Friday, April 29, 2011

has Anybody Seen My Legs?

198.2 lbs.  End of the world or me cracking 195 lbs. Which one’s coming first?
I am coming up on some big milestones and this upward bounce bullshit is keeping me from them:
194.6 lbs: 30 lbs. lost.
191.6 lbs: BMI dividing line between  obesity and just plain overweight. It’s also the dividing line between being able to buy health insurance on your own and not being able to buy health insurance on your own.
190 lbs: I can ride a mule down the Grand Canyon. (Of course, Torquemada would probably expect me to jog down and back up with the mule across my shoulders).
The stories I tell in this blog are true. The names have been changed to protect the author.
According to My Net Diary, I burned 1212 calories today.  This was due to a lot of hard work in an attempt to please Torquemada. If I had to run for my life and the salvation of humanity from mutant killer snails and/or particularly slow zombies, we’d all be screwed.
Now remember: the Pushy Peanut told me to do cardio 6 days a week and she wanted the sweat dripping from me. Running (eek). However,  I said I would comply. And eat sweet potatoes every day (Oprah’s friend, Bob Greene was on her show Wednesday with a new book, 20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger! and he recommend eating sweet potatoes every day. (And Brussels sprouts. Anybody who thinks I’m going to voluntarily eat those, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you). We have confirmation. Torquemada is not just telling me to do things in order to see if I’ll do them.
As requested, I got some new sneakers that were not toners ($10 at Target. MAJOR score) and hit the gym with a purpose:
  Cardio 6 days a week, okay.
Weight training. No problem. 
Mix it up with the cardio, check. Let me at it.
Running. Yeah. Let me get back to you.
Prior to my paid torture session (Please God, don’t let someone decide that waterboarding lowers cholesterol ), I hit the elliptical machine for 20 minutes at high resistance. I did that yesterday, too. Right before yoga.  I think it made for a better session; I felt stronger. I could hold the poses that have been more difficult for me (except for Tree, the one where you’re on one foot with the other foot either on your shin or jammed into your crotch. The modification is to put the toes of the “loose” foot on the floor with its heel against your other ankle. This is called the Fosse pose. Ah five six seven eight. Jazz hands optional).  The clue that you’ve worked enough is the muscles trembling and weak. I had that in spades. Also, ironically, a feeling of being strong and at peace. I think I was walking taller. I think. I may have been delusional.
Today was weight training, focus on legs and abs. Now, in the previous sessions, it was all I could do to not crawl, whimpering, out of the gym afterwards. Since I think that’s what Torquemada wants, I’m not giving her the satisfaction, even if I die trying.
I had thought The King was a demanding trainer. He used to want me to warm up before working with him by doing 5 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill. Torquemada approves of 20-30 minutes prior to a weight training workout that will turn your legs to Jell-O. This girl could reduce a platoon of Marines to tears.
She confessed her master plan: something called “The Fifty,” where one rotates through a set of exercises doing 50 reps of each. The more extreme version is “The 300.” Since I didn’t want to find myself in a loincloth and red cape holding off a gigantic Persian army at Thermopylae, 50 was enough.
I am getting better at isolating the muscles to be worked, keeping the shoulders and neck out of exercises for the abs (Dear Great White Belly: YOU’RE GOIN’ DOWN!!!!!). And they’re getting stronger. Exercises that were difficult last week are getting easier; I can hold a lunge longer without falling over.
But wait, there’s more.
Torquemada wants cardio, she gets cardio. 20 minutes on the cross-trainer? Sissy stuff.  I hit the treadmill for an hour, at an incline and faster than I’ve ever done. Yes, I can do this. Running. Okay, how long can I last running?
3.5 minutes and according to the monitor, my heart rate was 206. I’m thinking that’s not healthy.
However, I did 50 minutes are 3.5 MPH and 10 minutes at 3 MPH. That 198.2 lbs. had better be a memory tomorrow preferably replaced by a lower number. Significantly lower). I burned, Baby, I burned. And if my legs work tomorrow, I’ll be astonished.
Things are getting smaller around the midriff and that’s 90% of the reason for all this nonsense. The Great White Belly is on its way to so-so (no, I am not aiming for washboard abs). As previously mentioned, there are now stretch marks to be dealt with (they’re at the white line stage). There are scores of creams that promise to eradicate stretch marks and they range from drugstore affordable up to closely guarded at Sephora, $130 per tube (and it’s good for wrinkles). Even if they’ve faded from the red lightning bolts to the thin white arroyos, they’re still pretty ugly. This being the Information Age, I hit the Internet. To best the enemy, one must understand it.
A stretch mark is caused by a localized breakdown in collagen. According to my research, the best way to repair the damage is from within, not just applying cream to the site. The creams take care of the symptoms, but don’t address the cause.
The recommendations I saw were to increase intake of nutrients that rebuild collagen: Omega 3 EFA (Hey! I’m on that! 2 grams of cold-pressed flaxseed oil per day! I’m so slick!), sulfur, taurine and lipoic acid are friends of collagen. Garlic! Garlic has all that stuff! I’m hitting the Gilroy Garlic Festival this year one way or another. Lycopene is an FOC (Friend of Collagen). It contains anti-oxidants that prevent damage to collagen. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. I am the love apple’s biggest fan. While I don’t need another excuse to eat tomatoes (and cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene), I’ll take it anyway. Vitamin C. However, hot chili peppers are a better source of Vitamin C than citrus fruits. So, between the garlic, tomatoes and chili peppers, you should be eating more salsa to improve your skin.
The amino acids that make up collagen are hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline.  Proline is found in egg whites in abundance (okay, not eating that. I’ll eat the ass end out of a chicken, but I won’t eat something that emerges from a chicken’s ass). Lysine, though. Being fair-skinned, I am vulnerable to cold sores. Lysine is my friend (and supposedly the means by which the dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park” were supposed to be controlled. We saw how effective that was). The aforementioned Vitamin C converts the lysine and proline into hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. Yes, I am getting my Vitamin C along with the lysine (a vegetarian alternative to egg whites for proline is wheat germ, but since I seem to have a gluten sensitivity, not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent).
Sweat dripping off my face? No problem with one of those little beach misters they sell at Target. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. Just ask Barry Bonds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Running On Empty

