Grace took one look at her client (me) and knew Something Was Up.

Generally I’m obnoxiously cheerful. Ready to get to whatever “stabilizing muscle” hell she’s dreamed up in her combo world of Pilates and a vast ballet background.

Not today. Today I refused to get out of the chair in the waiting area at Body Dynamics. “Whatever you had planned for today, I’m revising it,” I said like a dictatorial The Devil Wore Prada-style bitch. “I’m TOO TIRED for that. And I have things *I* want to work on.”

“What’s up?” she said, sitting down next to me.

Out it all came – every reason for feeling worn down and demoralized. (Not every reason; I left off needing to rewrite the novel and the fact that the expensive cheese was molding in the fridge.)

“My ankles don’t flex enough. My knees don’t bend enough. I run too slowly and my strides are too long. I’m tired. Mentally and physically.”

“Let’s take a walk,” she said. Grace is a superb trainer.

Off we went into a beautiful fall day, while I vomited forth gripes and complaints all over a sunny, sweet-tempered, lovely woman. “And my right HIP FLEXOR is killing me. And my LEFT CALF feels like it’s got something in there. And I don’t want to run three times a week. And I don’t want to run faster. And I don’t want to have more beats per minute. I feel like I’m not making any progress; things are just getting harder. WAAAAAAAAH.”

She let me vent for a while, making deliciously soothing noises. What she heard – that I feel like I’m not making any progress and things are getting harder – was, in fact, exactly the most important part of my pouty client temper tantrum.

“You feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole.”

“EXACTLY!!” I was standing on a sunny suburban street jumping up and down in excitement. (Well, not ACTUALLY jumping; see above, re: right hip flexor; left calf.) “Whack-a-mole! Every time we beat one issue down, another one pops up!”

“Okay,” she said. “That’s a matter of perception. You’ve made huge progress; you’re just not seeing it. And everything we’re doing is what you need to do to make the next leap. Ankle flexibility. Knee flexibility. Cardio conditioning. Think about why you want to run.”

“I don’t want to run,” I said petulantly. “I never want to run again.”

Grace is going to be a great mother. She flipped that particular dinner table right over. “All right. There are other ways to get to cardio fitness. We can do it on the elliptical.”

Damn it. She offered no resistance. I was left having to defend the concept of running to her, when mere nano-seconds before, I was The Rebellion.

“You want to be fit,” she went on. “You want to age in health. You want to face up to your weaknesses and fears.” (She didn’t say that; I said that to her and she smiled knowingly.) “So you run. We’re doing everything right to get you there. Stay the course. Don’t change anything yet. Wait until Barbara comes back from vacation and then we’ll discuss all of this with her.”

I flashed on the great post my friend Eleanor Harvey put on Facebook, a quote from the street artist Banksy who apparently said “When you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

Shit. I wasn’t going to be allowed to quit, even though I was whining as annoyingly as I knew how. And after a lifetime of training, too.

“All right,” I said grumpily. “But I think I’m not going to run on Friday.”

“Okay,” Grace said. “That’s fine.”

Then she put me on a GTS machine and made me stretch my hip flexors, and she draped me over a foam roller to work at my calves, and she jollied and bullied and coerced and entertained me through a partial workout. I came in determined to NOT break a sweat and she snuck a sweat onto me. Sneaky.

Those gurus are really good at Body Dynamics!

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 2.07.40 PM

I was draped over the foam roller and tiny Grace was leaning all her weight into my hip flexor to force it to surrender when one of the other trainers appeared before us. “I saw you running yesterday,” Bobby said to me with a smile the size of Montana. “It was really great to see. You’re really doing well!”

I rounded on Grace. “Did you tell him to say that?!”


I was left gape-jawed, staring at Bobby. He looked mildly concerned; what madness had his kind compliment caused in the mind of an insane client? “I’m having such a bad day,” I confessed. “I feel like I’m making no progress at all.”

He laughed. “You’re making progress. Trust me!”

Okay. I will!



2 thoughts on “Whack-a-Mole

  1. I get the whack-a-mole feelings, but how great that you have made enough progress that it is visible to outsiders. I am still waiting for someone to say to me “you’ve lost weight!” but I guess my progress is still just not visible. Ah well, good work Pru.


    1. Listen: I will betray a HORRIBLE weakness of character: People HAVE said “you’ve lost weight” to me in the past, and I loved it…. but they’ve stopped saying it. And I HATE that. So the question is – is ONE person admiring the visible signs of your determination enough? Are ten? Are a hundred?! For someone as insecure as I am about my body, it’s like alcoholism: One compliment is too many, a million NOT ENOUGH! But Juli – may I just say? YOU look like you’ve lost weight!! (And I think you’re not panting on the way back from the mailbox anymore, which is – let’s be honest – way better!)


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