I have had my own personal struggles with maintaining a healthy weight most of my life. Without boring you with all the details, I will divulge that at my heaviest, I weighed 200 pounds (~91kgs) and now maintain a weight of about 130 pounds (~59kgs). I have maintained this weight for almost five years.
Or rather I should say that I had been maintaining this weight until I went home for the summer last year. In that eight week period I managed to pack on about 12 pounds (~5.5kgs)! I was just so happy to indulge in the food that I had missed while living in the UAE that it seemed to happen in a blink of an eye. Unfortunately, weight is much easier and enjoyable to gain than it is to lose. So when I came back at the start of this academic year, I had to work my butt off to get back down to my ‘safe zone’ of 130-135 pounds (59-61kgs). It just wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked. Apparently the older I get, the harder it is to lose the weight. Imagine that.
Then in January a friend suggested joining a CrossFit class (aka Desert Boot Camp). This is an exercise class meant for core and strength training. I signed up, not because I strive to be a muscle-bound weightlifting champion, but because I just wanted to tone up and finally lose the last bit of summer weight.
The first workout was extremely difficult to get through. I didn’t think it would be too hard – afterall I go to the gym and consider myself semi-physically fit. But no, my muscles rebelled against the WOD (workout of the day) and screamed at me for thinking this would be a good idea. For a week after the first session, I could barely walk without wanting to cry. I truly had to reconsider if this class was a good idea or not. But I didn’t quit.
After a few sessions, the workouts seemed to get slightly easier – ok maybe not easier but I was able to get through them without wanting to die. We would do a lot of things like crunches, sit ups, push ups, squats, planking, and lunges. I was quickly seeing results. After a month of classes (2x a week), I could see tone in my arms and back that never existed before. After two months, I was noticing overall increased strength and flexibility. And by the end of my 24th session, I could actually make out definition in my abs. What?! I know, right! I never expected in a million years to have any (as slight as it may be) muscle definition in my abs. It was very helpful having Ziad, the trainer, pushing me. When I would want to give up, he made me want to do a little more, push a little harder, and be less whiny while doing it.
Here are a few examples of the workouts we would do:
Unfortunately, just as I was seeing these results, the class finished. With the soaring temperatures of summer upon us, it just got too hot to continue working out outside. It was one thing to workout in the grass of the Al Ain Equestrian field when the temps were between 70-90 degrees (21-32C), but it was a whole new thing once the temperatures started passing the 100F (38C) mark.
I have tried to maintain my newly developed muscle tone. I have integrated in many of the exercises I learned in this class into my gym routine. Of course, it just isn’t the same without Ziad standing over me encouraging me to do more reps. My hope is that, after all my hard work this year to lose last summer’s weight gain, I won’t mess it up again this summer. The fear of having to do another session with the dreaded medicine ball or burpees might be just the incentive I need to limit my visits to Red Robin and Olive Garden.