Inside the Brain of a Gym Newbie During a Workout

As you know, I am new to this whole gym thing. (My carrying-twins-injuries forced my hand.) Sometimes, sweating it out in a perfectly controlled environment gives me the giggles. Here’s what I am thinking while I’m working out:

Workout phrases like “ab cuts” and “ab ripper” need to banned from any place where females have recently had c-sections.

Boredom buster: I like listening to ridiculous 80s pop on my headphones while looking around to see which huge testosterone muscle guys are working out to that girlie beat. If they only knew.

Is it normal to collapse in a fit of giggles when a personal trainer shouts encouraging platitudes like “You do you!”?

Why does everyone under 30 have fluorescent sneakers? The rest of us seem to be sticking to neutral shoes. Note to self: buy fluorescent shoes.

I wish I knew why I am only making my left glute sore. I must be doing working out wrong.

Is my arm too skinny to wear one of those arm-band-phone-holders?

I am so used to yoga that I still feel like I should be gym-ing barefoot. I also never remember water. I was usually semi-upside-down in yoga, so water was always a bad idea. Note to self: Remember water. Remember shoes.

When my husband asked if I get “hit on” at the gym, I remind him that I’m a real catch with a wedding ring on one hand and THREE children’s daycare wristbands on my other hand.

Irony: the place where we go to get healthy is the place that keeps making my kids sick.

While feeling a twinge of modesty, I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t wear tight clothes to the gym. That was the day my long shirt got caught on the rowing machine.

Oh, this elliptical counts how many calories I burned? This will be awesome. I bet I have burned like 600 calories by now… or, okay, maybe just 12. I worked so hard to burn off that last sip of my kid’s juice with the backwash in it?

I had a Spinal Tap moment when the elliptical automatically turned my incline up to 11. I really thought it stopped at 10. How high does it go? Vertical? (“PUT IT UP TO 11!” … “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”)

Whenever I feel weak and stupid, I just look around and think, “None of these perfect people has had twins. How many people in here gained 80 pounds of twins, then sat around on bed rest for months, then almost died in childbirth, and then carried those twins around until her spine bent? Nobody, that’s who!” (Oh, except for the person working out right next to me, my twin momma friend/gym buddy…) Then I can hold my head up a little higher.

I really hope no one saw that one time I got my headphones stuck in a coat hanger.

Once I realized I was SUPPOSED to stick my butt out during squats, things started to improve. (They say it strengthens your lower back to stick that butt out during squats. I think people just want to see butts.) I did ballet as a kid and again in college, and I was trained to tuck that junk IN! If you stuck your butt out in ballet you probably got it smacked with a ruler.

Fake boobs?

I will definitely need more underwear and socks.

The catalog phrase “gusseted crotch for ease of movement” on workout pants is synonymous for NO CAMEL TOE. You’re welcome.

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What can you add, dear readers?

The Twins Destroyed My Body (No, Not Like That)

My ever-present wrist brace helps me hold this heavy flower (the first flower my kid ever gave me!)

My ever-present wrist brace helps me hold this heavy flower (the first flower my kid ever gave me!)

Everyone talks about the pain of childbirth, but what about the pain of child-rearing?

You think I’m going to talk about stretch marks? Wrong. The twins destroyed my body in a whole different way than I expected: they are breaking me. At just over a year and a half old, they weigh 32 and 34 pounds each, and apparently that’s too much.

I don’t really carry them anymore. I taught them to go up and down stairs on their own as soon as possible. I don’t even pick them up when they’re crying- I just sit down on the floor and let them come to me. (That’s a trick I learned during bedrest with a toddler!) But, when you have two fat children under the age of two, there is still a lot of lifting and hauling. Every day, there is hauling in and out high chairs (2 twins x 2 times per meal x 3 meals = like a thousand times), hauling in and out of cribs for naps and wake-ups and bedtimes, heaving them into carseats if we go anywhere (I long ago calculated that one trip to anywhere means four buckle/unbuckles per child: in at home, out at destination, in to go home, out to come inside), and heaving them off their brothers during tantrums over the empty Tylenol bottle.

