Shabbat yesterday was filled with strained faces - lots of grinning through gritted teeth. Ask the question "How are you?" and the reply is never "Great!" but more along the lines of "Ye-e-e-e-e-a-a-ah - ask me another" accompanied by an expression that says 'we're in the Counting of the Omer and I feel like I am wading through treacle'
Fortunately, when you wade through treacle (can't say that I have personally had the experience, but I have a very good imagination and can see it as being at least twice as challenging as Aqua Aerobics) it might be tough, but the rewards are greater. Push through anything during the Counting of the Omer and you have the chance to earn yourself a great deal of Light on the night of Shavuot - the day where it is possible to tap in to the energy of Immortality. Okay, so now we're talking - surely it has to be worth the effort.
One of the things I decided to push through was this whole business of exercise, because thin though I may be, I am not remotely fit. I have received many compliments on my new figure, having dropped a dress size over the past few months, and have also been questioned on how I achieved my weight loss. To this end I am honest. "Unhealthily" I reply. Add stress to not eating from one day to the next and the love handles just melt away, as does half of your muscle. The tops of my arms are now sleek and skinny, and if I tense my stomach muscles I have a totally unearned six pack going on. Kind of. If I squint a little. Even my usually rather sticky out bum has started to look flat. The thighs, it has to be said, are still in existence.
The only problem with not eating is that there is little energy to do anything else and to this extent skinny people with eating disorders are not the most fun people to be around, because after ten minutes of window shopping (if you haven't lost them down a grate by this point) they want to sit down and take a rest. And the number of times I have almost slipped imperceptibly between train and platform where there are no 'Mind The Gap' signs just beggars belief. If it weren't for my long, flappy feet it would be a different story altogether.
Anyhow, being a lover of healthy food, junk food AND chocolate, I decided that if I want to stop drifting around like an outpatient, I ought to start eating AND start exercising. And then maybe I'll get to keep my new size (because I can't afford to buy more clothes) and I will have more energy.
I know, just call me Einstein.
So on Friday I finally took my Bar Method DVD out of it's box and ran through the workout. And I love the Bar Method. Lots of little, tiny movements, no leaping around, and short term pain. There are lots of little repetitions, but not enough to make me cry. Just when I get to the point where I am thinking 'it's no good, I'm going to have to put my leg down', the instructor on the DVD (who has the body that I am aiming for, dammit) says 'Okay, and we're done. You can lower your leg. Good Job!'
After the workout, I get the feeling that, actually, I haven't done anything at all. I feel fine. Did any of those teeny movements actually do anything? I feel doubtful. The same doubt that I feel when I take any action in other areas and am impatient to see the change.
Luckily, workout-wise, I don't have to wait too long to feel the difference. Because I woke up yesterday feeling as though I had run the London Marathon a day early. And this is supposed to make me fit? I thought, as I clawed my way in to the bathroom, my calf muscles so tight that I could barely get my heels on the ground.
So I spent most of yesterday in various stretch postures to prevent my body from seizing up in to a shape resembling The Hooded Claw. Halfway through the afternoon, after an inadvisable nap which had turned most of my muscles to wood, there was a knock at the door. It was the local Jehovah's Witnesses.
After a brief and polite discussion where I explained that I studied Kabbalah (which they had never heard of), she glanced curiously at my rigid posture and asked a crucial question:
"Is Immortality something that you believe in?"
In theory, yes I do. In practice, I'd feel blessed if I made it to next week....