It was a dark and stormy night, an– Well, it wasn’t stormy… In fact it wasn’t even night. But it was dark and that was enough to make it seem wrong. But I had made up my mind and I was going to see it through.
There I was nestled and warm, cozy under a layer of fluffy down and cotton. There were voices, vaguely familiar, off in the distance and suddenly, I heard the most horrible sound. It was bleating and pulsing softly at first, and then growing louder and louder, pressing its way into my consciousness. Yes, I had made up my mind, planned in advance even.
In truth my plan didn’t start out well. I wanted to get an earlier start to both phases, but reality was what I was dealing with and I had to make the most of what I had to work with.
Completing the slow steady climb to consciousness, I unfolded my body, dragged my arm from its warm and cozy spot, and took hold of the corner of my blankets, the only protective barrier between me and the cold dark room in which I lay. I threw the blankets back, groggily rolled my body toward the edge of the bed and let my feet fall to the floor, wobbling the three steps across the room to the dresser, on top of which sat the source of the horrendous noise that disturbed my otherwise peaceful state. Finding the long bar shaped button below the display, I pressed it, granting myself a nine minute reprieve and hurled my body back between the still warm sheets, my last thought, before drifting off, of the plan I had laid out for myself. A plan which, ideally, didn’t include an extra nine minutes of slumber.
When the sound renewed its call, I rose more readily, determined not to undermine my intentions before they ever got off the ground. Reluctantly, I crawled back off the bed and pressed the on/off button on the infernal machine of angry noises. I made relatively short work of the morning necessities, toilet, weighing myself, dressing for the occasion, wondering where the normal source of outdoor light might be hiding. I thought of my teeth and the “invisible” aligners that have for more than two years now, been slowly guiding them into a more esthetically pleasing placement and I set to work flossing and brushing. As I guided the long white string between each of my teeth in turn and then commenced bristled cleansing I realized that I couldn’t complete the next step of my plan without some bit of nourishment in my otherwise unprepared system. “Would have been good to wait to do this” I thought as I rinsed the white sudsy foam from the tool before heading to the kitchen. No milk in the fridge… The toaster is blocked. Peanut butter and honey seems a suitable alternative. Peanut butter immediately followed by enamel hugging plastic apparati seems like less of a suitable alternative. Much to my Dentist’s dismay, the aligners will have to be left behind. I’ll plan better next time.
I was dressed, fed, and suitably groomed; even the four-legged fuzz ball had a bowl of hunger satiating grub at his beck and call (beckon call? Does anyone know which is right?) There was nothing to be done but execute the next stage of the plan. I grabbed a jacket and a small towel and turned off the lights. “Wait! This isn’t right. I can’t see anything. If I can’t see anything, than surely, I’m not supposed to be up and about yet!” Alas, things were more or less as they were meant to be.
I donned my jacket and picked up my keys before opening the door, unprepared for what I’d find. As the wooden barrier swung open I was assaulted by the frigid temperatures of the world on the other side. But it wasn’t just the frigid temperatures. Everyone’s world gets cold from time to time. No this was something more. It smelled… early. I was instantly met with sense memories of other times when I was required to be awake and out of the house at such an unGodly hour.
I don’t think I know how to describe the aroma that met my nostrils. It, to me at least, is not pleasant. Where one would expect the odor of fresh air, untainted by high traffic and pollution spewing vehicles, there’s something more to it. It smelled cold, nearing the level of frost, thought I don’t think it ever gets that cold in the Bay Area. The air was still. Less that two miles from the bay and yet there was no breeze. There was a faint odor of garbage. ”Why am I doing this?” I asked myself as I closed and locked the doors behind me. “I have never liked being up this early. This was a bad idea.” But I was determined to see it through. So I walked down the stairs, into the garage and stepped into my car.
Ten minutes later I made the left turn into the parking lot, I’ve grown quite accustomed to seeing packed full of cars finding it today to be a comparative wasteland. ”Now this is more like it!” I thought. I parked, close to the door, walked to the entrance and into the hallowed halls of a place I’ve grown accustomed to, though I have not yet learned to love. I handed my card to the clerk who scanned it into the system before handing it back and wishing me well and as she did so, I surveyed my surroundings. It was very different to be sure. Where were all the obstacles? Where were the lines of people? Where were the bulging buffoons who seemed to have nothing better to do, and no where else to be only too happy to spend time socializing and clogging up the works? Was it possible that I was really going to be able to get in and get out with the least amount of inconvenience?
I had my pick, more than fifteen units available for my pleasure. I could hardly believe it was real. I had to contain my near enthusiasm long enough to stretch a little before choosing one of the plethora of available treadmills.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I made up my mind and I hauled my lethargic, not-a-morning-person, lazy ass out of bed and off to the gym in the wee small hours of the oh-dear-God-who-in-their-right-mind-gets-up-this-early! And I found a pleasantly quiet, two-thirds deserted gym with the majority of the machines at my disposal!
I had planned to go to bed by ten o’clock last night and get up in the early half of the five o’clock hour this morning. For reasons that need not be discussed here (even I have some boundaries) I didn’t get to bed until nearly eleven o’clock and then I watched a hour long program from the Tivo (which means I watched TV for about forty minutes) and drifted off to sleep around 11:20 having set the alarms for the late half of the five o’clock hour instead.
