Balls, balls, balls to the wall.
The Hubster and I took a short trip last month to Memphis and Arkansas. Did you know the WHOLE place is covered in trees and water? There are lakes and hiking trails and biking trails! There are places for you to swim with your kids AND your dogs! It was a revelation. Every time Hubs saw something interesting, like a park or nature conservatory, he wanted to stop and get out – to explore.
Forgetting my Boy Scout ways, I was completely unprepared for the change of scenery. Always in a dress, always in my gold sandals. If you have ever spent any time in that part of the country, you know the whole place is uphill. Even if you think you have crested the hill and expect to be headed down hill any moment – nope. You’re mistaken. Still uphill.
And it’s humid people, like sucking water instead of air. Meanwhile, skinnyfit Hubs is sprinting uphill in jeans, dress shoes and a long-sleeved shirt, marveling at the trees and the water and I am panting along doggedly behind him. My feet hurt and my glutes are burning when I say I would prefer the elevator to the flights of stairs looming ahead. Worst is my hair, my vainglorious hair. It is starting to … grow in the humidity. Not in luxurious length but in volume, like some GIANT puffy overgrown junior high perm. I am frantically scanning the ground for a rubber band so I can pull this new-found mane up and off my clammy head.
“We have got to get you moving, Melanie” the Hubs says, big stupid encouraging smile on his face. I am now actually starting to sweat, which I hate, and I have to fight the urge to shove him off the side of the trail bridge. As I fantasize about an alligator looming up out of the water and snapping him right up, I think, “Oh, I can move buddy, move that smile right off your only-one-chinned face.”
But I don’t. He’s got the car keys to the rental car in his pocket and I really don’t need that kind of hassle.
Inside though, I am feeling more than a little annoyed. I have been going to the gym regularly for the first time in my life and the elliptical and I are big buddies. Heck, I even do circuit training. I eat smoothies with coconut oil and flax and chia seeds. But there is no denying, I might be a little more out of shape than I thought I was.
So when we get back to the car, that sweet, soft, airconditioned refuge, I bit the bullet and sent an SOS message to Doug Seawright, the trainer I know from church. My investment, he said, would be minimal. All I needed were dumb bells and an exercise ball. Now, if you are thinking of purchasing one of these torture balls, be aware that they are sized by height. The shorter you are, the smaller the ball you need. If you are vertically challenged, the last thing you need to do is the spread-eagle-teeter atop a giant, rolling ball in your living room, helplessly careening toward the fireplace ledge, and your feet can’t reach the floor to stop you. Trust me on this.
Having a trainer has been dreadful and wonderful. I love Doug, I hate Doug, and I resent his interference – all at the same time. So it’s a lot like having parents again! We have been working on sets of exercises to develop my own personal five-day training regimen. The exercises have real names, like Shoulder 21’s, and standing wall push-ups, bent-over rows, leg extensions, chest press with weights, Swiss squats. I prefer my naming system, though, I use numbers instead. For example, there’s the I Hate Doug No. 1, I Hate Doug No. 2 with ball, I Hate Doug No. 3, I Hate Doug No. 4, and I Really Hate Doug No. 5 with ball.
Seriously though, Doug is super encouraging, which I need. He even sends me the occasional cheerleader text. I try to distract him during our sessions with chatter about wine or his education, even our mutual love for banana pudding. I do all this to try to get him to lose count of my squats so I can be done sooner. But he is wise to me. He made me repeat a whole set just so I will learn my lesson. I Hate Doug No. 6, with and without ball.
Did you know that if you do 30 Swiss squats and 30 regular squats, without ever having done a single squat before in your entire life, you cannot walk like a normal person for three days? You will have to go down stairs sideways, holding on for dear life. Your children will laugh at you when you hobble in a maxi dress. You will moan in pain every time you try to go to the bathroom. Which is a lot when you are 38 again, have given birth twice, and are trying to drink at least a half gallon of water a day.
Did you also know that if you work out regularly for just two weeks, you will have more energy? And that if you use a trainer that comes to your house, you will also be forced to keep your house clean? You never know where that ball will roll with a stranger chasing after you … .
What has been really great though is the sense of accomplishment I have felt. When it gets really, really hard and I am sweating and swearing, Doug will remind me to concentrate on those muscles, tell me that I really can do it. More importantly, that I really need to do it for myself, and that I need to change my mindset about exercise.
‘You have to remind yourself that this is your time, your time for recreation. An hour that you take, just for you, so that you will feel good and you will feel strong.’ Him calling exercise “recreation” might be I Hate Doug No. 7. So, yeah, I am not there yet, but there’s always tomorrow! And tomorrow is cardio day, so no squats!