It’s been a very long time in the making but I finally got myself a gym membership and started on February 7, 2016. I’m writing that date down for my own benefit so I can come back next year and see what progress I’ve made.
Three knee surgeries and one doozy of an arm surgery over the years gave me great excuses to NOT exercise. My health finally won over as being a stronger reason than laziness. Over the course of my lifespan, I’ve belonged to six or so fitness centers. I like the results. I like the workouts. I love the energy I reclaim. I like feeling more physically fit. I don’t have TIME to spend an hour and a half every day at a gym. I made time.
The reason for the gym membership is my health. I was tired all. the. time. After dinner and dishes and kids to bed, I generally want to go to sleep myself. Yes, at 8:30pm. SLEEP. I wake up at an unholy time in the morning – somewhere between 5am and 6am. (I don’t NEED to be up that early, I just AM.) I attributed my early bedtime to waking up at a crazy hour. In reality, I’m just out of shape and energy because of my weight and lack of movement.
I started with a casual 20-minute stroll on the treadmill and 5 easy minutes on a reclining bike (my knees can’t handle an upright bike) and nearly passed out from exhaustion halfway through. I went home and secretly cursed my one-year gym contract. Five weeks later I’ve ditched the treadmill for the following workout:
- Weight machines. All arms and core – abs and lower/upper back. Because of the arm surgery, there is one motion I really can’t do with weights – anything that requires me to push weight straight above my head – but I’m doing pretty well otherwise. If I can tone my upper arms and back I’ll be happy. I do ZERO legs (insert your own “don’t skip leg day bro” meme here…) because the cardio I do is replacing it (and again: SUPER BAD KNEES.)
- 10 minutes on a crossover elliptical. The machine is a mix between a stair stepper and an elliptical – the motion is back and out to the side, more like skiing than running. I’ve named it The Devil. When I first tried it I lasted 2.5 minutes. Now I’m up to 10 minutes with a harder resistance and faster pace. That machine is my own personal litmus test of endurance.
- 10 minutes on a ‘bouncy’ elliptical. I don’t know the exact name/type of machine except to say it’s got the motion of an elliptical but I can set my own gait and it’s suspended with bands (not a back flywheel like a ‘normal’ elliptical) so it’s got great bounce which helps protect my knees immensely.
- 15 pedaling-like-a-fiend minutes on a reclining bike. It’s actually a reward for me. I can sit, pedal and surf Facebook and Snapchat.
I didn’t think I’d improve this quickly but am cautious to be careful not to hurt myself. My gym also has a great coaching/trainer team and help me out all the time. With that stated, I do fully intend to work up to 30 minutes on The Devil and the same on the elliptical with a cooldown on the bike. The weights may not get too much heavier but I can move from large muscle groups to more specific ones to help with spot toning. I’ve also started taking a Yin Yoga class that is nothing short of a miracle for stretching. Part of the side effects of the knee issues I have is that my hip flexors and IT bands are nearly cement they are so tight. Yoga stretches out my back and hips and I’m pretty sure is the reason I was able to improve so quickly with the cardio machines.
I’m never going to be skinny or wear single-digit sized clothing again. At this point in my life, I really don’t care. The most self-centered reason for going to the gym 6-7 times a week is to be able to fit into a closet full of amazing vintage-inspired clothes I own. I don’t really have any place to ever wear my pretty clothes but I at least want to FIT in them. My laundry basket is only filled with workout clothes now. I can live with that.
Something I have had to come to terms with over the past weeks is that I may actually NOT ever lose a pound or an inch going to the gym this time around. Those clothes may just keep hanging in the closet. I’m just shy of 45 years old. Things don’t just magically get better at any age let alone MY age. I eat pretty well so I don’t know what I’m going to fix to drop pounds. I’m sure things are redistributing (muscle is heavier than fat for space it takes on a body…) so I’ll be happy for the time being with MORE ENERGY. Seriously, ask my family. I’m insane – LET’S ALL GO TO THE GYM RIGHT NOW GET IN THE CAR IT’S ONLY 6AM MUCH WOW!!