Friday, April 24, 2009

Update: My First Month

This past week marked the end of my first month of working out at Curves For Women.  I have never in my life been so rapidly sold on something -- except maybe Ghirardelli chocolate or Mrs. Fields cookies (but, that is another story entirely). 

After working out three times a week for a month, this week was the dreaded "weigh-in".  Only I didn't really dread it because I could feel that my body was different, and better. I felt taller, stronger and more energized. I was surprised to learn that I only lost one pound on the scale.  

They broke it down however, and showed me that I had actually lost 3 pounds of fat.  What is more, I lost 6 inches.  I am not happy with what the scale says I weigh, but I am thrilled with the way my body looks and feels.  I can continue to lose one pound a month, or less, provided I continue to feel so energized when I leave the workout room and so comfortable in my clothes!  

When I first read about Curves, I thought it was another of those ripoff franchises that preys on women's insecurities about their bodies.  I was predisposed to be suspicious about the whole concept.  I was totally wrong!  It is all about empowering women and helping us to be the best we can be.  Very few of us will ever look like Catherine Zeta-Jones or Angelina Jolie (they are my idea of the two Most Beautiful Women in the World), but we can at least do the most we can with the bodies we have.  

For me it is not about looks (although looking good is a nice side effect).  It is about health (managing my weight and diet are important with a body that tends to manufacture a lot of cholesterol) and mental well being (my stress levels are off the charts some days and exercise is the best way for me to manage stress). 

I have never been one to pamper myself or to take the time to do all the personal self-care stuff that our contemporary culture tells us is important.  I resorted to therapeutic massage a few times at one point when I was in so much pain, but I hated the experience of getting naked in front of a stranger and spending money to have someone "pamper" me.  I quit as soon as the pain became bearable.  I have never had a manicure or pedicure.  I quit going to the hair salon almost a year ago: I cut my own hair. My attitude has always been that I have too much to do to spend time and money on girlie frivolities.

For the past 20+ years in one way or another, however, I made time in my life for exercise, mostly walking.  That was good.  It helped me manage my weight and was great for my mental health as well.  But, it wasn't enough for my post-menopausal body.  I would have given anything to find another alternative that did not require me to pay money and/or make some kind of commitment to add to all the other commitments in my life.  I couldn't find it.  So, I bit the bullet and signed up.

Working out at Curves requires me to leave the office earlier than I would ordinarily do.  That is annoying when I'm in the middle of something. It is a good thing because I need to not work as much as I do on my job (gives me more time for my writing, for one thing). It is a good thing, too, because it gives me an opportunity to practice self-discipline.  The combination of flexing my actual muscles and exercising dicipline over my rambunctious Will makes me feel good. It's all about that "control what you can" thing. I can't control anything in the world but myself.  I take full advantage of that little zone of disciplinary control.

In any case, I was motivated to work really, really hard on my susequent workouts this week, and came out feeling great. [Image: Rocky Balboa pumping air at the top of the stairs. Background sound: James Brown singing "I Feel Good"]

Now, it's time to get back to work.

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