The first sign was the initial jar of the house-club sounding beats, immediate and ear-blasting.
No, let me retract that. Even before that the first sign was the instructor's tardiness for this Diezel Kick class at my gym. He wasn't exactly late, but he was not there a few minutes before the class started to put everyone at ease ("Just do what you can. Thanks for coming.")
It was nothing like that. Suddenly a shortish stocky man entered the room as if he'd had one too many espressos, overly hyped up. I knew I was in trouble. He blasted the music, which I'm surprised didn't shatter the windows, and just dove in. "Let's GO!," he screamed and demanded a rousing set of high knees, followed by booty kickers, jumping jacks and punches thrown so fast I couldn't keep up. Luckily, I was in the back corner in the room (I decided long ago to leave the front two rows to the overachievers), just out of his view. Thank God for that big pillar in the room, shielding me. Or so I thought.
"I see you back there! You in the back! I see you!" He bellowed. Was he talking to me!? It was hard to tell, but a moment later he was in front of me with a mitt taunting me to punch it in a magical three punch sequence, that I couldn't quite master because of the preceding squat front and side kick combo that I was failing miserably at. Nevertheless, I punched. Or at least swatted. Whatever it was it was pleasing enough to him and after a minute or so he sprinted off looking for his next victim.
Then came the burpees and push-ups. Lord, I hate both of these. Who ever invented the burpee needs a swift kick in the ass. And push-ups...I won't even go there. (And apparently didn't when he demanded that we drop and give him ten.) In the time I collapsed onto my knees and tried to catch my breath, he was already on six, seven...I think I managed one and a half. Pretty good, considering.
This torture went on for forty-five excruciating minutes. Why, I asked myself, did I think this was a good way to start my Saturday? I was more angry with myself than I was with the instructor by the end of class, after which I stumbled onto a bench, immobilized.
I guess I put myself through this because I enjoy food too much not too. And as awful as it is in the moment–and it is awful–there really is no alternative to staying in shape and being healthy. As I sat down for an enormous sized steak lunch–resembling something from The Flintstones–the other day at Bobby Vans, my companion said, "but you're so skinny, you don't need to go to the gym." I said, "I could chose not to, but how do you think I stay this way? I have to maintain."
And that's one of the not-so-secret-secrets towards being your best self: diet and exercise. There are no shortcuts. You could go under the knife or pop some pills, I suppose, but in order to be truly healthy you just gave to put the work in. Is it fun? Not always, but it is always worth it.