Two-A-Days

I went back to yoga. It’s been awhile. But it is THE NEW YEAR and salads must be eaten and muscles must be stretched and exerted with strangers sharing humidified air. Thems the rules.

You know what I also wish was a rule? That sick people wouldn’t go to the gym. Yesterday, like some sort of Olympian, I attended a competitive spin class and followed that with a power hour of hot vinyasas. In each class the willowy woman near me was… coughing. Phelgm-y bike girl was more discreet, hacking into her hand towel on the up beats. The sweaty downward dogger in front of me just spewed her virulent microbes into the damp studio without compromising her warrior two. This freakishly fit fanatic was never asked to leave, and certainly wasn’t going to let a touch of tuberculosis thwart her hour of half crescent moon twisting. (Yoga is occasionally very Pillsbury.) YOU ARE ALREADY SKINNY SO GO HOME, I scream-thought.

You faithful few still reading this drivel know my love/hate/complain/mock/go back again relationship with exercise. Yesterday, I was fully in the love zone; I’m actually very stretchy and good at yoga. Plus, it will be perpetually dark and freezy here until May, so I appreciate a fire hot room. But then this ponytailed terrorist aerosolized her sputum all over us, and the heavily bearded (why? why? why a beard when you spend all day at 110 degrees?) instructor told us to “relax your eardrums” and I was over the edge into scream-thinking.

But I will not be deterred! I went back to spin class again today and college boy next to me was so genuinely hating it, too, my hope for humanity was renewed. For sure there were still whoo whooing weirdoes racking up more miles than a minivan, but gasping boy next to me (who was killing it nonetheless) was my silent, exercise-begrudging conspirator. Maybe. More likely I was just some invisi-mom on the next bike. But knowing there’s at least one other person immune to endorphins made the never-ending 45 minutes suck less.

How are you getting through these January, work-off-the-cheese days? With a New Year enthusiasm for fitness, I’m continuing this (2 days and counting) habit of two-a-days with a second workout: dismantling the Christmas tree. Fourteen trips up and down stairs lugging boxes and then vacuuming up the godforsaken mess of it all…the way Jesus intended.

Hope all of you are being kind to your minds and bodies in this New Year and remember to RELAX YOUR EARDRUMS.

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A previously underreported source of stress and tension… according to yogis everywhere.

Things I Think While Wearing Lycra

Let’s talk about horrible gym group classes. Are you itching to read another set of paragraphs listing things I think while wearing Lycra? Likely, no. But this little ditty has nothing to do with politics, or even how the minds of (some) boys are filthy, violent sex fantasy containers that can be punctured by narcissism and ooze misogynistic slime. Nah, this is about competitive spin class.

By the end of summer, I had become a bit of a regular at the Dracula Studio of Cycling Nowhere. My ass was tighter. My arms were ropier. I mean, I still hated it and refused to whoo hoo, or turn the knob very far, but I couldn’t argue with its effects. Then September happened. How do you have time to exercise in September? In addition to all of the back-to-school nonsense, Bernie and I needed to binge watch Stranger Things. I chose The Upside Down over Equinox. Here’s why.

Equinox sucks. And it’s not Equinox, exactly. Equinox is pretty and clean and all the right stuff is there. But the problem is… well… there are other people there. And they might be delightful. But at Equinox they seem so fit, or they are exercising so earnestly just watching them makes me feel like an alien on Planet Cardio. Group exercise, I suppose, is meant to motivate us to a higher level. Not for me. I’m not “pushing past the pain” for sweaty strangers. I’m truly not stronger than I think. What is the opposite of endorphins? I get those.

But last week I put a brisket in the oven, settled my boys into homework, squeezed into Lycra, and went to spin class. I arrived early, adjusted my bike, put my hair in a ponytail, and waited for the chipper instructor to solve her IT issues. I wasn’t sure why spin class needed a PowerPoint presentation, but a big white screen was soon replaced with spinning orbs corresponding to our numbered bikes and listing our very names beneath. Britt L. Bike 4. My orb wasn’t nearly as glow-y as the other orbs. You can probably write the rest of this post.

