The Sentence I Thought I Would Never Say..

I joined a gym!

Yep, that was definitely not on my bucket list.

Usually exercise and I aren't really on such good terms. We don't talk, and generally keep out of each others' way. But then, everything else has been changing this year, so why not add one extra thing into the mix?

Let me tell you about me. This is a blog, after all. I am skinny-ish with some alarming wobbly bits. I was always a skinny stick of a thing, never did much exercise, because I think sport is a bit silly. I mean, who cares if the ball goes in the net or not? What's the point?

Unfortunately, the march of time can let you down on the no-exercise thing. For me, it was twenty nine. The year my body magically stopped eating all those calories I consumed. The thing about having three, then four small children, is that you never notice what you wear or what you look like until a terrible day in a department store change room, the first day you've been out clothes shopping in about five years, and suddenly you notice you've put on fifteen kilograms. I went home that day, ashen-faced, and proceeded to lose ten of those kilograms over a year. I walked up killer hills every morning. I would serve up my meals, then put a spoonful back. Where I ate three biscuits for afternoon tea, I ate two. I did this every week, reducing what I ate by a spoonful here, a biscuit there, until one day I realised I was feeling hungry between meals again.  It was such a good feeling! I stopped eating after dinner, cleaned my teeth with the children, and woke up hungry. Stopped buying biscuits and chocolate and discovered that 'hunger is the best sauce' as Ma says in The Little House books, and that dinner on an empty stomach is always delicious.

So for the last five years or so my weight has been steady-ish. I put on a couple of kilograms each winter, eating all that warm comfort food, and take it off in the summer as I shriek when I get into the summer wardrobe, and have to start walking up killer hills again. But really, I was still not happy. I have a few kilograms to lose, my 'baby belly' (baby being nine years old kind of makes that sound a bit desperate). It has to go. Not that I wouldn't like to be curvaceous. That would be nice. I am a great admirer of women who are plump and gorgeous and Ruben-esque. Unfortunately, I have a body type which looks ridiculous carrying any weight at all. I have extremely skinny wrists and ankles, and small bones, and only ever put on weight around my middle. If I tried the curvaceous look I would end up looking like both my grannies - like apples with toothpicks for legs. And they were lovely, but I don't want to look like a granny just yet, so I am doomed to exercise.

And so, the gym. I always swore I would never, ever join a gym. But there was this friend of a friend. You know the person you bump into at parties, and you think, gosh, I'd like to get to know her better, and then you don't see her for a year until the next party.. well, that person became a fellow ballet mum, we chatted as we bumped into each other after class, and she told me how she was doing a personal trainer's course, and was studying nutrition, and I said, oh I NEED a personal trainer, and she said, oh I NEED a training buddy to make me go to the gym three times a week, and I said, well I can do that!

So that's how I ended up at the gym. It is just down the hill, small and quiet, with no classes, and lots of medieval machines, the purpose of which is to make all my muscles hurt. On the other hand, it is incredibly easy because I just turn up and someone tells me what to do and I just have to follow instructions, which is something I am quite good at. And after three weeks I may have an actual muscle or two. I started being able to do a grand total of zero push ups, and can now do six. And I am having a planking competition on the side with Lucinda, who is busy over at her blog getting all gorgeous, or should I say, even more gorgeous. I started at 25 seconds, but Lucinda, I can do 45 seconds now. Three times! It is an actual miracle.

I stopped snacking. I don't know whether it is because I have more or less stopped eating bread and large slabs of cake, or because I have started drinking rooibos tea, which apparently acts as an appetite suppressant as well as being caffeine free and low in tannins, but I have really stopped wanting to eat between meals. Another miracle, and I am a kilogram lighter than I was last week. I don't really have a goal weight, but I have a goal waist measurement, which is 65cms, the perfect size 10. It may take some time... but I know I will have good company along the way.


