An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Three sets of ten

Jon and I have been members of a local gym since I was pregnant with Leta, and last week before I headed in to burn 40 minutes on the treadmill I asked one of the managers about personal training. Why? Because all I know how to do is cardio and a few biceps curls, and the result of all that work is my current figure. The one I’ve had since adolescence. The one that looks like a fancy, modern chair without back legs:

Do you see the part right there where the back of the chair curves and makes the seat? That’s my butt. It is perfectly inline with the top of my body. Or, as the kids might say, BABY DO NOT GOT BACK.

Interestingly, a lot of the weight I gained during my pregnancy with Marlo went straight to my butt, and here’s where I start to give you too much information. But that’s why you come here, right? You don’t come here to listen to me prattle on about health care reform or football or minestrone soup. No. You come here because I’m willing to tell you that while I did not get stretch marks on my stomach, I did grow A MAP OF ALL THE RIVERS IN SOUTH AMERICA on my butt. Because it went from not existing to suddenly I’ve got NASA calling concerned that certain satellites are veering toward Utah.

Anyway, the manager pointed me in the direction of a few personal trainers, and I exchanged email with one whom I met yesterday to see how we’d match up. And after realizing we’d been living parallel lives (see: thinking in childhood that the world might spin off its axis if we did not fast and pray hard enough) she had me perform what she called a “fitness test.” And when I heard the word TEST a certain part of my brain exploded, seized control of all rational parts of my brain, and the first thought that went through my head was, “If I do not ace this test we will all die alone and homeless.”

Pretty much the exact same thought I had every second of high school.

Now, I’m medicated, so I could see from the outside that this thought was ridiculous, but I could also see how awesome it would be if I came away from this being The Valedictorian of Fitness Tests.

Oh, yes. This trainer would talk to the other trainers and say, wow, you should have seen this Armstrong woman. I had to make up a new grade because A++ just doesn’t describe how well she aced this test. And then I would give a speech at fitness graduation, and in the middle of it I’d flex my forearm, grunt and chest bump the podium.

Except, I’ve worked out maybe twice since Marlo’s birth, and while I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight (thank you, Grandpa Hamilton’s genes) I am not at all fit in any sense of the word. I might be able to bench press a wine bottle, but only if Jon is spotting me. And even then I have to take a nap from all the exhaustion.

So she had me do as many sit-ups as I could do in one minute, and since this was the first part of the test I had no problem. Well, no problem until about the 37-second mark when my abs started revolting and screaming MUTINY! MUTINY! Aim straight for her giant forehead!

And then right away I had to do as many push-ups as I could in one minute. People, on a really good day I can do eight proper push-ups, maybe fifteen if I’m cheating and using my knees. And I haven’t even attempted a push-up since the fall of 2008 before I got pregnant with Marlo. So you will understand that it was no small feat that I did almost 50 (FIFTY!) push-ups cheating with my knees in only 60 seconds. And it will make sense that my arms immediately detached from my body and started hitting me in the face.

Off to assisted pull-ups, then a session of balancing on one of those insane BOSU balls, and then some twisted half-on, half-off the ball maneuver with a weight in one hand magic trick, and I looked down and every muscle in my body was shaking. Like I was being electrocuted. A giant blonde noodle wriggling like a worm. Thank God for this haircut, because I’ve always wanted to look like a lemon-flavored Blow Pop having a seizure.

My instructions then were to keep a journal of my diet and a record of how I was feeling physically. She said that this kind of workout affects the body differently than one that concentrates mostly on weightlifting, and that I might start to feel soreness in several parts of my body. So I came home, opened the door, and then collapsed face-first onto the floor. I asked Jon to write on a piece of paper: ABLE TO INSPECT THE COTTON WEAVE IN THE CARPET.

The rest of the day looked like this:

Soreness in shoulders.

Wait, make that: soreness in thighs.

Wait, I can’t identify where that soreness is OH, MY CHEST. IT BURNS.









Did you know that in order to open any sort of bottle that you have to use the muscles right on the side of your armpit? I discovered this when I couldn’t open a bottle of Advil by myself. Because my armpit was paralyzed. I hope scientists are paying attention because I JUST DID ALL THEIR WORK FOR THEM.

Today’s lesson: A C- would have perfectly acceptable.