Five “challenges” pitted us against each other or assigned us to fake teams that I helped lose. Exercise is already awful, so to heap real time shame onto the experience was a new low as far as Equinox experiences go. Which is saying something: the first time I went, they told me I was fat. Probably the most annoying aspect of the class was that there was so much “down time” in between these stupid competitions that I didn’t leave with the sweat-soaked certainty that it was worth the trouble.

I really should have hauled ass out of there the minute I realized the instructor was going to make us interact. My only other experience with this was an ill-fated afternoon of yoga. A few years ago, I dropped into a noon class on a whim. I normally took the early power hour with the cute Asian guy, and had never been to this class with this instructor. There were only four of us: two moms trading my-shitty-teenager stories, shirtless Hairy Dad, and me. The skinny yogi arrived, clasped her always grateful for everything on earth hands, and told us what a wonderful opportunity a class of four would be to do Couples Yoga!!!! (Exclamation points represent her puppy dog enthusiasm for this wildly great idea.) Moms with crap kids immediately paired up, leaving me with the bare breasted bro. I will always and forever regret that I let myself be peer pressured into couples hot yoga. And aren’t yogis supposed to be intuitive and able to feel the energy in the room and other ridiculous things associated with their beatific smiles? Well, this skinny bitch was clueless.

The class began with stretching. We sat, straddled, feet touching, and were instructed to clasp hands and pull our partner over the chaste diamond of space between us. Hairy Dad wasn’t very flexible. Pulling with all my might, he hardly entered my personal space. But when it was my turn for assisted stretching, I felt the full power of a man who attends regular yoga classes. Dude was strong. The trouble though, my friends, is that I’m still-do-splits flexible. His forceful yank on my outstretched hands pulled my pelvis into the diamond and my head right into his junk.

“Oh my God oh my God oh my God, sorry sorry sorry,” we both said to each other.

I called Bernie afterwards to report my infidelity. I still recoil physically when I recall that moment I unwittingly dove into a stranger’s crotch—an experience I actually paid for.

Time to find another class. Stories and complaints to follow.

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Vampire Cycling

Last night’s insomnia was sponsored by Moth in the Bedroom, Cousins Who Could Not Catch Moth in the Bedroom, and Necessary Confirmation of Death for Moth in the Bedroom. Coffee will be my best friend today as I help Zealot Sister’s kids shove ten days of accumulated summertime ephemera into too-small suitcases and drive from the Cape to Logan airport. Today is my last day making sure four kids have three squares. Today is my last chance to create memories that will outlast the stretches of time these cousins don’t see each other. Today is my third day of spinning.

I’m at it again: the loathsome exercise I burn more calories complaining about than doing. This is my first experience at one of these boutique cycling torture classes and so far I’ve learned that the price of spinning is directly proportional to the volume of the dance track. It’s also darker than a nightclub. A physically perfect, fast-pedaling lunatic guides us up and down simulated hills, encouraging us to risk certain facial trauma to include arm exercises. I fake my turns on the resistance knob.

“Woo fucking hoo, you crazy batch of minivan moms. You just cycled absolutely no where in Dracula’s exercise studio,” I scream-think as I dismount early, too pooped to stay for the cool down set accompanied by base-heavy Beyoncé orgasm riffs. I’ve seen you Soul Cycle sisters on Facebook all sweat-dreamy and thankful. That’ll never be me. And honestly, I wonder what the hell is in your water bottles. Almost always chipper and annoyingly upbeat, at the 43rd minute of group exercise I hate everyone. Replacing venomous retorts to, “HOW WAS YOUR RIDE?” with normal responses requires the strongest level of verbal Spanx for me.

It’s also possible I’m tired. Graduation season with late night parties, umpteen speeches, and too many Chardonnays was followed by a whirlwind trip to the Poconos for Taiwanese Family Camp. Which is totally a thing. A thing that we did. Bernie was their keynote speaker and somehow managed to give a lecture about Plastic Surgery that included only two sets of boobs and one severed arm. Our kids got to see their Dad at his bow-tied, smartypants best, and then we raced to the Cape where Grandparents were waiting with Zealot Sister’s kids for fireworks. It’s been three squares for dozens of people since then, and the occasional wee hour insect hunt and murder.

