The Second Biggest Challenge

There are a number of things that trip up my progress with the whole weight loss gig. First, it is my lack of resolution and staying power. I have staying power for a lot of things, unless they are wholly in my control. Then, I tend to take the easy way out. With my new combat fitness class, I am going to be shelling out a substantial sum, and that will goad me into being regular.

But this post isn’t about how I battle my lack of resolution, but the second biggest demon: embarrassment.

In this wonderful class, with an amazing coach, and a fantastic trainer, I am in the worst shape. [I kinda love this sentence, with all the superlatives. hehe.] I am the fattest, not the oldest (but those guys are fitter), and the one with the least ability. And therein lies the rub.

It would be awesome to go into something like this with some sort of pre-existing ability. Like I did with my French classes in Goa. I had already been through levels of French in Pune, and I found the course a breeze. It enabled me to stop feeling nervous and to really grasp the nuances of language that has escaped me the first time. That sort of leg up can make it for me. And it is a tremendous confidence boost, although I wasn’t in competition with anyone else.

Right now, I’ve been to two fitness classes. And it is a struggle not to want to collapse into a heap because everyone else is [literally] running laps around me. In short, I feel utterly humiliated and embarrassed.

Stupidly though, and I know this because I have a functioning brain, all this is purely in my head. Not by a word or glance have any of the others, least of all the trainer, betrayed disgust or disdain for my lack of ability.

So I tell myself, everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone had a first day once. At least I am here trying to get to the next day, the next month, the next year: the next level.

I cannot also myself to be discouraged with lack of immediate progress, because that’s not how physiology works. I have to focus on doing one more rep, being a little less breathless, kicking a little bit higher, and tweaking my form a little more each time. That is going to be enough, but I have to keep telling myself that.

Ultimately, I want to enjoy this process. And focusing on the result isn’t going to get me there any faster or happier, which is more important.

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Falling Down and Getting Up Again

Before I started writing this post, I peeked at the page where I am documenting my so-called journey of weight loss. [This post will be indexed there too, so it is kind of meta that I am linking to the container page from within the post. Sorry. I need to geek out slightly.]

Anyway, so I looked at the posts on that page, and I can see fairly clearly that I have gotten absolutely nowhere. I am still as fat as before, if not more. But I haven’t started writing this to whine, but to talk about how I have decided (anew) to change that. The millionth time’s a charm?

So, last year, before quitting my full-time job, I looked up places that taught martial arts. Specifically mixed martial arts. I am not only terribly unfit, but also an unfortunate target of a lot of unwanted male attention. I thought it might me feel a bit more secure to be able to kick ass.

However, due to circumstances, I didn’t join at the time. I saved the number in Keep, and never mustered up the courage to call, nor to tell my family about this new desire. [Because my mum would have been very enthusiastic, and perhaps pushed me to join sooner.]

Last month, I bit the bullet and called the number, terrified of lord knows what. The man didn’t answer, and I heaved a sigh of relief and figured it wasn’t meant to be.

Only. He called back.

Um.

Ok.

Breathe.

Be normal.

Speak to him, you idiot.

I asked him a few questions, and he was unsurprisingly an easy person to talk to. [No matter how many normal people I speak to, I always imagine them as ogres in my mind before speaking to them.]

I laid out all my caveats. I’m 33. I’m very overweight. I have gout. I have a mostly sedentary lifestyle. I don’t know whether I was subconsciously asking him to reject my candidature. He did no such thing. He said that anyone could take the class, and they would progress as per their individual capability and speed. He had an excellent suggestion: come to a class and see what it is like. I was out of excuses.

The next morning, I legged it to the class. I was there for less than 5 minutes, because that’s how quickly I was sold on the idea. I said that I would need a couple of weeks to settle in with a new project that was coming up, and after that I would join the class.

My first class was on Tuesday. It was intense. I couldn’t do all the reps that the trainer instructed, but I tried. My body is out of shape and doesn’t not respond well yet to orders to move it so vigorously. But I tried.

