Katie “Barre” The Door

“I’m not here to torture you”, said the instructor at the minute class started. Knowing people usually say the opposite of what they’re thinking, I thought “oh shit, here we go”.  

I’ve wanted to try Barre for a long time, but I needed to find a female friend to take me, because I can tell you from experience, when a guy shows up to take a class with a room full of women, they look at you like… Well:

1.   A group of pediatric nurses watching a newborn boy get circumcised 

2.  Like they want to search you for roofies

3.  Like “creepy” just walked out of the dictionary and came to class.  

Trust me, you would never go to another country without a passport, do not go to a women’s exercise class without a female to escort you.   

For the uninitiated, barre, according to the barre evolution website may be defined as “Barre (bar) n.: Exercise modality that uses a ballet barre for balance, your own bodyweight for resistance, and a series of small, low impact movements to rapidly yield a tight, toned and transformed physique.”   These “small, low impact, isometric movements create what is called “barre burn”. While “burn” is a good term, it’s a little misleading and here’s why.  Anyone who’s ever built a fire, or seen a fire built will identify.  In building a good fire, you need tinder (something to start the fire that burns easily, like paper) and then kindling (small sticks of wood or little branches that will,catch first easily from the tinder, and then pieces of wood which gradually increase in size.   Think of this muscle “burn” as the smoke that rises after the match is first put to paper, followed by the glint of flame as the paper flares I fire and starts to heat the kindling, followed by the hotter flame as the kindling is consumed, followed by the raging fire as the larger pieces of wood are consumed in flames.  Or if you e ever seen a building burn, you know that first there is a little smoke and then in a moment, the entire building is consumed in flames.  This is your muscles in Barre 

This might be just one of the thoughts that enter your mind as you stand, feet wide apart squat, your toes turned out to opposite walls, standing on your toes, doing infinitesimally small bends.  Or, you might think of that one time when you thought, “why can’t I climb a barbed wire fence, I’ll be careful” , or as a guy, “how hard can a split really be?”  Ever woke up in the middle of the night, with a charlie horse so bad, you literally levitate straight up out of the bed, to land on the floor, on your feet, massaging your cramped muscle?  This is barre. 

Ever gotten a foot cramp so bad when driving, you literally had to pull over to get out of the car to stand on the cramped foot to get the cramp out?   This is barre

But in fairness it’s a cross between the excruciating burn of isolating a muscle to exhaustion with the shaking and quivering which comes from actually having exhausted the muscle.  

They have accoutrements of torture including straps (yay bondage), hand weights, little green balls (I never did find out what the balls were for) , mats and some wooden thing on the wall about four feet wide and going up about 8 feet with little round rungs. My escort said it was for you to hang by, but she forgot its name.  The rack I said, it’s “the rack”. 

If there was a warm up I missed it. The class progresses from push ups and planks, to arm and shoulder exercises (if you want an idea what this feels like hold your arms straight up with your palms outstretched.  Now watch Gone with the the Wind.  Drop your arms). Then gluteus and thighs. Then abdominal.   Thankfully the difficulty of coping with the searing pain in so many parts of your body is slightly distracting.  

There was a clearly announced “cool down” period which involved a series of more exercises in which the instructor was not clamoring for more pain.   The lack of clamoring did not reduce the pain.  

If, like me, you’re happily wandering through the sadomasochism of various modalities of exercise, barre is clearly a torture session you don’t want to miss. I can’t wait to go back. 

Left Brain-Right Brain: The “Filter” vs “Smart Assery”

You may be familiar with various theories of the effects that the two hemispheres of our brain have on a variety of things from behavior, to psychology to biology, including the most popular that our left brain is where rational, logical processes reside and the right, creativity.  This is all, of course probably not true. If you’re remotely interested in any of this, here is a Wikipedia article with 80 citations to current professional journal articles in neurology, physchology, and other medical, scientific and Behavorial science publications.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralization_of_brain_function
 Let me save you some time, however, and suggest that our knowledge of the brain is not much more advanced than our medieval theories that the Black Plague was caused by an imbalance in the four humours (not comedy humours but blood, phlegm, black and yellow bile)

This allows me to pretty freely postulate that the left brain is where our “filter” resides, as a constant balance to the “smart Assery” right side of our brain.  By “filter”, I mean that part of our brains that stops us from offering the police office, who just stopped us, the box of donuts from the passenger seat, or when our significant other asks, “do these jeans make my ass look fat”; scrolling through the responses of “everything makes your ass look fat” or “your ass IS FAT”, or “do you mean ‘semi trailer fat’, or ‘Beyoncé booty fat’, or ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue fat” and instead opt for “of course not- your ass is perfection defined”. 

I find it difficult to predict when my filter will or won’t work, or when the switch is on or off.  I first noticed this as a 17 year old in AP calculus class.  The teacher said, “and what should I do with this Parabola”, and before I knew it I said “you don’t REALLY want us to tell you what to do with that Parabola, do you”, whereupon with equal speed an eraser was whizzing by my left ear.  I immediately began to put as much value on my filter as her bad aim. As the things which then began to get thrown at my head increased in both frequency and weight, I began to think maybe my filter could be exercised to be made more effective. I’m not sure at my age if it’s better or worse.  Here’s just a few examples.

