Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's get physical

I've never been someone who loved exercise. Never.

You remember those Presidential Physical Fitness tests we had to take in gym at school? I always regarded those as a vehicle for gym teachers to express their contempt for out-of-shape kids. It literally never occurred to me as a child that these tests were meant to actually measure something and perhaps be used as a teaching tool. Certainly they were never used that way: when I couldn't hold that flex-arm hang for the minimum-to-avoid-being-labeled-dead 4 seconds, the gym teacher's lip curled, he looked at me with contempt, and turned his back, never to speak to me again. I used to be vaguely puzzled and hurt that President Ford thought it was a good thing to single out weak kids for sneers and ridicule.

When I was in sixth grade we had an Assistant Teacher in gym. She was crazy, one of those fitness freaks who thinks screaming abuse at you will motivate you to work. She would shriek at me and my weak friends, "No pain, no gain!" I remind you: we were 10. One day we had to run a mile. At the end, I was tired. No, I was exhausted. I was also walking. She ran up to me, leaned into my face, and began screaming abuse at me, about how I should run, how I shouldn't be lazy fat cow. Pushed to my limits after days or weeks of this, I muttered, "Shut up." She flipped out. She ordered me to go straight to locker room. As I left the gym, she apparently thought I had stuck my tongue out at her (I hadn't) because she screamed, "If I see that tongue one more time, I will rip it out of your head!"

I got detention for telling her to shut up. She, no doubt, continues to verbally abuse children to this day. Unless the cutting of school funding has resulted in her being unemployed and homeless.

One can only hope.

Anyway, I've flirted occasionally with exercise since then. In 2002 I lost a large amount of weight, and tried to incorporate exercise into my efforts. But I never enjoyed it, and when it didn't seem to have any weight-loss effect (I didn't lose weight any faster when I exercised than when I didn't), I stopped.

But, with the wedding looming, like many brides I began to think maybe some toning might be in order.

In September, I took up Reformer Pilates. I'd tried mat Pilates before, and hated it, but I had long been curious about the reformer machine. To my amazement, I love it. It is the only exercise I have ever tried where I come out of it energized. I had always thought this was a myth, because exercise had previously only made me exhausted and miserable. Pilates energizes me; it soothes me. When I am stressing out about my life, it's the only thing that calms me down.

Still, though I definitely started developing abs (abs!), my body shape wasn't changing. Pilates is not cardio. It's about flexibility and strength training, not about weight loss. Then in December I visited my seamstress Kiki for the second fitting on my dress, and she is making it fit like a second skin. Don't get me wrong: it looks gorgeous, but I cannot gain a pound between now and the wedding, and if I can do something about that lower belly pooch, now would be the time to do it.

So when I read this article about Physique 57, which promised to reshape my body in no time flat, I decided to try it out.

I can't say I love it, I'll be honest. I find it exhausting. I leave class with shaky legs, and my muscles are sore for days after. It doesn't soothe me so much as distract me. But, despite the fact that it doesn't energize me, I have apparently become addicted. I go three or four times a week (so far--it's only been two weeks :-), and I get anxious if I have to skip too many days in a row. I am clearly obsessed with looking good in that dress! I haven't lost any inches yet, but that pooch is looking a bit flatter. Even my sweetie noticed when he was visiting last weekend. Yes, I find it hard to believe it did that much for me in a week, but combined with months of Pilates, I guess my stomach really is getting tightened up.

I've got 25 days between now and the wedding to turn myself into a sleek, elegant bride. I know it's not possible. I know elegant is not my look: the best I can do is cute. Still, I aspire to elegance, and I am going to come the closest I've ever come on my wedding day. I am determined.

I still can't do that flex-arm hang, though.

1 comment:

The Beast Mom said...

The flex-arm hang is from Satan. So are most gym teachers. I hated those worthless "tests"!

On a different note, I hope you have a great birthday!