Tiny Bit of Crazy

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

Just Dance August 26, 2011

I went to the gym this morning, but I wasn’t really into it.  I’ve got some health issues that are making it kinda painful and crappy and not any fun at all to work out… BUT, I’m getting those issues sorted out, and in the meantime, I’m still going to the gym (usually) because it’s better than not going, even if I can’t do much, so I’m establishing a pattern for when I’m better.

After I’d finished my cardio I was stretching on the floor and getting increasingly grumpy over the ways in which my “workout”  has come resemble the physical therapy routine for a post hip surgery octogenarian.

I stand up to do some calve stretches, and that song comes on my iPod. You know the one, everyone has one. The one song that just makes every cell in your body cry out to dance.  I’ve listened to this song during every workout for the past month while on the treadmill or the elliptical and I always imagine myself dancing around an empty room singing with heart.  Which really doesn’t take much imagination because I was introduced to this song by a 6-year-old during a kitchen dance party.

The song is Loser Like Me, Glee version. Don’t you judge me. Not until you’ve put it on at top volume and seen what it can do for you.

Anyway.

So I’m standing at the back of the empty gym in my office building. I’m not stranger to making a fool of myself in this space. I feel my hips moving as the song worms through my ears to take over my brain. I’m about 90% sure that old guy who just lifts weights for an hour every morning is still in the locker room but… my hips are moving a little more. My arms are now in rhythm to my hips.

My head might be bobbing a bit.

I immediately feel my mood start to improve.  I realize that from my vantage point I can see if someone comes in the door or out of the locker room.

So I let go a little more.

There’s some swaying.

A little more bobbing.

Maybe a butt wiggle and chest thrust or two.

I might have hit the backward button on my iPod at some point so the song would start again.

I’m smiling. I’m realizing how long its been since I danced for no reason.

My confidence that I won’t be discovered is increasing, and my dancing starts to get a little freer.

Which is when I see that old guy – that I knew was in the locker room – come out.

I quickly stop dancing and after a second’s hesitation, throw a leg up on a bench in an attempt to try to make it look like he has simply caught me –  awkwardly and somewhat spastically- transitioning from one stretch to another.

I’m pretty sure he bought it.

But he’s kinda ruined my groove.

So I hit back on my iPod again, telling myself, as one might a toddler, “This is the LAST TIME.”

I’m 99% sure there’s no one left in either locker room, and I have a good view of the door.

I resume dancing and feel my mood kick up a notch.

There might be some singing happening, but there is definitely some serious, if still slightly reserved, dancing happening in the back corner of this gym.

I find myself wishing this could be my workout every morning, and I know that as soon as I’m able, there is a Zumba class in my future.

The song ends, and I obey my direction that this was the last time, and pick up my water bottle, put the mat away and head into the locker room.

Which is when I realize.

The locker room is the perfect place for a solo dance party: back where the showers are I’d have plenty of warning if someone came in. But no one ever comes in at this time of morning. My smile is wide as I scroll through my Power Workout playlist. I decide that my Glee friends will be how I close.

I decide to open with Switch by Will Smith (Seriously, stop it with the judging) as I undress and step into the tiny shower stall. While shampooing and conditioning my hair I shake my money-maker to The Time (Dirty Bit) Workout Remix by the Black Eyed Peas, and I get dressed to Kanye West’s Stronger (Workout Remix), and right after I put my shoes on my jam comes on.

And its on. Right there in the locker room of my office gym. I hit my full on, club worthy groove as I sing, at full volume, the chorus:

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby, I don’t care
Keep it up, and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be
You wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me

I face myself in the mirror as Finn’s voice takes over from Rachel, and even though I’ve never been bullied or made to feel like loser by anyone other than myself, I feel vindicated as I sing, and vaguely act out the lyrics as I dance:

Push me up against the locker
And hey, all I do is shake it off
I’ll get you back when I’m your boss
I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you haters
‘Cause hey, I could be a superstar
I’ll see you when you wash my car

I wonder if my voice might carry through the vents of the building as I sing out the lyrics with gusto. But then I decide that I don’t care, because much like when I’m singing at top volume in the car, my voice is amazing. I’m starting to think I could actually be ON Glee.

The song ends and I resist the urge to play it again, knowing I’m on the verge of burning this song and I don’t have a replacement yet. And probably won’t until my next kitchen dance party with a 6-year-old with great musical taste.

But I think going to the gym before work just got a lot more fun.

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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.

 

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.

 

Crazy? Crazy HOT, maybe… April 7, 2010

Filed under: Working Out — Meredith @ 2:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 If I’m going to keep a record of crazy people, I have to acknowledge when those people are me. 

