It’s always harder the second time around. Coming back for round two. The second kilometre. The second rep. The second day. The second round. The second time coming. And here I am on round two, stage two, attempt two of the fitness regime for the year. Frankly, I’m just amazed I was able to last 4 dedicated months, before having that preordained break.
I have never been one for holding the same regimen for month after month. Mixing things up, alternating routines, changing gyms, switching forms of exercise has always been the way to go. What can I say, I am inherently restless. Settling is not something I do. So when I began exercising in October this year, I chose running because I needed to make a beginning after weeks of frustrating fits and starts. At the start of the sabbatical, I did the stupid thing of trying to bounce right back into a high-intensity Jillian Michaels routine that I had been doing off and on for a couple of years, with no regularity at all. And the only thing it did for me is show me just how out of shape I was. Panting mid-circuit, having to stop, huffing and puffing, unable to breathe, I felt like shit. To make things worse, my gut would hang loose and got in the way of half the moves. My butt felt as big as a suitcase too heavy to lug around. Not easy to manage either when trying to do burpees and mountain-climbers, you see.
So running, it was. Also, because running came easy. Rather low-intensity, I could pick my pace and stick with it. It largely involved just one move and all I had to do was gradually build my stamina and regain my endurance. Slowly but surely, I began to look forward to my running time as me-time, tuning into my music and switching off from all else for that one hour. I even forgot about my gut that could house a baby kangaroo and my butt that could hide a small litter of kittens. I would just focus on running longer, sustaining myself and gradually increasing time and distance. By December, I was clocking 7 kilometres to an hour. Not very impressive by itself, but good for a comeback runner like me (the kind with a massive butt and a little-too-large gut.)
Somewhere down the line I tried on my skinny jeans — the ones I had hidden away for over a year. And they fit. Not that that was the ultimate aim, but since my goal is to get back to being my fitter, toned self rather than losing weight per se, and in the absence of a weighing scale to check, the jeans were my benchmark. I don’t know what happened in between, except that I stopped thinking about the flab, and just focused on getting out there and running at least 6 days a week, come what may.
It was around then that my knees began to hurt. Not the kind of muscle tension that comes from being worked out, but the kind of stretchy-ache that you know is bad news. When I would get up from a chair in a rush, my knees would make me wince and hold me back. I’d be blinded by white spots when I woke up in the morning and sprung out of bed like I’m used to. A few days of ignoring it and powering on reduced me to a hobble, with excruciating pain that slowed me down even when I wasn’t working out. I consulted an orthopaedic doctor and a sports trainer who gave me a bunch of strengthening exercises and stretches for my knees, in addition to the basic stretches I was already doing. *Yawn* — more stretching? I know, I know, its criminal not to, but that turned me of running, and I reduced myself to a steady, brisk walk.
Two months of that and I was beginning to feel fitter, stronger and toned. Clothes began to fit, my hunger seemed to be falling into place and I was feeling energetic and good.
Cut to mid-February, when I ran into a hectic time and that was the end of it. For the first time since October my dedicated efforts to exercise regularly came to a grinding halt. Again. General distractions in life combined with two trips out of Goa, in quick succession, meant no semblance of a routine.
When I came back last week, I knew it was time for round two. The painful second coming. I could feel my lethargic body telling me to get moving. On Monday, I gave it a crack. It’s horrifically hot and I don’t want to risk dehydration and exhaustion by going out to walk/run, and because I have been contemplating starting something new to get a more complete work out, I took this break as a good reason. And I have resumed the Jillian Michaels 6week-6Pack. But don’t be fooled, I am not aiming for a 6pack. That abysmal gut I told you about? It has a long way to go before it reaches 6pack stage, and I’m not aiming to get there anytime soon.
Three days in, I am feeling like a cow that has been stretched out of shape. I feel like someone worked a meat mallet on my butt, obliques and inner thighs. A bit battered, because even the beginner modifications of level 1 have the potential to kick your butt Jillian-Michaels-style, and that is enough to make a significant difference. Even in just three days. Today, I could really tell the difference. I took fewer breaks, stayed with my moves longer and didn’t give up. Aside from still cheating on the mountain-climbers (I really hate those things!), I think this has been a good, refreshing change for me.
I still have starting trouble, and because I am left to my own mercies, within the four walls of my home I tend to push getting started till its very late. But 10-12 minutes in, when I am melting down nose-first, and I feel the first kicks of endorphin rush in, I begin to feel really good. Sometimes I need a little nudge in the form of peppy music, and this was yesterday’s endorphin pill:
The flip side to working out hard is to watch ones diet. Something I have not been able to do with any level of success thus far. I am too much of a foodie to really exercise self-control. So in the interest of teaching myself some restraint as well as general well-being, I briefly considered modifying my eating habits a bit. Diets and me do not get along, so nothing drastic. I decided to cut back on desserts for a month. That plan flew out of the window 10 days in, when I stuffed my face on cheese-cake, banoffee-pie, and sticky-date-cake, in Delhi, and I have not managed to get back on track. So, yeah, no — not happening. I also tried to up my protein and roughage, and cut back on the rice, but I am such an immense southie, I *heart* my rice. All three (small) helpings of it sometimes (gasp!). So no, that wasn’t a very successful plan either. I’m beginning to think the oversized gut and the butt might have something to do with it, maybe?
And now I’m back to relying wholly on just the physical exercise. This work out is shorter, but more intense and works out more muscle groups. Here’s hoping I last through the second coming and push through to the other side, because if Jillian Michaels cannot drop-kick and whip my ass (and belly) back into shape now, nothing and nobody can.