Bek said…
Good luck with your goal. I have to say I don't mind the gym myself, and I love the feeling of being able to lift weights or do exercises that I couldn't do before. I look forward to hearing how it goes...
The sentence I thought I'd never say - I have too!! Your PT sounds like a good plan. I've joined a small group of fat/unfit old ladies and it's great! I'm actually the youngest there. Good luck with training. cheers Wendy
Anonymous said…
It was 29 for me too. At 29 I got married, got incredibly sick mere weeks later. Quit the smokes cold turkey (too sick to care - bronchitis) and then once better we went to Phuket for our honeymoon. I ate Thai curries daily, pancakes loaded with butter and condensed milk at least once a day, if not twice and I drank pina colada's and other creamy cocktails every evening and beers all day.Beore 29 this wouldn't make a dent on my weight. At 29 I gained 6kgs in 3 weeks and never lost it. I got pregnant soon after and in the space of March 2007 and September 2008 not long after Jas was born I had gained a total of 30 kilos! 5 years on and I am still 15 or so kilos heavier than my wedding weight and 10 above my natural cruising weight pre kids. I suspect my current weight is the weight I shall stay but I'm ok with that. A little toning wouldn't go astray but truth be told I'm too lazy to care and enjoy food too much to do more than shrink portion sizes somewhat.

Well done you in joining a gym and being prepared to fight to get to where you want your body to be. Good luck with your training and enjoy yourself. :)
Anonymous said…
Mmmm. So now you get to know my bad side. I am really competitive. (Not in sport. Join you in your opinion of sport. Who can care about scores? It's all so pointless and repetitive.) But when I feel good about something (actually just better than someone) and another person closes in or, God forbid, overtakes me., well I don't rise to the challenge. I get mean. So, I have debated with myself. Do I pretend I was just too busy planking and what not to have had time to read to the end of your post? No, I will just let it all out. Through gritted teeth I say, well done you on getting to 45 sec. So pleased for you.

Or I can revert to my default position when someone is better than me: it's not a competition, you know? Which is just as well. I will never have a 65cm waist. Ah, I am 81cm. And then I can have a little dig: I didn't start getting fat and losing muscle until my 40s, so clearly I am the superior being! OK, I only had 2 kids but still...

No seriously, super effort on your gradual weight loss. And on joining a gym. If you gym it with a friend, you will have a laugh and stick to it so much more. I hope you get stronger and stronger and have more energy to do more gardening and things you like. And then strong enough to hop on a plane to visit me.

Unknown said…
NO Comment.... I wish i could just say that and run away but Jo i really do wish you every success and hope you achieve your perfect size 10 and feel great. Id be happy with size 20. I working my way up to a post about weight but its embarrassing and boring and really, does anyone really care about my 40 year battle of the bulge. I also love the gym. Im good at pumping weights and when i get to the point where im doing it well enough not to be the literal elephant in the room that's the colour of beetroot i enjoy it. Problem is that instead of stripping fat i bulge muscles and my legs and arms look like a weight lifters. Time is my enemy (excuse). Yesterday ended at 12am, today started first at 4.30am with Hubby and then again at 6.30am and after a full day at work ive just finished house work and taken the bins out for collection. Its 10.13pm and im exhausted. Come to think of it, i havent had dinner either. Just coffee. Such a bad example and yes i do know im doing it all wrong and i do know how to do it right. I just need to prioritise myself. Its coming, soon, i have 2 major reconstructive surgeries on my foot to come in the next year and i have to drop a lot of weight first. Ho Hum...
Jo said…
Bek, I am so excited that I can lift a weight or two (quite small ones so far..)
Wendy, your group sounds fab. I would NEVER have joined a gym by myself. There is safety in numbers:)
Jessie, 29 is clearly a dangerous age! I'm so glad you are happy and comfortable with yourself. That is such a good place to be. I don't want to become unhappy and unsatisfied with who I am. But that doesn't stop me from wanting my former body back (it may well be unattainable, but as long as I am having fun trying..)
Oh, oh, Lucinda, I have brought out your dark side.. if it makes you feel any better, 45 secs almost kills me :)
And yes, clearly you are quite superior, and you definitely have better frocks than me. Also, having given birth four times, I have resigned myself to the possibility that I will never have a flat stomach again, no matter how hard I work. But a girl can dream..
Jo said…
Oh, Lynda, it is so hard to make those changes, you are super brave to talk about it. I absolutely love those photos of you in your wedding dress in your latest post. You truly are gorgeous. And I hear you about the time issue. I don't know how people manage to fit in exercise with a full time job and a family as well. Soon I will be swapping from 9am gym, to 6am, as my gym buddy won't have child care for her kids during the school holidays. It may kill me getting up that early, but I'll do it, because I can't bear letting people down. I would never voluntarily do that though..
I'm sorry to hear you need surgery, but maybe that will be a good motivator. I would never have given up tea EVER voluntarily, but when my health was at risk I just did it because I had to.. all the very best to you, and I know you will do a great job.
Do write about it, and we will all come and cheer you on daily..
I've been going to a gym for awhile now--it's at the Jewish community center, and is very quiet (no music blasting through loudspeakers, mostly middle-aged folks). I have no hope of being svelte, but at this point I'm more concerned with being healthy, having strong bones, and being able to an active life well into my senior years. The gym is a good thing. Good for you for going!

