It all started one sunny day in June. I am walking down the road to the tube station in my summery dress. In front of me a man in a sweater, branded Dowe Dynamics. I had seen that gym in Archway, so I approach and ask the man if he actually worked there or is just wearing the sweater. Turns out he owns it.
We chat a bit, I’m thinking I don’t look too bad *for my age* (hah), I get an invite to have a look around, and long story short – I join the next day.
Since then I’ve been having two sessions with Ian per week and one cardio session on my own. I hit the wall after three weeks but got through it because it was easy to talk to Ian about it (a lot of these things are a natural development of the body beginning to change), then the gym closed for a few weeks, I tried a different one, that didn’t work so well when the upstart PT there was trying to push me. Nope, that’s never a good thing.
Ian Dowe, on the other hand, is a veteran superstar body builder, has a string of success stories (including Michael Flatley!) on the wall, and somehow, working with him just works for me. The gym is hilarious too. I have tried – and failed at – a lot of gyms; who would think that a hardcore body building place would feel comfortable for someone like me. But it’s somehow really fun and personal.
The actual regime consists of doing a bit of cardio before and after a session on weights and machines. Never going outside of my abilities but still working hard. Suits me fine.
I haven’t hugely changed my diet – I tried the chicken and veg thing and it just isn’t for me. Now I mostly make a huge pot of soup – veg with quinoa and urad dal for the proteins -, put that in containers in the fridge, and eat it during the week. That seems to work fine. I already make most things from scratch, eat very little bread or pasta, drink a lot of water, etc etc.
A reason I am talking about this now is that my good friend Simon has started a diet blog and has asked the question why most diet blogs are by women for women. I think I have an idea why.
We all get fat at some point if we don’t watch out. Why do women feel a lot more pressure to do something about it? Because literally all our social worth, and sometimes self-worth, is tied up with our weight. (Here’s a lot of voices on one thread on that subject.)
Men wear suits that cover a lot of sins and the limit for social acceptability is set, I guess, where they don’t fit into a regular chair anymore. When I was young, the saying was ‘a man isn’t a real man without a beer belly.’ For women, that bar is set much much, MUCH lower. Even if you are nowhere near caring about how much more fun sex is when you’re in shape, or what the opposite sex might think of you (I mean who cares) – high heels hurt a bit more with every extra pound. A slim woman is perceived differently, more with it, more powerful. Clothes are difficult to buy and get quite ugly if you are ‘plus size.’ It just doesn’t stop.
The funny thing is that we ultimately benefit from that extra pressure – being in shape is a good thing, after all. So yes, wish me luck, I’ll keep going until I look good enough for before/after pictures.