I arrived at the gym around 6:40, stretched my legs for a couple minutes and then stepped onto a treadmill. I had made up my mind on the way to the gym that I was only going to look for thirty minutes of exercise. After all, it was my first morning at the gym, I did still want to get to work at as close to a reasonable time as I could manage and I still have my appointment with my personal trainer this evening so I’ll be back at the gym anyway.
I stepped onto the treadmill and situated myself and the small amount of accoutrement I had along with me and activated the conveyer. Two minutes walking at 3.0 miles per hour (K said, “That’s how fast I run!” But to be fair, I have several inches in leg length on her) two minutes walking at 3.5 miles per hour and then I bumped it up to 4.0 miles per hour.
In the early days of my treadmill walking experience I would sometimes walk as much as 4.5 miles per hour, huffing and puffing my way through my prescribed program. I was determined that I would not run. “I’m not a runner” I told myself repeatedly. “I don’t like the way it feels. I get shin splints. I get side stitches. I’m too fat and I don’t like the jiggle that goes with running. I’m not a runner.”
There’s a sensation that comes over me when I hit the 4.0 mark. I’m not sure if I can make this make sense, but the best way to “verbalize” it is this. “This is too fast to be walking. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel controlled. I should be doing something different.” A couple months ago, I figured out what it was my body was telling me. It’s true that 4.0 is no good. My body doesn’t want to do 4.0. It’s too fast to walk. But, my body wasn’t telling me to slow down. It was telling me to get over my fears, get over my embarrassment and run!
So I did.
This morning, after 5 minutes of warming up, I pumped the treadmill up to 5.0 miles per hour (let’s not get crazy people!) and I ran. I’ve heard runners, or at least people who run, talk about getting “into a zone.” I’m not going to say I was “in a zone”, mostly ‘cause I’m not cheesy (sorry Terri!) 🙂 but something did happen. I was breathing easily, I was keeping my stride steady, I was looking straight ahead and reading the captioning on the morning news program on the TV ahead of me (enough with the freakin’ Super bowl already!) and I ran. No side stitches. No shin splints. No pain in my knees (at least not till later). Nothing. I ran for nineteen and a half minutes. That’s the longest I’ve ever run without a rest, in the whole history of ever. And honestly? It was awesome!!!
When my run was over, I stretched a little more and headed home to shower and dress for work. When it was all said and done, I still arrived at work at 9:15, which is actually somewhat early for me (I’m shooting for sometime in the 8:00 hour, but whatever). I still have my session with the trainer at 6:00 in which I have no doubt my ass will be kicked, but that’s a good thing. I plan on doing the same thing tomorrow morning and going back tomorrow evening for yoga.
Now is where we come to the sticky part. My first inclination is to tell you, my faithful readers, that I “hope” I can stick to this. Because I’m afraid of making a declaration that I might then, not stick to. But I have definitely learned something in these past few months. Losing weight, becoming a physically active person, being dedicated and determined to being healthy and staying active and fit (even when it’s not fun) is definitely something you choose to do. You have to make a conscious decision to make these changes. I didn’t just trip and fall into the gym on October 31st. I made a decision and drove there. I walked in deliberately and met with a membership counselor. Going to the gym, every time I have gone hasn’t been a mistake, hasn’t been an accident. It has been a decision, a determination that I made that I’m going to do this thing, this thing that’s good for me, for me!
I’ve lost site of that in the recent weeks. I’ve allowed myself to talk myself out of doing what I need to do, because it’s not fun, because it’d be more fun to go home and eat ice cream and watch TV, because I stayed up too late the night before, which made me oversleep that morning, which made me late for work, which made me have to stay late at work, which meant I didn’t have enough time in the evening for everything I felt I needed to do. There are always a million reasons not to go to the gym, not to take care of myself, and only one reason to go. Ironically, the one reason to go is very simple. Because it’s the rightest, most important thing I have to do. Nothing else is more important.
So while my first inclination is to tell you that “I hope” or “I’ll try” to keep doing what I did this morning, that’s not what I’m going to tell you.
What I’m going to tell you is that, I am going to keep doing what I did today. I am going to make a concerted effort to keep going to bed at a good time so that I can get up at a good time so I can go to the gym in the morning. What I’m going to tell you is that I’m not perfect and sometimes I fail to follow through on my plans. I take comfort in the fact that when that happens, I’m not a failure, I’m not a loser, I’ve got nothing to be upset about, I’m simply human and just like everyone else. What I’m going to tell you is that I won’t get up at 5:30 every single morning to go the gym. Sometimes I’ll take a break. Sometimes I’ll sleep too late and won’t be able to make it and on many of those days I’ll go in the evening instead. Sometimes I’ll only have enough time to run for half an hour instead of spend an entire hour at the gym doing whatever I do. But I’ll be there.
I drove away from the gym this morning, looking in my rearview mirror at the relatively empty parking lot now lit by the risen sun and thinking how quick and easy the whole experience was and I thought, “You know? This early morning thing isn’t so bad!”