(Scroll down for more illustrations, btw. They are tres artistique!)
Sure, I thought, I am donating huge sums of money to my gym every month, but what I want to know is: how can I spend even MORE money to get exactly NO results? Surely there must be a way to keep my ass and boobs inflating at a frightening rate!
And then it occurred to me.
I KNOW! I did not exclaim, because I was totally doing this at work and people would have stared at me. I could hire a personal trainer!
And lo, one of the most disastrous work-outs of my life ensued. (And this is really saying something. See historic reference.)
To put this in perspective, you need to understand that I am a single, thirtysomething chick who is cute but also overweight because shutup. That is not the point. The point IS, by this phase in my life, I know a thing or two about diet and exercise.
(Note: KNOWING them does not mean I APPLY them, but if I applied them I wouldn't be writing this, and you would totally be missing out.)
I decided to troll Craigslist to find myself a trainer since it is a rule that everything in San Francisco must come from Craigslist. (Duh.)
My criteria were that the trainer needed to be at least somewhat affordable, somewhat local, and somewhat...how do you say?...articulate. (Hey, I do not need my trainer to be a literary marvel; I simply want my trainer to use things like both nouns and verbs, which was surprisingly hard to find. Well, especially because I also sought the occasional punctuation mark. Example of non-effective advertising: "I will u in ur home or office make u hotter then u ever been b4!")
So after wading through the ninetyhundred ULTIMATE POWER DIESEL EXTREME ROCKHARD KICKASS FEEL THE BURN WORKOUT OF YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE ads, I found a guy who was all like, "Hey, I can help you." So I contacted him.
He was nice.
We agreed to meet for a "consultation."
Let me just say right here that the "consultation" was fantastic. The trainer was cute and sweet and seemed all genuinely concerned about me and my goals and my out-of-shapeness. He seemed to want the same things for me that I wanted. And when we got to the stickier subjects, the ones I was afraid would be nightmarish, he eased my fears completely.
"So, uh, do I have to like, weigh in?" I asked, resigned.
"Oh, no! We don't do weigh-ins! Or fat calculations! Or BMI measurements! Most of those metrics are arbitrary!" he replied.
(He didn't actually say those all in exclamations, but for how good it sounded, he may as well have. I all but swooned.)
And then he went in for the kill --
"The best judge of progress is how you feel in your clothes. You'll know how you're coming along."
WOW! HOW FANASTIC! I was totally sold. And then I asked the next question, just to be sure I wasn't dreaming.
"What about diet and nutrition?"
"Let's not worry about that just yet," he said. "What's most important right now is that we get you more active and feeling better," he said.
Uh huh. So I went back the next night for our first session.
It happened in two parts.
PART ONE: THE NUTRITION DISCUSSION
Remember how just like, three lines ago my sweet trainer was all, let's not worry about diet? Yeah. So imagine my surprise when the first thing he said was "Here, have a seat. LET'S DISCUSS DIET."
And then he did this thing that was straight out of a textbook. Or Kindergarten. He basically asked me to name fruits and vegetables. (I am not kidding.) He wrote them down.
APPLE! He wrote it down.
GRAPEFRUIT! He wrote it down.
Then he asked me to name lean meats, and wrote those down, too. Then we discussed skim dairy and additional lean proteins such as legumes. When we got to grains, he got a very concerned look on his face. "We try and stay away from starches and carbs as much as possible. The occasional whole grain is okay sometimes." Then he added the words "SOME whole grains" to the piece of paper.
Then, handing the paper to me, he said, completely seriously, "So if you just stick to eating only what's on here, you will be fine."
I must have stared at him blankly. Perhaps sensing my lack of shared enthusiasm, he then pointed to the column with fruits and veggies and said, "But you can eat as MUCH of these as you want! YOU COULD EAT BROCCOLI ALL DAY LONG!!!"
I did not laugh in his face, although I wanted to. Because really? OH IS THAT ALL? JUST EAT ONLY HEALTHY FOODS??? WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS???
I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I notice that 'wine' is not a food group."
He did not seem to think this was funny, although maybe he was laughing on the inside. I certainly was. Instead, he explained to me that while a glass of wine is probably okay sometimes, alcohol is not really a standard part of a healthy living plan.
"You should probably just not drink," I believe he said.
Uh huh. So apparently, if I eat only super healthy foods, stop drinking, and work out regularly, I will probably get healthy.
So armed with this new, earth-shattering information, we headed to the workout.
PART TWO: THE WORK-OUT
We immediately started by walking over to the part of the gym where they have the balls.
You know those balls.
The ones that are always pictured with women who are light and bendy and inordinately happy to be rolling around the floor on a BALL defying gravity and building muscles or some shit like that.
But see, I am not built like super gymnast lady above. I am with the cushy, top-heavy/bottom-heavy-ness. I have to take things like GRAVITY into account. In fact, I have stayed away from the balls up until now for this very reason.
So when the trainer was like, "OKAY! Let's get on the ball!" I just stared at him, thinking, um, I cannot get on the ball.
