I arrived home from the gym today to find this text on my phone from the gym: ‘Kære Frances Helen, du har en vejledning i morn (date and time given). Ta’ dit træningstøj på og mød op i receptionen. Vi ses.’
First point: I don’t have a new preferred first name. Danes like to use both of my given names. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because there are only about 20 approved given names for each sex here, and so people distinguish themselves by double-banging their first names, so there are lots of Poul-Eric’s, and Neils Christian’s, Helle-Kristine’s, Dorte-Marie’s etc, and so they apply it to me. There are also only a few family names, and they are usually first names with ‘sen’ tacked on, indicating ‘son of’ in case you couldn’t figure that out. I actually spent happy hours reading the phone book when I arrived because I could not believe that there were multiple Torben Torbensen’s, or Erik Eriksen’s, or Rasmus Rasmussen’s, or Jens Jensen’s, or Christian Christiansen’s… On a slightly different note, some Europeans have tried to call me Helen for some reason? No one has been able to explain why they would chose what is obviously my second name. The upshot of all this name culture is that I often have a double banger first name! Very posh.)
So I translated the text as: ‘you are getting weighed tomorrow. Get your training gear on and meet the trainer at reception, see you.’
Kære Frances Helen, du har en vejledning… I kept reading it and started hyperventilating. That really looked like ‘weighing’ to me, and, along with visiting the dentist and being in close proximity to a wasp, being weighed, by myself or someone else, is something that I dread! My personal trainer bloke wants to weigh me?!? No, it can’t be true. He knows how much I hate that machine. I know that our relationship is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, but does it have to end like this?
I remember the beginning like yesterday. A very traumatic yesterday. We talked about goals. He immediately assured me that weight loss was a simple process and we could easily achieve a massive weight loss (the wisdom of a fit young fella, he knows me better now and would be less blase about glibly stating such things). I assured him that I wanted to focus on getting fitter and stronger, how I’d tried for 4 decades to lose weight and never achieved any long term effect, so I was very reluctant to make any kind of decrease in the dreaded number a focus of our time together. I remember his face at that point, firmly set in an expression that spoke louder than words: ‘did she just say that? How can that be possible? It’s so simple…’ But to his credit, he did not question any of my statements, just kind of shrugged a ‘customer gets what customer wants’ shrug, and then he wanted to record a start point. And, that start point required stepping onto the dreaded machine. Oh the horror of anyone, let alone a bloke, knowing that most personal of numbers. I gingerly stepped on, and we waited for the stats. Horrific. My bottom lip trembled, and tears welled up in my eyes, equal loads of embarrassment and judgement. In my mind, every gram counts very loudly against my self worth and self esteem, and it’s soul destroying. Such an unpleasant and charged moment. But he didn’t notice and just took a photo of the print out that the machine spewed forth with his tablet. I breathed deeply. We talked about what some of the numbers meant. More deep breathing. I was just grateful that the dreaded tape measure was not produced as the next round of torment. Instead we talked about keeping a food diary for a few days so that he could see what he was dealing with. I confess that I filled it out, but I carefully didn’t send it to him, or ever bring it up again… It was an interesting exercise though, on the days that I recorded stuff, I was eating VERY healthy. There is something about being accountable and writing stuff down that brings the issue into clear focus. And finally we trotted off to learn some exercise techniques, my happy place!
Since then we haven’t been near that machine. 3 months of learning to enjoy exercise. Lots of challenges and lots of achievements. We have focused on getting me fitter and stonger, and it has worked! I can do stuff I have only dreamed about doing! Made massive progress in terms of stamina and strength. My back doesn’t hurt. My times on the rowing machine are improved. And my clothes fit better. In fact, I can fit into almost everything in my wardrobe. Everything, except my skinniest of pants, which I have never been able to get in to anyway. Why did I buy them? Because I was always going to shrink, so I would need them one day… Be honest, we all have those purchases, somewhere deep in our wardrobes… Why do I keep them? I torture myself with: maybe, one day, I will be able to fit them, maybe, one day, I’ll be small enough. I’m beginning to think that I should just put them at the op-shop and get new ones that fit.
The idea of getting weighed tomorrow has sent me into a complete spin. However, I’ve been to weight watchers on numerous and, it turns out, fanciful quests to shrink. There, you pay money to get weighed at every meeting. One learns a few tricks…
I have already packed my gym gear for tomorrow:
1. the shortest pair of lycra shorts I can find! Reasoning: lycra is light and ‘short’ means less material therefore trimming a few grams from the final number,
2. a rather obscenely small, stretchy, sleeveless top, again going for small amounts of light fabric. In summary, if he insists on weighing me, then I will assault his senses with my wardrobe choices. Nobody is getting out of there unscathed.
3. underwear will need to be a careful compromise between functional (I fear there will be upwards of 60 burpees tomorrow, one needs supportive structures to cope with that kind of extensive and explosive movement) and lightweight. Every gram counts.
Other considerations include:
4. water intake will be carefully allocated to the morning, with frequent visits to the toilet to squeeze every last drop out of the bladder during the afternoon. Although I have to be careful about the hydration, because the machine actually estimates your muscle mass on the electrical resistance that it senses, and this is affected by the amount of water in your body. If I don’t have enough water in me, then it will forecast that I am all fat and no muscle. So some water is necessary, but not too much. I’ve downloaded and read the instruction manual for the machine you see, and I know how it works, always be prepared. And my blood sugar level is sensitive, so I will need to eat at the usual points during the day… Let’s be real here: unless I take a very strong laxative right now, then my food intake is not going to affect the result too much, but I know people who have done things like that, just to get a shrunken number. It’s going to be tricky to prepare properly for the post-weighing training session without hydration and a bit of food directly beforehand, but we must focus on the goal… Every gram counts.
5. Face cream, hair products and other additives should be keep to a minimum. Every gram counts.
6. Shaving. No more need be said except that every gram counts.
7. Cut all nails.
8. I wonder if there is time to get a haircut?
9. If I am relaxed, then my body will eject unwanted negative energy and water, so I must spend the morning looking at pictures of kittens and chickens.
10. I need to go to sleep right now to get the prescribed 8 hours. I also should have turned away from all of my electronic devices about 2 hours ago, so that the light sensitive, sleep inducing hormone melatonin could permeate my body and help me sleep better. Dammit.
At this point, the crazy was losing its power and I began to question my translating skill so I threw the text into google translate. ‘Vejledning’ directly translated is: way wire, or a guidance/instruction/lesson, not a weighing. My trainer bloke had simply remembered to put my appointment into the system earlier than he usually does it, and the system had texted me to remind me to meet him. Oh well, I know that ‘it’ will come in a few weeks, and I’m prepared for it! I wonder if fit young fellas have any idea of the ordeal that weighing is? The lesson is that it only matters to me in the end. And I am learning to give it less importance, but, for today, sadly, every gram still counts.