This afternoon I went to the gym. I was feeling pretty good about myself, all sassy and cute, because I’ve lost another pound, for two pounds down. They may be squishy pounds, not hard pounds, but hey. Two pounds. (Squishy pounds are tucked inside that weight that fluctuates day to day, so the low I saw this morning I’ve seen before, but it’s sticking around longer. Hard pounds are when you drop to a new low number and can spend the day being very smug. One more pound will put me in the realm of hard pounds.)
I toddled off the the aerobics studio with my mat and ball and weights and workout plan, and gave myself the ol’ appreciative eye in the mirror. Clay is right, I informed my reflection, you do have a nice butt.
I was about halfway through my first circuit when another woman came in. Perhaps describing her as “another woman” is misleading, suggesting that this coltish young goddess and I are more closely related than reality would suggest. She was brimming with adorableness, simply sloshing it everywhere. Her hair was yanked up on her head in a manner that looked perfectly messy and unconcernedly cute. Her tiny little shorts revealed the kind of thighs that would have made Michaelangelo sigh, “See, David, THAT is what I’m looking for. A little muscle DEFINITION! Now hit the lunges!” She was somewhere in the fetal-to-22 demographic.
But if I let my workout be derailed by every adorable young thing that strolled through the gym, I would have to stay in bed, eating cheet-os and writing bitter letters to the editor. So I soldiered on, paying her no nevermind.
She plugged her earbuds in her ears, shook out her limbs, then faced herself in the mirror in a careful fourth position. And then…she danced.
It was, I’m pretty sure, Irish folk dancing, a high-stepping foot-flurry. She leaped and spun and kicked and stamped. It was like discovering that the person standing next to you at the supermarket can sing opera. I half expected a camera crew to rush in to capture her rehersal. She was simply beautiful.
And I don’t want to admit that I started to feel insecure in her presence, but there she was, some sort of dance superhero. She would kick both feet way up in the air in a manner that would surely fell any attacker that had the poor judgement to hover three inches from her face. Meanwhile, I fell over trying to accomplish a modified dead lift. Twice. Okay, three times. Six. Whatever.
Eventually she was done, and she leaned against the wall, catching her breath. She looked for all the world like a Gatorade commercial, and I half expected to see her sweat droplets of acid green. I had also finished my workout, and was cooling down by lying on my mat, wheezing and cursing the masochist that ever came up with the side plank. She was glowy and damp, I was sweaty and tired.
As I lay there, working up the energy to stand up and leave, I realized that one of two things has got to happen. I have to stop comparing myself to other women. It’s simply not healthy.
Or maybe I need to take up Irish folk dancing.