Wednesday, my body was groaning and aching, and my muscles felt fit to burst with agony. I was hobbling around like an ancient crone. I alternated between relishing the stress on my muscles, knowing that it was good for me, and being scared about continuing.

I was still undecided this morning. But I decided to take it step by step: get out of bed; shower and change; get to the class; and then see whether I am able to cope.

I wasn’t able to cope, but I tried once again. Again, I couldn’t do the reps. But I’m going back on Saturday.

Cooperation

After much cajoling, my aunt and I finally convinced my mother to have a health check-up. She is clearly diabetic, but doesn’t take any meds. It has plagued her (and us by extension) for years now. So this week, we finally got it done.

The clinic we are visiting is new for us. It is cheek by jowl by my aunt’s place, and is run by someone she knows. We purchased a package with tests typically necessary for a diabetic. One of these was a session with the ophthalmologist.

Now, the way the clinic is set up, there are doctors in at different times during the day. We went across in the morning for a dental check, an ECG, and a meet with the dietician. So far, so good. We enquired about the eye test and the hobnob with the GP, and were told to come around 7 pm.

So around that time, we hauled ass to the clinic. We were tired after a long morning and afternoon out in the Indian summer, although to be fair we were in and out of shops. But yes, tired.

We were taken straight to the ophthalmologist’s cabin, and he clearly had an attitude to begin with.

My mum sat down in the the chair, and I stood out of his way facing her. He started with checking her eye sight. My mum is 65 years old. She is tired and she hasn’t been too well. Ding ding ding. We were at a clinic. Duh.

He kept barking at her to keep her eyes open and not to blink. She tried. He then held her head hard against the machine. I objected. He backed off.

Then, he tried to test her power. The sneaky bastard kept trying out the same lenses, certain that she was just being difficult. I knew this because I was standing behind. She was clear in her communication: I cannot see; it’s blurred. Yet, he continued to test the same powers, convinced that she was being difficult.

Then he moved onto the next machine, but she couldn’t keep her eyes open long enough. I don’t know where these blokes get their egos from, but my goodness. What an appalling bedside manner.

Finally he says: “You aren’t cooperating.” And I lost it. I told him off, very politely, saying that he had no business speaking to my mother like that. She stayed calm, and tried to comply. But I was furious. I was trying to get her out of the seat, and the man continued to argue. I couldn’t respond to what he was saying because I was in a red haze.

The centre manager got involved, and we walked out of the ophthalmologist cabin quickly, rejecting his services. My mum was angry and a little weepy, my aunt was fuming, and I was transcendent with rage.

Only when I heard my aunt explain to the centre manager, did I realise why I was so angry. Till then, it was a purely subconscious reaction.

On 4th of April, 2016, my mother took my father to an ENT surgeon for a check up, because he was having breathing issues. Due to the ENT surgeon’s enormous ego, which was inflamed with my mother trying to explain that my father was unable to take medicines orally, he said to her, in my father’s hearing: “He is not a small boy; he should cooperate.”

The day after, I lost my father due to an undiagnosed chest infection. He went into respiratory arrest, and then cardiac arrest. And eminently avoidable situation, if the condition had been treated with antibiotics the previous day. That ENT surgeon is one of the people I hold directly responsible for my father’s death.

I was not there to fight for my father, and my mother was unaware of the iniquitousness of the medical profession. I have always been there with him. Except that one last time.

So when I heard: “She is not cooperating.” I should be congratulated for not rearranging the features on that bastard’s damn face.

Periodical Pain

I debated about writing this post for a few months, before it struck me that no one actually reads this blog. So I can dispense with any worry as such. Having said that though, in case any one does read it, here is a disclaimer:

I am not a medical professional, and I don’t claim to have a cure that works in every scenario. I am describing what has helped me through extreme menstrual agony, in the hope it may offer relief to someone else too. Please do not use this advice in lieu of visiting a professional, and also please keep your own medical circumstances in mind too.

