Thursday, March 26, 2009

Searching for euphoria

And no, I'm not talking about some city in the south. Euphoria is that state of well-being that comes during pleasant experiences. Or, they tell me, after a really good workout.

So, for the past couple of months I've been going to the gym. Don't faint or fall down laughing. It's the truth. I've been there diligently three times a week, two of those times with a trainer who doesn't let me get away with anything.

We use weight machines. We use free weights. We do exercises on a giant ball that I'm still terrified is going to squirt out from under me and land me on the floor with no way to get up without a crane. And we walk on the treadmill. Sometimes we do that for a five-minute warm-up. Sometimes we do it in intervals, between sessions with the weights. Whatever she can dream up to torture me.

Now I'm a big believer in getting things I hate over with in a big, fat hurry. That is not the way this works. We do things I hate for a while, then we stop and do other things I hate. Then just when I'm lulled into the serene sense that everything I hate is behind me, we do it all again. And again. Yes, that's three sets of everything, no matter how much I moan and groan. As I said, she's a very good trainer, who doesn't listen to me whine.

The gym in my condo is often empty, but on occasion there are other folks in there. A woman watched me working out one day and said, "That's looking too easy. You probably need heavier weights." I almost slugged her with my five-pound dumbbell, because the next thing I knew the trainer had handed me an eight-pound weight.

And there was the ever-helpful man who happily moved aside so I could use some kind of arm weight contraption, despite my silent pleas conveyed with desperate body language that he stay right where he was. "No pain, no gain," he said cheerily.

Then one day I think I found my soulmate, a man who looked utterly miserable as he sweated away on one machine after another. We commiserated. He told me his kids had promised him that there would come a time when all this expercise would make him feel euphoric. "All I want to feel is the couch under me," he said. Amen to that.

However, despite my grumbling, despite the fact that weight is clinging to me as if I had been sitting on the couch, I march down there every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and spend a solid hour doing what I'm told...or, in the case of Sunday, what I think I can get away with since nobody's supervising. I've given up hoping for euphoria. I'll settle for survival.

If you've managed to find euphoria working out or running, please tell us about it. Those of us who haven't need the inspiration.

Sherryl Woods

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

This year I resolve . . . oh, why bother?

We've all done it. We've dutifully sat down with pen and paper, or maybe just made a mental note that when the clock strikes midnight on new year's eve we're going to change. Dieting is one of the most common resolutions and statistics suggest that it lasts about as long as it takes for someone to pass around the chips during a football bowl game on new year's day. I'm no better than any of the rest of you about this.

So, this year I'm here to offer a new approach. This year I resolve to be more AWARE of what I'm doing when it comes to diet and exercise, to be more ATTUNED to it when I let my tone turn judgmental. Those are the areas I most want to change in myself.

How are those resolutions any different from just resolving to lose 20 pounds or resolving to be nicer and more open-minded to my friends? I hope they're less likely to set me up for immediate failure. And we all know what happens once we've eaten that first forbidden slice of cheesecake or skipped a day at the gym. It gets a whole lot easier to do it again and again, until there's no longer any pretense of dieting or exercising.

My way, in theory, simply means that I'll pay closer attention to my food choices and try harder to make the right ones. I'll work in a bit more exercise every single day, not make promises I'll never keep. If I hear that judgmental tone creeping into my conversation -- or even into my head -- I'll remind myself to shut it down.

In theory, if this goes according to plan, I will lose weight -- maybe not at breakneck speed -- but the scale will tip down, not up. Bit by bit I'll become more fit by making the kind of small changes that are managable, not intimidating. For example, now that I have a brand new pedometer, hopefully I will add a few more steps into my everyday routine. By the end of 2008 that should add up to a lot more steps per day. I will climb a few more stairs, lift free weights more regularly than I currently do.

Why do we even bother with resolutions when they're so often doomed to failure? Because the start of a new year is a fresh beginning, a chance to become a little better than we were in whatever way we deem necessary.

Tell us your new year's resolutions, the ones you've made, the ones you've stuck to and the ones you haven't. If something's helped you stick to your resolutions, share that with us. Successes, failures, put them all on the table here. Maybe if we compare notes, we can make 2008 the year we all do just a little better.

Meantime, I hope 2008 is very good to you.

Sherryl Woods

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