Thanks, friends, family, coworkers and Blood Drive Guy for your excellent support.
Yesterday I decided there wasn't enough pain in my workout...what good is cardiovascular health without big arms? So I had my first date with the free weights since I've been back in the gym.
Okay...probably at this point I ought to mention that I'm working out in a gym that was thrown together out of half of an auto repair shop. The walls are painted a dingy gray, there's exposed conduit and duct work everywhere, and the locker room is 6 salvaged high school lockers and a plywood toilet stall.
However, it does have a couple of major selling points: It's less than two miles from my house, the equipment is oddly good, and when Carrie and I go in the morning, we get to walk through a little clot of very old women steppin' to a workout video in their tights and leg warmers. We find them oddly inspirational and endearing.
So yesterday, having reached my first goal of 20 minutes on the elliptical machine, I decided to add free weights. I love free weights; I love the clanking metal, the dingy, sweaty atmosphere, and the huge, powdery, grunting men who offer to spot for me. I don't love the blasting Hair Bands on the boom box, but depending on how many huge men there are and how whipped up on testosterone they seem...I turn it down a little when I walk in.
But instead of huge bulky men, I walked into the free weight room and was confronted by the local high school cheerleading squad. They were a typical group of high school chearleaders...tall, tanned, with blond hair pulled back in perky ponytails, impossibly smooth freshly shaven legs and wearing t-shirts from the cheerleading camps they've attended. They kept turning to each other, clapping their hands, and shooting out their little fists like bullets or Ninjas. Ninja cheerleaders.
But hello! They're cheerleaders! They can't lift, they can't stop flirting with the trainer, and they worry about getting big arms and "looking like men". Not hardly, Sweetheart.
When I walked into the weight room, the cheerleaders looked at me with the combination of apprehension and disdain that cheerleaders have for other humans who might behave unpredictably. I was pretty sure none of them would offer to spot for me.
I edged my way past the AJ Lady Wildcat Cheer Squad, and got down to the business of destroying my ego. At my best, I could leg press 400 pounds. Yesterday...150. I could curl 35 pounds with each arm. Yesterday...12. And so on and so on.
It was some consolation that after three years out of a gym I could still outlift the AJ Cheer Squad, but not much.
I pushed myself extra hard because I knew I would be taking Thursday off. Giving away a pint of blood is not conducive to weightlifting success. But I don't feel bad about the day off; I woke up this morning with those pleasantly leaden arms and achy abs that you get with a good, hard workout. But me and my depleted blood volume will be back at it tomorrow morning. I'm not expecting greatness yet. But someday I plan to proudly regain my tiara as The Queen of Fucking Everything.
And then the cheerleaders will be jealous!