On Becoming a Gym Rat

My cousin Robbie and I met for lunch recently at a Middle Eastern place on Bloor West. After we nestled into a corner table at the edge of the patio, he handed me a large white envelope. It was filled with family photos that he found at his dad’s place.

The photos span decades. The older ones are of my parents before they fled Hungary in the 1950s. While my mom was alive she often claimed that she was prettier than me as a young woman. Turns out she was right. Flipping through the photos later, my sister couldn’t stop staring at a headshot of our young mom. “She was stunning,” Anita said over and over again.

There were also relatively more recent photos in the envelope too. While Anita continued to stare at our beautiful mother, I couldn’t stop staring at myself from a photo taken a couple years after Micah was born. I was stunned (not because I was ever as stunning as my mom) but because I was really slim. I realize how narcissistic this sounds but actually this is more about owing my kids an apology. I have steadfastly blamed my chubbiness on ‘baby weight’ (never mind my kids are adults now). But as the photographic evidence proves I had lost the baby weight only to discover new sources of cellulite.

This weekend I decided it was time to take my health seriously. It isn’t just about my Body Mass Index, which came as a shock during a recent doctor’s appointment. I hadn’t weighed myself for over a year (I broke the scale John got me for my 2016 birthday– remember that?) but also low bone density (surprising given I used to drink gallons of milk as a kid). The medical consensus was to start lifting weights.

On Saturday I walked over to Riverdale Fitness and plunked down my credit card. John and the boys insisted I hire a personal trainer because they were certain I would either injure myself with the wrong technique or cause serious injury to bystanders. My first session with my personal trainer was on Sunday. His name is Dimitri. He told me he was on an Olympic team. My attention span wavered when he told me for which sport but I think it was weight lifting, which makes sense.

Anyway, this gym is pretty cool. It’s been around for 70 years and it’s not fancy or high tech like many other gyms. It’s still intimidating though because the weights and equipment are confusing. Dimitri is very encouraging and says I’ll get the hang of it in no time. Added bonus:  He says those “beginner gains” are going to kick in so quickly that I won’t believe what’s happening to my body. In a good way, he means.

My second session was on Tuesday. I still spend as much time watching Dimitri demonstrate the right technique as I do lifting weights myself (I’m not a fast learner). He was trying (again and again) to explain a dead lift. Finally, he said: “I don’t mean to be rude but the best way to think of this is like you’re humping.” I laughed saying I may have some explaining to do with my husband if I get too good at this move. “Just tell him your training is going REALLY well,” Dimitri said.

So because my track record of any exercise routine going really well is appalling, I’m going to make a public declaration about my goals. While being accountable to myself sucks I’m the good girl who never breaks a promise to others:

  1. I am going to go to the gym at least twice a week
  2. I am cutting out wine on school days (unless I’m having dinner out with friends)
  3. I’m going to eat more fruit, fewer desserts and ban chips from our house

Wish me luck!


Photo credit: Unsplash – Scott Webb


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