Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Seeing It

I walk on the elliptical trainer at the gym because I know I should do some aerobic exercise, but it's the weight training that I really like. Not only do I feel strong, but I feel like I'm doing something unladylike. It's a feeling like "No one who sees these shoulders is going to call me 'girl'." I am woman, see my bicep curls!

I'm pretty good about not lifting things that I know will challenge my back too much. I bend from my knees, tighten my abdominal muscles, try to avoid lift-and-twist and bend-and-reach, and ask for help. However, I've noticed that working at the food bank is making me stronger. It's quantifiable because the weights are specific, so I know that I am lifting or pulling or pushing ten pounds or thirty pounds or 110 pounds. I go to work five days a week, and the gym two or three, so I think the two are reinforcing the effect each has.

In the past, I've always asked someone else to put the fifty pound boxes of apples or oranges in the refrigerator for me, or asked someone to help me pick them up. It's not just the weight that's been the challenge, but the shape, and the fact that these boxes do not have handles. I have to get my hands under them and lift them up, and with my short arms that has always been hard, with the weight pulling on my shoulders.

This evening there wasn't anyone around to help me with the boxes, so I thought I would try picking one of them up and seeing how it went. After all, each weights machine has a sign on it saying "Do not exceed your known weight level" or something like that, and I've always wondered how one would know what her weight level was if she's never tried that machine before, or tried a heavier weight? So I knew what I was doing.

So I wrapped my arms around an apple box, stuck my fingers under, tightened my core muscles, bent my knees slightly, and lifted up. Not only could I get the apple box off the table, but it didn't feel as heavy as they always have. I walked over to the fridge and shoved the box in, and did the same with the other apple box and the box of oranges.


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