May 29, 2010
“The governor is hiking along the Appalachian Trail.”-quote from Governor Mark Sanford’s office, June 22
“The Group Exercise Director is kicking off her World Fitness Tour.”-quote from Penny Hoff’s Sportsplex cubicle, May 22
I suppose you’ve all been wondering where I’ve been these last several days. I’ve got to say it wasn’t until I just got home yesterday that I realized that my gym members and yoga students had been left scrambling to locate my whereabouts. Ok. I’ll tell you the honest truth. I really did want and intend to launch my World Fitness Tour. I’ve never been on one and actually am not even sure specifically what a World Fitness Tour would entail, but I sure did like the sound of it. As a matter of fact when I first knew I’d be going away, I might have actually used the term “World Fitness Tour” to explain my absence. Then it dawned on me that this excuse might be a bit of an axagerattion and perhaps unfair to those few friends of mine who still love me. Next I considered just vanishing which is probably more believable as something I would do but equally and for opposite reasons, also equally impossible for me to do. I’ve never been a disappear-er. I’m too loud. I’m too indiscreet or as my Pops used to refer to it so eloquently “You talk enough to make up for all the rest of us Loves put together.” Unlike my baby brother Darrin, who we forgot at a truck stop near Yellowstone National Park when he was three and wasn’t missed by the other eight of us in the Country Squire until five hours later when we got near Beartooth. Now, Darrin, he could vanish. Me? Not a chance. But I was feeling reluctant to admit the actual reason why I’d be gone for a while. So I talked to my close friend Viola who had an optional idea. She volunteered to help me out and honest to God it was HER idea to allow me to use her as my foil, sort of like a body double, you know, the way Madonna and Princess Di used to send the paparazzi off on a goose chase so they could escape in peace. So yes, although Viola was not exactly innocent, she really did have my best interests at heart and she was there with me throughout the whole ordeal. I’ve got the pictures to prove it.
Anyway, back to my story. So my only option as I saw it, was to tell the actual truth, as much as it pained me to do so and also because two of my dearest friends and my older sister threatened to come to my house and throttle me if I didn’t stop lyin’ and fess up to reality. So (sigh) Here it is: Four weeks ago, I reached my arm over head in Warrior pose and a disc in my back sprung a huge leak. And in much the same way that it would never in a gazillion years occur to me that a volcano in Iceland could affect air travelers in Europe getting back to school and work here in Connecticut, it was as incomprehensible to me that a volcano in my spinal column would blow and subsequently push hot lava against what was apparently a main nerve in my leg. I now apologize to all back- hurt-er-ers . All of you who’ve been forced (by me) to listen to my rants about bodily issues have heard their fair share about tight asses (as in hips) but I must now confess that I have sinned against all people who complained to me about disc problems before. I did not hear you. Not the way I hear you all now anyway. Prior to this, I’d never had more than a few days of back pain in my whole fitness life. At first I though my pain was my hip so I went to my hip doctor and he noticed that I had no reflexes on my left leg. He pointed at the door and said get yourself over to MRI and proceed pronto to Dr S. Then it took me 4 days of being on hold for 5 hours each day to get an appointment with Dr. S.So when I finally met the King of (Back) Pain face-to-face he explained my volcano options (none of which are ever great, mind you. Much like an oil spill, with an extruded disc ,the damage is done . The next question was: which way do you prefer to clean this mess up. And yes just like Obama, I will say that this too, was all my fault in a subtle yet profound way neither Obama nor I can fathom, and I possibly could’ve delayed it by not reaching my arm up a few weeks ago, but probably, for both the President and myself, things were out of whack way before things spilled over. So when I found out Dr. S was booked until late July but lucky for me had a last minute cancellation this week I hated to be rude and say no thank you. I think my actual words were “In four days? Okay, if you can’t do it any sooner.”
So the next part is kind of blurry but luckily I had my camera with me. The only guy who was too fast for my lens was Dr S himself.
He was in & out like lightening.He did that Super-Hero Arrival phenomena, where after waiting ions for his arrival, you finally doze off, then SHAZAM! He’s standing at the foot of your bed, shaking your toes and smiling. Time then gets soupy as he speaks in that doctors-only speed which is both incredibly fast/slow as well as incomprehensively melodic and fulsome in it’s amount of content delivered per second..then BAM!! he’s gone. Not just walking down the hallway as his footsteps fade in the corridor. I mean GONE, as in poof. Into thin air. All’s I know is that I was left there smiling, like a stoned Grandma. I like to imagine that he had several disc volcanoes waiting down in the O.R.
and eventually I ended up here in my bed with it all behind me before I could say microdiscectomy.
Anyhoo, Again, I apologize for any miscomunication because maybe you thought I meant I was on my World Fitness Tour when I thought you knew I meant I was having back surgery. It really was an honest mistake. Although the WFT reactions were oh so much more enjoyable than the OMG-YHBS reactions.
