This is called World Vitae, isn’t it? Just because I’m in India doesn’t mean I don’t try to keep up on the diet, fitness, wellness, and health programs that come out in the U.S.

It was back in September that someone recommended I check out Tracy Anderson for body reshaping through fitness and diet.  It took me all the way until the end of October to finally google her and find out what she’s all about.

Basically Tracy Anderson is fitness trainer (and nutrition coach) to celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, etc. She claims to be able to reshape any body, no matter weight, top heavy, bottom heavy, post-pregnancy, or any other excuse someone may have. That’s sure a lofty claim.

And with personally getting farther from my goal since leaving China, first with cheese, alcohol, and gorgeous desserts in Europe, then sugar hidden in everything combined with declining activity levels in Bali, to a poor farmers diet of white rice, curry, and dairy, all heavy in sugar and ghee and even less activity in India, it was time to take action.

But I was in India, in the middle of nowhere.  So I do what any experienced expat does, search for relevant media online: book, reviews, videos, in this case, dance cardio. The book and reviews were easy, but it took me more than a week to find a good source for the dance cardio.

I read the whole book in 2 days.  Tracy Anderson breaks down her “Method,” known as the Tracy Anderson Method or TAM, into 3 sections: diet, mat workout, and (dance) cardio.

Mat Workout: I started the mat workout straight away.  When she says you’re going to feel like you have the flu the next day, she was only too right. No diet, no cardio, and I still felt like crap. 5 days a week yoga, including headstands and shoulder stands, apparently doesn’t cut it, when taking on Tracy Anderson. By the morning of the 3rd day, I was ok, except for my shoulders still hurting.

The first 4-5 I only did the mat workout, which targets “accessory” muscles, not major muscle groups for slimming instead of bulking. Then I was finally able to get a video to start the dance cardio. Media–check.

Dance Cardio: Then the next problem: learning dance cardio in an open rooftop with people walking by or in my smallish room.  After 1 day of embarrassing flailing, I switched to my room. Space–semi-check. Next problem: shoes.  I have hiking shoes (see picture) or Vibrams 5-Fingers on a granite floor, neither of which are ideal, but having no other option, I push forward.  Within 2 days, both gave me blisters.  These I could fight through.  But by day 3 of the cardio, my ankles were aching (a lot!)–seems I’m not the only one. And my old knee injury from 2007 starting acting up again.

The ankle pain, I figured I could work through just like the blisters.  Keep going and my ankles would get used to the up-down-side-side-spin movements. So I thought… What I was really worried about was my knee.  I’ve had a lot of acupuncture on my knee, and I wasn’t about to have all of that undone just for miss Tracy Anderson, so I eased off the spins and a little from the other movements.  By day 5 of my cardio workouts, I was getting worried.  Both ankles were swelling and hurting more, and the knee was hurting more consistently in the same places it had years ago. So after day 7, I decided: ok, we give rest everything for 2 days.

For 2 days, I did no cardio, understandable, but even no mat workout–I feel a little bit guilty about that.  But I still did yoga, even though my ankles weren’t too keen on that. Then yesterday morning I got up totally keen to start again and work through the pain.  But oh boy! My knee and ankles had other ideas. I barely got through 15minutes of cardio before I nearly collapsed in pain.  Cardio Day 8 FAIL! But I did do an abbreviated mat workout (today will be my 10th day of mat workout.)

Ayurveda Treatment: While not my original intention and certainly not ideal, this gave me an excuse to avail of Ayurveda treatment for muscles and joints.  So after consultation, I’m now having daily treatments of massage, hot leaf bolus (Patra Potala Sweda), steaming, and paste applied on my knee and ankles. I was advised treatment until I leave this Saturday, plus an additional 5 days of rest.  And I need to buy a new knee brace–having tossed my other one, convinced my knee was permanently healed. Wrong was I.

Diet: Tracy’s diet is heavy on fresh fruits and veg, oftentimes blended, snack bars, and lean proteins.  By contrast, the ayurvedic rural farmer diet I’m served here: rice pancake with watery curry made by ghee, turmeric, and curry leaf for breakfast. Snack: fresh fruit. Lunch: white rice, green beans cooked in ghee, turmeric, with curry leaf, and watery curry. Snack: fresh fruit. Dinner: rice or wheat pancake with watery curry made with ghee, turmeric, and curry leaf.

Despite all the complaints I’ve read online about Tracy’s diet, right now her meal plan sounds like heaven compared to another meal of ghee, turmeric and curry leaf.  Needless to say, adherence to Tracy’s diet: MASSIVE FAIL.

Results: Would you believe despite diet=nada, cardio=8 semi-complete days, mat=9 semi-complete days (with some yoga thrown in), I feel tighter, firmer, and in some ways slimmer. I can only imagine what results full adherence for 30days would provide! Especially combined with her meal plan, Dukan Diet, or Paleo diet.

Evaluation: Was tackling Tracy Anderson in India, with inappropriate shoes, a small-ish space, and no ability to follow the diet a good plan? I’ll let you know in another week when I see how my knee and ankles have faired with treatment and rest.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep up the mat workout, where is doesn’t strain my knee or ankles. And I’m totally sold on the Tracy Anderson Method–somehow her program is addictive.

So no matter where you are, in what circumstances, or whether you’re a total adherent or only half-committed, if I can start in India, not having any of her media initially, terrible shoes, small space, no control over my diet, then it is never the wrong place nor wrong time to start an exercise program.  The only wrong possibility is choosing an inappropriate program or not starting.