Friday, May 1, 2009

Third Article - Is That My Ride?

Is That My Ride?


Doris D. Meneses

The first real day of Boot Camp has arrived. After having a stressful day at work, I head out to the YMCA thinking that it is the first day and it will be fairly easy. I have decided to attend the evening class due to the fact that the class at six in the morning would cut into my beauty sleep time and, Lord knows, I need all the beauty sleep I can get!

The Boot Camp recruits gather in the lobby of the YMCA until Mikey the Manly Marine and Rambo Rico show up and immediately instruct us in loud, commandeering voices to line up. Two single lines. No talking. We are marched through the double doors into the hallway and are told to pick up mats and weights quietly and line up again. We follow orders and are marched outside and herded into the lined parking spaces, two recruits to a parking space, like school children ready to play red rover. Only later would I realize that it was like cattle being led to the slaughterhouse! Our mats are placed on the ground in a line with weights to the side. Water bottles are placed behind the parking space. Everything must be in precise order and if it is not correct, we are told to fix it immediately. There is no chit chat with others. Our instructors explain to us that we are to listen carefully. When they call “eyeballs” we are to yell “snap” and we had better be looking at our instructor. When they say “ready” we are to reply “ready” and to be ready to move to the next exercise. If I didn’t realize it before, I am in Boot Camp now!

Mikey and Rico then proceed to stretch us. We do simple things like touching your toes with your feet together, spreading your legs and placing your palms flat on the ground and grasping your hands behind your back. I struggle but cannot physically do any of these moves. I cannot touch my toes as there is something in the way called a belly. I cannot place palms on the ground as my body is so stiff it will not go there. I cannot reach my two hands behind my back due to the layers of fat that interfere with the process. I try my best and reach as far as I can to no avail. The realization that I cannot even grasp my two hands behind my back hits me and my eyes begin to fill. My mind screams, “Don’t cry…don’t let them see you cry!” I wonder if others are looking at me and try to shrink into the background but realize there is no way to hide a 54 year old obese woman. I succeed in holding the river back but I feel like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz who needs a good oiling!

Next we are told to line up in two lines. We start off walking through the parking lot. We are instructed to march…..left, right, left, right. Soon the pace is picked up and we are jogging. I jog a few steps until my chest feels like it is going to explode so then I attempt to power walk. I try to keep up but know that there is no way I can do this. A group of the slower recruits fall to the rear. We try to continue a walking, jogging pattern. Some recruits complain continuously. I just cannot believe they are whining and complaining as I am just trying to get enough air to breathe! Rambo Rico comes back and yells at us to pick it up. I try to run but I am sure that someone has placed lead blocks in my shoes as they just will not move. On top of that, Uncle Charlie Horse grasps my calves and will not let go. I see the security guard riding through the lot in his golf cart. I dream about hopping on the back and catching a ride but soon wake up and realize that is not my ride.

Water…I need water! Some of the younger, faster runners who have already finished come back to encourage me on. Boot camp is a team effort and their support is wonderful as they seem to have a confidence in me that I truly lack in myself. I am surprised that I do not feel bad for not being able to keep up. Just those few words; “come on, you can do it; just a little further; we’re almost there; you are doing great” help me to somehow make it back to where I started. I then start inhaling my water like a drunkard and his tequila and am told to stop drinking as no one blew the whistle or told us that we were allowed to get water. I then hear the whistle and once again begin drinking but immediately feel nauseated. I convince myself that I will not vomit on my first day because there is no way to hide a 54 year old obese lady, let alone one who is vomiting!

The entire evening is a lesson in struggling. Push ups, crunches, lunges, weights were all combined into a little over one hour of torture. I am so wrapped up in my pain that I fail to hear the hooting and honking from cars on US 1 and I really don’t care who sees what part of my body as I strain to get into positions that my body has not seen in ages. Someone asks what time it is and we are made to do extra push-ups as we are not to wear a watch or ask for the time. At one point I hear loud sirens on US 1. Did I pass out? Am I still alive? My mind immediately thinks that surely, that is my ride coming to take me to the hospital! Wait a minute. I am still here. I am still alive. I am doing more push-ups! Oh no. Take me away!

