Training Day

By Debbie Koenig

After I had lost 75 pounds in one year on Weight Watchers, I hit a wall. A massive, intractable wall. One week I’d lose a pound, the next week I’d gain three-quarters back, and the following week I’d stay the same. Judy, my Leader, had me bring in my paper Tracker so she could try to spot the problem. (This was pre-mobile app, pre-Internet, in the mid-’90s.) Nope, I was doing everything right, but the weight just wouldn’t budge. It went on like this for an astounding nine months. What finally broke through? I started working with a personal trainer.

Adding strength training to my aerobics-based workouts built my muscles, which helped me burn more calories even when I was just sitting around. It took some time, but I shed the last 25 pounds and hit my goal. I wound up with arm muscles so beautifully cut, I never lost a chance to go sleeveless. I thought I’d continue working out like that forever.

And then life happened. I left my high-paying job and went freelance, which meant I could no longer afford a trainer. I moved and got remarried, and dragged my heels about finding a way to work out. Eighteen months of infertility left me depressed and barely functioning. A baby—finally—left me physically drained. The excuses piled up, and I didn’t touch a dumbbell for about six years.

For the last few years I’ve made half-hearted attempts to resume strength training on my own. I know what to do, I figured. Why should I pay someone? It turns out, I’m not terribly good at being accountable to myself these days. I perform much better when I know someone else is paying attention. After a week or two of bicep curls and squats, I’d let life intervene again. My once-lean body looks nothing like it used to. And sleeveless season is upon us.

Earlier this year I started going to the gym with my husband (he’s been going three days a week for years, while I’ve been more focused on walking as exercise). Making the commitment to go with him has done more for me than I’ve done for myself in a long time. It’s not a shmancy place, just a fitness center in the nearby park, but we kept seeing this one guy in the weight room, always giving instructions to five or six people at a time. The other day we asked him if he could take us on, too.

Yesterday, we had our first session. K works quite differently from my old trainer—each person gets his attention just for a minute at a time, while he demonstrates the next thing to do. But apparently, that’s all I need: Someone to tell me what to do, and to notice if I’m not doing it. If I can’t be accountable to myself, I’ll be accountable to someone else. As long as I see results, right?

Follow Debbie on Connect @debbieskoenig

Read more posts from Picky Kid, Busy Mom