I have been musing on the time(s) when I would drink heavily and be able to work out every day. For the most part, my exercise habits never changed over the years. The workouts changed, but the continuous dedication to an exercise regime didn’t. Almost 5 days a week you could find me at the gym. I also loved to take long walks and ride my bicycle. It didn’t matter how much I drank the night before, I would be up and at ’em and ready to get my “sweat on.” It was a lot easier when I was single and could simply just work out after work. Those were the leisurely times.
Those leisurely times. Work all day, head to the gym; smoke a cigarette on the way home because you can smoke after a workout. It’s as good as having a cigarette after sex. Your blood is pumping and your lungs say “I fucking deserve a good smoke.” It’s true. Now, the thing about it is this, I didn’t smoke a LOT unless I was of course drinking and then that didn’t count either as possibly destroying my body because well, I was drinking and smoking and the next day I wouldn’t be. It was only “fleeting moments” of good times had by all. Reality was, even 10, 15, 20 years ago I was kidding myself. Still building that “empire of bullshit.”
So here I am; probably late 20’s, early 30’s; I am in great shape and I have the world by the cajones. I am working an awesome job that is paying me to study for my Masters degree, I smoke occasionally and drink. I have friends, I have a social life and I think that my health is just fine because from all appearances – I am fine. Here is what looking back to that reality really looks like. I was putting my body through harsh climates. My body was like Mount Washington. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is known for the highest recorded winds and most erratic weather. From the bottom of the mountain you can start a hike in beautiful, sunny 80 degree weather only to get a fraction to the top and experience top speed winds, chilly temperatures that can cause hypothermia. My body was being taught to withstand erratic behaviors on my part. I would wake up and head to the gym. On the way, I would grab 2 munchkins (chocolate) and a medium Dunkin Donuts “regular.” For those of you who need to know what that means, it is with cream and sugar. Then I’d hit the elliptical for a blazing 40 minutes and throw in some weight training. Followed by a cigarette. If this was a morning workout, that meant I was probably drinking after work. Once drinking, smoking and whatever I’d pass-out or black-out pass-out and wake up for the same thing. But, here is my logic. I could sweat OUT all the toxins. Here is scientific reality. The liver takes in about 90% of all the alcohol because it needs to get rid of it fast; then 10% is removed by urine, saliva and sweat. I wasn’t healing anything! There were no toxins being sweat out at all. The only thing coming out of me was bad breath, bad body odor and probably some natural gas. My body was a toxic storm brewing all over; just like that mountain that grew in a perfect storm of nature’s variables.
I remember the hangovers. I remember that dry and disgusting feeling. I also looked pale and not a healthy color most times. I was puffy. Even if I could sweat enough to turn a shade of pink or red; I still looked like someone who was trying to “sweat it out.” I see these people now. I smell them too. Bleh. Needless to say, I remove myself quickly from the vicinity. I wonder how many times my trainer or my Bikram teacher thought to themselves “cut the bullshit Jen, we know why you are nauseous.” I was always paranoid. Speaking of “sweating,” Bikram is an amazing way to gain flexibility and sweat but I don’t recommend trying to do Bikram after many margaritas. And naked.
So, today I was happy to look at myself in my true form. The true person I have become from my vigorous exercise and looking forward to new muscles. It is really, really amazing to be sober and look back and remember those feelings that I never want to return. A hangover for me now would be misery and I can actually put myself back in that mental mode of the feeling. That reminds me of how far I have come and where I am going.
Just as a side note – I quit smoking over ten years ago and there are days..