Getting Back on the Horse

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

–Japanese Proverb

I am no stranger to falling down.  I have my lack of physical coordination to thank for that.  The experiences I’ve had falling down at various points in my life have taught me many different lessons:

  • Don’t sit with your back to the edge of a bunk bed, or you’ll fall off.  Backwards, even.
  • Don’t do the limbo unless you’ve got really awesome quads that can hold your body up, or you’ll tear ligaments in your knee.
  • Do make sure you look down while carrying stuff down the stairs, or be prepared to have your butt kiss every step on the way down the entire flight.

and so on.

But I’ve also fallen down in a metaphoric sense as well, both personally and professionally.  Every time I’ve gotten back up, dusted myself off, and continued along my life’s path with a little more wisdom gained from the experience each time.

I find myself getting back up after having fallen oh so hard off the healthy lifestyle wagon over the past 3 months.  I hit a plateau with my weight loss, and I let it discourage me, as it has many times in the past.  I tried in earnest to get back on the path, but it has been difficult for a myriad of reasons, none of which are good or justifiable:

  • work stress–there was a lot this past year, more than in the past
  • end of the year celebrations–there were a lot over the past 6 weeks, all of which involved food/beverages of some kind
  • traveling for work–I did a lot of this over the last 4 weeks
  • being tired–this is a constant, unfortunately

See what I mean?   None of the above reasons are good ones for being lax with my eating and exercising.  I think what happened was that I got complacent, and I returned to old habits, figuring, hey, I am wearing smaller clothes now and I get around better, it won’t matter if I skip a workout today.  Those of you who have walked any distance in my shoes know exactly what I’m talking about.

You let out the slack a little because you feel like you can.  You get that dessert you normally wouldn’t get, or you have that drink you normally wouldn’t have.  You sleep through what was your normal workout time in the mornings because you favor rest over feeling energized via exercise that day.  You stop tracking your food and fluid intake regularly, until you stop doing it at all because you figure oh I’ll remember this for later, and then later never comes.

Then you realize that those smaller pants you bought are feeling a little snug.  You realize that while you’re walking, your knees grind a little more than usual, but in a familiar way that sends up a red flag.  You find yourself eating foods you’ve eschewed for a long, long time, and not feeling terribly good about eating them, but you do it anyway because it’s easy.

Then you tell yourself okay, well maybe I need to get back into the gym or yeah, maybe I need to start tracking my food again.  Because you know you do–there is no maybe about it.  You know that not doing it will land you back at Square One.  You know that not doing it will force you back into larger clothing sizes, the return of aches and pains long gone, and the addition of medications used to control chronic health problems previously subtracted.

Most importantly, there is no uglier truth than the number on the scale that creeps ever upward as time goes by and chips away at whatever progress you’ve made before that point.  And you and I both know that the truth cuts to the bone like the sharpest of knives.  It hurts, and the ache doesn’t go away with time.  There isn’t a salve that soothes the pain, and food makes a poor medication.

I know now that I have to get back on track.  This evening, I had my first session with my trainer in a month–he’d been out of town, as have I, so no training at all–and I became disgusted with myself after strapping on my heart rate monitor and discovering that my resting HR was back up at 80 bpm.  It had been 68 bpm when I worked out regularly.  I mean, it’s only 12 bpm, right?  But to me, that 12-beat increase is a lot.  I decided I needed to get back to the gym more regularly to drive that number back down into the 60’s.  This is not to say I haven’t exercised at all over the past 3 months; I just haven’t done it 5-6 times a week like I had been–it’s been more like once or twice a week.  Not enough to keep seeing progress.

Then, the real fire under my butt got lit when this happened:

My trainer and I were walking upstairs so he could show me how to use the elliptical machine, something I’d been wanting to learn to use just to mix things up a bit cardio-wise (a story for another post), and this guy who was standing around says to my trainer, “Did you see the hypnosis table over there in the front?”  On occasion, our gym has outside vendors come in to sell products related to health and fitness.

My trainer shook his head and said no, and then the guy points his head my direction and says directly to me, “You might want to check it out.”

It should be noted that said guy was carrying a pretty substantial beer gut, had not broken a sweat and was the gym equivalent to a barfly.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the guy was implying.  My trainer continued up the steps, speechless, and I said to him as we continued upstairs, “Uh, no, I’m good.”  He knows how hard I have worked over the past year, and I’m pretty sure that when Kegbelly said what he said, he threw my poor trainer for a loop.  I, on the other hand, was very calm and cool about it all, because well, I’m used to that kind of crap.  When you live your entire life as a fat person, you learn to handle the hurtful slings and arrows as they come.  You also learn to pick your battles, and today, I simply wasn’t in the mood to fight.  I was there to work out, to get my mojo back, and I wasn’t going to let that asshole get to me.  Besides, internally I told myself, I am the better person here.  Just let it go.

I continued up the steps to the cardio floor, my trainer showed me the elliptical, which I decided I cannot use, because there is simply no way for me to balance myself well enough to get on it.  I’d rather not risk injury and be immobile, so I’ll find other cardio workouts to do.  More about this later.

Then we went back down onto the main floor, where all the weights are.  I did a chest and back workout, and while my trainer and I are working, Kegbelly is jawing with one of the other trainers.  I was pretty positive that Kegbelly wasn’t working with him, as he looked pretty relaxed and had not even broken a sweat.  At one point, when I was doing chest flies, Kegbelly gestured in my direction and continued talking with the other trainer.  I thought, Have you nothing better to do than stand around the gym and ridiculing the other fat folks?  He must not have, because he continued to do it the entire time I was there.  My poor trainer kept an eye on him too, and I could tell he was a bit uncomfortable with the whole situation.  Like I said before, I’ve dealt with this kind of thing my entire life, so I just let it slide.  This time.

I told myself He doesn’t know you, and doesn’t know where you started, how far you’ve come and where you’re headed.  That was consolation and comfort for me, but I did formulate a response to fire off the next time Kegbelly crosses my path and decides to open his piehole about my weight.

He’d better be ready, because he won’t know what hit him when I’m done with him.

That being said, I am headed back to the gym tomorrow morning to try out their version of water aerobics.  I’ve done those classes before through Parks and Rec here, but not there at the gym.  I need new cardio besides the bike and treadmill, especially since the elliptical is out for now.  I just don’t have the balance I need to get on the damn thing, which frustrates me to no end.   Even more frustrating is that my knees are what’s keeping me from being able to get on the damned machine.  I know that the elliptical is good for people with knee problems, but my knees are especially torn up–both from years of being overweight, and both from injuries I sustained while I was in college.  Now, if there was a seated elliptical (which I know exists), I’d use the hell out of it.  But alas, my gym has no such equipment.

I’m also going to re-evaluate my goals, because they need revisiting.  I need to determine what my next milestone is going to be and start working toward it, bit by bit.  I’ve got to continue fighting this battle, and I know I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life.  I almost feel like an addict in recovery–once an addict, always an addict, regardless of the degree of recovery.

Time to get up for that eighth time and press on.

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