Posted in Mental Health

Sea Legs & Side Effects

imageYesterday morning I walked through a rainstorm to the gym we just joined—a Planet Fitness decorated in garish purple-and-mustard, and plastered with heartening signs proclaiming it a “No-Judgement Zone.” I owned a StairMaster in my twenties, but my forties-self clearly needs some shaping-up because that thing was kicking my butt after six minutes. So I thought I’d try out a treadmill.

My discovery about the treadmill: it gives you an odd form of “sea legs”… When I got off it half an hour later, I felt like I was weirdly gliding across the gym. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t glide. I’m not that graceful. But I felt glidey till I was halfway home.

I’m on a mission. I already said it: I need some shaping up. I’ve been big-time frowning at the bathroom scale lately, because the dang thing insists I’m heavier than I’ve ever been, pregnancies included.

Have you ever seen a picture of yourself that made you realize your self-image doesn’t exactly match up to reality? Sometimes it’s not entirely a good thing (“Really?! When did those crows’ feet show up?”) but it’s not always bad either (“Hot damn, I DO look like my mom!”)…  Either way, it becomes a moment of self-image-adjustment, when you see something about yourself that wasn’t previously part of your own mental picture.

That’s a paragraph I wrote a few years ago, when the stresses and demands of running a restaurant had me dangerously underweight. The problem may be opposite, but I feel the same now. The mirror-me just isn’t a match to the me-in-my-head.

A side note about cultural conditioning here… Even though my doctor and my mother were on my case about my health when I was underweight, I didn’t feel nearly as socially self-conscious then as I do now. I didn’t cringe at photos or make frustrated faces at the mirror, even though I knew I was unhealthy. I was wearing size-zero jeans, but the StairMaster still would have kicked my butt. (Not that I had any butt left.) Still, I wasn’t nearly as motivated to “reverse the reality” as I am now, at the other end of the scale. How unbalanced is that?!

On the topic of balance, I’m reminding myself today about the areas of my life where my health is on the right track. I’m Sober. I’ve (finally!) quit smoking. My mental health is staying pretty steady.

0087And yes, now I’ve joined a gym. “Weight gain” is one of the side-effects of the mental-health med that got me stabilized this winter, so I’m up against my own biochemistry here. I’ve been low-carb dieting to very little effect; these added-on pounds are proving terribly tenacious.

But then… I’m pretty tenacious myself. Bring on the treadmill! I’m game to glide. And today I didn’t even have to glide in the rain.




I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

11 thoughts on “Sea Legs & Side Effects

  1. Gliding is the word. Years ago when I did a cardiac stress test, the tech told me it would be easier if I took long strides. For weeks after that, I took the same long, swinging strides everywhere I walked. If only it could have lasted. Don’t you just love it when the mental health drugs that are supposed to make you feel well enough to lose weight actually help you gain weight (but doctors sometimes glide over that second part and you don’t find out till you google it)? Best wishes on the trek.


    1. Doctors do tend to “glide over” those side effects, don’t they? Even now that it’s happened, my doc is pretty dismissive. Obviously it’s a bigger deal to me than it is to her. Oh well–what’s a girl to do? Glide on! ;)


  2. Charlene rocks! :) … I’ve experienced that ‘slide’ effect too. I thought it was just me! The leisure center where we go swimming has a gym, and a free ‘intro to gym-ing’ so I got to play on all the torture instruments … wasn’t all that impressed and the ‘afterglide’ was definitely unimpressing … so back to the pool I went. :D


    1. “Torture instruments,” well put! The treadmill doesn’t seem so bad because I can at least manage to WALK, which is less torturous (and less challenging) than trying to balance-and-run on the elliptical or StairMaster… Coordination is not my strong suit any more than “grace” is! ;)

      Liked by 1 person

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