Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Juice Schmuice

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I bailed.

Yep, I’m a weenie. Either that, or acutely wise to the ways of my body, which clearly does not tolerate vegetables, particularly in a most vile liquid form…

I couldn’t last a wimp-ish 12 hours. My gag reflex was failing me. With each 3-hour “meal” of yet more veggie juice it became worse. I knew when I was attempting to ingest what was euphemistically dubbed “gazpacho” juice, which tasted more like swamp mud, I was in trouble. After attempting to infuse more fruit in an earlier batch to mask the inevitable verdancy of my juice, only to realize it only made the concoction more visually murky (even less appetizing to observe), and completely failed to enhance the flavor, I was downright giddy when we stumbled upon the gazpacho recipe. I could handle cold vegetable soup! The main ingredient was tomatoes! My fruity friend of the veggie world!

But ugh, the end result of my tomato, carrot, parsley (2 cups!!!), celery, pepper, and red onion juice surprise was that the joke was on me. As I attempted my first sip, my son standing just two feet from me, I paused, juice settling in my mouth like an unwelcome houseguest that won’t leave. I proactively plugged my nose in an unsuccessful attempt to mask the rank odor. I knew then and there if I didn’t employ an Oscar-worthy effort of mind over matter, I would soon spew the intestinal-discharge-colored liquid all over my wonderful child.

I had to keep it together for the sake of dignity (not to mention common courtesy). But I also knew that I could no longer pretend I’d get used to this. Rather I found vindication in admitting it was getting worse. Instead of drinking veggie juice as part of this collaborative family juice fast, I’d simply not eat rather than attempt any more adventuresome juice combos. After trying five different variations, I felt like I gave it the old college try.

By dinnertime, I was certain a cement truck had rumbled down my gullet and set up a construction project in my stomach, every now and then launching that rolling barrel belly just to remind me of my digestive misery, as if the lump of death piling up in there wasn’t enough of a constant reminder. Constipation has nothing on complete arrestation of forward motility that seemed to plague me. I can only imagine an H-bomb of toxic gases was building up in my stomach, with no solid food to propel whatever I was ingesting through the digestive process. One would have thought liquid-in equalled liquid-out. Clearly it’s a more complex math computation when it comes to veggie juice.

To make matters worse, I fear I can never drink a Bloody Mary the rest of my life, what with it’s V8-like ingredient list being too comparable to the near-spewn gazpacho.

By nightfall, the mere smell of juicing was sending me to another room, the aroma so reminiscent of the flavor I couldn’t bear to inhale it. But with an open floor plan in my house, escape was impossible. Our enthusiastically-commenced compost pile — now a trash can probably weighing about 50 pounds with the spoils of juicing — wafts its putrid contents throughout the kitchen at all hours. About that weighty compost pile: it sure is staggering what fiber weighs! No wonder I’m so heavy! No doubt it’s all that fiber I usually ingest…heh…

I admit to almost being a bit jealous of our dogs’ excitement toward dinner on Saturday night: their meal was probably far more delectable than was mine. You know things suck when dog food sounds good.

And that headache I’d been nursing since midday in the fast? By Saturday night it felt as if The Massey Corporation was fracking for natural gas in my brain.

I admit a flood of relief washed over me when I awoke in the middle of the night and realized I wasn’t doomed to face a 24/7 veggie juice fast the next day (or the subsequent 8 that would have followed). Lame of me, I know. But I was elated. While on the juice fast, everything I was ingesting was earthen, and I discovered how much a fan of earthen flavoring I am not. Beets in juice taste like dirt (which admittedly is at least better than the vomitrocious flavor they impart intact). Greens tasted like, well, pastures. And not in a good way. A lot of veggies simply tasted of compost. Not like I’ve ever eaten compost, but I’ve smelled it, and believe me there is a direct correlation. Veggie juice tastes as if you are munching your way through Tarzan’s jungle. Minus the munching action.

Of course now I’m left with the guilt of failing my daughter. And the disappointment of my family for not hanging in, not to mention the shame of not being able to tough it out for even a full 24 hours.

In deference to those who can tough it out around here, I’m left to sneak around the kitchen at mealtimes like a junky slinking around dark alleys and crack houses in search of the next fix. I gingerly open and close the microwave door so as to not betray my food betrayal, willing the inevitable timer beep to shut the ever living fuck up. I prep food quietly and in solitude. Last night I ate in the butlers pantry (since I have no butler, at least I’m making use of the space). I hang my head in shame (while actually cloaked in a blanket of sheer relief) as I prepare my morning cappuccino.

