What you are and are not given

(For Nikki, who is not giving up either.)

It’s no fun anymore.

Starting working out is always great. You go from zero to YES I CAN DEADLIFT A HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE POUNDS and you feel awesome and you feel like there’s always a little more you can give, working out. You’re tired, you’re sore but it goes away and then you jump back in and make this great progress, great effort.

It’s wonderful to start anything, for just those reasons.

Embarking on a knitting project, with a skein full of promise and a pattern and you’re not at the twenty seventh repeat of the lace section yet, and you haven’t had to tink back to that one problem spot with the black hole a stitch keeps disappearing into, ten times.

It’s not fun anymore.

I had some great PRs last week, felt great about myself and working out, and while I’m not going to be thin from this, it’s not my goal, my double chin has all but disappeared and I’m getting some nice, nice lines.

This week?

Well, this week is crap. The honeymoon is over. I’m tired, sore everywhere, I’m having constant “wait, why am I doing this again?” moments, I’m sick of working out and that part of my brain made of giveup is saying “fuck this, this accomplishes very little. You’re too busy for this crap. Stop.”


Some days everything is a struggle. Both my back tires are mostly flat, there’s seven different plumbing issues in my house and one of them is leaking water through the bathroom floor down into my dye studio. Warm weather has brought ants. My wee grey cat still has PTSD from his 45 mile escape march and will still barely tolerate being petted.

My truck’s making “185K miles is too much, you know what happens next” noises.

Everything’s stressing me out.

The gas station guy takes my credit card for the gas and tells me I have to pay seventy-five cents for air. In a snippy tone. I tell him I don’t have seventy five cents. Equally snippy.

I go over to the convenience store to get some cash and break a twenty. So I can put air in my flat tires. I get up to the counter with my twenty dollar bill and my coffee cup and the guy says “no charge for readheads.”


“No charge for redheads.”

I stand there staring blankly at the cup of coffee, and look up at him again.

“Okay, I lied, it’s free coffee day. Special promotion this week. No charge.”

“Can I get change for this twenty?”


I thank him for my free coffee and go over back to the gas station, where the guy asks me “you have seventy five cents?” and I say “yeah, I’ve got seventy five cents” with the “fucking” part of it clear in my tone.

I go over and he wants to know if I can do it myself, in fact wants to know “do you know how?” which only pisses me off more because yeah, I can put air in my tire, in fact I can change a goddamn tire and spark plugs and oil and air filters and a gap the plugs and a bunch of other stuff, all by my little redheaded self.

When I fail to get air in the tires, he does it for me.

He makes another customer wait, while he carefully checks and fills all my tires.


So I got on board for this 5000 pushups by May 1 challenge. Pushups are one of the things I can do, or I thought I could do until I started this. I’m fat and out of shape – less so now, but still, let’s be realistic, I have a ways to go – but somehow my small stout physiology makes pushups easy, and I have wide strong shoulders so I confidently said YEAH I AM ALL OVER THIS and then goaded everyone around me to also join.

It’s fucked.


I’m super sore, I hate pushups now, it’s no longer fun and I no longer feel like the Pushup Queen What Can Do Pushups til Armageddon.

This is Armageddon. I wake up dreading pushups, and I’m only three days into the challenge.

This is the quit moment. This is where friends go “yeah, I wouldn’t do that, it’s not good for you.” Or “why would you do that? You’re just asking for a repetitive injury.” Or they roll their eyes. I think other people on the site are even dubious.

There’s a few things that save me.

Two other women doing it, who can kick my ass with one hand tied behind their backs and who are not allowing me to do this alone, which I might actually fear more than failure. I also look at the sets they log – more, faster than I could dream of doing right now – and I realize, as much as I think I’m giving here, as much as I think I’m doing, there is still more.

The other thing keeping me in it is that it’s important to finish. Finish school, finish an agility test, finish the knitting project, finish a challenge you arguably should never have started. Because the cost of failure, that psychological cost of giving up is just too fucking high. We lose a million battles in our heads, every day. We yield, too often to what is comfortable and easy. I do. I’ve failed so many goddamn agilities simply because I failed to fucking dig deep enough. I’ve failed a lot in life, on that account.

Pushups are stupid. I mean, really.


And I’m not done yet. Not by half.


I looked for any sign, on the store. Any signs that said “FREE COFFEE THIS WEEK! ALL WEEK!’ or “COME ON IN FOR FREE COFFEE” or even “FREE COFFEE FOR WIDE SHOULDERED GIRLS WITH RED HAIR!”

There were none.

11 thoughts on “What you are and are not given

  1. Do please hang in there, Kate. People are really rooting for you. I was really sick of the PUs yesterday but it’s getting easier and better today. You WILL see progress, and even before you see any, you’ll be reminded that your encouragement to someone else is helping them dig deeper as well.

    • You guys are making a hard thing a lot easier. πŸ˜€ Glad today is going better for you, I’m kind of feeling the same although we’ll see how the rest of the pushups go now I’ve played hockey. LOL Seriously though, you guys are awesome. Hardcore awesome.

  2. Since I promised my doctor, yes, ma’am, I will walk 15 minutes three times a week on Monday, and have yet to accomplish that task (Oh, look, the sky is spitting! I can’t walk!) I now feel an incompetent sloth, even though I worked two hours in the garden both days.

    GO YOU.

    (It almost makes me want to join you. Except my self-preservation has just kicked in and overridden my desire for upper arm definition.)

  3. I couldn’t possibly kick your ass. I mean, seriously… You play hockey! I was only Army, I’m not half as tough and crazy as you. πŸ™‚

    Peace, love and ibuprofen, in whatever order you require.

  4. As someone who’s going through a “what the hell am I doing this for” phase in my own workouts, I can only tell you I relate. What I have learned over time is that these existential crises come at a time when goals need updating, reframing. As we like to say down at my gym (and to quote some guy): Move, and the way will open.

    You’re doing it all in spades, starting by writing it all out.

    And uh. That’s a lot of push ups.

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