Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Grace December 10, 2010

Filed under: Working Out — Meredith @ 9:57 am
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You know those elliptical machines at the gym?

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You know how they have those big pedals that you stand on and move in a combination motion of running and peddling a bike to make it go?

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I don’t know if all ellipticals are like this, but the ones in the gym in my office building have a lip around the edge, to keep you from stepping off.

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Except on the back of the pedal.

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This, in my opinion, is a serious design flaw.

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A person could, hypothetically, be so focused on maintaining her super impressive speed while switching songs on her iPod, that she doesn’t notice when her feet move on those pedals. A person, thus focused, could fail to notice that her feet have moved all the way to the back of the pedals. Until the moment when she starts to fall backward, and to the right, requiring an acrobatic effort to remain upright and avoid getting impaled in the head by the swinging arm things .

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Hypothetically speaking, of course.

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I’m Baaa-aaak! November 11, 2010

I am definitely not the most uncoordinated person I know.

I mean, there are definitely people way more klutzy than me.

Unless I’m at the gym.

The worst episodes have so far taken place in my office gym. At my regular gym, when I’m with my trainer, it’s not generally too bad – maybe because he’s there to catch me and prop me and show me how to do stuff.

I mean, sure there was that day when for reasons unknown to me or god, I decided to step up onto a moving treadmill. But I caught myself with a surprisingly agile hop and skip and remained upright. And no one saw me except my trainer, and even though he laughed loud and long enough that everyone in the treadmill and bike area looked over, by then I looked like a normal person walking on the treadmill, so that doesn’t really count. 

I’ve been out of the gym for about three months due to an injury (not gym or klutz related), and today was my third session back, and my first one that attempted anything more complicated than the treadmill or weight machines.

First we did lunges up and down the space between the weight machines. Lunges take a certain kind of balance. I am out of practice. There were at least two times where I lost my balance and I was stuck in the lunge position wobbling side to side, arms out, looking like someone trying to balance in a canoe.

Next up was balance squats on an overturned bosu ball (so the squishy part is down) (that’s a technical term). Normally my trainer helps me get onto the ball, but this morning I had a substitute trainer and she was off doing something while I was supposed to be climbing up on this stupid thing. I initially forgot that, well, I’m me, and tried to just climb on.

I put my right foot on the right side and it tipped all the way to the right, and then I tried to lift my left foot to put on the left side assuming it would then stabilize in the middle. Except my right foot was at such a steep angle that as soon as I lifted my left foot my whole body tipped to the right and I was flailing around trying to avoid going face down on the carpet. 

For my second try, I did exactly the same thing again, with exactly the same result.

For my third try I did exactly the same thing, EXCEPT I started with my left foot….And got exactly the same result except the flailing occurred to the left.

Fourth try, I put my right foot in the center of the bosu ball, with the result of flailing forward. 

Into the guy on the big ab machine.

He was on his side, the upper half of his body hanging out into the aisle, minding his business, and suddenly, there I am. Sharing the pad.

I was just like “You had to have realized this was a possibility during tries 1-3.”

Fifth try I made it! Just as the trainer was walking over to help me. Although I have absolutely no idea how I did it and am sure that if I tried again right now, I would repeat tries 1-4 exactly.  

Later, I was sent to get a floor mat, and as I pulled it out from behind the big stretching structure thingy, I slid it backward and it hit a foam roller, which fell forward and narrowly missed whacking this really old guy sitting on a ball, and instead knocked down his water bottle. I said “Oh, I’m sorry!” and picked up the foam roller, expecting to hear him offer the socially obligatory “no problem”. And when I turned toward him to receive his forgiveness, he made  a snarly face and rolled his eyes.

I decided that he was probably just having a stroke.

Finally the work out was over, no one was bleeding, or suing (I assume), and I come out of the locker room with my big gym bag over my shoulder and decide to fill up my water bottle for the drive home.

The water fountain is in a corner between a wall and another ab machine. I walked around the ab machine toward the water fountain and promptly wacked the guy laying down on the machine with my bag.

I pretended I didn’t notice.

I couldn’t watch two people have a stroke on the same day.

