Love Handles: Chapter Ten

5.22.2005

By Bob Merrick

Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true'although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?

Part Ten: Who's Got the Pain?

At the outbreak of WWI in 1914, Joseph Pilates was placed under internment in England along with other German nationals. While in confinement, he began teaching fellow camp members the concepts and exercises he had developed over 20 years of self-study and apprenticeship in yoga and Zen. He began devising equipment to aid in rehabilitation, taking springs from the beds and rigging them to create spring resistance and 'movement' for the bedridden. Somewhere along the way, someone thought this would be a great idea to update and turn into an exercise craze. Like fools, we congregate and spend around $15 a session to experience this kind of primal working out and call it simply, Pilates.

Last Monday I was planning on dropping by the gym for some cardio, when my lesbian friend from childhood, Carrie, called and invited me to Pilates. Remaining open to new experiences, I had no problem changing course and meeting her there.

When I arrived at the studio, my apprehension kicked in as I noticed various people were harnessed to moving beds with pulleys and straps. It reminded me of the stories of Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor who would torture heretics by tying them to the rack (a metal bed-like frame where the limbs are tied at the head and foot and stretched by rollers until they pop out of their joints). It's really no wonder I have weight issues when you consider every exercise I try evokes nothing but fear.

Carrie seemed as relieved to greet me as I was to see her. 'I'm so glad you made it.' As she hugged me, she whispered in my ear, 'Hopefully we'll get that nice lady over there with the short hair and not the other one. The other one can be the devil when she teaches.'

As we got our equipment (which consisted of a large rubber strap and a small rubber ball like the one Wendy threw at me during dodge ball), Carrie's expression turned to dread as she murmured to me, 'Oh, no. We got the devil girl.' I wanted to reassure Carrie that I could take 'devil girl' since I had been trained to defend myself against evil zombies with just my outstretched arms.

We spent a lot of time on our backs with our legs in the air, which I was fine with. The positions were similar to yoga classes I had taken in the past only they included more movement and additional equipment. Every so often the instructor would come by me and stretch her fingers over my stomach and yell, 'Make your belly smile!' I held back telling her, 'If you want to see my belly smile, show it a plate of chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.' Supposedly when you tighten your stomach muscles, the base of your stomach stretches into a curve-like smile, but when you have a belly as I do, there is just a vaguely tortured facial expression.

In spite of the instructor's stern tone while shouting, 'Pull your navel to your spine, and breeaaaathe!' and Carrie constantly mouthing to me, 'She's the devil,' I actually enjoyed myself. I felt stretched and relaxed afterward, and not that sweaty, which is a big deal for me since I usually break into a sweat if I walk too quickly across my living room.

The following day I somehow felt taller, which made me happy since at 6'3', I have always felt short for my weight. Then came the second day. It took all of my energy to hoist my legs out of bed. I could barely walk, adding to my theory that exercise must not be that good for you when it hurts so much. Somehow every muscle in my body wanted me to be aware of their pain from my relaxing little exercise class. I think it is safe to say, my ass has never hurt that much.

As if the physical pain wasn't bad enough, my mental pain was about to worsen as I met with the trainer at my gym for my one-month weigh-in. My body fat is at 29.4% and the scale is still tipping 258 pounds. The only good news is that I haven't gained anything, but the bad news is, I should be losing anywhere from two to three pounds a week, meaning I should be heading into my 240s and not closing in on 260.

After my recent revelation that I am a food addict, I met with a dietitian and have done an overhaul on my diet. I am now on a strict 1,800-calorie-a-day program that consists of high protein shakes and, dare I say it, a sensible dinner. I just know it is my karma for making fun of the folks at Slimfast last week. I am five days in, but I have to admit, it is really helping. As much as I would love to do a program like Weight Watchers, which I know is easily one of the healthiest programs out there, I need to get my obsession with food figured out first.

By knowing that I am only drinking the shakes, my brain has stopped obsessing about all of the various options I could be eating. As good as I was at sticking to foods I could and couldn't eat on South Beach, I wasn't doing a very good job of limiting my portions, and that has been my downfall. I have also gotten a recommendation from a friend to see a 'food shrink.' I can't wait to make that appointment.

Now that my muscles have stopped aching, I've already signed up for more Pilates classes. It's a good sensation when I can feel my muscles go through simple movements like walking or picking something up. It helps to remind me how my body functions and the importance of taking better care of it. As always, I need to remind myself that I am a constant work in progress.

To read part nine, 'Old Habits Die Hard,' click here.

To read part eight, 'Taking A Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool,' click here.

To read part seven, 'A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane,' click here.

To read part six, 'Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures,' click here.

To read part five, 'Sex, Lies, and the Internet,' click here.

To read part four, 'Sweatin' with an Oldie' But Goodie,' click here.

To read part three, 'What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas,' click here.

To read part two, 'Let's Get Physical,' click here.

To read part one, 'Resolutions and Commitment,' click here.

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