A COUCH POTATO DOES A BURP…EE

This story was recently published in the 8th edition of Route 7 Review’s literary magazine. I thought I’d share it with you on WordPress.

And in case anyone is wondering, the woman in the above photo is not me. Sorry to disappoint. I’m packing a bit more than her. And I don’t mean muscles.


I can’t run. Literally, cannot run. It’s like I was born with two left feet that are incapable of coordinating steps at high speeds. Not to mention arms that tend to flail around like a fledgling bird thrown out of its coop. I simply look awkward trying to run, so I don’t. The powers above didn’t grant me the ability to run like a gazelle, and that’s fine with me, seeing how much I loathe sweating.

How anyone can tolerate sweating is beyond me! Sweating itches my face, pools around the pits, and causes chafing between the thighs. And don’t even get me started on underboob sweat! The act of sweating offends my sensibilities.  

So it comes as no surprise that the lack of exercise and sweat has resulted in some weight gain over the years. Oh, alright, maybe a helluva lot of weight, enough to warrant some concern if I’m honest with myself. 

I dread the idea of spending hundreds going up a dress size and the subsequent feelings of shame for letting myself go to the point of no return. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. A future of swinging from dieting to comfort eating is unhealthy for the body and mind. So I decided it was time to address the elephant in the room – pun not intended. It was time I made sweating and exercise my biatch.

I can’t even remember the last time I stepped into a gym, but I can recall the feelings of self-consciousness, anticipation, and vulnerability. I never felt comfortable inside a gym, feeling overweight and awkward in tight-fitting clothing, pretending to know how to work the machines. I knew that returning to this setting for exercise would not work for me.

Instead, I booked my brother for fitness training. Ironically, he is the muscle-kissing, Insta-loving, gym junkie to my couch potato, trashy TV, chip eating self. The world needs balance, right? And being the lazy ass that I am and needing accountability, I dragged a couple of friends to join the sessions.

The morning of the fitness session, even with the familiarity of friends and family, I was a nervous Nelly. You know how humans have that evolutionary thing called the ‘flight, fight or freeze’ response? Well, let’s say I was that anxious mammal alleviating a load or two for a lighter flight.

“Why are you so nervous?” asked my brother’s fiancée, who had come for support. “You will be fine!”

Have I mentioned that my brother’s fiancée is a young and fit woman? She couldn’t understand my fears; how could she? She hasn’t birthed two boulder-sized babies from her canal. She’s in no danger of accidentally peeing herself because her pelvic floor muscles won’t play ball. I bet her joints are springy and cushiony. Sigh, I’m so envious of people with pain-free springy joints. Ah, to be young again.

Anyway, I digress. After my brother’s welcome speech, we laid out our yoga mats on the grass. We had met at a local reserve to do the group fitness training as lockdown restrictions meant we could only gather outdoors in small numbers. 

“… burpees, then lunges… work with dumbbells… repetitions… 36 sets…” explained my brother to the group.

Have you done a burpee? It looks simple, doesn’t it? Deceptive movements that work every muscle in the body. After the first two attempts at a burpee, I was basically face planting instead of planking. It felt like torture, especially with sweat dripping from every surface of my body. 

“Come on! You can do it! Ten more seconds. Push through!” yelled my brother as he mirrored our actions.

Counting down ten seconds in my head, I gritted my teeth and pushed through the pain as I continued with brutal leg flutters. 

“Ten more seconds,” informed my brother.

Wait; what? “You said ten seconds before!” I chastised the liar. “Not funny!”

Huffing and puffing, each one of us committed to the fitness regime, giving it our best. Even my brother broke a sweat and admitted at the end that he was hurting. It gave me a sense of achievement that I had persisted, despite my discomfort. There might have been the benefit of a bit of endorphin release. We left the park, feeling good pain, and looking forward to the next session.  

It’s been two days since, and gosh, I am feeling the bad pain. I can barely walk. I shudder at the sight of stairs. I prefer not to go to the toilet because then I have to unceremoniously drop onto the seat. I roll out of bed; it’s the only way off. The other ladies aren’t faring any better.  

