Thursday, June 7, 2012
Perhaps it's the two liters of caffeinated beverage that I've just hurridly consumed, or maybe it's the temperature in this building, but whatever it is, I'm not feeling well as I pedal through the 40 minute mark seated in a pool of my own stinking sweat and trying to focus on the book in front of me and not on the sharp pains that shoot up my calves with each and every revolution of the pedals. My calves have never hurt this bad. Ever. Thank you 24 hour fitness. This is disgusting, I think to myself as I drip onto the floor, the handlebars, the book, and the bike. This is disgusting, but this is necessary right now. I'm sitting in this prison of dance beat music and recycled air surrounded by people who believe that their time spent here will make them more beautiful, more successful, smarter, funnier, more appealing to the opposite sex, taller, skinnier, and who knows what else. Perhaps they are here to feel better about themselves, to relieve stress, because their doctor told them they had to work out if they wanted to be healthy. I look around me and see these people, the other white mice running on their wheels in this giant concrete cage and I can't help but think of just how unnatural this whole gym thing really is. It's as though we're all part of a huge social experiment. If given the proper tools, can America save itself from the obesity epidemic? Not likely. Not a single one of them is taking themselves nearly as seriously as I am, and not a single one of them, I suspect, is here for the same reasons that I am. I'm here so that I can make it through the rest of the day, so that I can function at a somewhat normal capacity with the rest of the human population. I'm here because I have decided to give up my drug of choice and to get myself clean and because without this spin bike, the sweat, and the dance music being pumped into the recycled air of this concrete cage, the feelings of emptiness that now fill my days are simply too much for me to bear. It's day seven. Day seven of who knows how many. Day seven without my bike. Day seven of the rest of my life and I have never felt more lost. What do I do now? What exactly, is the point of getting out of bed in the morning? Why bother taking care of my body, or shaving my legs, or going to bed at a decent hour, or not drinking gobs of caffeine? Why bother with not drinking, or doing drugs? Why bother with trying to stay on track nutritionally? Why bother with fighting the urge to binge and purge? What reason do I have to feel good at this point? It's gone. I've known for a long time what needed to be done. I've thought about saying goodbye to this piece of my life many times before. What do you think about when you're out there all alone for hours and hours at a time Dez? Often times, I'd find myself day dreaming about how marvelous it would be if I were to be struck down by a rogue automobile at that exact second. How wonderful it would be to be soaring through the air and to hit the ground with such force that the bones in my legs would shatter into a million pieces. "I'm sorry," the doctor would tell me after I'd awakened from my coma, "but we couldn't save your leg, son." I'd look down and rip the hospital sheets away from the space that my leg should have occupied on the bed and see only a stump and more hospital sheets. Sure, I'd be devistated for a while, I'd think to myself. I'd fall into a deep depression for a time as I pondered my life without the bike, but I'd get over it. And, I'd think to myself as a smile would creep across my face, I'd finally have a legitimate reason not to ride my bike anymore. Oh, how glorious it would be if I could only be free of this monster! What would I think about as I pedaled endless miles all alone through the last ten years of my life? I would think more often than not, about just how amazing it would be if I could be anywhere but exactly where I was at that moment. I would think about all of the things that I was no longer able to do because of my bike, about how very small my world had really become, and how everytime I extended my world geographically by riding to a new place, it shrank even smaller in every other area. I would think about everything that I had given up, everthing that I had sacrificed to keep riding and I would wonder how on earth I could possibly hope to maintain this lifestyle if I ever wanted to grow up and become a real adult and do any of the things that such a task encompassed in my mind. I would think about just how trapped I really was and just how badly I wanted to break free and all along I would know that I could not and would not ever let myself let go. Why not? If you don't enjoy it, then just stop doing it. If it hurts, don't do it. If you want to take the day off, then just do it. If you don't feel well, don't ride. If you're crazy and you know it, clap your hands! These ideas, these courses of action were never real possibilities in my mind. Sure, other people could stop riding, but other people were not and will not ever be me and this sort of backwards logic was all that I needed to keep me enslaved to my bike. What has changed now? Why have I decided to take the leap towards freedom now when two weeks ago it wasn't even an option? Hell if I know. What I do know is that since I have decided to let go of this piece of my life, of my disorder, the other components which I thought I had a handle on have come back into play. Give up your bike? Fine, chew a pack of Trident everyday and reach back out to the Diet Pepsi to help calm your nerves, fill your belly, and distort your hunger signals. Not squeezing in a few extra miles each day and leaving them unaccounted for on your meal logs? No problem, just don't eat all of your exchanges. Oh and of course, not riding 20 hours a week to ensure that every calorie consumed is accounted for or dedicated to muscle development? Easy fix, hit the gym and hit it hard. 45 minutes ticks by and it's time to stand up. Flip the book over so that I don't sweat all over the pages and stand up on the pedals for a few minutes so that I can regain a little feeling in the nether regions. Some voice within me reminds me just how weak I've become. Shaking and light headed after only two liters of diet cola? Oh my, you're not half the person you used to be. Two liters used to barely get you through breakfast. Then I find myself thinking about how caffeine doesn't get the credit as a drug that it deserves these days. I wipe myself down with my soaking wet gym towel as I take my position once more atop the oversized spin bike saddle and take a look around to see if any of my fellow lab mice have noticed just how ridiculous I am, sitting here drenched in my own stink and pedaling myself from here to nowhere just as fast as my legs will carry me. The man to my left seems mesmorized by whatever Rachel Ray is cooking on the TV hung from the ceiling in front of him. He's so captivated in fact, that he seems to be forgetting to turn the pedals on his own spin bike. He is not sweating. The people in front of me, most of whom are big men wearing tank tops and basketball shorts, are staring intently at their own figures in the mirror as they complete reps and sets, sets and reps. No one seems to care that I exist. I am reminded that most everyone in the world is too busy looking at themselves to pay all that much attention to me and what I do. I can get away with anything if I really want to. Do I want to? More than anything, these last seven days have reminded me that whether I want to get better or not is entirely my decision and that I only hurt myself by choosing to hold on to these compulsions to exercise, or to chew gum, or to drink Diet Pepsi for that matter. The idea of giving these things up has raised one question in my mind that above all, needs answering: Do I want to get better? I've been asked numerous times if I'd like to recover and move on with my life. These questions never needed much thought before now because in truth, I didn't have much to lose. I was never really giving anything up. Do I want to get better? Can I still ride my bike 20 hours a week and maintain a weight that's below average? Well then hell yes I want to get better! Oh, what's that? You mean that getting better means living at a normal healthy weight and only exercising to stay fit? Getting better means having some measureable amount of body fat and building my life around something other than when and where I'm going to get my ride in on any given day? Oh, I need to give this a little more thought, in that case. Do I want it? These last seven days have made me question just how committed I really am to getting better. The fact that I'm sitting on this spin bike makes me question how badly I want it. The caffeine coursing through my veins raises doubts in my mind and the golf ball sized wad of Trident in my mouth might send up a red flag or two. Truth be told though, depsite the feelings that I've given up on myself and failed at upholding my life's dream, despite this shuffling of behaviors and how tightly I'm clinging to pointless pieces of my old life, I can't help but feel the excitement building within me. I'm finally taking a step toward freedom. I've finally allowed myself to open a door which I have refused to acknowlegde even existed for many years. That door is open and all that's left to do now is decide whether or not I really want to walk through it.