In the movies, weightloss doesn’t take much time. In The Mirror Has Two Faces, an almost-forgotten 1990’s classic, Barbra Streisand needs little more than five minutes. She eats a carrot, gets a haircut and goes for a run. Within moments, she is transformed from a dowdy and pudgy woman into an effervescent beauty and Jeff Bridges doesn’t know what’s hit him.
In the glory days of the silver screen, the 1980’s, any process of transformation took the form of a montage, set to an uplifting piece of music, about three minutes in length.
My favourite montage comes from the silliest and most wonderful film of all time, Footloose. The town is on the cusp of lifting the ban on dancing and local boy, Willard is worried because he doesn’t know how to dance. Ren, the boy from the big city teaches him. Willard goes from not being able to click his fingers in time to music, to being able to somersault and gyrate with a relatively good sense of rhythm in three minutes and ten seconds.
Incidentally, this is the song I want played at my funeral.
You can make all kinds of transformations in a three-minute montage. The internet informs me that in no fewer than two movies from 1986, there is a montage of a gang of kids fixing up an old boat in order to race it against a jerk. In the Karate Kid, Daniel manages to win an entire karate league to the strains of “You’re the Best Around” in three minutes and eighteen seconds.
Sports is a common theme in montages. The Rocky films are apparently 20% training montages. In “No Retreat, No Surrender”, the hero is a weak fighter, beaten up by local bullies. He is visited by the ghost of Bruce Lee, and in minutes, is an almost invincible fighter, who can take on and beat the USSR (or at least Jean Claude Van Damme, their representative in this case).
I will admit that there are better training montages, but who doesn’t want to be able to do one-handed press-ups on a pane of glass?
But reality doesn’t come in a montage. Major transformations take longer than three minutes. And life, shamefully, doesn’t have a 1980’s poptastic soundtrack.
Weightloss takes time and commitment, strength and motivation, perseverance and the ability to come up with your own soundtrack. Unfortunately, I’ve been wavering. Sure my exercise has been consistent, but I’ve been eating absolutely diabolically – not all the time, but enough of the time to cancel out when I’m good. On Wednesday night, after a sensible day’s eating I got up at 3:00 a.m., got dressed, drove to the petrol station and bought a packet of chocolate digestives and a litre of milk, ate and drank the lot, and went home to bed. Following that with a perfect day doesn’t really count. I had a takeaway pizza last night. And chicken dippers. Following that with over 100 squats, 60 crunches and 25 kettlebell swings didn’t make much of a difference. And that’s just two examples. I know this weigh-in is going to be bad.
Measurements: up – but not as bad as I expected – thank you, exercise.
Neck: 17 inches/ 43.2 cm (up)
Chest: 49 inches/ 124.4 cm (up)
Arm: 15.75 inches/ 40 cm (up)
Waist: 53.75 inches/ 136.8 cm (up – a lot)
Thigh: 26.75 inches/ 69 cm (same)
Weight: 22 stone 2.75 lbs/ 310.75 lbs/ 141 kg. That’s me up 12 pounds or 5.5 kgs. Grrh!
BMI is 46.9 and body fat is 9 stone 1.25 lbs (41.1%).
It does sometimes cross my mind that I should give up. Only three times in the twenty years that I’ve been dieting have I had any long-term success. And I’ve never come near my goal. I’m obviously not very good at it. As part of my PhD, I’ve been reading a fair bit about the sociology of the body. It’s very anti-beauty. Dieting is inflicted on us by our culture and negativity about fat bodies is very culturally-specific and an anthropologically rarer phenomenon than negativity about thin bodies.
All that may very well be the case, but I don’t particularly want to have a heart attack in the next ten years. I really don’t want to die when I’m 59. I don’t want to be single forever.
So I’m dusting myself off. I’ve had enough success recently not to lose hope. I’m climbing back on the bloody wagon again.
In my research on 1980’s movie montages, I came across this. It’s too wonderful not to include here and should inspire even a weary battlehorse like me.
Wish me luck!