I joined a new gym a few days after Christmas because I needed a workout makeover.
The gym offered workout sessions with personal trainers to lure new members.
Eager to rock my resolutions, I signed up for the personal training sessions
before the New Year even arrived.
With pen and paper, my trainer, Irene, asked me about my goals, my health, and my stress levels.
“How would you rank your stress on a scale from one to ten?””
“I don’t have any stress,” I told her without pause.
“Okay,” she said without pressing me further, “no stress .”
“Nope, no stress,” I confirmed.
As we continued to plot out my fitness plan, my “no-stress” answer bounced back and forth in my head like a ball in a fast-paced tennis game.
Did I just casually tell Irene I have no stress?
Really, no stress?
How could I be totally stress-free?
My life is full of stress potential.
I must have been enjoying the Christmas after-glow.
But the very idea that I could live without stress felt so liberating that I wanted to hang on to it and be the calm, collected woman I was at that unique moment.
I enjoy believing that I am cool-headed and relaxed.
Oh, I have my stress inducers.
I just don’t want them to get the best of me.
I have a challenging public affairs church assignment that could produce stress, but I choose to view it as an opportunity to learn, interact with brilliant people, and do what I’ve been trained to do.
When I re-frame it like that, the stress abates.
And then there’s the gym membership, the trainer, the workouts and the dreaded weight scale every Monday morning that never shows any progress.
That is the mother of all stress for me.
But, instead of taking a sledgehammer to the scale in a fit of rage I think about how hard I’m working to take care of myself.
Taking care of myself should reduce stress not cause it.
So, bye-bye stress, you’re not welcome here, even though I usually
let you cause havoc on me in this area.
But now that I am a stress-free woman or at least a decent stress manager, I don’t have time for body image issues, so I just keep trying to keep a healthy perspective on it.
I tell myself I’m in the game. I’m working hard. I like sweat and movement and sore muscles. Uh-ha, I do.
This reminds me of bike riding with my mom one summer when a vicious dog raced toward us, and barked and snapped menacingly at her leg.
She pushed the dog away with her foot, and snapped, “For hell’s sake, I don’t have time for you today, so leave me alone!”
It shocked me that the dog turned around and left, and we pedaled on down the road.
If my mom can command a dog to leave her alone because she doesn’t have time for it, I can put stress in its place.
A finished memoir sits a few inches away from me on my desk.
A steep learning curve stands between me, and an agent and a publisher.
Other writers recommend self-publishing because it’s next to impossible to get an agent’s attention in today’s publishing world.
They say if you’re lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, it takes years to get a book to press, and then, you still have to market the book yourself.
Big potential stress here.
I’ve spent years on this project, do I really want to xerox a few copies for my friends and family and then be done with it?
Book stress looms over me.
Following my mom’s lead, I look a the stress, tell it I don’t have time for it today, and press on, trying to research agents and contacting everybody I know with a connection to the publishing world.
So to keep myself in the stress-free mindset, I pretend I’m taking a multiple-choice test that asks, “What causes you stress?”
- Your new church assignments
- No results at the gym
- Unpublished book
- All of the Above
- None of the Above
I’ll take E please, none of the above.
All of the things packed with potential stress are also packed with potential excitement, learning, and fun.
So I’m choosing to say no-thank-you to stress, even at the gym with my so-far not very successful new gym makeover program.
I need this no-stress/tame-the-saboteur attitude to work for me.
I just hope that I’m not packing my stress into a bottle rocket that will eventually soar way past level 10 on the stress scale because then I have to go back to Irene and say, “Remember when I said I have no stress?”
She will laugh and say, “I knew it couldn’t be true.”
And I will feel silly and defeated because I let stress suck all the fun out of everything in my life that I actually enjoy, even the workouts at the gym.