1. Bitching to My Personal Trainer
An intense plyo circuit releases sweat and produces endorphin rushes. It also makes me spew verbal diarrhea. I typically begin by moaning about my physical aches and pains. “I don’t like to complain, but… my Achilles, my upper back injury, my left hip…yadda yadda yadda.” Then I moan about my personal life. “I love my baby, but…my exhaustion, my laundry, my empty fridge…blah blah blah blee blah.” Why on earth do I do this? I would never be so self-indulgent with friends or family members. Definitely not with my LSP, for he is an equal partner, not a life raft. Yet I treat a professional fitness trainer as if she was my therapist. I say things to her that I would never say to anyone else. Sometimes I even gossip about other people. WTF? I hereby call bullshit on myself. From now on I will not make any fitness expert perform emotional labour. That is not their job.
2. Separating my Work Outs from my Nutrition Choices
I love working out and have never had to force myself to get to the gym. Even now, when time is more precious than ever, I undertake planned work outs—HIIT, circuits, split training—six days a week. Yet I regularly act as if food was unrelated to my training. I think about food in terms of convenience and pleasure. I know what I should be doing, especially since muscle growth and nutrition were complementary in 2011 while I was preparing to compete in a figure show. All those lessons have apparently been forgotten during the past three years. I have no delusions about maintaining a “stage-ready” body and do not mind weighing 20 pounds more now than I did then (admittedly I wish my muscles were more visible). All the same, doing an intense leg session and then skipping meals because I am too busy, or gulping down a protein bar while running to a meeting are stupid mistakes.
3. Feeling Guilty about the Amount of Time I Spend at the Gym
There are a million other things that I should be doing. Getting groceries, editing grant applications for graduate students, reading more tapeworm treatises, etc. etc. I should say fuck that negative thinking. I work out for myself, my mental health, and am ultimately more productive because of it. I treasure my gym time now more than ever. I earned it and I deserve it. I pay a nanny in order to have it. I will no longer feel guilty about it.
4. Correcting Others at the Gym
I don’t actually do this very often. But when I see women doing ridiculous or dangerous things—flailing their arms about with weights that are too heavy or too light, using an adductor machine in the most bizarre way—I am sorely tempted to intervene and sometimes I do. My advice is rarely welcome. I will shut my sweaty trap and mind my own business from now on. Did you notice that I would not even think of “helping” a non-good-form-following man at the gym? That would be like pissing in the wind.
5. Forgetting my Bodily History
I am a specialist in the history of the body, researching and writing about childbirth, anatomical dissection, illness and disease during the seventeenth century in Europe. Even so, I tend to deny that my own body has a history. It has experienced falls and strains; it has certain defects and pains from tendonitis and so on. It has also been pregnant and has given birth via C-section. I cannot undo these experiences, nor should I want to. Although this is easier said than done, I must at least try to respect my corporeal history and learn to love my looser, surgery scarred belly. I can never return to being the sexy hot thing I was in my twenties and thirties. That idea is ludicrous, especially since I did not truly value my body and its remarkable abilities back then anyway. I am better now. I am better now. I am better now. Repeat ad nauseum.