Monday, February 25, 2008

Feeding the Warrior

Dick's Sporting Goods struck advertising gold with those Lance Armstrong "Feed the Warrior" spots. As funny as it is to see Armstrong run on a treadmill while barking at a meek customer to "kill the coward within," I'm not sure he's acting. I also can't get this particular line out of my mind: "Remember, pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

So I thought of Lance when I went to the gym at 5:30 a.m. today to feed my long-dormant warrior.

My last excuse for not working out crumbled when a reputable gym opened up about a mile from my house. There was no point in pretending I'd go in the evening when dinner, homework and laundry called. If I was going to do it, I was going to have to go at an hour before the obstacles started piling up. I am not a morning person, so I fully expected to be miserable once the alarm went off.

But something surprising happened: I was kinda psyched. Not only was I doing something just for myself, but I was doing it in the absence of requests for water/juice/snack, fights over "Peter Pan" vs. "Spy Kids" and meandering conversations about my husband's disc golf hobby. It was dark and ridiculously early, but it was my time.

The workout was difficult (as it should be) but endurable, and when it came to that last, awful lunge, I just pretended that my trainer was Lance Armstrong. Can you imagine telling him that, no, you can't do one more curl or five more minutes on the elliptical machine because it's too hard? Quitting lasts forever. Forever!

Of course, the trick is to do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that for pretty much the rest of my life. That's not easy for someone who has always viewed exercise as the means to an end instead of a necessary constant. But I'm almost 40 now, and the consequences of not working out — especially considering my plump genes and high-strung nature — are pretty grim. A woman in my book club who is in her mid-50s and in fabulous shape laid it out for me this way: "I'm telling you; keep your body moving. Start exercising now. Otherwise, you get to be my age and it all just turns to mush."

So while my inner warrior is still slightly skeptical, it is awake. That's a start.