Despite the muscle soreness, I’m looking forward to the next session. The hardest part was taking that first step, getting the motivation in turning a thought into action. That action means that I’m no longer hiding behind excuses of sweat and my inability to run. It means that I’m working towards taking charge of my own destiny for a healthier and happier me. Plus, sweating has its benefits, right? I’m basically getting a natural facial while losing weight. I call that a win-win.

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

NAMASTE

Housing and vacating two babies from the residence of my extended and swollen belly has left me feeling self-conscious of my battle scars and subsequently acquired blubber. Gone are the slim thighs and flat stomach (not that my paunch could ever have been labelled ‘flat’), and replaced by stretch marks and a potbelly (I tell myself that I’m just constantly gassy). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed by my body. I just happen to have a penchant for black shapeless outfits that make me look like a nun.

So after loads of needling from my brother (a selfie-loving Instagram gym junkie) and other well-meaning people (not my husband because he knows better!), I decided it was time to exercise. If not to lose weight then at the very least improve my mental health with all those supposed happy endorphins. After making the conscious decision to start exercising, I procrastinated for another week pondering what type.

There was no way I was going to a gym. My last venture ended with my personal trainer, who by sheer coincidence was my neighbour, banging on my front door trying to drag my sorry ass to the gym and me pretending not to be home.

I tried the One-Minute Workout and had the kids join in to keep me motivated, but I’m ashamed to admit that I even found that taxing.

In the end, yoga seemed like the best way of re-introduction to exercise. Not cardio-intensive or sweat-inducing and sympathetic to my sedentary form. So armed with my new mat and some fancy-pants gym wear, I joined a yoga class. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

“Namaste. Welcome to Flo Yoga,” says Judy, the friendly and warm instructor. “Just find a spot on the floor, when you’re ready.”

I give Judy a hesitant smile, put my belongings into the cubicle and find a place. People begin trickling in. It’s a relatively subdued atmosphere.

Suddenly the shrill sound of a phone blares. Mortified, I realise that I had forgotten to turn it off. I clamber towards my phone and turn it to silent, apologising to the group.

“Please make sure you’ve turned your phones on silent if you haven’t already done so,” Judy tells the rest of the group and gives me a reassuring smile.

While everyone is on their mat doing stretches and poses, I sit there feeling awkward and pretending to check out my nails.

The beeping sound of another phone penetrates the silence. I sit up straight listening. That couldn’t possibly be my phone. Feeling insecure I go to check and sure enough, it’s me. My damn alarm for yoga went off. I shut it down.

“I’m so sorry everyone,” I say. I am beyond horrified at being made centre of attention.

The class begins, and I struggle to keep up. There’s a lot of phrases being thrown around; downward facing dog, mountain pose and cat-cow stretch. I am so far out of my comfort zone that I’m in a head spin. I’m sweating like it’s my job and my underwear has lodged uncomfortably between my butt cheeks.

“Now if you want to push yourself a bit more, you can try the Kapotasana,” says Judy as she expertly manoeuvers her body.

I gape at her bent shape. My mind is suffering a nervous breakdown from even contemplating it. I’m no contortionist.

“Listen to your body. You can go into child’s pose when you’re ready.”

I opt for laying flat on my back instead. I call it my ‘Defeated’ pose. My muscles are screaming in pain. I’m gulping in air like a fish out of water.

“Ok, let’s lie on our backs and into Savasana.”

I swing my head to the side and see that everyone is laying down. “Oh good, cos I am NOT moving,” I think to myself.

“Close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Cleanse your soul.”

Upon leaving, Judy tells me that I did a great job. “Namaste. See you next time.”

As a reward for all my hard work, I head to the bakery next door and grab myself a coffee and roast pork roll. On the way back to the car, I bump into Judy.

“Namaste!” I say awkwardly, giving her a sheepish look.

She glances at my hands.

“Nothing to see here, just cleansing my body,” I blurt out.

Eye roll. Facepalm. Is there a cleanse for verbal diarrhoea?

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/