I loathe working out. I hate wearing things that highlight all the things I hate about myself (which is almost everything) and sweating. I can’t even begin to explain how much I hate sweating. I have given up going to gyms or running (which I never could do very well and most definitely not gracefully), or a plethora of other “healthy” activities. I love watching athletic events, I appreciate someone who is athletic, but I am not that person.
Mancandy is a former marine. He loves to work out. Well, he loves to lift weights and do stupid things like measuring his biceps (really dude?). When we first started talking he was going to the little gym down the road and lifting weights with the single-minded nerdtastic focus he uses with everything. He had charts with his measurements, supplements to boost this and decrease that and make him full and give energy and blah blah. Before he got into lifting he was a runner. Being a naturally tall and (until he hit his thirties) lanky build, he ran a lot. He was in track in high school and joined the marines right after so the speedy movement and emphasis on fitness increased. Being in the military eight years gave him plenty of chances to run around and while stationed in Africa he decided he needed to add bulk to his lanky self. His days, as he tells it, were mostly working for the military and then working out. That was all there was to do. Fast forward to us talking many years later, and he was out of the military, not running as often, but increasing his fascination (dare I say obsession) with lifting weights.
And then he hurt his back.
But he continued lifting weights using the method of “grin and bear it” to cope with the pain.
And then the pain was so severe he couldn’t lift anymore. He couldn’t stand up straight or walk normally.
I harassed him until he finally went and got help, but at that point, it had been months since he’d been in a gym and he couldn’t seem to get back into the swing of things. Lately, he’s been going out at various times of the day in various temperatures and running. He’s highly insulted that despite being able to run for miles without much effort in his younger years, now he pants and sweats and cramps like the rest of us. I have a feeling he was pretty sure he was elite and would never be like one of us plebeians who are too lazy and fat to exercise properly. I try not to derive enjoyment from his misery when I’m well aware he has been judgmental most of his life, but I’m petty that way.
Meanwhile, during his sweaty bouts of running and chit chats about getting healthy, I’ve been fighting to lose weight. Unlike his skinny self, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image as far back as I can remember. The typical diets and exercise never garnered much success, so I always quit and heap that much more self-hatred onto the pile in the back of my brain. A friend gave me a heads up about low carb and after looking at it and reading a bit, I decided to try it. And it has worked! My body shape has changed and clothes fit better or are too big to be worn. It’s much slower than other people’s losses, but when I compare it to the zero change with traditional methods I try to stay focused. As I hit plateau points I get very crabby and restless. So I stupidly talked about adding a workout to my new eating habits with the man who gets ridiculously excited about exercise.
All that to say, Mancandy is just sure we need to be workout buddies. There’s no good way to tell someone no when the person you are pretty attached to wants to share something they love with you. Not if you don’t want to be a jerk. And also not after you have whined extensively about being fat. So after many hints that we should jog together (he says run, I say walk, we settled on jog), I decided to stop being a jerk and go.
My disinclination wasn’t even so much about hating to work out (although I so very much hate it, all you tiny people talking about endorphins can just shut up because those are the worst lies in the history of lies and you suck), but more about not wanting anyone to see me work out. Chunky chicks do not look good running. Chunky anyone’s don’t really look good running. Things that shouldn’t be there bounce and move and sway in a way that draws attention. I have a tendency to turn red for no reason anyway, if I work out or get hot it’s exacerbated, and if I’m both I might as well carry a sign that says “Yes, I’m so red I appear to be glowing and I thank you for noticing but no, I’m not having a heart attack”. I also sweat like a man. Not dainty sweat that makes you look athletic and healthy like the stupid fitness ads. I look like someone dumped a 10-gallon bucket of water on me and forgot to hand me a towel. It’s not cute. I know the man isn’t stupid and is aware I do not look like a Victoria secrets model, but I didn’t want him to see that. I don’t want anyone to see that. But, relationship rules say if it’s important to them, you should stop being a twit and go for it.
So I went for it.
I put on my one sports bra (that I bought years ago with a half thought to work out), yoga pants (that have never seen yoga in the 10+ years I’ve had them), a big t-shirt, tamed my floof into a ponytail, and shoved my feet into my sneakers. I was ready.
