A FEW weeks ago I was at my dermatologist letting her zap my face with laser beams to supposedly get rid of a rosiness I have on my checks and nose. Not only that, but she claimed that the laser beams would stimulate the production of collagen in my skin which would make it plumper and help reduce fine lines around my eyes.
As a typical Brazilian who is extremely concerned about her own looks and that of others, she casually suggested that I undertake other measures to improve my physical appearance.
"Since you've decided to improve the appearance of your skin, why don't you join a gym and see a nutritionist?" she told me between blasts of bright red laser beams which I could see through my closed eyes, even though they were covered by titanium metal circles which had been placed there to protect my eyes from the laser's high beam.
"You really think so?" I mumbled.
"Yes I do. Just ask my receptionist. She'll give you the name of a nutritionist."
I followed her advice and the next week I found myself in the office of Daniel, a hunky 26-year-old expert in nutrition who asked me to undress in his bathroom and come out wearing only the shorts that his secretary had repeatedly reminded me over the phone to bring with me for my appointment.
He measured all of my body fat, weighed me and measured my height. Then he put all of the numbers into his laptop computer to crunch them and came up with the fact that I have 32 percent body fat! I was a little shocked at such a high number, but thankfully he reassured me that he didn't believe in crash diets where one starved oneself to thinness only to regain back the weight lost plus a few extra kilos once one abandoned the diet.
"I will make a diet for you that will cut your usual calorie intake by several hundred calories a day but which will not leave you feeling starved," he said.
Reassured by his common sense approach to dieting, I left his office promising to call him once I had enrolled at a gym he highly recommended (which he also uses) and worked out my exercise schedule.
I immediately drove over to Body Tech, a beautiful new gym near the lake and enrolled myself after a 15-minute tour of all the facilities. A few days later I returned for my physical assessment test which let me know that I was "fraco" or "weak" in cardio-pulmonary resistance after I lasted only six minutes during the treadmill stress test. It wasn't that the treadmill was going that fast, but the oxygen mask that the PE instructor had secured onto my face made me feel like I was gasping for air and suffocating.
In any event, I am now going to the gym three-times a week and have the assistance of a friendly trainer called Nino, who told me that on the weekends he likes to occasionally bike by himself to Goiania and back, a journey of 400 kms! When I finally asked him how old he was, and replied that he was 20 years old, I said, "that's why you have so much energy."
Which brings me to my much lower levels of energy. Last Monday I did my 30-minutes on the treadmill, 30-minutes of weight training for my muscles, and then another 20-minutes of cardio. I felt tired afterwards but happy, as I could feel the endorphins (those happy drugs produced by our brains when we exercise) course through my body.
Later that night though, I felt so exhausted that I just wanted to go to bed without washing the dishes in our kitchen sink. The next morning I noticed this familiar pain in my chest on the left side. I say 'familiar' because I had similar pains in 2006, accompanied by the same feeling of slight numbness all the way down my left arm and hand.
Alarmed that I may be having heart problems I stayed home from the gym on Wednesday and made an appointment to see a cardiologist on Thursday morning.
Thankfully, my doctor declared that my heart seemed to be in good condition after he performed an ECG on me, though he did tell me that he heard an extra beat when he listened to my heart beat with his stethoscope. He's ordered an echocardiogram of my heart and a stress test just to be sure, but he said I can go back to the gym. He said the pain and numbness I've been feeling are probably due to a pinched nerve in my back.
So, I'm back to my gym on Friday, and back to Nino telling me stories about his solitary 400-km bike trips to Goiania.