Frankenstein and Kettle bells

Disclaimer: I have no verifiable knowledge that Frankenstein’s Monster ever used kettle bells on those brawny arms of his. However, if he had, it would totally explain why he walked like he had an atomic wedgie going on 24/7!

*  For the uninitiated am going to add a link here about what an atomic wedgie is. If you need to refer to the link then you’re one of the good ones who doesn’t believe in noogies and spitballs either. I’m not posting a picture of the horrors of an atomic wedgie because it may very well fall under cruelty to animals.

Let’s continue shall we? Well…I’ve been quite wishy-washy about going to the gym and I paid for it. Oh boy, did I pay for it! My gym instructor thought I should try out the latest instrument of torture aka the kettle bell.  I tried it and by the end of the routine this was me; praying for deliverance!

knsbwodfeatureimage

Anyhoo, all that praying didn’t get me much. Then. Once I got back home and over the rest of the day it seemed like someone had applied the brakes to my thigh muscles. I’ve heard of lockjaw. And now imagine lockthigh instead. Or rather imagine a short round woman walking like this for 2 days! But much S-L-O-W-E-R!!

Everything about growing older, not eating right, not taking care of your body comes with huge epiphanies. Mine was all the couch potatoness I’ve displayed all these years. I could have read while using the treadmill or just taken out 20 minutes out of my day even every alternate day and done *something*. I didn’t. And fell prey to an innocuous-looking cute, round thing which now I equate with being on the rack!

Jokes aside…don’t go to the gym if you don’t want too much structure and routine. But take care of yourself else it comes back and bites you on the rather sizable glutes you’ll end up having.

People don’t know what lifting weights is till you’re pulling your body up from a slanted plane or holding it up on your elbows while trying to stay steady and not belly flop on the gym mats. Or when your arm muscles jiggle like Jello and you find yourself wanting to melt into a puddle because then you wouldn’t be in any kind of shape and hurt.

But stick with it and the endorphins kick in and it actually does ease the aches and pain. It also makes you want to try out latest bane of your existence, if only to conquer it once and for all!

Till then you put up with your mind saying stuff like this to egg you on-

Of Mat Jumps and Face Packs…

I don’t consciously try and make the blog titles esoteric or cryptic even..they just pop out of my head, all baked and ready to go. Quite like how this happened. And in case anyone is interested (Pshaw! Yeah right…) how that happened…read it right here.

Onto the actual stuff I wanted to convey…I’ve been doing some different things as a part of my gym routine and one of them is to jump on mats. Big deal, right? Wrong!

Jumping on 3-4 3 inch mats stacked on stop on each other in a way that you land on your feet, don’t wobble and don’t sound like The Hulk landing is something that 30-somethings may have some trouble with.

For us, jumping went the way of the Dodo. Especially for the heavier amongst us, viz moi, find it a tad difficult to do without either feeling ungainly or self-conscious.  In any case, whatever we can’t do any longer, or have stopped doing; is the focus of what we need to do to reboot this state of being unfit and unhealthy.

This morning, after a good night’s sleep and an even better awakening, I stepped into TGIF mode with a vengeance! After dropping off the offspring, something that always gets a big grin on my face a la this momand a nice stroll around the campus, I oiled my hair, put a cucumber pack on my face and was dancing blind aka without the glasses to everything from the Moanna OST to jazzy Hindi songs. And feeling quite peppy and not crying out for the oxygen cylinder like before.

All hyperboles aside, when you can and do jump up and land lighter on your feet than you have in more years than you can count, it’s a fantastic feeling! This is why kids are always jumping…it’s fun! Each time you go up in the air, it’s exhilarating and when you come down again you’re buoyed up to zoom straight back up! It’s liberating at the very least and extremely affirming.

I want to go on a trampoline right now but am not sure about the weight limitations on them so I will take it easy for a bit but I might play hopscotch. And soon!

Listening to- You’re Welcome (Moanna OST)

Image courtesy: Justin-hebert.com

Gym Diaries: Jelly Arms & Pokey Things

This Thursday my trainer started me out on a slightly ramped up routine. Either that means that YAY! my stamina is increasing or that I really need as much help as I can! Am sure it’s a good blend of both because I do find it easier to get back into a groove without getting into what I call my “soggy-sweaty-mess” state and also because there is extensive help required in getting to desirable levels of good health.

Anyhoo…for the most part this particular regime has me moving my whole body more than the previous ones did and the way that’s happening is partly comical and outright ouch-inducing.

One of the exercises consists of me jumping onto a set of mats from a bent-knee position with arms swinging to give me momentum. But there’s a catch- I MUST NOT THUMP! My trainer lands like a cat. Barely any sound. But I THUMP. Quite thumpingly. He asked me not be terribly consciously of myself while jumping and to do it the way I used to as a child. I took him at his word and he said in his I-want-to-praise-you-but you-aren’t-there-yet tone, “That’s better. Now do it without the sound”. And therein lies the rub. Chunky people create sounds. We haven’t been light on our feet in a while so our movements overall including treads, gaits are fairly heavy. So I have many jumps to go before the thumping stops.

Now comes the more painful part of my story. The dreaded nemesis of the gym, the foam roller with the pokey thingies poking out all over it, has made a return in a vile form. And my thighs are begging for mercy. I’m supposed to lie down in a plank position and keep the instrument of torture under my thighs and just roll back and forth. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yeah, so were the circles in Dante’s Inferno!

But all drama aside, going to the gym has shaken loose one of my biggest fallacies: that my lard is going to protect me, dull some sensation of pain etc because there are layers of it just under my skin. But nooo…pokey things are designed to cut through fat and poke away to glory and make you cry for mommy. I really, really, really don’t think I’ll ever like that thing and am pretty sure that my thighs are getting permanent grooves in them from all the back and forth rolling.