  • Bargain Junkie

    I work out at home. It’s cheaper than a gym, plus I don’t have to be exposed to all those Size Two twenty-somethings jabbering about the latest fad diet.

    I picked up a mat and some weights, and I start every day by doing one of the many workout tapes I buy at yard sales for fifty cents. I’ve got everything from 10-Minute Abs to vintage Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons videos.

    I also have a few Yoga DVDs. I like the gentle spinal stretches and the soothing chants. During the guided relaxation, I am able to reach a true meditative state – if snoring with your mouth open while spittle runs down your chin can be called a true meditative state

  • mosaicmama

    WTF … LMAO at yellow-flavored in my earlier post and dumbass typos.

  • girlvaughn

    you can do EIGHT push-ups on a good day?? Damn. I can BARELY do two.

    Going to the gym has been on my to do list all year (this is day #19 of saying “tomorrow”) I need to make that happen. Eight push-ups by year end is my new goal.


    So you were trying to add ass or subtract it? Bossy hates math on a test.

  • CataclysmicStar

    I had something very similar happen to me recently. I joined some free website called to work out at home. I figured it was the kind of thing I could do because I could set the number of reps, there were directions to modify each workout, etc, and it’s RUN BY A KARATE STUDIO. So obviously it should be a good workout, right? And I’d be able to do it, right?

    400 some odd random reps of five or so different exercises and this 342 lb woman is DYING. Seriously. I thought my world was going to end – and to make things worse, I had JUST gotten over hurting my back thanks to doing a bunch of crunches (read: 50) improperly.

    For like a week, I could not do SHIT with my right arm. Literally, I don’t think I could’ve shat straight if I wanted to, because somehow that was connected to my arm.

    Whoda thunk it.

  • lizlin

    Ok… so I don’t want to take pleasure in anyone else’s pain… but I am SO happy that someone else got the rivers-in-Africa on their butt! Nothin on the belly, FLUORESCENT RED butt stretch marks. Now I know why love has to be blind.

  • aliceone

    This driven, competitive, need-to-achieve mentality sounds very familiar…

    I did a workout recently that left me unable to stand or sit without making a terrible groaning/scream. And it was only a half-effort as I had to fall most of the way.
    It all just makes me wonder what drugs they have those people on on The Biggest Loser.

  • uglydeb

    not to worry, SISTAH! my guys are 24 and 26 and I’m still seeing BABY FAT here and there……………and am HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!! carry on………

  • MeMyselfandMommy

    I danced my entire life. I could dance for hours without a problem. However, when it came to PE (running, pull ups etc) I would die. Right there in the middle of the gym, I would die.

    However, nothing was as bad as the week that a dance instructor from University of Hell (I mean South Carolina) came to town for week. She is crazy. Insane. Out-of-her-mind. She made us do this stuff called “ballet floor-bar.” Sounds easy right? You just lay there on the floor, no big deal. WRONG. It’s the most intense workout I’ve ever done. Once you get down on the floor, you never get back up. I could not brush my teeth without crying for a week.

  • dkmissie

    It will get better.Really it will but I need to stop reading while drinking my morning coffee.You always make me lmao

  • mrspooley

    I laughed so hard I cried. Oh, oh, whew. Yup, finally got my breath back. I must hear more of this ‘fitness’ you speak of. 🙂

  • MaryJoRs

    My favorite part of reading this post about health and fitness? Was the McDonald’s Mac Snack Wrap ad on the side, those bitches are good! LOL

  • eliesheva

    “…and while I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight… I am not at all fit in any sense of the word…”

    yeah, I’m there too. it’s post-pregnancy weight loss purgatory.

  • tinha

    At least you still could sit to pee.
    Believe me, wait until you start working out that butt.

  • TeppieRe

    I thought I was the only person who had that reaction to tests. I am not alone in my neurosis. Woohoo! Sorry you got such a rough lesson in learning that a C- would’ve been okay. Owwww.

  • Hagan Squared

    I am trying to contain the laughter. This sounded EXACTLY like my first visit with a personal trainer. It hurt to do anything and the 2nd day is always the worst by far. I actually started up again last week after a 3 month hiatus (I was only going once a month) and holy shitballs. 2nd training session was last night and I am already sore as hell. Wait until they do a circuit training session, Oh Oh or Tabata! I did THX last night which is pretty much using your body weight for resistance. The agony!