After this round trip to Logan, summer really begins for me. Theme: get your own damn sandwich. Also, naps. And let’s be honest, more spinning at Dracula’s Rave. Because all of us should aspire to the physique of these fast pedaling lunatics. Left right left right left right left right.

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But where would a VAMPIRE want to cycle? — B/Spoke studio designers, apparently

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stabbing Myself in the Back… by Steve Safran

I lied.

I said I wasn’t going to write about cancer anymore, but the after-effects have become overwhelming and it’s time to share a little more.

So here it is. My back catches on fire.

Ok, I mean that figuratively, because this “burning back” feeling has a name: neuropathy Neuropathy is common in chemo patients– about one in three get it. Think of it as pins and needles, only the pins are sticking you from the inside and the needles are hot enough to push through steel.

It comes in attacks, and there’s generally no way to know when. I have a few indicators: I’m more prone to neuropathy when I’m hot. Even having hot soup can bring on an attack. I get more attacks when I’m tired. I get it if I’ve been walking. So as long as I don’t move or go to sleep, I’m fine.

Now, I’ve had all sorts of side- and after-effects from chemotherapy and I’m happy to make the trade in exchange for the not-having-cancer bit. However, I’m finding the nerve damage to make for a terrible Catch-22.

Some background: During treatment, cancer docs want you to keep eating. This is to keep the nausea at bay. Also, nearly every local loved one is delivering casseroles, soups, baked goods, and lasagnas. Unfortunately, eating is the last thing you want to do during and after chemo. But they recommend 2,000 – 3,000 daily calories and avoiding an empty stomach. You know that lightheaded, skipped lunch, nauseous feeling when you’ve slogged through a busy day on coffee alone? Imagine that times chemo.

But they say you need to eat. And you can eat anything. Really? 3,000 calories of Ben and Jerry’s? OK, you’re the doctor. So I ate. I ate without joy. I ate in bed. Not good.

Truth: I’m heavy. I’m 5’7” and weigh 230 lbs. Not quite Homer Simpson, but more than the standard, doughy “Dad Bod.” My ideal weight is 150-175 lbs. When I found out I had cancer, I weighed 226 lbs. When I was finally declared cured, I weighed… 227 lbs.

I put on weight while I had cancer.

If I can’t lose weight on cancer, what chance does Weight Watchers have?

So now, with “remission” and NED (no evidence of disease) notations in my medical chart, it’s time to get back into shape. Only– the neuropathy. My energy is low. The cure? Exercise. The bad cholesterol is too high, the good one is too low. The way to reverse that? Exercise. My blood sugar needs to come down. The remedy? You get it.

Except as soon as I start moving, my back, legs, and shoulders start a conflagration suitable for a Fourth of July bonfire. Get your marshmallows on your sticks, kids. Stevie’s on the treadmill.

Oh– did I mention what else helps neuropathy? Exercise.

I’m taking a fibromyalgia medicine they give those poor folks who are in a constant, unrelenting nerve pain that I cannot imagine. I get bouts of the fire needle attacks, but they go away. To feel like this all the time? Insane. I’d rather vote Trump.

I’m going to try swimming: cooler water, less pressure on the joints, less overheating. Maybe it will do some good. My Body Mass Index indicates I’m certainly buoyant enough.

The list of things that happen after cancer is getting long and, unfortunately, interesting. It may be time for a book. Working title: “Cancer: So, You Think The Disease Was Bad…”

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How many calories does hating spin class burn?

How many calories does hating spin class burn?

These are thoughts I have while pedaling pedaling pedaling nowhere. When I’m not at the gym, I am unfailingly nice. I’m a benefit-of-the-doubt, go-ahead-of-me-in-line, let-me-hold-that-for-you kind of gal. But at the gym, my interior dialogue spews from a judge-y, pack-a-day smoker.

