Stop Asking Where I'm From

So I joined a gym for the first time ever.

Written By: humarashid - May• 12•13

You guys.

I joined a gym.


An actual gym.

Not like that fake gym that I joined that got raided by the FBI a week later.

@BobBlahBlawg STILL hasn’t let me live that down.

No, no, this is a real, legit gym. With treadmills and weird stair machines and more weight machines than I’ve ever seen in my life. And that works out really well, because I’m lifting weights.


Yup! Your little Hoomie is lifting weights and totally bulking up. BEEFCAKE!


Anyway, I’m pretty fancy now, you guys. I mean, I don’t want to alarm any of you, but, really, I’m pretty damn fancy now. I have joined a legit gym and I have a personal trainer (who doesn’t mock me for being flabby and incompetent), and I have a nutritionist. Ugh. I’m going to get so ripped.

BEEFCA- Eh, you guys know the drill by now.

Anyway, joining a gym was something I’d been meaning to do for quite some time, but nothing really felt right. And then I found a gym in my area that’s a little different from the others, and I found that I really liked the atmosphere there and then I got a Groupon for it and everything came up Milhouse.

I’ve never, ever belonged to a gym before. I did hot yoga for a month, so I had to actually join a studio for that, but that was the only time I was ever in any kind of actual workout environment. Before that, I’d done yoga on my own, but nothing regular. Kind of whenever I felt like it and that feeling outweighed my feeling that I’d really enjoy falling asleep on the couch.

As BobBlahBlawg can well attest, my workouts are a little … odd. Basically, I pick out one of the many workout DVDs I own. It could be cardio, it could be something more intense like P90X or the Shred, it could be a dance-based workout, it could be pilates or body-strength-training. I’ll pick something out. I’ll change into my super adorable workout clothes. I’ll drag out my pink yoga mat. I’ll put the DVD into my PS3. I’ll sit on my yoga mat and watch the DVD. I’ll fall asleep on my cushy yoga mat. And then I’ll wake up when the DVD has ended and is just replaying the menu music in an annoying loop. Then I will get up, eject the DVD, change out of my workout clothes, and consider it mission accomplished.


THAT has basically always been what my workout consisted of.

During law school, it would piss BobBlahBlawg the hell off. He is a very disciplined and body-conscious man, you guys. He was always drinking like 96 oz of water a day and popping glucosamine pills and hitting the gym and doing P90x and running six miles a night and stuff.

He’d come to school and be like, yeah, I ran twelve miles last night and found Jesus. And I’d be like, …I watched a gentleman run real fast in a commercial and I broke out in a bit of a sweat so I decided to take the rest of the night off.

And he’d have to valiantly fight the urge to throw me out the window.

But the thing was, as awful as this sounds, I never really felt like I needed it. I know that doesn’t make sense. We all need to work out and be healthy. But there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I could climb five flights of stairs without feeling winded. I could do five unmodified push-ups. I could chase a puppy down the street without losing my breath until said puppy was being snuggled against my chest.

Plus, as far as clothing sizes go, I wear size 0 dress pants, size 00P blazers, and my jeans usually come from the little girls’ department. So I wasn’t all that concerned about losing weight.

And then, post law school, while I was studying for the Bar, I gained 5lbs. A little odd, especially since I had spent 2000-2011 weighing exactly 101.5lbs. A little odd, but not too terrifying.

Then, when I passed the Bar and was sworn in, I had gained another 5lbs. And then by the time I was hired at my current job, I’d packed on another 5lbs.

So that was pretty terrifying. Especially for someone who’s always been able to eat whatever she wanted in whatever quantity without gaining weight. To be fair, I can still eat whatever I want in whatever quantity – but I can’t really get off the 114lb mark. And I know that’s a healthy weight for someone who’s only 5’1″. I know that. That was the first thing my nutritionist said, actually. She was like, I don’t want you losing any weight unless you truly feel uncomfortable at 114.

But anyway, that weight gain has kind of been on my mind and was part of what spurred me into seriously considering a gym membership.