Concessions? I really wanted to whip up a Sunday morning omelet, and I actually craved the aroma of frying bacon yesterday, but in deference to my family’s sacrifices and my sheer, unadulterated loser status, I couldn’t reward myself with that breakfast prize. Maybe I’ll work my way through the fruit stockpile assembled for juicing — I have a large share of responsibility to the farm’s worth of veggies sitting in my garage; after all it was my idea to undertake this solidarity juice fast in the first place.

The bummer is I’m now finding that fruits I once loved are completely repulsive, instead only harkening back to the flavor of them combined with juiced kale. Blech.

Yeah, I feel like I let everyone down, to a certain extent. But like a friend said to me, “Juicing’s not for everyone.” Indeed, I can attest to that.

I’m reminded of an old Lays potato chip commercial “I tried, but I couldn’t do it”…

Perhaps had it been a potato chip diet I’d have had a fighting chance (with french onion dip, natch).

Let the Juicing Begin…

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Come and get it!

Come and get it!


I will not quit I will not quit I will not quit…

This has become my mantra today, Day One of the Great Reboot, undertaken in solidarity with my daughter, who has had to begin a vegan juice fast for some stomach problems she’s been dealing with.

My daughter is already a vegetarian, so the idea of a straight-up veggie liquid diet ought not to be so foreign to her, though it is. She likes her veggies in a chewable state, thank you, and isn’t thrilled with this whole juicing mandate, which his why our family decided to support her cause by joining along.

Me? Well, I hate vegetables. I was weaned on Froot Loops and it was only downhill from there as far as my nutritional intake from the get-go. I grew up on a steady diet of Fluffernutter sandwiches and Twinkies and processed garbage that tasted not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Sure I ate fruit here and there. Usually in the summer when peaches and plums were in season. But veggies? No way, man.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I gradually incorporated a handful of vegetables into my annual diet repertoire. Yeah, you read that right: annual. Not like veggies are a daily part of my life anyhow. I’m exaggerating a bit — I do consume vegetables, but not often. With the ironic twist that I’m all about the Buy Local food movement, and buy local produce as much as possible. Mostly for my family.

I mean I’ll eat a salad if someone else makes it and it’s super gourmet. And contains things like nuts and dried fruit and goat cheese and artisanal croutons and homemade dressing. Now that’s my kinda salad. And I pick around all of the vegetables in it and mostly eat the add-ons. I’m fine with a veggie platter as long as it’s really fresh and it has a homemade ranch yogurt dip in which to drown said veggies. Throw in the occasional asparagus, maybe a mushroom or two (only if they’re fresh white button mushrooms), perhaps a sugar snap pea (the operative word there being sugar), and well, you’ve got the extent of vegetables I can tolerate. In fact most of the “vegetables” I find palatable are technically fruit, anyhow (tomatoes and peppers, for instance).

So you can imagine me trying to fathom undertaking a vegan juice fast. Might as well insert the true name: starvation diet. Alas, as explained by my daughter’s doctor, you have to keep your grehlin levels on an even keel, which means starvation isn’t an option, because it will defeat the whole idea of a juice fast. So avoiding vegetables as a means of this juice fast is not an option, darn it.

What, you may ask, is the idea behind a juice fast? Um, hell if I know. I’ll get back to you on that one. Okay, I lied. Basically the plan for your average Joe is to detox, get rid of all that crap and sludge that builds up in your system. Cleanse the liver and whatnot (note to self: no need to make matters worse with that liver by overconsuming delicious red wine on the eve of said juice fast. Of course my liver’s still trying to process that bad Advil I popped at 4 a.m…).

In addition, it can give your stomach a rest if you’re having trouble digesting solids. And by juicing you are piling on the nutritional value of plates full of vegetables, with every glass you drink, while enjoying the benefits of micronutrients or some such gobbledy gook I’ve been told. You’d be hard-pressed to ingest the normal way the amount of vegetables that you’ll consume in a juice fast. Check out the obscene volume of produce we had to purchase for four of us to fast — and this is just for the next several days.

our organic veggie juicing stockpile

our organic veggie juicing stockpile

I have a friend who undertook a juice fast last year and became downright evangelical about the benefits of juicing. She’s already one of those age-defying, gravity-defying women who you want to just assume has amazing genes, because most people her age look her age, yet she looks a good five years younger than me and she’s got a decade on me. She’s been a great source of encouragement and a wonderful resource for information. Shame she can’t also just drink my juices for me, since she loves them and I, well, I just don’t.

