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Once in a while I become a gym rat. I workout for months on end, change my diet, see results. I don’t quit cold turkwy, but I slowly start eating desserts… And then a little more… And a little more.

Before I knew it, I was much heavier than my “wedding weight,” and none too pleased with that fact.

I started working out a few months ago, changed my eating habits, started the Flat Belly diet, and have seen great results. Energy, stamina, and much needed happiness are my favorite side effects. Oh, and sleeping better, which means I stopped taking what the doc gave me to fall asleep.

I’m the kind of person who has to hit the gym every single day, or else I’ll skip one day…two…three.

Every day I see familiar faces, though they are not all faces I WANT to see.

There’s cupcake girl. Young (very young) and skinny (very skinny) and smells of (drum roll…) cupcakes. More accurately, she smells like cupcake icing. Hello… I’m at the gym trying NOT to think of desserts, thankyouverymuch.

I thought that was bad until I started seeing G.I. Joe man. He has a small head, a giant upper body, and itty bitty legs. He always has a stressed out look on his face, and looks like he could lose his temper realll quick. I usually keep out of his way to avoid any 50 pound weights being thrown across the room like a baseball.

There’s one-up-er girl. If my eliptical is on resistance 13, hers is on 14. If I change the length of my workout on the bike to 45 minutes, she bumps hers up to 46. If I do 25 situps, she does… You guessed it.

Old Man Sam. I think the bike he sits on gets secretly unplugged by the staff, because I never see the noticeable neon lights blinking to check his heart rate, etc. He wears nice slacks, holds his cane in one hand, and sllloooowwwwllllyyyyyy pedals. At one point – I’m sorry to admit this – I thought he had a heart attack, because he stopped moving. Turns out he just needed a mid-workout nap. Don’t we all? (I smile at him to be nice, but he just stares blankly…)

Too Tall Tina and Tiny Tim. Married. She is beautiful. He is not. She is tall, he is not. They run on matching treadmills, and wear those weird shoes that are like toe-socks. A mini shoe for each toe!

My favorite gym rat is Mothball Martha. At first it started innocently. I got on a treadmill next to her, started working out, and noticed it smelled like bad breath/moth balls. I looked around, and saw no one else. I tried to ignore the stench, but I glared at her a few times trying to telepathically tell her to go away. It worked, because she jumped off her treadmill, and ran to the bathroom. I guess her mothball stench was even making HER sick. When she left, the moths left.

Ohhhhh but the story doesn’t end there. She started jogging again, and proceeded to hit herself in the stomach. She looked like Tarzan beating on herself. Then she kept looking around, staring at other gym rats. I myself use only my peripheral vision to observe the rats. It’s rude to stare. But how could I not stare at this crazy old lady who sits like a princess with her ankles crossed as she stares at her biceps, hits herself in the stomach, and reeks of mothballs?

As much as this sounds crazy, everyone but Mothball Martha were part of an anonymous support group for me. I saw them daily, which helped me keep persevering. “If they’re daily, I can come here daily,” I’d tell myself.

These strangers (and I do mean “strange”) are part of my quiet life. They keep me connected to other humans similar to the mailman, the crossing guard, the cashier. Our lifves are woven in the most intricate way with others’, and it’ a beautiful thing.

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