Monday, July 28, 2008

Priscilla, Queen of the Pretzels

I was hit and miss with our exercise DVD challenge last week. I slacked off on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday I did half of my NYC Ballet Workout DVD  (30 minutes) with my 9-year-old daughter, who giggled more than she exercised. Why did I only do half of the DVD? 'Cause it's hard, that's why. (I didn't say it was a good reason...)
On Saturday, I ventured yet again into the world of budget public television exercise programs. This time I joined Priscilla Patrick for some Hatha yoga. As I began the 15 minute program, I breathed a sigh (a deep, cleansing sigh) of relief when I saw that Priscilla was an older lady. "Oh good," I thought, "This is going to be mellow and easy--just what I need." 
Priscilla's lean, strong physique (which a much younger woman would be proud to have) should have been my first clue that she was not going to go easy on me. 
This was hard enough:

I'm flexible enough for this pose, but I have rather more belly fat than I've ever had before and this pose caused all kinds of pinchy belly fat pain, not to mention my diaphragm was squashed, thus making breathing an impossibility. Priscilla, bless her, seemed to have none of these problems. 

Things got a little more manageable for a few minutes, then for the grand finale, we did this:
(And by "we," I mean, Priscilla did this, and I watched.)

Priscilla is awesome. I bow (gingerly) to her elderly bendiness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Can Call Me Al

"What on earth does Al Gore have to do with weight loss?" I can hear the question ringing out from the, uh, what? 4 of you that read this? It's a question for the ages, really. Well, besides the Blessed Internet that dear Al invented for us, thereby enabling us to cram the blogospheres full-to-busting with the virtual sound of our own voices, I'll tell you what he has to do with this.

Waiting with bated breath, aren't you? I had a roommate in college with whom I had the long-running joke of spelling that "baited" breath and then we would talk about having worms in our mouths. It's truly a wonder we didn't go into comedy; we clearly had the chops for it.

But I digress.

I was thinking of ol' Al up there tonight while I was dvdin' it up at almost midnight tonight. Almost midnight because I put it off all day long, that's why. I thought about just skipping it, but I sorta have a streak going, and I didn't want to break that. Plus, I really do need the exercise. I thought about just counting the marathon mopping I did tonight--45 minutes, moving as fast as I could; that is how big my entirely-covered-in-wood-and/or-tile-floors-apartment is (not complaining about the size; complaining about the flooring choices)--and how I was breathing hard and dripping sweat during most of it. But I finally decided that tonight could just be an It's Better Than Nothing night, and I turned on the TV and popped in the DVD of choice, one of the shortest I own.

I promise I'm getting to my point.

I'm not promising that it's a very good point. It's after midnight here, what do you want?

I did the Winsor Pilates upper body workout that Holly told you about yesterday. Earlier today? These different time zones have me so messed up. Regardless (my dh and I like to say that "irregardless" to each other because we think it's funny, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making me really have to concentrate when I say it to anyone who's not my dh or maybe Holly so that they don't think I really say it like that), all I could hear during my entire workout was the way tiny little Marie Winsor says "albow albow albow." Now, I've done this workout before, and I've noticed the pronunciational (besides intentionally saying words wrong, I also enjoy making words up)(or making up words, if you're Holly's dad and/or concerned about split infinitives)(you may roll your eyes here, but you've never had your grammar corrected by him, so I'll thank you to keep your judgments to yourself)(unless you're Holly, in which case you've totally been corrected by him, so judge away, baby) oddity, but tonight that was all I heard, and by the end of the tape (I know it wasn't a tape, but that's what folks my age call it; we're old, out of it, and proud of it) I had Paul Simon's song--referenced in the title of this post--in my head. Please never make me diagram that sentence. Also, I used the word "Holly" close to 700 times in that paragraph.

Told you it wasn't a very good point.

But the moral of the story is clear: proper pronunciation is a virtue. Pass it on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Wow. That was exhausting. Then again, I'm easily exhausted. I alternate housework with napping. Dishes, nap, fold laundry, nap, organize the rubber band drawer, nap. Etc.
So Sara...

Oh no! They're wearing ACID WASHED JEANS (I'm watching So You Think You Can Dance). Acid washed jeans are an abomination and if they reappear in the teen fashion vocabulary...bye bye all that is decent and good.

What was I talking about? DVDs. Exercise DVDs, to be precise, and Sara's evil plan to make me do things that are good for me. So maybe she's not quite up with the Donald Trump level of tyranny (yet), but she seems to be honing her skills. Lucky me!

Nigel Lythgoe just said, "You DO have the biggest bum in the competition." If I had a nickel for every time a reality TV judge has said that to me...
He was talking to a guy, thank goodness (I guess).

Back to the DVDs.

We were supposed to start our exercise-DVD-a-day-every-day-except-Sunday-until-the-end-of-August goal this past Saturday. Sara has been on target every day. I kind of managed to forget to start until Monday.