Which brings me to my first encounter with juicing today. Until now I have used one of those old-fashioned juice presses to squeeze delicious blood-orange juice, which I incorporate into my morning smoothie. That smoothie I thought was so healthy for me, what with mounds of berries and greek yogurt (all that protein!) and protein powder to boot. With fresh-squeezed blood orange juice. But evidently that’s nothing on plunking an orange, skin and all, into the juicer and consuming what comes out. Unfortunately mixed with all sorts of less-desirable greenery.

Juice!

Juice!


So breakfast today consisted of a bunch of kale (that’s about 14 leaves), a half head of romaine lettuce, a host of carrots (probably about 8), a cucumber, a lemon, and about 1/2-inch piece of ginger root. I will tell you never once in my life has kale (or any other healthy green, for that matter) passed my lips. I’ve probably eaten about 10 carrots in my whole life, and hated each bite. Cukes? I can deal with them in small quantities in salads. I mean they’re practically tasteless. I do love them in tzatsiki dip, if that counts (which is primarily simply a vehicle for the pita bread, which is what I really want). It was fun watching all those veggies transform into a bright green juice. It was not fun putting that juice to my mouth and knowing it had to go in. And down. While ensuring no return visit.

(Click here to see how that first glass went down)

I tried the first sip cold turkey. It was not delightful. I even put it in a martini glass to make it more festive. The thing is I couldn’t fool myself. It was green juice. I felt like I was on a goat diet. And I don’t mean a diet of eating goats but rather a diet of eating what goats eat. Actually goats probably have it better because they’ll eat the occasional shoe. Plugging my nose helped somewhat but there is always still that moment when you can’t run from the flavor a minute longer. And that’s the moment when you have to gulp and gulp fast, just get it down there, away from the taste buds, and have it start doing it’s thing.

As far as it’s thing? I’m not convinced of that yet.

“Your skin will look great!” Said the doctor (and others have corroborated this allegation).

“You’ll feel so energetic!” Says my friend. She is awfully energetic. I still chalk it up to genetics for her.

“You’ll lose weight!” Claims Joe What’s-His-Name, creator of the inspirational documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (more about that in a minute).

Right now I have a headache drilling through the center of my skull. My stomach is growling like an angry wildcat. I feel weak and woozy and just screamed at the dog for barking. I’m that surly that I can’t even let the poor dog do what a poor dog does. Ten days from now looks like eternity as I face the prospect of what the hell I can juice without dry heaving?

For me, food is such an integral part of daily life: the shopping, the preparation, the meal, the conversation, the communality that comes with it, the whole thing. So to have fueling one’s body being boiled down to its essence: i.e. stuffing a slew (and I do mean a slew) of veggies down the throat of a juicer and throwing back the end result as quickly as possibly just to get it over with, well, it sort of takes a bit of fun out of the day.

To make matters worse, already I find myself hand-washing dishes out the wazoo: bowls and cups and strainers and knives and cutting boards and all the receptacles that go into the production of a measly bucket of juice have to be re-used frequently all day long, especially when there are four of us juicing. My daughter who is away at college is grateful she’s off-the-hook for this one, happily ingesting dorm food (oxymoron, I know). “Well, looks like I’m not coming home till you’re done with this!” She said. You go right ahead and enjoy that dorm food. Which is going to start sound downright tasty before I know it. Grrrr.

My teeth are lonely and bored. They’re waiting for their chance to get to work. And they’re not gonna get it for a good long while. I wonder if bubble gum counts in a juice fast?

I swear to God my burps taste like meadows. My friend said, “Let’s hope you don’t leave behind meadow muffins!” I second that. I can’t fathom ingesting enough calories this way for that to be a worry.

My juicing daughter says she now has more empathy for her rabbit–though at least he gets to eat things whole!