We started out walking and he did some sort of stretching stuff that I ignored. He brought a soccer ball to kick around because he said it gave him something to focus on and would take my mind off of things. We walked down to the beginning of the walking trail that loops down behind our house and goes back toward a creek and basketball courts on the other side of the subdivision. I’d guess doing the entire loop is about a mile, but I have no frame of reference so that may be a total lie.
As we walked he put the soccer ball down and started bouncing it out ahead of us only to kick it further ahead when we caught up. I know my athletic ability is in the negative, so I didn’t touch the ball. When he decided it was time, we picked up the pace. For the first section of the trail I thought, just maybe, I turned athletic without realizing it. We’re both tall so it was easy to match strides and he jabbered and goofed off making me laugh. Then my body noticed I was jogging. My lungs decided air was not available and I tried to quietly pant.
Just so you know, the only way to quietly pant is to not take in enough air.
Despite my lack of air, I refused to give up that easy. We’d barely begun. I couldn’t be that much of a weenie. Mancandy, completely oblivious to my lack of air or ability, kicked the soccer ball across the path. I kicked it out of my way in self-defense. I’ve never played soccer. Maybe I should have. What I lacked in finesse I made up for with strength. I sent that sucker flying. For some reason, this startled me and I felt the need to fix my mistake. I took off after it like my ass was on fire. I actually yelled at the ball to stop. It ignored me. By the time I got to it I’d run further than I’ve run since I was a kid. I am no longer a kid. There was no quiet panting. I was heaving like, well, something that heaves. The sweat had made an appearance. I was not looking terribly attractive. Mancandy found this really funny. He just grabbed the ball with a foot once he caught up and kept jogging. I tried to stay beside him, breathing and sweating like a winded, overworked horse.
He asked if I wanted the ball. I shook my head, talking seemed like a bad idea. I might puke. He laughed some more. By now we’d gotten a good ways down the trail. The layout of the trail takes it on a winding path, so by this point, we could not see our house but we could see most of the rest of the route in front of us. I sent up thanks that no one was using the trail. I glanced behind me and noticed a little black cat coming toward us. Tsuki was a tiny ball of fluff Mancandy took in one Halloween years ago. She has no idea she’s a cat and usually follows us when we walk the dog. I personally think it’s a really adorable pack when everyone is out and walking. My pup was still in the house as her back and hind legs can’t handle much exercise anymore, but Tsuki (pronounced sue-kee) decided to see what we were up to. I started laughing at the sight off her jogging along and had to cease immediately, bend over, and breathe to keep from upchucking.
Mancandy slowed down so we could walk for a bit (I wasn’t the only one breathing hard, he just doesn’t seem to take it personally like I do). Tsuki caught up and gave my shin a head bonk. The soccer ball interested yet worried her, so there was a lot of sneaking up on it only to run away. Once I got my breath back a bit, the pace was increased. I did not like this. At all. Once around a fairly steep curve in the trail that begins the loop around toward our house, I had an unpleasant tingling sensation. I had to pee. I didn’t pay much attention, I was trying to not look like a wounded wildebeest on its last leg, but the sensation was persistent.
In one of the less fair gifts to my gender, the muscles that make sure you don’t pee on yourself tend to develop issues performing their job. Generally, this happens after having children or with hormonal changes during menopause. I was gifted with the need to cross my legs and concentrate really hard if I sneeze or cough without having gone through childbirth and still being of childbearing years. I’m special that way.
I tell you that to let you know that having to pee while jogging (or trying my best to jog) was worrisome. I didn’t want him to see me all sweaty and red and gross, I most certainly did not want him to see me pee on myself. Around the next part of the curve, I had to admit defeat. Being skinny was not worth using the restroom in my pants. That was asking too much. So he took the loop all the way back around to add distance to his trek at a jog and I would walk back without the extra loop. He’d eventually catch up and we’d finish the distance back to the house. The cat wasn’t sure who to follow but since I was moving slower and had the ball, she eventually settled on following me. I huffed and puffed and contemplated throwing myself into the creek running off to the side of the walking trail. It would cool me down and I could pee without anyone noticing. It seemed like a win-win.
Suddenly, Tsuki looked around panicked, twitched her tail violently, and took off making a squawking sound. I looked around but didn’t see anything. I shrugged and followed behind her at my snail’s pace.
