Monday, January 11, 2010

Small victories

This is not me. In case you were wondering.

It's a new year, as everyone knows. In fact, it's 11 days into the new year. What have you accomplished?? How many goals are you still adhering to?

I'm still in the process of deciding mine. As I mentioned before, I don't necessarily like setting firm goals; I'd rather just decide I'd like to do smoething and do it. I'd like more to decide that in the middle of the year, instead of on January 1 and becoming one of the masses. Let me set my goals on a random day in April and be unusual. Or at least, someone who thinks of herself as unusual.

January is not a good time at the gym. Every January since Ih ave been a member (10 years now!) January is inevitably SLAMMED. I don't like waiting for machines; I'm impatient by nature, I guess, and I don't want people waiting for me to get off and thus pressuring me to leave before I want to. Harrumph.

Gymgoing is a pretty necessary party of writing. Writing, as you may have guessed, is SEDENTARY. Sit at a desk, working your wrists hard, unfortunately does nothing for toned muscles or a slim waist. And if you're genetically predisposed to, uh, girth...this is something you ought to take seriously.

I joined my first gym in January 2000 (NOT as a New Year's resolution; I had awakened very late, like eleven, and wandered from my bed to the couch with a book, and I thought, "I'll be dead of inaction before I'm thirty" and marched to New York Sports Club and joined.) and, but for an eight-month period in 2005, have been a somewhat-regular goer since then. I am somewhat poor (I'm a writer!), and as a result of that, I'm cheap, and for me, paying a large sum of money to a gym every month, automatic withdrawal or not, pretty much ensures I will be at that gym, calculator in hand. New York gyms are expensive. when I joined NYSC, I think it was $67 a month, so I would say to myself, okay, if I go twice a week for four weeks, that makes it a little more than $8 each time I go. And I would picture handing over $8 every time I walked in that door. The idea was abhorrent. So, okay, if I go four times a week for four weeks, that's $4 each time I go. That was more palatable. Going five times a week was better, because that was $3. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was the the entirety of my motivation.

I kept going regularly until 2003, when I started grad school. Then I was faced with a dilemma: go to NYU's (free) gym or keep my gym membership? And quickly that dilemma was subsumed with reality: I had no time! Argh. My membership fee had gone up to about $77 a month, and I made it to NYSC once a week, thereby bringing my per-visit total to just under $20. Ridiculous. And yet I continued.

One of my prouder moments was wearing the same skirt to an end-of-program party that I wore to a beginning-of-program party. I will tell you why this is at all remarkable: I had only gone once a week, but that was once a week more than many of my classmates. I loved them, and I don't want to make fun, but...let's just say a lot of them were not wearing the same clothes at the end.

Okay, so the program ended and my dreams of graduating and landing a primo writing gig were not realized. I was quite sure that I would sell something right away, however, so I decided just to temp for a while. Temping is not great fun. When it works well, it's great (a salary but no commitment) but there are huge down sides: no benefits, no stability, occasional involuntary dry spells. And the salary is pretty low. NYSC kept raising its rates, and I kept getting more irritated at them, and in one involuntary dry spell I got annoyed to quit.

This was mid-summer, 2005. I didn't know if it would be forever, but I thought that might be a possibility. And I stayed out of the gym world until December. What prompted me to go back? Well, I had gone to Brazil with my family the previous summer, and my dad took pictures. He showed them to us at Christmas. There were some with all of us at the beach. Among them...was a picture of me, taken from the back... in a swimming suit.

Oh boy.

I joined Crunch the next week.

This was 2006. I lost a lot of weight going to Crunch, gained it back, have lost a lot of it again. Crunch promised me they would never, ever raise their prices, and that lasted for 2 years; now they raise them every January. I still pay less than I paid at the end of my NYSC run.

Why am I regaling you with this, dear reader? Why, for the simple reason that I have made a new resolution. It's been increasingly difficult to get to the gym at night; I return home from a day at work and I want to write and go to the gym, adn most nights I can't get in both. I always have the best of intentions, but if I'm writing well and on a roll, I don't want to break free; and if I decide to go to the gym, often it's a *process* that takes at least as much time convincing myself to go as it would take me at the gym. And then I decide, no, I'll go tomorrow. It won't be so cold tomorrow. I'll write tonight. No, I'll take it easy tonight. I'll read. No, I'll...I'll...something else.

It's been incredibly wasteful and frustrating, and the cheap side of me realizes that going twice a week makes it more than $10 every visit! Three times a week, it's still $8-plus! I need to go five times a week!

So I'm going at my lunch hour. I have a gym 3 blocks away from the office, so I just hustle over, change, run on the treadmill for 35 minutes, quickly stretch, quickly shower, and hustle back. It's been great so far. Then I get home and I have no excuse: I have to write. And I got a great laptop for Christmas, which is new enough and enough of a shiny toy that I actually want to!

Victory all 'round!

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