YMCA: Time for Change

I am not a skinny girl.

I’m okay with this, really.  I was a normal kid who hated gym class but loved ballet.  After a knee injury in 8th grade, beyond the requisite gym classes (I was very good at lay-ups and not so bad at archery, thank you very much) I wasn’t so much into sports or exercise.

Boy, did that bite me in the butt.  It doesn’t help one’s metabolism to be, oh, over the age of 30 (even if it’s not by much).  I seem to be genetically predisposed to be a little stockier. I laugh at the adoption agency who placed me with my parents because I resembled them– my mother is 5’9″ and thin, my dad is 6’4″.  I have a metabolic issue to boot, so it is doubly hard for me to lose weight.  It’s even harder when The Better Half merely cuts down his eating and ups his weight at the gym (he goes 5 days a week) and drops 10 pounds.  It’s discouraging, but that just means I have to work harder.

I’ve had a bit of free time this summer, so it seemed like the perfect chance to get myself into a shape other than round. How about “curvy”?  I’m good with that.  When the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati provided me with a 3-month membership (along with a few of my friends), I jumped at the chance for several reasons:

1. I really, really disliked my old gym.  It’s one of the chains (I’ll give you three guesses as to which one) and they are super high-pressure, super-testosterone-laden, and just plain unpleasant to visit.   Sending in the cancellation form made me happier than it really should have.

2. The Central Parkway YMCA is within easy walking distance of my condo.  My old gym? I had to drive.  And frankly, after a summer where I’ve only filled my car with gasoline every two weeks, driving just about anywhere is annoying and is a further impediment to getting my butt to the gym.

3. I like the YMCA’s mission: they’re trying to create community, not argue with you over a “semi-annual maintenence fee”.  The money I plan to pay after these three months– yes, I like it so much I’m going to remain a member– goes to making the gym better and advancing the Y’s mission.  I like that.

4. Did I mention that I can walk there?  Not only that, but I get to walk through Washington Park every day.  It’s great.

About three weeks ago, I scheduled my first session with Mona, the personal trainer I was paired with at the Y.  I liked her right away:  she’s about my age, is certified (and studying for further certification) and motivational without barking orders.  She did a strength test and set me up for ActivTrax, which is essentially an online personal trainer that keeps track of your exercise so you don’t have to.  She checks in on me– asking me how my diet is going, or how I’m feeling after a workout– and we’re scheduled for another session where she’s going to show me some tricks to optimize my cardio.

Though I’ve been at the gym 5 days a week since I joined, I’ve not done much outside of picking up my towel, trotting to the gym and working out.  I really should– they have a whirlpool, sauna, basketball courts and a pool.  This isn’t to say I haven’t made progress– I’m already feeling a little stronger and my clothes are fitting better.  That’s what counts, right?

Now, for those of you who are used to the bright, shiny chain gyms: this is an older building, so the interior is a bit maze-like and not everything is brand spanking new.  I don’t mind this, because everything works and is spotlessly clean.  Generally, it’s me and a bunch of downtown workers, retirees or people getting physical therapy.  It’s pretty sedate; I like it that way.

As far as diet goes, I’ve been using Sparkpeople.com (another local company) to track everything, including exercise. They have a handy-dandy app, and it’s easy for me to track as I go– even when I’m out to eat.  I haven’t been perfect, diet-wise, but I’d rather create some habits gradually instead of doing something silly like a crash diet.  I’d rather eat good food in moderation instead of stuff filled with plastic cheese, artificial sweeteners, and goodness knows what else.

Do I have a goal?  Maybe it’s lose two dress sizes, or fit into this pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans that has been lingering in my closet since I was at my lowest weight, in 2006. I think they’re at the point where they’re back in style. My goal is to build some good habits so that once I’m working again, I can still make time to walk through Washington Park to the YMCA.  In fact, it’s built into my calendar (with the occasional change of time to work out with Monika at the crack of dawn, or fit in a workout with Katy on a weekend) so it’s as important to me as a dental appointment or a meeting.

Don’t worry– this won’t become an uber-personal blog, but I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  You can also follow along on Twitter, where we’re using the hashtag #WhyTheY.

The YMCA generously provided me with a 3-month membership so I could experience the Y.  The opinions, however, are my own.