  • marialoo

    @tinha, you’re right! Holding on for dear life to whatever is closest to the toilet, including the seat, in order to lower yourself onto it without having to use your leg and butt muscles…so painful!

  • reelmomof4

    Oh my goodness that was one of the funniest posts! Sorry for your pain though!

  • missusclark

    Last spring, my husband and I finally got to have a proper honeymoon in Paris. The day we celebrated our 6th anniversary, we climbed the north tower of Notre Dame, ’cause I’ve always wanted to see the cute gargoyles.

    400 hundred worn stone steps circling up, counterclockwise. No lift.

    By the time I climbed down, my legs had “gone Elvis.” I was shaking so badly I thought I would face plant. I had to crawl to the nearest cafe and medicate myself with a carafe of dry Provencal rose.

    At least you were going for self improvement. I was just sightseeing…..

  • TexasKatie

    I know how you feel. My husband, who used to be a personal trainer, kicked my ASS at the gym last week. I was crying for days because I hurt so bad. It definitely does get easier, though!

  • msanth120

    Laughing so hard that people are walking by my office and looking in! One hour and counting to the gym….

  • AllThe.StarsAreMine

    “I might be able to bench press a wine bottle, but only if Jon is spotting me.”

    I almost spit out my new chocolate cheerios all over my keyboard!

  • lisdom

    Dude, this is going to be me in a week. I just got a gym membership yesterday. Like you, I might be thin(ish) but I am nowhere near “fit.” Anyway, the gym let’s new members spend an hour w/a personal trainer to get us on some kind of a system. I’m scared.

  • Mich71

    try taking an epsom salt bath to help with the soreness

    all the best

  • medwards

    LOL!!! I too am slim but not fit. We’ve been having some real issues with our 16 year old son the last three months (drug experimentation, etc.) and the last thing I have wanted to do was go back to the gym. But my doctor told me that if I wanted to live long enough to see my 4 year old daughter graduate high school I better get my butt up and start moving. For the record I’m fast approaching my 49th birthday. So I go back to the gym and do a few workouts only to find the next day that I can’t even roll myself out of bed. Not to mention that the daughter wants to be picked up. No way there for at least another year. Don’t you hate it when your body refuses to move at all.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one torturing myself..:)

  • Mommy 2 Bears

    Amen. When my calf muscles start to contract into interesting shapes or heaven help us faces of agony it’s time to stop.

  • Parsing Nonsense

    I have absolutely no doubt that when I am done incubating this baby that I will try to do a push-up and resemble nothing so much as Neo when he wakes up from the Matrix for the first time, covered in goo and unable to hold his neck up.

  • Roo8382

    Because I’m a competitive over-achiever (Hi! Am in the right place?!), I was like OH MY GOD I CAN’T EVEN DO ONE PUSH-UP while reading the post! And then I was thinking Heather has personal trainer, maybe I should get one too? Only I am completely embarrassed about my lack of fitness. I can do cardio until the cows come home but that BOSU ball scares the shit out of me.

    Oh god, the neurosis is overwhelming me! Off to see what the YMCA has to offer in the way of personal trainers. Thanks, Heather!

  • sarahhawley

    I’m with the others – eight pushups on a good day would be a miracle for me. And, so sad that the Advil top requires the same muscles that are currently dead. God has a mean sense of humor.

  • Shamelessly Sassy

    I’m on day 3 of p90x in an attempt to make my ass look like a baby pumpkin, and, well…I feel as if I’ve been the subject of a 20 member gang raping. I honestly hurt as if 20 crips took turns with me while waving those damn navy bandanas around as a sign of victory. However, in spite of it, I feel like it’s working and lots of my friends have seen amazing results. So should the trainer thing go awry, you could always give it a whirl.

  • CeliaJean

    And you’re going to pay with actual cash for this?
    I once tried a pull up, broke the door behind me…sounds like you’re going to be fine…later ;p

  • Linka72

    As a black woman, I always found it funny that some caucasian women are absolutely HORRIFIED at the thought of having a big ass. My jusband said it took a lot for him to contunue dating me because mine WASN’T as big as he liked..haha.
    Thankfully, my ass got bigger and he kept me – oh, the love.

