I wasn’t born with endorphins.
The exhilarating rush people describe experiencing during or after a work-out, that “natural high” everyone else seems to enjoy from making themselves sweat, from pushing their bodies to the limit, is a completely foreign concept to me. I have never –not once, not ever, not even in high school gym class or all the years I danced ballet and took classes four times a week– felt good after exerting any physical energy. I kept waiting for it, thinking that like so many muscle memories, it was a learned sensation that would come with time, or a different work-out, or something. I’ve tried running, yoga, an hour of cardio followed by a weight machine circuit (four or five times a week, back when I was unemployed right after college), cardio followed by yoga, pilates, pilates before cardio, but have finally just accepted the fact that I am a lazy sack of bones for whom endorphins are just not on the genetic menu. I have never enjoyed working out.
And for most of my life, this wasn’t a problem. Blessed as I was with a magnificent metabolism and two tall and skinny parents, nothing stuck to me for the longest time. When I graduated high school, I was under 100lbs –skinny, yes, but proportionate to my bone structure and a lingering benefit from all that ballet. And then, somewhere around the age of 23, everything started sticking to me, including things I wasn’t even eating; I could smell someone else eating a hamburger and somehow it would manifest on my thighs. Gone were the days where I could eat two breakfasts, down an entire order of wings for dinner followed by a sleeve of oreos, and still somehow fit into a 00 waistband at Delia’s (omg does anyone else remember that store??). A few years ago, I started really watching what I was eating, knowing that since I hated working out and all but refused to break a sweat, I had to find a balance in what I was putting in my body. That worked, for a while.
But did I mention I am lazy? Do I need to say that a sheet cake tastes better than a kale salad? That I’d rather eat a jar of frosting with a spoon for dinner than literally anything else? Old habits die hard, and I inevitably slipped up. For the last year. And underneath all my gluttony, my abject hatred of exercise persisted. I basically thought, and still think, that people who rave about feeling excellent and invigorated after a work-out are huge liars. There is no way anyone leaves the gym feeling good or frankly anything other than like a giant pile of floppy pool noodles that’s been set on fire. Right?!
But, guys, I’m six months away from 30, and if that isn’t enough of a motivator to get into the best shape I can be before it all goes to shit I don’t know what is. If my body doesn’t bounce back from a weekend of binge eating cupcakes and snarfing down nachos at 29 the way it did at 19, what the hell do I expect at 39?
SO. Despite being endorphinally challenged, I dropped a ton of money on exercise leggings and grippy socks and sports bras and sneakers and a membership to Pure Barre, all the while repeating that famous Thoreau line from “Walden”: “Beware of all enterprisest hat requrie new clothes.” I took my first class last Thursday, and it was legitimately precious to picture my confidence before setting foot in the studio. “I danced ballet for 14 years, how hard can this be?” The sweet, gorgeously fit girl who signed me up was also the instructor for my first class, and let me tell you, I liked her a lot less once she donned her headset and was barking instructions at me for 55 sweaty, shaky minutes. I couldn’t do half of the stuff she was asking. Unsurprisingly, I am woefully out of shape! I looked at myself in the mirror at one point, and looked like someone had slathered me in Crisco. “Girls don’t sweat, they glisten,” is a load of bollocks spoken by someone who has never taken a barre class before.
But then, the oddest thing happened. I got home, and managed to clean myself up despite not being able to use any of my limbs, and I wanted to try again. I wanted to go back and do better than I had the first class. I wanted to be able to look back in a month and realize I’d made progress. Don’t misunderstand me, in no way did I feel good. My missing endorphins didn’t make a surprise appearance and make me feel blissful and alive; I felt like death had run me over in a steam roller. But I still wanted to go back! So I’m heading to my second class this morning, and I’m hoping I don’t need help crawling into my house because Jamal left yesterday for a business trip, and Fitz is only interested in licking the sweat off my forehead and shins.
Wish me luck!