Friday, December 19, 2008

The Corset Cover-up

One of the perks to my new job is a very steep discount on membership to a health club. I myself have never really been one for working out, the problem being that I don't like to sweat (I'm always worried it will cause me to break out, even though my skin has been under control). I like Pilates because it makes me feel strong, but it's expensive and I get bored doing the same workout all the time. So, I decided to start out with a one-week trial membership and see how things went.

I slipped into my tennis shoes and imagined them waking from an age-old slumber, much like the cartoon bullets that spring to life in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when Detective Eddie Valiant enlists their help in Toon Town after many years of disuse. These are the same gym shoes I got when I started working my very first retail job in high school, and tennis shoes were a required part of our uniform. I washed my face, filled up my water bottle and went up one floor to the cardio room.

It took some time for me to reacquaint myself with this land of nefarious contraptions designed to inflict non-sexual pain. First, I forgot to be mindful of which treadmill I chose, and didn't take into account what channel was playing on the TV, so I wound up watching ESPN meatheads digest the Sunday football game. I was too embarrassed to move, though, and stuck with it. The first half-mile was hard, not least because I was in front of a mirror and saw how awful I looked as I ran. After a mile, I switched to another machine, and then headed up to the weight room for part two of my workout.

Back in the day, I used to be very enthusiastic about weight lifting. I got a weight bench for my birthday one year, and even brought my barbells with me on family vacations. I credit the weightlifting I did in my years of early puberty as the reason why it's not very difficult for me to get my arms back into shape. But recently, my man was sitting next to me on the couch and said, "You look great in that dress, but you would be devastating with toned arms." At first I was offended, then felt sad because he was right. I had allowed my once-beautiful arms to lose their muscle tone, and was now determined to restore it. This I knew I could do, and was doing some curls on the weight bench when a large man came over to me and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was fine. He asked me again, and I told him I thought I was doing fine, but it seemed like he thought otherwise, so tell me what I'm doing wrong. He showed me the proper way to curl (how could I forget?!?) and then demonstrated to me how some of the machines worked.

Ever since that day, I have been in pain, but the pain feels good. My thighs scream at me when I sit down, and my calves share the sentiment. I went back two days later, and though I'm still sore, I like that I'm getting strong. I can already see a difference.

The thing I realized is that I had let myself go because, in a corset, I look great. I'm not fat, but I have gotten soft, which is not something I see when I'm laced and looking in a mirror. In a corset, my waist looks great and my tummy is flat. The shape of my legs doesn't matter much because my skirts generally fall below the knee, so I don't notice so much if they expand or contract. And I gave up on my butt a long time ago. However, none of this is any excuse for not taking care of my body. Even if I look good, that doesn't mean I have a healthy heart. Flexibility is important, and working out helps me feel less guilty if I eat poorly one meal.

My father was just diagnosed with diabetes, himself having once been a star athlete who later let himself go with the various stresses of life. Now he can't eat the way he'd like to because he's spent the last few years eating whatever he wants with no regard for his health. It's hard on him now having to make sudden, big changes, and it's hard on my mom as well. My corsets are great and I won't stop wearing them, but I also can't let them trick me into thinking I am healthier than I am.


katie said...

Yikes-- too bad about your father. Keep at the work outs, it feels good and you look even better.

Anonymous said...


I love Pilates but best of all for toning up, for me, is a power bar class. This way you get the weight training, and the aerobics, and the results make you feel fantastic.

It's hard work and it can certainly be painful - but it's a good pain.


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