Oh, and let’s not forget the heaving them onto the changing table for every diaper. Yes, yes, I know that I could change them on the floor or the couch. Yes, yes, I know that most of you don’t use changing tables. I don’t want to hear it. I have changed approximately three trillion diapers by now, and I know what works for me, and it’s the changing table. I am just not good enough to keep a poopy diaper away from the dog or the other twin if I change someone on the floor, okay? Also, I’m tall, and I don’t want to bend over more than I have to. Also, maybe I just suck at changing poops, because I can make a mess and I prefer to keep that e.coli contained to one area that I can disinfect. OKAY?

Anyway, as you see, the children are heavy and ridiculously large for their age and still need to be lifted many times per day. Also, as you can see from any of my photos, I am not large for my age. I have zero muscle tone. Well, not zero, but I think it would take some major steroids to make me even look like I have any muscle definition. With my first son, everyone said, “Don’t worry; you’ll get stronger.” Ha! Now I reply, “I don’t get stronger; I just get sorer.”

I hurt everywhere, all the time.

Do you other moms hurt this much? If so, how can anyone look at a young mother with her arms full of a baby or a toddler and not rub her neck? This kid thing HURTS. Everyone talks about the pain of childbirth, but what about the pain of child-rearing?

My neck hurts. My back hurts. My wrist hurts. My head hurts. My hips hurt. Let’s just say that everything from my hips to my skull hurts all the time. Tell me I’m not alone in this, or else I’m going to have to see a doctor.

I primarily lift babies on my left side, so my left shoulder and back are all bulked up – at least compared to my right side. I probably look like I have a disorder. My left shoulder sits so much higher than my right, and I spend all of yoga class trying to get it down again (that is, when I’m not staring at the dude in front of me who is wearing my same skin-tight women’s workout capris, but with his shirt tucked into them).

My left wrist started to give out when the babies were about three months old, so I received cortisone injections several times. Now the doctor won’t let me do any more, so my choices are surgery or hold on until we can turn the cribs into toddler beds and the high chairs into regular chairs.

Even my muscles in my throat hurt! I feel like I’ve been looking down for 4 1/2 years straight, and now I have foreshortened the muscles in front of my throat. I am always stretching my head backward to help. Is that weird? Has anyone else experienced this? Almost five years of gazing into their eyes while nursing and bottle-feeding, and then looking down at their short little toddler bodies from my great height …. seems to have put me in a permanent downward-facing position.

My neck is all kinked up. I have had migraines my entire life, but they are worse lately with all the muscle strain. I do yoga and I stretch out on a foam roller every night and I try to take care of myself, but there is really nothing more to do until I get these kids more independent.

What the heck, kids? My husband said I feed you too much, because you just poop too much and weigh too much, at least compared to the pooping frequency and weight percentiles of your little friends at the playgroup. I guess it’s my fault you’re so heavy. It has nothing to do with the fact that your father weighed almost ten pounds at birth, right? (My twins were seven and a half pounds each at birth, at 38 weeks gestation. I shudder to think how big they would have been at 40 weeks as a singleton. However, bedrest and tator tots helped them get to be that big. On purpose.)

I’m lucky: my husband has magic hands. He can find every knot and every tender spot. He can just touch my neck with his fingertips and I might start to cry with relief. He takes over most evenings and most weekends, doing all the heavy lifting to let me recover before the next round.

From now on, the only gift I will give a new mother will be a massage therapist to visit her house every day for three years, or for as long as her child needs to be lifted, whichever comes first. Just kidding. That’s what I’m giving myself. When I win the lottery.

 

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I understand that there are other ways to maneuver children. I worked at a Montessori school for a while, so I know that an ideal situation would be to have everything at the child’s level. No lifting/hauling/heaving would be needed. In the Montessori method, crib mattresses are on the floor from birth and children’s tables and chairs take the place of high chairs. Their feet should be on the floor when eating and they shouldn’t be restrained behind buckles or bars. I saw this method in action, and I can attest that it works in a Montessori environment. I can also attest that my house is not a Montessori house, and that one of my twins is a hurricane. I chose the buckles and bars and all of that as a way to keep my sanity in the short term, so I have myopically chosen to sacrifice my body for my sanity.