Anonymous said…
"HA"! Just headed over to Lucinda's blog and had to chuckle at that double muffin top. I dare say all of the loose skin that now flaps in the breeze about my person whenever I am hailing a taxi (thank GOODNESS that isn't a regular occurrence!) could also act as a decoy to a predator that was after my tasty inside's the truth! Ever wonder why some dogs have lots of excess skin? It's for the predators to chew on while they make a hasty retreat...same goes for some insects...while the predator is after their "eyes" they are off! I was a gym junkie for many years and got exercise dysmorphic. I spent hours on end at the gym...3 hours on the stepper alone and then I would ride 40km every day on one of those “BLOODY PUSHBIKES” ;) beforehand. I kept getting sick and I wasn't building muscle...turns out you have to eat properly to build muscle but I no longer was the competitive thing...challenging myself to "just 10 more steps before you curl up in a heap on the floor and can't walk any more". I managed to break the cycle by going cold turkey and I still twitch when I walk past a gym and see a stepper or a treadmill... "Must...walk...100km...NOOOO!"

The problem is that you have to keep going to the gym. It's a bit insidious. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger now and he could windsail with all of the loose skin on his arms sail needed! There is ALWAYS a master to be served and I get the feeling that you are somewhat competitive ;). I don't go to the gym now. Aside from being something that I just can't afford any more, I have Earl, the full body exercise machine. On any given day I can reach a semi trot down the driveway (even though I can't run!), I get swung left and right...I twirl around (I think ballet dancers could use Earl as an instructional tool to teach them how to Pirouette...), I go bush (regularly if I am not paying attention), I learn how to balance on precipices (can ANYONE tell me why dogs need to pee over the edge of cliffs?!!!) and after 5km of "walking" Earl each day I get home exhausted and NEEDING that second cup of tea. I recommend that you get a dog. Get a big one that needs a lot of exercise and aside from the benefits you also get a friend who will eat the yucky things off your plate, who will babysit the kids and who will give you so much love you won't even care that you have a size 12 muffin top on a size 10 body ;)
Jo said…
Frances, I love the sound of your gym. I want to be a strong old granny as well, because I loathe hospitals and medical procedures. I am willing to do a lot of work to avoid them, if that is possible.
Hey Fran, getting a dog sounds SO tempting from your description! Trust me, I do not have 3 spare hours in the day to kill myself on stair stepper, I have tomatoes to plant. I promise I will be eating well! And I am loving the image of you on your daily workout. Say 'hi' to Earl your personal trainer from me:)
Anonymous said…
Sport is plain silly. Living in Man's Land, I am forced to watch more sport on the telly than I think is acceptable - and I snigger when the commentators analyse what they think the players are thinking when *I* know they're all thinking 'kick it to meeeeeeeee'

Right now, I weigh the most I've ever weighed un-pregnant. Being a late bloomer, I didn't get to that weight plateau thing until after I had kids (late thirties - REALLY late bloomer, lol). I lost 20kg a few years ago, and kept it off without any drama for about three years, then my thyroid decided to go on strike periodically and HELLO 20kg, I remember you. It took me about three years to relocate the whole 20, but it's time to do something about it. I don't do gyms (the ones near me are all full of muscle-y people) so that leaves walking.

And not eating as much cake.