What’s next? Well, I’m thrilled to report all leg pain had vanished by the time I woke up in the recovery room. Viola’s feeling better every day too.Now I’ve got some incision pain and two weeks of no BLT (Bending, Lifting, Twisting. Aren’t those HSS booklets clever?) And worse than that, how the heck am I supposed to wash my hair if I can’t bend over and I can’t get my back wet. Readers, please advise. Then if I can get my hair washed, I suppose I’ll make a gradual return to my Workout World, Like I always do. Alas without any tour at all. Unless you count the CVS Pharmacy Tour.
I know you are thinking that this story is just plain nuts. You are not wrong. But I hope you aren’t thinking what Pops has always said to me which is that Exercise is Just Plain Dangerous.
May 14, 2010
I can understand why people watch The Biggest Loser. It’s message is straight-forward and life-affirming, potent and to the point. I’ve heard similar exhortations from the preachers of my tele-evangelical childhood. Jillian’s message is this: Just because you are an overweight, lazy, gluttonish, greedy, over-eating, under-exercising, self-deprecating, under-achieving lollygagger doesn’t mean you are beyond redemption.
Salvation is as easy as surrendering your will, your appetite, large chunks of your day and all of your calories to a higher power (known as a personal trainer) and in this case, signing a release form that says that if you die during the show’s training, it’s your own damn fault.
It occurred to me last week as I watched this show that many of my gym’s members would probably be willing to go through this torturous regime if they could for once in their entire life, get to their fitness goal or in other words, look like they did during the brief window of that 5 minute period as a 19 year old when their belly was flat, their jeans were tight in all the right places and when the body image planets of their fitness universe aligned in a similar occurance as rare as Hailey’s comet.
The problem is that it would probably take a staff similar to The Biggest Loser’s in order to accomplish their goals. Why? Because they are unrealistic. If I ask you to (quick!) shout out the magic number on the bathroom scales that you’d like to weigh if you could snap your fingers and make it happen, what would that number be? And more importantly, is it realistic?
In order to achieve your goals, whether they are weight-loss or lifestyle issues or more general goals, like getting your sh__ together, which by the way is not specific enough either, they must be achievable. Another acronym I like to use is S.M.A.R.T.
Make sure your goals line up with the following:
S-Specific- Be as detailed as you can when setting your goal. Don’t say I want to lose all the weight I gained after my last pregnancy or I hate being a fat pig.Say I want to lose 22 pounds by July 4th, losing two pounds per week.
M-Measurable. You can’t just say you are going to take up jogging. Commit to jogging 3 times a week, doing say, 3 miles in 45 minutes.
A- Accountable- This is where The Biggest Loser scores big points with me. There’s nothing like getting on the scales every week with a TV audience in the millions watching whether you’ve gained weight or not to motivate you with accountability. If you can’t get on the show though, tell a close friend or a spouse about your goals and ask for their daily support. Checking in with someone regularly makes it harder to back slide.
R- Realistic- If you are 5’5″ woman, I hate to break it to you women of Greenwich but 109 lbs may not be achievable. Without starvation that is. Pick a weight that you know you can get to without self-torture or eating disorders.
T-Trackable- Make a chart and put it on the fridge so that you can see your progress. It’s very reinforcing to check those days off when you did something hard (that you didn’t want to do) and also to see how you do over time. Some results are not noticeable unless you can stand back far enough to observe. A chart allows you to zoom out and applaud your discipline.
So make a summer goal now and stick with it using my sure fire SMART technique. I know Jillian would approve
May 7, 2010
I’d like you to read my newsletter today as if it is not coming from some energizer gym bunny who thinks of pull-ups as “fun”, works out for hours every day and has guns for biceps, but rather, as if it is coming from a middle-aged white lady from Connecticut stuck in the 80′s. Which is precisely what I felt like this week after my co-worker (a fellow aging energizer bunny) and I volunteered at the Women’s Fitness Expo last weekend. Let’s just say we (used to)consider ourselves to be in pretty good shape although we do tend to do the exact same workout, day after day, week after week, year in, year out. We arrogantly volunteered to help demonstrate some simple postural movements on a physioball (those huge beach ball thingies) which consisted of sitting on the ball, stretching side to side and maybe doing a few crunches.
Since we are in such “great shape” we were shocked Monday morning to find our muscles pasted to our skeleton which in turn was glued to our beds come Monday morning.
I did make it down the stairs but brushing my teeth was a challenge. What the heck just happened?
Here’s what. If you do the same activity all the time, you develop a very narrow fitness level, meaning that you are fit but just for that particular exercise.
Cross Training is a way to broaden your overall fitness base so that not only do you prevent soreness when you try new activities but you also prevent injuries by not overusing certain muscles, nor underusing muscles that need to stay strong (like the lower back for example) not to mention reducing boredom and burnout.
When exercise teachers come to me saying they want to give up a class, I recommend that, first, they change it up. Maybe they can try teaching a new class format.
New exercises renew your interest as well as keep you healthy.