So far I’ve done two rounds of juice — which translates into about a whopping 16 ounces and it’s nearing 2 o’clock. I tried to make the second juice more user-friendly (i.e. upped the ante, fruit-wise). You can’t get too aggressive with fruit, or you’ll end up with a sugar high and a sugar crash, and insulin levels off the charts. There’s clearly a fine line in introducing sugars (via fruits) to cut the edge off the green. I’ll be working on that. My second juice consisted of: a stick of pineapple, a blood orange, a handful of kale, a half head of romaine lettuce, 6 carrots, a cucumber, an inch of ginger (too much!), some watercress, some mint, and the kitchen sink (well, practically). The ratio is supposed to be 25% fruit to 75% veg. My daughter and I object and wish to reverse that, though clearly we don’t get a vote in the matter. That said, fruit in the juicer isn’t like fruit juice: once you throw it in there with the rind and all, well, it just doesn’t taste spectacular. Or maybe it’s the added kale juice that’s the killjoy.

The irony is my husband and my son, neither of whom needs a juice fast, are totally loving it. My daughter and I, the food lovers in the group, are muscling through, like it or not. For her, it’s not an option: she has to in order to maintain enough nutrition to not need medical intervention. For me, I have to, primarily to have her back while she’s suffering through this process. Though I admit I could definitely use the weight-loss that sure as hell better happen in great volumes from this thing. I’ve admittedly been in food hangover mode from a 3-month long food bender thanks to extensive traveling and celebrating a landmark birthday, with holidays to top it off.

For my third juice of the day (and I’m at half as much consumed as I’m supposed to be — I’ve only had 24 ounces and should be double that), I came a bit too close to puking it all back up. My daughter cackled at me.

She shouted up to my son, “Did you hear that?”

“The retching?” he asked.

Clearly sound travels. Glad we’re all getting a laugh at my expense.

“Think of barium, Mom,” my daughter said, cheering me on with glass #3.

This in reference to the hideous chalky liquid one has to ingest by the gallon when having an Upper GI done. Swallowing barium is an unpleasant experience, to say the least. And it ranks a close second to this juice fast so far.

Even the dogs are averse to this thing. When my daughter dipped her finger in and gave it to the dog to lick, she backed away with a shudder. So clearly even dog food is preferable to this stuff to some of us…

My evangelizing juicing friend had told about the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. About a very wealthy (and personable) Australian man who’d lived it up a bit much and was paying the price for it with a huge gut and autoimmune problems for which he was on permanent steroids. He decided to fly to the States and cross the country while on a 60-day juice fast, recording his experience while enlisting people along the way. When my daughters doctor also referred to it, I was more curious to watch it.

I’d contemplated joining her on her mandatory fast, though there was that niggling problem of hating veggies. It was kind of like I really want to run a marathon, but my bum knee won’t ever allow it. So I can’t control the marathon dilemma, but dammit, I could control the vegetable aversion. I think. I thought. I don’t know.

But once in on this thing (and with a vast stockpile of vegetables we have to plow through), I’m in on it for the long-haul. I just wish the long-haul could be a bit more pleasant….

In the big picture, I have to stay in it to provide moral support for my girl. That is what will force my hand, when the taste of this stuff gets me down.

A doctor on the documentary said “It’s about retraining your tastebuds.” But I’m wondering if they’ll simply become deadened to their misery. Hard to say. I’m seeking out recipes on their Reboot website, hoping I’ll hit upon something that is my jackpot juice. In the meantime, my face is really itchy. Could I be — horror of horrors — allergic to vegetables? Maybe it’s been my body’s way of avoiding them all these years, by making me hate them.

I’ll keep you posted.

 
Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

Where the Heart Is

Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)

Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I’m a contributor)

And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions

The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F’s Rhymes with Duck

Naked Man On Main Street

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Oh to Be a Gym Bunny Again (wait, I never was one!)

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

sadly, this rat looks cuter than I do at the gym

sadly, this rat looks cuter than I do at the gym

I’ve become a gym rat, which is a good thing. I say gym rat, not bunny, because there is a serious distinction between the two, and sadly, I’ve aged out of the gym bunny phase. Not that I ever was one, mind you. Somewhere along the line I missed that stage, darn it. Gym bunnies are those gorgeous, svelte young women who turn heads at the gym even when they haven’t showered and are drenched in sweat. The only head I turn these days at the gym is my own, in an attempt to get my nose far, far away from the smell that is the very byproduct of gym-going. But that’s okay, I’ve resigned myself to my rat status. It’s better than not being a gym creature of any sort (i.e. sofa sloth), a status I had adopted by neglect for a good while there. So it feels good to be back at the gym, even with the assignation of some disease-bearing rodent.
she is a rodent, isn't she?!

she is a rodent, isn't she?!


