Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vault: Gym Rat Acceptance Speech

Posting this, originally from last spring, to hopefully get me out of my lazy funk and back into GAM (Gym Addict Mode): 

I think I have a problem. I'm addicted to working out.

Looking back, I'm not exactly sure when it began. I remember my first road race quite clearly. It was a 5k. I was 6. I kept the shirt until ninth grade, when it actually disintegrated in the washing machine. Mom was not pleased. Then again, I always had a tumultuous relationship with washing machines. Or, one might say, a healthy appreciation for cerulean blue crayons and a tendency to not empty the pocket of my polo t-shirt dress before putting it in the hamper.

I remember the feeling with odd clarity. The word I used at the time was jello.

"Mama, my legs feel like jello." 
"Leah, that's great! That means you worked hard! You should always push until you feel like jello." 
Can you tell a competitive distance runner gave birth to me?

My knees wobbled, and I imagined myself as some human/Gumby hybrid. Even at age 6, I don't remember this being negative. I remember thinking it was awesome.

Fast forward 20 years... 

20 years, dozens of track/xc seasons, half marathon, Marathon, boxing, swimming, aqua jogging, stress fracture #1, stress fracture #2, anorexia, bulimia, diet #1-17, freshman 15... 20... 40... oh shit, I'm no longer a freshman, but I'm still fat, weight watchers, boxing, yay I look better in a bathing suit than I did when I was 16!

Despite all that, I've never been a gym rat. Until now.

Now that I think about it, it's E's fault. Three or four weeks ago, she suggested that I go to spinning and pilates on Tuesday night with her. When I did this, she went on to suggest that we do three classes in a row the following Wednesday: pilates, boxing, and yoga.

I should mention that we are damned good at pilates. I can say this because for 4 years I thought pilates was boring and easy because I was doing it wrong. So for those of you that are thinking, "Yeah, whatever, I could do three classes in a row if two of them were pilates and yoga," guess what? No you can't. The fact that you are thinking that is proof that you wouldn't last. Pilates, when done well, can burn 700 calories in an hour. Long story short: pilates, boxing, yoga = hella workout

That day I had an epiphany. Well, actually, I didn't have the epiphany until later, and when I explain you'll get why. I'm not sure what happened during those three hours. It's like I blacked out, except there was no whiskey involved. My memory of that night is a large, empty, cavernous space.

It was wonderful. Bliss. Glee. Joy. My mind was blank. NOTHING was in there. No lesson plans. No lists of parents to call. No frustrations. No feelings of inadequacy. No emotions. Nothing.

There was also very little brain activity. I could make my body follow instructions, but that was it. If you had walked up to me and told me it was 1975, I would have believed you without question. If you had told me that my whole life, what I thought of as purple was actually red and vice versa, I would have believed you without question.

This actually happened after yoga:

Someone: Hey, what's your last name? I want to friend you on facebook.
Someone: HELLO?
Someone: Hey? You there?
Me: ...wait, what?

Ever since then, I can't stop. If my day's been fine, I just relax. If my day's been terrible, I work out until I can't think thoughts or feel feelings anymore.

It's wonderful. And it works better than whiskey.

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe it's not a bad thing. Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe instead of calling it a problem, I should be treating it like an award.

And awards call for acceptance speeches.

Here goes:

I couldn't have become a gym rat workoutaholic alone. I had a lot of help. I would like to thank:

  • My mom, for giving birth to me, because distance running is in my blood; for teaching me at a very young age the importance of jello in all forms; for providing expensive athletic footwear whenever I requested it, from toe shoes to racing flats. 
  • My dad, for passing along his genes, as well as his posture. As a kyphotic superstar, I spent most of my life with hot legs and a big belly. Even when I was anorexic, I still had lovehandles. Without this natural propensity towards stomach flab, I would never have discovered the love of my life: pilates
  • Michelle, my pilates/fitness instructor/guru, who is an incredible athlete as well as teacher
  • Britney Spears, for going off the fat-bald-crazytown deep end and still ending up with a six-pack.
  • My baby ipod, for being the perfect size to clip into my right pigtail during long runs. 
  • H, for inspiring me to at least attempt to qualify for Boston
  • Asics, for creating such an orgasmic running shoe. The fact that I could probably ramble on for another 1000 words about the intricacies of my Kayanos is proof of my supreme reign over all things nerdy runner. 
  • My heart rate monitor, for teaching me a valuable lesson: If you burn 1900 calories running, you have to immediately inhale at least half of those calories as soon as you stop running, or else you'll dry heave, go to bed, wake up at 4 a.m. starving, and eat everything that isn't nailed down. 
  • C, for supporting my hatred of pants. This is tied to working out because if I didn't have muscles, I would not go sans pants nearly as often. I haven't seen Cindy in years, but when some guy pointed at me and said, "Is that girl not wearing pants?" Cindy casually responded with, "Nope. She's awesome." Thank you. All APCs (Anti-Pants Coalitionists) should have such a broad support system. XOXO
  • My college XC / Marathon coach, for teaching me how to eat while running and not hurl. It is a valuable skill to have when you're a workoutaholic like I am. Related sidenote: No matter how good you are at this, do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to do this while running uphill. You will puke. 
  • My gym, for not only supporting, but expecting people to do multiple classes in a row. 
  • My roommate, D, for introducing me to
  • My friends, for being just as into all of this as I am. There is something so wonderful about going out on  Friday night with a group of people who take out their phones to log calories as often as I do. I feel normal around you. This is a rare occurrence. It's also a compliment, in case you didn't know. :) 

Thank you all. Without you, this would never have been possible.

Joseph Pilates (obvi)

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