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Strange Love

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I’m sitting at the computer with throbbing thighs and aching triceps. It has been two days since my last heavy workout with my trainer. The second day is always the more painful one; it’s the day I feel it the most.
I’m really fine, as long as I don’t move at all. Getting up from the chair involves engaging my abs. I don’t want to engage my abs. They feel like thin glass that could shatter if I move in the wrong direction, and right now any movement is the wrong direction.
Yet, I feel great. I’m so happy to be hurting this way. To me, this is a reward for having worked hard two days ago.  I know from experience that this too shall pass. By tomorrow, all this will be but a memory, and I will begin the process anew so that on Saturday morning when I attempt to get out of bed, I’ll need all the strength of my arms to push me up. I’ll stand up slowly, feeling every muscle in my body. And I’ll smile. From pride. Because I know the discomfort will be short-lived, but the end result will be long-term.
I’m one of those atypical women who love to work out. I don’t have to plan a date with a buddy to motivate me to get to the gym. No one has to cajole me to get on the elliptical or to crank it up a notch. I’m not trying to fit into a bikini or lose weight before I’ll buy a new outfit. Firming up is pretty much out of the question for someone my age. No. I just like working out.
I like feeling powerful and strong. I like being able to lift up my way too heavy carry-on bag without anyone helping me. I impress myself every time I carry a twenty-five-pound bag of dog food to the car all by myself. My handshake is firm and strong. That’s what motivates me. Not some unrealistic promise of rippled abs or toned arms. I have no illusions of making over my body. Time and Mother Nature have already done that for me!
It’s true that I’ve been active my whole life. I was the only girl in a neighborhood of rough and tumble boys, so I learned early on that if I wanted someone to play with, I had to be strong enough to play with the boys. I went from stickball in the street to squash at the schoolyard to tennis to jogging to mountain biking to whatever was in vogue at the time. Alas, I’ve never excelled at any of them, but that never stopped me. I just like the challenge, and I’m willing to accept that I am not a gifted athlete.
I don’t understand why people don’t like to work out. I know it’s no fun to do the dishes after dinner. And I hate putting away the laundry after it’s folded. I agree that making the bed is a tedious (and useless!) activity. But what is it about going to the gym that fills women with dread?
To me, working out is playtime. I can listen to music on my iPod and wear comfy clothes. I can sweat without worrying about messing up my hair or makeup because no one around me is looking any better—except maybe the young twenty-somethings who are there to meet and greet and not to work out. In other words, it’s a time for me to relax.
I’m not inclined to go to the spa to de-stress, though I do enjoy a day of solitude and pampering every once in a while. Nothing beats floating in my backyard pool for relaxation. But, for me, a day without a workout is like a day without dessert. And that’s a day not worth living.


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