Saturday, October 01, 2011

Fixing up my own humanantigravitysuit

After two years and two winters of bracing winter air and sun,  I have been feeling much better, ready to resume the overhaul on my own physicality I started 4 years ago. I lost a bunch of weight, then plateaued out for the last couple years, seemingly unable to overcome the inertia that would be involved in increasing daily aerobic exercise. The diet has been fairly good, weight maintained, but no more coming off. But I think I found the solution. Very conveniently located, a few blocks from where I live, a place for women like me opened up just a year ago, a nice clean, fresh-smelling place, a franchise called Inches A-Weigh. So, I joined last month, and so far, it's perfect.

The deal is, you pay a bunch of money, go into a program of cognitive behavioural therapy around food choice, follow a restricted calorie plan, be strictly accountable, hand in your food diary and be "counselled",  regularly weighed (twice/week) and measured (every two weeks) for several months, eat their protein snacks (included), and work out on their equipment for 20 minutes, at least 3x/week, or as often/long as you want. There are elliptical machines, treadmills, and stationary bikes, all good quality and smoothly operating. There are TVs in front of the bank of machines, with DVDs of movies with subtitles looping all day long. No mirrors. None. Except in the bathroom over the sink.

OK, no big whup so far.. but there is another thing they offer, which I instantly became addicted to - along the other wall are a bank of beds that move you around, bend you, shake you, pummel the body. They feel fantastic. You do plenty of "exercise" on them, i.e., keep the abs tight, keep certain muscles contracted, arms overhead, etc. Sort of Pilates Lite. For the first several weeks that's the program. Then they increase the stuff you do on the beds, make it more complicated, adding heavy balls and light hand weights.

What I like is the feeling of being tossed around, 6 minutes per bed, 7 beds, a total of about 45 minutes. After that I feel good enough physically that putting out a 30-minute effort on the cardio equipment is no longer a daunting prospect. I think all the jiggling likely stimulates endogenous opioid systems or something.

What I know for sure is this: exercise never ever ever felt good to me before. I have a nervous system that always has found exercise painful, daunting, boring, an exercise in futility, incapable of dredging up the will power after a couple weeks, no intrinsic motivation to do any regularly, ever. In other words, exercise has never ever been a source of joy or pleasure or intrinsic motivation, the way it seems to be for people who seem to be comprised only of large bungee cords, and whose surface layer does not feel heavy or sensitive to them. So, the under-exercised corner of life was the one I found I had painted myself into, trapped by paint that refused to dry. 

I think I (and many many others, mainly female) have more "feeling" (interoception) than bungee cord people do. I think the beds must anesthetize me/my interoception or something. Then, sure, I can go on some cardio thingy and spend a half hour keeping my heart rate up - I have even started liking the elliptical; never in my life before have I managed more than a couple minutes on one of those things. But one day, I found I had Achilles tendons that could recoil all by themselves! Nice thing to finally be able to feel, at my advanced middle age. I've been going every day. Moi! Maybe by spring I'll be thinner-looking and have a much more fit CV system.

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