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YMCA beauty

October 12, 2010
www.gr8findings.etsy.com

Here's just a little snapshot of the focal section of my necklace ... too much branding? I probably won't have the balls to keep it on there for the final reveal ...

First off, thanks everyone for such good comments and support in my last post about keeping my blog more authentic. It really means a lot to me. Unfortunately, other projects have been encroaching on my free time lately, so aside from getting my challenge necklace done for Lorelei’s blog, I haven’t created much that I can post and talk about, and I’m not about to start whining about never having any time for jewelry or such nonsense as that. Instead, check back on Sunday for the big reveal on that necklace — I can’t wait to show it to you — there’s a little sneak peek on the left!

Well what then, if I’m not going to talk about making jewelry, is up with the title of this particular post you may ask? YMCAs are hardly discussed in the jewelry/etsy blog scene (at least I’ve not come across any ), but let me be the first. Friends, this post has to do with finding beauty at the gym. You see for years, much of my life in fact, I avoided gyms like they were plague-infested hotspots filled with testosterone fueled zombies.

There are any number of embarrassing, highly neurotic yet self-deprecating stories I could tell to show you how I came to be so gym phobic, but the upshot is that shortly after my 40th birthday I got up the nerve to attend some yoga classes at my corporate gym and I think it changed my life. Yoga appealed to me because it doesn’t really seem to be a big draw for the aforementioned testosterone crowd, and after all — how many germs can you pick up when you bring your own mat to lie on the floor?

Anyway, all I can say about my journey with yoga is that I discovered what it felt like to be connected my body in a way I had not felt since childhood. I also discovered that the crap they tell you about endorphins really isn’t crap at all — it was like a drug to me. Plus, I found that afterwards my face had a lovely, rosey glow to it — nothing like the beet-red sweat fest I recalled with deep anxiety from high school gym class.

As luck would have it, I stuck with the yoga thing for a good 6 months, and then one thing led to another and it fell from my life for awhile. But that one period of time when I stretched and reached and felt good keeping up with a fitness routine inspired me to give my local YMCA another shot a few months later.

I should point out that we have been members of the YMCA for years so we could have a place to take the kids swimming in the off season, but using the equipment and carving out some time for myself had always been a bottom priority. It’s so much easier to take a dunk with the kids and call it a workout (though hanging on a floatie and chatting with my husband probably doesn’t qualify). Anyway, off I went to try my skill on an elliptical trainer. You know, those big machines that simulate cross-country skiing and are a little easier on the knees than a treadmill? Would you be surprised if I told you I lasted about 3 minutes the first day? I slipped off that thing and fell into a puddle of misery on the floor. Fortunately I was able to see beyond my pitiful physical limits, and I vowed to come back and try to add another minute every time … After a few months I was able to hold my own and had worked myself into the proper fitness range for a woman 20-30 years older than myself. I was far from perfect, but I was happy with my progress and ability to stick to it.

I’ll be honest and admit that my victory over the elliptical trainer didn’t go much farther than that … eventually, I found some other excuses to avoid the gym (Etsy perhaps?) and fell into my old habits. However, if you could see my gym bag packed and ready to go as soon as I finish this blog post, you could see that I am indeed resolved to start up my gym routine again.

But for just a minute before I head off, let’s get back to the beet-red image of myself that I mentioned — unfortunately, I found out the first time with the elliptical trainer that some things hadn’t really changed from childhood. Any time I raise my heart rate into the triple digits my face turns an amazing shade of red that makes me look like Ted Kennedy during his heavy drinking days. Even now, I find that aspect of my physiology more than a little embarrassing.  Add in the fact I’m wearing exercise clothes and it’s almost too much to bear.

However, I have noticed something along the way, staring at my fellow YMCA gym rats … senior citizens most of them since I like to go in the off hours during the day … most people to one degree or another seem to turn some shade of red when they exercise. It’s our blood, rising to the surface of our skin, racing through our veins and helping to cool off our insides before we cook ourselves to death from all the body heat we’re expending. It’s a sign we’re alive. It’s natural. And in some strange way it sort of makes me feel beautiful.

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