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An estimation of esteem

Gillie Easdon ponders if there is a direct correlation between cellulite and self-esteem.

By Gillie Easdon

Months ago I felt like I was being followed around the streets of Victoria at very close quarters. It was unnerving and uncomfortable. I spun on my heels to identify the perpetrator and realized that my own behind was tailgating me.

My first instinct was a modicum of self-deprecation, which gave way to a somewhat maternal comforting and mild reproach for my initial flood of self-deprecation. Appalled and mildly distressed, I started running, butt in tow, four times a week.

A week later I ran into Jeremy Cordle, an old classmate of mine. I had not seen him in years. We said our hellos, he handed me his card, and then went on his way. His business card read, “Esteem Treatments”. He was listed as both co-owner and therapist. As a general nice guy and past Canadian national rugby player, I associated this title with life coaching, team-builders or a dynamic counseling/athletics combination in kind with this hybrid era of yogalates, kayakercise, etc. I very much looked forward to catching up and learning more about this enterprise.

The next day, after a run with my butt, I read the back of the business card: “Eurowave Inch Loss and Muscle Toning, Slenderquest Body Wrap, Hartur Ultrasound Cellulite Removal.” Stunned, I dropped the card into my coffee. I then plucked the card from the coffee, wiped it on my pants, and reread it slowly, carefully. The clash of fact and my own presumption baffled me. I had immediately exclusively associated “esteem” with inner workings, nothing physical, appearance-oriented or (gasp) cosmetic. And, well, the titles of the treatments just seemed so, well, infomercial, so junk e-mail, so National Enquirer. But how could this be? Jeremy would not do some sham business. I was curious, but guarded.

Over the following days I found myself mulling over my own relationship with esteem as it influenced or was influenced by my physical appearance. Bad hair days, fat days, PMS pimples, bloating, and just plain ugly days. Yep. My esteem of myself with respect to certain facets of my life was indeed inextricably linked to the physical. As a female in this here day and age, I was fascinated by the naivety of my initial assumptions. I consulted the dictionary for further clarification:


1: the condition of being honored (esteemed or respected or well regarded); “it is held in esteem”; “a man who has earned high regard” [syn: regard, respect] [ant: disesteem] 2: a feeling of delighted approval and liking [syn: admiration] 3: an attitude of admiration or esteem; “she lost all respect for him” [syn: respect, regard] [ant: disrespect] v 1: regard highly; think much of; “I respect his judgment”; “We prize his creativity” [syn: respect, value, prize, prise] [ant: disrespect] 2: look on as or consider; “she looked on this affair as a joke”; “He thinks of himself as a brilliant musician”; “He is reputed to be intelligent” [syn: think of, repute, regard as, look upon, look on, take to be]

The concept of an esteem treatment then might suggest that the procedures enhance respect, admiration, etc. Satisfied with this assessment of my nomenclature of the name of the business, I was still stumped by the sheer disdain I held for the idea of the fast fix treatments. It seemed like cheating. Would they work? Could I revise my own bias into possibly accepting that these contraptions accelerate fitness and physical improvement? Would they work? Would I turn up my nose? Was this equipment a more finely tuned treadmill, stairmaster, vitamin…. Would they work?

My instinct led me to trust my old schoolmate, to delve into this seemingly improbable world and to suspend my bias for a day. I called Jeremy and set up a trial for Eurowave, the “no workout workout” and the Hartur Ultrasound Cellulite Removal.

I spent the week leading up to my treatments regretting my decision. I was filled with dread. I winced at the thought of an old classmate rigging me up to electro shock, or becoming acquainted with my cellulite. I was in a constant shake-head state.

Perusing the website, I gathered that I would have metal plates strapped to my stomach, and then electric shocks would course deep into my muscles. Fifteen minutes equals 48 hours of nonstop gym exercise. It actually sounded pretty good, although my dreams were laden with cattle prods, singed hair smell and excerpts from “Brazil”.

My queasiness for Eurowave did not hold a candle to my PR-TSD (Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder) regarding Hartur Ultrasound. The idea of having Jeremy, a very male high school friend, check out and deal with my cellulite was mortifying. I did not even say the word “cellulite”. Not that I had much. I did not; but I did have some. Just thought I would clarify that…. I did not really look at it. It seemed not to exist then, somehow. I did not own it.

I kept the appointment. I would be strong and probably a better person for dealing with these demons. After all, this was just research to quench a perverse curiosity.

D-Day. I woke up. I went for a run. Jen and I usually swap dreams and natter through the darkness of Dallas Road. “So, today is the day you are getting zapped by Jeremy. Yes?” She chuckled.

I clenched my jaw, um-hummed and quickly asked if she had slept well. Try as I might, I could not focus on her reply. My blinders were well fastened. I did not like her, one of my best friends, very much that morning.

Esteem Treatments was tucked away on the second floor of a small medical building on the corner of Cook Street and Pandora Avenue in Victoria,. Upon arrival I was pleased that it was not housed with a glass front and huge neon signs saying “Loose in the caboose? Ironing your panties in the driveway?”

The reception area was well thought-out, relaxing and simple. The lighting was soft and chilled out music was playing. Alana Wilkie, Jeremy’s partner and co-owner/therapist greeted me warmly at the front desk. I sat at the edge of the sofa and flipped quickly through health and fashion magazines. Then Jeremy appeared. I smiled nervously and said hello. He grinned and escorted me in.

He led me into the Eurowave room and asked how I was doing. I told him I was not looking forward to this at all. He laughed. I felt a little better.