Or mars bars.

But mostly cake.
Jo said…
Oh cake, how I love you! I live with three enthusiastic bakers who are all so wonderfully talented and creative especially at cakes. Yoghurt walnut cupcakes anyone? Delicious layer of espresso walnut paste sandwiched between moist and fluffy cakey bits. This is the kind of temptation I am faced with daily..
Yep, I'll be going for a walk now. Lots of hills..
Tammy said…
Your relationship with the gym sounds a lot like my relationship with dust: We made a treaty years ago where if I don't hurt it, it won't hurt me.

Today is the American Thanksgiving, our national eating holiday. Before I tuck in the deliciousness on offer, I'm off to the gym. While I know it can't counter all those calories, I'm hopeful that it will keep me mindful enough of all the hard work I've done to keep me from going completely crazy.
your gym sounds perfectly lovely and welcoming- not initimating at all! i'm not personally into gyms (maybe because they are seems intimidating and cool) but i wish any who wants to improve their health and fitness all the best! so good luck jo!
for me, it was about 35 when i realised i couldn't eat everything i wanted to eat and still fit into my clothes (like you, i have always been skinny - i am a perfect blend of my dad's skinniness but my mum's pear shape, so imagine that! a skinny pear...). now i exercise every day - walking or bike riding in my lunch hour (i have hills around me too!), walking before work (that's a bit sower in pace, i am waking up afterall). i actaully enjoy it because it's a break during my working day. and i too take smaller portions (or at least try to). i never feel deprived - i have cake - i just know that i need to move so the cake doesnt outstay its welcome! the exercise makes me feel good too, so iot's good emotionally as well.
ps also love the sound of Earl - dogs are great exercise!
Jo said…
Tammy, do hope you enjoyed all the food and that the gym worked!
e, I think the skinny pear shape is so flattering. I have some friends who rock the skinny pear! I think the combination of flat stomach and gorgeous round bottom is wonderfully feminine, and also better for your health to carry any spare fat in the bottom rather than the belly..
I love the ways you sneak exercise into your day. That's brilliant. And exercise and I are starting to make friends as well, so all good!
Anonymous said…
Now you have a new interest are we to be abandoned? Can you fit some blogging into your full schedule of mother, gardener, gym junky? Come back and tell us about what is growing in your garden. Your latest escapades with broad beans! Your existential dilemma over yet more plastic. Something cute from Posy. (We won't mention the Boy.)

And....are you up to 60second planks?

(Lest I put my foot in it, I hope these are keeping you from us and not ill health?)
Jo said…
Oh lordy Lucinda, it's December. I can hardly turn around between ballet rehearsals, concerts, end of year exam hysterics, and my usual state of being a single parent just when family life is most hectic. And for some reason I decided to schedule in dentist appointments and optician visits for everyone as well. And every time I walk outside the garden is screaming for attention. Who was the bright spark who decided to transpose Christmas to the middle of summer, height of garden season. You'd think someone on the First Fleet would have had more sense. They could have cancelled Christmas right from the get go when they had the chance..
Anonymous said…
COMPLETELY off topic but just wanted to share this post with you, thought you might like it :)
Anonymous said…
Sorry if I sounded pushy. Just a but needy for my dose of Blue Day.

Sounds like you are doing a bit of self-flagellation with a bi of over-scheduling?
Jo said…
Fran, that is a simply gorgeous story about the coat. But if I start dying coats as well I might actually spontaneously combust..
Lucinda, I love that my waffling is appreciated. Regular service will resume shortly..
Heather said…
Good for you, Jo. I have a pretty good metabolism, but my poundage has crept up over the years. I waver in between wanting to look like I did when I was 18 and thinking, "hey, I'm a woman now and I don't need to be stick thin and why make myself miserable." I do know though, that I feel much better when I regularly exercise, weight loss or no. I also know that health is the key to getting older without feeling old. Try to enjoy it.
Jo said…
Heather, so good to hear from you. Surprisingly, I AM enjoying the exercise, another sentence I thought I'd never say. I thought everyone at the gym was miserable, but I'm actually finding it quite fun!
I do know I'll never look like I'm 18 again. 4 children took care of that nicely!!

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