A few years back I tried an exercise video called Body Flex. The way it was supposed to work was that if you did certain isometric and isotonic exercises and then blew every bit of breath you had out of your body, held the position without breathing in or out for a few seconds, and then gasped for air, you would lose weight. OK. I’ll try just about anything to lose weight. So, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I gave it a whirl at 11:00 PM one night when my family was asleep and I had a little extra energy that I thought I could put to good use by exercising. Greer Childers, the person who demonstrated the exercises, claimed she had lost about 100 pounds just from doing these exercises. It sounded too good to be true, but I believed her anyway because pictures don’t lie and her pictures proved this system worked. She went from a “sow” to a “wow”.
Well, then again, maybe pictures do lie and there was most likely some liposuction, cosmetic surgery, a personal trainer, and a starvation diet involved. But, I wanted to believe Greer. I wanted my short, coarse Boomba hair to magically morph into Greer’s long, flowing, blond hair and I wanted to instantly become six feet tall, just like her. Oh, and I wanted to lose weight just by doing these breathing exercises.
So, there I was at 11:00 PM getting into a pretzel position, blowing out every wisp of air left in my lungs, holding it until I saw stars, and then releasing the grip of exhalation and taking in air, sweet air. I did a few more exercises and could feel my stomach muscles working and my legs getting tauter.
I also felt like passing out, but if my family found me passed out on the floor in the morning they would just assume I had decided to go to sleep in a pretzel position right on the living room floor, step over me, and go about their business. That’s the problem with being a registered goofball. People don’t think anything you do is strange, so when you’re really in trouble they think you’re just being silly again.
As I went along doing the exercises I felt my stomach muscles getting tighter and tighter. They got so tight, in fact, that at one point they got stuck. I mean stuck. I could breathe, but I couldn’t move. My stomacous majorous, maximous, and minorous muscles had contracted into a spasm that would not let up. I could walk around, but it looked like I had just received a major league pitch to the ol’ bread basket because I could only walk around stooped over. Every time I tried to straighten up from a stooped over simian position to an erect sapien stance, I would just cry out in pain. I thought I would be stuck like that forever.
What if my stomach stayed in this position? Ya know how moms always say, “your face is going to freeze like that,” when you’d make a particularly snarky facial expression? But I never thought my stomach would “freeze like that.” Would I have to spend the rest of my life walking in a semi-erect position? I was short enough to begin with. I could barely reach for items on the top shelf at the grocery store as it was. How would I do it now? And, would I even go to the grocery store? I couldn’t risk kids pointing at me and saying, “Mommy, how did that monkey get out of the zoo and why is it at Jewel?” The mother would quickly shoo her child away from the freak show that would be me and tell her not to stare at “that crazy lady.”
I thought about going upstairs and waking Richard up, but I didn’t know what he would be able to do to help me, plus, the idea of clambering up the stairs like a wounded chimp didn’t appeal to me at all — although I did have a sudden strange craving for a banana.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was probably in reality only about 3 minutes, my stomach muscles released from their Hulk Hogan grip and I was able to stand up straight again. I was so relieved. But, did I lose any weight?
Over the years I have tried many different forms of exercise in hopes of toning up and losing weight. But I don’t think I ever tried Greer Childers’ method again.
Feeling the urge to exercise at home again, I decided to do the DVD “Yoga for Dummies” last week. I had done yoga many times before so I knew I would be able to do the positions, or at least know what they were supposed to look like. I began to do “cat pose”, “downward facing dog”, “warrior”, and “cobra”. “This is good stuff,” I thought to myself. Until it happened again. I went into a pose that could only be called monkey pose because once again my stomach froze and forced me into a simian position. “Holy crap,” I thought to my monkey self. I’ll have to go back to eating bananas and becoming a recluse. The only good part about this was that at least I was in the privacy of my own home and not in a class with a bunch of seasoned yogis.
A few minutes later I was able to stand erect again. My body felt good and my stomach felt like it had definitely had a major workout. I wondered why this happened again. Was it because I exercise so infrequently that my stomach muscles go into shock when I attempt to engage them to hold my “core” in proper alignment?
Thinking about it made me remember that every time I eat peanut butter I feel like my stomach is sticking together until it finally digests and moves on down the road hours later. Maybe all I have to do to tone my stomach and lose weight is eat peanut butter. I could just eat peanut butter in a sitting or standing position until my stomach muscles are nice and engaged, and without ever doubling over I could feel good knowing I had done my exercise for the day. Then I would reward myself with a banana.