 

Strength from Strength September 25, 2010

Filed under: Working Out — Meredith @ 4:46 pm
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I did not set out to become a hard-core gym goer. I had no plan to be one of those people whose schedule is dictated by how early I have to be at the gym the next morning. I did not intend to memorize the protein content of most common foods (and some uncommon foods). And yet, that’s who I am. Or was, before the accident. But if it hadn’t been for the accident, I might not have realized that aside from being all of those things, I had simply become someone who loves working out.

I was in a car accident about 4 weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to go to the gym since. Actually, forget even going to the gym, I haven’t been able to so much as go for a brisk walk. For the first week or so  I was in enough pain, and was feeling protective enough of my body that I didn’t even think about the gym.

Not being able to work out after my car accident was a little like adding insult to injury. Working out, specifically boxing which I’d recently started doing, was my primary source of stress relief. After the accident I was so pissed off at the other driver for being careless and screwing up my life, that my need to punch something was stronger than it had ever been before, and yet I couldn’t even slap someone hard enough to sting.

I tried to look on the bright side: I could sleep in. I didn’t have to pay as much attention to how much protein I ate in a day. I had a good excuse for comfort eating AND didn’t have to then look my trainer in the eye next morning.

And that worked for a little while. But slowly I started to notice I was short-tempered, unmotivated and more prone to cry than usual. I wanted to do less and less even as my body healed more and more. I started trying to move as little as possible, test the limits of my healing body less and less. . I wanted to sleep more and more. At my physical therapy appointments everyone was very impressed at how quickly my body was healing, and yet I just felt more and more frustrated and irrationally irritated with the doctors for not saying I was back to normal. 

And then I started to notice my hard abs, of which I’d been so proud just weeks ago, were getting covered up by a soft layer of flab.

I tried to go back to the careful diet of the days before I burned a thousand calories per workout to combat my softening middle. But I cheated and made excuses more often than not. And then one day as I snoozed my alarm two times too many, I suddenly wondered where that strong woman with all the willpower had gone.

Turns out, I’d left her in the gym. 

Strength begets strength. And weakness begets weakness.

In the gym, every time I think I’m at my limit my trainer makes me go one step further, throw one more punch, add one more unit of weight. And I not only do it, I usually end up doing a little bit more.

 Because its intoxicating to realize that you are strong, that you are capable. At some point in almost every single workout I surprise myself – either by doing more than I thought I could, or by realizing how much progress I’d made since starting, and I’d swell with pride, and strength and a feeling of accomplishment that I’ve rarely been able to find with such consistency any other way, and it permeated my whole life.  

Making healthy choices in my life, either in terms of diet, lifestyle, or emotional health became easy, because I was strong. It wasn’t hard to say no to late night food or drink offers, because I didn’t want to be tired for my workout. It wasn’t hard to say no to the tempting but destructive relationship because I knew I was better than that and strong enough to make the tough choices.  

Will power and discipline weren’t an effort, they were a fact, because I was in fact, a strong and disciplined person.

Plus, I had more energy than I knew what to do with, was usually in a good mood, and felt great about how I looked which only made my mood and confidence stronger, and my commitment to maintain all of it stronger by extension. It was a positive feedback loop.

But now, after four weeks out of the gym, I’m lost. I miss the structure and the routine of my workouts and being accountable to my trainer. But more than anything, I miss the constant reminders of my strength. That car accident scared the hell out of me, and it hurt my body in ways I haven’t experienced before. It reminded me that there is very little I can control in my world. I was on my way to a pool party, and then I was standing in the middle of the road, crying uncontrollably, looking at what used to be my lovely little car, horribly aware of how much worse it could easily have been. 

I’ve bought a new car, I’ve hired a lawyer, and I’ve followed doctor’s orders to the letter, and by most external measures I’m almost back to normal.

Except I don’t feel back to normal. I feel too small and delicate for this world. I feel unable to control my life. And I definitely don’t feel strong, or powerful, or capable.

I’m stuck in a negative feedback loop. And the longer I’m away from the gym, the harder its going to be to break it. When I think about working out I’m scared of getting hurt again, I’m scared of what will happen if I stop focusing on protecting my body and start pushing it to its limits again. I’m scared that I’ll find out I’m too broken to get back to that person I was before.

