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The Loser’s Guide to the Gym  

Gym treadmill entertainment comes in two varieties: gross and gluttonous

The Warmup

There were just two-and-half weeks until my friend Michali’s wedding and my favorite dress and I were... incompatible. Despite my mother’s protests that I had a whole wardrobe of gorgeous clothes, I knew my full-to-bursting closet was nothing but an illusion. There was nothing — nothing — I could wear except that one beautiful (now too-small) dress.

So I did the only thing I could think of: I hit the gym.

Alas, when the big day came, I did not fit into my dress. (Sorry I skipped your wedding, bestie Michali; what could I do under the circumstances?)

But I think my approach to the gym was so good that, out of the goodness of my heart, I’ll overlook the dismal results and share my fortnight-plus of insights with you.

Bop it! Twist it! Pull it!

You know that those hunks of metal dotting the gym aren’t sculptures. But what are they for? Stretching? Straining? Medieval torture?

There are no signs, no instructions. And unless you want to expose yourself as a clueless newbie — which you don’t — asking is out of the question. That leaves you with two options:

You can grab a set of weights to use as props and lurk near your machine of choice, hoping someone will demonstrate the proper way to use the mystery equipment. Or you can misuse the machines with confidence!

Clamber aboard, lean into the part that looks most workable, and give it your all. Then step away and watch hordes of weights-bearing women come out of the metalwork to imitate your newly invented routine.

Pick Your Poison

Gym treadmill entertainment comes in two varieties: gross and gluttonous.

If you get a treadmill in front of the screen showing the animal channel, you’ll be treated to the inspiring sight of lions tearing apart helpless wildlife. This will kill any appetite you might have had, and will serve as a fabulous aid in the weight-shedding process.

Beneficial as that may be, I recommend grabbing a spot in front of the screen with the cooking show.

Will watching a chef pull trays of fresh, hot, sugar-crusted churros from the oven help you lose weight? Gosh, no. But it will enable you to do some awesome menu planning.

And later that night, when you break apart a deep-fried, breaded ball of mozzarella goodness and watch the cheese drip down, you’ll thank the gym and their treadmills for making mealtime great again.

Nurture Your Inner Weakling

What do you do if you’re just not in the mood for going to the gym?

An excellent question.

In order to address it properly, we need to put physical health aside and take a brief foray into the wonderful world of psychology — a field I’m an expert in, since I read Sarah Chana Radcliffe’s articles every week.

As my magazine-mentor wrote in a previous Family First edition, every person is made up of a bunch of parts, each of which deserves to be acknowledged. For most people, this includes a gym-phobic part.

So if you’re lacing up your sneakers and realize you’re dreading the coming workout, acknowledge it. Say aloud, “Part of me doesn’t want to exercise.”

And then skip the workout.

Will you regret it two weeks later when you re-re-recommit to your workout — for real this time! — and find yourself flat on your back just five seconds into the routine you used to breeze through? Possibly. I did. But that’s irrelevant. Your mental health and self-acceptance come first.

(Did I get that right, Mrs. Radcliffe?)

Skip the Scale

Have you ever gone to the hairstylist and kept your eyes shut tight until the very end, so you could be awed and surprised at the glamorous new you in the mirror?

Sure, you freaked out afterwards (“I said cut half an inch, not three!”), but at least you were happy while your eyes were shut.

It’s a great lesson to keep in mind when approaching the all-knowing scale; why submit yourself to constant stress attacks when you can choose to live in blissful ignorance?

And don’t worry — on that fateful day when you do finally step aboard, you can reassure yourself that the weight you’ve gained is all muscle.

Walk Sparingly

What came first, the gym or the eatery? This age-old paradox has stumped many a philosopher, but let’s not worry our sweaty little heads over it. The bottom line is: A gym can’t exist without a pastry or ice cream shop nearby.

With that in mind, it’s important to consider the following question: after a workout, do you walk the 100 feet to get the carb-loaded confection that you, like, totally earned with those 25 jumping jacks, or do you drive around the corner and save yourself two minutes?

As the resident burpee-to-Slurpee pro, I can assure you that, counterintuitive as it may sound, taking the car will prevent unnecessary post-workout weight gain.


Elementary, my dear Weissman.

If you drive, you’ll arrive moments later and get the same chocolate-vanilla sugar cone with cookie crumbs you always get after exercising.

If you walk, on the other hand, you’ll spend those two minutes dreaming about your upcoming treat. A boring ol’ sugar cone? How about a waffle instead? And cookie crumbs are sooo blah. With the amount of exercise you did today, you can probably upgrade to hot fudge.

By the time the storefront comes into view, your order for a simple, excusable ice cream will have morphed into one for a Super-dee-Dooper-dee-Booper Special Deluxe a-la-Peter T. Hooper Sundae that will do more for your nutritionist’s heart rate than an hour of aerobics.

Like I said — take the car.

The Cooldown

AS hard as it can be to get yourself into a new routine, I’m sure that if you follow my recommendations, you’ll gain tremendously from your time in the gym (figuratively or literally — it’s up to you). Remember to enjoy yourself, and don’t stress about petty things like results.

Because in the gym, everyone’s a loser!


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 791)

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