Although being middle-aged at the gym does present its levels of shame, no doubt about it. Take for instance the day I was in an abs class. The gym bunny instructor was blasting music while we strengthened our core (or attempted to, in my case) and I recognized the song from long, long ago (back when I should have been able to enjoy the benefits of being a gym bunny, only gyms weren’t so common back then, even though I still wasn’t bunny material, regardless).

“Now most of you are too young to recognize this,” I said, a hint of joviality to my voice. “But this is the intro music to the Jane Fonda Workout Record.”

Yes, I did say record in that sentence. As in record album, circa two thousand years ago. (As an aside, my son has found it to be very hip-retro to have purchased a record player and now stockpiles cheesy old LPs just because he can occasionally find them at antique stores. Argh, who ever thought one day articles from my era would be considered antiques?! I feel like Martha Washington.)

I looked around the gym, hoping to see a face of solidarity (the kind with telltale crow’s feet). Someone, but someone, who would a) know who Jane Fonda is, and b) fondly recall Jane in her soothing post-Vietnam protest voice reminding us to “feel the burn” while the Jackson Family crooned “Can you feel it?”

Instead, here’s what I heard in a squeal from the instructor: “Oh, I think my mother had that album!”

Shoot me now. But at least she didn’t say her grandma had it. Thank heavens for tender mercies.

The gym offers up so much delusional potential. It hooks you on the fantasy of the you-that-will-likely-never-be. Shy of a hollow-leg budget allowing for endless personal trainers, maybe (and one rife with plastic surgery and liposuction to boot). It’s sort of like Hollywood, luring us in with the fake reality of it all. But we buy into it, hook, line and sinker. Yes, I can look like a gym bunny, if only I try, we tell ourselves. If only I go to every class and succumb to the unspoken peer pressure that is a given, like it or not.

Take for instance Nia. Now, if you take away all of the encumbrances of pride and self-respect, Nia is a really fun class. You flail about in a la-la state, getting a surprisingly good workout, all things considered. The instructor is all flow and grace and wears funky clothes that look amazing on her and you project yourself onto her image, foolishly thinking you too look as sleek flitting about the ballet floor. Until you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize that in fact you look like the dancing hippos from Fantasia, and that oversized t-shirt ain’t doing you any favors in the style department. What we sacrifice in dignity for a good workout. But trust me, Nia and it’s contemporary cousin, the hip-happenin’ Zumba, these classes are for gym bunnies, not the rhythm- and physique-impaired like moi.

The peer-pressure factor is hard to resist at gyms. It is subtle, and usually self-imposed. It comes in a few forms: the “I’m not too old to do this” form—always a killer. Or the “if she can do it so can I” method. Natch. What happens with the self-imposed peer-pressure is you kill your gym fantasy with a career-ending injury, like, say, a torn meniscus, that makes it nigh impossible to work out without public tears, something you should never, ever reveal at the gym. Crying betrays your wimp factor and even if you’re near-dying, even if you have to take the elevator after your workout, your knee hurts so badly, you cannot cry.

The moral to the story (at least for me) is you leave the class when the kickboxing music is speeded up to high-on-crystal-meth level, so fast that injuries are inevitable. And when you see the yoga class is called Flying Dragon, you turn the other direction and fly away from it. So what that technically you can do it? Doing it and surviving it are two different things altogether. Repeat after me: anything with the words “flying” and “dragon” in it involving exercise are not for the faint of heart (or failing of physique).

Yeah, I’ll remember that for next time I find myself jonesing to be a gym rat. And remind myself that I’ll never be a gym bunny, so don’t even think I can act like one. Can you feel it?

Relax Your What?!

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Sometimes I’m startled that I am as old as I am. Because despite the maturity that comes with age, I can’t help but occasionally revert back to juvenile middle-school behavior that I’d thought I’d outgrown.

In my attempt to be mature and worldly, I enrolled a few years ago in my first yoga class. I needed to learn how to chill out a little bit, and figured being in touch with my inner Zen would help to center my balance, achieve yin-yang, and maybe I’d get a little feng-shui thrown in for good measure.

