Don’t Exercise in Front of a Mirror

Years ago, I was introduced to a workout program called T-Tapp by a drop dead gorgeous friend of mine, who also happened to lose a ton of weight doing it (the two are not related. She has always been a knockout, irrespective of weight. Still is). The introduction went something like this:

“Yeah, if you can get past the white pleather, it’s pretty good.”

Consider my interest piqued.

I recently took it up again, because my mattress is trying to kill me and because when I rob a bank, it has to be for orthodontic care, not a Purple Mattress, and if I rob two banks, I think that makes me a little predictable.

If you have never had a pinched nerve in your neck, then good on you. You are smarter than I am. I went and picked one up right before a middle of the night flight to Idaho and kept it with me as a bit of a pet. I assumed it was the result of aging or Daylight Savings or some malevolent combination of both (you’ve heard of universal solvents? Daylight Savings is a universal scapegoat. You can blame most anything on the time change, and it does not appear to expire. Baby not sleeping? Daylight Savings. Persistent athlete’s foot? Dang that Daylight Savings, it will be the death of us all! You get the idea). My flights were all delayed to the extent that it was two in the morning before I rolled into town and collapsed into my Airbnb.

Are you familiar with Airbnb? This is a concept that perturbed me for years. You can basically rent out another person’s house, or mother-in-law suite, or even a room — while they are still in the house. Call me cynical, but it always struck me as a fantastic way to get yourself murdered in your sleep. And honestly, does it seem necessary to pay the person who is about to kill you? Maybe that insures that the job is done right, I don’t really know… I suppose murderers have to make a living too, and I keep hearing about supply chain issues, so maybe they are having a hard time finding murder-ees and duct tape…

This took a turn.

But my Southern buddy, whom I have mentioned to you before, is also one of these instinctively frugal and financially savvy types (what’s that? How did she end up with me? That’s a good question, and a good story. I’ll tell it to you some time) and I had finally convinced her to play hooky with me for a weekend so we would have a plausible excuse to skip Family Camp at church. Every introvert reading this thinks I am the most inspired creature since Shakespeare, and every extrovert cannot understand how I have not yet been struck by lightening from heaven. Be that as it may, we planned a jaunt to Walla Walla, WA and while initially, I was looking to book a ridiculously expensive suite at the famous and historic Marcus Whitman hotel, purely for the experience and the proximity to my favorite restaurant, wiser heads prevailed and she convinced me to try an Airbnb.

Anything worth doing is worth doing to the extreme, so I veered the opposite direction and found the least expensive rental I could. It happened to be out of town a ways… maybe a long ways… in the middle of a wheat field, in a basement filled with empty liquor bottles and a large diner grill. It was possibly the creepiest Airbnb I could have chosen, and the host struck me as the sort of person who probably did, on occasion, cut up her guests and put them in pies (I think we only escaped by cheerfully agreeing to plaster the posters she handed us advertising a music festival to be held in the field on every surface we came across that would hold still). My buddy, being Southern and classy, somehow managed not to throw this poor decision-making in my face, at the time or since then. I don’t think I am ever going to be that mature.

But I have, since then, learned better the ropes of selecting excellent Airbnb’s (step 1: always choose to have the entire home to yourself. Murderers can still find you, but at least you have not scheduled them to share a bathroom with you) and for this particular jaunt to Idaho, I had chosen one that specified in its description having, for your sleeping pleasure, a Purple Mattress. This meant nothing to me, though I was curious that it merited special mention on the website. I mean, if you are offering a fridge fully stocked with craft ale or a hot tub in every room, by all means, soliloquize. But a mattress?

Yes, my friend. This mattress deserved a soliloquy. After a measly four hours on the Purple Mattress, the pinched nerve decided to give up a life of pinching and to fulfill its dream of becoming a used car salesman. I was floored, and upon arriving home, I began searching for the exact same mattress, as my own appeared to be gunning for me, only to discover that brand new, it is a nearly $4000 mattress. Seeing as I learned earlier this year that my children all have the sort of mouths that orthodontists giggle over at conferences while perusing brochures for yachts and those weird diamond incisor implants, this did not appear a likely purchase in my near future — near being defined as before my spine has already been buried six feet under and I cease to be concerned with what I am laying on.

