Thursday, 31 January 2013

Help for Squashy Auntie

The fitness-inclined among you may be wondering how your poor squashy auntie is getting along at the gym. The answer to that was "Not wonderfully well" until Monday, for it was very hard for me to leave the computer in the morning. You all know what computers are like. And there are only a limited number of hours in which I can use the gym, for I cannily bought the "silver membership." This means I can use the gym only when everyone else is at their proper job, e.g. from 9 to 4:30.

Anyway, so as to make sure I would stop scrambling to get to the gym on time, I came up with a plan: I would leave the Historical House every morning when B.A. left the Historical House for his office in the Historical Stable Block. And to give myself something to do on the days in which I am not lifting weights, I would sign up for some of the classes.

This has worked out very nicely so far, as I have gone to the gym four days in a row, which is unprecedented since at least 2006. However, I have not lost very much weight. This is to be expected, though, as muscle weighs more than fat, and it is harder to shift fat as you grow older. I do not expect to drop twenty pounds in seven months as I did when I was 25/26, although I admit I would be pleased. But the point to the gym membership is not primarily to reduce my size but to pump my sometimes gloomy and sluggish brain with natural feel-good juice.

The quickest way to get the feel-good juice into your brain is to do aerobic exercise, particularly one that involves bouncing up and down. This is what runner's high is all about, and why I put up with MTV and Jeremy Kyle on the tellies before me. (Note to pundits: if you really want to discourage Bulgarians and Romanians from coming to England, beam The Jeremy Kyle Show to them. Neither Himmler nor Stalin could have come up with better anti-English propaganda than that.)

I thought I would give myself a break from the treadmill, MTV and Jeremy today, so I signed up for an aerobics class called "Body Combat." It was led by a male trainer with a boxer's wiry, fat-free body, and we were mostly Scotswomen of the squashy variety. I thought I would be prepared for it, thanks to two months of desultory tread-milling and weight-lifting, but heavens. I think if I hadn't done the running and lifting, I would have had a heart attack and died. (Note to self: when the pamphlet says bring a towel and water bottle, bring a towel and water bottle.)

I had one very sad moment as I squashily tried to maintain a push-up position for forty-five years and failed. How terribly I felt about failing. When I was 27 I would have not have failed, and just as I thought that, a bead of sweat dropped from my forehead and a very wiry twenty-seven year old girl appeared beside me. It was me.

Seraphic, Age 27: It's okay. You're supposed to fail.

Seraphic, Age 39+: No, failing is bad.

Seraphic, Age 27: I know you think of this as an aerobics course, but what you are doing is a weight-bearing exercise. Pushing yourself until you fail is victory in a weight-bearing exercise.

Seraphic, Age 39+: I bet you could hold this position for the full count.

Seraphic, Age 27: I don't know. I was always a bit of a wimp about push-ups, to be honest.

Seraphic, Age 39+ (accusingly): How can you possibly have that little body fat?

Seraphic, Age 27: I have body fat. Here, look at my tummy. (She rolls up her boxing club shirt and pinches the skin.)

Seraphic, Age 39+: That's not fat. That's skin.

Seraphic, Age 27 (muses): I could never get my lower abs to do that washboard thing. Upper abs, yes. Lower abs, no. Maybe this time you could ask somebody about that.

Seraphic, Age 39+: I'd have to lose at least fifteen pounds before I could see evidence of any abs. Remind me again of your daily calorie count?

Seraphic, Age 27: Hmm. You know, I really don't think you should do what I did. Really.

Seraphic, Age 39+: Ha! You sound like Saint Ignatius.

Seraphic, Age 27: Really? Which one?

Seraphic, Age 39+: Which one?! Where have you been?

Seraphic, Age 27: Struggling to get out of you.

Seraphic, Age 39+: Ah ha ha ha. You at least enjoyed life. I was terribly depressed when I started packing on the pounds. But in so doing I have learned yet another useful life lesson to pass on, and it's Don't eat tubs of Ben & Jerry's when you're homesick, in culture shock and sad.

Seraphic, Age 27: Ugh, I can't believe you ate ice-cream. I never ate ice-cream.

Seraphic, Age 39+: And a hamburger and fries only once a year.

Seraphic, Age 27: That's right. Still, you managed to find true love as a squashy person rather than a thin person, which might be another life lesson.

Seraphic, Age 39+: I wasn't this squashy. Married people put on an average of ten pounds. Marriage sealed my squashy doom.

Seraphic, Age 27: Oh well. Stick with the gym and they'll come off again. Time is on your side. That reminds me, how's our fluency in Italian coming along?

Seraphic, Age 39+: Właściwie, nie dobrze.


Sarah said...

I started running three times a week back in September, and I've lost 20+ pounds and two pant-sizes.

I too started more to lift my mood than to lose weight (I didn't change much about my eating habits) and it really helps with that. Any bad day as never as bad as the bad days when I don't go running.

Eliz... said...

I can spend 60 minutes on the elliptical, getting up a good sweat and 30 minutes restitance training (stack weights or hydrolics) and another 30 stretching but I get a better and harder workout doing 30 minutes of Pilates.

There are lots of squishy women at my gym; there aren't any other squishy ladies at Pilates.

Seraphic said...

Yeah, it's not really about how much for how long. It's what and how. I could walk 4 miles three days a week, and I would not lose an ounce. I know. Walking is just double plus useless for me.

Beth said...

Thank you for this blog! It really made my evening. Lately I've been thinking that one of the reasons I've felt so stressed out is because I haven't been exercising. Whenever I'm regularly working out, I notice that the "feel good juices" are more present :)

Meredith said...

I will put in a word for Pilates too! We writers and bloggers get hunchbacked and round shouldered, and Pilates irons that right out. I've just started a class, and I feel much better already. Also, I have just realized that there are adult ballet classes, including a nice cheap studio downtown where you can just drop in and dance. It was very sad, giving up dance after high school just because I could not dance professionally, and thinking that ballet wasn't something grownups were allowed to do just for fun. Couples dancing is fun, but I miss the jumping and flinging about of arms and legs.

Lena said...

I like the word squashy.
I like yoga because there are built in moments of relaxation.