An Update on My Healthy Lifestyle

Two years ago, because the monthly membership fee was cheaper than paying by the class for Zumba, I joined a gym. To make sure I didn’t pay for something I never used, I got the most expensive plan available. Having never set foot in a weight room in my life, I figured the weekly sessions with a trainer would get me off to a good start and keep me from hurting myself.

Those first few months, in addition to my training sessions, I hit the gym twice every week to workout, and at least three times a week for Zumba. Three months later, I was hugely disappointed not to see the results that before and after pictures had led me to believe were possible. In fact, I could see no difference at all.

If not for the three-digit withdrawal from my checking account every month, I would have quit. But, as I knew it would when I signed the contract, my inner tightwad kept me going back. Zumba was too fun to miss. Guilt motivated me to keep most of my appointments with the trainer. I rarely worked out without the trainer more than once a week, and most of the time, quit without finishing what I was supposed to do.

The trainer takes my measurements every three months. After a year, although the numbers hadn’t changed much, I could tell by the way my new, smaller clothes fit that my half-assed effort had made a difference. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I wondered what would happen if I really applied myself.

I renewed my membership, dropping to two sessions with the trainer every month, using the sessions I’d missed due to work and other conflicts to keep seeing the trainer every week. Despite my intentions, I wasn’t able to hit the gym as much as I wanted. Surgery last April, the departure of two trainers, and a bad cold that lingered for weeks didn’t help.

But that’s all behind me now. Except for the weekend I was in Atlanta for GayRomLit, I’ve worked out for about ninety minutes every Saturday and Sunday morning for more than two months. I can’t just feel the difference — I see it. Biceps and deltoids and pecs. Oh my!

Running has finally pushed Zumba out of the way as my go-to aerobic exercise. Most weeks, I get in three, three-mile runs — sometimes four. In two years, my time for a mile has dropped from more than fourteen minutes to less than twelve. Now I run every chance I get.

I don’t mind going for a run after a workout. But after a run, all I want to do is cool off and shower. The heat of summer often forced me to choose between working out and running. Running almost always won.

Cooler weather since September has made it possible to run after my Saturday and Sunday workouts. I come straight home from the gym, chug a protein shake, and then go for my run. That’s a good five hours of exercise every weekend.

Even so, I haven’t lost a pound in months. At least I haven’t gained — great news considering I eat like I’m thirteen again. Salad hasn’t crossed my lips in weeks, and I go days at a time with no vegetables. Without the exercise, I’d be big as a house.

Jenny is my new trainer. She’s a Zumba instructor at the gym, and has more years of experience than you’d ever guess, judging from her youthful appearance. I’ve known her for a while, count her among my friends, and am excited to be working with her.

I loved my first trainer, and though I didn’t spend much time with my second trainer, got a lot from our sessions. But they were both students at the university, and consequently, not entirely devoted to their training careers. They gave me xeroxed copies of workouts they’d put together, received, I suspect, by everyone else they were training too.

As I workout, I write down what I do, and when I’m done, stick it in my folder. To the best of my knowledge, my first two trainers never looked in my folder. Jenny took the folder home with her and looked through two years’  worth of workouts. She told me 1) I need to do fewer reps with heavier weights, and 2) if I really want to get rid of my belly fat, I’m going to have to hit the gym four times a week in addition to our training sessions.

Wah! I thought I was doing so good with my twice a week routine. Compared to my activity level three years ago, I’m an exercise maniac.

But she’s right. I’ve done variations on the same workouts for two years, and my body has adjusted. Burning off these last few pounds — because they’ve been there the longest — will take more work than I’ve been doing.


Getting to the gym for workouts twice a week has been a challenge. Increasing the frequency, at least for now, ain’t happening. So she’s putting together a few routines I can do at home.

I’ve always heard it’s good to have goals. Mine have revolved around getting and staying healthy. The time has come to up the ante. I’m going to Tampa in April for Rainbow Con. That gives me five months to shed the weight I need to lose to look hot  around the pool in my bathing suit. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pose for pictures wearing a Speedo.