Love Handles: Chapter Sixteen

8.14.2005

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 Sixteen: Gonna Make You Sweat

I have had a hard time getting back on track these last few weeks. There, I said it. I start out each morning with great intentions, but by the time my head hits the pillow, I am riddled with guilt over all of the unnecessary calories I have consumed throughout the day. The piece of cake from my coworker's birthday, those chips and salsa that sat on the table while we waited for our lunch, that extra glass of wine with dinner because traffic in Los Angeles has become so unbearable. Because of this, I admit with shame, that I have gained another seven pounds (taking me back up to 264 pounds). I am going in the wrong direction, and I want to call Wynonna Judd and cry.

The best news is that in spite of myself, I'm not giving up. I won't give up. As I continue to drudge forward and shake up my routines, I researched a new exercise for myself that promised instant weight loss (even if it was just from the release of every molecule of water in my body). Bikram yoga is a practice done in an incredibly hot room, sometimes as high as 105 degrees. I am scared to be in a swimming pool in Palm Springs at that temperature, but if it takes a class in Hell to remind me that I need to take better care of my body, so be it.

Somehow, I roped my friend Eric Shane, someone who has known me so long we actually met while I was dating my last girlfriend, into joining me. He hadn't practiced yoga in a few months and didn't read the fine print on the Web site describing the class. His only question when he found out was, 'Do you think this is a good idea considering how much you and I sweat in an air-conditioned room?'

As we walked into the room, I immediately felt like a fish being thrown into an oven. I was gasping for air and my eyes grew big with fear. Eric Shane shared the same look, and I think we both would have turned and walked out the door had this hot guy wearing only board shorts and looking like he had stepped out of a Hawaiian Tropic ad not followed us into class. Eric Shane whispered in my ear, 'I'm guessing that if this place knows what is good for business, they paid him to be here.' And with that, we both set up our mats so that he would be in prime view.

I am the kind of person that loves the first few minutes in a sauna. I love the heat and the way my body comes alive from deep in my bones and my muscles feel like they could stretch like Inspector Gadget. But then it all becomes too much and I become claustrophobic and want to crawl out of my skin. The teacher kept reminding us throughout class, 'Remember to breathe through your nose. If you have to breathe through your mouth, you are pushing your body too hard.' Easy for her to say: She was standing stationary in front of the class as she asked us to grab our left foot with our left hand and kick out as far as we could, remembering to ground ourselves with our right foot.

Bikram consists of 26 varying poses referred to as Asanas; each is performed twice and held for what seems like an eternity during a 90-minute class. I maintained my breathing as my internal dialogue consisted of, 'Mind over matter. If all of these people can do this without passing out, I will be fine.' And that seemed to work, for at least the first six poses and approximately 20 minutes of class. After that, there was nothing my mind could do; my thermostat was overheating and my body was failing.

One of the most important reasons for doing Bikram is because you lose so much sweat that all of your toxins go with it. I had toxins coming out of my pores that have been trapped since high school. My colonics had nowhere near this amount of release. This is also said to be one of the reasons you begin to feel so nauseous. When the whole class went down for a Shavasana (corpse pose), I found myself unable to get back up. Every time I tried, I became dizzier and dizzier, so I rolled onto my stomach and lay there hoping to regain my balance.

After catching my breath so that it was once again flowing from my nose, I tried to get up but instead found myself imagining what Anne Heche felt like that day she was found roaming in the desert looking for her space ship. Sweat was dripping out of every crevice of my body and I looked like Whitney and Bobby during their interview with Diane Sawyer. When I glanced at the man in front of me, he was contorted into a triangle pose that created an aqueduct for all of his sweat to merge. It was coming off of him so fast that I'm still not sure he wasn't standing there urinating. This brought me to my next problem.

The room was carpeted. As if I didn't have enough psychosis going on in my brain, I was now battling my germ phobia and obsessing over how often they don't shampoo their rugs. In trying to get my mind refocused and my body back to a standing position, my eyes locked onto the back of Mr. Hawaiian Tropic. At least he took my mind off of the heat long enough to stand again.

The teacher made me feel comfortable about the fact that I was able to do less and less as the class went on by nodding at me with smiling glances. My goal at that point was to make it through the full 90 minutes in the heat, and there were still 20 left to go. When I looked over at Eric Shane, he was collapsed into child pose and if I hadn't seen him breathing, I might have assumed him dead. It was obvious he wasn't having very much fun, and finally he mouthed to me, 'I am never doing this again.' I think he said something after that, but I was too distracted by the amount of sweat pouring down his face that I stopped reading his lips.

We finally made it to the end of the class. When our instructor brought the energy of the room back together out of Shavasana, we all collectively chanted 'Namaste' ('The divine in me salutes the divine in you'). She told us to take as much time as we needed to get off our mats and exit. I stood up so fast and ran for the door that I nearly passed out. I kept Mr. Hawaiian Tropic in my sights so that I could at least be in his arms if it were to happen. The shock of the cold air once we were outside once again left me breathless.

While Eric Shane and I were complaining on the way to the car, two different women commented on how much better it gets. 'So much of it has to do with all of the toxins trying to get out of your system that first class. Once you get them out, a lot of the nausea goes away,' the first one said. The second one warned, 'It gets much easier, but there are still some days that are harder than others, but it is all worth it.'

For some reason, I got into my car thinking she was right. Once I peeled my clothes off my body, every cell inside me felt alive and recharged. I could feel the toxins on my skin, like a numbing lotion. It felt like Solarcaine after a bad sunburn. It was a nice wake-up call from my body reminding me how much crap I have been putting in it and that all of those birthday cakes and glasses of wine do stick with me whether I realize it or not. I am meeting Erica, who previously went surfing with me, at tomorrow's 7 a.m. class, while Eric Shane contemplates another round. I am looking forward to sweating out some of that residual ranch dressing as I try to also continue to push forward on my weight loss journey.

To read part fifteen, 'Surf's Up' click here.

To read part fourteen, 'Grin And Bear It' click here.

To read part thirteen, 'When in Rome' click here.

To read part twelve, 'Moving On Out' click here.

To read part eleven, 'I'm Getting Very Sleepy'' click here.

To read part ten, 'Who's Got the Pain?' click here.

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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