At a function this week hosted by a female friend, I met her husband for the first time. Part of the conversation went like this.  “…-and he does Argentine tango, she said”.   “Wow,” he said, what a beautiful dance.  We so enjoyed watching tango on our trip to Buenos Aires.  But you don’t seem to have the body type of a tango dancer?”.   Possible replies submitted to my filter:  “Yes, well I got a 6 week scholarship to the Sumo Wrestlers School of Argentine Tango in Kyoto in 2009”. “Yes, but I applied for and was granted a weight waiver from the International Tango Police in Buenos Aires”.  “Yes, but I’m also short and I get to dance with REALLY tall women”.

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 Yes, but I’m not allowed to dance with women over (or under) a certain weight”. “Yes, I have to weigh in monthly and if I go over 240, I’m suspended”. “Yes, but we have weight classes in Tango, like boxing” to what actually passed my filter which was “hahahahahaha, Yes!”  (Yay filter!!!)

My filter seems particularly challenged by stupidity.  At a tango class years ago, a conversation with a medical school professor somehow turned to my struggles to lose weight despite a ridiculous amount of exercise, clean eating and food deprivation.    “It’s easy he said, don’t eat anything white”.   Uh oh, here we go with a furious assault on my filter.   “This is going to be shocking news to my black and Asian friends”.  “OMG- in 48 years of dieting, I’ve never seen or read this theory or been told this by any of the 36 physicians I’ve seen in all these years”.  While my filter is processing some other options which are not printable, he adds “you know like white rice, white bread, or white flour”.  Immediately after my filter rejects “so the outside of Oreo’s is ok, but not the middle” and “You’re a fucking idiot”, and it allows, “yes, I should work harder on this, thank you”.  

I was encouraging a fellow zumberanian this morning by remarking she looks like she lost a significant amount of weight lately and is more tone.  Anytime I see someone I know, who looks like they’ve lost weight lately, I tell them. Who doesn’t want to hear they’ve lost weight lately, even if they haven’t (Nigerian marathon runners and eating disorder patients excluded). We had the usual banter of “yes, I really want to get rid of this belly” (whereupon I put my arm around her and showed her it’s still smaller than mine), how long it takes to make progress, etc. etc. whereupon the other person in this conversation said, “your genes have a lot to do with it”.   Apparently my filter was recovering from my Friday night because I blurted out, “so, I should stop wearing wranglers and get designer jeans instead?”, all the while thinking I should warn my former beauty pageant friend to immediately burn those baby phat jeans I bought her years ago.  After all, she might ask me, “Baby, do these baby phat’s make my ass look fat?”.

“Squeeze Your Anus” Ashtanga Workshop Weekend

You’re about to learn more about your “pelvic floor” than you thought was possible or maybe even what a “pelvic floor” is and how squeezing your anus can change your life. Or at least, your pelvic floor. Irresistible title, I know.  

Not long ago, In October of 2015, I wrote “Ashtanga Yoga – A primer” passing on my introductory knowledge of Ashtanga derived from two classes which consisted of the advice of “skip class and have a friend hit you in the stomach with a shovel.”  Ashtanga a primer  Imbued with this new found knowledge my logical thought was, “I should go to a class every week after the holly days.”  (Not very smart, I know)

A slightly more elucidating description of Ashtanga is “This form of yoga is intensely physical and athletic. Ashtanga yogis practice a prescribed set of asanas, channel energy through the body using bandhas (locks), and concentrate on singular points using drishti (gaze) in asanas.”  (An asana is a pose or movement running from the easiest of, “bend over and touch your toes” (or the floor or put your palms on the floor and bend your elbows out) to a more complicated form of twister where you fashion yourself into a pretzel and look at parts of your body you’ve never seen before.    Like this. 

 You don’t even want to know how to get into this. In one class, a girl said someone should clone a life alert bracelet into a yoga alert bracelet – “help, I fell  into this pose and I can’t get out    Just for the record, I can not do this now, nor ever imagine it happening. 

After happily surviving NOT passing out the first two classes in January I follow my plan of regular weekly attendance when I see that internationally know Ashtanga Yoga teacher, is coming to the studio to do 10 1/ hours of instruction on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in April, and I look at the individual classes with a la Carte pricing, and one fixed fee for the whole shebang, including waterboarding and I think, “YEAH, that’s me”!!! (Again, not smart.  If you’re a regular reader you know good judgement is not my hallmark.  Although, Senator Bob Packwood did say, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment ) 

Today is Sunday and I have survived,  however, I am using my last functional appendage, one hand, to type this message.  By Friday morning, two days ago, I am anticipating the start of the first class Friday night with a mixture of fear and excitement.  Or terror.  Or dread.  However, Friday was pretty much a 2 1/2 hour lecture practice on paranyama (breathing) and bandhas, (locks)  (Hold on, we’re almost to the squeeze your anus part) 

