Category: Working Out

Love Letter to the Lone Man in My Zumba Class

“Start out perfect and don’t change a thing. Always accentuate your best features by pointing at them. And conceal your flaws by sucker punching anyone who has the audacity to mention them.”
– Miss Piggy

Dear Sir:

In time (a lot of it), this could be you.

In a class of 50+ women, you found a place on the floor and manned dinky little hand weights with the rest of us.  When asked by the instructor who was new, you raised your hand fearlessly, and when asked your reasons for coming, you responded, “I’m just trying to get healthier, and I wanted to try something new.”  Bravo.

Surrounded by girls who looked at you askance, you marked choreography.  You learned to cha cha.  You laughed and had no trouble making a fool of yourself.  When a load of loutish freshman boys walked by the doors to the gym, pointed you out, and laughed, you returned a roguish grin (in no way lessened by the sweat running down your face) and gestured to the ridiculously fit and attractive blonde next to you and shrugged.

In addition to an admirable attitude, your shimmies, dear sir, are magnificent.

Moreover, we saw you checking out that same cute blonde to the right of you, making funny comments to her during water breaks, and offering to turn in her weights for her when class was over.  I watched you fumble cutely to ask her out, sweaty mess that you both (to say nothing of the rest of us) were.  I’m pretty sure I saw her give you her number; I sure hope I did.  I think you earned it.

Sashay on, sir!

Your admirer,
C.

Sanctuary!

“Didn’t…didn’t you used to have that on the other side?”
– Young Frankenstein

I was an excellent dancer my whole life, but two years of marriage to a man who Does Not Dance has turned my once innate sense of rhythm into a sort of  limping flail.  My toes may be perfectly pointed but my African dance arm circles do lack some finesse, my samba steps may be lightening quick but my “hip hop” (note the sarcastic airquotes) could use some work.  But what I now lack in technicality I make up for in enthusiasm.

Riding a wave of said enthusiasm last night, I decided, “Margot’s in California for the weekend, I’ve nothing else to do tonight and two exercise classes in a row won’t kill me.”

Boredom produces frightening effects in me, kittens.  It was brutal.  But it wasn’t until halfway through class number two that I realized that I was probably doing something personally embarrassing – beyond the obvious movement of my bum in improbable directions.  Then the girl behind me tipped me off, she was staring at my back and every time my gyrations turned me about I got a quick glimpse of her puzzled face.  I pieced it together during the cool down period.  My workout top had a hood, but when putting it on, apparently the hood had gotten turned inside out and stuck on inside my shirt.  Creating a sort of hunch.  That moved about as I did.  Enthusiastically.

"What hump?"

Namaste

“Wait. So yoga pants and old college t-shirts aren’t tres chic? I am in so much trouble.”
– Tori, of The Ramblings (check her out!)

Très chic?  Perhaps not.  Très nécessaire?  Bien sûr!

This was a point of discussion so let me just reassure you, my fuzzy little ducklings.  Comfort clothes, workout gear (IF you are already in the habit) and loungewear are important, but I maintain that they must bow down to C.’s Laws of Travel and serve multiple functions.  Yoga pants can be napped in, worn to run errands, thrown on of a Saturday morning to do the laundry run, and even exercised in (who knew?).

The same goes for college sweatshirts.  I’ve two, one is old, worn, pilled, and stained.  The other is none of the above – which one do you think I’m taking?  I do not ascribe to that medieval notion that all sweatshirts should be banned from polite society, there are plenty of places it’s appropriate (weekends, casual dinners at the pub with friends, on the aforementioned laundry day when you’re in desperate sartorial straights, etc.).

The underlying rule though, possums, is that in order for your loungewear to deserve space in your suitcase, it must be of good quality and in good condition.  It’s very hard for something to serve multiple functions if it’s in a sorry state.  Those ripped trackies may have been with you for years, but their day is ended.  Store them for the memories if you must (though I advise against it), but don’t pack them, items need to be kept in good repair for you to look your best.  And when you’re living abroad with limited funds and limited packing space, taking things that make you look a wreck is just silly; and you’re not silly, are you, pumpkins?

If your gear is all twenty years old, covered in soup stains, shredding at the hems, and generally looks as though it’s survived the zombie apocalypse, don’t despair!  It’s possible to get new things for relatively cheap at Old Navy, Gap, and any number of specialty stores.  Comfort, the ability to look (relatively, in my case) put together while working out, and casual clothes for the days when you really, really can’t care are worth it.

Oh, Darling, NO…

“From the cradle to the coffin underwear comes first.”
– Bertolt Brecht

Talking of working out, the business of getting healthy has given me quite a bit of fodder over the years, but what I saw the running track the other day boggled me.

As I made my way around the track, sans Margot, someone or rather something caught my eye.  My eyesight, never 20/20 and at the time worsened by sweat, took a minute to adjust, and my brain took an even longer minute to process before I could coherently form the thought, “Are those…knickers?”

And lo, minions, they were.  Sort of.

