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Confessions of a Former Gym Rat

Life in the Real World. This episode: Confessions of a Former Gym Rat, or What the Heck Happened?

Back in the day when the World was Young and I still had Big Hair, I was a certified Gym Rat. The YMCA was on my way to work and I was a devotee. OK, obsessed is a better word. I was there at least five days a week. Even the cleaning staff knew my name.

Some days if my boss was out of the office I’d take a longer lunch break and hit the Y again for a midday quickie.  I’d get out of bed at 5 a.m. (sometimes 4:30 a.m. if I had to be at the office early) and work out for a couple of hours, shower, dress and head to work. 

I had abs you could bounce a quarter off of. The workouts - coupled with a strange reluctance to be seen eating in public (OK, and maybe a touch of anorexia) - meant for the first time in my life I was THIN. I had hip bones that could slice bread. Even my feet got skinny.

Fast forward a few years, a few job changes, and LORDY, what a difference. When a colleague from the Slim Days saw me, he his jaw dropped and he asked what had happened in the interim as I’d been so svelte. (Yes, he actually used the word “svelte.”) I had been kicked out of the Rat Pack. I was inching toward menopause.  I had hated several of the intervening jobs and tried to choke my depression with food. I couldn’t feel my hip bones and could barely even see my feet. I was, in fact, beginning to resemble the Stay Puft man.

After being “downsized” again I had the opportunity to work from home, which supposedly would give me enough free time for a daily workout. Didn’t happen. I didn’t gain much weight, but working from home was like having your desk in the breakroom in front of the vending machines with an endless supply of change in your pocket. It wasn’t pretty.

Finally, I got sick of seeing my best friend drop pounds and gain muscles so I started going to Weight Watchers with her.  I did lose some weight, but still never carved time for a workout.

Fast forward again. I’ve regained some of the weight I’d lost (even though I still hadn’t lost it all to begin with.) My doctor threatened me with diabetes and high blood pressure. So I joined a gym. I resolved to get up at 5 a.m. four days a week and go. Didn’t happen. I thought I’d compromise and rise at 5:30 and go three days a week. Didn’t happen. I’m dragging myself up at 6 a.m. and going maybe twice a week.

What the heck happened to the woman who leapt out of bed before the 5 a.m. alarm clock rang? Where did she go and how do I get her back?

Maybe she’s gone for good. Maybe she’s been replaced by a woman with a touch of grey at the temples and laugh lines. Replaced by a woman who knows it doesn’t matter what size your body is as long as it’s healthy. Replaced by a woman who’d rather watch a sunrise than an exercise video. But I’ll tell you one thing. If I ever see her again I’ll tell her to enjoy it as long as she can. Then I’ll make her eat a donut. 

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David Bruce May 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM
It's more difficult to find a happy medium. Last year I'd joined a gym by the office and went swimming daily for 45 minutes of laps at lunch. Around Thanksgiving and through the following March, I'd quit and gained back 20 of the 30 pounds I'd lost. This year, instead of joining the gym, I'm keeping it simple and cheap by using my work breaks for walking around the office park, which gets me away from my desk and perks me up. Add that with old-fashioned calisthenics of push-ups and crunches, and I'm slowly shedding that weight again. I still eat out and splurge on weekends, so I get it comes down to not being perfect, just moderating those extra good not-so-good-for-you foods we like to indulge in.
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