Onto the jelly arms. No guesses here. I started on weights. And after the first 8 reps there was mini earthquake measuring around 5.7 or so in the Richter scale in my arms. And then there were aftershocks. I couldn’t fathom how wobbly my arms got. And this was with just a 3-kg weight.

The reason going to the gym often ends up being a slap in the face for many and leads to drop-outs is due to the image of yourself that you see emerging. Stamina, endurance seem to be words in a dictionary and you really don’t know how to summon any up and want to just lie down on the mat, have the world leave you alone to curl up and sleep away the hurt from the pokey things.

But those who can endeavor. Sometimes by getting their angst out via blog posts. Those who can’t, take a step back to less intense activities or attack the bag of chips with a new-found love or vengeance. But I decided that very day; the only jelly I wanted to see was on my plate and not in my limbs.

PS: The next post may need to be posted with Google Docs Voice typing because the era of jelly arms isn’t over yet.

Image courtesy- media.giphy.com

Gym: Where I Meet My Body

Before I started going to the gym, I thought I knew my body. Most of it was bulgy or chunky in places it shouldn’t have been but I did not become acquainted with my scapula, soleus, trapezius as much as I thought I would have earlier.

They were names in an anatomy book but barring that they weren’t too relevant on a daily basis. Now they are. Because they ache, are tender or getting flexed and nudged rudely out of their comfort zone of near-complete inertia.

There’s a small poster in the gym that states, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” And while I try andq get my short arms and legs to move, I realize that time has not been utilized well all that much. 

I started out with a mix of exercises while my trainer figured out which ones would go well together and not have me pass out on the floor at the end of it all.

And gradually I got to have a proper routine. I’m refraining from calling it a regime because that makes it sound more rigid and barring my stiff muscles post the workout, there isn’t anything rigid about it. My trainer isn’t a drill sergeant and basically takes care of the people under his care. And he does seem to be able to size up the people who come in. 

A gym I briefly went to when MLM started playgroup, had the the usual cliches coming out of it in spades. The too-tight muscle shirt-wearing himbos, tank tops, people calling each other “dude” and trying to surreptitiously flex their muscles when chubby people walked in the door.

The trainers there would usually tell you your BMI and tell you to sign up for a year and get shoes of a specific brand while playing jhango Bollywood beats for you to exercise to. 

The place I go to now is unpretentious. It’s largely minimalistic and doesn’t embrace the “gymming” culture by showcasing treadmills and cycles the moment you enter. And am fairly sure *no one* calls anyone “dude” there.

Anyhoo, back to all 5 feet of me. I’m getting to know my adductor muscles daily while my calf and my plantar also make it a point to chat me up. Usually cribbing about being weak from disuse. Maybe if I’d walked to the fridge to snack more often rather than favoring my gluteus maximus for so long.

Speaking of which, no amount of lard on your rear end will come in handy when you’re asked to sit on a ridged object and roll back and forth. So might as well cultivate your hieney as a brief resting place rather than masquerade it like a mini land mass.

But all snarks aside, it is amazing how moving your hand back and forth or standing on one leg for a little bit of time can teach you how wobbly your entire body is. It’s not merely mind over matter; you actually have to make things happen! Willing it to happen is only the first step.

As it is, no other muscle of mine has ever got as vigorous a workout as the ole tongue. That one can bench press a helluva lot of words while scarfing down a large plate of cheesy nachos. Which again go and set up shop at the hips and south of the border. 

*emits forlorn sighs*

My body and I are so *not* having a happy reunion till now!

Training Right

A good trainer trains well and gets you to meet your goals. The right trainer helps you define and understand your goals better and chalks out the best possible path to reach them.

I’ve been going to a gym for 2 weeks now. And the main thing which struck me about my trainer vis-a-vis any other gym or other physical fitness instructors that I’ve come across is that my trainer is damn observant. And that makes all the difference.

When you are observant you notice whether the individual is breathing right; even something as minute as when they are inhaling or exhaling. You notice whether the individual has high distractibility, what kind of personality they have, if they’ve skipped a couple of steps in the exercise line-up and if they’re doing something absolutely right or just barely.

Why is that important for a person who just wants help in losing weight? Well, if your personality is like mine where the mind tends to wander and you focus more on whether the country song playing on the radio at the gym is “appropriate” music for the workout or if the rap song playing has misogynistic lyrics; you forget to focus on your breathing. You inhale when you’re supposed to exhale and turn into a sweaty, soggy, panting mess. You assume a posture and think to yourself, “Ah…I look like a flamenco dancer!” and forget to turn on the timer or keep looking at the unending images of yourself in the mirrors all around and forget the next steps. The list goes on…and that’s where the right instructor is a gem.

They help you come back to the matter at hand, they explain that the fatigue and panting like a dog can be avoided by doing things the right way. And they patiently correct you, often with a quick blink-and-you-miss-it-smile, again and again till you get it right on your own.

They understand and appreciate that you are a person who needs the whole blueprint laid out in front of you and aren’t always able to learn or adapt on the go. They enable you to slow down, literally breathe easier and do what’s right for you. They focus on what you do, how you do it; inside the gym and outside.

A good instructor can maintain the right kind of body image, promote healthy eating and be a good role model all in one. But the right instructor help you work towards all of those things; your capabilities, personality and physical makeup notwithstanding.

Image courtesy- bostonbakedbeanz.com

P.S: I still think that while meditating to regain my focus is a good suggestion; streaming country music with lyrics like rib-eye steaks and margaritas are too much for any foodie. Especially one who is trying to cut back from life-long vocation of being a glutton…erm foodie. If I had that much control, I’d be featured in Sports Illustrated!