New year, new fad.
The papers and magazines are full of them and, as someone who has a Toad of Toad Hall approach to life (“Crazes. He always has crazes”), it was inevitable that I embarked on a couple more this year.
In LA, I embarked on them on a weekly, if not daily basis; on every street corner, there is someone offering you a better life, usually at a cost of thousands of dollars. In New York, it seems easier to set one’s own routine for considerably less. Maybe it’s because of the competition.
So, I began with cleansing my digestive system. I drink a reasonable amount of carrot juice anyway (I love it, but am careful not to overdose on Vitamin A – not good), and thought that Daily Greens sounded more aggressive. So it was spinach, kale, celery and lemon juice, accompanied by a banana and, my weakness, two cups of Tetley tea (my supermarket has run out of PG Tips; I am heartbroken and very shaky from withdrawal symptoms as a result).
It’s hard to say what Daily Greens tastes like, but lets just say that the barium meal I had 30 years ago when I was tested for an ulcer was better. I certainly heaved a lot less on it. Individually, I like all four components – spinach (in Delia’s spinach, rice and cheese bake), kale (stir fried), celery on its own or in my vegetarian Bolognese sauce) and lemon (gin and tonic). Together, however, it tasted like a frog that had overdosed on . . . well, other frogs. Other frogs with bad very stomach upsets. It looked like Kermit after a severe road traffic accident.
I tried coconut water instead. This is the juice from young green coconuts (maybe the frog had overdosed on those, too?) that apparently aids digestion, helps weight loss, and lays claim to being the very elixir of life, alongside water. It tasted like cat’s pee, albeit sweet cat’s pee. I decided to stick to my carrot juice and what comes for free out of my tap.
My diet, however, is going well. Fresh fruit and veg, very little or no alcohol, and two fingers of Kit Kat if I fancy something sweet (which I rarely do, anyway; I am lucky in never having had a sweet tooth). But then I’ve always been quite a healthy eater. I used to spend all my pocket money on health magazines, which is why I now know everything about bowel movements but couldn’t name you a number one hit single from the past 50 years.
But now to exercise. Again, I’ve always been quite good on this front. I used to be a dancer, I walk everywhere, and I have frequented many gyms, where I do a good cardio workout and a bit of muscle training on machines. Last year, I also had a personal trainer twice a week, and this year I have added boxing cardio to my routine – something I did years ago before hurting my knee when trying to compete in “boxercise” classes with young lads who actually boxed for a living. Very foolish.
This year, I thought I’d try something different - yet another yoga class. My friends who do yoga look amazing and seem to have knocked years off their ages. Personally, I’ve never got on with it. No matter what class I attend, I always seem to be behind the person who, in Downward Facing Dog, has a veritable wind farm operating from his or her backside.
Yesterday, I decided to try yet another form of yoga. Although it has been around for some time, “hot yoga” is increasingly popular owing to the likes of Andy Murray and Gwyneth Paltrow doing it. As I don’t want to win Wimbledon, or be “consciously uncoupled”, the celebrity aspect of it wasn’t what appealed; instead, it was the fact that the exercise takes place in a room heated to over 105 degrees, which is supposedly better for muscles and makes you sweat more.
As with all yoga classes I have previously attended, I quickly dislocated my neck trying to see what the teacher was doing. Then I twisted my groin by being too competitive and trying to stretch further than people half my age. Then came the dreaded Downward Facing Dog. Over and over again. There was an “Up” dog, too, and something I have never experienced before – “Happy Baby”. This one I struggled with, so much so that the teacher had to come over to show me how to do it, and I still couldn’t master it. Come on. How was I supposed to know what a happy baby pose was? The last time I was in one, I was a baby for goodness’ sake!
For those not in the know, Happy Baby involves you lying on your back and cupping your right foot in your right hand; then your left; then both feet together. Small wonder I couldn’t get it. Happy baby pose to me was always, I am sure, stuffing my face and sleeping it off.
I have to say, though, that the lower back pain that has been plaguing me for months had completely gone this morning. I was able to leap out of bed without pain and there is not a hint of the soreness that has been making life so difficult. Maybe it was the Daily Greens, maybe the coconut milk, but I suspect it was the hot yoga.
Did I enjoy it? No. Do I want to go again? No. Will I go again? Yes. It’s worth it for the back relief alone. And in a New York City winter, I know I’m going to need all the 100 plus degrees I can get.
Even if I do have to suffer a rectal wind farm to get it.