My Week 31 – Exercise Peer Pressure and Extreme Clumsiness

Tuesday: I experience exercise peer pressure

I know that a lot of offices have group obsessions: some are fixated on a certain TV show, like Game of Thrones or Survivor (mostly because a lot of offices FUNCTION like Game of Thrones or Survivor, where they’re constantly trying to either stab each other in the back for control over Westeros or vote each other off the island), some have football/basketball/bowling pools where they discuss results ad nauseum, and some are relentless in their discussions about certain kinds of special diets and recipe swapping. I was never very much interested in any of these types of group activities, and I find myself in the same boat yet again. My new colleagues are lovely people, a highly professional and somewhat esoteric group, who don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t follow sports, and aren’t really the “recipe-swapping” type. But they DO have a group obsession, and unfortunately for me, it’s EXERCISE. These people exercise ALL THE TIME. They talk about exercise, they have fitness plans, they are the most physically fit people I have ever met. It puts me to shame. I have to tell you right up front that I don’t exercise. EVER. My idea of exercising is getting off the couch at a commercial break, walking to the refrigerator, and pouring another glass of wine. The closest I ever came to having an actual fitness plan was once, a few years ago, I bought a recumbent cycle. It’s the kind of exercise cycle where you can sit in a comfortable reclining position while your feet do all the work. So it’s like walking fast, but the rest of your body gets to take a break. Awesome. And the best part is that you can drink while you do it. It was the most relaxing fitness plan ever—I would pour a glass of wine, sit in my lazyboy/exercise machine and peddle away until I had burned off enough calories to offset the wine. After a while, the machine broke (I may or may not have spilled some Chardonnay on the control panel), and I moved on to a more satisfactory level of exercise, which is to say none at all.

But now I feel the peer pressure of working with people who LOVE to exercise. They all have these electronic wristband things that tell them how many steps they’ve taken in one day. How many STEPS, you heard me. Last week, after walking the perimeter of the conference centre where we were working in order to discuss plans for the day, my colleague cheerfully announced that we had just put in 3, 000 steps. I was like, whuh? And she explained that her goal was to reach 10,000 steps each day so now she only had 7, 000 to go. I wanted to ask if there was like a medal or some chocolate as a prize, because I would be all over that, but from what I gathered, it’s simply an intrinsically motivated goal, which is to say, THERE IS NO PRIZE AT ALL. Then the other day we were sitting at lunch, and they were all sharing their plans for later. One person was going to Zumba class (I thought Zumba was the name of the elephant in A Jungle Book, but apparently it’s some kind of weird Latin fusion/cardio/dance thing). Another person was going to Aquafit, which is exercise that takes place in the water. I call this “having a vigourous bath”, but apparently Aquafit is also a cardio thing for people who need low impact exercise, having blown out their knee last year doing extreme yoga. EXTREME YOGA? WTF? I can’t even sit cross-legged anymore, never mind “extreme” cross-legged sitting. Someone else was taking tennis lessons, and was gearing up for a sweaty evening on the court. The last person was “going for a run” because she needed to get back into shape for the company marathon next month. (Who in their right mind “goes for a run”? The only time I run is if something is chasing me). Then they all started reminiscing about other types of classes they had taken in the past, sharing war stories about step class, and crazy instructors who went too fast or were too demanding, and so on. Then there was a lull in the conversation, and they all looked at me expectantly. What was I going to say—“I don’t eat a lot and I have a high metabolism?” So I smiled nervously, stopped eating my cheesecake and said, “Does anyone have a good recipe for quinoa?”

