Archives for the month of: April, 2011

this is reason 849 that i don’t like working out in gyms.  the machines are so weird.  today’s wins the cake for me.

i went in and since i try to do something a little differently every time i’m in there, i went to the one machine i’ve never tried.  it’s a bike thingy, officially called the recumbent exercise bike.  imagine gluing your lazy boy to pedals instead of a foot stool.  i programmed it for an eight minute random hill cycle.

people, i felt like a duck on a lake.

you’ve seen the little ducks just gliding along the water but you know, you KNOW, that underneath the water their little webbed feet are paddling as furiously to stay in place as donald trump’s comb over.

if someone would have taken a video of me from my waist up, you’d think i was chillin’ out, watching jersey shore (goddess forbid!).  in keeping with the spirit of the day, i almost felt rather queenly on a throne…but hips down…..madness, kids, madness.

all that was missing from the arm rests (ARM RESTS!!!!!) was a cup holder and some nachos and guac.  all that was missing for my legs was an after event sports massage.

talk about lack of body unity.  i didn’t know whether to take a little nap or break out the tiger balm.

after that incongruity, i moved on to the rest of my gym play.  i felt very machine-y so that’s what i stuck with today.  i moved on to the seated leg press, then the hamstring curl machine, then the standing leg curl machine, then the leg adductor machine.

i, robot.

speaking of robots, there’s this woman at the gym who is there before me and still going strong after i’m gone.  she’s either on the deadmill or stairstepper….for hours.  she does NOT look like she’s having a good time.  her faced is tied into a knot.  her eyes do not move from the screen that updates how many calories she’s burning.  s. a. d.  this is the opposite of being a wild one.

monday, i want to start getting into what it is to be wild.  tuesday, i’ll be getting into my specific goals….stick around.

i have not had a chance to post these past couple of days.  it’s been the nineties in my life lately.

i had to spend some time on my back, feeling closed in, listening to bad techno and wondering how my brain got me into another one of these situations.  i had to have an mri the other day (tuesday).

since a bad car accident happened over a year ago landing me with a bruised noggin,i’ve been getting bad headaches, have felt tired, nay, exhausted most days and feel that i’ve lost a rather large part of my personlity (mainly my sense of humor and desire to be around other humans).  that dragged on a little too long, so into the coffin like machine i was wheeled after a consultation with a neurologist.

because of my claustrophobia, (don’t analyze me) the nurse was kind enough to put a cloth over my eyes when she immobilized my head to slide me into the tight quarters.  because i taught yoga once upon a time, i knew how to breathe deeply and with purpose.  that and earplugs, combined with having been married to a guy who thought pulsating noise equaled music got me through the 45 minutes of 3-4 minute at a time scans.  that magnetic resonance imaging shit is LOUD.

the only thing that really affected me was when they slipped the dye into my prepared i.v. site.  it took me 5 seconds to want to vomit.  i had a little button to press when i felt distressed.  i SQUOZE it hard.  they pulled me out and the nurse offered up the trash can.  but, the nausea passed just as quickly as it started, and i was able to finish up the scans.

although nobody was very forthcoming about what that dye was exactly, they were happy to inform me that that reaction was incredibly rare.  great.

so, now, i wait (why does the medical community put you in a panic to get tests done but take their sweet molasses in january time getting the results back?) to hear about how scrambled my noodle is.

so, that’s where i’ve been.  no workouts and had to have comfort food last night to calm myself.  (oh, we’ll be talking about food and it’s many uses soon, kids!)

so….tomorrow we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

happy monday, my feral friends,

i have a confession to make.  i have an addiction.  (wow, surprise, right?)  like, if anyone knows me for five minutes or knows anything (anything) about my “romantic liasons” you knows that i have an addictive personality.  (really?  that guy?  for almost a year?  like…that guy?)  but, this one is becoming a health threat.

it’s a heavy monkey and my supplier even gives me a discount.  he even brings this stuff for me from another town.

criminal minds.

yep, not a description of me and the supplier, the t.v. show.  it’s sick.  i’m sick.  season three is where i currently am.  i don’t own a t.v. so i was a little late to this party.  i watched season three this weekend.  friday to be more exact.  well, friday/saturday.  it’s somewhere between 16 and 18 hours of blood gore and this guy.  although this guy has always been more my type, i’m addicted to this guy.  one more.  (told you i’m addicted.) thankfully, i get plenty of both on this show.