196.2 lbs. Such familiar territory. And familiarity breeds contempt.
Overheard in the ladies’ locker room today: “Um, yeah, like, I’ve been eating natural, you know and only natural sugar. I found these really great Skittles.”
On my honor, may Torquemada make me duck walk across the gym if I’m lying.
I cannot take up arms against a sea of troubles. I can’t lift mine. Torquemada (aka the Pushy Peanut) has struck again.
I have earned the right to sit around with my feet in moisturizing socks (and if you don’t have the Bliss gel-lined socks, do this: get a tub of A+D diaper ointment. Yes, I said diaper ointment. Get a pair of socks you don’t care about. Slather your feet with the ointment, apply the socks and let ‘em soak. You could apply the ointment to someone else’s feet, but it wouldn’t moisturize and soften YOUR feet and that’s the point).  And now, I have things to consider.
First of all, I made the mistake of telling Torquemada that, although I don’t actually want to run a marathon, the fact that a sumo wrestler had finished the LA Marathon and that Dick and Rick Hoyt had been participating in the Boston Marathon Wheelchair Division for 25 years (Dad pushes son’s chair), it made me think.  Before anyone thinks I’m dumping on the sumo, those guys are athletes. It takes a lot of strength to push a 400 lb. guy and even more to do it successfully. Their event, though, is not related to the running disciplines and I believe a sumo match is over fairly quickly. As for the Hoyts, I find the idea of running (or walking) 26.2 miles intimidating, let alone pushing an adult in a wheelchair (and the Hoyts have run the route in 2 hours, 40 minutes).  It makes me feel pretty whiny and wimpy.
I have previously mentioned that when I was a kid, I enjoyed running (not competitively, but as a kid). I am now officially afraid of it. The one and only time I have willingly run as an adult was in 1989 at the Manufacturer’s Hanover Corporate Challenge in Boston. I did it because I wanted the T shirt and I still have it, one of the few pieces of evidence that the bank ever existed. Without training for it, I ran 3.5 miles (5K?). And yes, I paid for that.  I was so stiff and sore the next day, I could not sit down at work. Honest. However, I had my badge of honor, the shirt and felt extremely proud until my asshole co-workers just bought the T shirts without ever going near the race course.  But, I freakin’ earned mine.
I can walk 5 miles in 2 hours, give or take. I’ve completed the course for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer several times (one, I was being pushed in a wheelchair by my best friend. I had cracked something in my foot that week). Not a problem, just don’t try to be fashionable and do it in pink Chuck Taylor high tops. Not enough support and your back with threaten to run away from home.
There was a time when if I wanted to get to work, I had to walk 6 miles round trip. The first week, my blisters had blisters, but I persevered and I did this for four months until I moved out of walking range.
Running, though…it’s intimidating. But, like I said, Torquemada wants me to start running on the treadmill. 6 days per week. This envelopes the days of weight training with her and yoga class and oh yeah, I should really be taking Pilates, too. And I should eat a sweet potato every day, but that’s a different post.
She is trying to kill me. I wouldn’t think this would be the best marketing plan to attract clientele, but clearly, one must have a warped mind to become a personal trainer in the first place. God alone knows how those people think.
“I want you to sweat. I want you to work hard. I want you to be dripping sweat. Only one day off per week.”
People in Hell want ice water, there, Pushy Peanut. Why don’t you take them some?
Be careful what you wish for.  For the past few years, I have wanted to get back to working with a personal trainer. I have wanted to start taking yoga and/or Pilates regularly. I have wanted (although I never told anyone) that I wanted to be able to run without barfing up a lung. I have wanted these things, just NOT ALL AT ONCE.
Running. God. With the White Mountains and the Great White Belly flapping in the breeze. Going 5 steps and yakking up something dislodged from the dankest, darkest, most forgotten and neglected corner of my left lung. I have never smoked. Not even one puff. Even when I had to fake smoking for a video I was in (oh, yeah. I’ve done extra work), I couldn’t do it. On the other hand, I spent years of my working life surrounded by heavy smokers before indoor smoking was banned. There’s black lung and I guess if it’s from secondhand smoke, its gray scale lung (I’ve inhaled a fair amount of toner from exploded cartridges, too. Hazards of working in the Cubicle Ant Farm).  As it is, somebody with heinous music (Rebecca Black and “Friday” come to mind, as does anything by an American Idol “winner”) is fodder for at least 3 hours of complaining by the person on the next treadmill. Not wiping down the equipment after one has slimed all over it is just cause for extended bitching. I can just imagine the the comments after I’ve left my spleen, half a lung and my pre-workout oatmeal all over the equipment. Those little handy wipes they stock for cleaning? They’re reminiscent of a Robin Williams routine about changing a diaper: “It’s like using an oven mitt to clean up nuclear waste! No good!”  
I am not Okay Go on a treadmill. There are numerous instances of visual comedy with someone going ZIP off the back of a fast-moving treadmill. I have done this myself. I know we all slow down and stare at accidents. I just don’t want to be the car wreck.
However, I did resolve that I would do ask I was asked by someone TRAINED to pull people into shape. She wants me to run.  Oy vey. This will not end well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today's Post Is Brought To You By the Number 12

197 lbs. Okay, I can handle an 8 oz. gain.

At the grocery store today, the self-checkout couldn’t tell the difference between cucumbers ($1.59 each) and purple asparagus ($5.99 lb.). Yes, I punched the right button. If a “Smart Scan” device cannot differentiate between cukes and asparagus, we have nothing to fear from Skynet. Any terminator gunning for Linda Hamilton is going to end up shooting Sarah Palin.
Okay, so normally, the increase would make me pretty grouchy, but it’s only 8 oz.  Actually, now that I think about it, there really shouldn’t have been a gain since I lack arm strength to lift a fork to my mouth.  Encouraging things happened shortly after my morning weigh-in that made that a very minor irritation.
I opted to go to the 8 AM yoga class today owing to an unchangeable appointment during the usual time (Sorry, Lila) and Amy got a chance to work me over with her yoga-lates (yoga and Pilates blend. Between yesterday’s beating from Torquemada and today, The Great White Belly thinks I’m trying to kill it. It’s right). I went to pull on my size 16 jeans and…
They’re too big.
These are Calvin Klein, no elastic, an honest size 16. And I can pull the damned things on and off without unzipping. There’s room to spare AROUND THE WAIST (that’s the sticking point) once they’re on. Seriously, I was concerned about putting anything in my pockets in case I ended up with them falling off my ass (yes, I know sagging is in, but I’m not part of that culture. I buy good quality underwear, but nobody’s going to see it).
Holy cow. I only got these things in late February and they fit at that point.
Armed with the confidence (perhaps over confidence) of this development, I headed to Nordstrom Rack to test the waters for blue jeans.
There is a scene in “Tootsie” where Dustin Hoffman describes his experience clothes shopping that afternoon. “These women are animals,” he says as he’s styling a wig, “There was this one handbag. I was afraid to get it. The woman who got it, I know did time.” (well, not a verbatim quote). Such is the feeling of a sale at Nordstrom Rack.  I got jostled and elbowed. I can’t be sure, but I think I caught a whiff of blood in the air.
We won’t go over the stupidity or deliberate cruelty of somebody restocking the little 25 waist jeans into the Plus Size 24 rack (Honey, if you cannot tell by simply eyeballing what’s in your hand that it doesn’t belong where you’re about to put it, you really should not be out without adult supervision. Seriously. On the other hand, if you did this on purpose, I hope to God and His Infinite Power that you get to experience and feel the casual cruelty you are perpetrating. And Cee-Lo Green to you).  I wanted a pair of Calvin Klein jeans in size 14 and a pair of the NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans) Tummy Tuck jeans in size 14 and size 12.
Yeah, size 12. According to Schoolhouse Rock, 3 is a magic number (Schoolhouse Rock should be part of every American household. They’re on DVD and far superior to any current television offerings for kids). I respect that view, however, when you are 1) female and 2) working your ass off (literally, as it were), 12 is a magic number. 12 is the topmost “normal” size. 12 is not in the Plus department. Lane Bryant’s (on whom I spit) does not carry size 12. It’s too small. The NYDJ Tummy Tucks allow the wearer to maybe go a size smaller than her normal jean size (I say “her” because, after all, these are jeans for women. If a man is wearing them, chances are he’d prefer you referred to him as “she” and he’s got more to tuck than the tummy).  My main jeans are NYDJ Tummy Tuck 14 and were purchased at the same time as the “too loose” Calvin Kleins.
The Calvin Klein size 14 fit. Comfortably. However, these things were fugly (patches, ripping, raggedy capri hems that Laura Petrie wouldn’t be caught dead in. Neither would I).  I was emboldened.
The NYDJ size 14 fit and were cut smaller through the thighs and seat than my current pair. Okay. I stepped into the 12s. Would I be bursting into tears of joy?
Not this week. Where I could pull them up and pull them almost closed, they’re just out of reach.
But that’s okay. A month ago, I couldn’t have even pulled them up. Today, I could. This is serious progress. And the fact that the straight up, no hocus pocus size 14 jeans FIT is a very, very big deal. Yeah, okay, I’m slightly over where I was yesterday, but I now have evidence, STRONG evidence that The Great White Belly is melting and it’s not due to global warming.  This is the whole point. That thing has been the bane of my existence for years. Even though you are told to love yourself and, by extension, your whole body  in order to improve it, I could not bring myself to love that expanse of white blubbery flesh. I could not love seeing it protrude farther than my breasts (which are not small). I could not love the additional risk of metabolic disorders that it carried. I could not love the limitations it imposed: the inability to paint my own toenails because it got in the way, the clothing I could not wear not only because it wasn’t available in my size, but also because it accentuated the monstrosity it covered.  I could not love the license it gave those around me to be cruel under the guise of “caring” about my health and appearance.
Today, though, I got a boost of motivation to continue. I’ll let Torquemada and Lila and Amy continue to torture me.  I’ll put off having another hot dog (sigh) for 90 days. Same for a glass of wine.  I will follow the recommendations of that Pushy Peanut (Torquemada).
And maybe, just maybe, in two weeks, those size 12 jeans will fit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rip Your Own Arms Out of Their Sockets and Beat Yourself Senseless With Them

