Monday, November 28, 2005

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…

Who’s that fat chick staring back at me?
November 28, 2005

I believe there comes a time in every person’s life when they wake up in the morning, roll out of bed, stub a toe on a dresser, curse like a sailor, stumble to the bathroom, throw water in the face, look in the mirror and wonder just who the heck that person is staring back at them.

In my mind’s eye, I am in the prime of my life. I am in my mid to early 20s and I am a size 9 Tall. I don’t have to think too hard to develop this image as I was once in my early 20s and a size 9 Tall, and lived life to the fullest. In real life, I’m in my 40s, and have been deceived. I think I still resemble that young, innocent, carefree girl, and I have faced that deception head-on.

There is a YMCA in Smyrna, Tennessee now. It is quite impressive. It will do great things for the welfare of our community and we will have hundreds of upwardly mobile people who will regularly experience all the Y has to offer in an effort to either stay in shape or get in shape. I signed up to be a member while the facility was under construction. I took a hard hat tour before I signed on the dotted line just so I could get the free neon yellow “charter member” t-shirt. I was very proud of my motivation. In signing my name to a contract that would remove a portion of money from my bank account each month, I swore that I would re-prioritize things in an effort to get myself back on the right track.

I’ve been in the midst of what I am calling my “dark year” for about a year and a half now. No, I don’t want to explain… you’ll just need to trust me. Suffice it to say, during the dark year (and a half) I have experienced a career change, my father has been diagnosed with diabetes, my mother endured knee surgery, I’ve buried at least three friends of the family, and have emotionally shut down in more ways than one. I decided to explore the various definitions of “comfort food” to the tune of an additional 40 pounds or so.

Therefore, when I learned we would have a YMCA in our very own town, and that it would be located a mere five minutes from my home… I made the jump from the couch to the gym.

I only hope I will live to tell about it.

It started out simple enough. I had my picture card made. This was where reality first hit. I’ve had the really bad driver’s license pictures and passport pictures before… but they couldn’t hold a candle to the fat girl on the keyring card that “Muffy” handed to me. (I don’t know the perky girl’s name… but she’s a skinny Minnie who, in my enlightened opinion, needs to eat more) I almost handed the card back to her and asked her to find the lady who belonged to that key card… it certainly was too “Large Marge” to be me!!! But I took another look, and sure enough, that was my face staring back at me. If that was not inspiration, nothing would be. I put away my desire to sink my face into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, and I proceeded to experience the Y in a way that most of the town of Smyrna was doing.

The week of Thanksgiving was the first week I attended. I woke up bright and early on a Monday morning (5:30ish… yes… the sailors were embarrassed) dressed, and headed for the Y. I made it there a little after 6:00 a.m. (yes… AM… as in “what-in-the-name-of-the-Lord-am-I-thinking?) Little did I know that half the town of Smyrna would think it a good idea to do the same thing. There were no available treadmills and the employees were quite busy showing new patrons how to work various weight machines. Feeling a little out of place, I went up the stairs and simply walked the track for about a half hour. I learned that by about 6:30, most of those early people are heading out the door and away from the treadmills… which means I should have about an extra 30 minutes of sleep before I try that nonsense again!

I took a look at the schedule of activities and began to determine which program would best suit me. Truly anything was better than nothing. There was a water aerobics class that would meet the next afternoon at 5:30 p.m. (PM… when real people come alive) I made plans to dig out that swimsuit and take it to work with me the following day.

I got to the gym that afternoon a little early, tugged, pulled, mashed and generally molded my Large Marge body into my bathing suit and thanked the good Lord for the sense I had to bring a big Beach Towel to wrap about myself on my trek to the indoor pool. There are two pools at the Y right now… a no grade pool for the general public and children and a three lane lap pool. There were screaming children who had been dropped off by various parental units (who should be shot) in the no grade pool, so I headed for the lap pool for the approximate 15 minutes it would take before the aerobics class began.

There were people in each lane of the lap pool, two men and one woman. I chose to share a lane with the one lady, simply because I did not want Gramps in lane one to lap me over and over, and the Olympic swimmer in lane two just made me tired. I swam on my back. I swam on my side. I swam freestyle and I did the breast stroke. I swam under the water and on top of the water, and I was breathless when it was over. The lifeguards spent most of their time blowing their whistles and telling children (with no parental units) to stop running, stop fighting, and… if I’d had my way about it… stop breathing. They did not have to perform CPR on me; therefore, it was a good day.

