Inaugural: From Lard to Hard – Use it or lose it.

I’ll admit it: I am not happy with my body.

I know: a woman unhappy with her body?  Hold the front page!   But for me, it’s two tenths about my appearance (looking at a picture of me when I was 21 increased that from one tenth) and eight tenths about my current disappointing physical capabilities.

I have a tendency to do dumb shit that requires a reasonable level of fitness, just to see if I can.  The time I climbed a 4,000m mountain last year springs to mind.  It wasn’t all that long ago that I could bench-press more than half my bodyweight, do a full pull-up, and run a half-marathon.  The latter was in March, and I finished in the not-too-embarrassing time of 2hrs21 mins.  My legs are short, or I’d have dashed over the line in an hour and a half.

In all seriousness, I know I could have run that 13 miles faster if I hadn’t spent the previous week sick in bed and only felt truly better the day of the race.   That thought is like a stab to the heart of my weird self-competitive personality.  I enjoy the process of pushing myself to see how far I can go before I expire.  It’s a recurring theme and it applies mentally (which is why I have an irksome little internal diatribe going on right now about how I really ought to see if I can get a doctorate) and physically.

Life took over: real life, not that living-the-dream thing that happened when I was in New Zealand.  I moved country.  I moved house.  I commute almost three hours daily (sometimes more).  I’m still adjusting to trying to renovate a house while maintaining some kind of social life and simultaneously screwing up this blogging thing.  If I was ever to sleep, something had to give.  The something was my body.

I ponied up the cash recently to join my new local gym.  It’s not bad, but it is full of the usual testostero-clones in the free-weights area, huffing and puffing and checking in the mirror to see if anyone’s noticed.

If you told one of my fellow gym-patrons that the heaving, wheezing, purple-faced wreck that they saw collapsing before them had, fewer than four months previously, run a whole half-marathon and only ached for two days, they might have shot off the back of the treadmill with surprise.  I, of course, choose to wear my ‘Silverstone Half-Marathon Finisher’ t-shirt to the gym because I want everyone to know that my current state is not reflective of my achievements.  It’s no wonder people stare: they’re thinking ‘really?’

At the moment, I start feeling the wall after two miles.  The situation is urgent, because back when I was in half-marathon training I promised my mother that I would run 10 miles for her charity.  Back then I was running eight miles fairly easily so it seemed like an easy way to support her.

The ten miles is in October. 2010.  My mother, who promised we would run it together, has dropped out for reasons that include I’m in my 60s, through I have osteoporosis and I have this recurring ache in my leg maybeIhavethrombosis all the way to I just don’t think I could do it.

As far as the weight-lifting part of my training goes, I am so feeble that the old me could have broken the new me in half using only her little finger and a smile.  Today, I ache because yesterday I benched 20kg for three sets of eight, and loaded the assisted chin-up machine with 40kg of assistance for three sets of five.  Five!  The ugly truth: I am a weed.  Not quite as weedy as the time I dropped a 2.5kg plate on my ankle-bone and had to move swiftly to a corner so nobody could see me cry, but still.  I’m displeased.

I have a limited time to get into shape for this bloody run, so I’m going to have to prioritise the boring hamstering on the treadmill for now, but soon I shall revert to my preferred activity of moving heavy shit around.

Goals.  Goals are important.  My goals are less about this:

and more about this:

or this:

Minus the machine-guns, of course.  Sheesh – a woman can’t be strong without being in combat?  Not so long ago Madonna and Sarah-Jessica Parker were wearing flak-vests to deflect the bizarre vitriol directed at their having ‘muscled up’.  It’s one of those bizarre societal projections about what women should and shouldn’t be.  To which I say: balls.  One of my proudest moments was beating a good male friend of mine in an arm-wrestle.

So, let the journey begin.  Where are you on your own personal fitness spectrum right now?

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6 Responses to “Inaugural: From Lard to Hard – Use it or lose it.”


  1. 1 Meg July 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Oh goodness, I guess it the spectrum is between not fit at all and awesomely fit, I’m a tish better than not fit at all. I ride my bike quite a lot and that’s made my lower legs rather firm and shapely (at least for me).

    While I do have concerns about appearance, strength is also a factor for me. Being able to defend myself and just do whatever hiking or other such activities is so appealing for me.

    Thanks for sharing this! We don’t hear often enough about women wanting to be strong, wanting to have muscle.

  2. 2 Mrs. G. July 29, 2010 at 2:59 am

    Still in the thick of not being so thick. I am slightly bored with the the exercise circuit and am thinking about starting to walk/jog around my hilly neighborhood. Good for you for joining the gym.

    Have you read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/health/27brod.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage

  3. 3 Jenn @ Juggling Life July 29, 2010 at 7:34 am

    It is quite discouraging that it is so much harder to get IN shape than it is to get OUT of shape. Kudos to you for making the effort.

    As far as Madonna and SJP go, I’m not sure it was the muscles so much as the complete absence of body fat. Now the Williams sisters–those are some great muscular bods.

  4. 4 Jonathan July 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Good luck with your journey… you should start a life blog charting the progress – use tumblr or something.

  5. 5 Suzanne July 31, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. I have been mourning my former fitness levels and loss of strength and flexibility, even though I’ve been doing Pilates apparatus work once a week for more than two years, Zumba once or twice a week for more than a year, and yoga once a week as often as I am able. I walk and/or bus everywhere it’s practical for me to do so and try to remain relatively active.

    BUT, I had a nasty dance injury 22 years ago, which resulted in long-term chronic back (and hip, hamstring & adductor) issues, because I wasn’t able to complete a full course of physical therapy back then. My injury tends to flare when I’m under tremendous stress, so I’ve been in fairly constant low-level pain for most of the past year and a half. Not fun.

    Although I had a short course of physical therapy earlier this year, I have not yet been allowed to resume my Body Pump class, which is basically working with free weights to music. So, I feel like my muscles have turned to jelly. I had to leave Zumba class early this past Tuesday when my back threatened to go into full spasm. Grr…

    I love watching “So You Think You Can Dance,” but it also makes me a little sad sometimes, as I still have some of the muscle memory of how it felt to do some of the things I see them do. Yet I know I can no longer and will likely never again be able to do those things, even as my brain tries to fool my muscles into believing they could.

    I’m tired of being the dumpy 40-something lump I’ve turned into, but have been unable to work out as much as I would like to address that issue. I really should do more cardio on the elliptical, but I haven’t been able to motivate myself to go to the gym (which is a mere block away) more than the for the Zumba & yoga classes. I can’t run due to the nature of my knee injury. I need to just get off my duff and do it already! Strangely, I know it will be much easier once I am working again. Whenever that turns out to be…

    All that said, I remain confident that you will regain your former level of fitness and be ready for the 10 miler in October before you know it. It hasn’t been that long since your half marathon, and I bet your body will get back in the fitness training rhythm faster than you expect. Cheers to you for doing it! You’re a far better woman than I…

  6. 6 Stacie August 14, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I have resolved to get into a regular exercise routine now that I’m back in my compound and have access to a good gym. Of course I’m waiting to start that on Monday. :)


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