Sunday, September 29, 2013

Before and After

                     photos by Arthur Deak
"You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!
                                              The Wicked Witch of the East  
       If only lying in bed eating chips were good for us. I’ve tried every diet scripted since dinosaurs roamed the Earth and my weight still goes up and down with the tide. Gyms require elusive self-discipline and I'm sure the mind numbing boredom of cardio machines turn brains to paste. Besides, giggling fat is an unpleasant sensation best avoided. An incensed two year old gripping a fully charged Taser would have more humanity than what I say to myself when I look in a full length mirror. Rebuilding muscle seriously hurts so duh, it is much easier not to bother. I dutifully sign up at gyms but could not talk myself through a ten minute workout. I gravitated to machines with wide cushy seats and put in minimal effort never stopping to ask myself who I was actually fooling.
      Four months ago I signed up at a nearby gym. Debbie, a friendly woman with more tenacity than epoxy, actually called my sister when I didn't show up and talked me in the door. With little hope I scheduled the free orientation, expecting no more than atta girls for being awesome enough to commit to a monthly payment. I’ve been to a few orientations over the years. During one the trainer took my blood pressure then recommended I take it easy which was pretty much like ordering me to go to bed and eat chips. Another time I was handed a list of exercises as if I would actually be able to motivate myself and once I demanded a refund because the dopey trainer was so aggravated about working with me that she rolled her eyes at her co-workers. I was fat not stupid. Four months ago I showed up to meet a trainer who could have been Sponge Bob for all I cared, but I’m cheap so I took the free hour. I had no intention of signing up for anything and no idea that the next four months would have me so busy that I would not find time to even type a blog post.

     Arthur showed up with a binder of photographs of clients who had made remarkable changes and claimed he could transform me. Right, I asked if that included a bad attitude while I scanned the pictures for evidence of Photoshop tricks. Arthur promised that if I stuck to the diet and did the work that in three months’ time I would be leaner, fit and off my blood pressure pills. I stared at him blankly. He did not have the shifty eyes of a compulsive liar and he actually sounded sincere. I had not exercised for over a year and had been warned by a doctor that I was heading for heart disease. I was constantly fatigued and short of breath. A bag of chips felt heavy. My abs would have required a Taser to contract. I knew it would feel like a truck hit me every day and it was expensive, but it crossed my mind that a heart attack would cost a lot more. Arthur did not try to sell me on his program. He packed up his book ready to move on to someone who cared. In a devil may care moment I reached for my credit card.

     Within two weeks I was off my blood pressure pills. I stuck to the recommended diet and my blood sugar levels have fallen to normal. I lost 35 pounds in the last four months, but most important, I feel fantastic and have renewed hope for the future. I move quicker, walk farther and laugh more. Arthur has a bullshit detector verging on mystical so I cannot get away with my usual slothful tricks, although I suspect I exchanged a dependency on pills for the need to have my weight written on an index card by an uber fit guy. I had hoped to learn to love working out, but that’s too much to ask. It hurts and I swear a lot, but I totally get that staying in shape is a chance to age gracefully, excluding my language at the gym. I couldn’t do it alone, but my only mistake was thinking I had to. 

     If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are ready to get in the shape of your life sign up with Arthur Deak at Forma Gym in Walnut Creek. He will kick your ass into shape while making you laugh. If you’ve tried everything do not give up. It took me a long time to find someone who could make me work hard enough to show results. I’m also a big fan of Joyce’s gentle yoga class, which is a great way to warm up for the intensive training. I hope Forma will be adding her meditation class soon, she has my vote. And special thanks to Debbie for tracking me down.   

     Hiking uphill beats cardio machines. Numerous steep inclines in the East Bay parks help sweat the pounds off. Check out A stunning new vista is a great motivator and the critters will make you smile.

Diablo Foothills with Mt. Diablo in the distance

Quail at Borges Ranch

Fawn hiding in the grass at Shell Ridge

First year pelicans on the bay

Turkeys in Morgan Territory Preserve
Lime Ridge in Walnut Creek

Coyote in Briones Park

Lizard waiting for flies on a pile of shit

Karen and Roman in Briones Park
Dopey goat at Borges Ranch
Seen at the Lafayette Reservoir
Apparently squirrels aren't bothered by poison oak.
                      I hope life is treating you well. Thanks for reading!