First breathing. Ashtanga uses a from of breathing called Ujayi (pronounced “ooo jay) in which “…Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breathing should be both energizing and relaxing. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth). The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out.”  Ujjayi Breath.  More simply, open your mouth an exhale as if you were fogging a mirror.  Now,  close your mouth and exhale, keeping the same restriction in your throat. MOST simply, I call this Darth Vader breath.  Breathing through your nose with Mouth closed, do your best impression of Darth Vader breathing,  this is Ujjayi breath.  (Now, try to breath this way for an hour- Bahahahahahaha)

Ah, finally bandhas.  Mula Bandha.   “Squeeze your anus”, he says.  “Huh?”  This is probably not an exact transcription of what  what he said but here goes at the very bottom of the bowl of your pelvis, you have a network of muscles attaching front to back and side to side like a warm apple pie’s top lattice Crust, nicely browned and perfectly weaved.  (Ok, he didn’t say the pie part, but I was hungry ). The muscle part was true though (kinda)  

 and by contacting these muscles, you help to lift your internal organs from crushing each other and eventually, bring peace to the Middle East. Or maybe kill your craving for Cocoa Puffs.  To do this, squeeze your anus.  Then while doing that, contract the muscles you need to stop. Urinating mid stream.  Now, you may be laughing, and you may be trying to squeeze your anus right now but if you’re trying to do both, when I tell you to hold this for the next hour, you’ll stop laughing.  However, when he said this eventually reverses something of the natural incontinent type symptoms which advancing age brings, I though, “hell yeah, I’m in!!!). However, he did point out that your supposed to keep these muscles permanently locked (meaning squeeze your anus 24 hours a day) unless, you’re using the bathroom, giving birth, menstruating, or drinking tequila with a stripped named Mercedes in Guadalajara.  I’m pretty sure  I squeezed my anus once for 24 hours in college and it made me want to vote republican.  

Clearly, I’ve summarized the 2 hours and thirty minutes but suffice it to say that by the end, I was thinking the last time I put so much focus on Darth Vader breathing and squeezing my anus was when my freshman dorm mate Pat and I double dated the two sorority girls to USC homecoming in 1975.  Lesson learned, “remember where you park your car anytime your”re parking with 40,000 other cars- it’s a loong wait till the parking lot is empty  and you can see it.  Which equally applies to squeezing your anus for an hour)

My greatest fear the last seven years of yoga was being in a completely packed yoga room, mats only inches apart, 7-8 yogis in a row and I lose my balance falling over into the hot chick next to me creating a human yogis dominoes effect.  I escaped that fear for 7 years. Until today.  While the entire row didn’t fall over, I took her out like a linebacker sacking the quarterback in the playoffs.  

 
On the positive side, she we very gracious about it, the class got some much needed comic relief (who doesn’t like being laughed at by 50 people?) and I lived.  Reminder lesson, even when our greatest fear comes true, it’s not as bad as we have catastrophized.  

My best moment?  Yesterday morning, we’re over an hour in where we’re trying to do several of the harder poses in the middle of the sequence and I’m not even close to doing it right and looking around the room, literally dripping sweat all over my mat, and thinking, just as a matter of observation, that I have clearly the absolute WORST form of anyone in the class, and he comes over, taps my foot and says “good job).  I only made it 6 1/2 hours of the 10.5 for the weekend, but hooray for me.  

As I was leaving today,  the studio owner goddess guru sweetheart asked if I was coming back for the last two hours, called “Do WHAT with my leg”, in which hip openers are offered to allow you to put your feet behind your head while sitting up.  “No,” I said, “I have Chik Fil A hips, they’re closed on Sunday’s.”  

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Yoga Dragon Sequence or as I’ve Renamed It- My Ex Sequence

One of my yoga instructors is enamored with “dragon sequence” which I have, just this evening renamed “my ex sequence”.  Allow me to explain .  Since describing the dragon wil take more words than I’m wiling to write and certainly you to read, here is an instructional video. 

Just a few points not to mislead, before I proceed. I cannot do everything in is video.  Like, that twisting upside down thing ain’t happening.  I could go on about all the other things I can’t do, but let me offer this analogy as to what I think I look like when we do this. Ever seen an enormous male dog, like a lab or a golden retriever try to copulate with a small female like a daschund or a toy poodle in heat?  If you’ve ever watched those enthusiastic but misguided attempts to contort their bodies so the act will still not work, that’s me doing dragon.  If you’re wondering if I’m the large dog or the small do, take your pick. Also, there’s timing.  While this video is 7 min long, keep in mind we’re doing this for 35 minutes. 

Yoga goddess says this is to “open our heart and lung meridians of energy”. This is yoga speak for we’re going. To do a series of difficult and strenuous movements so fast you’re going to seriously contemplate your heart exploding while you’re asphyxiating from gasping for air, while you trying to control your breathing and not sound like a freshmen in high school in PE class having to run 5 miles in an hour st 9:30 am. You’ll also notice that the video instructor explains ways to “modify” the pose in a variety of ways.   Encouragement to modify your pose is yoga speak for, “please God  do not push yourself to the point of actually passing out, because our liability carrier requires us to call and ambulance for any loss of consciousness and that will screw up the rest of class.”  