Cross training is a terrific way to shape up different muscle groups and cultivate a new set of muscular skills.
Cross training also allows you the ability to vary the strain placed on certain muscle groups and also on your cardiovascular system. After doing the same movements over decades, your body becomes very efficient doing those movements.
The same is true mentally. Think the same thoughts over time and eventually you’ve worn a beaten path so well-worn that you cannot think different thoughts without getting a mental jigger.
Doing the same thing over time is perfect if you are a competitive athlete training for a race or event, but this limits your overall conditioning and makes it harder to get broader (smarter) benefits while training.
Your rate of return diminishes as you simply maintain a particular level of fitness.
Cross training will also keep you from tweaking a hamstring or your lower back.
Cross Training doesn’t JUST apply to exercising. It is also important to cross train your brain. One way to do this is by watching new sports.
This year my daughter is running track and who knew running from here to there could be made so exciting just with the addition of a uniform, a few competitors (especially if they have nice hair, which ticks off my daughter just enough to make her run faster-like I said, motivation is a funny thing). Add in a stop watch and a starting pistol and the fun begins.
There are so many sports options nowadays (I’m old enough now to use the word, “nowadays”) that there is no reason why a fifteen year old can’t find something to play that he or she enjoys. Back in the olden days, not only did we not have a track team or lacrosse, we didn’t even have tennis! Back then, we only had lafootball, labaseball and labasketball, in that order of importance.
Being so crippled from such a subtle exercise demo made me feel old in general, but more specifically I started thinking about how, in my 20′s, I used to move sofas up three flights of stairs by myself.
Do I miss those days? Sort of. But when I think back to what it really was like, I have mixed feelings. Which made me feel like making a LIST. So. I did. I call it my
Good Ol Days List-some of which I miss and most of which I do not)
~No internet for one thing. Did you have a set of encyclopedias? Our kids don’t even know what an encyclopedia is. I still remember what our Collier’s encyclopedia set smelled like.
~How about going TO the library and looking something up in a card catalog? A card catalog!!
~Plus there was no email. We had to write letters, which arrived a week later
~There was no Child Protective Services that I knew of. No one cared if our parents beat us. My dad occasionally found that his belt was a cross-training tool. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my neighbors also had permission to kick our asses!
~There was no iTunes.
~ I do remember trying to tape songs off the radio, which never sounded too good. We did eventually get a Country Esquire Station Wagon with an 8-track tape deck
~ Call-Waiting.Our version of call-waiting was where we had to wait to make the call. We had a party line where you picked up the phone and listened to see if some yacky neighbor was using the line. Then you clicked on and off until they took the hint. If you were on the phone and someone tried to call you, they got a busy signal (which I kind of miss).
~There were no cell phones. If we left the house, we had to survive being out of touch. If we needed a ride home from band practice, our mom telepathically showed up. Or we walked home.
~Also, I could’ve used Caller ID. I remember picking up the phone and holding my breath
(“______Hellooo?…)hoping it was my boyfriend although usually it was Aunt Kate or Grandma Love.
~NOT answering was NOT an option. Plus, no answering machine.Nome sayin’?
~We had four TV stations, two of them fuzzy. If I was only missing Lawrence Welk, I could wait until next week (although Sissy and Bobby were quite enjoyable) BUT if I missed Carol Burnett or H.R. Puffinstuff while I was gone, tough luck.
(Jeesh, I’m really off-topic now but let me add a few more to my list in a desperate attempt to make this make sense)
~No remote channel changer. But actually there was usually no more than one good show on at a time, unless you counted Star Trek re-runs.
~And cartoons were just Saturday morning.
~Seat belts? we cut them out.And the only kind of car seat we had was the back seat. I remember my baby brother Darrin in a basket on the back seat floor boards. Everybody hang on! The only safety belt we had was “the arm” across the chest at the last moment if Mom had to stop short.Which was our own darn fault for not hanging on.
Things have improved in this day and age. We’ve gotten smarter and have, at our fingertips, not only more knowledge,
but also more opportunity to use that knowledge.Not only do we have cross training, but we also have ultrasound,
prenatal screening, DNA testing AND the Prius (is that still a good thing?)
Nowadays, we all have more opportunities and every sport is smarter- no coaches banging helmets together or kids running until they toss their cookies-that I’ve seen.
Do you suppose we will look back in another few decades and be embarrassed by our central air conditioning and our big SUV’s and our zigzagging back and forth across town with not a carpool in sight?
Or maybe by our crazy repetitive fitness regimes? Will hanging clothes on the clothesline be the “new” dryer?
All I know is that, hopefully,we learn from our mistakes and that we will be willing to try new things, as well as to stop doing things if they are NOT working,
whether it’s in your workout routine
or how you bag your groceries.
Anyway, this olden days analogy is a long way of saying that change is good and even going back and unchanging changes (like taking up jogging again) is good sometimes.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying YOU NEED TO CROSS TRAIN.