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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Responding to a Pilates Query

Meg asked in a comment on a previous post:

I've always wanted to try Pilates, but I'm super self conscious about trying new classes at the gym. How is it?
First off, from scanning your blog, it looks to me like you are at normal weight and pretty fit (ie, you run and exercise, etc). So, you have nothing to feel self-conscious about...AT ALL!!! Go try a class. Make sure it's taught by a certified Pilates teacher (not just someone who's done it and decided to up and teach it). Form, focus, and breathing matter in Pilates, so you want someone who knows how to do it right and teach it properly, who will correct your form during the length of the class.

Now, back to the self-conscious thing: Girl, I started Pilates weighing 272 pounds and having been a couch potato for years and years. I didn't even know if I COULD do it, much less worry about how dumbass I'd look trying to do it. :)

I've since REGAINED some weight I lost. Last week, I was doing Pilates at 282. I did it yesterday at 278.8. And on the reformer next to me was a model with impossibly long and slender limbs and apparently a 0.5% body fat.

I know about self-conscious.

Add to that that I'm the only obese person doing Pilates at the place where I train. I'm certainly the only MORBIDLY obese person there.

Still, I've been doing it for nearly nine months and I feel more flexible, stronger, my arms and legs have better shape, I can do my activities with more ease (ie, groceries, crouching, reaching), and for a very fat 49 year old woman who was nearly an invalid in the 20th century, I am happy to report this. And even having regained some weight, I look slimmer than when I started. I feel denser, firmer. And my acanthosis got better, so that may be just the exercising after NOT exercising for so long. I was used to being ill with severe respiratory infections two to five times a year. Since I started working out, I got sick ONCE.

Honestly, if I can do it, just about anyone can. And I do qualify with "just about", because I do understand that being significantly larger than I am, 350 or 400 or 500 pounds, has a huge impact on what you can do. I chose this form of exercise particularly because of damage I have to my joints from being fat. It isn't easy on the ankles and knees and hips. Pilates is very joint-friendly.

Getting on and off the Reformer, the most famous piece of Pilates equipment, while easier than when I started--when I flopped and flipped about like a mutant giant turtle--is still not the most graceful activity. But when I"m on it, I do my thang! I've done stuff I wouldn't believe I could have done. Heck, I'm able to do one of the exercises that includes the position to the left on the Cadillac, even while morbidly obese.

I think all of us with fat issues, body image issues find it hard wearing tight workout clothing (snug clothing being essential for Pilates). I know for me, it was really hard. And it was hard walking into the studio with wall-to-wall mirrors and models and skinny dancers feeling like Shamu with arthritis. But a good teacher and an environment that is accepting and wants to foster health makes up for a lot of self-consciousness.

The fact that I"ve stuck to it, 3x a week, hour sessions, for nearly 9 months says something. I've never stuck to exercise this long. NEVER. And I've swallowed my discomfort with being seen in tight clothes moving about to the point where yesterday, in order to march in place with higher knees, I HELD MY BELLY UP WITH MY HANDS out of the way of my knees. I looked demented. But it helped me move with better form. So, ah, yeah. I can't believe I did that. Hah!

Someone in your much better shape and much slimmer form will do marvelously. You'll see a lovely line emerge in your arms and legs. Your tummy and waist will reform. You'll feel longer and sleeker. You will be happy with the results.

I told my hubby this weekend, "Man, if I weren't covered in all this fat, you could see my rocking ab muscles!"

And you should NOT feel self-conscious. You doubtless look very, very good already. :)

And again, for the fat gals out there who've been afraid, just do it. Save the money, get a couple to three personal sessions first to ground you in the breathing, posture, scooping techniques and to use each of the machines and equipment pieces at least once with your trainer. Then, ask what class they think you should take. It's an investment that is worth it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Greens and Beans and Another Downward Tick

Oh, good. A scosh better today: 278.6

I much prefer that to the 280's.

Went to Whole Foods last night and got me a lot of greens, some fruit, some meats (pork loin was well-priced and on sale), some ready-to-eat (meatballs, cheese lasagna to split with hubby), some lima bean soup (which I looooove), and Tofu Masala (for my supper tonight). I also have some leftover M'Jadra (lentils and rice with onions and yogurt). So, I have a good amount of food for a few days.

Lovely cold front came in, so it's sweater weather in Miami. I love that. Hope we get lots of cool days before the heat officially sets in.

So much to do in the house, really, that I feel overwhelmed. But I have to just sit down, make a plan, and take it one small step at a time, or I'll get into an ugly state of frustration..which makes me wanna gorge.

Don't wanna gorge.

Pilates in a couple hours, so off I go to start picking out clothes, showering, etc.

I wish you all a healthful Monday and a great work week.