I began to hear a high pitch noise. It was barely noticeable and I didn’t pay it much attention. If I could calm my stupid breathing down enough that I didn’t sound like a wheeze machine it might make me a little less unappealing. If I was really lucky he’d get a cramp and take even longer to catch up, then I might not be sweating so profusely. I was beginning to focus solely on the distance between myself and my house. I had to go.
I felt a pinch on my arm and looked down to see a mosquito pulling a vampire move. I squished her, and in doing so noticed another land on my arm a few inches from her fallen compadre. I squished her and saw more descending and motion around my head and shoulders out of my peripheral vision. The whine suddenly made sense, it was dusk and I was walking alongside a wooded area next to a body of water. Granted, mosquitos can’t hatch in running water but creeks always have puddles of standing water alongside them. I was a smorgasbord with quite a distance (well, quite a distance for someone as out of shape as me, we’ll put it that way) to go. I had to go with an urgency that was keeping me sweating. And now there was a swarm of mosquitos.
They came in like a hunting pack, I was soon enveloped in a gaggle of the tiny demons. I pulled a Tsuki, squawking and darting off. I was suddenly less worried about peeing on myself and more worried about malaria at worst, anemia at best. My breath was stolen from me yet again, and rather than kicking the soccer ball in front of me I just scooped it up and carried it. All of my concentration went to moving faster.
The greatest migration on the planet, the huge herds moving across Alaska, only happens because of mosquitos. They annoy the massive herds so much that as soon as they drop calves they start moving trying to find relief. Miles and miles of land have been changed according to that migration, hunters and prey alike are dictated by that same pattern, and it only happens because of mosquitos. I understood those herds completely. I was so tired, my fat was crying. I was jogging weird trying to hold my bladder, and I hear a breathless yell of “keep going, they’re still behind you!”
Being stalked will add some gas to your tank, so I dug deep and kept waddling along as quickly as I could manage. I had been thinking very sweet thoughts toward him for warning me and coming to keep me company when the man in question caught up. As I smiled at him (it was probably a super creepy grimace but whatever) I noticed him pulling ahead of me while looking behind him. The smile/grimace disappeared. My mouth fell open as the man for whom I’d put myself through this horrible, embarrassing, uncomfortable experience kept pulling ahead and away. HE LEFT ME TO THE HOARD.
At this point, I’m too out of breath to yell at him but the glare I put out should have burned the depths of my wrath into his back. We turned the last curve and I could see our house! I could also hear the whine again. I was probably imagining it, but it kept me going when I really wanted to just lay down in the grass beside the path and throw up while I quietly peed on myself.
I cut through the back yard while he jogged his annoyingly energetic self further, following the path up beyond our yard. I slammed into the house and cursed with the frustration of having to climb the stairs rather than dash into the bathroom downstairs. I could not tolerate the thought of putting the sweaty clothes back on after peeling them off and I was not about to wander around naked, so upstairs to the bathroom with a shower was my only option. The cool shower after relieving the most pressing need was quite possibly the best shower of my life. I was sure I was covered in mosquitos and scrubbing with perfumed body wash in the rainfall helped bring my dodgy grasp on sanity back.
After I was clean and comfortable I stomped into the bedroom. No Mancandy. I stomped down the stairs ready for battle. No Mancandy. I continued stomping around the bottom floor of the house. No Mancandy. Also, no pets. I stomped over to the window and look out to see my sweet old dog (who takes it extremely personally that we don’t take her on long walks and let her do zoomies anymore) doing mini zoomies in the yard while Mancandy laughed and told her how fast she was. She adores him in a way she adores very few. It was the sweetest thing ever and I couldn’t stay mad. I wanted to. I tried to hold onto my rage. But when the man bent down, told her to give him her eye boogies, and then cuddled her telling her how pretty she was, that rage just floated away. It’s traitorous that way.
Plus when I fussed at him about it later, as if I was still mad, he just laughed at me and walked away.
That’s cool. When the zombie apocalypse happens I’m just going to go ahead and trip you, dude. Right out of the gate. Then you can watch me leaving, horrified, as the hoard approaches. And thanks to you, especially if we keep doing this stupid working out crap, I might just be fast enough to outrun them.