The Dangers of Self Flagellating With Grocery Bags

I still think I'm in good shape, despite the fact that about four years ago, after walking 10 miles, I got so tired and dehydrated that I passed out at my favorite pizza place.

Dec 2, 2011 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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The last time I did something like this I fainted, in a pizza place. But I just can't stop. 

I've got some issues when it comes to boundaries and limits as they relate to my own dysmorphic dillusions of grandeur. Basically I think I'm Super Woman. Waaaay stronger than my size 4 "skinny fat" frame would ever suggest.

Because of my pre-20s athleticism, I believe I can coast through life on "muscle memory" alone. That all those push ups and plies from a million years ago have been stored in my body bank, giving me a lifetime of interest as far as looking good goes. You know like how the stock market works or whatever but for your butt instead of your bank account. 

All that is to say that I still think I'm in good shape. Despite the fact that about four years ago, after walking 10 miles in puffy coat when it was 60 degrees outside, I got so tired and dehydrated that I passed out in a room filled with to-go boxes.

All I remember was the brunette behind me screaming, "No no no no" just as I was reaching into my wallet to pay for a delicious personal pizza, which they charged me for after getting off the phone with 911. 

My mom demanded that I go see a doctor. One expensive EKG later, it was determined that I'd been tired and hot. My primary care provider also wanted to know why I didn't know how to take care of myself.

"Don't you know it's dangerous to walk that far with a heavy laptop bag in the heat?" 

I told her I did know. What I didn't tell her was that I'd known the entire time I was trucking it from my job in Virginia to my "bat cave" in Washington (read: basement apartment).

I knew it was a bad idea. My sweat, my aching shoulder, my dry mouth told me. But I pressed on. Why? Because I deserved the pain. 

I deserved whatever punishment my body decided to dole out. I'd neglected it for so long. Only every once in a while deciding to push it to its limits. Limits that had been drastically lowered in the years since my last rehearsal.

I'd been playing fast and loose with the limbo stick of my abilities for too long. So I fainted. In my favorite pizza place. Because I wanted to prove something.

That was a few years ago and I still haven't done anything about my on-again off-again affair with Zumba and my baby FUPA. But I am still committed to the addiction of feeling strong. Case in point: Carrying groceries. 

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Due to my cashier's black belt bagging skills, this might not look like a lot to you. But let me run down the list of shit in these bad boys: A half gallon of orange juice, a half gallon of lemonade, a bottle of champagne, a small turkey-sized chicken, onions, oranges, avocadoes, tomatoes, potatoes, a huge thing of Listerine. The list goes on but you get it.

I'll guesstimate I had about 50 -60 pounds worth of stuff and that's counting the running shoes I bought earlier in the day and the wooden tray I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

When I got to the sliding doors of my local Safeway, I realized what trouble I was in. About half a mile stood between my non-push-cart having behind and my kitchen counter. 

Moving with caution -- three bags on each arm, the tray slung across my back, the bottle in my stupidly big empty purse -- I made my way home. Visions of me at six, demanding to carry a bag myself after visits to the grocery store with my mom, danced through my throbbing head.

I took a break after Block One. Another one after Block One and A Half. My shoulders ached. My arms felt like they were going to snap clean off at the elbow. My fingers burned the bright red usually reserved for fire trucks and drunk white girl cheeks. 

By Block Three, I stopped at the local "bodega" (in quotes because it's run by a Ethiopian family and I don't know what they call it in Amharic) in the hopes that they sold carts. The cashier pointed me to another store two blocks out of my way and I couldn't do it. 

A previously parked cab turned it's "available" light on a block ahead of me. I grabbed my stuff and tried to make it before he pulled away, praying with every step that this wasn't a mirage. He peeled out just as I yelled, "Excuse me." A very nice hipster tried to stop him for me but it was too late.

"Sorry," he said, taking in Bag Lady Helena. He didn't offer to help though. 

Halfway home I kept envisioning how women of the third world carry tons of water and whatnot on their heads for miles. No I didn't try to balance the bags up there. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it.

I did, however, Jerry-rig a system where I crossed my arms in front of my body and then hung the bags from my forearms, using my core strength to propel me forward. Yes, this sounds ridiculous.

Twenty minutes later I kicked open my front door with a triumphant Dean Scream. My shoulders were destroyed, there were welts on my arms. But I felt like a god damn champion.

It's the little things, you know. The things that make you feel like you can "take back the White House! YEAHRGH!" And thankfully this time I didn't faint, or throw up or bloody myself. Because that's all happened before. 

This time however, was sort of different. I actually want to feel like a rock star more often and I don't want to spend $100 at the grocery store to do it. My new plan is to actually start working out again. To stop periodically (and somewhat idiotically) punishing myself for not being in my best shape and just get into it. 

Next up: running. Wait, how does one get into that, exactly?