My Happy Body

Gerry King (52-year-old business consultant)

When I was a Master swimmer, I put on weight over two years, to the point that I was wearing XXL shirts and 42-inch pants. Then a friend asked me to join a "team in training" for the Wildflower Triathlon, seven months away. I thought that would be a good way to get fit and lose some weight. So I followed the recommended workouts, at first for six days a week and then for seven, swimming, biking, and running-or, in my case, walking and slow jogging.

After five months, I had lost five pounds, but was stiff most of the time. My biking had improved, but my swimming and walking/jogging hadn't really made much progress. I was still stiff, and I never looked forward to any of the stretching exercises. Nevertheless, I was enjoying the camaraderie and sense of purpose that came from raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Meanwhile, our neighbors, Pam and Jim, were working out with the "Polish Poets," Jerzy and Aniela. While we initially thought that wasn't for us, eventually we couldn't help feeling envious of Pam and Jim's obvious joy and satisfaction.

Our initial experience with The Happy Body program wasn't easy. Everything we had previously thought about health and fitness turned out to be wrong. Jerzy and Aniela told us to abandon our beliefs in the benefits of fruit and aerobic exercise. We had many debates with them before we understood that their program was based on sound scientific research and measured by the results it produced.

It was hard to believe, at first, that I was going to make much progress with the relaxing lightweight lifting I started out with. (Whatever happened to "no pain, no gain"?) Gradually, however, I began to notice a significant improvement in my flexibility and strength, and, as a result of that, my balance also improved. When I had any strains or pains, Jerzy and Aniela would modify the workout to ensure that I listened to my body rather than making demands on it. That's what they call being "behind my body," not "in front of it." Whenever my exercises became too easy for me, they would change my workout to challenge me, but without overwhelming me. That gave me the confidence to go on to the next level. This is what Aniela calls "arriving without striving."

Eight months after starting the program, I had lost 50 pounds and put on 10 pounds of muscle, which means I lost 60 pounds of fat. More importantly, squat exercises that I couldn't do before with just a broom handle, because I was too stiff and weak, now I'm doing with a 65-pound bar. I can touch my toes for the first time in years and have full confidence in my body.

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