So I’m working out in the gym in my office building around 5:30. I rarely see anyone else in there past 5:30, and since it’s the first nice day we’ve had in months, and assuming I’m the only weirdo who prefers working out inside, I’m confident no one else is going to come in.  I’m on the treadmill, iPod is blasting some great dance/funk music and the endorphins from the run I just finished are kicking in.  I slow the treadmill down so I could walk sideways on it – to work my hips and thighs. It’s a real, if uncommon, use of the treadmill, but I don’t usually do it when other people are around (unless my trainer makes me) because I’m fairly uncoordinated and often stumble when I’m turning around/switching sides/changing the speed/incline, and usually can’t get a good rhythm so often look like a big clomping weirdo. But even when I’m a big clomping weirdo, it’s still a good workout so I do it anyway. 

 When I’m alone. 

So I’m facing away from the door, and I’m trying to find the highest speed where I won’t fall down, and a great song comes on and suddenly I’m totally in the groove. I’ve found a pace and a rhythm that works and I’m feeling the burn and I feel more confident and so I start to get into a little bit more, and I’m having fun. I put my arms into it. And I do a little booty shake. And I don’t fall down and I don’t break my rhythm. So I do a little more booty shaking and my arms are over my head and I’m squatting down and hopping up and I’m realizing that this is an even better work out AND more fun- it feels like dancing. I might have also started singing along with my iPod a little. Maybe. Finally exhausted, I slow the treadmill down so I can turn around and repeat on the other side. Which is when I see him. This guy I’ve never seen in the gym or the building before is just standing there, unabashedly watching me. I’m so startled I almost lose my footing, but I managed to stay upright.  I expect him to look away, to engage the social contract and act like he wasn’t watching me. But he doesn’t look away.  

But here’s the thing: He isn’t looking at me like “look at that cute, crazy chic!” He wasn’t even looking at me like “hmmm, I’d like to see that booty shake some more!” He wasn’t even looking at me like “Haha! Caught you being silly.” No. He was looking at me like “You are a crazy person in my gym, and I’m contemplating my options.” Seriously. I know the difference between these looks. If it had been one of the other looks, I would probably have been able to laugh it off. But he just made me feel…crazy. 

 Once he realized the show was over, he turned and slowly walked into the men’s locker room. I had the urge to leave before he came out, but I wasn’t going to let him screw up my workout – I still had my right leg to do. So I turned to the side and found a good speed and tried to get back into the groove. Except the mood was broken. There was no more sideways treadmill dancing to be had today. When he came back out of the locker room I was facing directly toward him. He looked at me again with a blank expression and slowly climbed onto a treadmill two down from me. He immediately put it to a running speed and then glanced at me a few times, as if to say “THIS is what you do on a treadmill.” I refused to acknowledge his look and fixed my gaze just over his head and focused on not falling down. 

 I should note, that based on his appearance, I was actually a little surprised that he even knew how to turn the treadmill on.  He was late 40’s/50’s, hair long but balding on top and a sizeable belly. After running for about 2 minutes, he stopped abruptly, got off, and started doing some stretching against the wall next to his treadmill, presumably because he was experiencing the shin, ankle, and thigh pain that is normal when you are not a runner, but decided to hop on a treadmill and immediately go at a fast run. And as I watched him stretch, in his white tennis shoes and white socks pulled up to his knees and watched the sweat that was already soaking through his shirt, I thought to myself “who’s the crazy one now? Huh? Chump?” (that might be the first time I actually referred to someone as “chump”, even in my own mind. But the moment seemed to call for it.) And in the next second, I stepped too far forward and the front of my foot hit the side rail and I was down. Technically I didn’t totally fall flat – I caught myself on the side rails and hit the emergency stop button, which is the only reason I didn’t do a full on “fall and get spit out the end of the treadmill” routine. But I came damn close. I stood up facing forward on the treadmill and I could see him watching me out of the corner of my eye but refused to look at him. I also refused to slink away in my embarrassment, and instead restarted the treadmill and did my cooldown as originally planned. 

During my cool down he got back on the treadmill, went immediately into a sprint, lasted about 23 seconds, and then had to get off and stretch those hamstrings again. After I felt I’d lingered long enough to show I wasn’t embarrassed by anything that had happened on my treadmill that afternoon, I gracefully stepped off the treadmill. Well, mostly gracefully – my hand caught on my headphone wires as I was reaching for my water bottle and I ended up doing  a little “hot potato” routine to keep from dropping my iPod. But after that I was the picture of grace, coordination, and sanity.

 

 
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