The Gym

Seriously, who needs to be able to walk up a flight of stairs?

I sure don’t! Now that I go to the gym and my body has decided on mutiny, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of really “extra” things I was accustomed to in my pre-gym days that are completely unnecessary in day-to-day life. Like lifting my computer bag. Or carrying my children. Or typing without my hands shaking. Or today, walking. This is why if you see me walking today, you’ll note that I resemble a hobbled horse that should probably be shot in the head to cut down on food expenses.

(Note: please, nobody shoot me in the face. It’s one of my deepest fears. Along with getting my face ripped off by an orangutan and ever having to open the hood of my car in public for any reason. (Obviously I’m the most rational person you’ve ever met online. (A very rational person who is addicted to parentheses.)))

Yeah, it’s true. I’m an official gym-rat. Or, probably more accurately, a gym hamster. I’m more accustomed to living in a cage on the dresser of a 10-year-old girl who plays with me daily and hand feeds me carrots and sunflower seeds and has affectionately named me Snowflake than living on the streets and eating scraps and carrying plague-inducing viruses like a rat. But whatever. Now I’m transitioning into a gnarly rat who works out like a beast instead of prissily running on a hamster wheel, and most days it makes me want to suck my thumb and cry like the little sissy hamster I am.

Somebody didn’t get the memo that adorable rodents shouldn’t HAVE to do squats.
(Photo attribution: here)

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. But, I’m happy to report: I haven’t died yet. I’m also happy to report: I have lost fat and gained muscle. And I’m also happy to report: I get to eat for the first time in my life.

Let me explain.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I went in for my first personal training session with an actual personal trainer. (Seeing an actual personal trainer does not, by default, absolve you, yes you, from the responsibility of being my personal trainer just so we’re clear. And by the way, thank you very much for all the amazing feedback on that post. A lot of that stuff really helped me, if for no other reason than to feel that there were people out there, people I didn’t know, supporting me on my journey.)

Anyway, for our first training session, I was envisioning something a little bit like this:

Me: (Makes a grunt resembling a mix between the cry of a dying hyena and the high-pitched yelp of a wounded baby) There! (Breathless) I did it!

Brandon: Excellent job picking that 5lb. weight off the rack. Now what you’re gonna wanna do is lift the weight high above your head in an exercise called…

Me: Do you have any smelling salts?

Brandon: ….

Me: You know, to revive me with when I pass out. Or, oh! I know, how about adrenaline to syringe into my heart like they did in Pulp Fiction? Ya got any of that?

Brandon:  Josh, you’re not actually going to die here. Just try lifting the weight… up. At all.

Me: (strains with all his might) I can’t. (slumps in defeat)

Brandon: Nice try. Next time we’ll just have you do the motion while holding a piece of paper. Unless that ends up being too heavy, in which case we’ll locate a single bacterium for you to try. If that doesn’t work, we’ll isolate an atom.

Me: (timidly) Can you split the atom in half if it’s too heavy?

Brandon: Um, that would be nuclear fission, or the process by which bombs are made that have the capacity to kill off all of humanity in a fiery apocalypse.

Me: …so that’s a yes?

 “I lifted it! I lifted half of the a…” (the earth explodes in a fiery holocaust)
(Photo attribution: here )

Instead, though, something different happened, and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what is going on.

When I got to the gym, one of the trainers there was like “oh, are you here for the biggest gainer?” Turns out, they were having a contest for the “biggest loser” and the “biggest gainer.” And a trainer looked at me, and assumed that I would be coming to the gym for the sole purpose of gaining weight.


I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around this concept, but apparently I have a build that’s well suited for… muscle. Because when I met with Brandon, he was like, “I think, before anything else, you need to focus on gaining muscle.”

Again. WHAT?

“Sure,” I said to him, my mind spinning. At this point I was verging a psychological melt-down. I am at the gym to lose weight because I am overweight and I am working with a trainer to make sure I am able to really lose that weight and he is looking me in the eyes and saying, “All right little hamster. Time to gain some weight” and I have no idea how to process this and it feels like math or something hard.

Me: But what about my excess body fat?

Brandon: We’ll focus on burning that off after you’ve bulked up and your metabolism is more effective.

Me: … So what you’re saying is, if I gain muscle, then a Magical Unicorn of Weightloss will come visit me, deem me muscular enough, and poke me with its horn in such a way that my tummy disappears?

Brandon: What I’m saying is that muscle will burn more calories than no muscle. And if you’re wanting to lose fat, having more muscle will help you do it.

Me: That makes sense I guess?  So… what should I eat?

Brandon:Well, you’re gonna want to eat clean calories, and you’ll be wanting to hit between 3 and 4.

Me: (determined look) I’ve never scaled back that much before. The lowest I’ve ever done in a day is 500 but that was a starvation diet that was supposed to use pregnancy hormones which didn’t work–it was a bad idea. I think I can do 400 though…

Brandon: No, between 3 and 4 thousand calories.

Me: *wets himself*

Brandon: You’re gonna be eating a lot. 

Me: (Flabbergasted) But… how will I not become Jabba the Hut huge again?

