Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leave it at the gym

Most folks who have known me personally probably would not consider me the type to be 'sporty'.  I suppose that it's with good reason.   I used to fake shin splints in school to get out of running the mile in P.E.  I actually did have shin splints once and it impeded me from performing in my ballet classes, so it was an easy 'go to' excuse from that day forward.  For many years, you would typically find me with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and a vodka tonic in my hand on any given night.  I did not own a pair of sneakers for well over a decade.  After all, standing (let alone walking or dancing in a club) in massive platform boots should be an impressive feat of athleticism in anyone's eyes, though I suppose that if that were the case they'd be handing out Olympic medals to strippers.  (Strippers are athletes in my book anyway, but that is completely off topic…. maybe another day I'll get to that.)

Well, pride changed all that.   As we get older, unfortunate things get set in motion.  As I saw this beginning to happen to my body,  I got off my ass and booked it to my nearest gym.  That was about five years ago.  I've been consumed ever since.  Nowadays, it's not just about my vanity (though it's a proven fact that when you're as small as I am in stature and structure, ten extra pounds looks like thirty, there is just nowhere for it to go).  I discovered that exercise gave me things that I never expected.  Mental clarity, structure, discipline, endorphin rushes (hey, you can't get tattooed every day, but you can break a sweat as often as you want),  mental and physical strength, basically an all around better quality of life.  

I've been wallowing in sadness for a couple of weeks, it got kicked into overdrive about five days ago, when my entire world seemed to crash down on top of me.  I was taking my prescribed Adivan to help with the anxiety, and it saved my ass those first few days.   I was freaked out and on total overdrive.   Fact is, though, that's no long term answer.  Time does help some.  I'm always astounded at how time enables the human brain to adapt to situations and ideas that are inconceivable in the beginning.  Once shock wears off, what other choice is there but to begin the process?  You can only dramatically slide down walls as you cry, starve yourself and spend all night looking at the ceiling saying "WHY??" for so long. You can only exhaust your body and brain for a certain amount of time before it stops you from continuing to do yourself harm.  

Well, I hit a point Tuesday night when my body finally just said enough. Thankfully, I shut down completely.    I slept for seven hours straight, and it was the sleep of the dead, I doubt I moved one inch the entire time.  I had a standing appointment with my trainer at eight this morning that I had forgotten to cancel.  I hadn't been in the gym since the needle scratched on the record and I was dreading the ass kicking I was about to receive at the hands of this guy.  (I usually walk into it with a feeling of anticipation, must be the masochist in me.)  

There was nothing better than I could have done for myself.  I don't know why I always forget that.  For the first time in days, I didn't think once about what a mess I was living through.  I didn't have the urge to cry or curl up into a ball on the floor…. when you're fighting the urge to vomit from physical exertion there is just not a lot of room for much else in your brain.  Everything snapped into focus for that hour, I could literally feel the anxiety and bad energy sweating out of my body with every squat, clean and press and plyometric interval.  I walked out of that gym physically shaking and feeling better.  Unbelievable.  It never fails to amaze me.

Everyone handles their problems differently. Many folks I know channel their emotions into creating their art.   Some choose to pray.  Others practice avoidance by over indulging in drugs, alcohol or food.  I know a few who just have to talk it to death.   Since I'm an atheist with no artistic talents who is too responsible these days to go on a destructive bender and much too weary to 'talk it out', I'm just going to continue leaving it all at the gym.   I can't change what is going on in my life.  What I can do is lift, sweat, jump, punch and kick until my ritual has purged all of the excess crap from my brain and body.  

My problems aren't gone, nothing is really better and probably won't be for a good while.  However, I can gift myself with some relief, if only for an hour at a time.  I can walk in with a heavy heart and leave with the load I'm carrying just a little bit lighter.   Strength is empowering and essential for survival.  I'm not stupid, I'll take it.  

p.s.  I suspect this is getting so many views because some people hoped I'd be advertising the details of my issues right now.  If you're one of them, please stop asking friends and co-workers about my business, that's just tacky.  Plus, the few that know won't tell you.  


  1. I absolutely love it & know the feeling only too well.

  2. Thanks, Vino. I'm not surprised that you, of all people, understands exactly what I'm talking about here.

  3. You go, Doppie. Feel the burn. Purge what you can. I may just do a few extra squats today in your honor. xo

  4. I only wish I had the necessary drive to join a gym.
    My excuse is that since I got fatter my tits got bigger and I don't want to lose them.
    The truth is I like chocolate far too much.

    I'm glad you're feeling better though - I tend to clean when I'm upset, my friends joke that the only time my house is up together is when I'm not.

    Re: nosy buggers - isn't it funny how that happens. I've noticed that you can post a FB status saying how happy you are and nobody comments, post one saying you feel like shit and people that cyber-ignore you the rest of the time are suddenly asking what's up.

    But hey if you feel like your in the pits then the only way is up :)

  5. I've been taking a similar approach. I used to hate running, but now its my go-to instant stress reducer, followed closely by free weights (definitely the latter if the stress is anger-induced).

    Glad to see the fight back in you; I've certainly been worried.

  6. Thanks, Ms. Peril. Don't do too many squats or you'll end up like me, it already hurts to sit down. xox

    dirtycowgirl, boobs are the bane of my existence, or rather my lack of them. I didn't have any to start with, so I have to exercise so that my stomach doesn't stick out TOO much more than they do. If I had a great rack, I'd just sit back and allow myself to be 'curvy'. But no…. no matter how much pasta and cake I eat, my chest never balloons to buxom standards.

    And yes, people are ridiculous. They have the nerve to go on fact finding missions for juicy info when they don't typically give me the time of day. Now I'm going to continue to post cryptic FB updates just to keep them salivating.

  7. Mr. O, I'm not going to lie, it felt rather touch and go regarding my ability to deal with everything there for a while… the wailing and sliding down walls comment was not an analogy. But I'm almost as practical as I am dramatic, so I'm pulling it together and trying to do something constructive instead.

    I'm trying so hard to love running, but I really do hate it. Absolutely despise going more than a mile and a half. I keep waiting for the 'running bug' to hit me, but it's continuing to elude. Bah.

  8. It does feel good to clear out the old fog and cobwebs.



  9. I loved this post. I am also an atheist and this post just gave me something to consider. I've always felt better after exercise, and you are so right about the way the mind and body heals itself. Excellent post.

  10. as a first time visitor i don't have much to say except that hitting the gym is the best, cheapest, most long lasting therapy there is. if I was a psychiatrist my first session with every patient would be walking laps at the nearest park. There are very few problems that fresh air and a good sweat can't improve.

  11. Mediocrity, hope you're doing well…. been keeping up with you on your blog. Wishing you all the best and thinking of you.

    Advizor54, thanks for stopping by. I couldn't agree more with your statement. :)