The girl just ahead of me on the track was made up to a ludicrous degree, which (since she was running) looked rather bad; her mascara was starting to run and the carefully applied roses in her cheeks to, er, wilt.  Her hair was a shade of blonde not seen in nature, and her skin an equally improbable degree of orange.  She was wearing an extremely low tank top that provided no, ahem, support as she moved.  But what truly baffled me was that she was wearing a skirt to jog in.

I call it a skirt.  Truthfully it barely fit the description, ending as it did just south of the law.  Loincloth is more appropriate.  And there’s no need to accuse me of clutching my pearls and prudery, if you’d seen it you’d agree.  The trouble with this skirt/loincloth was that every time she took a step it rode up to reveal her choice of underwear, which I will only characterize by saying they must have been desperately uncomfortable to run in…if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen people at gyms spending more time gazing at themselves in a mirror or strutting around the machinery to attract attention, but all that paled in comparison.  Alright, perhaps I am pearl clutching and getting a bit Victorian Aunty in my old age, but honestly?  Knickers on display?  At the jogging track? Really?

Jillian Michaels Is As Evil As She Seems

“I came the simple way, down the stairs.”
“Down the stairs?  To Ursa Minor?  Hey, you must be unbelievably fit.”
– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

On the recommendation of a coworker, a rather impressive sister-in-law, and over a thousand Amazon customers, I picked up Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.  Amusingly, the DVD case got worked over in the mail and it arrived, ahem, shredded!  (Guffaw)

The DVD itself runs just fine, but that’s more than can be said for us.  J. pushed himself too hard the first day we did it and lost his dinner rather inelegantly.  I’ve been unable to walk without wobbling a bit for the past few days,.  Iimagine a more than usually ungainly penguin bobbing back and forth across the ice and you’ll have some idea what I look like going up and down stairs.

My bum hurts.

In other words, it’s working.  I’m determined to be extremely fit by the time we go off to grad school!

Just Roll With It

“And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter.”
– Judges 15:8

Within our front closet lurks a hateful device: The Foam Roll.  The purpose of this thing is to use pressure to stretch and loosen tight muscles, which is all very nice in theory, but when one has an extremely short iliotibial band in one’s right leg that has caused all manner of physiological problems, the Foam Roll becomes an instrument of Dante-esque torture.

To such a person, the Foam Roll combines some of the most horrid ways human beings have come up with to kill one another throughout our creatively violent history.

Purpose: to stretch you. To death.
Purpose: to pressure you. To death.
Purpose: to make you spill your guts. To death.

How does the last one apply, you ask?  Because every time I’ve used the blasted thing I’ve been swamped by waves of nausea and/or actual vomiting.  Admittedly it’s a creative stretch, just go with it.

J. can use this device without so much as a wince whereas there are days that even a light tough on my right leg (to say nothing of putting all of my body weight onto it) hurts like the bleeding devil.  Nevertheless whenever I get a pain flare up or overextend myself exercising, J. will smugly point at the Foam Roll and declare it my only chance at salvation.

He did this the night before last when I limped into the flat after work.  My mature response was a feral snarl and an attempt at a quick escape, which looked more or less like a Quasimodo lurch at a snail’s pace towards our office.
“It’ll be good for you,” he insisting, picking up the hated thing and following.
“Don’t come after me!  It’s not fair, you can out-run me,” I gasped, thumping faster.
“I can out-walk you,” he retorted and thrust the roll at me.  “Use it.”

So I did.  And since he found me five minutes later, clutching the toilet with mascara running down my face, I’m choosing to hate him for it.

Any less immediately painful solutions, ducklings?

She Who Limps Is Still Walking

“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.”
– Aristotle

I have problems with my iliotibial band in my right leg.  The band is too short which therefore pulls my leg bones and muscles in all sorts of directions, which therefore makes my whole leg turn outward, which therefore pulls my spine out of alignment fairly consistently, which therefore causes various problems.  Notably, chronic back and leg pain, particularly in my right hip joint.  I walk with a slight limp, virtually impossible to detect unless something is inflamed and then virtually impossible to ignore.  The upside?  My turnout in ballet was extraordinary!

Kind of like this. With pointe shoes.

Aggravating?  Yes.  Anything to be done?  No.  Any chance it will keep me from wearing heels?  Don’t you know me at all?!

Anyway, the only real help is to keep the muscles and joints strong with decent exercise.  Sometimes, though, I overdo it.  Like on Tuesday.

I did some lunges with those dinky little five pound hand weights while J. was bench pressing far more than I weigh (which is just fine as I find this – and his broad shoulders – all sorts of fascinating, but I digress).  Then I did some other leg exercises and strength training and left feeling tired and pretty pleased with myself.

Yesterday I woke up almost unable to move my right leg.  Bending my knee nearly put me on the floor as my inflamed and shaking thigh muscles wouldn’t hold me.  And as for that hip joint, holy mother of torture! J. tried to help by massaging my calf muscle but after approximately two seconds I beat him off with a pillow and bellows of pain.

