You not only CAN do this, you DID do this." And I remembered that was the key to my success. It wasn't the endless hours on the elliptical, nor the treadmills, nor the stretching in the corner. It was the resistance training that reduced my ass, and gave me collarbones, and the pathetic little two-pack I showed off to everyone that was willing to pretend to be impressed by my mediocre abs. I don't think I could've loved that line down my stomach more even if I had had diamonds surgically implanted in a row to show it off. Sigh.

The other thing I used to really love about the free weights was that it's still basically a man-controlled zone. Women are rarely up there and if they are, they're the kind of athletes who inspire me and make me feel kind of losery in a good way for only shoulder pressing the five pound dumbbells while they do ten. It's also dirty, and grimy, and no one wipes their sweat with the little towelettes above the trashcans and even though that's mildly horrific, I also sort of love it. There's no pretense up there...no surreptitiously eyeing the woman who's picking her thong out of her freshly pressed workout pants with the lime green stripe that matches the green of her sports tank and the green seam in her sock. There are no fifteen year old boys setting the weights to zero and cycling the apparatus back and forth so fast their bangs shoot straight up from the wind. No latchkey kids in the entertainment room taking aim at your butt with ping pong balls while you adjust the seats on the leg press. Just dudes. And chicks. And lots and lots of sweet pain.

So tonight I did an awesome full-body workout...leg press, squat machine, bench press, lunges, biceps, triceps, shoulder press, straight arm lift, lat pull-down, back extension. I even eyeballed Big Ass Belle's infamous Gravitron, but decided to save it for a time when other people wouldn't be close enough to see me get stuck or fall off or have a panic attack mid-dip. When I went to take my post-workout shower, my arms were twin sticks of Jell-O and I laughed with masochistic glee as the shook when I tried to shampoo my hair. I adore this feeling and I cannot wait until I get to go upstairs to the weight room again on Thursday.

Figuring out that particular priority in terms of my exercise also made me think about what I want to do with my cardio. I get frustrated with aimlessly walking or ellipticalizing (Yes, I made it up. Now, hush please.) for the sole purpose of burning calories. It's endless and tedious and there are only so many times I can listen to "One Night in Bangkok" when it pops up in the shuffle on my iPod before I want to do terrible things to my headphones to make it stop, stop STOP! I've always wanted to figure out how to run...to actually run in a straight line for more than two minutes, and maybe someday in a fun run or something. I never, ever ran as a child. I used to make myself throw up before Mile Day, and even though I did okay at sprint day I still wasn't any good. I didn't run a mile in a row without stopping until I was 22, and the day that happened I might as well have been Roger Federer instead of some manatee-shaped, red-faced girl on a treadmill in a suburban gym. It was just such a sweet feeling of accomplishment, and when I could look in the mirror and not recognize myself, or know that just a few months ago I could barely even WALK a mile...wow.

This whole process is turning out to be a little bit like falling in love again with someone you haven't seen for awhile. I'm glad I'm still in there somewhere under all that fat.


BigAssBelle said...

oh Erin, this is fabulous, and so true. i adore the way you write. i also remember working out with the big boys at mike moguin's gym. it was flat out a bodybuilder's gym with a treadmill and a stairmaster stuck in the corner for the pussies.

there was nothing fancy; it was almost determinedly NOT fancy. but it oozed testosterone and was entirely sweat drenched and grime encrusted and i loved it because i worked out there and felt rough and tough and strong, and got that way in short order.

i love my gym now but i just don't get the same feeling there, no matter how hard i work. i am so happy that you've found inspiration here. kick ass, girl. you are doing so well.