Eau de Change

Living in the southern U.S., I’ve expended a fair amount of sweat in my lifetime. I’ve never liked it. My hormonal teen years were filled with angsty days of triple deodorant applications and excessive showering, and still the tell-tale dark rings appeared under my arms. I might have even written to Teen magazine at some point–I was that traumatized by sweat.

As an adult, I’ve liked sweating even less. In the summer months in Memphis, one can spend an hour doing her hair and makeup in the morning, only to see both vaporized by noon. The hair goes limp and lifeless, except for the glistening band of perspiration around the hairline, and the makeup–well, the makeup winds up somewhere around the waistline. It’s not pleasant, to say the least. On the positive side, the sweaty armpits seem to have been lost to my youth.

So imagine my surprise when, while working out this morning, I felt the dampness of sweat trickling down the back of my neck…and I smiled. It may sound crazy but I was positively gleeful! This was welcome sweat, downright desirable. I couldn’t believe it. Here was proof that I could push myself beyond my sedentary comfort level, without trainers egging me on.

And then a stream of sweat trailed down my temple and into the corner of my eye. I raised an arm to wipe it away…and almost passed out.

I smelled, for heaven’s sake!

My first instinct was to stop immediately and head for the showers. Ladies shouldn’t smell like this. Not proper Southern ladies. It was embarrassing! Fortunately, there were only a few other people in the gym, and since they were some distance away, I kept exercising. And thinking.

It’s not like this was the first time I broke a sweat during this lifestyle change. The trainers have made sure of that three times a week, plus I do a fair job of it when I’m on my treadmill. (It’s why I keep a remote-controlled fan in front of it. *g*) And last August, when I was walking in 100-degree (F) temperatures, sweat was pouring off of me and I smelled absolutely foul by the time I got home.

No, the novelty is that today was the first time I was conciously happy about it, the first time I saw it as something other than a symbol of being overweight and out of shape. Today, I realized my sweaty/smelly state as a symbol of change. Evidence of effort and determination and achievement and hope faith. It’s the aroma of newborn pride.

And I love it!