The alarm goes off at 6:15, but I’m already half-awake, eager to see how much snow has fallen and impatient to get to the gym. Working out is so much nicer first thing in the morning; it’s such a positive start to the day.
I peek out the front window to see check road conditions, how much the cars are covered. The parked cars aren’t too covered; this is a good thing. As I rifle through my clothes with only the aid of my booklight, Andy slowly gets up and I’m glad that I won’t have to drive on the sure-to-be slippery road.
Need to keep this up, need to keep this up, I say to myself every day, and wonder why we didn’t join the gym sooner. I’m interested, I’m always looking forward to the next time and the effect it will have on my day, how many more reps of a particular exercise I can do.
While Andy dresses, I slowly make my way through the yard and assess the accumulation on the car. With the engine running, I quickly sweep all the snow off, getting sprinkled a bit in the face as I do, but figure I need to wake up more anyway.
Driving is difficult and I tell Andy I’m glad I’m in the passenger seat; winter driving has always caused me anxiety. I check the time and know it will have to be a quick workout, but it’s fine. It’s better than nothing.
The gym is emptier than we’ve ever seen it. We stamp off our boots as best we can and walk in, the blaring pop music and bright lights a shock to the system as usual. The treadmills and arc trainers and ellipticals stand alone, row after row, looking bright and clean and shiny. What a contrast to the world we just left, all wet and cold and dark.
As I start my twenty minutes of cardio on the arc trainer, I look around at my fellow fitness enthusiasts. I see eyes staring straight ahead at their screens, some still crusty with sleep, some wide and determined. I see older men and college-age girls, women my mother’s age, the slightly bored desk clerk.
Nothing else matters now: it’s time to do my thing. Pandora’s Pretty Lights station blasts in my ears and gets me moving faster and faster. I increase the incline, settle on watching Mad About You but barely pay attention. Paul and Jamie are pregnant and in therapy. My palms are slippery– now I know why other people wear work-out gloves. I inhale and exhale, not thinking about anything else like I was last night in my attempts at sleep. This is about right now, this is about me feeling good, this is about me working hard for my mind and my body and my spirit.
We suffer from all sorts of problems related to our lack of physical exercise; it affects us on all levels, causing high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, anxiety, depression, insomnia and the list goes on and on…We know, too, how much better we feel for a bit of exercise. Those “feel-good” hormones lift our spirits, boost self-esteem and improve our overall sense of well-being. It’s a sort of built-in reward system. There’s a reason for that. It’s because we are meant to be active. –Libery Forrest
I gaze out the window occasionally to watch the falling snow and catch a car fishtailing in the parking lot. I am so thankful we have snow tires. I watch the minutes tick by and adjust my hands to a less slippery position. I’m not thinking about working or how much money is in the bank, or even how hungry I am. I feel my cheeks get redder and my neck get damper. I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, alive, powerful.
Five more minutes. I slow down and sip some water, spilling some down my chin like usual. Why do most water bottles have such wide mouths anyway?
90 seconds. Andy has already gone on the weight machines in the back. I decrease the incline and take some deeper breaths, gradually going slower and slower. Stop, wipe off the machine, do some suspended leg lifts, hip abductions, tricep curls, squats, drink the rest of my water.
What a difference this makes. I’m so uplifted as we leave, proud of Andy and I for making the effort to come despite the early hour and the snow. I’m following through on a commitment to myself and eager to see where this journey will take me. So far, it’s been a rewarding three weeks.