So, the first time I was exposed to this “dragon” was a couple of months ago.  I really don’t remember much about that first time, other than spending the entire 35 minutes contemplating my mortality.  My thoughts went from an “OMG, I’m gonna die” to a welcoming acceptance and looking forward to it in a Jesus on the cross, “into your hands I commend my spirit”, kind of way.

Then we did it in a couple of more classes where I was just miserable, but not calling for death like it was a long lost friend who needed to visit soon.  

She announced last week we were going to do dragon this week, particularly because I had grumbled about it. Now I love this yoga instructor  because she gets so filled with joy she giggles. During class. A lot. Although I’ve become a little suspicious that she’s really watching me move through asanas and vinyasas and wondering whether I’m the big or small dog.  I had a choice tonight between the county bar’s annual holiday party in a spectacular setting, with yummy catered food and an open bar…. Or yoga class.  I marveled at my choice of masochism instead of a party all the way there. Hold this thought a moment

She also recommended that during class we might want to employ Thicht Nach Hahn, the extraordinary Vietnamese Buddhist Monks famous mantra, “as I breathe in I relax, as I breathe out I smile”.  Hold this thought too.  

  (BTW, my favorite quote of his is: ” “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you  understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”.

So I’m rotating and gasping and doing my miserable thing, and I’m marveling at my masochistic choice.  Then I realize I’m kinda getting used to it, and I have the epiphany, “hey, this is like my ex marriage”. Then I notice the “I breath in I relax, I breathe out I smile is not having the desired meditative effect and I think, “when I breathe in, I get divorced, when I breathe out, I’m giddy with joy” and all of a sudden, I’m in my happy place. Hence, my renaming the dragon, “my ex”. Hopefully I’ll learn from the dragon, oops my ex some of the same things like non judgment, non attachment, personal responsibility, self awareness, boundaries and compassion.  Or maybe my heart will just explode. 

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ZUMBA Class and This Blog’s Two Year Anniversary – an Expression of Gratitude 

Warning:  This may NOT be funny. This blog is about “Gratitude”. ” and I don’t know that I can make this funny.  April 22, 2015 is my two year anniversary of going to ZUMBA class. (And a little over 6 years of tango and almost 7 of yoga, all while gradually changing my diet and habits). I started writing because I was encouraged by friends who thought some posts in which I was humorously dealt with all my shortcomings, foibles and challenges were funny. But, I owe whatever progress I’ve made, and MY inspiration  to so many people, so many of YOU, that I write today to express my gratitude.

“Gratitude” may not be the most powerful energy on the planet, but I think it’s in the top three. I’ve tried to work as hard the last 7 years on the inner me as the outer me and I’ve found gratitude to be one of the best therapists on the planet.  It is hard NOT to be happy, joyful, peaceful, kind, or compassionate if you’re grateful.  It’s a terrific, almost immediate tonic for the unavoidable sadness, depression, grief or malaise we all must experience as humans.  While I’m not saying there is not value to “rest” in these emotions, when you decide it’s time to let go, there is no better single tool then gratitude.

I claim no credit for these concepts, there are hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, articles, stories and books on the subject of gratitude and starting a gratitude practice.  There are many variations but all you have to do to start a gratitude practice is once a day, think of one thing you’re grateful for.   Then think of one more. There are myriad suggestions for how many a day, but start with one. As you practice, you’ll set a number for yourself as you get better at it until you find yourself being grateful a good part of the day.  If you’re struggling to think of one thing, do not despair.  Whether or not you have good health, a roof over you’re head, family that loves you, a job, a beautiful flower outside, you’re alive. And if you can’t be grateful for that, you have choices. And there is so much to be grateful for- a blue sky, a warm breeze, random acts of kindness, a smile from a stranger, the ability to help someone else- it’s almost infinite.

So, here in no particular order is my list of things I’m grateful for, as thanks to all who have helped: my friends, my instructors, my classmates, my dancing partners, strangers with a kind word or smile, my readers (both of them)( you knew I couldn’t resist at least one quip), and all those who’ve inspired me.

I’m grateful for:

  1. Quitting smoking,
  2. Losing 30 pounds.
  3. Having stomach muscles, again.
  4. Yoga, ZUMBA and tango, in general.
  5. Yoga for teaching me self acceptance, patience, peace, the joy of the journey and the struggle, balance, mindfulness, upper body strength. Breathing, and the joy of slow but steady progress.
  6. Tango sor teaching me balance, grace, creativity musicality, and the joy of doing something that I’m not really good at. But passionate about.  You don’t have to be the best to enjoy yourself.
  7. Zumba for joy, stamina, balance, a better heart rate, musicality, rhythm, inspiration and motivation. And ZUMBA women. 😉
  8. Supportive friends.  
  9. Kind words which have motivated and inspired me
  10. My classmates- Zumbaranions rock!
  11. My chiropractor. 😉
  12. My doctor for 30 years. (That guy deserves a medal. From somebody.  For something).
  13. The amazing ability of the body to change and heal even considering what I’ve done to it. 
  14. Meditation.
  15. People who say stupid, judgmental or ridiculous things for teaching me patience, tolerance, forgiveness and non attachment.
  16. My daughter whose own 150 pound weight loss has inspired me in so many ways.
  17. For learning but not always practicing, that every moment is a gift, and it’s called “the present”  The actual quote, “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it’s called the Present” is attributable to many people as the first author.
  18. Failure for teaching me persistence. Compassion for others, gratitude for successes, motivation, and self reflection.
  19. Giving up dairy, wheat, carbs and sugar.  
  20. Learning to eat vicariously.  (If you saw someone smiling at you while you were eating the triple fudge sundae with chips and chocolate sauce, thanks for the memory)
  21. Choices. 
  22. The belief that everything that happens to me is my own doing and I have the ability to change 
  23. The desire and inspiration to work even harder for my goals and dreams.  80 pounds to go. 
  24. That I’m not out of things to be grateful for- I’m just stopping here.   Ok, and redheads and convertibles. And whiskey and the Kama Sutra. Alright, I’m really stopping now. 


