Give or take a couple of weeks, I’m spending most of this summer in Amman to do some freelance writing. Being within easy reach of my mother for a long stretch of time, well-meaning suggestions have and will continue to rain down on me, interminably. That’s the reality of being around one’s mom. Or at least my mom.
Her main area of concern so far: my non-existent physical fitness regimen.
Two weeks of being upbraided about the state of atrophy I had permitted my muscles to slip into and I’ve broken down and joined a gym for the duration of my stay.a
Not because nagging works on me. It doesn’t. I’ve been hectored for hours and subjected to guilt trips for weeks on end before; neither approach has ever proved effective on my wilful nature. It’s just that deep down in my contentedly flabby soul I knew my mother was right. Regular exercise is beneficial to both your physical health and your psychological well-being yet I’ve been lax about it for years now.
Yes, I did buy a pair of expensive running shoes with every intention of using them — but then I didn’t. Yes, I went to yoga classes regularly for a while — but yoga studios are hard to find in Amman. And while yoga can improve posture, strengthen muscles and generally just make you feel good, yoga doesn’t address an important component of overall health: cardiovascular fitness.
Two years of refusing to work out has left me out of shape. It’s not that I look bad — I’m happy with my weight — but jogging for twenty-two-and-a-half minutes today killed me.
And then I’ve got this one little problem area that no amount of weight-loss can seem to address: the saddlebags.
‘What are saddlebags,’ you might ask, perplexed. ‘Those side satchel thingies they put on either side of a saddle? Where you would carry sandwiches, a piece of fruit and a thermos of tea if you were going on a long journey on horseback?’
Sort of. Just imagine that the horse itself is your bum, and the saddle bags that protrude out, ruining that streamlined equine silhouette, are deposits of fat that tenaciously hold onto your derriere for dear life.
This is not the best portrayal of what my own saddlebags look like, but you get the idea. You have saddlebags if the bits where your outer thighs meet the bottom of your buttocks flare out in an unsightly fashion. I would include a photo of an actual person with the problem area circled, but then I might have to mark this post NSFW.
Fuck it, this post is NSFW. You have been warned!
The bottom circle is where the saddlebag issue would lie. This photograph isn’t even that majorly NSFW, but there’s a thong involved and I don’t think your boss would like you looking at that.
Taking the metaphor further, that fat is pretty much the aforementioned thermos of tea, sandwich, etc. you’d stuff in that handy saddlebag. Theoretically, you can draw on that fat as nutrition to feed your body, but let’s get real people: I don’t think entering a state of ketosis is in the cards for me.
I love my carbs too much to part with themb in order to kick my metabolism into fat burning mode; I don’t believe in miracle lasers, massages and creams to make thigh-fat go away; and we all know how I feel about cosmetic surgery. There is no option but to exercise the shit out of that fat. Because why not? I have plenty of time on my hands and no legitimate excuses to not do my best to tackle this one little thing about my physique that’s bothered me for years.
Now some of you may possibly be gearing up to deliver a blistering attack on my promotion of unrealistic physical ideals and the like. But I’m not trying to slim down to a 24-inch waist or something insane like that. I’m targeting fatty deposits that have plagued me since time immemorial.
And most people, even if rather content with their figures, do have that one problem area they look at in the mirror and wish away. Or wish was larger or smaller or more toned. You could, like me, have saddlebags who’ve decided they’re BFFs with your butt. Or persistent cellulite. Or flabby inner thighs. Or all of the above. You could have chubby arms, or a little paunch that obscures all the hard work you’ve put into your abs. Your calves could be too spindly or too thick, your knees too knobby or more rounded than you’d like. You could be a guy with gynaecomastia, which means you have breast tissue that no amount of exercise can rid you of — you either live with man boobs, or go under the knife.
Petite or tall, broad or narrow, stout or slim, we all have one infuriating problem area that we pinch and pull and sigh at in dissatisfaction. Some of these can be dealt with via a combination of exercise and diet. Others may require more drastic solutions. Still others you might just have to learn to live with.
I’ve just decided that I no longer want to live with a posterior even slightly reminiscent of flared jodhpurs, and to that that end I shall be squatting, lunging, leg-raising and bridge-ing my way to a perter bottom.
Or I’ll try my best to, anyway. Because, goddamnit, I really hate the gym.
- This gym is an incredibly poky ladies-only fitness club comprised of one studio and limited floor space for stretching and mat exercises. It’s hygienic, but gets quite crowded at times, their mats have been through hell and back, and 80% of the women who work out there are decrepit or obese, or some combination of the two. I chose it based on two considerations, and two considerations only: price and proximity. There are several exceptional gyms in Amman, boasting excellent equipment and fairly decent instructors and personal trainers, not to mention facilities like pools and squash courts and multiple studios — and they’re very expensive to join. I’m only here a few months so an expensive gym membership that I’ll just allow to lapse is wasteful. They also tend to be further away from our house. If you’ve ever driven in Amman, you’d know that navigating traffic here is akin to waging war. I don’t want to wage war for 40 minutes to and from a gym I’m already frequenting begrudgingly. (back)
- They’re all the good kind of carbohydrates, so, no, I don’t feel guilty. Go away. (back)