Well, Michelle Bridges was a bust. I think I have actually PUT ON weight! Probably because I couldn’t bring myself to do the exercises. I know Bridges will call all of these things I am about to tell you ‘excuses,’ but that is an extremely reductive way to describe deep-seated emotional difficulties that lead to binge eating and depressive laziness.
I gave myself the odd day off early in the program, because it was the silly season, lots of work breakups and the like, and the odd day off turned into just ditching the program altogether. Here are the main reasons I found it hard to complete:
Every single recipe is for 2 or more people.
Halving recipes is a brain strain. You’ve all done it. You think you’re halving everything, it’s all going along well, and then you realise you’ve used the regular amount of just one ingredient, usually a really stinky one, and it throws the whole meal out of whack. Let’s not even pretend I could stomach the curry I made that tasted entirely of kaffir lime. This was a curry that I was required to eat FOUR TIMES THROUGHOUT THE WEEK.
When I managed to get a recipe right, or I just said ‘Fark it, I’m making the usual amount,’ I really enjoyed them. Even the quinoa tabouli. I hate quinoa and I hate tabouli, but for some reason they cancelled each other out and were delicious. The various breakfasts (which I would eat for dinner or lunch) were spectacular. Berry bruschetta, with walnuts and ricotta? Divine! Banana and cottage cheese on raisin bread? Heaven!
As I’ve tried to explain before, it only takes a small, infinitesimal setback during the cooking of one meal, and I am consumed with despair. That awful voice starts yelling inside my head. I’m not joking about the yelling either, it is deafening. It can bring me to tears. “You are useless! Lazy little boy! This is why you are fat! You can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying?” The saddest thing is, it’s my voice. Sure, I learned to say all those things from my parents, and I have done a lot of therapy to accept that they could have no idea that the way they treated me as a child would cause me to become the self-descructive whale I am today, but ultimately, treating myself like shit is my responsibility. I want to get better, but perhaps trying to prepare my own healthy food is counter-productive to my emotional well-being.
So, there was nothing wrong with the food itself, it was all me, but the shopping and preparation started to take up most of my days, and all of my emotional strength, leaving very little time for exercise. Not that I did any...
I can’t exercise alone.
I feel like an idiot. I tried doing Wii Fit exercises - while holding 4kg freeweights, just to make me sweat, cos those games are hardly taxing - and I was pretty puffed after the sessions. Then I attempted to do the exercises on Bridges’ website. Woah. What a mistake.
I live in a tiny little unit. Open plan lounge and kitchen, but not large open plan. I had to push a table in front of the fridge to give myself enough room to move, I certainly didn’t have any kind of bench to do step ups on, other than the very low Wii Fit board. I don’t know where I’m supposed to keep this bench, but it seemed to be central to over half of the exercises. Plunges, tricep thingies. I certainly wasn’t going to use my couch or anything I actually liked as a substitute. I weigh 140kg. Furniture is not made for someone of my size to do high impact work on. If you’ve heard my Talking Poofy podcast (The Poofcast
) you may have heard the story of the time I was re-enacting Wicked with Wes Snelling in an Adelaide hotel room and went right through a chair as I tried to launch myself into the sky for the showstopping Defying Gravity.
I’d spent a significant amount of money on the Bridges program, and the crazy amount of food it required me to buy (much of which I had to throw out, because the shopping list is based on the recipes, which are all for two people - you know, in this day and age of content management systems and database driven websites, it should be a piece of piss for a coder to include a button that would instantly halve the recipes, ingredients and shopping lists for someone living alone, swap out meals due to dietary intolerances and other issues, instead of me having to spend an hour or two a week doing it). After this outlay, I couldn’t really come at spending another $70 or so a month to sign up to the gym. Also, if I feel like a dickhead doing exercises at home alone, am I really going to do them at the gym in front of other people? Nup.
This resistance to doing exercise is like a wall, and every time I push up against it, I feel like I want to cry. I can hear the voice again, shouting at me, calling me lazy, telling me how useless I am, that I will never be able to exercise, why would I even bother trying?
I did manage to at least do some physical activity. I’ve been popping into my sister’s house and taking her dog, Roky, for a walk. Usually 45mins to an hour. We walk briskly (he’s a labrador cross kelpie, so I have no choice in that) and I feel great afterward. We even walk in the rain! Then he hangs out at my place until it’s time to go home and see his mum, which goes some way to easing the jangling nerves I get from having to listen to Mister Negative shouting at me from inside my own head. Yes, it’s just like a horror movie in my brain. “THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!”
Obviously, I still have some way to go dealing with my emotional issues, before I can conquer the physical ones. The binge eating will have to stop, because while it seems to make me feel better in the short term, emotionally, I can't actually get to sleep with my stomach distended like John Hurt in Alien. It really can be that bad. It is painful to keep eating, but I can't stop myself. You may think it is a lack of willpower, but those of us who do it know it for what it is - something to stop the other pain, the hole inside that can never be filled, no matter how much we eat.
So, now that I have identified my limitations, I have decided to get back on Lite ‘n’ Easy. No more shopping, prep and aggro. Next step is doing more than just walk a dog. Can I drag myself back to the gym? I might need some internal headphones to block out the screaming of Mister Negative in there...