“WE COULD ALL JUST STOP AND GO HOME!” I scream/think at all of the already skinny people.

But recently, after sprinting upstairs to fetch a forgotten phone, I clutched my chest in gasping exhaustion and thought maybe I need more than the occasional cardio of reacting to spiders in the car. So I went back to the gym for a barre class.

I used to love the barre class with its slow movements and focus on stretchy leg stuff and balancing. I had forgotten that it’s essentially an hour-long squat, and I spent most of the time tamping down the bile that threatened to hurl out of my shaky legged body.

“AM I THE ONLY ONE ABOUT TO THROW UP?” I scream/think at all of the already toned women.

The next morning, I headed back to the gym for more torture disguised as healthy activity and signed up for cycling to music. Since I could control the resistance on the bike, I could control how terrible it would be, right? I entered the room, adjusted all of the settings, and started pedaling. Slowly. The fit little instructor suggested we “set an intention” for class which, for me, is always the same:

“…don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up…”

The tempo of the music got faster. Apparently, one is supposed to keep up with it. I’m sure the songs varied over the 45 minutes of dyspnea, but all of it felt like pedaling breathlessly and pointlessly to Cotton Eyed Joe. At minute 32, The Who entered the playlist and the effect of nervous, might-puke adrenaline coupled to a classic rock soundtrack gave it the panicky date-rapey vibe of a kegger. Somehow, my cycle-mates were still “getting out of the saddle” and pretending to pedal up invisible hills fueled by their great attitudes and second winds and other whoo-hoo-ness I’ll never, ever know.

The biggest insult of the gym is tackling the giant staircase that descends to the nirvana of the exit door. Clutching the railing with two hands as my unsure, wobbly legs navigate 37 steps to freedom, I remember that I’m paying oodles of dollars for the humiliation of it all. So tomorrow, I’ll swim laps.

See you at the gym, friends. I’m the one scream/thinking the hardest.

The only turns on my resistance knob are fake ones...

How many calories does fake-turning the resistance knob burn?

The Gym: Part II

Hey Britt

I’m emailing you because I was expecting to see you at 10am this morning. Everything ok?

Sure, David. Everything’s A-Ok. It’s been one full week since our little face-to-face fitness assessment wherein I repeated, in person and right away, how much I loathe exercise. You handled it well when I made fun of your blood pressure equipment and other pseudo-medical toys that are supposed to lend some weight your clipboard-requiring fact-finding. And I held my tongue when you told me you were an entrepreneur-ing sort of something, or maybe you already wrote a book, or you’re planning to scale mountains, or whatever crap you youngsters do that sound exhaustingly noble or potentially lucrative and certainly like something I immediately want to poke fun at. We’d probably work well together, you and I. You, you’re wonderful. But, me? I’m sort of a terrible person. Also, lazy.

Oh, sweet dimpled barely-voting-age David, you didn’t flinch at all when I told you I wouldn’t do exercises that test the limits of my bionic parts (using helpful hand gestures to indicate the location of my fake bits). And you didn’t balk at my coffee intake or potato chip addiction, or repetition that I planned to– like never– do any sort of personal training. It was all fine and good to fill out forms and tell you what I eat (chips) and that I swim (but not far) or take barre classes (but not often) and wear a step counting bracelet (that would log more activity strapped to my patio furniture). It was adorable that you believed I only have four drinks a week. And then I showed you how flexy/balancy I am with years and years of gymnastics muscle memory on board, but that I cannot run even close to a mile without lots of gasping complaints and begging to stop.

Would I like to be stronger? Meh, I have a husband to lift the heavies. Increase my endurance? No small animals or children to chase.

Lose weight?

Duh. Everyone does. Everyone on the planet wants to lose weight. But this isn’t why I’m here. The Gym will have zero effect on the scale; losing weight is all on me and what I stuff into or deny my greedy maw. Plus, I don’t really need to lose weight. Well, I’ve almost never thought so… until I met you.

