This is a guest blog post by Udo Krautwurst. Udo is my partner in love and life, my guru. He is an amazing dad to our children, a university professor of anthropology, a german-for-rent and one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I am more than thrilled that he capitulated to my harassment and finally got fit. I need him that way as we get old together. Kettlebells have helped change his perspective on healthy living.
OK. Over the last weeks and months you have known me as ‘He’, usually, and ‘Him’ occasionally. When She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed instructed asked me to write a guest blog post about how She hounded coaxed me into a healthier lifestyle, I felt I was hardly in a position to refuse. (Rider Haggard’s less than flattering colonialist tale of Africa can be somewhat forgiven for having come up with such a descriptive title.)
Long, long ago, in a province far, far away we were young twenty-somethings living the usual lifestyle of personal invincibility. In other words, we smoked. A lot. We ate crappy food. A lot. We ate lots of good food that wasn’t good for you. A lot.
It’s a recipe for hedonism, not longevity. We didn’t realise then that the two things were not necessarily opposed where food was concerned. But I’m ahead of myself.
Since She has already shared her story, I’ll pick mine up when I’m 35ish. Our youngest was somewhere between mental and physical conception, but certainly not yet part of our world. “Get the sperm into that Woman” the oldest demanded of me, in delicious anticipation of having a sibling to boss around. But I digress. At the time I was a 1½ pack a day nicotine addict. Filterless plain cigarettes, complete with orangey-yellow stains on my left middle and index fingers. It had to stop before the youngest was born, and it did.
How to occupy those hands that seemingly had always known how to pass 7-9 minutes instead of just learning to be for 7-9 minutes? Learn to cook. Which is a good thing. Sort of. It was too much of a good thing, combined with smoking cessation metabolism changes. Each year the belt loosened a little more, pant sizes grew, and I stopped wearing striped shirts. You get the idea.
A decade passes and the scales tip 200 lbs for the first time. By then She had already re-invented herself. She was positively energetic in a way I was not. She was, as always, encouraging and insistent. “Let’s play racquetball… let’s go for a bike ride”. “C’mon, you’re almost there.” For those of you who know Her, you know what I’m talking about. Imagine living with Her 24/7!
By the time I’m 47 I’m to the weight room in the gym 2 days a week. She puts on her personal trainer hat and sets up a weight training program for me. It feels like a duty and obligation. I’m there ‘cuz it’s good for me. So there. Hrumph! Somewhere in there She says She is going to change how She eats. Less fat, less sugar (and more recently, less carbs). I’m of course free to do whatever I want. As designated cook I can make as many personalized meals as I feel inclined to make. Or I can cook the same thing for everyone. You see the evil she works here, don’t you?
So, the pounds slowly begin to leave. The gym thing ain’t so bad, really, so I shift to three times a week. (Some of the fat loss was replaced with muscle… groovy!)
I was just starting to play with kettlebells when I was in a car accident that messed up my shoulder. It wasn’t until I was 48 that I seriously took up the kettlebell again. By then She had gotten her certification. The more I did, the more I liked it. The intensity. The diversity of routines compared to the same ol’ same ol’ in the gym. The necessary mental focus and body awareness. The positive energy and camaraderie in classes, where support is usually in the form of group sympathy grunting peppered with the odd complaint directed at Her and Her smiling autocrat directives (one of my favourite parts).
As time went on I started to replace the weight room with the kettlebell. What used to be 3X a week in the gym became 2X and a kettlebell class, became a 2X and 2X, became 1X in the gym and 3X kettlebell.
Over the years the energy has returned. I feel better at 50 than I did at 30. Way better. Really! And not just because I’m her partner and was made wanted to say that. Nonetheless, there are still goals to achieve too. I’d be happy to drop another 10-15 lbs. As my shoulder issues get resolved I start thinking about shifting up to a 40lb kettlebell. I think about how hard She made me work to shift from a 12kg to 30lb to 35lb/16kg kettlebell and oddly, relish the thought of doing it again. It must be some form of evil magic.
So, She’s here in Toronto at some fitness druids convention concocting new ways to direct us, individually and collectively, to want to make ourselves healthier and happier people. The sorceress’ trick is that she’ll try to convince you that She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed had nothing at all to do with it. That you did this all on your own initiative and volition. Don’t be fooled. That’s that whole ‘eye-of-newt’ thing at work. She’ll try them all out on me before she assaults introduces you to those new techniques that somehow we enjoy and want to do repeatedly, even when they leave us breathless. Or maybe, because they leave us breathless.
Imagine living with Her 24/7! I can’t imagine living without Her.