It was great. First class, I learned my sun salutation, stretched limbs so tight from lack of use that they deserved to snap like tree branches. My instructor, a former type-A New Yorker-turned-Yogaville devotee whose chosen Yoga name, Suraya, more closely resembled that of an Indian guru than someone from the Bronx, was very serene. His soothing voice tranquilized even the tensest of class members: me. In his calm coaxing tone, he encouraged us to rid our minds of any pollutants, to focus on our center, and be at peace within. Fine, I was on the same page at this point. I’d really started feeling that I could change, become a woman unfettered by the stresses of life.

The final fifteen minutes of class were devoted to complete relaxation. Cool, I thought. That is right up my Type-A alley. We all lay on the floor, eyes closed, focused on our own inner universe. The mesmerizing music on the boom box washed over me as Suraya talked us through letting go of whatever tensions remained. He began with the toes, worked his way up ever so gradually to calves, knees, thighs.

And then came the clincher.

“Relax your anal sphincter,” he said, as serious as an executioner, not even remotely cracking a smile.

What? That’s impossible. First of all, It defies the laws of nature. And secondly, even if we could, just think how nasty that would be! We can’t do that, I thought. Like a naughty kindergartener whose head is supposed to be face down on the desk during naptime, I snuck glances all around me. No one but me thought that was the funniest line ever uttered.

I could feel my laughter erupting, and from my unrelaxed belly it rose. I tried desperately to suppress it, but it was of no use. I cackled so loudly that the entire class opened their once-relaxed eyelids and glared directly at me. Even Suraya looked a bit uptight.

As the class drew to a close, the peaceful silence destroyed, I slunk from the room, somewhat embarrassed at my level of immaturity. But I actually felt more relaxed, having belted out a good chuckle.

Yes, I realize I have gone from middle school to middle age, but isn’t it nice to know that you don’t always have to totally grow up?

I read recently about a new yoga craze: hot nude yoga. Please, dear Lord, let’s hope Suraya’s not teaching that one.

This Little Piggy…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Yup, that's me...

Yup, that

Have you noticed the trend these days to seize upon the January price markdowns to acquire those gifts that somehow failed to show up under the tree on Christmas morning? I know I’ve contemplated it a bit….Kids, too, aren’t immune to this desire—often lobbying for that one little thing that they didn’t receive, even if they got most all they’d wished for.

This year that item is Wii Fit, which didn’t Fit into our holiday budget. All in my family got plenty of lovely gifts, though, so Wii Fit would have to wait for the coffers to be replenished.

At least that’s what I thought until, on the day after Christmas, we visited my brother-in-law’s house and my teens became captivated by their game. Normally, kids being fixated on a video game is reason enough not to purchase it. Who wants their children to be perpetually tuned out, clamoring for the controllers, spending all waking hours in pursuit of mindless video game obsession? But Wii Fit actually has a purpose: to eliminate the sedentary nature of gaming, at least to some degree.

And this piqued my interest: if it could motivate kids to work out, might it also impel slacker middle-aged moms bored with their normal exercise routine to get off their butts and exercise more? So I struck a deal with my kids: since everyone wanted it so badly, we’d split the cost and get one as a post-holiday motivator. Which seemed like a great idea, until my sister-in-law Martha exposed the ugly truth about the game: the game platform—the Wii balance board—is actually a scale. As in: the thing that I’ve been hiding in my closet for years with the notion that out of sight is out of mind and thus can’t be true. Denial thy name is Jenny.

Martha went on to tell me that not only does the balance board accurately and undeniably determine your weight (probably more so than the precise scales they use to glean poundage of each item loaded onto the Space Shuttle), but the higher your BMI (body mass index), the fatter you Wii “Mii” icon gets. Seriously. So to add insult to injury, you have a Tubby Tessa avatar staring back at you from the television screen. Can we get more humiliated? It’s like a chase-me-beat-me workout. Or maybe that hairbrush spanking for getting a D in handwriting in second grade (not that that ever happened, mind you). To me, exercise really should not be mortifying, it should be gratifying. And a public flogging was not what I signed up for.

note skinny kid, wider mother...

note skinny kid, wider mother...

So my grand plans to get on board the Wii Fit train were immediately keboshed. Yet I’d already committed to spending my own cash to help buy the damned thing, which has led to all sorts of scheming on my part to circumvent this unpleasant, uh, shall we say, side effect of the game.

