I walk into the locker room at the gym after a particularly sweaty and exhilarating workout. Because there’s still music pumping into my ear buds I don’t even realize the “ahhhhhhhh” I let out as I enter the room is loud enough to get the attention of a woman getting ready to work out.
She turns from the lockers, looks at me and says, “How much did you lose?”
I stop, turn off the music, and look at her a bit confused. I’ve never seen her before and I’m there at least three times a week. It’s an odd greeting, but she’s smiling.
“Are you asking me how much weight I’ve lost?” I ask her.
“Yes,” she says.
Still odd given she doesn’t know me, but OK. This is early January and maybe she’s made a resolution. The coach in me wants her to stick to it. All of this is swirling through my head. I want to be encouraging, but also authentic. I smile back.
“I don’t actually come here and think about losing weight,” I say. “Sometimes my clothes get looser but the numbers on the scale don’t move. That used to upset me. Now I take it in stride. I ignore the numbers and focus on how I feel.”
She’s looking at me like this is an unexpected response, but I can tell she’s listening and now I’m on a roll.
“I’m all about ease of movement now,” I say. “I used to take that for granted. But after a knee injury and other related health issues I treasure ease of movement in a way I never could have imagined I would.”
She hadn’t thought of it that way, she says.
“Well, also, I’m a life coach and after working with clients on health goals I learned that some people just don’t respond well to numbers while others are very motivated by them. So sometimes it’s about fitting into a special dress or pair of jeans or being able to go up and down a flight of steps without panting. Sometimes that’s a better goal than always obsessing over losing weight. That insight has helped me.”
She thanks me and wishes me a good day. I want to draw her out, but my instinct tells me she doesn’t want to share. I go about gathering my things and think it would be nice to keep seeing her there in coming weeks, moving and moving some more. That’s what it’s about. As I’m leaving the gym and walking in my neighborhood, I can’t shake our exchange.
This keeps looping -- I Live Riveted to the appreciation of my body and what it can do. It’s my main mode of transportation. Its functionality is amazing. Standing up and sitting down with ease used to be a given. Now’s it’s a point of gratitude every time. Stride. Sustaining, even if it’s being on my feet to browse shops or art galleries for pleasure. What joy.
Dependence on muscle, nerve, blood flow, joints, psyche. Yes, psyche. The mental aspect. With the big chill we’re experiencing in the Northeast comes slippery sidewalks and a part-legitimate, part-irrational fear of falling and reinjuring. It’s a persistent challenge. One day I venture out onto iffy sidewalks because I am determined to push through fear and I see a woman with a cane making her way slowly. I stop and ask if she’s OK or if she needs assistance. She thanks me profusely and says she’s taking it a step at a time. Bravo.
With strength and purpose comes a feeling of sexy radiance, not because I’ve got tight abs or I’ve dropped X amount of pounds in a month but because I am one with my body. Each day I overcome something with regard to my physical self.
I love that I ran into that woman. She brought out something in me. Some kind of pride in owning that decades of fretting about how I looked put the focus in the wrong place. Now it’s about being who I am in the world and how the instrument that is my body is at the center of a vibrant existence.
Not your average day at the gym by a long shot.