Of gymnasiums, iron maidens, and Dogtanian
Publish date:
October 18, 2012
gym, weight loss, healthy, Robyn Wilder, extreme diets, very low calorie diets

NB: I’m doing a very low calorie diet (VLCD), but you shouldn’t attempt one without talking to your doctor. VLCDs are an extreme approach to weight loss, they’re not for everyone, and they’re really REALLY hard to write jokes about. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. See?

“UNF!” I exclaim.

“Keep going,” says the track-suited man beside me. “Go for two more.”

“Nnng,” I complain, but he ignores me. I hoist up my barbells, observing with dismay how my arm-flesh in the mirror wobbles slightly, like a small bag of marbles. Momentarily, I crumple inside.

“Straighten your back,” the trainer barks. “Shoulders down. One more.” “HOOOOOOOF!” With arms that no longer feel like my own, or like arms, I fling the weights into the air then slump on the bench, defeated.

It is week 7 and I’m at the gym, lifting 6kg (14lbs) because a) I am a giant wimp and b) that’s how much I’ve lost so far.

Yep, this week I drop a further 2lbs (0.9kg), taking me to a total loss of 15lbs (6.8kg) in seven weeks. In the comments of last week’s diary, I said:

“I'd really like to have one week where my diary's all ‘breezed through this week! Everything was awesome! Lost like a squillion pounds! Learnt loads! Basically a Jedi now!’ etc.”

Well, I got my wish. This is that week. I’ve recovered from that weird bug, and stopped beating myself up about making mistakes (which has, happily, resulted in me making fewer mistakes), and am feeling the boundless energy of ketosis.

A stone in seven weeks may not be THAT impressive a loss for a VLCD, but I’m happy with it. Despite being ill, tumbling off the wagon, and having a healthy streak of self-sabotage, I’m actually doing what I set out to do.

So fuck you, inner saboteur. Fuck you AND your rapier AND your big stupid nose (my inner saboteur is basically Evil Dogtanian). I’ve lost a STONE.

I can see myself shrinking. One day I wake up with a waist, as though someone has taken a giant ice cream scoop to either side of me during the night. Bit by bit I’m incorporating items from my selection of smaller-sized clothes into my wardrobe (and I’ll be SO GLAD when I no longer have to have four sizes of clothes hanging around. I am not a branch of New Look), and I return to the gym.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve REALLY been missing the gym. If you’d told me this two years ago I’d have called you a liar. If you’d told me it THREE years ago, I’d have carefully put down my cigarette and bottle of vodka, then punched you in the face.

It wouldn’t have hurt much because I had virtually no upper-body strength back then, but my point still stands. I used to think that gyms were basically torture chambers, and that treadmills and cross-trainers were basically iron maidens and mangles.

Then I joined MY gym. Long before I began this VLCD business, I decided to lose weight through diet and exercise, so I wincingly joined the gym near my work, expecting it to be a sweatbox of porcine brutery.

But instead it was amazing.

I discovered that exercise – when it wasn’t crippling me because I was too heavy for my knees – filled me with a sense of wellbeing that smoking, much as I loved it and practiced it faithfully, never did.

But, more importantly, MY GYM IS LIKE A SPY GYM.

It’s located deep underground beneath one of the capital’s most prestigious sky-scrapers, with no obvious signage, and access is through a glass elevator. So every time I go in I basically feel like Charlie Bucket being inducted into the CIA. There’s a chlorine-free pool and spa, everything smells like lavender, Molton Brown toiletries and GHD hair products are in the changing rooms as standard, there’s a smoothie bar that sells something I will never try called PROTEIN ICE CREAM, and all the women members are chic and swishy.

I, in case it wasn’t obvious, am not.

I am small and sweaty with untidy hair, threadbare electric-blue discount Capri pants and a holey, oversized Lost Boys T-shirt.

So far I haven’t promised myself any treats for completing this diet – mainly because I couldn’t think of any that weren’t food(!). But now I decide that when I’m done I’ll reward myself with a decent haircut, and a whole raft of lovely new gym things so that I, too, can be one of the chic, swishy gym women:

Because I don’t want this diet to be a shortcut to temporary success. I don’t want my body to be a thing that brings me down or brings me compliments. I don’t want to begrudgingly inhabit it. I want it to move and stretch and be strong, and I want it to do all these things in these sweat pants:

I’m so excited about this prospect that I spend this week basically selecting gym clothes to buy. And that food list from week 3? I don’t think about it at all.

See? Basically a Jedi now.