At the end of the session my body feels like a limp noodle that been overcooked. We are dismissed with a group cheer and I slowly head to my truck. Some other recruits pass by and ask if I’m o.k. and I say I’m fine. I really was fine. I was just trying to figure out how I was going to get my weary body up into my ride and drive home!

No turning back. This 54 year old obese woman is a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp!

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.

Second Article - Boot Camp

(My orientation day picture)

No Way I Weigh on Orientation Day!


Doris D. Meneses

Today I have to get up the nerve to wake up early on a Saturday and go to the YMCA to be oriented into Boot Camp. After all…..I already paid my money so I have to go.

First of all, I have to decide what to wear. They tell you to come dressed to exercise so I head to my closet which contains clothing in all sizes of chubbiness. Now, when I went to sign up, I saw many women in their cute little Spandex outfits. I may be old, but I am smart enough to realize that some women give Spandex a bad name and if I wore it, I would be one of those women, so I found a pair of knit Capri pants and a t-shirt that didn’t look like it was painted on. Add to that my new pink and silver Nike sneakers and socks without holes and I was off!

I think this is a good place to tell you that just the thought of the YMCA makes me panic as I broke my leg and ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament in my knee dancing to the song, “YMCA” at a Catholic woman’s convention! I guess I was dyslexic and I did an X instead of a Y….slipped and went down. On top of that, the hotel wheelchair was stolen and they had to take me from the third floor to the first, so they placed me on a luggage rack with a plastic bag of ice and I gave the queen’s wave as they pushed me out. When they called my husband to inform him that I was having surgery first thing the next day, he hung up thinking it was a joke! Needless to say it wasn’t and after two surgeries, two months in a wheelchair and nine months on a cane, I have a horrible fear of falling and yet here I am in a Boot Camp!

Arriving at the YMCA, I was told to go into the gym. Right away I break out into a sweat as my brain is flooded with memories of the chubby girl in high school gym class wearing a one piece bloomer gym suit spending hours square dancing and trying to perfect a cartwheel which would never even get close because her legs would not come off the ground! As I enter, I see there are several others there…mostly on what I would call the slimmer side and some looking like models! My mind questions….oh great, what are they doing here? Soon more come in and yes…there are a few pleasingly plumpers but I realize right away that I am and will be by far, the oldest and the fattest in this Boot Camp. I wonder what the others are thinking looking at me.

The Membership and Wellness Director of the YMCA, David Cruz, welcomes us and introduces the trainers. They are, Oshun Marcella, a sleek and fit woman, Ariel Concepcion who is known as “Rico”, a young Hispanic guy and Michael Elias, known as “Mikey”, the former Marine. I meet Nestor Villageliu, the youngster, later on. I can feel my heart begin to race as they talk about pushing yourself to your limit. Who me? Queen of the couch potatoes whose limit is the couch to the kitchen?

The final step…..we are told that we will be weighed and measured now, half-way during the camp and at the end. Our pictures are taken and then….I see them…..there looming ominously in the room…in the view of the public…the dreaded monsters….the scales! As my stomach churns I await my turn and hearing the numbers being called out makes me feel woozy. My turn…step up….weight….293 pounds. No way! Panic….shame….humiliation…..denial…sickness….my inner thoughts scream, “Don’t yell out my weight please! I’ll be too embarrassed!” I strain hard and fight back the tears that want to flow like a river. Oshun must have noticed my humiliation as she reassures me and tells me not to worry….this is the last time I will see this number. I don’t know why but she had a very calming effect on me and continues to do so. I also noticed that she make me face my insecurities that have been hidden below my layers of fat for years. Next I get in line to be measured and of course, my luck, I have to be measured by Mikey, the Manly Marine. Embarrassment again wells up as I realize here is a good looking guy who can’t even get his arms around me but somehow, he makes me feel o.k. Now the form is completed with all the numbers. There it was….on paper….. no denying it. The numbers prove that I am obese. The numbers show that I have been out of control. The numbers show that I have been living a sedentary lifestyle for years. I am told to show up on Monday.

No turning back…..I am now a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp!

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.