Tag Archives: habits

Sweat & Smoke

Sweat“Have you been swimming?”
It’s an innocent enough question. In defense of the woman that asked me, I was standing in front of the locker room, the locker room that connects to the pool at the gym.

“Umm.  No.  I just sweat like a beast.”

I am really good at making casual conversations come to an awkward finish. I tried to rescue the conversation, I did.  To be honest, my sweating isn’t something that even embarrasses me.  I will never be accused of just posturing at the gym.  I look like I have been working out and working out hard just a few minutes after I step on to a treadmill.  Sadly, the same holds true when I step out of an air-conditioned car bound for an outdoor wedding in August.

I know I left you hanging this weekend.  Did I go to Zumba?  Did I “join the party?” Am I still there?

I went.  I sweat.  I will go back.  I actually snorted and laughed loud enough to attract the attention of a friend the first time there was any shaking of the ta-tas. I cannot see a woman shake her shoulders and not hear Penny from Dirty Dancing shouting “God wouldn’t have given you maracas if He didn’t want you to shake ’em!”

I didn’t love it enough to turn my back on running and the dreaded elliptical machine.  I have finally admitted to myself that I can not run every day of the week.  If I do not take a break I hurt myself.  I just do.  I was not built to be a runner.  I am… top heavy.  I am not light on my feet.  I read Born to Run.  I watch Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running videos, I visualize.  And I run, every other day.  In between I do whatever I can to keep the mojo and keep moving because one day off becomes three becomes a week becomes a month.  So, I will run. And on my off days perhaps I will Zumba.  I laughed.  And I sweat.

I sweat.  Because it feels good.  Because it clears my head.

sweatBecause it makes me feel like I am taking time for me and that I am important.  I feel healthy.  I make better choices, choices about what I eat, what I do.

But not all of those choices are easy.

There is a man at the gym. He is an older fella, in his grey  sneakers and his dress pants.  He wears a plaid shirt and he keeps it neatly tucked in.  He walks on a treadmill and he gabs with everyone.  He is friendly but if you point at your earbuds and smile he doesn’t chat you up anymore.  He is pleasant.  But that is not my favorite thing about him.

He reeks.  And not because he sweats.  He reeks of cigarettes.  Reeks.  I pass him on the stairs sometimes and I wonder if I smell like smoke when I walk past someone later.  It doesn’t just hang on him, it follows him like Pigpen’s swirl of dust and dirt.

And I love it.  I love the smell of smoke.

Not all of the time.  When I am with my kids at a park and I smell smoke I whip my head around and give the stink-eye to the teenagers that are sitting on a picnic table.  When I am in line at the grocery store and I can smell the checker, they have just come back from a smoke break, I don’t breathe deeply.  It doesn’t smell good.  It is out of place.

But at the gym, during my hour, the hour that Kelly is just Kelly not Mom, I’ll be damned if that cigarette does not smell delicious.  Running alongside him today at the gym I got to giggling.  Ludacris was singing in my ear “I wanna, li-li-li-lick you from your head to your toes” and I imagined myself letting those words escape my mouth.

kellyI am not a Smoker.  Not anymore.  But I am not a Non-Smoker, either.  I prefer to think of myself as a non-practicing Smoker.

I would spend some more time trying to reconcile this, my desire to be healthy and fit combined with my love of the smell of a Marlboro, but it isn’t new.  Ten years ago I celebrated my 26th birthday with friends.  We were talking about our newfound love of Les Mills’ Body Pump.  I had a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other.


These days I don’t have a cigarette in my hand.  And I still love the gym. Some things change and some things stay the same.

I still wear overalls more often than I should.  But I don’t perm my hair anymore.  I am going to put fitness, quitting smoking and not perming my hair in the “Good Things I Need to Keep Doing” column. Sniffing old dudes that reek of smoke at the gym – I am putting that in the “Quite Possibly Creepy But It Won’t Kill Me” column. Feel free to debate me on this.