Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eleanor V. Physical Fitness, Part [a billion].

I’ve always had issues with exercise. Back when I was a kid, I played too many sports to really worry about it. My borderline obsessive-compulsive addiction to competition heavily outweighed my inclination towards sitting around eating double stuffed Oreos. And by heavily outweighed, I mean, I still did it, I just had to wait until after volleyball camp.

However, and I think I’m entirely entitled to do so, I’m inclined to place blame on the seductive lure of theatrical arts as it pertains to my physical fitness downfall. What 15-year-old kid wouldn’t choose the life of a drama kid over the 4:30 AM wake up call for JV basketball practice? As romantic and enticing as it sounds, the act of choking down a complete, balanced meal at 5 AM under the direction of a sadistic coach 30 minutes prior to being forced to run lines until you vomit said meal back up, it’s really not awesome.  And yet, even with all the perks of a theatrical life, my physical condition dwindled. And yes, “dwindled” is just a nice way of saying, “I got fat.”

And it’s at some point around the age of 17, this girl wakes up to realize, holy smokes. I’m fat, and my depression is a direct result of being fat. If I had only been a little more masochistic, I could have avoided this unpleasantness. But hindsight is 20/20, the grass is greener on the other side, second mouse gets the cheese, whatever. The point was I needed to get back into a shape that was a little less round. And that has been a daily battle ever since.

First I tried the gym. Let’s speak only a moment of the hell that is “the gym.” There are two types of people that go to the gym. There is the ridiculously fit woman, with her Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” abs and non-moving massive chesticles, who is running for probably close to 4 hours on the treadmill with a speed that far out-rolls my 5.5 average speed. And she’s always smiling.  SMILING. She’s happy to be only kind of sweating and running, with her boobies sticking so far out in front of her that somehow, defying any kind of physical explanation, they keep bumping into the Stairmaster in the row in front of her. And I just want to punch her perfectly made up smiling face for beating me to the perfect ab condition, and being so happy in place that makes me so miserable. And then I want to shove hamburgers and snickerdoodles in her face until she cries. So she can know suffering as I have.

Then there’s the horribly sweaty, disgusting large man on the recumbent bike in front of me. I don’t care where I am, what machine I’m on, I could be in the free weight zone and he’d move that stupid bike to right in front of my eye line and make me see him, and smell him and his 1.5 speed with zero resistance fake bike ride. Flashes of high school basketball practice start to resurface. That moment you’re on your eleventh set of lines, and something for just a brief second starts to smell a little bit like eggs and BAM, I’m looking at a trashcan and wanting to die. People have two smells at the gym: vomit-inducing or the popular ‘I just bathed in cologne’ smell, which can also be vomit-inducing. I don’t know about anyone else, but my entire goal is to smell like NOTHING. I go to the gym, I wear the deodorizing kind of deodorant, and that’s it. You know why? Because when I’m at the gym, I don’t really want anyone to see me. I don’t want to be seen or smelled or touched. I want to get my two hours of self-loathing physical abuse out of the way and I want to go home and shower. That’s it. And I think the gym would be a better, happier place if everyone else would adopt this goal. An entire room full of people minding their own business, smelling like nothing, and averting their eyes? That’s the dream.

I’ve tried other means of exercise. Let’s be honest, I’m broke and can’t really afford the gym as it is. So I thought I’d give “running the lake” a shot. I thought, that looks like it’s fulfilling. All those people, jogging in adorable track suits with their iPods and designer running shoes. I have an iPod! I can buy shoes! I can totally do that.

And then I tried.

And about four minutes after I started, I realized one true thing: I am not a “run at the lake” kind of girl.

That shit is HARD. All those people you see running the lake? Forget those people. I don’t know where this energy comes from, and how they are thinking ANYTHING that’s not, “oh God this sucks. How much longer? How has it only been half of a glee song? Why did I think I could do this? I’m a failure at everything, ever. I’m getting a cramp. Gotta walk it off. Can’t stop. Shouldn’t stop. I’m a survivor. No I’m not. Fuck it, I’m gonna walk the next three miles. Then I want a beer.”

Needless to say, that didn’t last.

So I thought about getting a bike. That looks like an appropriate amount of work. But every time I look at bikes for sale, I think, man, everyone that I hate rides a stupid bike. Can I really bring myself to be one of those people? I would be a bike rider. And you know buying a bike for exercise is just a gateway to becoming a full on cyclist. Because you think, man, it’s such a nice day, I think I’ll bike to the post office today. And then it’s the bank. And then it’s the grocery store and you’re buying cargo-carrying accessories for your exercise bike. And suddenly you’ve got one pant leg rolled up on your way to work, yelling at cars who cut into the bike lane too early without looking and suddenly, you’re THAT person.

No, it seems that if I were to purchase a bike for any reason, it would ultimately result in an entire psychiatric break that involved a public denouncement of said bicycle, abandoning it in a gutter and throwing my helmet at some other oncoming cyclist, with a false accusation of his involvement in the deterioration of my dignity. And that just sounds like a mess.

So if the gym is out, and I’m not a runner, and I can’t get a bike for personal integrity reasons, what’s left? I thought about rollerblades, but those really only make sense if you live in the suburbs of Spring, Texas, where roads are actually paved, and there’s a roller-rink right around the corner from the local Jewish Community Center that your best friend has to attend every Saturday, which is weird cause in school they said being Jewish was a religious thing and everyone knows religious stuff is for Sunday, on account of that’s what the Pope said. And I keep seeing ads for “creative exercise” which is like those acrobat and trapeze classes you can take at gymnastic places, but my irreversible fear of heights, falling and dying seem to put a damper on that possibility.

So I’ve got three hundred dollars worth of track suits and overpriced running shoes and no where to go, aside from a ‘no-costume-necessary’ walk on role as Sue Sylvester’s college intern on a rather odd episode of Glee. I could vow to eat better, but the minute disaster strikes it’s me, some yoga pants, a Law & Order marathon and a bag of kettle korn as my only confidant. Counting calories only works if you count ALL the calories, and not the ones that “don’t count,” like morning coffee, or any food that’s free. If I didn’t pay for it fiscally, I shouldn’t have to pay for it calorically either.

So I’ll just take up residence between this rock, and that hard place, and hope that my California lifestyle warrants enough accidental exercise to keep me from getting stuck in between the two.


  1. Good to have you back in print! So are you saying you're not getting my money's worth out of that monthly charge on my credit card statement?

  2. There were so many bits in this that made me laugh...and also some that made my stomach churn a little bit (that that's good because your descriptive writing is awesome).

    Like egg smell? *shivers* ew...

    "How has it only been half a Glee song?" lol...[insert Liz Lemon disgruntled noise here]

    I am happy you didn't buy roller blades...all I can imagine is stepping outside your place an then being stuck, lol. Maybe you could go up and down your street without launching downhill full speed. (not that I don't have complete faith in your rollerblading skills, because I do. Also...say there WAS a roller rink around? Would you go...with me?)

    Finally, I'm with you on the whole free food not counting for anything. Totally.

    Glad to see a new blog post from you :)


  3. This sounds remarkably like my experience with exercise. I sold my soul and joined weight watchers over a year ago though. Though I stopped keeping track of points six months ago. Oh, and this is Rebecca by the way.

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