Now that that is out of the way, I can get on with my post.

So, up until a few months ago, I suffered from debilitating menstrual cramps. I have a fairly high threshold of pain, having suffered from migraines for the better part of my life. But these cramps had me crying with agony, while clutching my stomach, and gasping for breath.

I used to chow down ibuprofen to stave off these cramps, but the pills somehow elongated my cycle. And to be honest, ibuprofen scares me a little, with excessive usage known to cause kidney issues.

I agree that the responsible thing would have been to visit a gynaecologist, and perhaps be tested for endometriosis or something. However, I am overweight and I knew how the conversation would go: “Lose weight. The pain will then go away.” This is my imagination at work mostly, but that’s my opinion of the broad medical profession in this country.

[Reader discretion: The concluding part may be TMI for some people. I talk about bodily emissions. So stop if you are squeamish or easily grossed out.]

When I recalled the cramps and the agony, I realised that I always felt I would end up feeling better if I could let out some gas. I always felt constipated during, and therefore putting two and two together, I figured out that maybe a clean gastric tract was the way out of these cramps.

So, I avoided food when I knew my period was on its way. The preceding few days, I would eat much less. During the actual period, I would eat practically nothing. I survived mostly on juice and water. And it worked. I didn’t have cramps at all.

As you can imagine though, this is not the healthiest decision to make. Also, it was sometimes not feasible to maintain a no-eating policy.

Apart for my cramps, I also suffer from gout, and the attendant swelling at my joints. To ease that pain, I started measuring how much water I drank in the day. To my utter shock, I realised I drank less than a litre. I slowly amped up the intake every day, till I was drinking between 2 and 3 litres. Yes, it meant more trips to the loo, but the swelling reduced considerably. And, I found it was much easier to clear my intestines.

Then a couple of months ago, I finally put the two theories together. If drinking more water helped with my digestion normally, then it should ease the constipation during my period too. So I started drinking a litre more during my period.

It helped. It really helped.

First of all, I no longer felt constipated. At all. Second, every time I could feel my uterus tautening up, I would drink a glass of water. Funnily enough, the full bladder forced my uterus to calm down a little. I don’t have a clue why, but it did. Third, my period cycle didn’t elongate. Fourth, there were fewer clots. And fifth, the flow became easier and more consistent. I forgot to mention before that I have extremely erratic periods, and they can vary between mere spotting to practically haemorrhaging levels of flow.

Like I said, I was unsure about writing this, but I think that if it helps even one woman overcome debilitating pain, it was worth it.

Biting the Bullet

After deciding to make an active effort to lose weight, I finally went back to the gym today. I am at the tail end of a 3-month membership, which I fully intend to renew.

I live in a relatively middle class area, without flashy homes or outlets. In keeping with the theme of its surroundings, the gym too caters to a gentler pace of life. It doesn’t have state-of-the-art equipment, nor ultra-buff trainers. It has a comfortable sort of appeal, and welcomes any kind of person to work out.

True to its overall appearance and rhythm, there aren’t pushy trainers. The gym is peppered with them however, and they more or less leave people to do their workouts as they wish. They are on hand for assistance or advice, but they are not overtly aggressive.

I’ve been a member for a little over two years now, and I have been prone to go in, do a little exercise, and leave shortly thereafter. There was no method to my workout, and I merely did the exercises I knew or remembered from previous sessions. I wasn’t particularly keen on getting a trainer to oversee my workout, because I have been severely low on energy, and as it was, my motivation was at an all-time low.

But today I walked into the gym, and went directly up to the trainer. I committed to coming in regularly, and sticking to a plan. For my part, I did tell her that I don’t have much energy, and I would prefer to move slowly. I am not in a rush to change my body, and would prefer a comfortable pace.

Tomorrow, she will take my measurements and set up a workout plan. I have finally taken the first step.

