Every few years, I go through the urge to totally revamp my body. I have friends who have become aerobics instructors, who have run half-marathons, who have taken up yoga and who have transformed themselves, through the power of Youtube workout videos, into more toned, svelter versions of themselves. My roommate has stunk up our hallway with her in-room workout B.O. for the last few months, but I can't deny the end result. She looks terrific. Her skin is clearer and she's lost weight, which makes all the times I had to see her doing jumping jacks in a bra and cotton panties worthwhile. For her.
I do not generally enjoy exercise. It's not that I hate being active, but there's a mental block about going to the gym - it's far, I'm cold, I don't have the right clothes, I don't have the right playlist, I don't have enough time, I'm already too fat for a forty-minute workout to change anything, I'm hungry, I don't want to leave the house, and so on, ad nauseum, forever. I equate going to the gym with unpleasant tasks like getting my teeth cleaned: it's good for me, but I don't enjoy it.
But here's the thing: one of my friends is getting married in six months, and she is a bona fide babe. It's borders on ridiculous: she's got this face and nice hair and a smokin' hot bod. She's also smart and funny, which is generally my territory, since I don't have "pretty" on 100% lock. I have to bring my A-game to this wedding. You can't tell if someone is smart or funny in photos - you can, on the other hand, definitely tell how many chins they have. I've made a pact with myself to be my funny, smart and generally awesome self while doing my bridesmaid duties, but since this is going to be a photo-heavy event...to look good doing it.
So: the gym. When I get there, I usually have a good time. I like the crosstrainer and the rowing machine, both of which are mindless and fun. The last time I was there, I was listening to the new Childish Gambino album, and I almost launched myself off the crosstrainer with laughter at some of his more risque lines. The time before that, I attended a Pilates class; I got the giggles and just could not stop. Despite my not loving commute trip there, it turns out that being at the gym makes me laugh. It also gives me a chance to catch up on my reading - although reading a magazine is actually kind of tough on the more aerobic machines, it's perfect for the stationary bike.
My fears about looking stupid are also kind of off-base. I do look stupid, but not outside the bell curve of stupid-looking gym rats. For every lipgloss-wearing 22-year-old in all-black workout gear and a high, shiny ponytail, there are thirteen middle-aged men in fleece tracksuits with sweat pouring off them, trying not to expire on the treadmill. There are six old men with enormous guts and spindly little legs doing bicep curls in the middle of the room. There are three school-aged children furiously peddling on excerbikes they won't be big enough to use for at least another three years. And that's only in the gym room - there are whole dance studios and pools full of uncoordinated, old, fat, unfashionable people for me to just blend right into.
The other side of the coin is that, no matter what I eat, I seem to be bloated, gassy and generally smelly. My boyfriend can attest to this - I burped in his face (by accident!) the other day and he was like, "What is WRONG with you? What have you been eating?" He was right to be put out. I am not a good little digestor. I think I can trace it back to a nasty bout with whooping cough in the ninth grade, and the subsequent run of nuclear-grade antibiotics that were prescribed to knock the retro disease out of my system. Antibiotics, as it turns out, kill all bacteria, even the good ones in your gut. They don't just come back, either - Wired points out that, even two years after a course of antibiotics, gut flora just isn't as diverse. A lack of diversity in gut bacteria can lead to obesity, which in turns flattens the diversity further. And so on, forever, until we all become those big fat blobbos like in Wall-E.
My dirty little secret is that I'm a pretty healthy eater. Maybe my portions are too big, but I eat a varied diet of leafy greens, orange fruits and vegetables, and low-fat proteins. I don't eat that much dairy, or bread, and I don't gorge on pasta. So it's infuriating that I'm past the high end of the healthy BMI range, and I'm active and smart about diet. Like, what do I have to do to lose weight? Do some bloodletting? Cut my hair? What? I'll do it - I don't want to be the fat bridesmaid in my pretty friend's pictures. You know, the one that looks like the hot air balloon with legs.
Obviously, the secret is going to be more gym and less food. Not much less food, because I love snacks - seriously, yogurt with almonds and blueberries are my jam - but there's always room for 10% less food and 50% more gym. That means feeling 60% hotter on a day that is 100% not about me, and that is going to be awesome.