Last week I went to visit my parents in Tucson: the land where I become paralyzed to exercise and always gain a few pounds. Whenever I'm there, I can feel the inactivity creeping over me, like a straight jacket holding me down while someone shoves Eegee's down my throat. Okay, so the person feeding me the Eegee's is myself, but if you've ever had Eegee's and then lived away from Tucson and couldn't have them anymore, you would understand why that's something I don't stop myself from having the few times a year I'm there.
You know how songs and smells can bring you back to a specific time and place? I can never hear Crazy by Aerosmith without momentarily becoming my 13 year old self, riding my bike around the block with one of the girls that lived down the street, singing at the top of our lungs with our arms above our heads, the wind blowing through our hair, and feeling so cool... until I needed to grab the handlebars to keep from falling. I never completely got the hang of that hands-free thing. In the same way, there is a certain mixture of smells that, when duplicated, allow me to close my eyes and feel the presence of my beloved grandmother, if only for a moment. Those associations are strong. They're powerful. Magic, even.
But sometimes associations can have a negative affect. Let's go back to the year I moved to Tucson. I was 13, and had been playing soccer for years. I was good. I was in shape. I was a normal active kid. The week we moved, it was 117 degrees. That is a bit hotter than normal, but with temperatures regularly around 110 in the summer, you can imagine that the most appealing place to be was inside. Inside the refridgerator, that is! So my level of activity was still high at first, but it started declining pretty quickly. I joined an AYSO soccer team, and that turned out to be a joke. My coach regularly showed up to practice in heels and a mini skirt. It was like Soccer Coach Barbie. I wasn't being challenged, so I didn't improve. By the time I started high school and went out for the soccer team there a year later, I was already out of shape and too hot to stick it out, and I quit before the season had even officially started. That was the beginning of a lifestyle of laziness that certainly wasn't challenged when I gained 150 pounds over the following ten years. I moved back to California when I was 23, and it wasn't until I lived here again that I started exercising and eating healthfully. So the entire time I lived in Tucson, I was lazy and ate whatever I wanted. When I go back to visit, I have to fight the urge to act that way again. And the weather doesn't help. So yeah... bad association.
This trip, however, was wonderfully different. It probably helped that it was the end of October and cooler than those dreadful summer months, but there was also an element of exercise that I wish I could maintain all the time. I got to see my dear friend Courtney, whom I have loved beyond explanation ever since we first met during my sophomore/her freshman year of high school. We have always had the strongest bond, and we completely adore each other. She lives in Belgium half the year, and it is rare that we are in Tucson at the same time, but this happened to be one of those times, and I was so happy to be able to see her. It was an especially precious time, because in just a few months, she'll be having a baby girl, and I love getting to see the people that I love when they're pregnant.
Here we are my senior year.
We spent an evening together, shopping, eating dinner, talking, laughing, crying, and swimming in her amazing pool! We didn't keep track, because we were talking while we swam for quite some time, but Courtney estimated that we swam 80 to 90 laps. It was a wonderful workout, but the best part was the company and the fact that it didn't feel anything like a workout! If I could exercise with Courtney all the time, I would have already lost the remaining 60 pounds I want to lose! However, she is back in Belgium, and I am in LA. That makes exercising together quite difficult! But this inspired me to find workout partners. If exercising with a friend can beat the powers of association that make me lazy in Tucson, they can certainly kick butt here in LA where I like to be active!
Who wants to work out with me??