so, yesterday was spent trying to make up for my enormous sleep debt that this bloody binge accrued for me.

but, monday is my day of intensity at the gym.  intensity equals sprint cycles and heavy weights.  generally, i try not to do both on the same day.  i did both today.  and i almost puked.

because i hate the gym as a place to workout, it’s fun to just people watch. there’s a LOT of deadmill action with sad faces and skinny fat bodies.  i would rather be fat fat and skinny strong than skinny fat.  true story.  it’s something about the fluppy skin.

anyway, today’s workout (and please, please borrow it.  it’s a good one.  although you may want to split it into two days if you’re new to intensity as opposed to endurance, a.k.a. chronic cardio.

i set the cool stair master machine to do speed intervals every 30 seconds (and apparently the machine thought it was pretty cool itself.  it had quite the attitude.  on my easy cycles, it’s screen would go blank in a glaring sort of way, then light up with “stride faster” flashing with some impatience.  i got your faster right here, stair master.)  i also set the time for these intervals to 8 minutes max.

8 minutes?  i can almost hear the condescension from my deadmillin’ friends who regularly clock 30-45 minutes and feel saintly.  trust me, if you’re doing it right, you should not be able to last more than 8 minutes.

then, it was off to the weights.  but, not right away…i walked around in circles, gripping my sweat towel behind my head, willing myself not to pass out.

i did one set of five reps each: (new to weights?  rep is short for repetition and you count every time you do an exercise as a rep.  a set is how many cycles of reps you do.  so, if you do five push-ups, stop and do five more, you’ve done two sets of five reps of push-ups.)

squats (dear squats, i LOVE you.)

deadlifts (dear deadlifts, don’t tell squats, but i LOVE you, too)

barbell bent-over row (dear row….um……..coffee sometime?)

i did them at the heaviest weight i could handle.

i was done with my entire workout in fifteen minutes.

and i KNOW you have fifteen minutes.  you don’t need a step machine or barbells.

you can just go for a walk and cycle slow walking with super-fast walking and you can just do these weight movements with empty air or soup cans or rocks or fallen tree branches.

in other news, it’s warm enough for bare shoulders today!  which is beyond awesome.  yesterday, my son took us for a drive (he’s fifteen, we have to clock the hours!) and there were people sledding.  in the snow.  on april 24.  so, trust me, bare shoulders (particularly for a wild woman who hates clothes) is big news.

proof:

okay…here’s the punchline for the past three posts.

these are the goals of fitness: strength, endurance, ability to save oneself and maybe even someone else, jumping, climbing…basically moving the way that our bodies were meant to move, etc.  milk doesn’t do a body nearly as good as movement does.  true story.  (for someone like me, milk does a body harm actually, but movement makes my body hummmmmmmm with pleasure.)

but, WITHOUT FAIL, when i talk to women about their fitness goals, this is what i get:

“i want to lose 15lbs.”

” i want to lose 3 inches on my thighs.”

“i want to fit into my prom dress….from 20 years ago.”

“i want to be a size 0.”

“i want a really flat belly.”

“i want a smaller butt.”

sigh.

do you see the irrationality in this?  i know that this seems to be a point that i’m beating to death, but it needs to be understood.  i realize that i am painting with a broad brush, but men tend to see their bodies as functional, as useful, as something that they can train to be stronger, faster, more powerful and women, we’ve been acculturated to view our bodies as ORNAMENTS.  our bodies are decorative.  not that we shouldn’t decorate our bodies (which i think is fun) but the body itself is a seasonal prop.  “boobs are in this season.” “let’s hear it for round butts this winter!” “the waif look is in this summer.”

we have been so brainwashed into believing, really and truly believing, that our worth is determined by the appearance of our bodies (we’ll get into the anthropological, cultural link later in this blog) that we will give up our fitness, our health, often our lives in this pursuit of a societally determined bodily appearance.

a lot of people really grasp this intellectually.  i’m one of them.  i can argue about how horribly wrong this is.  i can even write about it with some intelligence (hopefully) but i can be walking along having the grandest day, catch a glimpse of my body in a glass front somewhere and if short and round isn’t in this season (hint: it never is.), then my day is dashed.