Fortunately necessity is still the mother of invention, especially when it comes to truths about which we choose to remain blissfully ignorant (despite those rotten harbingers of reality that are unavoidable, such as tight jeans). And I’ve got a plan: I’m going to make one of my kids (or perhaps one of my dogs) mount the board in my stead each time I use the game in order to get set up with the dreaded “body test,” and then I will simply ignore the taunting evidence: Wii Fit telling me I’ve got the fitness stamina of a great-grandmother, for instance. I’ll just do my thing, flap my arms, hula my hips, or whatever other silly games they have that will make me actually move, and not worry about the true number of calories burned or exact fitness level.

I felt a reprieve from the guilt when I saw on Twitter a number of other women whose children had gotten Wii Fit for Christmas also trying to figure out how to outwit the scale dilemma. Clearly when evolving Wii Fit Plus into Wii Fit Plus Plus, the Nintendo engineers should consider the vanity of women world-wide and provide a way to turn off the scale temporarily, or at least, as we all do with the elliptical machine at the gym, simply lie and enter in 120 pounds when asked our weight.

Does this diminish the point to the game? Well, sort of. But can it enable me to remain cloaked in ignorance and retain some faux dignity where I so choose? You bet.

Wii Fit? No way! Wii Fat is more like it, at least if the public weigh-in is the only “weigh” to go. And in that case, this little piggy might just go wii wii wii all the way back to the gym, where I can easily lie about my weight when the exercise equipment demands an answer.

Stress Yoga, Anyone?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

This is SO not me LOL

This is SO not me LOL

I’ve always loved to exercise, though unfortunately my lifestyle has not lent itself to nearly the level I once enjoyed, nor the amount I now require, for that matter.

One of the activities I have found most gratifying both physically and mentally is yoga. So much so that for a couple of years I practiced yoga daily. And it was then that I was probably my most chill, as I conditioned my mind to find a quiet center, and so many little life annoyances—traffic, obnoxious people, an out-of-control life–just stopped bothering me.

But as my schedule somehow grew more demanding, yoga became one more added stress in my life—a have-to that I felt guilty if I missed, but anxious if I attended, knowing as I did I was failing to perform some other mandate in its stead.

So while yoga at first presented itself as downright medicinal, it became, well, I don’t want to say toxic, but it became contraindicated. I know, I have people in Yogaville right now wanting to injure me upon reading my suggestion that yoga is anything but peaceful, except that it’s so un-yoga-like to want to injure someone. What I mean by that statement is that yoga became part of my stress. But it wasn’t yoga’s fault! It was all my doing; I was simply incapable of letting yoga do what it was supposed to do: relax me. Instead, my yoga practice became a practice in managing high blood pressure, because the longer I was at yoga, the more I was internally freaking out about what I had to do but wasn’t doing because I was doing what I wanted to do which wasn’t what I should be doing because I needed to be doing other things. Yoga=Peace became Yoga=Internal Strife.

Finally I had to bid farewell to yoga, much to my chagrin. Which of course has caused more stress, which, I know, would be ameliorated by just practicing yoga. But I’m trapped in a Type-A-need-to-earn-money-to-send-my-kids-to-college-and-god-forbid-dream-of-retiring-some-day-without-having-to-hand-out-smiley-face-stickers-at-WalMart-till-I-keel-over vicious cycle, the tail wagging the dog and the dog eating the cat (or in my case, the parrot) and who knows what else.

But I think I have a solution to my quandary that will enable me to return to my practice without feeling one iota of anxiety: Stress yoga! I want to become the Doyenne of Stress Yoga. I will be to yoga what Jane Fonda is to aerobics. Or what the Hamburglar is to McDonalds. You decide.

Now hear me out. For years Hollywood has masterfully hybridized something good-for-you with something usually ludicrous, just to test the limits. In the lingo of L.A., they’ve taken exercise and made it High Concept. For the uninitiated, High Concept is flipping something on its head to make you say “Huh!” Like blending Jane Austen with zombies in a novel (bet you never thought you’d read that one, did you?).

