I would like to find the person who invented treadmills and hug him/her. To take it one step further, I would like to find the person who invented treadmills that incline and beat them…yes, I did say “beat them.” And while I’m on the beating path, let’s also seek the person who invented medicine balls, boxing gloves, and resistance bands. I would like to get them all in a room, ask them for their motivation behind their inventions, and then (without warning) thank them for their inventions with a good, old fashion beating with my chancla.Last Wednesday I went to work like any other normal Wednesday. My training was scheduled for the middle of the day, so I had arranged with my co-worker to be able to take an extended lunch. I said to Dennis, “I just need an extra hour to get there and get back. I have a lot of comp time so it won’t be an issue.” He looked at me as if I had just spoken in a different language, one that he didn’t understand. You know that look. It begins with what can be perceived as an understanding look, moves along to the confused look, and ends with a WTF look! He replied, “Girl, take an extra hour and a half. Do not come back here without a shower!” This is why I love where I work. There is 149 percent support for the journey that I am on!
It was time to get ready to leave and I quickly got dressed in one of the back rooms and walked towards my car. On the way to the parking lot, a student I had not seen all summer asks me if it was my day off. I thought it was kind of strange to ask that because I don’t typically show up at work on my days off. I said, “No, I am just on my way to lunch.” She responded, “Oh, it’s because you usually dress in business clothes and today you are in that.” I quickly responded, “This? Oh yeah, sorry. I am on my way to see the personal trainer.” What came next was the most profound reaction I have had to date. She was drinking one of those Naked juices that looked like one of my green smoothies. She opened her mouth so wide that it began to drool out of the side of her mouth. Her head moved as if she had just gotten pegged by a dodgeball at full force. She chuckled, although I still don’t know if it was because of her embarrassment at having green drool land on her white tank top, or if it was because the thought of me going to see a personal trainer was the funniest vision in the world.I just left her there in mid-thought and continued walking to my car. It was the most self-reflective 200 feet I have walked in my life. I wondered if this was everyone’s reaction when I tell them that I am on this journey. I wondered if secretly, faces across Orange County suddenly found themselves covered in green drool from learning that I am finally doing something to take control of my health. Then I got in my car. I stopped wondering, suddenly, because ever since I began this journey, everything makes me cry and I didn’t want to cry.
It took me 45 minutes to get to the Training Zone. Have you ever driven the 55 South, until it ends, in the middle of the day at the beginning of summer? If you have, you will know that you can get out of your car and get to your destination faster than you would if you waited for traffic to clear. “Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize,” is what I kept telling myself when the moments began ticking away and noon was quickly approaching.Noon = The Wicked Hour.
Have I told you that the Training Zone is located in the same lot as a pancake house? Have I also told you that the Training Zone is located in the same lot as a liquor store—one that sells delicious Twinkies and Chocodiles and Hostess coffee cakes? Focus, Lorena, Focus. This is why I call noon “The Wicked Hour,” because so many other forces are pulling at me as I walk from my car to my destination. It’s like the moment I get out of my car the pancake house slings its web at me and lands on one of my legs, then the liquor store lings its web at my other leg, and they are both tugging at me in different directions trying to win my love. But then I look behind me and see my destination and I am awaiting some more web slinging to occur.I’m waiting. I’m still waiting. I wait another second or two until it hits me like a bucket of cold water on the hottest day in the 909…the Training Zone doesn’t sling webs. They don’t go after your limbs and try to convince you that you need them in order to be happy, they let you lead yourself there with the very core of your heart that knows that the changes that happen within those walls are lifelong changes—the kind of change that is going to last longer than the taste of sweet, warm syrup hitting the tip of my tongue or the temporary memory of my childhood that the bite of Chocodile will provide. And so with this newfound respect of my fat little heart, I walked with an extra bounce in my step right into my session with Sean.
I don’t write reviews on Yelp. I probably should. It could easily replace Disneyland as the “Happiest Place on Earth” because it just feels right to be there. That is, until I watch Seans fingers begin to push buttons on the treadmill that he shouldn’t be touching.Huh? Que? What is this feeling in my legs? Is this thing going up? Why is that number higher than a 1? Incline? Is that even legal? Doesn’t this guy know I don’t walk hills? Ok, what did Joe tell him…maybe he shared with him my discussion with Tish on Sunday about my unwillingness to hike up hills. It’s only five minutes into my workout and I already want to go home!
