For the first time I watched a full episode of The Biggest Loser. And I wanted to mock. I wanted to make fun. I wanted to roll my eyes at the egregious product placement (like the scene where in the middle of a workout, Jillian Michaels had to pull two contestants aside right that minute to demonstrate, infomercial style, the beauty of a Brita water filter, which doncha know you can buy at your local WAL MART, AMERICA) But darnit by the end when they were doing the weigh-in, and then when the identical twin brothers were the bottom team and both brothers asked the other contestants to vote them off so that their brother could stay, well I mean clearly it's just a little dusty in my house. My eyes are filling up with tears because of the onions I peeled yesterday and their residual aroma. I'm not crying!!
But really I was crying. The show is one big product placement, pile of inspiration. Of course it's reality television crap. But it's really, really inspirational reality television crap! And perhaps why I'm so inspired is that I too am on my own quest for physical fitness. I may not have 300 pounds to lose ala some of these big losers (what!? I mean that in a good way!), but I may have a little toning to do, some weight to shed that I accumulated on the beaches of Thailand (oh there were just so many Chang and Singha beers to be drunken at 11am on white sand beaches, so many plates of fried rice to be gobbled up, I didn't enjoy any of this of course, but it had to be done!)
So lo and behold, I was perusing OnDemand a couple of weeks back, possibly on that oh so cliched two days after New Year's Eve day when all of America decides to start working out simultaneously, and why there has never been some kind of freak earth-quake due to all of these overweight people deciding to start jumping around at the same time, I will never know. But I discovered that OnDemand has an entire fitness section, with FREE fitness videos. And there's even an entire Jillian Michaels section (see my comments on The Biggest Loser). I chose a benign enough seeming program, called Boost-Metabolism. It was only an hour. I've done yoga for two hours. How hard could one hour of aerobics/cardio/kick-boxing/squatting/leaping/lunging/crying be right? Well at the time I didn't know there would be crying. So I did this video and pretty much five minutes in, I thought I must be having some kind of episode. Your heart isn't supposed to beat that fast right? Are your lungs supposed to have to fight that hard to draw in air? What are these strange sensations?
Oh, oh, I see. This is that other kind of exercise isn't it? You see, I'm a huge yoga fan. And yoga is hard and it is exercise and I have taken yoga classes where I have sweat so much that small ducks could swim in the leftover pool of sweat I leave behind. But yoga is not what this kind of exercise is, namely exercise that makes you feel like you are possibly dying. Yoga is all breathe in on this move, breathe out on this other move. While doing this Jillian Michael's video, I couldn't distinguish between when I was inhaling or exhaling. I was too busy wheezing and gasping for air and praying for death.
I cannot tell you the number of movement I did during this video that I have never done in my entire life. Have you ever heard of jump squats? They are the devil. Every single muscle in your body will stop what it's doing and scream out in mutiny against the idiot who is making them perform such inhumane actions. But I didn't stop. I couldn't because of Jillian freaking Michaels. I totally get why the Biggest Loser contestants keep going when they are literally falling of treadmills and sobbing for mercy. She uses this combination of motivation and guilt. One second she's telling you how great you're doing (albeit through an OnDemand video so I'm sure it's even more effective in person) and the next she's telling you what a miserable excuse for a human being you'll be if you stop doing those scissor kicks (okay maybe she doesn't use those exact words but the intent is clear). If anyone was watching me doing these videos they would be highly concerned. I go from dutifully following along the video, squatting and leaping and kicking and punching, to collapsing into a heap on my bed, to getting up shamefully and resuming the exercise, to collapsing onto a heap on my chair, etc. and etc.
One day I didn't finish. I was so tired, my knees hurt so much (so about that, like I said I've only really done yoga since I was 18, and my knees have never once bothered me, three days into a new cardio routine and after exercise I can barely walk down my stairs, what is this!? is this just me aging, another side effect like the fact that my hangovers now last anywhere from 24-72 hours after drinking instead of the half day episodes I had in college? I mean I'm 24. Am I really at the age where parts of my body should be deteriorating, one after the next like some game of decrepit dominoes? My hips are already shot but as I learned from my physical therapist it's because I'm a freak of nature and was born that way. But my knees! I don't want to lose my knees.) But I digress. I gave up with two "circuits" left to go. I turned off the TV and collapsed in a heap on my bed. And I felt guilty about it the entire rest of the day!
What is that? I'm not used to feeling guitly at giving up on workouts. But that's what Jillian Michaels does to you on these OnDemand videos. And you may want a giant anvil to fall from the sky and hit you if only to be able to stop the pain, but by the time you finish, you really do feel great, like you can accomplish anything, reach for the stars! And I really am turning into the kind of sap who cries at The Biggest Loser.