He explained that the machine was totally safe, the treatment well-respected and legal in Olympic training. Eurowave penetrates the deepest part of the muscle to get a full muscle contraction. This leads to inch loss, muscle tone and core strength. Jeremy explained that an 18-minute session of Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) can be the equivalent of 300 perfect sit-ups.

EMS was developed in the 1970s to reshape astronauts’ muscles upon return from outer space. The technology was used by Bruce Lee. Jeremy’s zeal was infectious and I found myself at ease.

Once my measurements had been taken Jeremy strapped me in. Warm wet sponges encased metal bars that would conduct the electric current. Esteem Treatments guaranteed an inch loss overall in the first session. Sweet.

My “work to earn it” dogma seemed to be melting with that promised inch. I had a quick flashback of the guy I was strapped to on an adrenaline-blissed out tandem skydive over the Great Barrier Reef. His demeanour had facilitated and enhanced a potentially gut-churning experience. Jeremy was equally competent in guiding me into another uncharted land.

Initially, Eurowave felt like a small feather glossing across the inside of the muscle, then the sensation expanded and deepened to a fairly fierce vibration. It was weird. It felt like a hand massager lodged firmly on the stomach muscles, but encased within my body. It works deeper on the weaker muscles.

I felt like a marionette. The string at the left side of my abdomen (the weaker side) kept jerking. It was a little creepy.

Eurowave creates a huge demand on the muscles, thereby necessitating the use of fats around the muscle to satisfy the need. It also assists in increasing the metabolic rate.

I survived the first treatment, and through the 18 minutes found myself enjoying the unusual sensation of feeling my body from the inside-out. Jeremy re-measured me. Overall, I lost an inch. I was surprised, but pleased. Bruce Lee, Neil Armstrong and the Olympics were on my side in less than an hour.

Next came the cellulite treatment. Another room, ambience equally soothing. However, it was a marvel how one can flip from relaxed to stressed out at warp speed. In my knickers, I had to show Jeremy my legs “back there”. His professionalism and unperturbed attitude dispersed the embarrassment I had anticipated.

Next I was on my stomach on the table with a chilly gel slathered on the backs of my gams and the Hartur Ultrasound breaking down the “rigid toxin” around the fat cells.

During the treatment, Jeremy talked me through the session. The irony of a male national rugby player educating Her Girliness on cellulite was sharp. Cellulite has nothing to do with fat and thin, it is about lifestyle. It is a result of years of pop, processed food and medications. It is also influenced by genetic disposition and circulation. Eighty per cent of women have it.

The treatment was easy, and relaxing. After the ultrasound a deep tissue intense massage sought to break down the cellulite. You could actually hear the cellulite bits pop. Jeremy was visibly rapt with the efficiency of the treatment. Then I was done for the day. We scheduled my next appointment for a week later, and I went on my way.

The next day my body felt more toned, and for all the sit-ups my stomach may have thought it had done, I was not sore at all. I found myself more aware of my posture, leaning habits and slouching that all contributed to my weaker left side. I felt balanced and enjoyed the heightened consciousness of my physical body. Revealing my cellulite in a professional environment also led me to somehow admitting, to myself, that perhaps… it was there, a part of me. It was liberating.

Not that there was much, you hear?

Over the following weeks I visited Jeremy six times. More metal bars were added or subtracted, depending on my sensitivity. Although the Eurowave sensation continued to be best described as “weird”, I found myself looking forward to the sensation. It seemed that the left side had started to strengthen a bit, to come into balance with the right from a mix of Eurowave, a mess of yoga, running as well as strength training.

Jeremy stressed that Eurowave could be a valuable addition to an exercise program. It should not replace, but complement and ultimately accelerate fitness progress.

A few treatments later, I experienced the Platinum Energy System, a detoxifying foot spa treatment that: “merges the healing properties of hydrotherapy, sweating and reflexology.” This technology eliminates toxins from the entire body though the 2,000 eccrine sweat glands in your feet. It allows the toxins to leach from the body and brings the body back to a more balanced, alkaline state. An “electronic ‘array’ consists of two polarized electrodes. When this is placed in warm water… it creates a magnetic field.”

This all sounded very convoluted for the non-science-minded. What really happened was that Jeremy placed my feet in clear water, and over the following 30 minutes, the little party demons that were being exorcised turned the tub into a cesspool of murky swamp water. Dark brown with oily silver sheen little oil slick floaties, if you wanted a more descriptive visual. All this out of my little feet. It was gross, but I was transfixed and morbidly delighted.

Then Jeremy gave me a lovely foot massage. When I stood up, my feet felt cleansed and grounded, as did the rest of me. It was divine.

There was still the MPower 300, for endurance and strength training using vibration, and the Infrared Saunas and Compression Therapy to try, but I was convinced. Getting rid of those toxins, breaking down the cellulite and building up the muscles was the way to go.

It has been chilly lately. I rifled though my general stuff drawer to locate my gloves yesterday before my umpteenth run. In this drawer I house glow sticks, a mini hammer, elastic bands, flyers and gloves. Beneath the gloves lay the card: Esteem Treatments. On the other side: Eurowave Inch Loss and Muscle Toning, Slenderquest Body Wrap, Hartur Ultrasound Cellulite Removal. I picked it up, shook my head, and flicked it into the bin, it is an out-of-date card now. And I already knew the phone number. I put on my gloves, and launched myself out the door towards the ocean. I met Jen. We didn’t discuss dreams. We nattered about personal responsibility, closed minds and the joy of trying new things.