Gomberg: I cried after a doctor’s appointment, unearthed my exercise bike and learned that difficult doesn’t always mean bad

Marina Gomberg

I seriously contemplated skipping my annual physical this year because I was afraid I’d get a talking-to for being overweight. It was like the nervousness you get before seeing the dentist as a not-perfect flosser, but times 100. How had I gotten here?

I ended up giving in since that’s sort of the point of physicals — to catch dis-ease before it becomes disease — and I decided (trepidatiously) to go.

Well, who cried at the end of her appointment after learning she’s healthy albeit hefty? This gal. And whose only homework was to be kinder to herself? This gal. So, who decided come hell or high calories that she was going to make a change? You guessed it.

There was a problem, though. Ever since I stopped playing soccer in my early adulthood, I’ve lacked a routine of exercise. In fact, I’ve had a pretty strict policy about running, which was to only do it if being chased (and even then, it’d probably depend on who was doing the chasing).

OK, so maybe the question of how I got here is easier to answer than I wanted to acknowledge, but making sustainable change wouldn’t be so effortless. For an efficient (lazy) person who deeply appreciates fine cuisine (overeater), the idea of moving more and eating less wasn’t super appealing.

Something about a life of sweat and celery just made me sad.

But so did telling my son, Harvey, that Mimi needs to take a little breather when he wants to keep running and playing. And so did falling asleep every night to the sounds of my inner fat-shaming monologue.

So, I dusted off the clothing rack— I mean, stationary bike — downloaded the Noom weight-loss app and decided: That day would be my worst — because if I did something different that day, every day after could be better.

That was two months ago, and something weird has happened. In addition to running voluntarily and without being chased, I’ve noticed myself having a change of heart about the feeling of struggle.

In a world where we constantly try to make things easier (did you know companies market rotating forks for kids in case twirling their utensils to snag spaghetti is too much effort?), I feel like I had begun to mistakenly equate difficult with bad.

But I had this sort of zen, endorphin-driven moment on the bike the other day. My legs were burning and tiring from my longest-to-date ride, but instead of stopping, I decided to just keep pedaling.

I repeated “right, left, right, left, right, left” to the beat of the music and went to this sort of otherworldly place.

Much to my surprise, my legs kept moving. I appreciated that the feeling I had was intense and that quieting the voice screaming for a break was hard — but that didn’t make it bad.

It was a breakthrough. A super sweaty breakthrough.

And it reminded me of something my mom said to my dad a couple of weeks ago about the work of caring for her ailing mama. My dad was suggesting that the increasing care my grandma requires might be too hard for one person to provide, and my mom looked at him and plainly said, “It’s not too hard, Barry. This is just what hard looks like.”

Incidentally, that’s also what a boss looks like. And, curvaceous or not, it’s what I want to look like, too.

Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at mgomberg@sltrib.com.

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