So you may remember a while back I mentioned the snugness of my black choir concert trousers and my desire to shed a few pounds. Well since then I have been on a bit of a health drive.
To start with I base-lined myself using my Fitbit which you may recall was purchased by my husband for my birthday in January. Quite pleasingly I was usually able to hit the government recommended guidelines of ten thousand steps a day quite easily.
Although the more I thought about it the more depressing that fact became. The snugness of my concert trousers had occurred, therefore, despite my hitting this step goal, albeit unknown to me, and as such it was clear the number of steps in question was not sufficient to allow for the amount of Doritos in my diet.
Thus I was faced with two options. One, cut out the Doritos or, two, up my exercise game. Doritos are a non negotiable. I am not bothered what flavour. Plain, chilli heat wave, barbecue…..hmmm…barbecue…. So suffice to say only option two appealed. I use the word ‘appealed’ here advisedly.
A friend and I started a weekly exercise class. Once I got over the shock of turning up to our first session and being made to exercise outside I got into it. It is mainly strength based though and I felt a bit of sweat may be in order.
So I girded my loins and dusted off my Jillian Michaels DVDs. I had a fairly prolonged flirtation with Jillian about five years ago when I had finally packed Youngest off to school and decided I needed to get to grips with myself. A bit like now. But without the concert trouser snugness.
At that time Jillian was a presenter on one of my favourite shows; Biggest Loser USA. Well when I say presenter what I actually mean is torturer. I am sure you know the concept. A group of seriously large, in a way that really only Americans seem to be able to achieve, people go to a ‘camp’ to lose drastic amounts of weight. A lot of it is diet, no Doritos in sight, but another large part is the exercise regime put together by the competing team leaders. Of which Jillian was my favourite. The exercise regime is brutal. It consists of lots of shouting, bullying, sweating, collapsing and quite often vomiting.
Quite why, then, I thought buying her home DVDs was a good idea is slightly beyond me.
At the time there were many threads on Mumsnet about her 30 Day Shred DVD. See even the name is scary. The upsides. Each session is only 20 minutes long. That is the main selling point. It is apparently easy to fit in to your day. Of course in reality it isn’t really 20 minutes long. Once you have rearranged the lounge, extracted your trainers from the kids dressing up box, discovered the cans of beans you were going to use as weights have been eaten, warmed up, cooled down and showered. But still shorter than the average DVD.
Another upside. It seemed to work if the mums on Mumsnet were anything to go by. Some had even posted headless ‘before and after’ selfies. They were probably following the specially designed diet plan as well though. I took a cursory glance at that part of the DVD. There was no mention of Doritos so I decided it wasn’t for me.
The downsides. You need to do it at least 5 days out of seven. Great the weekend off.
So it seemed perfect. I removed the complete works of Trumpton from the DVD player and inserted the disc.
Clearly I had expected pain. And possibly vomiting. But I knew things were going to be bad when there were jumping jacks in the warm up. To me a jumping jack is a cardio move and has no place in a warm up. The other thing a jumping jack is is a strain on my pelvic floor. I need a warning before attempting jumping jacks. To clench.
Warm up accomplished I staggered through the rest of Level 1. Jillian introduced me to muscles I never knew I had and not really in a good way.
By the end of the (27 minute) session I was a spent, red faced, gibbering wreck. With only one thing on my mind. That I would have to do it all over again the next day.
The next day dawned and I could not move. Seriously. My children learnt some new words as I attempted to get downstairs, sit, put on my socks, etc.
I returned to Mumsnet and sure enough the threads contained many, many references to being unable to walk for a week. How had I missed that? The cure? To keep going.
So I struggled slightly less enthusiastically through day 2. Trying not to ‘phone it in’ or ‘cheat myself’ and ‘remembering all the reasons you bought this DVD’. The reason I bought this DVD was because of some loons on a parenting forum. And because I was wearing my ‘bad news’ filtering goggles.
I grew to love and loath Jillian. I finished the Shred and progressed to other scary sounding DVDs such as Ripped in 30 (!), Killer Buns and Thighs and, my personal bete noir, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. Which is basically an hour of being so out of breath you feel like your lungs are coming up through your throat. In fact at one point the lovely Jillian even says ‘I want you gargling your own heart by the time this work out is over’. She isn’t joking.
Anyway I stuck at it for quite a while. And then I stopped. I am not sure why. Probably the long summer holidays. The children find me doing exercise hysterical. I find their hysteria contagious. And I find it hard to laugh, clench and do jumping jacks all at the same time. Stopping, however, is a very bad idea as when you start up again the aches come back. Big time.
The other reason I stopped was that I got slightly disheartened by all the uber mums on Mumsnet upping the anti and doing more than one DVD session back to back or pressing 8kgs. I don’t even possess 8kg weights. I can’t even begin to contemplate pressing them. My shoulders would literally seize up. My weights are a set of 1, 2 and 3s and the 3s are permanently used as bookends. It put me off to be honest.
So anyway 5 years on and it is still as horrible. I still don’t need the 3kgs. Which is a good job, tidy bookshelf wise. I ached for the customary week. I am on Level 3 currently which seems to be designed to make me swear out loud at the television. Between gasping for air like a drowning fish. Each session nets me a disappointingly low amount of steps on my Fitbit which seem totally out of proportion to the level of effort required. A gentle stroll to Budgens to buy Doritos is ‘worth’ so much more…
And of course I haven’t lost any weight. I like to kid myself it is because muscle weighs more than fat. But really it is because I get so hungry after shouting at Jillian that I eat more Doritos. But my thighs are more toned and I feel better about myself. And I get to tick it off my to do list. Always a bonus.
Soon it will be half term and I will stop to avoid being the butt of pre teenage jokes, which are never funny. And then I will have to go through that week long pain again. The burning question is whether I will be bothered.