One very good thing I continued to do during the slow and painful transition from badly married to church-approved (with papers!) Single again was go to the gym. For a while there, that meant both gyms: the YMCA and the boxing club. Boxing and I parted ways, eventually, but I kept on going to the Y. And great was my joy when I went back to university and discovered that the use of both of the two big gyms was covered by my tuition. I went with the bigger one, the one Olympic athletes train in. Then I worked out an hour a day, every second day: half an hour on the treadmill or the step machine, and half an hour with the weights and weight machine. When I tired of the shenanigans of immature undergrads, I took advantage of the Women-Only hours. Generally it was me and the Muslim girls. Peace at last.
Sadly, when I went to Boston to do my PhD, I discovered that graduate students had to pay hefty fees to use the college gym. So I joined a commercial gym relatively nearby, but somehow--what with the weather being as cold as it was, and it not really fitting into my schedule, and not being able to make ends meet--I stopped going. I also gave up on ten (goodness!) years of low-fat habits and used Ben & Jerry's ice-cream as an anti-depressant until I dropped out of the PhD and my doctor put me on the real thing
Oh, my pills! I loved them. I got so much done. Listen, I love anti-depressants. Before I went on them, I was like, "Oh, I don't want to lose my personality, weep, weep" but afterwards, I was like "I love you, little pills!"
When I got engaged to B.A. the first thing the various doctors in my life said was to get off the little pills because there are few things worse for little baby brains--should you get pregnant--than my friends the pills. You have to give them up as soon as you get engaged, so that they can gradually leave your system. And at the time I gave them up without a care because B.A. is an anti-depressant in himself.
However, melancholy is the writer's lot, and I also have Nerves on top of it, and the practically pharmaceutical nature of falling in love wears off after three years, so B.A. and I decided that this time I really should go back to a gym and stick to an exercise regimen. So I have.
From failed experiments in this direction, we have learned that the most important aspect of a gym is that it be within a twenty minute walk of our house. After that it is important that the gym has everything I like--treadmill, row-machine, standing weights, free weights and stoical men who are serious about working out and so barely notice if women are around. Then it has to be affordable, which was a bit of a poser re: nearest gym until I discovered that it has a special, lower fee for those who come in only between 9 and 4. Yay!
One thing I noticed the first time I worked out in this gym is how mad my upper back was when I did chest flies. It shrieked a bit. I wondered why the heck that was, and I suspect it was from being at the computer for hours and hours a day. Fortunately, it is better now, or at least beaten into submission by the new exercise regimen formulated for me by an immensely wiry Scottish trainer.
Since I was Single for most of my serious gym-rat days, I was reminded of those days today, and it occurred to me that I would have been a lot worse off mentally, not to mention physically, if I had not worked out so much.
So today's Auntie Seraphic advice, keeping in mind that Auntie Seraphic is not a doctor, is to think about joining a gym, if you do not belong to one already. If money is an issue, see how much it costs to use your college gym or if the local YMCA has a sliding scale. Not to get all socialist here, but if governments were serious about universal health care, they would subsidize gym memberships and slap warning labels on chip shops, pie shops and burger joints. As a friend of mine with the Ministry of Health used to say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."