breathe

This morning, I walked very slowly to the locker room because I simply could not move any faster. Every part of me ached a bit, but not as much as my legs, which threatened to give out with every step.

I was breathing pretty hard because I had worn myself out in the past hour and 15 minutes, and despite the deep breaths, overall I felt pretty good.  A bit lightheaded, but good. I’d survived a training session at my gym with Leslie Moraitis from 6:30 to 7, and instead of heading to the showers, I decided to push on and do my usual circuit on the machines. That usually takes about 20 minutes, but this morning it was twice that because I really just didn’t have it in me to go at my usual place; I didn’t want to just give up, either.

The last machine this morning was the abdominal crunch, and I went at it extra hard during the last set, because whether I’m on the elliptical, treadmill or something else, I like to just blow it out in the final minute or so. (Note to self: Never again end a workout on the ab machine.)

I was winded as I crept to the locker room, and sat down on the bench to concentrate on regulating my breathing. Like I said, I was feeling good, though I probably didn’t look or sound it, sitting there breathing all hard, toweling off sweat and swigging water. I notice a young lady with a head full of weaved braids staring at me. I gave a half smile, in case she was a paramedic or something.

She said I must have had a good workout. I assured her I had, and we started chatting.

It was her first time back after about six months, and she was having a hard time being motivated. I sympathized, explaining my plateau period. She’d lost 60 pounds doing something called the Fat Smash Diet – I’m not going to bother to look it up; the word “diet” is enough to warn me off of it – and then she stopped working out, stopped following the diet, and had since regained more than 20 pounds.

I tried to picture her minus 20 pounds. She would look pretty fit, although she could stand to lose about 40, total. I reminded her that she was in the gym now, and that’s all that really mattered. She then said she didn’t even want to be there, wasn’t motivated to start working out again, just wanted to go home. I suggested she ask for a free training session, see how it makes her feel, and that might be a motivator to do more. She seemed appeased. I shuffled off to the showers. (Today’s shower gel and body butter scents: pink grapefruit!)

I don’t have a clear idea why she asked me for advice. Putting myself in her shoes, it might be because I clearly had a hard workout, and wasn’t cursing (audibly). Maybe she did detect that I was actually OK and feeling just fine, despite the heavy breathing and sweat.

And maybe, it was the kind of workout she really wanted for herself, but not feeling up to the task.

Folks, that’s where I was nearly all of May, and when I returned to the gym last weekend, I was kicking myself for forgetting just how good it feels to do something this important. For me.

That’s progress.

Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.  ~  Marian Wright Edelman

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.