So I said, "I cannot get on the ball."
"But the ball is so good for your CORE."
And immediately I thought that I do not care if the ball can give me a total body workout or build my CORE because for all the amazing research that the world has done lately about building one's CORE for long-term wellness, my more immediate concern is still NOT ROLLING FACE FIRST ONTO THE FLOOR.
And, given my familiarity with things like the size of my butt, the size of the ball, and PHYSICS, I was confused.
My trainer did not understand my apprehension. (My trainer has also never had boobs the size of bowling balls, either, so there you go.) But I? I could see the whole thing happen in my head.
But. He was my trainer. And he was insistent. So after a great face-off (a la "I can't" "You can." Repeat.) I gave in. I got on the damn ball.
I did not fall over. At first.
Actually, I did okay, because I even managed to get myself into the horrid, horrid position called "bridging" where your back is on the ball and your feet are out in front, supporting your trunk, and that is when I realized that getting my ass on the ball was the least of my troubles. Once in a "bridge," I was sure I was going to die. Either my legs would give out or my ass would or I'd forget to balance and roll right off (see above).
Yet unfortunately nothing gave way quick enough, so the trainer made me start doing crunches.
Invisible Internet friends reading this, I do not know how many crunches I did, but it was at least thirty thousand. Maybe two million. With a couple breaks between sets. He -- that wretched man -- just kept saying, okay, do more.
And then, when we finally, FINALLY ended that torture, he said, "Let's try this machine now."
Which is when I discovered a few key things.
1. I hated my trainer.
2. I would do anything to stop crunching on the ball, even if it involved some as-yet unseen machine.
3. I was stuck.
Yeah. See, while HE had already leapt over to the next torture device, I had not yet managed to get up. Because I couldn't. I was so unsure of myself and so scared of GRAVITY and my abs were so sore that I literally could not move.
"How do you get up?" I asked, from my prone position.
"What do you mean?" my stupid trainer asked.
"I can't get up," I offered.
"What do you mean?" he asked again.
"I don't know how to get off the ball," I answered, trying not to sound panicky while I watched my life flashing before my eyes, picturing myself suffering death-by-CORE-ball-inertia, promising myself that if I ever managed to somehow get upright again, I would celebrate with a glass of wine or 12. And no broccoli.
Eventually the trainer figured out that I could not get myself off the ball without help, so he hoisted me back onto my feet. And rather than check in with me about my near-death CORE ball experience, he bounded over to the next machine and demonstrated the most awful exercise I have ever seen in my entire life. Worse than the CORE ball of death.
He climbed into this...this...torture chamber, I guess, resting his torso against a padded bar, and then folded himself over it.
Then he used his CORE strength to pull himself right back up again.
And then looked at me and said the most ridiculous words that have ever been said to me in my whole entire 32 years of being alive (and trust me, there have been many).
He said: Now you do it.
Now I do it?
NOW I DO IT??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. SURELY YOU JEST!
But he wasn't jesting. Mr. YouCanHaveAllTheBroccoliYouWant, WhatDoYouMeanYouCan'tGetOffTheBall seemed to have zero idea of my physical and mental limitations. I was scared of a BALL. Was I really going to climb into a hang-upside-down-till-you-fall-over-and-hit-your-head-and-die machine? REALLY???
So I said, "REALLY?"
"Yeah," he said. "Just try it."
And then he said the next most ridiculous thing that has ever been uttered to me.
"YOU MIGHT LIKE IT."
But convinced of his powers of persuasion, he jumped back in the machine to demonstrate just how EASY it was. Erm, sort of like so:
Uh huh. Just down and up. Down and up.
Except he forgot the other, SECRET step that I knew awaited me, wherein my neck would snap in two as my entire body, propelled downward by my massive rack's gravitational pull, would collapse on top of it.
Because I am stupid, or more likely because I was delirious from the first set of 50 billion crunches on the damn ball, I climbed in. I gave it a go.
And you know? I didn't topple over. Wonders never cease.
Yet instead of my trainer praising God that I did not hurtle off the machine to my neck-snapping doom, he simply had me go another 104 trillion sets or so, going down and up like normal, and then down and up from my left side and then my right. Like it was a perfectly normal thing for me to be doing.
Well, until I couldn't get up again.
Yes. I got stuck. Again.
There I was. Just me and my boobs, hanging sideways off the Godforsaken Fall-Over Machine with my entire CORE having given up the fight. My core was done. Gravity won.
"I need to stop now," I told my trainer. And I think when he realized that I literally could not move from the bent-over position, he finally, finally understood. He helped me out of the death contraption and once again, I was grateful to be upright.
"So that's about it!" he said, our hour completed. "When would you like to come back and do this again?" he asked, I think in earnest.
I told him I'd have to get back to him.
And I did not return.
But I did stop at the liquor store on my walk home.
* * * *
Sadly, most of this story is true. No, I'm not actually THAT out of shape, and yes, I do know that wine is not a food group, but ultimately I think that is a failing on the part of the food pyramid.
Also, Ish was with me for this whole thing. He can verify.