Slim Chance

Weight: 220 pounds

Weight Lost in 2 Weeks: +2 pounds

Total Weight Lost: 33 pounds

The last two weeks have been full of ups and downs. Luckily, the ups are more exciting than the downs, though the number of irrational tears I cried might have made it seem otherwise.

The Ups

Dr. Peeke (the angelic doctor mentioned in previous chapters) has done it again: First of all, I still email her every day and she touches base with me about twice a month to make sure everything’s going well and to answer any questions I might have. That alone has been incredibly helpful.

Around the end of December, she got an idea. Now that I’ve lost some weight, added significant activity to my life, and don’t get winded by the very idea of taking a stroll, Dr. Peeke thought it was time to up the ante. So, she asked the people at Anytime Fitness if they could hook me up with a gym membership and a trainer… for free.

Since Dr. Peeke is made of magic, the Anytime Fitness people agreed, and suddenly I have a gym membership for a year and a personal trainer who I’ll work with three time a week! For free!

First of all, I told the people at Anytime Fitness that I’d probably mention them in this column (because the whole point of this is to document my weight-loss adventure and suddenly spending days in the gym is definitely going to affect that journey). But I never need to talk about them and there’s no promotional deal going on. “Slim Chance” won’t turn into a gym commercial, I promise. Unless a gym out there wants to pay me like a million dollars. If that’s the case, I’ll happily sell out. (Sorry, Greatist.)

Anyway, I get to have a personal trainer for free! This is insanely lucky, and I still can’t believe it.

But there’s still a part of me that’s a little leery of personal training because I’ve had exceptionally bad experiences with it in the past.

I joined a big box gym when I was 19 and got a free personal training session. I’d never done anything like that and thought it would be fun—but the next hour was all my gym nightmares rolled in one.

Despite my total lack of experience and obvious not-in-shape-ness, the trainer was relentless. He didn’t listen if I asked to stop, I couldn’t sit down even for a second, and I had to beg to take a water break. After my brief sip of water, I sat down on a nearby bench, desperate to catch my breath. The trainer looked at me with such disdain—how could I commit such a sin as sitting down in the middle of a session?

By the end of the hour, I felt like I would die. Usually, after working out, even if it was really hard, I felt good. Not this time. I was filled with rage. “I’m never doing that again,” I said.

About six years later, my memory of that rage had subsided, and I decided to try training again. This time, I’d been working out consistently and wanted to jump-start my stalled weight loss. I was also experiencing a lot of knee pain and needed to up my fitness. In our first meeting, I told my trainer all the important details, especially the stuff about the knees. She nodded politely and then put me on the Stairmaster—the most knee-hurty thing on the planet!

So, when Anytime Fitness assigned Kaori Takee as my new trainer, I was determined to make this a better experience. I told her straight away that I was very out of shape, had to start slow, and that there were a lot of things I just couldn’t do yet. Of course, I’m happy to be pushed, but I’m not training to fight in the MMA, so I shouldn’t feel death’s cold grip at the end of our sessions.

Kaori listened, took notes, and started a fitness assessment. After watching me do 10 squats, she clocked all my major problems and gave me adjustments that I never would have thought of. I found out I’d been doing planks all wrong, but Kaori fixed my form without being judgmental or pushy.

During the session, she allowed me to go at my own pace. And that pace was slow. But Kaori immediately understood when I needed to stop and when I needed an extra push. In short, she’s the exact opposite of any other trainer I’ve encountered.

The Downs

Though my personal training sessions have been really good (I’ve done four so far), that doesn’t mean they aren’t hard. And they’re really hard for me. My body is basically loose Jell-O with grapes floating in it, and those grapes are my muscles. They’re in there, but there’s not much they can do when they’re surrounded by a thick layer of gelatin.

With each exercise, I’m amazed by how little my body can accomplish. During the workout, I have to fight myself from constantly thinking, “This is so sad. Why are you trying? Kaori thinks you’re an idiot. Why even bother?”

While we were doing a “dog peeing on a fire hydrant” type move, I almost burst into tears. Because I couldn’t believe that the act of simply lifting my leg was that hard. Later, I started getting dizzy (after some other innocuous-seeming move). Then, I got frustrated with getting dizzy, which led to feeling frustrated with getting frustrated, so I started to cry, which made my chest tight, which made it hard to breathe, which increased my dizziness tenfold. All of this mess over a workout!

Anyway, my mental health hasn’t been great, but everyone at the gym has been lovely. I need to get ahold of my negativity and turn it around.

Also, I gained two pounds this week. Guh. Now, my eating has been slipping a little. Nothing huge, but it’s obviously not great. And this new gym routine (about six days a week: three days of personal training for an hour, then 40 minutes of cardio the other three days in the gym) has made me incredibly tired. Like serious, my eyes and brain hurt and I have to take a nap kind of tired. That’s made me less than motivated to cook, so I’ve been relying too much on dinners of a piece of string cheese and a spoonful of peanut butter.

I know that I’ll lose these two pounds and many more. It’s a reminder that I need to stay vigilant about my eating habits. But more importantly, I need to get back to a more positive mindset. And I’m trying.

For now, when I get frustrated or worn out from doing the most basic workout, I’ll remember that it can only go up from here. I’m excited about how physically and mentally strong I’m getting. It’s all happening slowly. Very slowly. But I know I’ll get there.

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing a Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @ambernpetty.