The long road to svelte.

My quads hurt. So, for that matter, do my glutes. It is a ritual on PT night for my beloved to dig his prehensile toes right into the muscle and palpate as we slump on the couch.  Hurts so good. Our Personal Torturers are on a rotating basis. Tuesdays with Alana; a woman fixated by superior upper body musculature who sniffs at ladies antsy about weights. Jordis, an attractive Latino man whose thick accent renders him completely incomprehensible; and whose penchant for ‘lornjas’ (lunges) every Thursday ensure slow starts on Friday. On Saturdays we might see     Xavier-the-abdominator, whose svelte form belies ant like strength or chipper Chris, a diminutive man with preternaturally white teeth and indeterminate sexuality.

I have joined many gyms and trialled numerous exercise fads over the past three and a half decades, failing miserably every time. The last attempt was at one attached to the North Melbourne Football Club. A young chappie happily took me through my assessment promising attentive instruction and ongoing support in the quest for moderate fitness. The first visit on my own tested both motivation and memory as I battled to recall each of the equipment based exercises. Rope attaches where? Do I use both arms at the same time? Am I standing or squatting for this one? Failing to catch the eye of the same young trainer who had, just three days previous, promised to support and encourage me, I wandered over to where he was instructing a new staff member. Excellent, he can use assisting me, the client, as a valuable teaching exercise for a rookie trainer.

“Hi, Nick?” I say, having hovered around them for a couple of minutes being studiously ignored. “Look, sorry to interrupt you (I’m NOT actually sorry at all…why am I saying sorry?) but you said if I needed help…” my voice trailed off as Nick, without displaying a flicker of recognition, asked impatiently what I wanted.

‘I can’t remember what I do on that one” I said lamely, showing him the workout programme. Without looking at me, he waved at a piece of equipment rigged up with ropes, pulleys and weights, “just put that on there and alternate arms, ok?’

No Nick, not ok. Rather than standing my ground and insisting he temporarily abandon the pretty blonde 20-something trainer-in-training and show me how to do it, I just skulked off to work on something I could actually recall the use of – the treadmill. That was it. Even the elliptical trainer had me stumped. So I spent 35 minutes mentally rehearsing all the sarcastic things I wouldn’t ever say to him whilst stomping loudly on a medium incline at medium speed.

I cancelled.

I’m not sure which of us decided a smaller personal training studio might work, but my beloved and I tried out a local place down a side street nearby and have remained miraculously motivated some four months later. It’s a long slow battle to anything vaguely resembling adequate fitness however and we are yet to attend a session where one of us does not have ‘an area of concern’. Currently, spouse is dictating the tenor of our routines, given a relapse in an old wrist injury that was operated on earlier in the year. Subsequently he is limited to legs and abs – which means more ‘lornjas’ than you can poke a stick at and planking until I crumble.  I’m a little concerned that come summer we will have formidable six packs and wee atrophied arms.

But let’s face it; exercise is just a small part of the overarching story as I cannonball toward the next milestone birthday. It is painfully apparent that if I am to attain any resemblance to a former shape, I must eliminate entire food groups from my diet – and from entire food groups, I mean wine. This attachment to the grape is deep seated and abiding. My support for the local industry is unfailing as I say hell NO to the glut of substandard NZ sauvignon blanc flooding across the Tasman favouring, for example, the flinty dryness of our own Pyrenees version. Our local non conglomerate owned bottle shop stocks all my favourites – Eden Valley Riesling, Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Mornington peninsula Pinot Noir, Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon…and beer for spouse.  This rather appears to be morphing into an article for Winestate…but you get my point.

The other dietary consideration in my quest to become svelte is an unhealthy attachment to Nutella, borne, it may be argued, from the assurances of advertisers that along with milk and fruit it makes a healthy breakfast choice when slathered on whole grain toast. “Less fat than peanut butter and less sugar than most jams” – a fact that was possibly contested in court at some point– it remains however, outrageously delicious and I’m leaving the keyboard to have some right now…

Back again and I’m guessing that switching to soy milk does not make a nightly mug of warm milo with seven marshmallows a low fat diet option either – although I am kind of less bloated. I’m reading – alright, skimming, a book called “This is why you’re FAT” by Jackie Warner, celebrity trainer – naturally. Jackie will reveal the shocking truth about what is making me fat – I’m right ahead of you here Jackie, refer to the above. She appears on the cover of her book, an androgynous woman with a six pack, no discernible bust and Madonna-esque arms standing hips thrust slightly forward in tiny red shorts– she could be tucking.

From what I can gather she hails from the school of  no carbs in the evening (or you become a fat Gremlin), prescribes whey protein powder  consumed in water (YUK!),  warns us to avoid fluoridated water and increase egg consumption to  two each day – which seems a lot to me. She also, disturbingly, thinks Tom Cruise makes some solid sense…possibly more for his stance on antidepressants than her regard for his Operating Thetan status, but I can’t be sure. She did invent some life changing program called SkyLab which might very well borrow from Dianetics and could be some form of auditing. Hmmm….

Jackie promises big – like a failure proof condensed workout routine PLUS all the emotional support and encouragement I need to get to the finish line and beyond. Beyond where? And unless Jackie appears as a Princess Leia type hologram each time I eat pasta at night or when I flag mid way through my 30 donkey kick crossovers and sumo squats, I fail to see exactly how encouraged by her I can possibly be.

I am prepared to up my H2o consumption and add lemon juice to it as she suggests. I am happy to eat ‘oatmeal’ most mornings, but I will struggle with consuming it a-la-natural as Jackie prescribes. I’m quite sure Uncle Toby intended us to liberally drizzle honey or scatter brown sugar over his oaty goodness otherwise even he realises it’s like eating wall paper glue. I will continue to down a good multi vitamin, add a chewable C to the mix and maintain my Krill drill, but any more than that and I’ll rattle. I can eliminate obvious fats in the guise of burgers and fries but cannot guarantee some of your more underground fat like cheese and nuts won’t infiltrate.

As for working with the hormones that burn fat, I’m quite sure peri-menopause has its own ideas about that!

About Learning the hard way

Jane is of the belief that her life's purpose may well be to serve as a warning to others. She is unsure as to why she speaks in the third person...
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