196.2 lbs. Steady as she goes since Thursday. (Sound of fingers drumming on table) This needs to end on a downward note.
Today, I was nearly hit head on by a woman cutting a corner in a parking lot. At least this one didn’t blame her bad driving on my shape.
The window between the blood flow being restored to my brain and my arms losing function for a couple of days is small, so this will be a short post today.
I doubt Christ felt as stiff and sore after His time on the cross as I did on Easter Sunday. Something to do with the lower body workout on Saturday.  I was mortally afraid of sneezing yesterday. I’m still not so sure it’s a good idea today.
Because personal trainers believe in both sides of the body and the curtains should match the carpet (if you can’t move either one), Torquemada set about inflicting maximum damage on the upper body today. She succeeded.
I am typing this with my nose.
After Saturday, I resolved to  let Torque just do her thing and leave my last experience with a trainer out of it and just do whatever she asked.
Her first exercise out of the gate was something called “21.” Since she didn’t produce a deck of cards, please don’t confuse it with blackjack. When she was done working triceps, then biceps then delts (oh my. Yes, I’ve made that joke already. It’s a good one), she told me she’d read my blog and that this was the toughest exercise she’d be inflicting. Then she laughed. It sounded more evil than before.
I did actually cooperate. Well, up to a point. I did the pushups. I did them a second time. But when she wanted me to balance on knees and one arm while pumping a weight with the free hand, my instinctive reaction was “Hell mother fucking no.” And I said just that. Quite loudly. The Grunt Brothers on the big cable cross machine stopped trying to impress each other for a moment and just stared. They were already pissed because a couple of girls had taken over the machine and space they initially wanted. Just a word: I love certain sports teams, but getting their logo tattooed on me, no, not even for my Red Sox. In order to be drunk enough for that to seem like a good idea, I would have to be in my “passed out next to the toilet” phase. Since Torquemada has put the kibosh on red wine, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon. A bright red pair of lips on my right butt cheek, maybe.
Did I work hard today? When asked where I was feeling things or how I was feeling,  I could only pant and point. Nevertheless, this was effective communication. At first, it was specific points, then a weak hand wave indicated that I hurt all over. After a particularly vigorous effort with biceps, I kind of wiggled my fingers. I’m surprised I didn’t need to be wheeled out on a dolly.
After a particularly tough abdominal exercise (Look, if you’ve seen by abdomen, you know that hiccups are a good workout on The Great White Belly), I laid back, gasping for breath and thought perhaps I had died; there was a bright white light in front of me. I wondered briefly if perhaps I should go towards the light and be greeted by loved ones when I realized it was the skylight and I wasn’t floating towards it (Buoyancy is one advantage the plus-sized have over the skinny bitches. Fat floats). So much for seeing my grandmother again.  Just as well, she’d probably tell me I have such a pretty face, I should do something about my weight.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Must Be a Masochist: I'm Paying For This

196.2 lbs. BUT, I was told a great secret today: sweet potatoes absorb water from your body. If that’s the case, I’m eating those suckers a LOT.

I had to go to Fresh & Easy today to get a truckload of sweet potatoes. Part of the adventure was running a gauntlet of local grocery union members trying to hand out leaflets to people attempting to shop in the store. There are billboards around LA proclaiming “Let’s Fix Fresh & Easy Together.” I don’t know what’s broken at Fresh & Easy but the last time we had a big grocery strike, the “picketers” were hanging around the front of the grocery store and turning their attention away from a football game on a radio boombox (sitting in a shopping cart from the store they were “picketing”) long enough to snarl “You know, you’re not helping us” at the people leaving the store then turn back to the game and drink more coffee (although I think a couple of them had beer, but that was 8 years ago). Guys, that’s where you lost me. This is YOUR cause and if you aren’t going to show me that you give a shit about it, how the hell do you expect to persuade me I should give a shit?
Here endeth the unrelated  complaint.
It is a bad sign when your personal trainer giggles and says “Okay” when you tell her that from now on, she will be known as” Torquemada.” My ass hates her right now. My ass hates her a lot.
I frustrated the poor girl today, I can tell. Certain areas, my defenses go WAY up and stand strong. The right knee with the asphalt in it and a long string of getting banged HARD into pointy objects is something I protect (and probably baby). Anyone who says “Man up” needs to wear my knee for a couple of days starting with banging it into an angled object (like the corner of a solid desk. We’re talking a direct hit on the kneecap). It hurts like hell (pain bad enough to nauseate me) and is extremely sensitive for days afterwards. If you want me to do something on all fours where the kneecap is in contact with the floor, I need a mat. I have fallen climbing stairs (fall forward, brunt of impact on wrist of outstretched hand. Navicular fracture), bruised or fractured my coccyx (hence the subsequent muscle spasms in the lumbar region. Well, that and The Great White Belly).  Consequently, each of my wrists has spent time in a cast. I have balance issues, not just because I’m in poor shape, but also because I have ongoing inner ear issues. I have had back spasms, broken toes and other similar injuries over time that, well, okay, I’ll just say it: I’m a big chicken about pushing myself on certain moves. And I just flat refused on a couple of points (like a horse saying “Oh HELL NO” to a fence), today being walking lunges. I’m angry at myself  because this is a trained professional and she’s not going to let me hurt myself.  The walking lunges put pressure on the damaged kneecap and I have wobbled and fallen out of them. But refusing to challenge myself is part of the reason I never got good as a skier (that and I hate being cold). I must overcome this.
The other exercise that made me hold back a bit was a step exercise with a stool that was maybe 18” x 18” on the step. I couldn’t focus as well on form because I was so worried about missing the step or falling off and twisting my ankle. Again, this is a pro. She’s not going to let me hurt myself. I must trust her.
I am also angry at myself for not giving her a clean slate, so to speak, on her training methods. I was bringing in “stuff” from when I was working with The King back in 2005. He wanted me to work muscles to exhaustion. He wanted me to work on free weights rather than machines because of the extra effort required without a machine to carry part of the load. She has a different approach. She knows what she’s doing and I should respect that and let her do her to make my life better.
On the other hand…
She took away hot dogs, tortilla chips and (temporarily) red wine. Great – no more liquid muscle relaxant. The greatest blow, though, was (Play “Taps,” if you would be so kind) almost no more beef. Filet mignon once a month, maybe, but no burgers, no ribeyes, no jerky (well, that stuff’s pretty salty for my taste, anyway). I think I’m actually going to go through the 5 stages of grief on this one.  I got a lecture on having gone to In N Out (ONCE! OKAY? ONCE! AND I DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE GOING TO PUT SAUCE ON A SINGLE PROTEIN STYLE! I EVEN SACRIFICED CHEESE ON THAT MOTHER!) . I got even, though: I told her all about Five Guys Burger N Fries. When I see her on Monday, I giving her a Mapquest  print out to the nearest one. Heh heh heh heh.  I could see the lecture coming on a mini Edy’s ice cream  along with wine and tortilla chip consumption when I pointed out the date and explained that the Red Goddess had demanded sacrifices. She was not impressed. Or sympathetic.
(For the record, I have tried the Trader Joe’s no sugar added chocolate bars. The ones made with maltitol (I think that’s what the stuff is called). There is a warning label on the wrapper: that is the first red flag. The second, bigger red flag is that the warning is of a “laxative effect” if one eats too much. Not wishing to be a guest on “When Snacks Attack,” I will not be eating them again. Plus, they just taste gross.)
I told you this was a mean little person.  Seriously, she’d have to stretch to punch me in the kneecaps. And she just might, too.
Torquemada was smiling at me sweetly and asking, “Where are you feeling it?” when my knees were wobbling, my mouth was dryer than the Atacama Desert and I couldn’t breathe. I’m thinking she’s going to get flipped off at some point. However, she’ll probably just smile because trainers feed on your anger.
When asked to do “prison squats,” I blanched. I’ve seen “Oz.” Never, never, never bend over (or any move approaching that) in a prison. In keeping with my perceived politics, I seemed to lean towards the left, but that's only because she was was standing so far to the right.
I did get mad at myself with that one because I’m thinking that maybe I could have pushed a little bit harder and dipped a bit deeper, However, I resolve to try harder next time. Be fearless, be fearless.
And the little stinker had the nerve to give me homework: drop and do planks (or bridges) when I “feel bored.” And practice balance exercises (standing on one leg) when I’m bored with the plank.
According to the diet app ( or just go to the app store on your IPhone or Android. I cannot endorse this more highly), today’s workout was good for burning over 500 calories. That’s more than I had eaten for breakfast (oatmeal with raspberries, flaxseed and a shot of agave). According to Torquemada, I need to eat that within an hour before training with her. Okay, I can do that, but no hot dogs? With Fab Hot Dogs down the street from the gym (Victory Blvd and Tampa Blvd. Go, go, go!). Aw jeez…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go curl up in the Child’s Pose and whimper softly for a while.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Your Yoga Instructor Today Will Be Colonel Hans Landa