Some of the quirkier Hollywood workout trends? Paddle surfing (canoeing and surfing). Budokon (a fusion of yoga, martial arts and meditation). The Katana sword workout (à la Kill Bill, only with foam swords). Hoopnastics (hula hoop, yoga, ballet and pilates). Boogie Box (hip-hop and kickboxing). Piloxing (pilates and boxing). Or how about Bollylates (Bollywood dancing with Pilates). (I confess, I just made that last one up, but it probably will be a fad soon enough). But Naked Yoga is indeed a reality that could only be gotten away with in Hollywood—with any lesser physiques in attendance, the entire class would have to be conducted blindfolded. Although I would argue that seeing Nicholas Cage engaged in naked yoga is enough to make me run the other direction.

picturing what lies beneath this caped crusader doing yoga scares me

picturing what lies beneath this caped crusader doing yoga scares me

And in a cruel reversal of the trend, someone is making a killing on a new L.A. fitness craze called Celebrity Jogging, which doesn’t involve celebrities jogging, but rather everyday schlubs running from hotspot to hotspot, cameras at the ready, trying to spot celebrities while elevating their heart rates. They should call that the Stalking Workout.

Hollywood types are known for launching all sorts of trends in the name of health and fitness (or at least thinness)—the latest being weeks-long cleanses in which you ingest only a concoction of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Or vinegar, if you really want to be wild. By comparison my workout will be downright healthful. Besides, you’ve already heard of Power Yoga, right? I’m just taking it one step further.

Stress Yoga might well be my salvation, since I can readily market it to an ever-busier population that just might have no choice but to multi-task being extremely stressed while being centered and ultra-chill. All I need to do is market this class (which is, if nothing else, slightly ironic) to the right people and I’m guaranteed if the power-workout fiends in Los Angeles take to it (and who wouldn’t? Those folks have to be as stressed as they come) I am bound to strike it rich. And if I become rich, then I’ll have time on my hands and voila, I’ll be able to return to yoga, stress-free.

Hey, at least it’s not Naked Hula-Hoop-Swordplay-Hip-Hop-Kickboxing Pilates, right?

Relax Your What?!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Ommmmmm....

Ommmmmm....

Sometimes I’m startled that I am as old as I am. Because despite the maturity that comes with age, I can’t help but occasionally revert back to juvenile middle-school behavior that I’d thought I’d outgrown.

In my attempt to be mature and worldly, I enrolled several years ago in my first yoga class. I needed to learn how to chill out a little bit, and figured being in touch with my inner Zen would help to center my balance, achieve yin-yang, and maybe I’d get a little feng-shui thrown in for good measure.

It was great. First class, I learned my sun salutation, stretched limbs so tight from lack of use that they deserved to snap like tree branches. My teacher, a former type-A New Yorker-turned-Yogaville devotee whose chosen Yoga name, Suraya, more closely resembled that of an Indian guru than someone from the Bronx, was very serene. His soothing voice tranquilized even the tensest of class members: me. In his calm coaxing tone, he encouraged us to rid our minds of any pollutants, to focus on our center, and be at peace within. Fine, I was on the same page at this point. I’d really started feeling that I could change, become a woman unfettered by the stresses of life.

The final fifteen minutes of class were devoted to complete relaxation. Cool, I thought. That is right up my Type-A alley. We all lay on the floor, eyes closed, focused on our own inner universe. The mesmerizing music on the boom box washed over me as Suraya talked us through letting go of whatever tensions remained. He began with the toes, worked his way up ever so gradually to calves, knees, thighs.

And then came the clincher.

“Relax your anal sphincter,” he said, as serious as an executioner, not even remotely cracking a smile.

What? That’s impossible. First of all, It defies the laws of nature. And secondly, even if we could, just think how nasty that would be! We can’t do that, I thought. Like a naughty kindergartener whose head is supposed to be face down on the desk during naptime, I snuck glances all around me. No one but me thought that was the funniest line ever uttered.

I could feel my laughter erupting, and from my unrelaxed belly it rose. I tried desperately to suppress it, but it was of no use. I cackled so loudly that the entire class opened their once-relaxed eyelids and glared directly at me. Even Suraya looked a bit uptight.

As the class drew to a close, the peaceful silence destroyed, I slunk from the room, somewhat embarrassed at my level of immaturity. But I actually felt more relaxed, having belted out a good belly laugh.

Yes, I realize I have gone from middle school to middle age, but isn’t it nice to know that you don’t always have to totally grow up?

Less than five months till Winging It wings into bookstores!

Less than five months till Winging It wings into bookstores!