Though I wouldn’t let you assess my vital signs– as you aren’t a medical professional and I don’t like being touched by strangers and maybe, like, 47 other reasons– I relented to standing on the wretched, lying scale and having the bee boopy doo dads calculate the sum total of my fatness. What better way to launch a gym membership than to have Equinox’s Watson tell me I’m sixteen pounds overweight! It was kind that you noted it wasn’t always accurate. And though I did want to, rather immediately, throw up my entire quinoa breakfast, I’m sure that’s not the way you want new members to get skinnier.

Now David, nearly all Americans could stand to lose five pounds. Me? I’ve always assumed I’d be almost unfairly appealing if I lost five pounds. Ten pounds down, and I’m a teenager. Fifteen pounds lighter and people will wonder if my cancer has returned. Probably a very good use of my time would be to station myself in the room with Watson and tell women that the machine is a jackass. I wear a size 4 (most of the time) and the deli guy flirts with me (unfailingly). I can still shimmy into my prom dress and do splits and hold a handstand. The bee boopy doo dad machine can go suck a shoe.

Possibly the worst way to inspire a gal to exercise is to deliver a lethal blow to her self-esteem. Because the only thing that girl wants to do is to submit to a couch-bound, maw-stuffing spree. Instead, I agreed to meet with you again—to show up and see what ridiculous exercises you planned for this girl who can balance and stretch, but not run or spin or jump or lift with any sort of enthusiasm or compliance. Ten o’clock on Friday. Yup. I’ll totally come. What the hell, let’s exercise!

And then I forgot all about it. Forgot about you. Forgot I had sixteen pounds to deny this body that I have always assumed is serviceable, healthy (temporarily), lively, and cute, dammit. So I’m sorry if I messed up your schedule. Though I was actually at the gym this morning, I would have been useless after spinning class torture with Potty Mouth Boy who is certain we could all be going faster (and yet nowhere). I will continue to swim (not far), and spin (occasionally, because it is so incredibly hard and awful it deserves it’s own set of paragraphs), and plié, and do what is necessary to keep this body active and healthy. But I’m not losing sixteen pounds, nor hanging out with anyone who thinks I might need to.

xoxo,

Britt

The only scale I ever trust...

The only scale I ever trust…

 

 

The Gym: Part 1

Hi Britt,

I’m emailing you because I’m a trainer at Equinox in Chestnut Hill and I want to welcome you to the club.

I’m also contacting you to schedule your Equifit fitness assessment that’s included as part of your membership. It’s an hour long session where we review your goals and perform several tests to determine your current fitness level. I can then use this info to create a custom workout plan for you.

With that being said: what are you currently training for?

Reply to this email and let me know, then maybe we can set something up.

Best,

David

 

Hi David!

I’m largely free in the mornings. Except when I’m not. Equinox is lovely– all shiny and new. It would probably be perfect for someone who likes exercise. I, however, loathe it. Dread it. Honestly, if I could be healthy and skinny couch-bound with potato chips, life would be dreamy. But since I’m vain and human, hey… let’s exercise!

My fitness level is 1, or whatever sad sack slug dials in at. Picture a pack-a-day smoker with arthritis. That’s me. Except I look like someone who is totally healthy. I fake fitness with yoga clothes and a high ponytail.

I imagine gym enthusiasts return this email with chipper goals of marathon-running and keep-butt-off-cycle dreams and other nonsense. My goal is seam blow-out prevention. I have a closet full of really pretty little dresses it would be devastating to leave hanging there, ignored by the empty promises of a chubby girl who won’t stop eating Ruffles.

So, let’s spend a morning trying out all of the machines I’ll never use! Or assess my level of slug-ness. Whatever.

Your move, chief.

 

Hey Britt

Thank you for the great email! I think I see where you’re coming from.

Are you free tomorrow at 10am or Thursday at 9am by any chance?

 

Garden club on Wednesday. Bible Study Thursday. This is the Jesus-loving green thumb you’re dealing with. Halloween? I’m free Friday until early afternoon.

 

I can do Halloween at 10am does that work?

 

Yup. Let’s scare the shit outta my cellulite.

Instruments of torture

Instruments of torture