196.2 lbs. I think I’ll let the little red-haired imp kick my ass again on Saturday.
Stretch marks. Those must be addressed. And if your thoughts automatically go to pregnancy, I have never been pregnant, to my knowledge. On the other hand, I’ve never been abducted by aliens and gotten an anal probe, but those guys erase your memory after the procedure. Since a “Starsky & Hutch” episode in which everyday guys were being brainwashed into assassins with false memories, I’m not sure what memories I can trust. Yes, “Starsky & Hutch”. And you knew it was a spooky episode because they used the music that sounded like a rusty gate.

Today, we had a sighting of the Dumbass Douchebag, indigenous to Los Angeles. This particular Dumbass Douchebag (or DADB) was inhabiting the steam room at the gym. This guy brought his IPod into the steam room (Dumbass) and had it cranking so loudly, I could hear it on the other side of the room (Douchebag. And his tastes in music were execrable). In about a month, when the unit craps out, he will be arguing with the Best Buy Customer Service that he has no idea why it stopped working and how could it possibly have condensation inside? And you know, the thing will be sent back to Apple, refurbished and sold again through The Boy Genius will probably buy it, again, because obviously, they’re only getting defective models in the store.

April 19, 1775, a bunch of Massachusetts colonists “wore any colors clothes they wanted to, shot from behind the rocks and trees and everywhere” at the British who “wore red and marched in a straight line” at Concord and Lexington. (“The Coin Toss”. Billy Cosby’s “Right” album. Genius. I’ve had that memorized for 44 years).  At day’s end, we were batting .500: Lost at Concord, won at Lexington and ended up the champs at the end of the series in 1783; they were the chumps. Today, a sweet looking little lady who likes to drive on the left-hand side of the road tried to kill a few extra Americans.
Yoga is thousands of years old. However, I distinctly had the impression of playing “Twister” while doing the Hokey-Pokey and that’s what it was all about.
Understand: I was already sore from the weight training yesterday, on top of being sore from Tuesday’s Yoga-tes with Amy. I’m pretty sure I’ll be unable to move by the time you read this.  Please send help. And Tiger Balm.
“Shall we do hip openers today, would that be alright?” sounded innocent enough. From the accent, I expected the follow-up question to be whether we wanted one lump or two. Then, she handed out straps. Pretty purple ones. Okay…
The first few exercises were a lot of breathing and stretching. Other than an obsession with things in the groin, The Dame seemed sweet and kindly enough. However, within 5 minutes, I felt like I should have checked her forehead for a Swastika-shaped scar.
The strap was to help stretch the spine for the less flexible (no Viking Biker today, but one of his club buddies was in the house). And apparently  to lasso runaway feet, because soon, we were instructed to make a loop and rope the right foot…(In hindsight, I wouldn’t have been surprised to smell branding irons) and haul the straight leg “towards our noses.”  I don’t know about you, but I believe that if the Almighty had wanted us to smell our own feet, He would have put them a lot further north than they occur naturally.
Things just went Down Dog Hill from there. From a Downward Dog, we were asked bring raise a leg to the side (if Americans had invented yoga, this would be called “Downward Dog, Hydrant Variation”) and then loop it behind ourselves “if we wanted to challenge ourselves more.” I wanted to not fall over, but there were two ringers in the class who enthusiastically “Flipped the Dog.”  (One was a guy who had brought his own strap. Judging by his enthusiastic reaction to this, I suspect he had a ball gag and assless chaps in his gym bag and answered to “The Gimp.” Probably disappointed at the lack of branding irons).  Chacun á son goût.
Another time, we were asked to “sit on those little bones just between your hips and your bottom and balance.” Yeah, about that: there’s been an APB for those particular bones since 1993. However, since I was in class for self-improvement, I faithfully made to follow instructions, had my feet in the air and hands reaching and … are you old enough to remember “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” specifically the guy in the Captain Snow yellow rain gear on a tricycle who would pedal a bit and then fall over? Uh huh. Yup. That was me. However, my shame was tempered when I heard an identical thud from the other side of the room.
We were on our backs and instructed to get feet in the air, knees bent, grab those big toes (where the hell is the strap when you need it for foot roping?) then rock side to side. This is “Happy Baby.” We then learned that if one is in this pose, it is called “Dead Bug” which I suppose is considerably less gross than calling the variation “Dead Baby.” It also brought up high school memories of an underground kind of art project called “The Dead Baby Calendar.” I did not participate, nor did I see it, but I heard the rumors of its existence. Small town, sick minds. If you were part of the Proctor High School Class of 1978 (the year ahead of me), you know about it, too.
I was surprised at being able to stretch and hold my legs down as far as I could. Those toning sneakers are paying off. Bending at the waist and bringing face as close to knees, on the other hand, is a bit problematic. There’s still a lot of waist blocking the way and even though I “pulled my navel towards my backbone” as requested, that’s a hell of a hike for a belly button.  Here’s a math problem for you: “If two experienced yoga students’ navels head for their spines at the same time a novice student’s navel tries to fight its way through a Grand Central Station of fat and has to stop for directions to get to her spine, who is going to pass out first?”
And with all these little “challenge yourself” variations, The Dame would periodically chirp “You’re enjoying this, right?” About as much as seeing a negative balance on the bank statement or losing my Ray Bans or getting stopped by a cop.
Nevertheless, I’m still here. I’d say still standing, but my muscles won’t take it and they’re deeply suspicious of what tomorrow may bring. I shall soak in an Epsom salt bath tonight. If you’re smart, you’ll start the pool now on whether I’ll be able to get out of it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place

197.8 lbs. I can’t move.