As I am walking on this torturous device, Joe’s wife (Crissy) arrives to join us for our workout. It was so nice to finally meet Joe’s wife. We had met through Facebook before that day, but meeting her in person and thanking her for her continued support was a great feeling. But there was no time for anything because Sean moved me along to my crazy stretches that still test every muscle in my feet to hold up this little body of mine.Lift one knee with my hands while the other leg holds my weight. Walk forward and do the next leg. Keep doing this until I reach the end of the carpet. Ok, now turn around and do it all the way back again. Sound easy? Try it…I dare ya. You will be surprised the amount of focus that it takes to keep good posture, relax my face, and remember to switch legs. I still mess up every time and I still laugh at myself when I almost fall over as if I had a tall IPA in the car before I walked in.
What came next is still a blur to me. I probably should have written this blog right after I got home, but I don’t know if there would have been a clean version to put out because there were many times during this workout that I wanted to punch something. Or someone. So, I am going to give you a glimpse into the memory of a workout that still won’t leave me.Rewind to a week ago before Sean knew that I used to play sports. That was a different Sean. He was Sean who enjoyed getting a sweat out of me with tasks that were relatively moderate. Now let’s fast forward to a Sean who now has knowledge that at one point in my life, regardless of how big my body was, I was an athlete. You remember the torture he put me through last week when he made me throw the medicine ball against the wall? Then I am sure you can imagine my fear when he walked over to the medicine ball again and showed me the next exercise on his list.
“I’m just going to roll this to you and I want you to pick it up and throw it right back at me. Throw it with everything you have,” he said. From behind him I can hear Crissy say, “Throw it like you want to hurt him, Lori!” She’s my kind of girl. She knew exactly what I wanted to do. I pick up the first one and throw it. Hard. I can hear it land in his hands with that little smack that gives me satisfaction in knowing that it I gave that ball my all. The fourth, fifth, and sixth throw were still pretty good. And then it happened: butter. My arms turned to butter. Bending down was easy, but throwing that medicine ball with all of my might became so difficult that I wanted to just walk it over to him and say sorry for wanting to hurt him with the first few throws. One would think that he would see the anguish on my face and call it, but he just kept rolling it. And rolling it. And rolling it. And I kept throwing it. And throwing it. And throwing it, until I thought my arms were going to stay attached to the medicine ball on the next throw because I could no longer feel them.“Ok, go get some water.”
When I get back to him I see him adjusting the levels on the “bench of DEATH” that we use to do my couch sit-ups on. As I wait for him to adjust the height of the backrest, my mind rewinds to the first day I had to do them and suddenly recall that it was never that big of an incline. To make matters even scarier, Joe lets out a chuckle and says, “That backing gets lower and lower every week until one day it’s going to be flat!” Instead of agreeing or disproving us, he says, “Ok, you know what to do here. Give me twenty.” I gave him twenty and rested for one minute. And immediately had to give another twenty. I hate sit-ups. I lose my mind because I always forget to breathe, and I am sure that the faces I make on the way up are not something I want to see anyone else make.
I don’t even have time to think about how tired I am because Sean has disappeared and I know what this means; he is going to come back to me with something round and painful. It was smaller than a medicine ball, and looked like a soccer ball wrapped in duct tape. He places it down in front of me on the ground. “Ok, I want you to put both of your feet on the same side. Next, you will lift your legs over the ball and put them on the other side.”If my stomach were flat, and on my best day, this exercise would still be difficult. My stomach is not flat and it didn’t feel like it was my best day. So when I begin to complain and say to Sean that I couldn’t do it anymore, it was as though it went in one ear and out the other. “I. CAN’T. DO. THIS!” I get out in between breaths and lifting my legs. “Yes you can. You’re doing it,” he says without skipping a beat. Tears are starting to form in the back of my eyes because my mind keeps telling me to quit, but my body obeys the command to give just a little more. And then it was over. The ball was taken away and I put my emotions back in check. “Go ahead and grab some water,” Sean said as he put away the ball.