Dumb Belle

After writing about my weight loss challenges, I decided to track my progress on the blog. This is more about a means of motivation for myself, rather than to educate anyone or to show off. [I have nothing to show off at present anyway, so that is beside the point.]

Things I want to achieve in the next 12 months:

  1. Lose 30 kilos.
  2. Improve my daily hydration. [I used to drink very little water, and I had amped it up to 4 litres a day. Now I drink around 2 litres, but I would like to hit a daily intake of at least 2.5 litres.]
  3. Take up yoga again.
  4. Join a dance class again.

I will post updates regularly, although I haven’t as yet decided when to embark upon this path, and how to schedule the updates.

Because this space is secluded, much like a diary, I feel free to express my thoughts and failings without judgement. Somewhere, in the back of my consciousness, I am aware that other people’s judgement shouldn’t bother me; but it does nevertheless.

Another, greater, reason is that when I track myself in any form, I tend to do better. There is a lot of research that proves this, and I firmly believe in those results. By the virtue of declaring that I would try and blog every day for a month, I actually struck off a goal from my list of eventual to-dos.

I hope to see similar results on my weight loss journey. Good luck to me [and anyone else currently on a quest of their own]!

Weighty Matters

I am fat. Not overweight, not “healthy”, not heavy. Fat.

I know I need to lose weight, because I am a short person and I am at least 30 kilos more than I should be. I am not in denial, nor am I unaware of the risks to my health. I feel the ill effects even now, because I used to be a skinny little thing. Not healthy though, mind you, just skinny. I had all the flexibility of being skinny, but none of the vitality of being fit.

My goal for losing weight is to be fit and healthy. So that I don’t run out of breath on the stairs; so that my feet don’t ache with the tremendous load they heft; so that my back doesn’t ache with the excessive weight of my breasts and stomach. I want to lose weight for all the right reasons, in short.

However, it is tough to shed fat. This is no secret, and the key to it is a good diet and exercise. And I am failing at both.

A good diet is cumbersome. I do eat a lot of vegetables, mostly in the form of salads, but I do eat a lot of carbs too. I mostly avoid sweets, because I don’t really like excessively sweet foods, and sugar gives me a headache. That being said, if I go on a diet, it would put a lot of pressure on my household. My mother is diabetic, and needs to eat at regular intervals (which she doesn’t). Having two separate meal plans for two people is ludicrous, and frankly the prerogative of those who have people to cook for them. For much the same reasons, I cannot eat tiny meals every two hours. Whoever came up with that little gem had a chef and a battery of servants to cater to their whimsical schedule. I don’t. It is my mum and I that cook. And then eat.

Exercise. Oh dear. I do love exercise. I used to swim two kilometres every morning, when I had access to a pool. I enrolled in kathak classes twice in the course of 5 years. I joined a yoga studio when I found a good one. And now, I am enrolled in a gym across the street; but I hardly go. Why?

Because when I swam, danced, or contorted my body, I felt no judgement around me. The other people were focussed on their own form, and the only person who was interested in what I was doing was the teacher or instructor. At my gym, I can see the judgement in everyone’s eyes. “My God, she is fat,” those sidelong looks seem to say. I sometimes want to turn around and remark, “You do realise that I am here, in the very place to lose weight, because I am fat, right?”

Of course, this all may be in my head. But I know people watch. The jiggles and the tyres are unpleasant to see. The sweat beading on an already slick forehead or the rasping breath of a tired body are not pleasurable sensations. I get it.

The thing is, for me to lose weight, I need to exercise. I don’t have options right now, and I am stuck going to the gym to exercise. It is boring and I consume numerous podcasts while trudging wearily on the treadmill.

But I wish I could tell people around me that for me to lose weight, it will take time. My joints are not strong, my muscles are weak, there is too much fat on my skeleton. Moving is an effort, in fact much more an effort for me than for you, oh muscle-bound one. If you can’t admire the effort, at least appreciate that it is harder for me than for you. And honey? Weight loss has to start somewhere. Deal with it.