Friday, January 09, 2009

Push Start

"Remember how good you felt afterward the last time," I said to myself as I tied the laces of my running shoes. I sifted through the detritus of my desk in search of a ponytail holder.

"It really wasn't that bad."

"It's only an hour."

"You even made that new mix to listen to."

These are the things I say to myself to talk my way out the door and into the car. With the amount of convincing I take, you'd think I was going to chemotherapy, not the gym. And it's not even one of those depressing, windowless corporate gyms. This one is in a big airy loft in West Hollywood. I'm one of those people, though, whose first instinct upon waking up is to go right back to sleep for another hour. So just getting myself to the point where I back out of the driveway is a bit of a process. My first instinct is not to move.

I park and feed the meter the six quarters it requires to park on the street for ninety minutes. I start walking up the flight of stairs to the loft and, halfway up, realize I left my water bottle in the car. I growl and retrieve it. Up the stairs again.

I talk myself out of the locker room. I put a good song on my iPod. I turn on my heart rate monitor and get on the treadmill. I push "Start." One foot in front of the other.

Ten minutes later I'm talking myself into staying on the treadmill. Then I run that three-minute sprint. My heart races. My face turns purple. A maniacal Stanton Moore drum solo throbs in my ears and pushes me along. When it's over, I walk again, and it's easier now. It gets easier every time. I remind myself to use this moment in the dialogue that will no doubt again take place tomorrow morning.

I recently unfroze a gym membership I'd acquired and used last spring, before the World Series of Poker. I froze it when I left for Las Vegas and with the summer and fall spent in a new location every few weeks or so, I'd let it stay that way. Life on the road is not exactly healthy and with the prospect of spending the bulk of the next 2-3 months at home (interrupted by only two week-long trips) I decided to let it thaw out. To accomplish the things I want to this year it's going to take a lot more energy than I was clocking at in December. I'm not getting any younger, or any thinner either. Time to move.

It's unbelievable the amount of weight-loss crap that corporate America throws at us at this time of year. During the day, I often keep something like CNN, the Food Network, or Discovery Channel on a low boil while I work. You can't go more than two or three commercials in a row without being sold something diet-related. Bowflex. Bally Total Fitness. Nutri-System. Hydroxycut. Even some pill Wynonna Judd is pitching. Then there are the TV shows, like the Biggest Loser and the string of knock-offs it has inspired. Get 'em all while their New Year's Resolutions are still hot.

And of course, the next ad is for the Sourdough Steak Melt at Jack in the Box. Nom nom nom nom nom...

Truth is, I can always eat healthy when I put my mind to it and prepare accordingly. 30-odd years in the fitness capital of America and a few thousand dollars sunk into personal trainers in my early twenties have taught me how to shop for the right ingredients and cook them in a healthy manner. I have a lot of recipes up my sleeve and I actually love seeking new ones out. Even my veggiephobic boyfriend can vouch for the jerk-rubbed chicken and the cajun salmon I can turn out on a Foreman Grill (he never tastes the asparagus, though).

Exercise, though. That's a whole other ball of yarn.

The last time I worked out really regularly (and by that I mean like 4-5 times a week) I was 23 years old and adjusting to my 70-hour work week. I also had a fellow D-girl who I hit the gym with every morning at 6:30, before we both went to work. I'd blow through the L.A. Times and 50 pages of bad screenwriting and the hour on the elliptical would be up. I'd actually be awake and present when I got to my desk, not still trying to blow last night's smoke out of my noggin. After a few months, it was a routine; it was just what I did every day and the responsibility we held to one another to show up those dark mornings definitely helped me keep at it. It was also utterly necessary to keep me energized for those 14 hour days. I would never really enjoy the exercise, but at least I'd trained myself to keep going. Because the more I did it, the easier it got.

Only a week in and history is already repeating itself. Each day I go a little longer, a little faster. Each day it's a few less minutes spent trying to rip off the proverbial band-aid and get out the door. Each day I have a little more pep in my step, more lilt in my voice.

And each day, I see an unexpected person while I'm getting on that treadmill. On Tuesday it was a cast member of Grey's Anatomy. Today, it was a guy Showcase and I went to school with, who is now writing for a popular tween girls' show on the Disney Channel. Oh, and some guy wearing a T-shirt for a band called "Panda Kunts."

Who will it be tomorrow? And will I be there to find out?


GrrrlZilla said...

Wow - great post. I can really relate!

Philip Dean Brown said...

what a timely post - for me anyway, and that's what matters for the reader for your readers, it's always them, of course. but back to me - i was so close to joining the gym on monday and you just pushed me over the edge. what a genius kind of thing the writer the reader - the future gym rat. bless you.

Student of Life said...

Not that I'm doing any work on Project Apple Bottom anymore, given my ever-expanding baby belly...

BUT...I tried making myself walk/run on the elliptical trainer, and I just never got into it. It seemed like such drudgery every time. I knew it was good for me, but I couldn't get excited about it.

The first thing fitness-wise that I got excited about was kickboxing. I loved the idea of pounding out some serious stress and pretending to beat the shit out of whomever was my nemesis at the time.

Kickboxing may not be the answer for you, but maybe your gym has some other classes that might get you pumped up to get there every day. That's what it took for me. I just couldn't get excited about running, unless, of course, I was running FROM something or someone. Then, I'd be motivated to do it. Otherwise, I was sleeping in.

Unknown said...

So far so good Change. Keep it up. I'd like you to find something that you really enjoy, like me with running because it's outside, so staying active isn't such a chore. But you may not find that; that's tough to do I realize.

Great job.

lj said...

well done. motivating to go to the gym is one of my biggest weaknesses. i have decided the key is moving into a building w/ a gym.