An Eight Letter 4-letter Word


The bane of my existence. My archenemy. A cursed necessity.

The first month of our new lifestyle, I was in full-blown denial.  I was convinced that I could lose weight just by changing my eating habits.  Surely I could cut enough calories to avoid getting my heart rate up! For heaven’s sake, I rode my bike from time to time and walked up the escalator on occasion! What else could I possibly be expected to do?! Besides, I was going to be money-conscious by NOT joining a gym.  To quote pretentious trainer Trey from Broad City‘s Soulstice, I was going to “use the city as my gym.”


My plan was to go for nice, brisk walks a couple nights a week and stop taking the elevator between floors at work (never mind that I only had to go between floors like once a month.) It became evident that this strenuous regime wasn’t going to get me six-pack abs and Michelle Obama arms. Christian, on the other hand, was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and seeing real results. His weight was coming down at twice the rate mine was.  Sure, he happens to be a man and men happen to typically lose weight quicker than women but I couldn’t help but face facts: I had to get serious about exercise.

The truth is, I was terrified of the thought.  I cried every time I imagined putting on exercise clothes and walking into a gym.  There were mirrors everywhere! And fit people!  I knew I didn’t belong. So I made a compromise.  I ordered a yoga mat from Amazon and resolved to wake up early three times a week to do a few on-demand yoga videos.  I did it once. Just once.  And that yoga mat? It does a fine job collecting cobwebs in my coat closet.

Yoga Mat

So I joined a gym.  I knew that if I was paying for something, I was going to use it because I’m cheaper more cost-conscious than I was scared. I bought a few pairs of workout pants and shorts and a few workout tops. I hated the way I looked in them and I wanted to cry every time I set foot in that Ke$ha-blaring fitness mecca.  But I did it.

I started by riding the stationery bike for about 15 minutes, casually using the rowing machine for about 10 minutes and alternating between walking on the treadmill or ellipticalling(?) on the elliptical for about 20 minutes (I tried to avoid the treadmill and elliptical on the days I wore shorts because of the dreaded bunching caused by thighs rubbing together.) I didn’t feel comfortable using any of the weight machines because I just knew I’d be in some toned guy’s way.  I didn’t dare enter the locker room for fear of exposing my dimpled flesh to the size 4s who were at the gym just to burn off last night’s vodka cranberries. Christian was pushing himself on the treadmill and getting pretty good at running.  We’d work out together a couple times a week but I certainly didn’t push myself.  If something got hard, I’d quit. I needed guidance.  I needed a trainer. {UPDATE: Somebody asked how often I worked out.  In the beginning, we went to the gym 5-6 days a week for an hour. Now I workout about 4 times a week. Two one-hour sessions with a trainer and I run outside two days. I usually take Wednesdays and Fridays off.}

About a month after I joined our gym, the fitness manager made a cold call to offer me a free training session.  I trepidatiously accepted.  This was going to be scary. Working out with a man? A fit, toned man I don’t know? Yikes. I applied extra deodorant, made sure to pull my stretchy workout pants up high enough to prevent as much Dunlop’s Disease* as possible and arrived for my session.  It was hard, man. But I did everything he said, even when I was sure I would die if I had to do one more rep.  I wanted this to work.  I wanted somebody to tell me what to do and whip me into shape.  And I was way too scared to oppose him! He has muscles and stuff! I wore this watch during our session and was THRILLED to learn that I’d burned over 700 calories! I signed up for more sessions on the spot.

This is the bod I'm working towards.
This is the bod I’m working towards.

The trainer I was assigned to was a young, blonde, incredibly fit and incredibly beautiful girl, Leah.  I was even more intimidated by her than the fitness manager. But two minutes into our conversation, that all disappeared.  It only took a handful of sessions before we were like old friends.  Old friends where one friend makes the other do challenging exercises she would never do otherwise. I meet with her twice a week and I can see huge improvement in my muscle tone and overall fitness.  Thanks to her tutelage and encouragement, I’m running my first 5K this weekend!

Personal training isn’t necessary for everybody but it was something I needed.  I didn’t know what to do with myself in the gym but now I’m able to get the most out of my workouts, even when I’m on my own. It’s definitely a luxury expense but one I wouldn’t want to do without. I was always the kid who got a P for Participation on the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge in elementary school. (Picture me hanging from the pull-up bars like the Hang In There kitten.) I was also the kid who forgot to wear a bra the day we had to run one mile in 9th grade P.E. I never thought I’d be someone who was into exercising but I feel great after a hard workout and actually look forward to doing it now. (I don’t, however, look great after a hard workout. See below.) As my friend Mike said, “The key, like any exercise plan, is to find something that you like/want to do.”

Attack of the Killer Tomato Face
Attack of the Killer Tomato Face

*When your belly done lopped over your pants.


exercise sucks, ya gotta do it, getting guidance helps, watch broad city


2 thoughts on “An Eight Letter 4-letter Word

  1. I love that Dunlop’s made this post- and that you used an asterisk!!! I’m so proud of you and might even try to get some exercise myself today! (But I’m not ready to join a gym.)


    1. Ol’ Dunlop’s makes a lot more appearances than I’d like it to. Some days it flares up somethin’ fierce.

      You certainly don’t have to join a gym 🙂 Hoist Jimmy in the air 15-20 times a day and you’ll have ripped biceps in no time.


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