And I thought the yoga teacher did a number on me…
I attended the first of eight training sessions today and someone knee-high to Christina Aguilera (or Lisbeth Salander. I’ve been reading the Steig Larsson books) kicked my ass. Well, not literally, because then, I would have had to stuff her into a locker. Or my purse. She’ll fit.
Way back in 2005, when I was working out regularly, I belonged to the same gym chain and back then, they had the big stair machines aka The Rotating Staircase of Death. (I could never work the stupid pedal ones satisfactorily). My trainer at that time, The King, would periodically goad me into getting on one. I would threaten some kind of violence to his family jewels and we’d let the matter drop. I could go forever on a treadmill and would keep up with The Clash and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” on the elliptical, but those things looked big and intimidating, especially when you saw little blonde toothpicks running up them like it was nothing. Bitches.
One day, when The King was not in the building, I decided “why the hell not” and gave it a try. After 30 minutes and 88 floors of stairs (the Empire State Building has 86. Neener, neener), I looked and felt like death on a cracker, but I had hung on and completed my task. The next hour or so is kind of fuzzy. I have vague memories of oxygen tanks, paramedics and questions about my insurance, but nothing solid.
Emboldened, I would switch things up a bit and voluntarily hit the Rotating Staircase of Death, ignoring the little blonde bunnies hopping up its slopes or the grunting buffalos trying to impress the little blonde bunnies. And even after training and working out, I still looked and felt like death on a cracker at the end of 30 minutes.
One Saturday afternoon, after I’d been climbing for 15 minutes and hit the usual Brain Death Zone, I noticed the guy on the RSoD kitty corner from me. What follows – and this is as close to verbatim as I can get – is the actual conversation that was going on in my head:
“I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. Geez, that’s a big guy on that machine.”
“He’s very fit. And he’s going up like this thing is nothing. I could get there. Maybe.”
“He keeps looking back here. No, Sir, if I appear to be staring, honest, I’m very unfocused over here.’
“That’s a big guy. Looks kind of Polynesian. Hey, this is Los Angeles. Everybody from everywhere is here. Big ol’ melting pot.”
“He keeps looking back. Smile, wave. Like that, yeah. No, Sir, don’t worry. I only look like I’m going to die, I promise.”
“He could be some kind of pro athlete. Very fit guy.”
“How much longer on here? Oh God, it’s another 10 minutes. I can do this. Did I say that out loud? He’s looking back here like I said it out loud. Sir, it’s okay, not directed at you.”
“Look at that tattoo he’s got. Big one. Does EVERYBODY have tattoos out here? Not me. Not even a big red pair of lips on my ass. That would be a good one, though. That’s kind of a tribal tattoo he’s got there…Fucking Lakers. Die Kobe Bryant! I can do this.”
“I’ve seen a tat like that. National Geographic or something. It IS Polynesian. Wonder what it mean? Will I live long enough to find out?”
“ He’s getting down. Smile and wave again, just try not to look like you’re going to barf on him as he passes. The Rock has a tattoo like that…”
“OH! MY! GOD! That was The Rock! I had The Rock worried about me. Maybe.”
And if you need motivation to go to the gym, there you go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

There are actually muscles under that bubble of fat you call an ass

197.8 lbs. Okay.  2 days to drop the excess 2.4, but okay.
Susan Powter, as loud and obnoxious as she was, (and, according to some, a fraud. It’s the American way. Donald Trump was actually born in Canada. You heard it here first) had a good summary for her philosophy “Eat, Breathe, Move.”  Choose the correct fuel (although her fondness for carbohydrates translated into bigger clothes for me), provide plenty of oxygen so that your internal combustion engine (your metabolism) can burn the fuel and actually make the engine work.
 I’ve worked diligently on the choice and amount of food (although some days, cheese just solves all your problems).  The closest  I’ve come to processed food was buying guacamole from Whole Foods.
As for the breathing, I find that eliminating gluten has helped with that. No shit: since my teens, I was constantly doing battle with my sinuses. Since I’ve pretty much eliminated wheat and gluten from the diet, I’m breathing freely. EVEN AT NIGHT. I used to wake up to full consciousness (of which I was aware) at least once or twice a night and some days, I was dragging my tail feathers so badly, it felt like I had gray fog instead of gray matter between the ears. Unless I’ve had more than  10 cups of water the previous day, I am sleeping through the night like I did as a child. It’s wonderful. The first couple of nights this happened (as a grown-up), I almost cried. I’m still grateful every morning.
As for the move, well...
There’s an infomercial for some exercise program that emphasizes “muscle confusion” as part of the program to get results. My muscles are confused by  being asked to move. I don’t think I’m in the target demographic.
I start tomorrow with a personal trainer. I was very clear about my goals: 125 lbs. by December 31, 2011 (and that was NOT my New Year’s resolution. My only New Year’s resolution was to Bedazzle something. I still have to do that, but I’m leaning towards a jean jacket. Just have to get the jacket and starter kit), learn strength training exercises for upper and lower body, learn the correct form (highly important), establish an exercise regimen that includes cardio work, yoga (for stretching and strength) and resistance. Hey, I’m turning 50 in less than 2 months. I don’t have a family history of osteoporosis, but I don’t want to become physically helpless because my body isn’t strong enough. And, as I have said before, those of you who think I am too old to do this stuff, I have an upraised middle finger with your name on it (and a very large blue topaz ring. Emphasis).
No more arm flaps. I’m not shooting for a set of guns like Madonna (those are scary) or even the First Lady, but when it’s 90 plus degrees in L.A., you want to have the sleeveless option. I prefer sleeveless without feeling like total strangers are criticizing me. You may point out that it’s unlikely people are actually judging and making comments, but I remind you of the following:  1) I have a family history of precisely this kind of behavior, 2) this is Los Angeles, where looks matter.  I’ve had total strangers call me “big and angry” (I’ve also gotten “fat fucking whore” but that was online from someone who didn’t want girls in the Red Sox group on Myspace. Ironically, he had 3 chins according to his picture. And you ask why I’m not dating? Can I trust anyone? I don’t think so) and 3) this is my neurosis, not yours. Plus, upper body strength means better support for the White Mountains (Not my idea. One of my friends from law school came up with that one) and fewer back aches. Biceps and triceps and delts, oh my! There will be reports.
I went to yoga again today. This time, no raging hormones or cramps, but no Lila, either. Phooey. We had Amy.  Amy told us she’d be teaching a combination of Pilates and yoga. My back went up (well, literally, it went up later when we did Cat pose). I was there for yoga, dammit, not the LA Combo platter. Really, how good is the workout going to be if you don’t stick with one thing and teach THAT?
She kicked my ass. Sweetly and emphasizing focus on breathing, she kicked my ass. I’m lucky I have the strength to lift my arms.
I was ready for battle when she walked in. On my way to class (well, Target to get a yoga mat), an LAPD cop car followed me into the parking lot and the officers wanted to know how long I’ve had my car and have I let anyone else drive it. Frankly, I think this was bullshit because when I asked why (TWICE), they continued to say “There’s a warrant for it in connection with a crime.” What crime? More “there’s a warrant.” Finally, I am told that they had run the plate (more bullshit. They were in traffic behind me for less than 2 minutes, including being 2 lanes over at a stop light. I wasn’t doing anything). I am told, get this, that there is an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended license. But not me. No. They claim the plate came up in connection with…a black male. No names, no dates, no other details. I once wrote a comedy sketch about the LAPD hassling a white female commuter just to prove that they weren’t targeting and profiling by race. I guess I got to live it today.
I needed the stress relief from yoga. I really needed it.
Today, my third session, we got into a balance pose. Umm. I have inner ear trouble stemming from some Godzilla sized earaches that went pretty much untreated (that’s a whole other blog). Suffice to say, I have a ringing in my right ear and looking up will cause my head to swim. I can walk a straight line, but between the vertigo and the midriff Michelin, balance was going to be a challenge. She chose…Tree Pose. For the yoga novice, Tree is the one where you stand on one foot with your other foot balanced somewhere on your leg, depending on your level. As a teenager, in shorts, I would stand in this pose (arms at side, though) for no other reason than it felt comfortable and I could (sole of foot to skin on calf/thigh has pretty good traction). My mother would ask me if I was a Masai tribesman. Hey, it was comfortable. I can still do it, providing I’m wearing shorts.
I wasn’t wearing shorts in class. I thought I caught a “neener neener” kind of look from Amy as she saw me struggle, but when I went to “balance on right foot”, I nailed it and changed my mind about writing in this space about  the name tattooed on her foot being hers and draw your own conclusions.
Unlike the previous two classes, I felt a profound relaxation (except for the muscles that will be protesting later) and felt like I had really worked hard.  Of course, last time, I was so hormonal, I would have pinched the head off a panda (good thing I was nowhere near the San Diego Zoo). I will return.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grow a set

