What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger…

Did you ever wish you hadn’t started something?

That’s me every time I head for the gym. As I shed jeans, wellies, and fleece in favour of trackies, teeshirt and trainers, I get PE flashbacks. This is unfair of my brain. I mean, who wants to relive school? Wasn’t one go round enough?

So I ignore the feelings of doom that invade my psyche, and lace up the trainers anyway. If my brain is in top form, it finds tiny, stupid things with which to sidetrack me from my purpose. My one and only pair of trackies have Plumber’s Mate smeared on the right knee after helping (read: hindering) my friend Rob when he was fixing my sink the other day. I meant to stick ’em in the wash and forgot. Now what am I going to wear? Cargo pants? Too small, and they don’t stretch either. I can do without splitting the bum of my trousers while I’m trying to resemble an athlete. I haver round the bedroom for several minutes in my polka-dot underpants before grabbing the trackies out of the laundry basket and putting them on anyway. My brain is smug: ten minutes not spent in the gym. Gah.

My subconscious mind whines like a reluctant toddler as I get changed, slowing me up, distracting me – anything to put off the moment when I step out of the front door. Today’s sneak tactic, just as I finally grab my keys, sling my snazzy yellow plastic gym bag over my shoulder and reach for the front door latch, is to suddenly hit me with the realisation that I haven’t eaten all morning. I got up at six and crawled straight from bed to computer chair. Doom. Dooom. I’ve tried being tough and working out on an empty stomach, and let me tell you, it’s not tough, it’s stupid and ends up with you dry-heaving beside the rowing machine. Ladylike and elegant? Meh, not so much.

This time, I was wise to my brain. Yes, I am aware of how loony that sounds. Hurtled down the kitchen stairs and flung open the fridge, muttering, “Right! Protein!” Five slices of roast chicken and three heaped spoons of hummus later, I lurched to the cupboard, stuck a big teaspoon of Nutella on my tongue to kill the taste and smell of the hummus, and fled.

And what do you know? It worked out just fine. I got on my cross-trainer (the one where the number buttons don’t work) and spent ten minutes having fun rocketing my heart-rate and getting everything in working order. Hit the weight machines and worked my way right through the personal torture programme Sadistic Eddie worked out for me (hey, I even moved the peg several notches down from the ‘WIMP’ end of the stack today), spent a few happy minutes in the free weights room doing some thing I’ve forgotten the name of but which feels really great and athlete-y.

I even did extras on some of the machines – got to the end of my reps, then did (grunt) ONE more just to show I could, and (extra grunt) ONE last one just to show my brain who’s boss round here. So maybe Kelly Clarkson is right (or was it the depressed dude with the giant moustache? Hmm…), and if this doesn’t finish me off, it’ll make me stronger.

Perhaps, to quote my buddy Ethel The Dean, sweating like a glassblower’s arse several times a week isn’t so bad.



Looky here, people! It’s official: I am an Athlete.


So, that’s the difficult part over with, right? Guys?


Oh, nuts. 

On the positive side, I’m hitting the gym pretty consistently. Abandoned the warm-up on the yebany rower (non-aquatic version of swimming laps, I nearly die of boredom in the first 3 minutes) for a cross-trainer and feel, inexplicably, much happier. Maybe moving my arms and legs at the same time keeps my brain guessing, who knows?

I’m also getting used to moving the peg on the weight-stack on most of the machines to the end of the scale marked “WIMP” without feeling as if the eyes of the entire place are fixed on me in dubious pity. Well, most of the time.