I do not possess Endorphins.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but working out has never been fun or relaxing for me. I don’t ever take a leisurely jog through the park or experience a cathartic release of stress on a Stairmaster. Oh no. I agonize through an excruciating torture test of pathetic coordination, erratic breathing, and legs that shake between steps. My face looks like a wet, soggy tomato, and I sound like I have chronic asthma with each breath. It’s not a pretty sight.

I guess this is no surprise, but I was never a very active child. While most children itched to run and play outside, I much preferred the cool and quiet of my room, tucked away in my bed with a book. I could never understand what exactly they were doing out there. Were they just running around in circles, taking breaks only to wrestle one another in the dirty grass? It just didn’t make sense. This doesn’t mean I never went outside, but when I did, it was a more structured event. I would plan exactly what I would do, which was usually: garden, ride my bike up and down the street while I sang songs, or climb the occasional tree. But I was only outside for a couple hours, and never when it was very hot outside. God forbid I get sweaty.

I remember being about 8 years old and getting in trouble for something minor (which was rare – I was pretty well behaved). My step-brother was always sent to his room when he got in trouble, so I figured, This will be great! I’ll be sent to my room, and I can just read for hours. Except my mom knew me all too well. I wasn’t sent to my room. I was sent outside. I was sent outside to play for my punishment. Seeing this in print makes me realize how much of a dork I really was.

I participated in sports for several years in junior high and high school against my better judgement and to the dismay of my teammates. Coaches forced me into a strict workout regimen which I followed for fear of failing gym, which would have been completely mortifying (seriously, who fails gym?). And even then, after months and months of the same routine, I hated every minute of each gym period, every second of each after-school workout.

My non-athleticism was never a big problem for me in my younger years. However, now that I’m older and I’ve gained a few pounds here and there, I find that working out is slowly becoming a need rather than a want. I don’t have much choice in the matter, and that terrifies me.

I’ve tried working out sporadically, only to lose interest after a couple of times. It’s hard to keep enthusiastic about something at which you are god-awful. Every time I complain about how much I loathe exercise, everyone always tells me that I just have to keep it up and, eventually, the Endorphins will kick in. Just wait for those Endorphins!, Endorphins will make you crave exercise!, Once you get those Endorphins going, woowee!, and so on. These magical Endorphins will suddenly appear and turn me into a regular Jane Fonda. (Not the Academy Award-winning, political activist Fonda of the 70s, but the spandex-clad, pastel-loving Fonda of the 80s.) Except, they never have. And I fear they never will.

The Gynecologist’s Office – Where Dignity Goes to Die

No one likes going to the doctor. The very fact that you’re going means that you are probably sick and will be spending entirely too much money, all at the same time.

Most of the time, going to the doctor means visiting a general practitioner because you have a cold or a stomach ache or something else minor. You have to wait in an overly crowded waiting room filled with people much sicker than you (you can tell they are just by looking at them), for what seems like eons, all while they infect you with their germs. When they finally call your name, you feel a small sense of superiority over the other patients. You have something they do not – a pass to a back room. You are that much closer to your home and your bed and the internet. But caught up in your tiny personal victory, you forget that the room awaiting you is even worse than the one you just left.

But not so fast. Before they show you your new, smaller, magazine-less waiting room (because, let’s face it – you will spend most of your time in there simply waiting), they have to weigh you. Because being sick isn’t enough, let’s get your weight up there for the world to see. You take off your shoes, step up, and start the mental calculation of: How much did I weigh last time? Is it normal to gain five pounds in two months? It’s probably cause I had all that chocolate milk this morning. Milk is heavier than other liquids.

You finally make it into your very own little room, assigned just to you, and the only thing you have left to worry about is trying not to lay down on the patient bed covered in paper and falling asleep.

It’s all pretty awful and not something I recommend. However, none of this remotely compares to the horrors that we women face each year when we drag ourselves down to the gynecologist for our yearly exam. The Pap Smear. It sounds as repulsive as the experience actually is.

Not only is there the normal doctor visit routine to go through – endless time in the waiting room, being weighed in front of everyone, and sitting in a tiny room long enough to watch the director’s cut of Lord of the Rings – there are extra special things that happen at the gynecologist that give me shivers every time I think about them.

Right after we are weighed, we are handed a tiny cup. We are told to go into the bathroom and, get this, pee into the tiny cup. Seriously? You want me to somehow aim my pee into this hole four inches in diameter? Before I even start, I know I’m going to make a mess. There’s no way around it. And not only does my pee go where it damn well pleases, I have to somehow produce a racehorse equivalent in volume. So after several false starts and readjustments, I somehow manage to get something into the tiny cup. Hooray! But my excitement is short lived. I realize that now I have the distinct honor of carrying my pee outside of the bathroom and up to the nurses’ desk. Oh, did I mention the tiny cup is clear? Clear. There is really nothing more humiliating than traipsing through a back office, holding a tiny cup of your own pee for all the world to see. It’s quite a humbling experience.

