Why We Need To Pay For Pain

After 25 years, my husband set foot in a gym … And has hated every moment of it.

Originally published by Raving Consulting

My husband told me that I was obnoxious.

Not a very nice thing to say to your partner since our first  date at a Robert Palmer

Chris and Jim 1988

Chris and Jim 1988

concert  in 1988.

By now, you know me … and you just might agree.

I’ve been fat, I’ve been skinny, I probably have the most jean sizes in my closet out of anyone you’ve ever met … I struggle, I win, I lose, I rally, I publicly share my failures and successes. I use the pain from arthritis as a really bad excuse.  Which is why my Portuguese thighs have started to rub together again. But damn, I’m still sweating away.

The top of my head barely reaches my husband’s chin in heels, and I have to do a vault in order to get up on our king-size platform bed. Despite my stature, a gym full of sweaty boxers or cage fighters, heck, they don’t intimidate me, they’re my tribe, man, even though they could bring me to my knees with their index finger. I think I’m a badass, but it’s 99% attitude and NOT much skill. I’m like the little runt dog that hangs around the big  dogs, and thinks I’m one of them.

My husband, Jim, is the most consistent guy I know, and not just with his waist size. Being a concrete saw man (here’s a video of him sawing) since he was 16, he never had to go to a gym to work out, since he  hefted massive saws onto walls and ran them upside-down in storm drains that only the likes of men with arms like The Rock could accomplish. Jim says, “You wish that I had guns like The Rock.

Before we moved to Reno’s snowy climate, he worked on challenging projects all over the SF Bay Area; in Northern Nevada, the physical challenges aren’t as much, nor the frequency of work. So, although his jeans still fit and he looks hot, he’s lost strength and movement. His shoulder, knee and hip are shot from heavy construction work. I think his interest in the gym is so that I won’t have to push him around in a wheelchair before he gets his AARP card. Honestly, I think he’s afraid that he won’t be able to water ski anymore.

We started taking “functional training” about three weeks ago, which pretty much means that a trainer tortures you for an exhausting hour by doing stuff that you really could do at home in order to develop your core strength, balance, and endurance. We use a lot of the same “props” as cross-fit folks. Think jumping rope, throwing a 25-pound ball to the floor like you’re a caveman having a temper tantrum, standing on squishy balls with weights in your hands while the instructor tells you to use your stomach muscles.

What stomach muscles?

I figure that if I did an hour of rotating my compost bin, jogging around my yard with a 40-lb dog food sack from Costco, and laying on my stomach to clean out the algae in my pond, it would probably get me the same body for a lot less money. That’s if I did it five days a week for an hour on my own. Not going to happen. I have to pay for pain.

Yesterday just rubbing the skin on my shoulder bones hurt. However, I do think that my biceps are taking up more room in my sleeves than the flab under my arm. Whoo hoo! I love it!

Thus, why Jim called me obnoxious. “How could anyone in their right mind enjoy this?” he asks me as we drive home, the car stinking from both of us. He’s seriously moaning out loud. I turn up my Pandora Workout Station and blare Pitbull.

I tell him that I feel privileged to do it. He rolls his eyes.

During the last three weeks, I’ve looked over at him in class, heard him gasping, and sincerely thought through the ABCs of CPR. I think, “Well, at least he’d die having
fun.” No, he’d die cursing me out.

Today after class, I told Jim that when we had to hold this plank position for over a
minute, I was imagining being on a surfboard, paddling out to my first wave. (As in
two months’ time, I’ll have my first surf lesson, ever). He said he was thinking about
quitting, and did just that before our trainer called time. He just got up and said, “I’m done.”

So, WHY? Why struggle? Why sweat? Why hurt? Why get up at 4:30 AM, as I know I
won’t do it after work? Why not accept and love my Rubenesque body type, the same as my grandma’s, that I seem to be destined to have?

Why? Because that extra fat will eventually keep me from doing even the most basic  of things,  and for sure the stuff that I love to do.

My girlfriends say that we do squats so we won’t need one of those elevated toilet seats  down the road. That we work out with weights so we won’t break a bone the next time we fall trying to show off our 80’s dance moves in too high of heels. Friends who had their first kids after they turned 40 say that they train so they can pick up their toddlers without throwing their backs out, or so they can ski alongside of them for years to come, and not just wait at the lodge.

Yeah, I guess that’s what functional training is all about, right?

But more than that, I have an obligation to myself to keep on trying. I really believe that each and every one of us who has a body that allows us (even if we choose not to) to run, hike, dance, water ski, kayak, to just walk from the parking lot or carry in groceries, are so very fortunate . Have you ever tried to tie your shoes or put on socks when you’ve injured your back?

We’re damn lucky that we aren’t one of the thousands of veterans on disability who would be dead if not for modern body armor that left them alive, but without limbs, or sight, or total mental function.

We are privileged to be born without a disability, or injured, or aged to a point that taking a walk around the block would be a near miracle.

You can call me obnoxious, or melodramatic. I don’t care.

I’m grateful. So, I’ll keep on trying, no matter how hard it is, to stay healthy. To battle my worst enemy, me, when I’m lazy or stressed and eating for the wrong reason.

During the last 10 years of being healthier and physically stronger than ever before, my life has resulted in richer experiences, adventures and accomplishments. My opportunities and my intellectual growth has been tremendous compared to my 30’s, even my 20’s. Being more confident in my body has meant being more confident in EVERYTHING.

I’m not sure if Jim will ever love working out. Or if he’ll ever stop moaning. Or if he’ll ever say “I feel good for doing this.” I’m not sure if he’ll ever feel grateful for having the beat-up construction body that he has, that still rocks my world. Selfishly, I want him around as long as possible, so that we can continue our adventures together.

I know, I know, it’s his journey, his choice to make.

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4 Responses to Why We Need To Pay For Pain

  1. Tracey says:

    I always tell my middle aged patients, ” exercise so that you can carry your own bags, walk on vacation, dance at your grand child’s wedding, and continue to live independently”. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Injuries are so frustrating so I also practice forgiveness with myself. It’s ok if I just walk this week until I’m better. I went back on Weight Watchers online and I’m loving it and losing again. Thanks for the post. Onward

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Tracey. Shoot, if I gave up after every time I hit a road block, I’d be back to 205 lbs. I ran 2.5 miles today for the first time in months since screwing up my hip. It felt WONDERFUL.

  2. Monica says:

    Sheesh Chris this is a new fave of mine! So hilarious! And I can totally hear Jim saying you are obnoxious! Ha ha! BUT it’s so interesting that I woke up here in rainy kauai thinking along the lines of this piece before I read it! Like I was intuiting your message…yup…trying to get over myself and the constant rain here and just go take a walk “cuz I can…”

  3. Kyle says:

    I really like that your writing voice is so aligned with the you I know. I could hear Jim’s question in your car. Awesome video too. Keep moving Chris!

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