My Gym Experience

New York City 10956

Last week I posted about my propensity for making excuses and my need to develop better habits.  I don’t have any new news to post about this week but in the interest of developing better habits I wanted to be sure to post this week so that I can make it a habit.

As I’ve mentioned I have joined a gym.  I am nowhere near what you would call a gym rat.  One of my servers is a self-professed gym rat.  She describes the feeling and experience of exercising in very much the same way I would describe the euphoria of eating warm chocolate chip cookies atop a mountain of Bear Claw ice cream.

Excuse me, I have to take a moment to collect myself.

Okay, as I was saying, exercise is more of a drudgery for me than an exhilarating rush.  There are a few people in my gym that exhibit the same symptoms as I do.  I call us RGPs (Reticent Gym Prisoners). You can spot them fairly easily in my gym, which seems to be mostly populated by the Enthusiastic Gym Operative or EGOs (more on them later).

As an RGP I can recognize (and relate to) the character traits of my fellow prisoners.  It begins with the slow walk from the parking lot to the gym entrance.  In the mind you are still battling with how much you want to do this.  You know that the rewards far outweigh the cost.  It’s just that the cost is immediate and the rewards are more long-term.  Once inside the gym it is customary to make sure that your thumb print scan is as accurate as possible being sure to leave your finger in place a few extra seconds to make certain that you are indeed eligible to exercise at this gym (of course, all the while secretly hoping that it blocks you and two over-muscled goons escort you back to the parking lot).

Once you’ve successfully signed in, you walk over to the equipment, making sure to adjust to the maximum comfort levels (comfort here meaning least painful) and begin your work out.  Now is when the RGP breaks down into a couple different categories.  First, is the Clock Watcher.  This RGP can be seen constantly looking at the clock on the exercise equipment eagerly anticipating its completion.  Second is the Distracted.  This is the category in which I fall.  Exercising is easy if I don’t know that I am doing it.

There are many ways to distract yourself.  One way is by competition.  This is when you keep a close eye on the person next to you and try to match or eclipse the pace they are setting.  This is a useful tool and I have employed it once or twice.  But this can be problematic especially if you wind up next to an EGO. There’s no way for an RGP to keep up with an EGO. If you do, you run the danger of doing some serious exercise (nobody needs that headache-or more accurately back, legs, shoulders, neck-ache). My distraction of choice is Netflix.  I enjoy putting on anything from the Food Network. I like Chopped. By the time the judges are enjoying dessert I have exercised for 20 minutes straight without realizing it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Occasionally, I will forget my ear buds or my phone battery is too low to watch something so I am forced to occupy my mind by observing the EGOs. This group too breaks down into several categories.  First, and my favorite is the Stalwart.  They are there every time rain or shine.  They are just basically consistent.  They have their distractions too. But they just work hard. I admire them and hope someday to be listed among their ranks.

Second, the Dreamer. These are the EGOs who are often new to the gym but they have all these grand aspirations to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.  They are only interested in getting as big and bulky as possible.  They are often seen carrying a protein drink around with them so they can “maximize muscle calibration” (it really says that on one of the bottles). They can be seen exercising in front of a mirror like some present day Narcissus believing that they can literally see their muscles growing with each rep.

The third (and by far the largest) group is the Socializers.  To be fair, this group can consist of RGPs and EGOs alike but since the very nature of an RGP is to hide in the background while exercising it is vastly more populated by EGOs.  They usually work out in groups and can be seen standing around unused gym equipment.

Mostly these groups consist of 3-5 people. They stand around talking while one of them (on a rotating basis) takes a turn on whatever equipment they have migrated towards.  Conversations include maximum number of reps, weight at which those reps were accomplished and number of consumed raw eggs. Compliments on one another’s muscles/physique are bandied about like bad jokes at a comedy club. They are an encouraging lot.  They can often be heard uttering phrases like: “You got this, Bro; Just one more, Bro; Dig a little deeper, Bro.”

It is my opinion if they spent as much time working out as they did jawing about what they did last weekend or the body building competition they will join once the creatine kicks in, they would all be bigger than The Rock.