  “I don’t want to become Jabba the Hut again, Brandon.”
Brandon: You won’t become Jabba the Hut huge because I’m going to be working you out hard. Probably harder than you’ve ever worked out before. I’m going to be working you out so hard you’ll have trouble gaining weight even though you’re eating 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day.
Me: *wets himself again*
Brandon: But when we get done, you’ll be surprised at how your body processes food. Just trust me. I won’t lead you astray.
Me: I… don’t trust you. But I will do it because I’m desperate. And also I want to trust you.
Brandon: Well, that’s as good a place to start as any.
And thus, our hero has begun working out in ways that leave him feeling  maimed or perhaps mauled by a bear or perhaps run over by a semi-truck or perhaps like his legs are on fire or perhaps like he was spun in the clothes-dryer overnight (depending on the workout) and has also begun eating more food than a menstruating elephant. 

And like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, my hamster soul is being transformed into a beastly, gnarly, gym-loving rat that is starting to look muscular and can also eat thousands of calories a day and not gain any weight at all.  So, in other words, all of my dreams are coming true. Huzzah!  (Of course those calories are not always fun calories, like ice cream, donuts, and french fries. They’re more like salmon and chicken and vegetables and chicken and cottage cheese and rice and beans and chicken and protein shakes and chicken and hard boiled eggs and chicken. But still. 3,000 calories!)

Stay tuned to see the transformation! Unless Brandon is wrong or lying. In which case, stay tuned to personally meet Jabba the Hut!


  1. Good job! Doesn't it feel freaking fantastic???

    I just started on the paleo lifestyle…no grains, no diary…just meat, fat, fruits, veggies, nuts, etc.

    After a week of wanting to kill everybody in an effort to somehow bake them into bread for me to eat and feeling like I was in a daze with no energy, I have leveled out now and have so much energy it's amazing! I feel healthier than ever…eating nothing but REAL food really does make a difference. Before you know it you don't even crave those things like ice cream and cake and whatnot anymore (and I used to be the biggest ice cream junkie EVER).

    My husband doesn't know it yet…but I told him I'd make him pancakes this weekend (since I haven't made them for him in forever)…but I may have neglected to tell him they are made of bananas and almond butter 😛 I've got to get him off of his pizza kick!

    Keep up the good work! You are amazing!

  2. Haha, "eating more food than a menstruating elephant" ah, that was genius. Good for you, with the working out! I'm sure you'll become the crazy gym-craving rat soon.

  3. Interesting factoid: The male African elephant at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park needs to eat 70,158 calories each day, and also drink about 30 gallons of water each day. He doesn't menstruate.

    That said, hyperbole accepted.

  4. This was incredibly entertaining, my friend. I've been at this garbage for years and still have days I can't walk – but you probably don't want to hear that, huh?

  5. @Christine–Whoa! That is one intense diet you're on. Good for you! (I won't tell your husband. It's just a secret between you, me and the internet.) Thanks for the encouragement!

    @Devin–Haha, thanks. Yeah, I think it will happen soon, too. Just not today. Today I'm going to take a nap. I'm meeting with Brandon tomorrow though. *whimpers like a child*

    @Mr. Wendel–Ha! I love that you looked that information up! And I'm very glad to know that my hyperbole has been approved.

    @erica–Yes, that whole walking thing–surprisingly important in tasks such as working and cleaning and getting into one's car. Once I have that ability back, I'm sure to have it made! And then, yes. Next step? Triathalon. (I'm actually seriously thinking about it. So it's cool to hear that things worked out well for your friend.)

    @the whole thing stinks–Both of those options sound superior to walking. Walking is so passe. It's so "90's, 80's and every other decade, century and millennium since we became erectus" Bum shuffles are totally "now".

    @Paul Joseph–Yeah, that news doesn't bring me much comfort. I'm hoping though that the beat-down I received yesterday is as bad as it gets. I've gotta believe it.

  6. @Just another girl–I debated on that joke actually. Don't want to offend anybody, so I'm glad to hear it came off well!

    @Trisha–Nothing makes me more happy than the thought of a post I wrote making someone have fun at work! Work needs a dose of fun now and again 😉

    @Tamsin–Aw, shucks. I've been trying to tap into "really funny" so it's good to hear that, at least in the eyes of Tamsin, that goal was achieved.

    @Ashley–Awesome! Thanks for telling me that.

    @Laura–Why thank you! If you worked at my gym, you'd be my favorite receptionist, and we'd have lots of inside jokes and stuff. So, basically you should move to Seattle so that you can experience some witty banter occasionally at work. Or you can stay where you are and read my blog. You know. Whichever is more convenient…

  7. It IS really crazy to make the mental leap of eating that much…but once you start seeing results, you realize how much your body needs the fuel. You are going to be a fat blasting muscle MACHINE! Go Weed Go!

    Also please, take a look at my blog! Not fitness related, but fun so far. 🙂

  8. Great post. I know it is hard to get in a routine, but once you start, it becomes a habit and it won't seem like as much work. I lost my motivation, so maybe this will help me get going. Thanks!

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