199.2 lbs.  This officially blows.

I may be a spoiled American, but when I work hard at something, I expect a GD payoff, you know? Right now, I’m sitting here in that kind of spacey, woofy, state you feel after a workout. 1 hour on the treadmill, 3 MPH, 1% incline. 300 + calories burned. I’d better see a drop in the scale tomorrow or Somebody (I’m not naming names, but He wants us in His house every Sabbath) will be listening to me bitch for all eternity. I am sick to death of this over-under-on 200 lbs. shit. Seriously. Cut way the hell back on fat; no difference (and you do need certain types of dietary fat. It’s just avocado v. bacon. Olive oil v. butter). I go over on sodium (My Net Diary tracks intake and recommends amounts) and I’m up 2.4 lbs. over 2 days. Not on the rag: that was a fluke and it’s over. I’ve been drinking enough water to float an aircraft carrier, down 1 lb. and hold. Do a half-hour on the elliptical then a half-hour on a treadmill again drinking so much water  you can hear me slosh as I walk and NOT A GOD DAMNED BIT OF DIFFERENCE. “Oh, well those temporary spikes are just because your body hasn’t used up the food you’ve taken in.”  Well, I’ve given it damned good reasons to start burning hard, fast and bright.
I will…
Meditate and give thanks for the progress I’ve made.  Visualize myself  as I want to be.
I will…
Go back to work with a personal trainer. In fact, I had a conversation with the gym today about that very subject. Last time I did, I enjoyed it AND I learned good enough weight training form that I was getting compliments from gym rats. Gay gym rats. Gay Latino gym rats.
I will…
Stay the course.  Not gonna change now, wouldn’t be prudent. Besides, I suspect that if I did start consuming sugar and gluten again, I’d feel sick.
I will…
Be hitting the HCG again starting June 5 (I’m planning my birthday party for the 4th. Mark your calendars. Details later).  Party Day is part of the 2 day load, the 500 calories per day begins on the 5th. Another 40 days, if necessary. It worked the last time, it’ll work better this time. I can do it on my head (and that’s because I’ve started the yoga classes).
I have not had anything fried in months. I have weighed and noted everything that goes into my mouth (which gets tedious) and over the past couple of days, the calorie count is staying at or near 1000. Anybody who wants to argue with “Oh, but you need to be eating at least blah blah blah,” I DID THAT AND IT DIDN’T WORK.  I’m not eating later than 7 PM. Breakfast is fiber a go-go.

If you’re familiar with “Fiddler On the Roof” or at least know the lyrics to “If I Were a Rich Man” by heart, you know that the last line of that song goes, “Lord who made the lion and the lamb, You decreed I should be what I am, but would it spoil some vast eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?”  The sentiment applies and in addition to a leaner body, I want $2 billion and ownership of the Red Sox. John Henry is wasting too much money on other pursuits. (And don’t get me started on the guy sitting stone-faced during Game 4 of the 2007 Series when the Sox were inches away from winning). However, I digress.
I do not buy this “Your body has a set point in weight where it wants to be and it’ll keep going back to that point.” That is bullshit, victim-think cop out.  It is nothing but a justification for breaking discipline and wallowing.  Here’s the thing: you want to be a victim? Knock yourself out but know this: victims have no power because they have given it away. Blame it on set points, genetics, your horoscope or the incessant advertising. But if you go that route and shift the blame, you then yield your bitching rights.
On the other hand, if you’re working hard at it and hitting these bumps, then bitch away.  You’ve earned the right.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Twist And Shout, Part Deux

197.8 lbs. The more distance between me and the two century mark, the better I like it.

As much as it felt like Mahatma Gandhi kicked my ass (Non-violence. Yeah, right. The man WAS a lawyer) on Tuesday, the after-effects didn’t really kick in until yesterday. The guys will gross out (as they do when we talk “lady stuff”), but can you say “Aunt Vinyasa Flo”? Oh yeah. The bitch showed up after being gone for months (and I had sung good riddance).  I was ready to go Ozzie Osbourne on the first bat that crossed my path. Thankfully, I found red wine instead. The Hitching Post’s Hometown Pinot Noir is good stuff. And available at Whole Foods*.  (*In California. Otherwise, mail order it through their website. It’ll get to you in plenty of time for THAT time).
However, I would not be defeated.  Anything that contributes to breaking a 4 day plateau with a 1.2 lb. loss has my complete attention. Unless it’s swallowing a tapeworm.  And yes, I have considered that. For about 5 minutes.
Let me give you a few of the highlights here:
I felt like crap before I went into class, lower back pain, BAD attitude and a raging craving for red wine. Or bourbon. Or a 10 hour nap. Plus, it’s tax time and I KNOW I’m not due for a refund. If I had come across Osama Bin Laden before class, not only would I have been able to collect the $25 million bounty on his head, but there wouldn’t have been anything left for trial, just a few scraps of DNA for identification. When you haven’t been hormonal for months, not only are you out of practice with dealing with the extreme coaster that is the Estrogen Express (Coming soon to Disney’s newest theme park, Baby Boomtown and Adult Day Care Center), but Aunt Flo gets to behaving like a newly graduated Catholic School girl. Or Britney Spears.  Bigger swings than Manny Ramirez. And it’s the same hormone he injected.
Somehow, it was necessary to tame the raging spirit dwelling within.
However, since there’s no one I want to get away with killing (PMS defense), I might as well go back for seconds.  
Having been able to “keep up” (Look, it’s my story and I can exaggerate if I want to) on Tuesday, I was expecting a repeat today, maybe even get that foot off the ground.
Yeah, not so much. Today, I created some new poses: not so much the Chair as the Methane Torpedo Tube (toxins expelled), the Fallen Warrior and the “Oh, God, even the Viking Biker at the back of the room is more flexible than I am.” (Really, the guy at the back of the room looked like a Viking biker. Viker?) A friend had told me that yoga was a means to opening up psychic abilities. It’s true: I suddenly knew there was going to be a triple dose of Aleve in my future.
One move, involving crossing one leg over the other and twisting was called the Happy Cow. I grew up in Vermont and I’ve never seen a bovine pull off this move. And it made me crave In N Out. Double double? THAT’S a Happy Cow.
This time, we had music. I was expecting maybe some sitar and tabla, you know Ravi Shankar or even Anoush Shankar (yes, she’s real), but for a few minutes, we got Hindu rap. ABBA would have been more effective to clear and center the mind. Or Elton John with the Muppets.
I did manage to achieve healing, centering and serenity. It just took a glass of wine, some chocolate and 2 Aleve to get there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Twist and Shout

199 lbs. since Saturday. This is one plateau with no complaints.

