by Pierre Le Roux
Not everyone likes going to the gym, some people avoid it at all cost as did I. I have heard the gym described as the Gay Church and as the Temple of Torture. Unfortunately there comes a time in one’s life when weight and health issues force you to make a decision. Am I going to let myself go or am I going to get into shape? This happened to me less than three years ago.
One fateful evening in 2006 after getting out of the shower I happened to catch a glimpse of my naked self in the full length bedroom mirror. I paused for a moment, took a second look and froze in horror. Denial could no longer shield me from the toll all the pies, chocolates, crisps and other junk food had taken on my body. There I was on full display and on a closer inspection found a pot belly, love handles, cellulite, a double chin and a face that looked like an over inflated balloon. I was fat! How did this sneak up on me?
In retrospect it didn’t sneak up on me, there were many hints on my lard paved path to podginess. The first hint should have been that my pants no longer fit (I wanted to believe they shrunk). My cats could no longer comfortably lie next to me on the couch as my pot belly was in their way. My face grew rounder and it wasn’t water retention. My weight gain was a gradual process; I didn’t just wake up one morning looking like that. The lack of exercise and the overindulgence on calories gently ushered me into the world of flabbiness.
The very next day my husband and I went on a diet and joined the gym – I didn’t want to suffer alone. After all he did vow to stick with me through thick and thin. I noticed that the gym was divided into three distinct groups: The body builders, the fitness fanatics and the brave fat people (the latter I presume had an epiphany not much unlike mine). My first day at the gym made me feel incredibly insecure: There were so many beautiful bodies in skimpy outfits and there I was in baggy clothes trying to hide my unwelcome additions. I choose to train in the fat sections of the gym, where all our beached whales were desperately trying to return to the ocean. It felt as if everyone was staring at me as I battled and profusely perspired, but in reality nobody actually paid any attention or cared.
The first few months were hell. I despised the Treadmill, Spinning Bike, Rowing Machine and StairMaster; I pretty much hated everything and every instrument of torment designed for a cardio workout. The first few months I bargained and fought with myself during the middle of each session. Just do 10 more minutes… You know you can do it! Well if you don’t you’ll stay fat! Is that what you want? Well then finish the session fatso!!!
As time passed and the pounds melted away, we became brave enough to participate in the group classes. We were always at the back of the class as neither my husband nor I wanted to embarrass ourselves if we fainted due to over exertion. The first group class was grueling. I was not as fit as the rest of the regulars and there were a few times I almost passed out, but I proudly persevered. The next day I realized my body underwent an ordeal as every muscle in my body was tender and throbbing, even some muscles I didn’t know I had. Simple tasks like climbing stairs, picking things up and washing my hair were excruciating. Even though it was painful I returned for more like a typical masochist. They say exercise is addictive due to the endorphin fix you get, but I in my case this wasn’t and isn’t true. It was a laborious task that I dreaded but stuck too.
After almost 3 years I lost the weight equivalent of a 4 year old child and I am back to my normal and healthy weight. It has been hard work and exercise has become part of my weekly routine. My husband and I now have joined a new instructor’s class fondly referred to as The Hitler! He works us twice weekly like cheap red light district whores; he has no sympathy and the stamina of a sadistic beast. The fact that he’s damn attractive makes the torture worthwhile and the fact that I transformed my body from marshmallow man to toned and slim makes it even a bigger bonus. That harrowing night in 2006 was a turning point for me. No longer having the metabolism I had in my twenties I now have to pay more attention to what I eat and exercise has become essential in maintaining a healthy body. Luckily this beached whale made it to the ocean with the help of the Temple of Torture, Hitler and lots of sweat, internal battles and tears.
Till next time.