Workout leaves me burned out

Sunday, August 14, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:54 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It’s been five months since I’ve stopped smoking. Every time I stopped the nasty habit in the past, I gained weight, so this time I decided to get serious and hired a personal trainer.

After 10 weeks, I had my first assessment. I lost two pounds and eight inches. It cost me $800, so some quick math put my weight loss at $400 a pound. However, I was only a little disappointed. I was smoke-free, and I hadn’t gained the normal 25 pounds. I was determined to continue losing weight and even had visions of becoming an athlete. Maybe one day I would run a marathon or, even better, compete in a triathlon.

So I continued working with my trainer. I faithfully showed up at 6:30 a.m. and “warmed up” on the treadmill. I tried to tell him that I didn’t need to warm up; I was already sweating just driving to the gym. After 20 minutes on the road that goes nowhere, we would move to the basketball court where I would lunge around the room. I told my trainer that all of the inches I had lost were below my waist so I didn’t really need to genuflect 100 times around the court. He just handed me two 12-pound weights, smiled and said “again.”

Next we’d go into the weight room, where I would stand in front of a huge wall-length mirror and lift dumbbells. Week after week I’d look at myself, hoping to see a waist appear or, at the very least, one less chin. My trainer continued to cheer me on, saying I was creating muscle. Great! I was on my way to being a 200-pounder who could lift a school bus.

After the weights, I got on the recumbent bicycle (this bike has a seat big enough for any butt.) I’d pedal away for another 15 minutes, trying to keep my speed above 80 mph.

We’d finish each session with floor exercises and stretching. I hated the floor exercises and told my trainer. But he just said, “You can do it, gal!”

First I’d crunch 50 times, thanking God that I didn’t have anything in my stomach, and then I’d alternate legs trying to get my elbow to my knee. I think the closest I came was about two feet. By this time, the sweat was running into my eyes, I was nauseated and I just wanted to go back to bed. Finally I was allowed to stretch. My trainer told me to bend my leg and hold my foot for 30 seconds. The trick was trying to grab my foot. The best I could do was grab part of my sock and hold it — and I never made it to 30 seconds; 25 was my personal best. When I’d hear “see you next week” I would limp out to my car wondering if I would make it through the day.

Once a week, I’d faithfully step on the scale at home, hoping to see a major weight loss. My scale, a Christmas present from my thoughtful husband, has a digital readout that tells your weight within one-hundredth of a pound. By the time I went for my second assessment I had been working with my trainer for four months and, according to my scale, I had lost another two pounds. However, according to the assessor’s scale I hadn’t lost an ounce. And to add salt to my wound, after taking 12 different measurements from various parts of my body, he announced that I hadn’t lost an inch either.

The poor assessor was at a loss for words. He knew that I had never missed a session. I told him I was trying to eat the right food, drink eight glasses of water… blah, blah, blah. Finally, he asked me if I was under any stress. I answered that the stress began when the scale didn’t show a loss. It increased when the tape measure showed the same numbers, and it hit the ceiling when he couldn’t tell me why.

He actually patted my back and mumbled something about a plateau and said, “Keep working at it. You can do it gal!”

First of all I hate the word “gal.” Secondly, after exercising for more than four months it has never gotten easier. I sweat just thinking about it. I go home sick to my stomach. I’ve never experienced the “high.”

I walked out of his office that day and put my training sessions on hold. That was three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve lost five pounds and there is a hint of a waist. I know my trainer would say that I’ve lost muscle. I say I don’t care — I’m five pounds lighter.

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