Weighing In

Around five months ago, I started working out in an attempt to look less like a non-green version of Shrek from the movies. I stopped eating cheese, butter, sugar, chips, fries and everything else that makes life worth living, gastronomically speaking. I went out running every day, and grew obsessive about hydration, as everyone on their first moderately serious health kick becomes. I turned my life from a dietician’s nightmare into a cow’s dream – I cut processed foods almost in entirety, I abandoned my favourite, but unfortunately fattening, misti doi in favour of the less flavourful but 90-calories-a-pack Greek yogurt.

Lucky for me, my diet began to pay off really quickly. I’d lost a kilo within the first week, and I’ve lost around 12.5 kilos total now. I’ve skimmed five inches off my waistline and people are beginning to comment on my getting thinner. I no longer look like I’ve spent my entire life devouring eight packs of chips a day (although my pot belly still remains, to some extent, and I still look like I’m not above polishing off a family pack of cake).

A couple of months ago, though, I discovered the joys of EPOC – Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. EPOC, or the Afterburn Effect, is the effect by which your body burns more calories after an intense workout than if you’d just done lower-intensity exercise for the same period of time. When you work out hard – and I mean really hard, like, you-want-to-go-home-and-sleep-now hard, your muscles begin to build up lactic acid and your body’s oxygen reserves are depleted. As those of you who paid attention in tenth-standard biology (yes, I know that’s nobody) know, lactic acid is what causes the burning sensation in our muscles once we exercise. After you work out, your body has to rid itself of the excess lactic acid, and rebuild its oxygen stores, so it burns more calories – for up to 24 hours after you work out, according to some research. The easiest way to trigger the afterburn effect is to do resistance training, so I went out and got a gym membership. I’ve been going every day now, and I’ve continued to lose weight from week to week. I’ve even discovered, thanks to all the resistance training, that there is some muscle under all the flab in my body.

Along with all the positives, though, comes all the pain. If I go out for ice cream with my parents, I actually have to sit there and turn down a delicious Corner House ice cream with chocolate cake and sauce and nuts and… I can’t talk about this anymore, my drool will ruin my keyboard. Going to the gym, too, comes with its own set of problems, the first and foremost being that I have to convince myself at 5 p.m. every evening to get off my behind and go to the gym. I’m also not used to the pain that comes with every workout – I get home from the gym with aches in places I didn’t even know I had places.

I figure it’s worth it, though. One of these days I’ll be able to go to swimming pools with a Herculean physique and remove my shirt without traumatising all around me. Perhaps one day I’ll even be able to walk past McDonald’s without discovering a sudden craving for year-old burgers. Perhaps, on that day, all the aches and pains and the elbows I can’t move for fear of them falling off will be worth it. Until then, however, my muscles don’t feel sore enough. I think I’ll go do some push ups and have a nice, large can of peas for breakfast.

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