Slice of Write

Stories & jibber-jabber by Janelle Parmer, Author of The Other Side of the Ledge & Chasing Calla Lilies

Yes, I have turned into one of those people that I used to make fun of.  After New Year’s, I vowed to change my diet, actually use the gym membership I’ve been paying on for the past 18 months, and lose the 40 pounds that has permanently latched onto my body like a vice.  I do agree with the consensus that metabolism reduces to nothing after the age of 40, and me being chained to a desk all day, has contributed to my weight gain, but I’ll be the first to admit, I just love food. There, I said it.  Yes, I just love to eat.  What’s wrong with that?  If I want to eat a burrito, I eat a burrito.  Life is too short to deprive myself.  However, I do realize I can’t sustain this lifestyle either.  There has to be a balance and I am on a mission to find it.  On January 2, I wake from my winter slumber a few minutes earlier than normal to gather all of my necessary work-out items.  I grab my new, turquoise colored gym bag and carefully place my work-out clothes, shoes, socks, towel and, deodorant in all of the correct zipper compartments.  I drive to work and proudly walk in with the turquoise bag on my shoulder.  I want everyone to know where I’m going after work.  I practice my answers to pretend questions thrown at me.  Sorry, Nancy, I’m going to the gym after work.  Nope, Jason, I’m going to the gym after work.  Yep, I am feeling pretty awesome about myself as I strut to my cubicle and lay the gym bag under my desk.  Every so often my feet would rub against it and I would smile to myself.  Yep, going to the gym tonight.  I’m going to start this new life and it will be amazing. 

The day was going pretty well until the afternoon.  The morning had flown by, lunch was a salad and some crackers, but by 3:00 p.m., I was feeling hungry and tired.  I grabbed a tiny piece of 100 calorie chocolate and washed it down with some low calorie, flavored coffee.  I was feeling pretty confident to start my new gym life at 5:00 p.m.  By 5:15 p.m., I had changed into my work-out clothes and was driving to the gym.  The parking lot was filled by the time I pulled into the parking lot at 5:45 p.m.  I didn’t want to park that far away from the front entrance, but apparently, I was going to have to do so.  I finally found a parking spot, looked at myself in the mirror, and whispered, “you can do this.”  I grabbed my gym bag, keys, and water bottle.  There were groups of people in gym clothes talking in the parking lot, eating nutrition bars, and wiping their brows with their gym towels.  I smile as I walk by each group.  Sometimes they smiled back or nodded their heads in my direction.  It felt good to finally be a part of a group.  These are my people now.  Gym people.

I walk in the front door and swipe my membership card at the kiosk like a pro.  The place is packed.  I planned to start out slow, so immediately began searching for a treadmill or bicycle.  Crap.  All of my new gym friends are using the machines.  I reluctantly walk towards the ellipticals.  I like the elliptical, but I’m afraid I might not be up to it on my first night.  I look down the line of machines and see one free elliptical, in between a guy that could be my Father, who is killing it on the elliptical by the way, and a teenage girl that probably has never had an ounce of fat on her body in her life.  I look back towards the treadmills and bicycles, hoping one had magically become available in the last ten seconds.  Nope.  I then turn my attention to the rowing machines.  The four rowing machines were occupied by guys who looked like they were on the US Olympic team.  I decide I better make my move on the free elliptical before someone else jumps on it.  I speed walk down the row of ellipticals and fumble to get on the machine.  I tried to look like I knew what I was doing, but it was obvious I didn’t.  I struggled to turn on the machine.  My gym dad next to me saw my failed attempt to get this machine going.  He told me, in between deep breaths, to just start pumping and the machine would turn on.  I did so and the machine lit up.  I smiled and thanked him.  He half smiled and returned to watching the gigantic televisions screens on the wall. 

Two minutes in, I was still feeling good.  I got this.  My body was feeling great.  Muscles were moving in ways they haven’t moved in years.  About 6 minutes in, the burning started.  Wow, these muscles are really out of shape.  My pace was so much slower than my gym dad on my right and miss teen on my left.  I kept my eyes on the treadmills and bicycles to see when one became available.  Nineteen long minutes later, I was still waiting for a treadmill or bicycle.  By the time someone was getting off of a machine, there was already someone new taking their place.  I had wanted to get off this machine about 1000 times in the last 20 minutes, but promised myself I would keep going until I hit 25 minutes.  If I wasn’t going to get another machine, then I need to make the most of the elliptical…even if it kills me, which it might at this point.  Twenty-three minutes in and I can feel the sweat oozing from my back.  I imagine the nasty stains imprinted all over my new shirt.  I wipe my brow again and take a quick swig of water. 

The last two minutes feel like an eternity.  My sports bra is strangling me like a pair of tight panty hose on a hot day.  I look down and notice my left shoe is untied.  After some back and forth, I decide to press on and finish my last minute.  No need to stop and tie my shoe.  I just hoped I was able to hold my balance for the next 60 seconds.  I push my bangs out of my face for the millionth time and rub my brow again.  I look down and see I made my goal!  I gradually slow down over the next minute to give myself some time to cool down.  If I suddenly stopped, I probably would have fallen off the machine.  My legs were somehow numb, but burning at the same time.  I grab some disposable cleaning clothes that were left on the machine.  As I start to wipe my blood, sweat, tears, and dignity from the elliptical, my gym dad looks over, smiles, and says “good job, tonight”.  Before I have a chance to smile back, he turned his attention back to the large television screens.  I finish cleaning the elliptical and awkwardly maneuver myself off of the machine.  As I turn to make my way to the exit, Miss Teen smiles and gives me a thumbs up.  I smile and nod back at her.  That smile didn’t leave my face until I finally fell asleep a few hours later. I woke up the next morning, sore as hell, but excited to do it all over again.

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