CURE WORSE THAN DISEASE

I don’t like massage parlours. There’s something about the neon flashing open signs that makes me wonder if these establishments are legit or not. But mainly it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the idea of some random person touching me while I’m half-naked.

It’s been about a decade since a girlfriend roped me into a couple’s massage with a Groupon. The place ended up being a seedy joint with blacked-out windows and questionable stains on the carpet. I was tensed the whole time. Probably not the usual clientele outcome.

Fast forward to yesterday, after enduring a headache for five days straight and waking throughout the night with pain, I was at my wit’s end and ready to try anything, including a massage. There had been little relief from the assortment of pain killers I’d been taking and so a remedial massage was my next treatment option.

Have you ever been elbowed in the ribs by a small child or by someone with bony elbows? It hurts, right?

There should be a warning sign that reads “Remedial massage – not for wusses!” Cos I’d have retreated faster than Road Runner himself.

When I showed up to my appointment, I explained to the massage lady that I wanted a neck and shoulder massage to attempt to alleviate my headache.

She got me to lie face down on a bed in a darkened room and asked if I wanted a dry or oiled massage. Not wanting to remove any layers of clothing, I opted for a dry massage.

The massage lady was zen-like in her focus, saying little in her words but vigorous in action. She worked on giving me a deep tissue massage on my shoulders and neck.

I kind of think deep tissue massage is just code for elbow the crap out of the person until they cry. Because that’s what I did… cried. My four-year-old son would have laughed at seeing me cry like a baby as a little Asian woman karate chopped my back.

But seriously, it was so bloody painful. I had to take deep breaths, count sheep and remind myself that the torture was a necessary evil.

“Is it supposed to hurt this much?” I wheezed out between her finger jabs. Being jabbed in the eye would have been preferable to whatever she was doing between my shoulder blades.

“You are very tense.”

Of course, I was tense! It was like someone was pulling the tendons and muscles from my bones then doing karate chops with their elbows. Why did she have such bony elbows?!

I swear I could hear my bones clicking and croaking as she rotated my hip bones and stretched out my back.

“You can turn over.”

Can you imagine my relief? The thirty minutes felt like forever under her painful ministrations. Unfortunately, only fifteen minutes had past so my relief was premature. Being asked to turn over was just the halfway point, the torture would continue for another fifteen minutes.

Did you know hair pulling is part of therapy? I should have stopped her on the account that I’m shedding hair at an exponentially fast rate and entering the balding phase but instead I quietly suffered through.

I whimpered and got teary-eyed even after she reduced the firmness of her kneading, elbowing and finger jabs. It didn’t matter, my muscles were so tightly coiled that it was going to hurt regardless.

“Go home and relax. Don’t wash your hair.”

That was odd. Not sure why I wasn’t supposed to wash my hair. Paying proved difficult with two sore arms not wanting to play ball with the brain’s commands.

Did the massage relax me? Hell no.

Would I ever go back? No bloody way!

Did the remedial massage help with my headache? Unfortunately not.

I suspect the torturous pain of bony elbows and finger jabs would far outweigh the pain of any headache.

Sometimes the cure really is worse than the disease.

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PUBLIC SPEAKING PAIN

Yesterday I finished the first week of my face-to-face classes to become an adult educator. It was a tough week of learning and trying to absorb new information, and doing things outside of my comfort zone.

The class was small with about twelve students of differing ages and backgrounds being taught by a knowledgeable trainer. Everyone had similar challenges in balancing studies with life commitments, and so they were supportive and helpful with one another. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of.

Despite some experience with public speaking in previous jobs and volunteering in classrooms, I get nervous standing in front of a group and talking.

It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to children or adults, I’ll still react the same. It could be a bunch of staring lizards and I suspect I’d still get the shaky hands, tremor in the voice and sweating.

On the first day of classes, we had to do introductions. Say your name, why you’re there and what you want to improve on. If you wanted to elaborate further, you could talk about a hobby. There were talking prompts on the board. Sounds easy right? You’re talking about subject matter that you’re an expert on…you.

There’s just something about having the focus of your peers and standing in front of a room that automatically has my pulse racing and my hands wringing. I got through it but internally berated my performance, dissecting it to pieces. I wondered how others felt despite everyone seeming to sail through their introductions.

The next few days, the trainer got us doing one on one, small group and class activities. There were fun learning tasks, short quick “energisers” (quick games to refresh during the arvo slump), and public speaking tasks.

It was rather clever how the trainer worked on building group rapport to create a supportive and comfortable environment for us to do talks. Initially, the trainer got us to do micro public speaking tasks, increasing the time and complexity as the days went on.

By the last day, we had to give a lesson to last twenty minutes that involved a resource of some kind and ideally involved class participation.

I used a PowerPoint presentation on customer service and looked at some of the worst scenarios I’ve experienced. One example involved a customer double parking his Mercedes-Benz in front of the pharmacy and demanding I did his prescription quickly because he didn’t want a ticket. That was used to explain the entitled customer.

After each slide, I tried getting audience participation by asking them their ideas of how I chose to respond in each of the scenarios, using multiple choices as options. It generated some interaction but nowhere to the extent of other people’s talks.

I also got a couple of people up to role-play a scenario but that didn’t work too well. I think I needed to work on my lesson plan and found better ways of generating fun, practical and engaging activities. What I learnt from watching other people do their presentations was that I needed to make my delivery more engaging.