Then I saw him toying with the resistance bands, you know, the elephant tails I keep complaining about. I could not believe it when he chose the thicker of the two and showed me how he wanted me to do the next exercise. He didn’t, however, tell me how many I had to do. Being the ever-so-diligent-and-obedient woman I am, I said, “You didn’t tell me how many to do.” I then hear him say, “Ok, then, go ahead and give me thirty.”If you have never felt the burn in your arms while working with resistance bands, then you probably are wondering why I am even whining. I know, I should quit the sniveling. It’s not like I was climbing a mountain or running a marathon. I determined on #13 that resistance bands were indeed the enemy. The burn I was feeling in my arms was quite possibly enough to make me go crazy. I asked, “How did you all of a sudden turn into Mr. Thirty when everything we did last week was twenty?” Crickets. Sean looked at me and smiled. I want to be a little bug in his head and figure out what he had in mind for the next exercise.
“Twenty one, twenty two, twenty three…twenty nine, THIRTY!” I wanted to make sure that everyone in Orange County heard that one because no way, no how, was I going to give one more repetition. Butter arms. “Go ahead and get some water,” Sean says, as he disappears for the final time.If you’re keeping count, he’s already disappeared two times. And both times that he came back, he returns with innovative ways to make me sweat and want to cry. Pink boxing gloves? Is he really walking towards me with pink boxing gloves in his hand? I could not believe it. I have never boxed in my life, let alone worn PINK boxing gloves. Where was I?
I slip my hands into the gloves and it felt so natural. As he places the Velcro over my wrist, I lose myself in all the boxing movies that I had watched growing up. Suddenly I am Mickey Roone in “The Champ” and Ricky Shroeder is going to show up in my corner to root me on. Sean says, “Ok, you are going to give me 50 cross punches with everything you have. You can make any faces you want because nobody is watching here.” I look around the room to see if there are any cameras. He sees my fear and assures me that there are no cameras in the gym. I say, “Are you kidding me? Don’t you know that TMZ is always watching me?”
And I begin to punch. Hard. Twenty get done. Thirty are done. Forty—easy, peazy. FIFTY, done! “Go ahead and sit down and catch your breath. I need you to remember to breathe,” he said. How the hell am I supposed to breathe when all I am thinking about is trying to figure out If he’s making me punch more than fifty punches?
“Alright, back up and give me fifty more.” Was he kidding? Am I being punked? Does he know that I just sat down after giving him fifty punches already? Did he care? Did I have a choice? Yes, I had two choices: I could give up and thank him for the sweat running down my back, or I could get up and get through the fifty more punches like a big girl. What did I choose? My body chose for me. I really, really hate when it does that. In my mind, there was no way that I had fifty punches to give. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kick everyone something. I wanted so badly for this to be over and go home and read a book—or write a blog.
My body stood up and got in position to give Sean fifty more. I groaned as I crossed my punches; left arm punching into his right hand. Right arm punching into his left hand. I wondered if he knew what was going through my head? I wanted to find that little space in the middle where I would miss his hand and land squarely across his face. In that moment I could only think violent thoughts. I wasn’t even paying attention to the count. I was sure at that point that he knew I wanted to punch him because my punches were all landing in the center—he was smart enough to not wait for my punches to land, but to follow them and make them land. FIFTY! “Ok, go ahead and sit down.”
I was so proud of myself. I was done. My workout was complete and I could have my protein bar and relax. I said to Sean, “Is today because I wrote about you in my blog? I promise not to write about you anymore!” He laughed a little. Does he laugh like this in real life, or do I just imagine him laughing at me because I don’t think I was joking in that moment.
“Ok, last fifty. One last set and then we are done here.” At this point my ears were deceiving me. Did he just say one more set of fifty? Didn’t I just do TWO sets of fifty? Was this chap out of his mind? Butter arms. I didn’t even know how I was going to lift my arms to get my backpack on, let alone give him fifty more cross punches. But there was that challenge again and my body doesn’t do well with giving up.Thirty. Thirty nine…FIFTY! Suddenly I was no longer Mickey Rooney, I had graduated to Super Mex status and was Julio Cesar Chavez (because my face is not as pretty as Oscar de la Hoya). And I was a champion. I felt like a champion. I couldn’t believe that I had done this without killing Sean or killing myself.
The gloves came off and my body was overwhelmed with emotion. My eyes were full of tears. I am not quite sure why this happened; perhaps it was because I conquered the lazy demons; perhaps it was because my body had been pushed to the point of breaking; perhaps it was because the words that Sean had said to me earlier wouldn’t leave my thoughts, “It will never be harder than it is right now. It will get easier and we will bring you back up, but it will never get harder than it is right now.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a parting wisdom from a man who believes in my success.
Until next week, stay away from those Chocodiles…and give me FIFTY!Life is good.