Try a gratitude practice,  the changes you will see in your life are almost immediate. You often hear, tell the people you love, that you love them every day.  Now go tell the people you appreciate, every day, that you appreciate them. 

 

   

Quitting Sugar or the Descent into Madness. 

I’m sure you’ve read an article (or 779 of them) or heard a news report about the benefits of giving up sugar.  So, I’m not writing about any of THAT other than to point out that while all the touted benefits may be true, any article I’ve seen omits the “descent into madness part”. If you have never cared for sweets and always asked for a second serving of Kale when the cake was brought out and your BMI has never been more than 19, screw you and find another blog.  (Just kidding- but quitting sugar does make you a little testy.  At least for the first 76 days. 

I  quit sugar 75 days, 21 hours 19 minutes ago.  Well, not permanently, but I want to see how far I can go before I succumb to Baskins Robbins. Or Marble Slab. Or Cinnabon. Or a cannoli.  See, that descent into madness. 

You think at the beginning you just need to give up sweets but OOOOHHH NOOOO, it’s not that simple.  Sugar  is everywhere- breads, pasta sauce, salad dressings, KETCHUP….I’m not giving up ketchup, I’m just not.   Is there anything more depressing then reading food labels?  Right?  

Trying to quit sugar is as bad as quitting smoking.  If when you quit smoking EVERYONE around you was smoking, and everything had nicotine in it.  

After about a month, I started hallucinating about ice cream. A lot.  



I daydream about making it another 146 days, 11 hours and 58 minutes till my birthday on August 12, then eating nothing except sugar all day.  Cinnabon for breakfast, cannoli for lunch. Baskin Robbins for dinner. Then the thought make me a little ill.  Ahhhh, the split personality, schizophrenia of it all.  (Yoga class, breath, Zen, peace, love)

I’m sure you’ve heard of the rat, sugar cocaine experiment?   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610/

In case you didn’t, basically Rats who were given a mutually exclusive choice between saccharine, sugar and cocaine picked saccharine (or sugar) 94% of the time. This was repeated using Oreos by enterprising research students at Conneticut College. http://www.conncoll.edu/news/news-archive/2013/student-faculty-research-suggests-oreos-can-be-compared-to-drugs-of-abuse-in-lab-rats.htm#.VQosHBj3arU.  I mention this for two reasons. First, in writing this article I discovered, by googling “rat sugar cocaine experiment” that there are numerous side splitting articles on the web which I thought I should point out to you. And secondly, my convolution for this descent into madness is that in none of these experiments, did any of the rats kill the other rats.  I guess I’ll be okay.  

D.A.S.H diet – Deprived, Angry, Sad and Hungry

(or Hopeless, Hostile, take your pick) I think all diets should be called the D.A.S.H. diet. I almost spit out my green kale beet asparagus sawdust juice cocktail when I saw this on the news and then googled it. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet The acronym D.A.S.H really stands for 1. Don’t Ask for Sugar, Honey. 2. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension 3. Dying a Slow Hunger 4. Dieting – A Sad Hopelesness.

A quick google search shows that the reason the US News does this every year is that ALMOST as often, the NY times does an article on “what percentage of people gain the weight they lost BACK? 90% That’s NINETY PERCENT. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/health/biological-changes-thwart-weight-loss-efforts-study-finds.html

“See the top 35 diets”. “Best Diabetes Diets” “Best Weight Loss Diets” “Best Diets Overall” “Best Heart health Diets” “Best health Eating Diets” “Best Diets for Healthy Eating” “Easiest Diets to Follow” “Best Plant Based Diets” “Easiest Diets to Follow” “Best Jewish Diets” “Best Pet Lovers Diets” “Best Online Dating Diets” “Best No Exercise Diets” “Best Cross Fit Then Throw Up Diets” What is this, the Oscars? Can you tell in that list where I veered off from the actual list on the US News site into satire? If any of these REALLY worked, would we need 35 of them? Weight Watchers, one of the oldest of the group, ranked quite high. Watch the weight come off, then watch it come right back on.