Monday: I did Winsor Pilates Buns and Thighs workout. I whined and whimpered the whole time, but I worked all my buns and thighs. Mari Winsor, creator of the famous Winsor Pilates workout video empire is a wee bit scary and elvin (elfish?) and she says "albow" for "elbow." It kind of makes me cringe. Fortunately, there were no instances of the dreaded albow during the Buns and Thighs DVD.

Tuesday: I did this random low-budget stretching exercise program I TiVOed off a bottom-of-the-barrel PBS-that's-not-PBS channel. It's called Classical Stretch: the Esmonde Method. It's a series. A poorly produced series. However, the instructor seemed to know what she was doing. I was not aware before I started that this particular episode was designed for chronic back pain sufferers. I am not in the chronic back pain club (though I hear they throw great parties [just don't ask them to help you move]), but I joined in the fun anyway and got a decent stretch out of the 30 minutes.
My favorite part: the instructor stumbled a little and said, "Pardon me. I sprained my ankle last week--I was rushing to get an eclair off the buffet table and I tripped." No kidding!

Wednesday: Um. It's 12:18pm and I've been blogging for the past hour. I'm not going to do a DVD tonight. Yeah, yeah--boo and hiss all you want. I will accept your derision gracefully and possibly get my act together tomorrow.

So far this week, I've done a whole 50 minutes of formal exercise! That's 50 more minutes than I've done in the past...oh...2 months. No joke.
Hard to believe I was working out six times/week a few years ago.

Another Day, Another DVD

For some reason today, it was really hard to make myself exercise. Well, I guess that reason has something to do with the fact that exercise is hard, and I don't really like hard things. But other than that, I have no idea why it was hard. I frittered away my morning and the next thing I knew it was getting close to time for our family to go meet some friends at the pool. But I knew that if I didn't exercise before we went, it just wouldn't happen. So I found my shortest cardio workout and did that. I still had to send the fam on without me, but I joined them shortly thereafter. Honestly, it was this challenge that was the only thing that made me do it today. I can't exactly get all "Crazy King George" on Holly and then poop out on my end, now can I?

I saw a quotation today that I really like. "Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit." --Vince Lombardi

That has been my M.O. for a lot of things my entire life--do it until it gets "too hard" and then find a good enough reason to quit. This is especially true with exercise and diet plans. I'm not going to get all "This time is different" because I don't know if that's true. But I do feel good about where I am and how I'm doing. I need to put some more work into my food, but I'm feeling things coming together in my brain and in my life that gives me hope that I can make some positive change.

Of course, this also calls to mind another quotation I'm rather fond of. Of which I am rather fond, I mean. Never know where Holly's dad and his grammar lessons may be lurking. It can be found here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Things I Do

Behold the trials I endure in order to exercise:

You want a tyrant? Check out the giant toddler who thinks the TV is only for his personal use for viewing The Little Einsteins. (Though you should know that I'm only indulging him because we are still waiting for our household goods to get here, and the boy has little-to-no toys.) Yes, that is a toy cat in between his toes. He's a kooky tyrant.
These are what I have to use as handweights. They are also useful for hydrating post-workout (if I did it during then I'd throw off the balance, see).
So because the TV is dominated by children's programming, I have to drag this big ol' transformer (seriously, the things weighs probably 20 pounds) into my room so that I can plug in...
...the portable DVD player so that I can workout to a little Tamilee Webb in my bedroom. I did one session of I Want Those Arms and one of I Want Those Abs. I'm quite certain that things like lifting feathers or inhaling are going to be quite impossible tomorrow.
And this has nothing to do with anything; I just think it's cool. This is where I was tonight:
Yeah, that's the sunset on the Nile.

Tyrants all

There I was at 11:50pm tonight--tired, weary, sleepy and tuckered out (I have a thesaurus widget, do you?) when I realized I had to do an exercise DVD before I could go to bed. Why? Why would I do such a thing when I was so exhausted, drained and pooped? Because Sara MADE me. Sure, she's like a garillion miles and 9 or 10 time zones away, but she has powers. Scary, scary powers. I did three whole hours of yard work this morning (at one point sweat dripped off my nose--that's how fatigued, zonked and wasted I was). Surely, you think, that would be enough to satisfy Sara's sadistic whims...but no, it was not. 

So I did the stupid, moronic and doltish DVD--all 20 hideous, gruesome and repellant minutes of it. And now my legs hurt, ache and smart. I hope Sara is happy, gleeful and buoyant.

Next thing you know she'll be taxing my tea and hostily taking over my corporate empire. 

P.S. Photos (L to R): George III of England, Donald of Manhattan, Sara of the Fertile Delta

Monday, July 21, 2008

When Legs Attack

Pilates again today, but this time the lower body workout. So between that and yesterday's "running" (really, that's such an exaggeration; even calling it jogging would be kind), I'm likely not going to be able to walk very soon.

Note to self: stretch! My calves are not my friends today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


That's what I my husband calls pilates, and that's the DVD I did today. Upper body workout, to be precise. It's one I've done before, but this time I didn't have any weights to use, so it wasn't as good of a workout as it could/should have been. If I do it again before our stuff gets here, I'll round up some water bottles or something to use.