Another thing is that I’m pretty weak. I have the muscle definition of overcooked linguini. On the many occasions that I do my damnedest to beat BobBlahBlawg up because he is terrible, he just laughs because it tickles. So, that’s pretty weak, you guys.

So I wanted to build some muscle, too. I wanted to lift weights because strength training + cardio helps melt the pounds, sure, but strength training builds muscle. And I’m not worried about it at all, or even at all cautious about it, because I know that women don’t bulk up like men do, not unless they REALLY try specifically to achieve that look. So all those “but if you lift weight you’ll look masculine!” comments kind of slide off my back. (Also they’re pretty stupid in general. And what’s wrong with a masculine-looking woman? Nothing! How about we let women look any damn way they please?)

So I wanted to build a little muscle because I obviously wanted more of a toned look. I know I don’t look like it, but I’m pretty flabby. I’m a very flabby sort of super-skinny. It’s weird, it really is, because you can’t tell. But I can feel it, and I wanted to change that.

Also, there was another thing that kind of pushed me into the gym. It’s related to the building of lean muscles – but it’s focused on their use.

This is something I don’t really talk about, but it affects me more than I would like it to.

When I’m leaving various courthouses in Cook County and the outlying counties, I get followed to my car.

A lot.

I get followed to my car by asshole men trying to holler.

And it terrifies the living shit out of me.

It never happens at 26th & Cali. Partly because there is a separate garage for attorneys, and the street is always crawling with cops who try to keep people moving, so there’s really very little opportunity for some asswipe to try something. Also, I’ve never been at 26th & Cali by myself – I’m always with my boss, and he always parks in that garage, too, obviously, so we always walk together. No one tries to look at me cross-eyed when I’m with my boss.

It was the same way back in law school, actually. I went to John Marshall, in the Loop, and I’d frequently head out during the day for little errands or to get lunch or to meet friends at nearby DePaul, whatever. And I was taking the train, so there was a morning walk from Union and an evening walk to Union.

And I noticed that every damn time I went out on my own, just wandering about the Loop, I’d get cat-called or touched or harassed in some way. Like, every damn time.

But whenever I stepped out with BobBlahBlawg – which was a lot, since we were basically inseparable – no one ever did a damn thing. Which made sense. BobBlahBlawg was, at the time, a 6’3″ bearded Scottish dude. (He’s still 6’3″ and from what I hear, he’s still Scottish, but he’s no longer bearded.) Anyway, he’s a tall, shiny building of a man. He kept creepers away from me.

But I often find myself walking around alone these days, even if I’m just walking from the courthouse doors to the parking lot. And I get followed to my car a LOT.

And, as embarrassing as this is to admit, it triggers panic attacks.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

My thoughts always tangle in a crazy jumble: will this guy go away if I ignore him? Oh, no, he’s just trying to get closer. Is he going to touch me? Fuck, he keeps asking me a question. He sounds angrier since I’m not answering him. I better answer him. Crap. I was nice but dismissive and he’s not taking the hint. Ok, I’m walking faster. DAMN IT SO IS HE. Can I be rude to him? Will he hit me? Chase me? How far away is my car? Why didn’t I wear flats today? I can’t run in heels! What if he grabs me before I can get in my car? Ok, just a few more steps, almost there. WHY WON’T HE GO AWAY. Ok, I’m going to tell him to please leave me alone. Pleasedontfreakoutatmepleasedontfreakoutatme. There’s my car. Few more steps. I can make it. UNLOCK, MOTHERFUCKER. Go away, go away. Oh, thank God, he’s gone.

And by that point, I’m basically sprinting to my car, diving in and almost closing the door on my leg, and sitting there, breathing hard and resting my head on the wheel and trying not to cry.

Like, a lot of the time, there is ostensibly no reason to be as terrified as I am in that moment. It’s always broad daylight. It’s always a packed lot. There’s always at least one or two other people walking either toward or away from the courthouse. Only men who WANT to get caught would actually try something here.

