A normal gait? That is the weighty issue

Very much like Oprah Winfrey and Kirstie Alley (but very unlike their access to vast amounts of money) I have a season pass to the weight rollercoaster. We’ve all announced publicly that we’re going to lose the pounds; we do, and then they slowly creep back on again. Maybe being faced with the prospect of wearing a flowery bedsheet on the Mediterranean cruise I’ve booked for September was the motivation I needed; or being labeled as “a great laugh” for the rest of my life. Something snapped on April 27th and I began my journey once again which has led me (so far) to lose 45lbs.

Anyone who has never had weight difficulties or an incredible love of food cannot understand the addiction that it is. I remember dating a man with the metabolism of a cheetah who actually had to consume calorific powder to stop himself from disappearing. He was all kinds of understanding when I tried to explain how difficult it was to diet. With a shrug of his bony shoulders: “Why don’t you just stop eating?”  It’s strange how we never ended up tying the knot.

So I got my crisp new gym membership card, rooted through the drawers to find any workout gear that wasn’t sporting holes and brought the iPod back from the dead. Duran Duran?! It had been a while…  That very Monday I climbed up the front stairs at World Gym, sat down to catch my breath at the top and then made my way to the main room. Ah…treadmill my old adversary, we meet again.

In the first couple of weeks I was managing 15-20 minutes, slowly increasing the speed and adding an incline from time to time. Every day I took a multi-vitamin and kept track of my calories in an electronic journal. I was amazed once I realised how many I had been consuming in the past – who would have thought that a hamburger, large fries, chocolate shake, eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, rib-eye, baked potato, butter, vegetables, carrot cake and three cokes could add up to so much?

I started noticing a difference about four weeks into my new regimen, and about eight weeks in was when the late-night fashion shows began. I’d be lying in bed and couldn’t sleep, so I’d get up and start delving into all the Space Saver bags in my closet, which were no longer saving space thanks to my cats’ claws killing the vacuum in each and every one over time. In those bags resided clothes that I had refused to give away in the past, but had not been able to wear for ages due to a freak incident in the dryer that had clearly shrunk them. Ahem.

Silk tops, my “skinny jeans” and a pair of black leather pants all reappeared. Some items were closer than others to fitting me, but all in all the exercise was a fruitful one because after trying to get into a particular unyielding pair of trousers without splitting them, I was so exhausted that minutes later I was in dreamland.

By the time the beginning of August rolled around there was no question at all that I was much smaller than I had been before. I think a brave soul summed it up a few Saturday nights ago when he said “Wow! Vicki! You have lost so much weight! You look like you’ve lost 200lbs!!” Bless…

All those weeks I had been on the treadmill or walking/jogging around Snug Harbour, but now that I had shifted a significant amount of fat I figured that it would probably behoove me to start introducing some weight training into the mix. I approached the inscrutable Errol at World Gym and made my appointment for the afternoon of August 10th – we were going to start with legs.

I confess when I showed up that I had expected him to just take me through the various exercises he thought best suited me, I would do a few repetitions, he would correct my form if necessary and then I would have a structured circuit to follow in the coming weeks. It was obvious I was much mistaken, as after a short session of stretches we got right into it. Steps and kicks were followed swiftly by a Ministry of Silly Walks special – The Lunge. I had barely completed a wobbly round trip of them before we were moving to squats, then two inelegant sets on the Adductor and Abductor machines and finally an interesting free-weight movement designed to target the glutes, which had me mimicking a Silverback gorilla about to charge. At the end I felt like a dishrag and yet I made another appointment for the next week to work on my arms.

That night when I got home my legs were a little sore. By the time the next morning rolled around they were a lot sore. Sitting down was a controlled and graceless endeavour punctuated by numerous “OW!”s. I really wasn’t sure I could face the gym that afternoon – how could I exercise if I could barely walk? But the rule is fall off the horse, get back on the horse…isn’t it? If I could push myself to get my muscles working again, the soreness would not linger as long. So trouper that I am I marched down there (literally, I couldn’t bend at the knee) and started lunging again. My balance was compromised due to my groaning thighs and so I instinctively windmilled my arms to stop from toppling over. I don’t think I’m being immodest when I say that all eyes in the general vicinity were on me as I demonstrated How Not to Lunge. My stupid pride made me continue even when I knew I was overdoing it. Ah well, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad.  I’d probably loosened myself up nicely.

Fours hours later my walking style was more John Wayne than Vicki Wheaton. When I got home the two steps up to the front porch seemed insurmountable and the flight of stairs leading up to my bedroom went on forever. I hoisted myself up slowly, one painful foot at a time until I reached the top, only to face the bed.

About eight or nine months ago I purchased a huge king-sized bed frame with an expansive velvet headboard and large round wooden feet. It was the highest bed I had ever owned, and coupled with the deep boxspring and mattress it completely dominated the room into which I had squeezed it. I now felt like Alice in Wonderland after eating a magic bean or guinep or something. I’d never thought twice about clambering into it before, but this was going to be a feat. I tried gingerly lifting a leg, but it screamed in protest. I turned around and managed a little hop, but it wasn’t high enough to launch me onto the mattress and I dared not venture into jump territory. After (I kid you not) nearly five minutes of failed attempts I finally managed to half-lean, half-drag myself up as a walrus might and collapsed with relief, my face buried in the pillow.

Over the remainder of the week I slowly regained normal movement, but not before many bore witness to some strange gaits I had adopted to help cope with the stiffness.

As I write this I have my arms appointment tomorrow afternoon. I have asked Errol to go easy on me because I really do need to be able to lift more than a pen next week. If you wave to me on the Sunday that this is printed and I don’t wave back, you’ll know how it went.