The longer I work to try to be/eat/live a healthy lifestyle, the funnier I find all of it, and the more absurd all of it is. I fully expect, should I ever reach my weight loss goal, to get run over by a bus, that day or shortly thereafter, as some kind of cosmic punchline. There are no shortage of absurdities I hear everyday associated with healthly living. “If you don’t eat enough, your body will think you’re starving, and you’ll (pick one) 1. retain weight 2 hold on to weight 3 need to eat even less calories to lose weight 4. lose muscle. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH No. If you starve – you’ll lose weight – fat (and fast) – till you’ve lost all of that, and then you’ll lose muscle. Bariatric Surgery – medically supervised starvation – with them supervising the water and muscle loss part. kenyan runners

My second favorite and most diets/nutritionists are guilty of this one (the big lie): “if you follow this diet/program/health eating blah blah blah, you’ll feel full/satieted/not deprived content like a golden retriever on a goose down pillow petted by its owner next to the heater on a cold winter day. Bullshit. Anyone whos dieted any length of time (and if you’re one of those people who’s been struggling to lose just 5 pounds – i wish I could just reach through the screen and slap you – no, this is for those people who struggle with the BIG numbers) you know dieting is about, at some point, the deprived, angry, sad and hungry. The D.A.S.H. diet.

Here’s why. Three simple reasons. 1. If you have that much to lose you have broken you metabolism in some way and you need to fix it. In some way. 2. If you read enough, there is nothing healthy for you to eat. Processed food. No. This means nothing in a box, or can. Or with a label on it. Or in a bottle. Or jar. Essentially, nothing from an aisle in the grocery store. No salt. No sugar. No Carbohydrates. No Wheat (Gluten) No Meat (They have feelings,pain. Vegetables would be ok, but they have to be organic – no GMO’s. No corn – aflatoxins. Lots of mycotoxins in vegetables. No eggs – (cruelty to animals thing. What’s ok to eat – sawdust. Wood right off the tree is ok, if you have really good teeth, but crowns are expensive, so I recommend sawdust, and the tree huggers are a nasty bunch, so be careful there. 3. Considering the average adult only needs 1600 to 2000 calories a day, after you take into account 1 and 2, you need to restrict your calories severely to healthy options to actually lose weight. Regardless of the 35 diet programs you look at the US News site, this basically translates to one asparagus stick for breakfast, another asparagus stick for lunch (sub a brocoli floret or brussel sprout for variety as you may like) and then for dinner, 3 oz of protein. This consists of one chicken wing, or saying the word Salmon, or Steak very slowly in the mirror while licking your lips.

Here’s to healthy living.

Good vs Evil: First Trips to the Salad Cafe and the Gourmet Grocery Store

Im not on a diet; I don’t believe in them any more. I’m not vegetarian but I do try to subsist on salads anymore. I’m what I call an “Asparagus and Sawdustian”. A good friend, aware of this lifestyle change, suggested I try a new local cafe, called Verde. I made my first visit today. This was Good. In an Aristotelian ethical, greater good kind of way, it was heaven for salad eaters. It’s a build your own salad, wraps, kind of place. Imagine if crackheads had somewhere like Starbucks they could go just to buy a rock, or 2, twelve hours a day. Build your own salad with every kind of green, and ingredient and dressing imaginable, then sliced, tossed or chopped. I got my salad, proposed marriage to one of the owners, got my frequent flyer card (buy 9 salads, get one free) and took another gleeful step towards cleaner arteries and enlightenment.

In the same shopping center is a “Gourmet Grocery” store that opened last year, called “southern Seasons”. You’ve never heard of it, because there are only three of them. The motherships are in Chapel Hill NC and Richmond Virginia. I had not been since they opened. I thought since I was there, why not see what this store was all about. I think a similar market is how Dante got the idea for the Inferno with the Gates of Hell, into which you enter various circles of Hell. This was Evil. I guess intellectually I new what a gourmet grocery store WAS by definition, but now, two hours, post-traumatic shopping disorder experience later, I realize I really had no idea. In case you’re not a “gourmet grocery store shopper” let me give you some idea.

You may have never heard of “Southern Seasons”, but it was selected as one of the top 50 Gourmet Retailers in the country. I give you this link, because I think you’ll see there’s a similar Gate of Hell near you, or at least you’ll recognize Dean and DeLuca and these store descriptions will give you the corporate spin on what they sell. http://m.gourmetretailer.com/article-top_50_retailers-1274.html

What they sell is Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation”. In Dante’s inferno, there were nine circles of hell, and each roughly corresponds to a station in a gourmet grocery store. I walked through the door right into the coffee and tea section, took a look at the teas, glanced around the store and saw: “bakery”, “”cheeses”, “candy”, “tasting bar”, “English foods”……….oh crap, I gotta get a cart, (the first circle of hell- limbo) this is going to be bad, I thought. No it’s not I thought, I can do this, like the 30 day alcoholic who’s just signed up for the 3 day Sonoma Wine Tasting Tour thinking, “I’m just gonna sample the olive oils”. First hit- one box of Moroccan mint tea.

Next station is the bakery. (Shopping the “perimeter in this store, in terms of eating healthy and I’m sure this is true of any gourmet grocery, would be like sending someone to a Brothel and saying, “shop the perimeter, you’ll be fine. There is no produce here- nary a beet nor a leaf of kale has given its life for the gourmet grocery. Each station is manned by an employee, who I swear came straight from the roast beef carving station at Ritz Carlton Ball Room. “Can I help you, what would you like” you are asked every 8.9 feet. I think they have sensors for that distance. I started saying, “no, thank you, I’m just fantasizing and eating vicariously”.

