Lifting My Extremes

Being the cool kid I am, Saturday night I found myself loading my backpack, ready to tackle my friend’s personal statement for medical school at the only suburban joint open passed ten pm: the gym.

After more than an hour of rearranging sentences and searching through thesaurus on the gym’s main level couches, my long time high-school friend Tats and I closed our laptops and laced up our sneakers for the shift from mental exertion to physical exercise.

As two of only five or so members in the large gym, and with any and every weight and machine at my fingertips, I quickly completed my planned bicep and tricep work out and wanderded back to Tats to interrupt his legs workout. What continued for the next hour or so was the most fun I’ve ever had at the gym!

It lined up to a perfect combination for a work out.  Although both of us were pretty new to being in the gym so late, a midnight work out seemed only natural. Tats is a fellow night-owl; we used to instant message each other about our AP Psych projects until three in the morning, long after our AIM Buddy Lists were near empty.  Because he’s someone I trust and someone I trust in the gym with his Kinesiology major and work out background, our game of “How strong are you?” was better than any stranger trainer at the gym could have given me.

He loaded up over fifty pounds onto my bench press and I nearly keeled over as I lifted two 35 pound weights on the Olympic dead lift – I mean, wow, the added distance of the weight threw off my exertion! Inverted, my legs pressed 100+ pounds as effortlessly as right-up. We practiced correct form of clean and presses with the Olympic sized bar and went through a whole slew of hammer-strength machines. I laughed hysterically when we both failed at the triceps machine because although each side loaded thirty pounds, we could both clearly push our right arm through while the left stayed quite stationary. At 5’2, I cleared a new height on the box jumps, still nervous to tackle the highest box. And he   shared my disdain for the chin up machine, especially after my accidental run-in with going too light on the weights and nearly falling off.

I felt like my 6-year-old self back at Discovery Zone crawling through tubes and climbing ropes. Bouncing from machine to machine for a few reps at a time was the ultimate adventure.

While I’ve frequented various gyms for years now and have steadily began a relationship with weight lifting, I never had the full benefit of having someone watch my form and correctly show me how to use some of the scary-to-me equipment.  Especially with my newest work out plan, I am pushing my muscles but I’m always left wondering if I am performing at my best.

Leaving Life Time at 1:30 a.m. I had a high that one wouldn’t normally assume could be found by staying “in” on a Saturday night. But improving my strength and my body has been a long trend in the two years since I graduated college.  I may not be the strongest kid around but I will never be a woman who cops out by saying she doesn’t have upper body strength.

And the results have felt more noticable than ever since attending my little brother’s college graduation earlier this May.

Because my own graduation day in 2010 was not something I’m proud of. Confused about my next steps and in terrible relationship with my body, I hid from all photos. It had been too many days having my “last” meals of campus restaurants, drinking 14 days in a row and piling on more fat and bloat from a weight gain I’d be struggling with most of senior year. I was generally uncomfortable in my skin, finding every flaw.

But at Josh’s graduation, I was full of pride for him and comfort in myself. The scale may read only a few pounds difference, but the noticeable shift in my body composition and in my pride is palpable. While I wish I had more progress and less plateaus while working hard over the last two years, the most important thing to me is that I hit a low and never looked back. I didn’t let it continue but I turned around my habits and my opinion of myself.

Lifting and jumping to new heights this Saturday night only seemed to confirm the I pride I feel in myself.

Even if everyone looking at me can’t tell how different I am, I know I’ve changed for the better.