I knew that I’d be more critical of myself, and how I thought I performed wouldn’t necessarily be accurate, so I asked the trainer for her feedback.

Hand tremors, sweaty armpits and hands, shaky voice, racing pulse and jitters aside, I needed to know how I “presented” to others.

The trainer opted for the sandwich method. You know, one good comment on either side of a constructive comment.

“You’re really professional and presentation was great. You could smile more. You look stern, a bit serious. You could inject a bit of humour to lighten the talk. Otherwise, it was good.”

I need to work on my delivery. The problem is, I’m pretty sure smiling isn’t possible when I’m in fight, flight or freeze mode. As for humour, does laughing at your own jokes count?

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ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER DIET

I’m on a diet. I’ve joined the millions of people who stuff their faces with food and alcohol during holiday festivities, feels guilty about the added kilos to the already expanding waistline and then declares that they’re serious about doing something about it. I know, I know, it’s such a clichéd New Year’s resolution.

But hear me out! This time I’m really serious. Yeah okay, roll your eyes people… get it out of the system. You’re probably thinking I’ll cave after a few weeks and regain all the lost weight after a binge-fest because that’s a typical result of fad diets.

This time I have a great incentive. No, it’s not to reduce my risk of familial diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol. No, nothing that salubrious – I’m no saint. My little brother is getting married in April, and I don’t want to look like a heffer standing next to my skinny ass aunts and cousins. I don’t want snide remarks about my weight thrown in my face, which would probably happen with my extended family.

I’ve never been slim, leaning towards the heavier side for a typical Asian woman. Since marriage and having two children, I’ve gained about 15 kgs. Being five feet tall doesn’t help either. I’ve gone from a size 10 to a size 14 over the years and while I hold the weight well, I would feel happier losing a few kilos.

I could just buy a really good tummy tucking, thigh sucking, boob shrinking shapewear spanx to create an illusion of a slimmer silhouette. Add high heels, some make-up and Bob’s your uncle… a Cinderella transformation. But I fear the minute I tuck into my meal, things might go wrong.

There’s also my fear that once I’ve managed to get into some spanx, I might not be able to take it off. What if I needed to pee? Imagine being stuck in the loo and calling someone to find a pair of scissors to extract you? Imagine the mortification of leaving the toilet looking dumpier than when you went in?!

So I have no choice. I have to lose weight. I’m three weeks into this low-carb, low-fat, no-fun diet and I thought I’d share how I’ve fared.


DIET JOURNAL

Week One:
I started the diet a couple of days before New Year’s Day. I wish I hadn’t because instead of drinking and binge-eating on New Year’s, I had to be good. Good feels overrated at this point.

I refuse to medicate for the b$tch of a headache that won’t go away. I’m cranky, tired and need nana naps. It doesn’t help that I’ve cut caffeine from the diet. Why did I do that? Sucker for punishment, that’s me!

I’m hungry ALL the time. I go to bed hungry. I wake up hungry. My tummy rumbles a lot, but I do my best to ignore it.

I’ve switched to almond milk. It’s not too bad. I’m drinking roobois tea. Roi-what? Yeah, I have no idea what kind of hippy tea my husband’s got me drinking, but it’s better than nothing.

Week Two:
It’s finally sunk in. There won’t be anymore McDonald’s, UberEats, KFC, ice-cream or potato chips, just a lot of watching other people eating it.

But the good thing is that I no longer feel tired and headachey. I think my tummy has shrunk. My pants and skirts aren’t feeling so tight around the waist. I’m not so bloated anymore.

I bought a set of scales and surprise… I’ve lost two kilos. Or maybe I’m just dehydrated. Tough call.

Week Three:
I’m so over eggs and salad. I’m starting to crave starches in any form. The smell of bread has me salivating. The sight of potatoes in fried or roasted form makes me want to stuff my face and throw in the towel.

I bought Hot Flamin’ Cheetos and have them in the pantry just taunting me (Not sure why I did that!). I see the scales in the bathroom, and I don’t think I’ve hated anything more in this world but I can’t put it away (Not healthy, I know!).

I’ve had a few cheat meals but have kept my overall calorie intake low (I think). I’ve lost 3.5 kilos. I tried justifying to my husband that it should warrant a Cheetos binge. He didn’t agree.

I’ve got 13 weeks until the wedding and 11.5 kgs left to lose. You reckon I’ll make it? I bloody hope so cos I fully intend to binge the day after the wedding.


FOOD DIARY

Breakfast:
Scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms, spinach and cherry tomatoes
Banana
Fried eggs
Greek yoghurt
Sautéed spinach and capsicum with a sausage and fried egg
Half a baked avocado with an egg

Lunch:
Mixed salad with shredded carrot, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken
Mixed salad with shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, tuna and a small amount of cheese
Caesar salad with no croutons and minimal dressing
Spinach with shredded carrot, cucumber and a small amount of low-fat feta

Dinner:
Cauliflower rice replaces all rice meals
Sliced zucchini replaces all pasta meals
No root vegetables except for carrots
Low-fat dairy products

Drinks:
Almond milk rooibos tea
Water

Snacks:
Any fruit
Sunflower seeds
Mixed nuts

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