“You know what you need,” he said in a firm voice and emphatically raised eyebrows.
Slowly, evilly he gestured towards the closet.

Wherein resides the most exquisitely vile torture known to man…

Next time: Just Roll With It

A Long Winter’s Nap…Please?

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion… I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

My doves!  My beloveds!  My fuzziest of chinchillas, and cuddliest of kittens!  I have neglected you again and I throw myself on your mercy with an account of what exactly has been going on, that you will be more inclined to forgive my hideous inattention thereby.

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Last week was the first week of the new term and I was chained to my desk hiring and firing a double handful of students, and sending off about a million reports to various people and agencies.  Wise had her baby two weeks early, throwing Hennessy, Susie, and myself into a frenzy of reassigning duties, taking on new responsibilities, and (naturally) visiting the new baby.  Susie then threw herself onto the new year’s budget and has not emerged yet.  I’ve been working on projects with the investigators on a series of bizarre cases (drug addictions, bookstore thefts, and a mother who thinks her daughter is dating a murderer.  She’s not, by the way) and helping with a few projects to prep for an upcoming VIP visit.  Also a major art exhibition took up residence in our museum requiring an unbelievable amount of work.

I started working out again – in advance of the obligatory New Year gang bang of guilt, thank you very much – and my body is punishing me.  P90X yoga is not for the faint hearted, I can barely make it through the whole session without swearing/crying/having to be physically dragged away from leftover Christmas candy by J.

This week I have been enjoying being slowly consumed alive by paperwork, a couple of work scandals that I found particularly demoralizing, and good old fashioned exhaustion.  My sense of humor took a bit of a beating yesterday, but it’s nursing it’s bruises and we hope to be a full functioning snark capacity soon.

And you, ducklings?  How has the start of the year been treating you?

Supply and Demand

“I want to make Korean food this week.  Let’s to to the Asian market.”
“I just got back from the store.  You can go get things without me you know.”
“I like to go with you.  You tell me what I can and can’t buy.  Because I’d come home with Korean marshmallow pies and you know it.”
– C. and J.

We do and buy strange things sometimes.

J.’s been into a new exercise regimen recently, and after begging me for a few days for a pull up bar and finding a good deal on one, I gave in.  Naturally one thing led to another and now our house looks even more ghetto as he had to take off the door to our office to use it.  I resisted that for a couple of days too, but since I have my bike sitting pretty in the front room I had lost the aesthetic appeal already and didn’t have a leg to stand on. But as he works out everyday and I ride my bike faithfully (for an hour yesterday, kittens!  My legs are jello!) I suppose the loss of a door is alright.  Except when company comes over.

Then,because summer arrived quite suddenly this year–we went from snow to heat in mere days, what gives!–I realized, as I do every year, that I was dying.  I didn’t own a single pair of shorts.  So I marched into Old Navy and bought a stack.  Jupiter, Odin, and Quetzalcoatl, what have I been missing?!  You mean wearing these things makes my legs that much less glow-in-the-dark white, and keeps me cool?  What has a professional-only wardrobe done to me?!

Finally, while doing the grocery shopping yesterday, I came across almond butter.  I’d read of its awesomeness here at Thinspired, and from various health conscious friends and so snatched it up.  Go.  Buy.  This.  Stuff.

This. And That.

“Good God, woman, where have you been?” he cried furiously.
A morbid lunacy overtook her.  She smiled fiercely and held up the bag.
“Shopping.  Want to see what I bought?”
– Lois McMaster Bujold

My wallet is now under permanent lock-down.  Because of going to That Show, I bought this and this (the latter for my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding), but unfortunately not this because it did not look at all good on a less-than-five-foot woman.  I looked a frilly mess.

Pictured: the THAT in question.

Then, the other day, Venice called me (from two doors down in her flat) and said I had to come over right now.  I obligingly threw on some basketball shorts and scampered on over only to behold this
“Where did you get that?!” I screeched in excitement. 
“From that place we hate,” she triumphed.
“You’re kidding!”
“Nope.  For $87.00!”
“I NEED THAT!”

The next step was to get J. to agree.  I pitched it as the perfect solution to this problem, which has been exacerbated since getting married as the only time I really get to see my husband is the time I used to go to the gym.  I pinky-promised my way through the usual litany of bargains (to use it everyday, not to be a little grump when he reminds me that I haven’t worked out that day, etc.) and expounded its virtues (it’s cheap, it’s nice and small – C. sized! – it’s light, and it’s portable for future moves). 

If anything else, the sheer guilt that would come from having that sitting in my house (staring at me) will motivate me to use it.  It’s easy to ignore the gym when it’s not sitting in your living room!  So, with J.’s consent, I bought it. 

I really think this could be a solution to my exercise problem.  After coming home from work in the evening to feed this guy, coupled with the desire to enjoy this, and the lack of desire to drive back to campus to deal with this, the idea that I could work out in my own home sounds pretty darn good. 

What do you think of this plan, darlings? 

**And by the way, if I start talking about buying anything else in the near future, jump me, steal and hide my wallet, and under no circumstances return it to me.