The bakery has an entire display case of single serve items because the sugar dealers learned from the drug dealers you sell more crack if you sell it one rock at a time. For the latter, its economic restraints, but for the former, they’re hoping you succumb to the fallacy that the calories are not so bad in just one piece. Second hit: “bad day” brownie. Pause a moment and let the full emotional tug of that sink in as you picture yourself looking at this brownie in the clear plastic case which also has chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, peanut butter and Rice Krispies. $4.99. (Third circle- gluttony) I’m sinkin fast.

The cheese counter is next. Imported cheese from every European country. The Stilton is tempting but at $25 a lb, I realize pricing here is at a percentage of the federal deficit, but going to a private entity. I’m impressed. (Fourth circle-Greed)

Next is the Candy Counter- which is pretty pedestrian – not counting the handmade artisan chocolates, the high end, high percentage cocoa bars, or the entire wall of jelly bellies. Pedestrian until the imported candy. The sugar dealer in the candy dept had a french accent. T guess they think you won’t feel so much like a crack head, if the cute woman, says syrupily, “oh, mon cher, what of theese shuck-o-latt can I help yoo weeth?” Not finding dark chocolate almonds, but noticing the mayan cayenne almonds were dark she gave me one to try. spoiler alert, the “cayenne” is not is there to rhyme with “Mayan”- Holy shit was that hot!!!!!!! (fifth circle of hell-anger, seventh circle – violence).

I was just doing reconnaissance after that till I saw they had imported Italian Torrone. They don’t sell Torrone in South Carolina. I think it’s because the top and bottom look like catholic communion wafers. But this Torrone was chocolate covered. That’s when I discovered that the Spanish also make a Torrone which they call, Turron. Third hit. El Almendro $7.89.

I wound my way around to what I would call “housewares”- or cooking utensils, dishes, accessories sold at jewelry prices. I needed one of the screen things, you know, that goes over your frying pan, so when you cook bacon you don’t have to call in the company with the haz mat suits to get grease off the entire side of your kitchen wall where your stove sits? They had one, so I though I’d save a trip to Bread, Bath and Beyond (this is my interchangeable name for Atlanta Bread Company and Bed bath and beyond. I know- such a strange malapropism you ask, but try it sometime. Just merge two businesses names and use the one Name to refer to both. Have fun with it) it was $25.99. Eighth circle of hell- fraud. I did however, get a salad chopper- don’t even ask.

I walked by the tasting bar, they had TWO people and gave them the same “fantasizing/vicariously”. Hold up the cross, garlic and holy water; hope-you -don’t -get bit gambit until the little brunette hawking the coffee wanted to hold my brownie. The other lady asked, “is that a BAD DAY BROWNIE?” “Yes it is”, I replied. The toffee brunette red the ingredients and let out a 50 shades of grey kind of gasp. She explained tasting the food was a way to help small business owners and the toffee company was her toffee company. I tried it- “holy shit!”, I said. “Holy shit good or Holy shot bad?”, she asked, plaintively batting her eyes. I bought a box. “You don’t have to do that, she cooed”. Second circle- lust

I’ve been in here an hour and a half by now. I look in my cart and I have: a bottle of blk alkaline bottled water (not even gonna try to explain that), the Moroccan tea, the BAD DAY brownie, the Spanish Turron, and the salad chopper. I take a swirl through the spices, marinades, English foods and pasta and sauces. Sicilian marinara in a jar?!?!? Sixth circle of hell heresy.

I manage to check out with my FIVE (items) which fit in a large plain brown McDonald’s meal bag and get out for $44. I see that friend who sent me to the salad cafe place Monday morning. The ninth circle of hell? Treachery.

Work Out Clothes

Eros-Sport-Collection-Page-6-up_1024x1024There is no version of this universe and no alternate universe, no matter how much weight I lose, or how “svelte” I get that I’m wearing any version of those clothes to yoga class. Or any other workout class. Or zumba class. Or a gym. I just don’t get workout clothes.

I’ve toyed with this subject, albeit briefly, once before, a litle over a year ago. My fellow Zumberanians have a penchant for belly scarfs. https://humorforthehorizontallychallenged.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/zumba-class-an…he-belly-scarf/ They want me to get one. I’ve been debating for a year between the camouflage, image< and the Pirate Skull:
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I’ve been taking votes most of the last year. The pirate skull won out. I actually modeled some for the Zumberanians. They brought a purple number for me to try on.
zumba purple belly skirt<

While purple may be my color, pirate is definitely the way for me to go here.

But workout clothes just puzzle me in general. About a month ago, in workout class, a woman had the words “WHINING” in all white caps emblazoned on her ass, with a circle around the “HINI” with a line through it. I found myself thrust back in Philosophy class for the rest of the next hour. Is that “NO Whining?” or “no Hini?”, I asked myself” and if the former, was that for her kids, and if the latter was that for her husband, and what did that have to do with working out? If the “whining” had to do with working out, who was the admonition for? I mean, if it was meant to remind HER not to whine, shouldn’t it be somewhere where SHE could see it, like on the FRONT of her shorts, so when she bent over, she, or bent down, she’d remember, “no whining?” If it was meant for all of us behind her, I was wondering when all the whiny people in a workout class had gotten on her class. Maybe I should hyperventilate a little quieter. Maybe I should gasp for air with a little less enthusiasm.

