I read an article the other day written by a personal trainer. I don’t have my own personal trainer ( I kinda feel like I’m talking about a pet) and I don’t believe I’ll ever have the need for one. Why did I read the article then? Because I’m obsessed with my weight and how I look, like countless others on the continent. I’ve read the diet books, the workout books, the anti-diet and anti-workout books. I’ve swallowed the latest infomercial’s hype and bought videos that make me feel foolish, look stupid, and want to stop. I purchased one plastic contraption where the only exercise I got out of it was kicking it to the curb on garbage day. I’ve done the dusty stationary bike, those monotonous aerobics, the funny breathing exercises,the tedious weight lifting routines and the lie down and trim down Pilates. (I’ll admit I enjoyed the lying down part.) I wanted to see if he had anything new to say, any wisdom to impart that would inspire and motivate me to take better care of my body. What was I thinking? He’s a personal trainer. It’s in his best interest to tell us that there is no mind game, no pill that eats up fat cells like Pac-Man, no food that will release the stores of chub we’ve been self-consciously hugging. The success of his business depends on the premise that extreme physical exercise supervised by a glowing Adonis who eats hamburgers wrapped in lettuce (a travesty) is our only hope of becoming the Jennifer Aniston we were meant to be.
Mr. Good and Sweaty wrote something like, “If you think you’re going to lose your muffin top by running around the block, think again.” He made an assumption that we all want to lose our muffin tops; as if it’s a crime to have one and if you don’t shed the cheddar, you’ll be shipped off to a muffin top colony where you’ll live out your sorry life segregated in shame. He assumes that we lie around berating ourselves and cursing our muffin tops (not too vigorously, as this would require too much movement) while waiting for a personal savior, I mean, trainer to rescue us from our prison of pudge. According to him, if you want to tumble the jelly from your belly, you have to trick the body, challenge the body, and hurt the body. You have to regularly work your body to the point of exhaustion. I have a friend who has a personal trainer and she has a fantastic figure. Some days she would come to work and she could hardly walk. She groaned through the various physical maneuvers she had to perform to do her job, like bending over to file something or getting up to use the photocopier. She willingly paid someone to put her in this condition. My innate dislike of pain tells me that if something I’m doing hurts me, I should stop doing it. My common sense tells me to refrain from giving anyone $75.00 an hour to hurt me, no matter how hot or physically imposing they are. My slogan is “No pain, I gain and I’m okay with that”. Those of you who are close friends of mine, please take a cartoon-sized sledgehammer and flatten me into a pile of oozing pink blubber, if I ever speak of hiring a personal trainer. At the very least, have me committed to a loony bin/fat farm.
I run around the block. That’s the only exercise I do besides walking. I try to do it in the morning to get it over with. True to the cliché, it feels really good when it’s over. I don’t allow myself to stop until I reach that certain point on the sidewalk. I know that if I stop a step sooner every time, in a month I’ll be sitting in front of the flat screen downing a jumbo bag of cheezies. My muffin top isn’t going anywhere. If there are fitness fanatics out there who don’t like it, they can stop looking in the bakery window. There are other worthwhile reasons to exercise. I run to strengthen my body. I run to keep my weight down. I run so I can keep up with my kids. I run and I will keep running so that in my old age, I won’t be stuck in a motorized wheelchair, farting, and playing scrabble. I run so that I can enjoy chocolate and poutine and greasy pizza and pasta with cream sauce and sugary pecan pie and big slabs of cheesecake. I’m not about to torture my body or give up eating all kinds of real tasty food for flat abs and slim hips. That would be far too painful.
Author’s note: I wrote this 10 years ago. I recently began running around the block again and lifting weights. After working in the health care field for the last 5 years and caring for obese patients who could hardly do anything for themselves, it impressed upon me the need to be as fit and healthy as possible going into old age. Of course, I’d always rather sit on the the couch, but I now know where that leads and it’s not pretty!
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