Before I knew it, there was a contingency of people assembled in the no grade pool and a woman dressed in sweats standing on the edge. She was yelling instructions over the sounds of the screaming children and I realized this was the aerobic class. I hauled Large Marge out of the lap pool (much to the joy of my lane partner) and joined the water aerobics group.

The first thing I realized was that I was the youngest person in the group. Apparently the geriatric crowd really goes for water aerobics. The screaming children have been roped into the shallow “play” end of the pool while I and 20 of my closest elderly friends are thrashing about in about 4-5 feet of water.

Thrashing about is the kindest phrase one can use when describing water aerobics. One attends with the exuberant expectation of joining Esther Williams and her entourage in graceful moves that are peaceful and classical. When you realize that granny has smacked you upside the head for the fifth time and you more closely resemble Shamu than Esther… you really only want the class to end. Once it is over, being the nice girl your Mamma raised you to be, you stand at the side and help the little old ladies out of the water, then you rush past them to the locker room to change before all the changing stalls are taken.

I had a few days away from the Y because of Thanksgiving obligations, but I planned to resume my new found love the Monday after. Today.

I took a look at the activity schedule again to see what the upwardly mobile people would be doing at the Y, which did not involve Granny and a big pool of water. I came to the stark conclusion that I may not be an upwardly mobile person. I certainly do not feel mobile at the present time. Why? Basic But Tough Step Aerobics (a/k/a Have You Lost Your Ever-Loving Mind Step Aerobics)

I didn’t want to be alone on my first venture to an aerobics class in say, oh, 10 years or so. I called my sister-in-law, but she had done her damage at the Y earlier that day. So, I talked my 17 year old niece into attending with me. She’s never been to an aerobics class… let alone a step class. I figured I could help her with the basic steps (that Jane Fonda taught me in the 80s) and she could resuscitate me or call 911 in the event that I passed out (she has her own cell phone, you know) What I would NEVER have seen coming would be the fact that the class is 60 minutes long. I certainly believed it to only be a 30 minute class. That was as long as Jane ever had me grape-vining left and right in her leopard print leotard.

We were on the front row, because we were some of the last people to arrive. You could have sworn that the rest of the 20 people in the class were Baptists, by the way they huddled toward the back of the room. Kristin was great. Have I mentioned she is 17? The biggest problem is that she had to head out at the half-way point to attend a Bible study. She left me there to flounder on my own. But I stuck with it. I remembered some steps, forgot others entirely and generally prayed that I did not fall down. My step slid at times and I did my best not to trip over it whilst I moved it back into place. When I thought I was going to pass out, or hyperventilate (and I began thinking that during the warm up cycle… a mere five minutes into the 60) I simply stood and marched in place. I figured the skinny, athletic girl behind me would rather me march in place than fall backwards on her. She would not survive the blow.

Once we cooled down (a nice way of saying, hang in there… we just getting to the good part) we were instructed to replace our steps and grab a mat for our Ab workout.

What… are you kidding me? Do you really think I will be able to get up off the floor? Our instructor, Pam, who is a big boned girl too (but in great shape) assured us that it would be better for us to finish the time out completely. I was suckered into believing her. I lay down on the mat that was about a quarter of an inch thick and really felt no better than the wood flooring underneath it.

We did crunches. We did inverted crunches. We worked on our oblique muscles and we did leg lifts. We stretched and stretched some more, which was when the muscle cramps began.

“I’m sorry, Pam… I’m going to need to stop now… my toes have curled under my feet and it will take some time to retrieve them. No… really, that’s okay… I like it when my…


There goes that calf muscle… No, it’s okay, I’m sure if I eat a banana, it will give me the


Yep, that was my back. No really… I’m good… I’ll just reach for that water bottle over there and


What’s wrong with my neck? I’m not sure. If you’ll just take this mat back, I’m going to throw Large Marge into the lap pool where she can drown peacefully.”

There’s an indoor cycling class that is being offered tomorrow. I know that exercise creates endorphins, which really give you a boost. I’m fairly certain that endorphins also kill brain cells… because I’m actually considering returning to the Y tomorrow.

1 comment:

Kim said...

OMG, Cathy! I'm sorry I ditched you that night. These stories are priceless. I hope you're printing them out 4 times for your nieces and nephew. Kristin wasn't any better off than you were when she got home! 17....but out of shape! haha!