And why didn’t the circle go around the ENTIRE word. The shorts were big enough. Why just for the “hini” part? And they seemed to very male gym shorts at that but I didn’t even want to go there. After class, I asked the girl next to me what they were all about and she simple said, ” Motivation, no whining”, so I guess I was making too much out of the whole thing. Or she missed the whole, “no hini” part.

At this point, I went looking for something on the internet about the recent Lulemon see through yoga pants fashion disaster to illustrate some point in my brain when I found this: http://www.fadedindustry.com/hot-girls-wearing-yoga-pants-happy-hump-day/

By the time I got to the end of the pictures, I had no idea what my post was. In fact, I have no idea what my objection to work out clothing is. Hmmm, maybe purple is my color. In the meantime, I’ll just wait for the pirate scarf. And keep wearing baggy clothes.

Zumba Causes Narcolepsy

For the first time, I made it to 3.75 Zumba classes this week. Here’s what happened. Fourteen months ago, I started going once a week. Loyal readers, both of you, know that after 10 minutes, I was gasping for air and praying for death. As the months wore on, and the pounds fell off, I started going twice a week. A couple of months ago, I dabbled a couple of times with going THREE times a week. In order to fit this on my schedule, this necessitated going to class two days in a row. How can I prosaically describe the effect this had on me? What words will convey the true effect this had on my body, mind, and soul? I know, it KICKED MY ASS.

As April and May approached, I saw my six month July doctors check up looming on the calendar which coincided with my celebrating losing 30 ponds since last July. At the same time, this rate of loss is nowhere near my type A, overachiever, obsessive compulsive addictive personality that wants to be losing 2 pounds a week is satisfied with, so I’ve been constantly been tweaking what I’ve been eating and my Zumba/Yoga/tango regimen trying to get the weekly weight loss up to what I consider a respectable level.

So, this was the week I decided I’d try FOUR Zumba classes and two yoga classes. Here’s how the week went starting with last Saturday.

Saturday June 7: Go to zumba class 9 am as usual. Come home, shower, head to Lowes, buy potting soil, drainage rock, two pavers. Set pavers, level for new outdoor table purchased by GF, plant new deck plants (also purchased by GF), and paint one of two outdoor corner shelves built by GF. Shower, put on costume, attend tango Milonga. 17,000 steps for the day.

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Sunday June 8: go to yoga class: already beyond exhausted. Fall asleep in savasana, or deep relaxation at end of class. I think I snored.

Monday June 9: Go to Zumba class: this is the class I don’t normally attend. I am fired up. Gonna make three in a row this week. Woooo Hoooo.

Tuesday June 10: Can’t get up for work. Go to office. Fall asleep at desk at 2:30. Give up. Take entire day off. Go home. Go to Zumba class at 5:45. This building where she has class doubles as children’s something or other and, I think, large oven for baked goods the size of SUV’s. Or it must, judging from the usual temperature in there.

Wednesday June 11: What day is it? I want to take today off too. Am exhausted. Make it to office. Am really excited about making it to THREE Zumba classes in a row. leave work early at 4 pm. Get home change clothes. Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open. It’s 5:45. I have 30 minutes before I have to leave for class at 6:15 which starts at 6:45. Ok, I can take a power nap. Set alarm on I phone for 22 min. Close eyes. Pass out. Alarm goes off. 6:07. Great, I can sit here for 5 minutes. Next thing I know, I wake up and it’s 7:45. YUP, ZUMBA CAUSES NARCOLEPSY!!!! (Or maybe I need a little more rest, or a little more time to get used to this schedule- whew,). I dash out the door, race to class and get there 15 minutes late….so, I made it to 2.75 classes this week.

Thursday June 12: regular yoga class. Maria, the teacher, has left for her summer vacation. Who do we get for our sub? The yoga instructor who is also the marathon runner. You can’t make this stuff up. Insert your own punch line here. I pray for a quick death during savasana.

Friday June 13: No exercise today, but I do have to drive four hours round trip to teach the last two hours of a certification class. Have also noticed my weight has fluctuated three pounds this week even though my diet has not changed at all. I assume this is analogous to how terminal patients, as they approach death, will refuse food and water. I’m guessing by the end of the week, my body, from the Zumba overdose, has started hoarding water for the coming apocalypse. I get back to charleston at 7 pm and meet a friend for dinner.

Saturday June 14: I make it to Zumba class no 3.75 this week. I don’t know my name, I swear, just by looking I have 6 fingers on my right hand, I can’t get enough sleep but I woke up at 5:30 am and could not get back to sleep. Class was great. I did notice by one of the last songs, I was having trouble distinguishing between my right and left foot.

You know what I keep thinking, don’t you? She DOES teach a class EVERY DAY at the senior center at 8 am. Lemme google narcolepsy drugs…….