Home » Distractions from My Angst » How I Work Out

How I Work Out

I work out sporadically. I’m told that my lack of routine is a hindrance toward progress, but since working out is strictly based on the factors of guilt, boredom, and whether or not I can fit into my “average day” pants, workouts simply aren’t something that happens with any regularity. For those of you wondering what I mean by “average day” pants, here is a brief caveat: I have about three times too many pants in my closet. One-third of them are too little, ranging from “could lose 5 pounds” to “sausage casing tight”. One-third of them are too big for those days of lounging around or for days I feel huge. And one-third of them are just right. This Goldilocksian approach to fashion has made for a bursting closet, but there’s something optimistic about staring at a size 6 and going “I could probably… feasibly… get into that… if I took out my ribcage and ate nothing but leeks…”

But back to working out. I never approach working out with anything resembling enthusiasm. The emotions are more akin to low-level dread, like going to a dentist office. Occasionally the prospect inspires all-out hostility, but more usually it resembles mere drudgery. When I know it’s time to work out, I slowly change into my workout clothes. I spend about thirty minutes updating my iPod and trying on different socks. Usually I put on lip gloss because I’ve got to be ~pretty~ while I sweat to death. Once I get the ponytail on, though, I’m ready to venture outside or to the gym or wherever the torture dungeon is located. Once situated, I stretch in an incredibly self-conscious, half-ass way. I envy people who can stretch and not feel like they’re five years old and in a dance recital. Once I’ve reached the highest levels of discomfort yet still not managed to stretch my back properly, I remember that I’m supposed to do cardio. Do I do cardio to warm up? Or does it come after strength training? I usually decide that I’ll do some cardio now and then return after the rest of the workout to finish it up.

My ambition overfloweth. I decide to do thirty minutes on the elliptical, and plug in my iPod. My iPod is an essential figure in the drama of the workout, because while I work out, I listen to loud obnoxious dance music and pretend that I’m a spy in a forbidden love triangle who has been tasked to rip apart an army of international assassins (or sometimes aliens) with my bare hands because I’m just that badass. There’s usually a nice music video playing in my head that Quentin Tarantino would consider too-violent over the dulcet tones of Britney chirping about dancing ’til the world ends. That music video starring a more-awesome version of myself usually gets me through about three songs, or 10 minutes on the elliptical. When pretending to rip heads off their spines fails to be interesting any more, my mind wanders. I begin to remember that this is tiring and unpleasant, that my thighs are starting to hurt and that I’m out of breath. Then, I start imagining how freakin’ hot I’ll be when I get into shape. My go-to for comparison is Eliza Dushku in Season Three of Buffy. Pretending I’m Eliza usually lasts for another 3 minutes. Eventually I start to think about having sex with Robert Downey Jr.  That gets me through another two minutes before I’ve exhausted the subject (familiarity with this particular fantasy breeds a lack of scope). By this time, working out is seriously getting on my nerves. I begin to wish I’d had a drink for this.  Or that there was fitness karaoke.  I’d rock fitness karaoke.  Instead of doing thirty minutes of cardio, I limp in at fifteen, and stumble toward the weights.

I don’t think I can properly express in writing my dripping, black-hearted, acidic loathing of weights.  There is not a single thing about them I like.  It’s the repetition that gets me. You just sit there for what feels like HOURS (and is usually thirty seconds) doing the same motion over and over until you’re either sick of it or your arm falls off.  Inevitably I decide that I’m going to push myself and start off on a weight that’s so hilariously too heavy for me I might as well try lifting a Buick. Which reminds me, I hate having to go to a weight machine and then pulling the pin from the heaviest setting and then making it so much lighter, because I remember that everyone is so much more fit than me and my arms are useless flabby noodles and I might as well go home and die from eating too many Spaghetti-Os like that guy in the opening scene in Se7en. I do weights until I’m ready to murder everyone.  Everyone in the entire gym.

After weights, I get excited.  Because the gym time is almost done!!  Just a little more cardio and I’m ready! I approach the bike machines tentatively, because I’m bored of the elliptical and I want something new.  Hopping on the bike, I power through some of Madonna’s greatest hits after putting the bike on its granny setting, because god I just want this OVER and haven’t I sweated enough already?  I can probably die from this, right?  At this point, I’m biking like a crazy person. If the machine could smoke, I’d be on fire. Most everyone else are enjoying their workouts, or at least pushing themselves harder, and then here I come like I’m peddling home from the warfront, a maniacal gleam in my eyes because this goddamn workout is almost DONE.

When the machine finally beeps, I rise… and usually fall over, or trip, or otherwise make an idiot of myself, because even though I’ve had my bike on the granny setting, I’ve been peddling like a coked-up racehorse, and my legs can’t handle this serious business.  I know I’m supposed to “cool down”, whatever that means, but leaving this place in the dust will probably cool me down, right? Christ. I limp my way to the locker room to spray myself down in cheap perfume and to drink a liter of water, but it’s no use. I’m done for the day. I’m spent.

And when I wake up the next day, I am so sore that existing is too much to bear. I skip the gym because I was so good yesterday.

And then I skip the gym for a month.

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