Friday: I have a very uncoordinated week

I’m not usually a clumsy person—when I was a kid, I hardly ever skinned my knee or fell off things. Up to now, I’ve only broken two small bones: My baby finger, which cracked when I was on our Grade 8 trip to Ottawa and, unchaperoned, we were chasing each other in the halls—I had almost caught a very cute male classmate when he stopped suddenly and I jammed my finger into his back which caused it to snap at the base. It went numb but looked so weird and bendy that I started freaking out. All the teachers had been partying and they basically drew straws to see who had to take me to the hospital, which made me feel very special and loved. The second bone was a toe. One night when T was a baby, he woke up screaming for some reason. I panicked because he wasn`t normally a screamer, so I went running towards the bedroom door WITHOUT my glasses. Unfortunately, I am literally as blind as a bat but without the benefit of sonar, so I slammed into the doorframe foot first. Someone close to me joked that it`s lucky my feet are so big or I would have broken my nose. Ha Ha, Dad. But it`s actually true, and instead of my nose, it was the second toe on my left foot. I ended up in T`s room, crying and bleeding and trying to comfort him while Ken went to get ice and offered to take me to the hospital, which DID make me feel very special and loved, even though I was in a lot of pain.

But lately, I`ve gotten very klutzy. Aside from walking into, or cracking my knee on about 5 different tables, and ending up with brightly coloured bruises on my legs, I`ve also experienced the following acts of uncoordinated-ness:

• Over the course of the week, I dropped 3 hand-held computers, called PDAs, on the concrete floor. We use these devices to input data, and they are currently VITAL to our work. But they are all about 15 years old, with technology that`s fairly obsolete, and batteries that need to be switched on the hour. They really are on their last legs, which is why dropping one makes everyone around you gasp. The first two I dropped out of sheer lack of fine motor skills—you have to turn them one way to scan a barcode, then the other way to input data, and I just can`t seem to master that very basic skill. The third time, I dropped it because a colleague came up behind me and startled me, causing me to jump three feet and toss the PDA into the air, where it landed on the concrete to the horror of all around me. Luckily these things have extremely durable casings, or, as one colleague quipped, I would be personally responsible for the whole system crashing.

• On Tuesday, we brought in lunch from a taco place. The next morning I went to put on my ID badge, and it had a big, gross-looking blotch on it. It also smelled like garlic and spices. When I looked more closely, I realized that there was chunk of tomato wedged in between the front and back of the two pieces of paper. How the hell did I manage to drop a piece of tomato INSIDE my ID badge? God only knows, but I had to take the thing apart, and cut the stain out because it was so nasty-looking. And smelling. I really liked my ID badge, too—I was going to keep it as a souvenir of my very cool new job, but now it’s just a symbol of my slobbiness. Sigh.

• On Thursday, we went to a sushi restaurant for lunch. While I didn’t spill anything on myself, I DID walk headfirst into the neon OPEN sign in the doorway. Technically, this wasn’t my fault. My much tinier colleague went out the wrong door, and I blindly followed, not paying much attention, until WHACK! She had managed to walk under the sign, but me being taller, and oblivious to my surroundings, walked straight into it, headfirst. I didn’t realize what had happened for a minute, until I saw the sign swinging dangerously and flickering, felt my head start to hurt and put two and two together. Luckily, it didn’t break—who knows how much those things cost to replace? More than a PDA, I’ll bet.

• Friday was the ultimate in klutziness. First, I managed to get myself all tangled up in Scotch tape 4 times, while trying to label boxes to go back to our office, until I finally gave up and stapled the labels on. This is why Ken does most of our Christmas wrapping. Anyone who knows me well has had the experience of receiving a gift that looks like it was wrapped by a 5 year-old. It’s not that I don’t care, I just figure the gift inside is more important than the crazy tape job holding the whole thing together. I had a friend once who used to iron tissue paper so that when she re-used it, it still looked crisp and neat. I, on the other hand, have been known to use whatever crumply shreds of tissue paper I can find, stuffed into a gift bag that may or may not represent the occasion (ie a Christmas bag at birthday time). You can very easily convert a Christmas bag into a birthday bag by using a Sharpie to draw strings on the ornaments, thereby turning them into balloons. Huzzah!
The final crazy thing that happened on Friday was in a bathroom stall. I had hung my purse on the hook on the back of the door, which was lucky, because when I went to stand up, I lost my balance and went face first into my purse. I say lucky because I would much rather do a faceplant into a handbag than a hook. Maybe all this clumsiness is a sign that I should exercise more. Or maybe it’s a sign that I shouldn’t—can you imagine what trouble I’d get into trying to do Zumba?


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