  • Roo8382


    I want the big ass! I have flat butt now and it’s doing nothing for me. It’s wide, but flat. My husband doesn’t care, but I want the bubble butt. Squats, here I come!

  • mommica

    I had an ass – a nice one, if I do say so myself – before I had my daughter. It went away, along with all the pregnancy weight. I suppose I should be grateful for that, except that along with my weight and my ass went my boobs and any resistance to gravity. What. So. Ever.

  • heymamas

    This post was hysterical. I was laughing out loud and my husband was looking at me like I was a total idiot.

    He asked, “how can someone make you laugh like that?”

    And I was like, “You just don’t know how funny she is, I find her humor really funny.”

    Sadie at heymamas

  • maryannplus4

    It is not a forehead….we are cursed with the giant “forehead” in our home too. Unfortunately, both my sons acquired it. We lovingly called it the “fivehead” instead of forehead 🙂 Hope you feel better soon 🙂

  • Greta Koenigin

    Welcome to Sisterhood of C- Achievers. We’re happy to have you. Hope you’ll join us in the back of the class (with all the stoners). No one will even NOTICE that you didn’t read Johnny Tremain.

  • Andie10

    I admire your dedication, Dooce! I haven’t lifted as much as a can of peas and a gallon of milk since my little guy was born. I really need to get back in the groove!

  • mybottlesup

    thank you for reminding me why i have no hips, a pancake ass and refuse to work out.

    ps- one of my word verification words was “torah.” are you using religious subliminal messages in your posts now?

  • Pagooey

    I took a balance-ball cardio class once that included a bunch of push-ups, draped over the ball so that it was supporting your weight? So easy! I did those pushups like a machine! Then the next day I could not lift utensils to my face to feed myself, so I suppose the fasting was an additional weight-loss benefit.

    I’ve since been working with a trainer. The first time she put me on the BOSU ball, I wobbled and wiggled and strained for balance with such concentration that…I farted. Quite loudly. Then of course I fell off from laughing.

  • Geege

    I believe you’ve found the statement for next months masthead:

    “A lemon-flavored Blow Pop having a seizure”

    As always, incredible.

  • kitchenbeard

    On chest day, my work out partner likes to push me as hard as my body will go and then make me do push ups when there is no energy left in my pecs. He then gets down on the floor and laughs at me and watches as I use every other muscle in my body to try and do them, usually to no avail.

    Thats when he calls me Catepillar. I hate him at that moment.

    But then a week later I see myself in the mirror and tell him thank you, do it again.

  • kitt

    There are so many reasons why I enjoy your site, Heather, and this post is but one. Thanks for sharing your first step in your journey back to fitness.

  • Katie Peek

    Sometimes you make me laugh out loud even though it’s embarrassing, and for a really long time — extended laughing out loud. Thanks.

  • Beatrix

    Actually I think it was irresponsible of the trainer to give you that test. What? They can’t figure out during the first session what your limits are? You should be a bit sore after working out with a trainer, but you could have seriously injured yourself. Or, er, somewhat injured yourself.

    But since it’s too late, my only advice for future workouts is to ice the areas you think may be sore. Helps the swelling and the pain a lot.

  • CAKris

    I died laughing reading your post. I once tried to do a chin up at the playground with my daughter. I have no idea why. But I proceeded to pull all the muscles in my chest. It felt like I had been run over by a car. And to make it worse, I had to get my first mammogram the next day. I could hardly move. What a dork.

  • maggie17

    Oh my GOD that made for a good laugh. Thank you. I had not been on here in awhile and it was such a treat to come find so many new posts and pictures. The imagery in your writing. It’s priceless. Keep it up as long as you can. Please. I need to know it’s always here.

  • Lizzy

    After each of my marathons, I’ve felt the way you do now. Stairs are the worst and can only be managed by going down backwards: tricky when one is carrying a squirming child.

    For a visual of my pain:

  • Alyxmyself

    Okay here’s the voodoo. I am surprised none of the other personal trainers here have mentioned it.

    Extreme muscle soreness is caused by lactic acid build-up and is preventable. Just intersperse the strength training with 30 SECOND bursts of high intensity excercise. 4-5 times per session.

    Its a well kept secret kids. I have no earthly clue as to why, either.

    FMI search: HIIT, plyometrics, cross training.

    Heather I have been here since the beginning of Dooce and just love you and the fam.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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