And a helpful hint: Don't do pilates in any form with a belly full of oatmeal. Um. Uncomfortable. Just sayin'.

For cardio I relied on a little something Holly taught me. A few years ago, Holly--who has a really long, narrow living room--trained for a 5K by running in her living room. She called it Living Room Running, and since my dh's family has a penchant for turning everything into an acronym, I shortened it to LRR. Well, it dawned on me that my apartment--which is also really long--has a pretty straight shot from the living room (in the front of the apartment) to my bedroom (in the back). So today I spent 45 minutes walking and running back and forth the length of my apartment. I'm not sure what this would be called--Whole Apartment Walking and Running? WAWaR doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? For now I'll just stick to calling it useful.

Also, it occurred to me that I needed to clarify something from yesterday's post. It is very true that I neither own a lot of DVDs nor do I enjoy them very much, so it's probably a little crazy to challenge myself to do them for 6 weeks. While I have never claimed to be fully on the sane side of the line, I also know that a lot of my distaste for them comes from my unfamiliarity with the choreography and my resulting frustration when I mess up the steps. So hopefully this next 6 weeks will resolve a lot of that. DVDs are the best way for me to get a varied workout right now, so I'm trying to make the most of it. I'm actually pretty excited to make the most of this. Plus, it gave me the excuse to buy a few more DVDs, just to help infuse a little new life into my current supply. And also because I like buying new things.

P.S. Re: today's image, I didn't think it was necessarily the nicest thing to do to add an image of pie to a diet/health/fitness blog (says the co-blogger on a site named "Diet Cake"), so I went with a pie chart. Nothing tempting about that, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rock *Your* Body

Day One success!

The DVD I tried today is called Rock Your Body by Jamie King. And guess what?! I didn't hate it! In fact, I sorta liked it--despite the fact that I'm white, 33, white, and a mom! (Dancing? Not my strong suit.)

The entire workout is a little over an hour, but I only made it about 45 minutes. Jamie breaks the routine down (yo) a section at a time and the entire routine into two halves. Then he puts both halves together for a "Dress Rehearsal" and then the "Performance." I made it through both halves, but wasn't even close to having it down enough to string it all together.

The amazing points are as follows:
1) I didn't feel like checking my watch every few minutes to see how much longer until it was over. I'm bored easily. Attention-span-of-a-gnat easily. And this is exacerbated when I'm uncomfortable (exercising = uncomfortable). But pitiful dancing abilities aside, this held both my attention and interest the whole time, despite the discomfort of working hard (I was dripping sweat by the end).
b) I am also annoyed easily. You know that saying, "Stuck in my craw?" Holly and I often joke about me and my seemingly overstuffed craw. Lots o' stuff in there, I tell ya. And near the top of the things that fill my craw? Aerobics instructors! But Jamie is not obnoxious! Go figure! I mean, sure there's a "I'm a young, cool, hip-hop dude" vibe going on, but he wears it well. And his style of instruction is pretty gentle and encouraging. I'm a fan of making fun of the people on screen that are only trying to lead me to good health, but this guy didn't make me feel even a little but derisive! (How's that for a compliment?!)
III) I'm looking forward to doing it again. Please note this day on your calendars, friends. We should probably make a National Holiday out of it. I'm not sure this has ever happened before, but I'm actually planning on doing this one again soon. Sure I've done other videos more than once, but it was always with more of a "I'm only doing this because it's good for me" attitude.

All told, I'll be back for more. I'm thinking once I get the whole dance routine down maybe I could put on a show for the neighborhood kids! Ha! That's an idea that should be filed under "How to Make People Feel Derisive."

Can't wait to hear Holly's report!

P.S. That image at the top? That's exactly what I looked like.

New! and Exciting!

Holly and I have come up with a new challenge. I say "new" because we come up with stuff like this a lot. And by "we" I mean "me." Mostly Holly is just a good sport. Though, in my defense, she has dragged me into a few of her schemes. For example, because of her I had nary a taste of sugar in all of February of 2001. And she made me do Body for Life with her once, too. (In her defense, she made it all 12 weeks; I made it 2.)

So last night we were IMing, and I was whining, er, brainstorming with her ideas for ways that I can get myself exercising regularly again. And then the brilliance hit. And again, Holly is a very good sport, so starting today, we are each going to do an exercise DVD a day--and report back here about it--through the end of August.

In actuality, this is going to be harder for me than for her. She is an old pro at DVDin' it up; I hate them. She has a collection of about 5 billion; I have maybe 10 (and I hate them). But the reality of life right now is that exercising at home is my best option to get a workout, and DVDs are going to give me the widest range of such. So, here goes nuthin'.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


So I apparently didn't take into account another aspect of the Africa diet: a case of Pharaoh's Curse.

More than once over the last few days I've been reminded of that line from The Devil Wears Prada: "I'm only one stomach flu away from my goal weight!"

Ok, it's not quite like that, but it sure felt like it at times. I'm feeling almost better now, thank you.