Suffice it to say that I will never be listed among their number.  I don’t have the desire and I feel like my IQ is just far too high to be comfortable around them.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go to the gym now and sit in the parking lot struggling with my self-loathing.

One Month in and doing alright.

moon design studio co. presents

I missed a week.

If it’s any consolation I only missed posting a blog, not eating right and exercising.  I am officially through one month (technically one month and one week). As it stands I am down 25 lbs. (technically 25.2).  I am also enjoying the added benefit of fitting into clothes that I previously couldn’t wear (technically I wore them but I shouldn’t have).  I have a couple of work shirts that I wear twice a week and while I have worn them since receiving them, I taxed them far beyond the abilities of mortal clothing.  I am happy to report that they now fit comfortably.  I am also down two notches on my belt-something else that was taxed beyond normal standards.  I am feeling better and if I may be so bold, I am looking better.

That’s not to say that this first month has been without its trials.  There have been several nights after work where going to the gym has been a struggle.  I’ve had to talk myself out of the comfort of my car like a hostage negotiator.  “C’mon, you have to work with me here. You go inside and I’ll make sure you get the large pizza, helicopter and $1,000,000 in small, unmarked, non-sequential bills.” Fortunately, just like on TV I fall for it every time even though I know I can’t fulfill  any of my demands.

It has also occurred on two occasions that I have missed the gym in the morning before work.  The first day was the day after labor day in which I had played baseball and swam(?) swimmed(?)-had swummed(?) (At any rate I was in a pool doing that thing were you move your arms and legs so as not to die).  The second was just this last Tuesday when I woke up at the sound of my alarm and turned it off and then was awakened 20 minutes later by my 4 year old crawling into bed.  But despite that I just made it up later in the week and haven’t missed going to the gym 5 times in a week, yet.

Eating right has not been as challenging, YET, as I thought it would be.  My wife has been doing some amazing, “clean eating” recipes which she posts on her blog at 365ish Days of Pinterest (Nothing wrong with a little cross promotion, right?). We’ve eaten well.  We have a cheat day once a week in which we are allowed one sweet treat.  So when I have a craving for something I just talk myself into waiting for cheat day.  When cheat day comes I find that I am not willing to over do it on the sweet treat because I don’t want to undo all the hard work it took to get to the cheat day.  Side note: once I reach my desired weight I plan on tearing through a carton of  Bear Claw ice cream. Trust me, 2017 can’t get here fast enough.

I am enjoying my gym membership.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been waiting to try the elliptical machine as it protested loudly the first time I tried to use it.  Well, today I gave it another shot.  It still protested although not as loudly and since there were plenty of other people using the protesting machines I felt confident enough to carry on.  I joined the chorus of elliptical machines, mine, of course, singing lead.  Just after I had passed one mile (yeah me!) there came a loud CU-CHUNK from my machine (which I’m pretty sure is elliptical for “Okay, fat boy, this is as far as I take you.“) so I quickly stopped, wiped it down and walked away like I had never been there.  I am dreading the return trip tomorrow morning where I expect to see that particular machine replaced with a grave stone which reads “RIP-elliptical #3-You gave more than was asked-and that last guy was asking a lot!”

I have made a new friend at the gym whose name aptly enough is Jim.  He is an older gentleman who could exercise circles around me and most of the people there.  He took time one day to tell me how much he admired us “big guys” who find a way to get to the gym and exercise on a regular basis.  He didn’t say it with any pity or sarcasm. It was pure compassion and encouragement.  We see each other on Mondays and Tuesdays and now we talk regularly.

That is one thing I have appreciated through the beginning of this process.  I have received encouragement from so many people: My family, my church family, friends, co-workers, customers, complete strangers.  It is a blessing to have you all supporting me.  I’ll be honest (as I mentioned in the first post) I probably would have quit already if I was just trying to do this for myself.  Knowing that you all are supporting me and encouraging me, the people-pleaser in me just doesn’t want to let you down.  So thank you for your month long support.  I looked forward to rejoicing in victory with you all at the end.  The ice cream will be on me.