Throughout my workout journey I have been enlightened in ways I'd never foreseen.
I am Adrian Monk!
As fans of the now-concluded cable show featuring the obsessive compulsive detective know, Monk had strict rules about just about everything. Now, I don't walk around touching light posts with one finger, or avoiding cracks on the pavement, or facing all my glasses the same way or anything, but I acknowledge a few quirks.
I've long known about my OCD-like preference for symmetry … or at least ever since a co-worker caught me lining up M&M's two-by-two on my desk. Like they were marching into an ark -- in matching-color pairs. With no two consecutive rows the same shade…. (I still don't see the problem. By the way, this was years ago. M&M's are out of the picture now.)
Anyway, that predilection for balance apparently extends to workouts. I get nutty when things aren't even. If we do three sets of something, they need to be in ascending numbers, or descending numbers or balanced. But if we do, say, one set of seven repetitions, then two sets of 10, I want to do another set of seven so it's equal. I only wish I were joking.
Last night, for instance, trainer George Gersch had me doing a dumbbell bench press. Most of the time he tells me when to stop. Sometimes he just lets me keep going. I don't count on my own because I'm afraid if I do, I won't put my whole effort into every rep and will subconsciously quit early. Therefore, I let George count.
After doing what seemed like a lot of repetitions, I asked mid-press how many remained. George said "Go until you can't do any more." Seriously? OK. When I finally quit I asked for the count. It was 48. Are you kidding me? Why, I asked George, didn't you give me a heads up at 45 so I could get to 50?!
Fifty would have been so much more calming to the psyche.
So I went home and did two more reps. Just joking. (Not really.)
Good thing I'm not eating M&M's any more. Otherwise people would really think I had a problem.
• Catherine Edman is the cooperative advertising manager for the Daily Herald. She spent 19 years as a reporter at the paper, frequenting many drive-through windows on the way to cover night meetings, before joining the advertising staff in 2009.