In order to escape the excruciating pain that was yesterday’s Red Sox game (Rays 16, Sox 5), I rejoined the a gym. That should give you an indicator of how bad the pain was.
Los Angeles is the Universe’s center of self-centered behavior, okay? Parking over two spaces to keep your 93 Camry from getting dinged is a daily occurrence. Interrupting an in-progress retail transaction to ask a long question or bitch is part of the scene. Today, though, I believe a new standard was set: a woman was giving herself a full pedicure in the locker room. She had a towel spread out, tools spread out on said towel and completely oblivious to the women trying to get into their lockers, which they couldn’t because she had the area blocked. And this was Northridge, not even Encino, Calabasas or Brentwood.
There will be more about yesterday back in the gym and other dragons slain, but today, something came up: Yoga class.
I took a yoga course over twenty years ago. I’ve bought a few DVDs and watched Rodney Yee. Didn’t actually get down and perform the moves because I was watching Rodney Yee.  I’ve spent the better part of a VInyasa Flow yoga class in the child’s pose (a polite term for fetal position)  while watching guys do amazing things while balanced on the tips of their fingers. Centered show-offs.
When you get right down to it, the most successful pose for me has been the Corpse Pose. You just lie there. My kind of action.
I’ve been considering enrolling at a yoga/pilates studio, but the cost is prohibitive compared to a full-service gym.  At a full-service gym, you may or may not have the best  experience and the skill levels in the classes are mixed. Yoga is something I want to do right and possibly master (and anybody who tells me “forget it, you’re too old” I have a raised middle finger with your name on it).
I went to the gym this morning expecting to just hop on an elliptical machine for a half-hour. However, the class schedule indicated that a yoga class was starting shortly and I thought “Why not? The Universe must want me to go to this class.”
The Universe has a peculiar and cruel sense of humor.
For starters, I am self-conscious about certain things: following instructions (although, when I was in kindergarten, our evil teacher, Mrs. Simons – and yes, she was evil. Just ask anyone from Brattleboro, VT who either had kids in her class or attended it – told us to draw a brown bear with a black outline. I drew a brown bear with a blue outline. I was 5, not a fashionista and had not learned that you don’t mix brown and blue. Nevertheless, this set off the first of many parent-teacher conferences with my mother), looking bad in an exercise class and looking out of place (see comment  about looking bad in exercise class).
The previous night, the line for yoga class was so long, you’d have thought the IPad 3 was being distributed by the teacher. Today, I was lucky, it was a small class. I would be able to : hear and see.
Small class, all right.  A small group of Asian women with Louis Vuitton exercise mats. Oh, yeah. I blended, especially with one of the gym’s black foam mat. Did I mention I wasn’t expecting to go bend and breathe today?
However, the instructor, Buddha bless her, was not a chirpy little 22 year old vegan with a fake rack. Nice lady about my age (Never mind what THAT number is) and a sweet face. I figured “Okay, I can do this. I will NOT spend most of the class in Child Pose. And I will learn something.
Yeah, I learned that I need to see what the instructor is doing. There’s a matter of trust, certainly. For all I know, this woman is calm, centered and balanced because she’s sneaking Ho-Hos while we all have our eyes closed. Or vodka. Or both.
Beyond that, in these classes, I work on the “monkey see, monkey do” principle to learn moves. “Drop your head and focus on your toes” impedes learning unless the instructor is positioned between said toes (which need a pedicure).  I find myself sneaking looks at what she’s doing and hearing “Drop your heads.” Okay, that’s directed at me, but at least I saw what we’re supposed to be doing…
Sit up straight, butt bones on the floor and breathe. I can do this, except…ah yes, my old arch-enemy, The Great White Belly, raises its ugly head (seriously, it IS ugly. Rubens would have said, “Oh, HELL no” to painting it). My lower back, which has been abused by carrying this sack of crap around for over twenty years, protests LOUDLY over the position. Muscles threaten to spasm.  And this is just sitting. Okay, maybe not the best sign…
She tells us to relax our chins (in my case, all of them0 and breathe deeply through our noses. She tells us to relax our foreheads, especially the space between our eyebrows. I stifle a giggle. This is L.A., land of Botox. I’m willing to bet some of those foreheads haven’t been unrelaxed since the stuff got FDA approval.
We begin to move into other poses, including Child’s Pose. I WILL stick to my plan and not just hang out in this pose and whimper. Especially not the whimpering.
Plank: the GWB (Great White Belly) not only has the back muscles threatening to spasm, but the whole body is shaking. I drop to my knees. NO CHILD POSE!! I WON’T, I WON’T, I WON’T!!!! (Okay, so the attitude is childish, but the pose is not. It is modified Plank).
Downward Dog, the clichéd yoga pose. It’s easier for me than Plank. The stress is on the legs and butt, which have been subjected to MBT (the original toning sneakers) for 2 years, so they’re up to the task. I can do this all day. I’d say I can do it standing on my head, but that’s a different, more advanced pose and you have to travel to India to learn it.
Things are going well until Lila, the instructor (whom I have decided I like and I will follow) puts us in a pose with our feet turned out and then announces we’re doing yoga ballet. Wha…what…WHAT?  BALLET?  DO I LOOK LIKE NATALIE FUCKING PORTMAN? YOGA BALLET? What the hell? The last time I did ballet, I was six, I sucked at it (and tap) and I’m pretty sure I drove the teacher to drink because my idea of learning steps was to SEE WHAT THE OTHER KIDS WERE DOING. However, back to 2011, we are instructed to do a plie and breathe deeply. Lila asks us if we’re sweating, which is good because it’s our bodies getting rid of toxins. I’m not sweating, but I I am suppressing a sudden onset fart storm.  We all have our own ways of expelling toxins and there’s no music to cover the potential noise. As we bend into the pose, my knees, snap like rifle shots. Lila just smiles and says, “That’s natural. It’s okay.” Really? I’ve got something else natural I can do, but I don’t think you want it. My butt cheeks stay clenched for the remainder of the class.
This is followed by putting us back on all fours. Okay. Yeah, I like this lady. I can do this. Now extend your right leg and left arm. Aw, Jeez. You know, balance has never been my long suit, really. I mean, I tripped and fell crossing a street here a couple of weeks ago. My right knee has asphalt embedded in it from Revere Beach Boulevard (yes, Revere, Mass.) when I tried to cross it on a rainy day. I went down, the light turned green and I still can’t tell you how I finished crossing, but crawling was involved. I just stuck with Downward Dog and Modified Plank. Lila says something about “Yogi’s Choice” and the phrase “Hey, Boo Boo!” flashes through my head.
I’m doing okay, feeling confident even though apparently I DON’T actually remember a sun salutation.  Then we get to Warrior Pose.
Ah yes, the Warrior. Downward Dog is clichéd for its name, Warrior is clichéd for its look. Anyone trying to sell you a yoga studio or class will inevitably have a lithe young(ish) woman in Warrior on the brochure cover or posters. Or both. And there’s not just one Warrior, oh no. There’s Two. And Three. Three is where you lift your back foot off the damn ground. Warrior Four is only taught in a certain monastery on the border with Tibet. In that one, you lift both feet off the ground.
I manage to get into Warrior One, shaky but there. The mat doesn’t help. It’s plastic, it’s slick, I slide, I fall out of Warrior Pose. Lila takes away my mat. The back muscles and the abdominal muscles are now conspiring against me. However, I go back to Warrior One. Fuck my muscles. I’m in charge and I say they’re going to do this. Without the slippery mat, I manage to hold the pose and breathe. Ha! Still not in Child’s Pose.  I know I’m going to hurt like nobody’s business, but I’m still not in Child’s Pose. AND Lila walks by me without comment or correction as she patrols the floor. I can do this. I can do this.
Finally, we get to the slowdown portion and sitting again. Lila tells us to feel the energy coming through the floor. Since the treadmills are outside the door, I thought the vibration was the thundering herd that has been running hard for over an hour, but who am I to argue with a yogi?