But I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe this accident happened, in part, to help me own the fact that I’m one of those people who loves working out. So I’m not going to fight it anymore. I’m not going to apologize for finding conversations about protein and calorie content fascinating. I’m going to obnoxiously show everyone my developing muscles, and I will continue to act like I’m humbly accepting people’s compliments while gloating on the inside.

I just need to remember all of that and not hit snooze when my alarm goes off at 4:45am. Which is maybe the greatest act of will power I’ve ever exhibited in all my months of working out.

 

How I Roll June 28, 2010

Filed under: Working Out — Meredith @ 8:18 pm
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The other day boxing class was held inside the gym, instead of outside as usual, because it was only myself and one other woman, J.  We were with our trainer in the “boy part” the part with all the weights and punching bags. (And to be fair, we WERE the only women in that section the whole morning.)

I’ve been boxing for several months at this point, and J has been doing it even longer I believe. I know we look like we know what we’re doing, and I know we look like we can do some damage with a punch – when you land a solid hit into a pad the sound is loud and can be almost deafening when you’re in an enclosed space. J had just finished a sparring round with the trainer and I was setting myself for my turn and in the brief moment of quiet before I started my round, this old, flabby, grey haired guy who had been watching us from where he stood near a bench press -spotting a younger, buffer guy, but not using it – says to our trainer, “Hey! Are they gonna fight each other? And can we watch?” with a wiggle of his bushy grey eye brows. My trainer replied “They’re gonna fight YOU! How about that?” Then turns back to me. I had to take a second to reset myself because the exchange, though it had only been 10 seconds had thrown me off. My trainer turns back to the guy and says “Are they gonna fight each other…” with disdain and dismissal clear in his tone. When he turned back to me I was ready, and as I started throwing the combinations he was calling out, I could see the old guy over his shoulder, and he looked suitably shamed, and kept his eyes focused on the guy he was spotting.

Part of my brain said that he was old, from another generation, he probably didn’t see how the comment wasn’t so much funny, as sexist and belittling. And I want to say that recognizing that was enough to keep me from feeling sexualized and belittled. But it wasn’t. I mean, it only stung for a second, but I’d felt it nonetheless. But THEN, I got mad, and *POP* I landed a cross that sounded like a gun shot. “Stupid jackass…” I thought and *POP* *POP* “Yeahhh” my trainer says in response to the sudden increase in the power behind my cross.  *POP*, *POP POP*, *POP*  the sound of me hitting the pads was so loud and consistent that the guy couldn’t help but look in my direction and just as I landed an upper cut that felt like  it could pop a man’s head off his neck (although, to be fair, I sort of believe that about every upper cut I throw. It’s the kind of punch that makes me feel like I could actually take someone in a fight.) I pushed myself to keep hitting hard and fast, to keep getting that *POP* even though I was almost at my limit. I kept hearing my trainer say “they’re gonna fight you!” and I wondered if the old man even considered it an option. *POP* I wondered if  he thought he could take me just because he was a man, despite being old and soft. *POP POP* I wondered if he saw the 20 years we had on him, the muscles in our arms, the power in our cores, the precision of our punches, the focus in our eyes. *POP* I wondered if the 3 other men who’d witnessed the exchange, and who were watching us now as well, thought I could take him. *POP POP POP* 

Because I so totally could. I could wup the wrinkles right out of that liver spotted ass.

Do I feel weird about the fact that I feel empowered at the idea of committing elder abuse? Not really. Maybe I should, I don’t know. But I do know this, that old man is probably the only person I could beat in a fist fight, including a smaller untrained woman. Unless I snuck up on her and got a few blows in before she knew what was happening, so she ‘d be dazed and have trouble focusing her eyes… actually, that’s probably not a bad strategy for Wrinkles over there either…which isn’t because I don’t think I’m strong enough to win in a straight out fight, but… I really don’t like it when the other person hits back. It’s so annoying. And hurts.

"I'm gonna knock you out..."

 

 
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