I swallowed my pride and stuck my head into Lynn's office and said, "Can I talk to you?" He walked out of his office, we propped up elbows on the front desk, and I told him about the upcoming hiking trip. I told him about deciding to do my best to prep my body for the trip, and asked if he had suggestions. "Fix your quads. Fix your back. You're gonna use those on the trail more than you realize." Then he grinned, an evil grin that I've learned can only mean heavy physical exertion is about to be suggested, and pointed. "You know what you need, right?"

"Oh, God. What?"

"Stairmaster, honey. Start slow. It's gonna work your quads harder than the elliptical will, and your knees can take it." He stared for a second. "You've been off for a while, but you're still strong. Start on about level four. Don't do more than five minutes on your first day. Do the rest of your cardio on the elliptical machines you're used to. Start building up." He nodded. "But you know how to do that."

I did.

See, a confession: lots of aerobic machines make me nervous. I don't fit terribly well on most of them, what with absolutely nothing in the world being designed to fit those of us who are 5'1", but even more than that, I hate looking like an idiot. I'm the kind of person who will wait to try out a new machine until no one else is around, just so I've got the comfort of knowing that if I tump ass over teakettle, nobody but me saw me do it.

Deniability is nearly everything, and bribery covers the rest.

I'd been staring at that Stairmaster for two years but had never gotten on it. When I did, I gained a new respect for any person who did regular workouts on the thing. My quads lit up, registered a protest, and almost immediately went on strike.

I toughed out four minutes and was so glad to get back on the elliptical machine that I considered giving it a big, sloppy kiss.

Every day since, I've pushed myself a little harder. Another couple of minutes here, a few more pounds of weight on an exercise there. It will come. I have done this before. I am not a skinny girl, and I will likely never be a skinny girl, but I know that this body is capable of strength because I have proven it before.

My reward? The weekend after next, I'll buy myself the hiking socks I want at REI.

In the meantime, I can't move much tonight. Those quads? I wore them out. What they've got left right now could be euphemistically described as "nothing."

Tomorrow I'll get up and do it again.

I hadn't voiced exactly why I was doing this until I was talking with a couple of people at the gym today. I mentioned that I was going hiking on Memorial Day weekend, and that I was doing prep work for it. He smiled and nodded and said, "We don't do these things because they're easy. We do them precisely because they're hard, to prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing them."



Wow, I actually remembered my log in... Matt has gotten me on the evil stairs to nowhere before. Call me sick but I kinda like it, when my knee can take it :) It's also weird for me to call Lynn by his first name. He was a teacher at my school- I can't do that.

Good luck! I'd love to know what back exercises are recommended - curious to know which ones I've not been doing yet. And you'll feel SO much better after the hike, because you DID do it! That feeling of accomplishment is a fantastic natural high..