Yoga gentle? I feel like Mahatma Gandhi has kicked my ass.
She smiles, tells me I did well (yea!) and then advises all of us that drinking a lot of water will help to prevent subsequent pain.  That’s the theory. Uh huh. Well, so will drinking a lot of Maker’s Mark and that one’s been proven.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One X Down, One to Go

199 lbs. LOWEST POINT YET!!!!!! Stay down, Stay down!
Like the Masters, you want your total as low as possible.
Trying on clothes at Old Navy today was actually kind of fun: the XLs FIT. The size 16 shorts (which tend to run kind of small) fit. Plus, most of the stuff I picked up was on deep discount, so bonus.
Other garments, not so much.  People’s Exhibit A: an email to Reebok:
I am presently on hold for customer service. It is Saturday, April 2. I have been on hold for 15 minutes. I tried to press 1 to leave a message and the call terminated instead. I am not happy. Look: I want Easytone clothing, okay? I have fought my way down to size 16 and the pants fit . The top, however, is XL only in Munchkinland. If Reebok does not or is unwilling to make these items in larger sizes, perhaps one of your competitors might.
People’s Exhibit B: their response:
Hello Susan,
We are sorry that you experienced difficulties in contacting customer service.
In regards to the Easytone clothing that you are interested in purchasing, we encourage you to contact us at 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX  from 8AM to 8PM EST Monday - Friday, or Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 7PM Thank you for contacting customer service.
EST, and a customer service representative would be happy to assist you further.
Warm Regards (you’re shitting me, right?)
People’s Exhibit C: MY Response
Fuck Reebok.
Furthermore, the "XL" size is a joke. I couldn't even pull the top over my head and I wear size 16 which is what XL is supposed to fit. Your lousy website doesn't have a sizing chart on it and I had to find the info on the Dick's Sporting Goods website. According to what was there, the clothing should have fit.
Thank you for confirming my decision years ago that Reebok is not worthy of my money. I will stick with Nike and Fila. You guys are incompetent and I hope it bites you in the ass.

Not direct enough?
In the interim, Dick’s Sporting Goods helped me order the Fila version of the Easytone Clothing. After a struggle, I got into it (Yes, it fits, BUT since this is a subtle instrument of torture, there’s not a lot of yield to it. Reminds me of me).  If you’re small-busted, I cannot recommend it enough: we are talking the Pushup Bra of Death. Seriously, the Girls were up high and tight (Any higher or tighter and I would have suffocated).Getting out was almost good for a panic attack: Houdini would have been hyper-ventilating trying to remove this strait jacket. It WILL bend to my will. I may have to meet, date and get serious with a guy just for the extra pair of hands to help me remove this thing. And get a foot massage.
Probably for good, economic and cost benefit analysis reasons, it’s difficult to find quality exercise gear in the larger sizes (for women. I haven’t shopped for men. Sorry, Guys, you’re on your own). Old Navy’s yoga clothes are an exception but things like an effective exercise bra  (big enough to  hold the cargo, strong enough to hold the cargo in place) can be a challenge. In order to have access to good quality workout clothes, you need to lose weight, but how are you going to exercise to lose weight without good workout clothes? For those of you saying an old T shirt and those gray flannel sweatpants out of “Rocky” are good enough, here’s a challenge: go do an hour on an elliptical cross trainer with a pair of unfettered 44Ds and report back on how comfortable the experience was and how great your chest feels now. Don’t like the elliptical? Fine. Hit the treadmill for an hour at 3 MPH. Try planks, crunches, you get the idea. There are structural issues that require attention.  The last time I tried it, I swear I heard “We’re too old for this shit” coming from my torso.
However, each X you drop from your size means an increase in options. Today, I went from XXL to XL. I remember going in the opposite direction and feeling rage and despair when it was necessary to go to the additional X.  I also went in search of a Snickers Bar.
I was a teenager in the 70s and one of the first “adult” books I read was “Scruples” by Judith Krantz. After I got over my shock at the sex scenes and language, I wanted to be Billie Winthrop Eichorn Orsini. I wanted to go from unhappy overweight teen to slender, fit incredibly wealthy Beverly Hills fashionista (the term hadn’t been coined yet). She transformed herself during a year in Paris, learning to eat less and to love clothing.  The $250 million came because she married extremely well, but surely I could have that kind of money myself. I still think it’s possible. And when I have it, Neiman Marcus can eat my shorts: they only accept the Neiman Marcus card or American Express. Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s? Come to Mama.
I have the gear. I have reason. Now I just need to get my ass moving and the calories burning. It can be done.

Got garlic?

200.2 lbs. Eh. It’s better than 202. Or 220. And 175 mg cholesterol.
“Those who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours.”
I think it is time to remodel /upgrade some friends. One in particular. I love her dearly. There is very little I wouldn’t do for this woman. However, when she lashes out, she goes below the belt and makes nasty comments about my weight/shape. I talked to her for the first time in a while tonight and told her that I’d lost 25 lbs. Since this woman has made such an issue over my appearance since I’ve known her, you would think the reaction would be something like, “Oh, wow!” or “Good for you!” or “Atta girl!” No.
I got, “Uh huh” and a desultory question about how I had done this. The answers were met with “Uh huh” and then a brief dissertation on what Janet Jackson did to lose weight (and her information was inaccurate. I never once heard “plastic surgeon”).  When I tried to describe what I was doing going forward, I could tell that I had been tuned out.
Naturally, this made me think of my family and I had an epiphany: it’s not the changed behavior that these folks want from me.  If I drop 100 pounds and I’m happy, they’ll just find something else to home in on. No. They feed on unhappiness and self-loathing.  Hey, misery loves company and it’s a block party.
There are no vampires in the Dracula sense. No melancholy immortals living in the shadows resenting humans and plotting their destruction. There are those humans, however, who will suck the light and joy out of anyone they can. The idea of infecting those around them with equal unhappiness and emotional discomfort is similar to the modus operandi of traditional vampires: bite ‘em and make ‘em one of us. They don’t want you thinner/married/dis-married/living somewhere else; they want you unhappy with yourself as you are so they won’t feel so lousy about themselves as they are right now.  Instead of biting your neck and sucking your blood, they project their self-loathing onto you and watch with secret satisfaction as your inner light dims. When you feel worse about yourself than they do about themselves, they’re your most sympathetic and supportive friends. When you start wearing Goth makeup and a nose chain, you’ve got a support group.
You make a change in your life that makes you happy; it goes unacknowledged or quickly dismissed. If you are in an upbeat, optimistic mood, they will not leave it untouched. Any ideas or plans for pursuing something you want will be quickly and verbally dismantled. If you have made progress towards a goal, it will be actively undermined. It’s a form of co-dependence.
How many times have those in the dieting legions reached a milestone weight or a goal weight only to have a “friend” say, “I think we should go out and celebrate”? The celebration usually takes the form of a food splurge.  If you decline, it’s “Oh, one day isn’t going to kill you’ and the pressure mounts until you succumb or walk out of that person’s life. Of course, a few months later when you’ve gained back the weight; this same person will be throwing the nasty comments as vigorously as before and with additional ammunition because now you are officially a failure and that makes him/her delighted. Equilibrium has been re-established.  Watch “The Days of Wine and Roses” and you’ll see this principle in action. It’s like a drowning man dragging his rescuer under the waves.
Fuck ‘em.