This brings my alarmingly nonsensical narrative full circle. I opted, rather than pulling a full on Bonnie and Clyde, to take up T-Tapp. The world’s loss was YouTube’s gain, and now you can get her workout videos for free from someone whose name I cannot pronounce or spell.

To successfully accomplish a T-Tapp workout video involves a series of bizarre postures and stiff movements, all with her trilling soprano in the background, “Tuck the butt!” Over and over again. At times, when I am just on the verge of drifting off to sleep, I will hear that voice cycling through my brain and it is like the dinner gong for the world’s most upside-dreams to commence and when I awake, my glutes feel peculiarly fatigued. This is only to say — I do not do these workouts in front of others. Please understand me. I have birthed four children, without caesarean, roomfuls of students and nurses and goodness knows who else standing and watching and I would do it all again to double the crowd before I would do this workout in front of my children or husband. Normally, there is a window in the day when the people are occupied and I sneak in the workout, but last week, my window was not open to me. So I decided to betake myself to my bedroom, prop the computer on the bed, and sweat in privacy. All good, yes?

Well… almost.

I think full length mirrors are generally purported to be positive things in the world. They guard you against wardrobe malfunctions that may otherwise go missed by the classic, shoulders up bathroom mirror. However. They are ill-advised for working out in front of. I am only half the idiot I sound like on this blog — I knew to turn my back to the well-intentioned mirror before commencing the T-Tapp. But pride goes before the fall, and my armor of cleverness had a chink.

You see, any T-Tapp afficionado will tell you that form is everything. I was focused, (“TUCK THE BUTT!!”) and therefore when I bent in half, grasping the ankles and rocking as instructed, I nearly swallowed my tongue at the sight reflected back at me from that double crossing full length mirror. It is bad enough when gyms line their walls with mirrors and you can watch yourself, red-faced and sweating but upright and generally prepared for the sight. It is an entirely different proposition to forget the mirror is there and bend in half, while wearing shorts no less! I don’t care how fit and toned you are — anyone hanging upside-down and staring at the backs of thighs will have at least a split second of panic that an oversized chow chow has crept up unnoticed and is making ugly faces, having brought its own life-sized overstuffed sausages along to add to the overall offensiveness of the scene. It is not healthy for the nervous system. This situation is not improved by the realization that no ill-mannered pup exists, and that actually it is you, not featured in the most flattering light (how is that I am tattooed everywhere else and never went for the back of the thighs?? Alright, it is possible that you would not be thinking this. You may have had the good sense to make this the first place you inked, thus lessening the jarring impact of pasty under thighs. Say what you will about tattoos, but they do make a tan superfluous).

A gracious reader has observed that these posts tend towards the knacky when it comes to drawing spiritual lessons from the everyday events of life. Not gonna lie — this one is requiring the little grey cells to pull some serious overtime.

Ha!! Got it!!

We can be tempted to look at the work we do as having deep significance, that our motives were so pure or our sacrifice so noble, that it entitles us to put up a bit of an indignant stink when not properly appreciated — I worked on that dinner all day! How dare they not tell me it is wonderful! I have changed 18 diapers today and my husband still sleeps through it when the baby cries at night! My friends don’t text me, they only ever respond when I initiate — is it even a friendship if I am the one holding everything together? We think very highly of our self sacrifice. But the Word of God exposes us as the sneering little purple-tongued chow chow puppies that we are. Even our noble sacrifices are laced with a desire to be made much of, to be noticed. Lord, have mercy.

Only if you see the perfect work of Jesus when you look in the mirror have you seen rightly. If what you see is your own glistening hard work, there can be no doubt about it — you are looking upside down.

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