I went to the gym last night. FOR 90 MINUTES.
Dan tricked me into attending an event at the New York Health & Racquet Club — the gym was lovely, the staff was fantastic, the event didn't lie to me, Dan did — and I spent over an hour at the mercy of a three very enthusiastic, intense instructors at the NYHR Whitehall location. I engaged my core. I struggled through drills. I sipped a little champagne. I also threw up.
Listen, it's not what you think. I worked out responsibly. I took breaks. When I saw spots, I stopped. I drank water. I did not throw up in the New York Health & Racquet Club. I threw up on my way home, on the sidewalk like a high school kid who gets drunk on White Russians at that bar in the East Village that keeps serving underage kids White Russians.
I threw up because I tried to smoke a cigarette.
Over the past month, I've gradually cut back. I smoke maybe six cigarettes a day which is a big deal considering I smoked a pack a day at the beginning of the year, but I still enjoy the act of smoking.
I like the slow burn singe that smokers think they can hear when a cigarette lights. I like the weight of the filter and the first inhale and the sense of peace and purpose that comes with a cigarette — the beginning and the end of it. I started smoking in college — to push myself through the more stubborn parts of my thesis. I work on life's little puzzles while I smoke — this line of copy, that line of iambic pentameter, this or that to do list or recipe or wicked plot for world domination. A cigarette is structure. It's a pause. It's a reprieve. It is not a bile puddle on the sidewalk.
I stepped out of the gym and into the night, completely sore and stiff and wobbly. Today, I am more aware of my body than I've been in months — so aware that I've been googling my rhomboids because my rhomboids hurt and I want to know why. I want to go back to the gym, even though I threw up and, quite possibly, because I threw up.
When smoking is an emotional or cerebral act, instead of a physical one, it's easier to ignore that you're ruining your body. You can make excuses. I can make excuses like I am a writer. I have a PROCESS and my PROCESS is nicotine. After four years of smoking, my body doesn't disagree with my bullshit excuses. But after over an hour of exercise after months and months of no exercise, my body was unimpressed with my excuses. The half-cigarette I choked down didn't taste like the creative process.
I could taste the poison.
Getting back to the gym was amazing, but not for the reasons I excepted. I did expect to confront my gym-related anxiety. I went in armed with a wing person and the perfectly sculpted blonde-haired Valkyrie of my fears were nowhere to be found. What I didn't expect was to confront the schism between my mind's and my body's dependence on nicotine. I didn't expect to find a new, alternate, and positive approach to kicking this smoking habit. When I'm not active, I enjoy smoking. When I work out, a cigarette feels like suffocation. It makes me LITERALLY feel like puking.
That's a win-win-vomit-win situation in my book.
Speaking of feeling suffocated — remember how I was all "I can wear any ol' thing to strap my tiny breasts down! I hate feeling confined by my clothing!"? Yeah, well, eight minutes of sprints got me reacquainted with my upper body. I need a good sports bra. Please be the best commenters ever and tell me where to go — Victoria Secret is already on the list — to find the best non-straight-jacket-y support that is also good for throwing up in.