We are then led into our patient room where we are to strip down to absolutely nothing, save our socks, don paper garments, and climb up into a patient bed. The room is always unusually cold, but you tend not to notice until much later because the only thing on your mind right then is: Get in your paper clothes and cover up on the bed before the doctor comes in. Hurry, hurry, hurry! Nevermind that no one will even think about you again for at least another 45 minutes. Your only thought at that moment is to not get caught in a comical state of undress, hopping around the room with one leg in your underwear.

Now, what passes for a “top” and a “sheet” at the gynecologist is amazing to me. We are given a paper vest which opens in the front and is just short enough for belly dancing, and a paper sheet to place on our laps that is really an overgrown Bounty towel. The length of the vest and the sheet are just short enough so that our asses hang out in the back. This is the moment when we realize just how cold the room is.

I won’t get into details about what the exam actually entails. I do have male readers. I will say, however, that a modern day torture device called a speculum is involved, and so are extra long Q-Tips and KY Jelly. The entire process takes about five minutes but feels like five hours.

Afterwards, as we sit on our little paper bed in our little paper clothes, many of us are sore and crampy and entirely humiliated. We’ve been weighed, we’ve carried our pee around an office like it’s a cup of coffee, and had things inserted in us that look like they belong in the prop department for Braveheart. But there is something I like to console myself with at this dark hour. As I stumble out of my patient room, walking wide like a cowgirl and longing for my bed, I remember: Just when I hit menopause, just as this is all over, every one of my male friends will start on their own horrific journeys, all headed to a place no one wishes to be: Prostate Exam Land.

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By the way – We are never told what the pee sample is for and we never hear anything of it ever again after we leave. Who knows what they’re doing with it.

The 30-something 30

Most woman out there know about something called The Freshman 15. This cutesy little name deceptively refers to the sneaky 15 lbs. most women put on their freshman year of college. It’s a right of passage for us, akin to freshman men surviving beer bongs or streaking or whatever it is they do the second they leave home.

It’s horribly unfair that, at one of the scariest and most exciting moments of a young woman’s life, when she is finally able to leave her awkward high school self behind, her body suddenly turns on her. A layer of extra padding envelopes all the wrong areas and is determined to stay put no matter how many yoga or pilates classes she takes. It’s a complete bummer. And I have a confession.

I never experienced any of it. And not only that, I was always pretty thin. I know, I know. Shoot me. And on top of all that, I pretty much slept my way through my 20s, eating whatever I pleased, not concerned in the least. But Mother Nature, I’ve found out, had not forgotten me. As I breezed through my 20s, oblivious to all things healthy, my body was planning revenge. It was planning something so dark and sinister, it is hard for me to even admit it is happening. I call it: The 30-something 30.

The 30 something 30 is like something from a nightmare. I’m expecting M. Night Shyamalan to make a guest appearance any minute. As a single woman of 29, entering my 30s is a pretty scary endeavor. It would be different if I had a husband, or even a boyfriend, as the clock ticked midnight on that fateful day. I could tell myself, Yes, I’m turning 30. But so what! You have a great man who loves you. There’s no need to be young anymore! But to turn 30 and be single? There are no peppy phrases or cute quips to make that an easy pill to swallow. I am 30 and alone. The irony in the fact that I look like I’m in my first trimester isn’t lost on me, either. What a sick joke, Mother Nature! My clock is ticking and the race to find a man is on. It’s terribly stressful (which probably does nothing to help keep my poor, old eggs healthy).

So during this confusing and terrifying time, when I should be concentrating on important things, like the advantages of raising a baby as a single mom via artificial insemination (just in case!), I’m slowly but surely gaining weight. And not the 15 lbs. I might have gained 12 years ago. No, I’m past that now. I’m headed for something more noteworthy – at least 30 glorious lbs. 30 lbs. might not seem like a lot, but my height is that of, let’s say, a tree stump. So 30 lbs. is definitely noticeable. And just at the time in my life when finding a man is truly a matter of baby or no baby.

My metabolism was simply sick of working a thankless job for over a decade and, at the dawn of a my single dark ages, decided to up and quit. No letter of resignation, no two-weeks notice, nothing. Quite rude, if you ask me. One would think that once my metabolism checked out, my hunger might diminish. I should be staying full for longer, enjoying the satisfaction of my lunch or dinner for hours afterward. But sadly, one would be wrong to think this. If anything, my appetite has increased. And by increased, I mean that I spend the aftermath of each meal wondering what my  next will be and where it will come from. I wake up hungry and I go to bed hungry. What kind of sick hell is this?

And now it’s up to me to conscientiously keep myself thin. This means eating well (ew) and working out (double ew), for, what I imagine is, the rest of my natural life. Otherwise, who knows! There could be a 40-something 40, a 50-something 50, and so on. If this is the case, I may give up entirely, spending my 80th birthday surrounded by loved ones, good cheer, and 10 distinct fat rolls all my own.