But try telling me that. For whatever reason, this basically triggers a panic attack every damn time. Maybe it’s not so much the situation itself, but the knowledge that if I were in a different place, a little more isolated, a little darker, and this guy DID try something, I probably wouldn’t be able to fight him off. Because I’m small and alone and, as I said earlier, pretty weak.

So I had more of those little panic attacks than I care to admit, and then I was like, no, fuck it, I’m joining a gym. I’m getting stronger. And almost as importantly, I’m gaining some confidence – the confidence that comes from knowing that if, God forbid, naudhubillah, if something like this were to happen, I would have a pretty good chance of being able to defend myself.

So I joined a gym.

And now I’m learning how to lift weights and even though it’s only been a few sessions, I can see myself getting stronger. My upper arms that were a touch on the flabby side, enough to make me just a wee tiny bit self-conscious when I shucked my blazer? They’re more toned now. The pronounced flab isn’t there, at least.

I can feel my metabolism revving up again, as weird as that sounds. Slowly, but I can feel it anyway. I’m generally pretty in tune with these little changes that take place in my body. I’m not back to where I used to be, that’s for sure, but I can feel the subtle changes in my metabolism. I need to start consistently taking the supplements I was told to take, and I’m sure I’ll start to see even more of a difference in my general health. (Although supplements tend to take longer to manifest any sort of difference, I’ve noticed. Especially omega-3s; I have to take a lot of those consistently for a few weeks before I can actually point to some tangible difference.)

That’s been pretty cool. I’ve always known, just based on years of watching my body do its thing, that I’m the kind of person that can lose fat pretty easily. I’ve stayed petite all these years without even really trying, and now that I’ve packed on a few pounds and have started actually doing something to whittle them down, it’s just nice to be met with success.

(And I’m very, very grateful that I can usually see results pretty quickly. I know how fortunate I am that my body works that way. I’m very grateful for it.)

So, yeah.

Another benefit I’ve noticed is that it seems to be a great way to get my endorphins up and force my stress levels down.

Now, I love my job. More than anything. I’m living my dream every single day. It’s a pleasure. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful. It’s a good kind of stress, and I’m fortunate to be experiencing the stress that accompanies something I love this much, but still. It’s stress.

And while I’m VERY good at managing stress, and have developed several very strong coping skills over the years that I use fairly consistently and successfully to keep my stress levels down, I’m always open to new tactics. I mean, if my only coping skill when it came to stress was to sit and sip my tea, that would get kind of boring after a while. So I like to mix things up, and that’s always worked well for me.

Going to the gym is just another stress relief tool for me, and I really appreciate it as such because it’s a double win: I get to lower my stress levels, AND get healthier (and, let’s not lie, even hotter than I obviously already am). Heh. I usually just start up an audiobook on my Overdrive app and get to work. An hour later, I’m relaxed (and sweating) and happy and heading home to a hot bath with epsom salt. It’s great.

I was concerned at first that I might not have enough time. I’ve been with my boss for more than five months, and in that time I’ve been responsible for more and more work. Obviously. That’s not a complaint; it’s just a statement. So my concern was that, with juggling all the awesome stuff I get to do at work, would I have time to make two sessions a week with my trainer, plus the one or two “homework” workouts I’m supposed to be doing?

But I’ve found that when something is important to me, I make time for it. Or the time just kind of seems to be there. However you want to frame that.

And I’ve had several sessions so far, while trying to juggle social commitments, random little work emergencies, and an ass-ton of motions. It’s been fine. It’s been great, actually.

(Plus, my self-satisfaction at being fancy and being able to handle all this rampaging adult-ness is pretty through the roof, you guys. Not gonna lie.)

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. I identified a little problem in my life, realized that I could correct that problem while reaping benefits in other areas of my life, and I took the plunge. I was resistant to the idea for several months, as I’ve mentioned, but I’ve kind of always found that if I was resistant to something, it was a pretty good indication that I just needed to do it.


So now, when random workout-minded bros ask me, “You work out? Ugh, do you even lift?” I can be like YEAH BITCH I LIFT.


That’s basically exactly what I look like when I lift, too.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.