my best friend and i were laughing about this phenomenon of believing something we know to be untrue.  she’s a psychologist.

her: “you know, there has to be a psychological diagnosis for believing something that we know for sure is false.  i think it’s called being…..”

me: “fucked up?”

pretty much.

sorry i wasn’t here yesterday, all three of my readers, i was living my other life as the queen of THROW IT AWAY!

so, we have covered the measurements of fitness and one skill based view of fitness, the last one i wanted to cover is being fit enough to save your own life.  these were first defined by earle liederman in his book endurance that he wrote in 1926.  they are as follows:

1. be able to swim at least a half mile (in open water, i would specify)

2. be able to run full-out fast for at least 200 meters.

3. be able to jump over things higher than your waist

4. be able to do 15-20 pull-ups (i would modify this to being able to pull yourself and someone who is one your back up to a safe place over your head)

5. dip between two chairs at least 25 times (which i guess would mean you’d be able to pull yourself and someone else up through a crevasse)

this view is a little more goal oriented in that it has specific benchmarks.

i would add the ability to disable an assailant (a quick knee to the groin or a body backed punch to the jaw: if you can get that jaw bone a little bit unhinged, the person will pass out, or a quick upward strike to the nose.  CAUTION: that last one can be lethal, so only use it when you’re really really serious)

i would also add that it would be nice if you could save someone else’s life while you’re at it.  as women, we are often responsible for the littlest people around.  a lot of us are moms and have the need to save those smaller than us.  it would be great if we didn’t have to wait to hand them off to someone stronger in an emergency but could handle be our own and our children’s heroes.

tomorrow will be a little wrap up but i’d LOVE to hear about what your favorite fitness philosophies are.

yesterday we talked about the accepted measures of fitness from one point of view. i’m so excited to introduce you to the point of view of someone that i just can’t get enough of lately. i’m reading his book: muscles et beaute plastique that he wrote for women (in 1919) and i love that so many of the issues are still the same. in one passage he says that men who don’t appreciate women who get strong and put on muscle basically are misogynistic little dicked asswipes. (i paraphrased.)

his motto is: be strong to be useful. his approach to fitness is very skill based. he also encourages all of his “workouts” to be done outside wearing as little as you can get away with. my kind of guy.

his name is georges hebert and since he encourages outdoor workouts with very little clothing, i’m sure you’ve guessed he’s french. i also am working through his book: guide pratique d’education physique. i realize that all of his frenchiness may make him little inaccessible to english readers. luckily, i bring you: THIS GUY. swoon, right?

he also is french and doesn’t wear a whole lot when he works out outside. i’m also going to get to train with him in june. erwan le corre is friggin’ awesome for taking hebert’s work, expanding on it and bringing it into this century and making it available to the less francophone of us.

this system of fitness is far more skill based. each workout (i HATE that term….this stuff is way too much fun to be work! how about playout?) should include these 10 skills. don’t worry, when you’re playing outside, you tend to cover all 10 pretty naturally.

they are:

1.walk
2.throw things
3.climb something
4.picking something up
5.running
6.balancing somewhere
7.walking on all fours
8.jumping from or onto something
9.swimming
10.self defense practice

if you’ve ever watched kids play or remember what you were like out on the playground (before you discovered barbie dolls and ken dolls and found out how you could make them play with each other….i digress), you’ll know that all 10 of these come very naturally. hence, hebert’s brain baby? his system is called “methode naturelle” or natural method for those who found the french nearly impossible to decipher.

i LOVE it. it is accessible to everyone (except for the swimming which you may need to go out of your way to do) and completely scalable. it is something that you can do with your kids on your lawn. urbanites have run with it since its inception and we have this. yep, that’s right, hebert’s work spawned that phenomenon.  although it tends to be a very male dominated sport (all the fun one’s start that way, don’t they?),  girls do it, too.  i look a lot like this when i do it. (i’ll tell y’all a personal story about this soon.)

tomorrow, i’ll be hitting on one more way to define your fitness.

here’s to getting outside, nearly nekkid and playin’ around like kids!

i hope you all had a lovely weekend far away from the computer, close to the outside and the ones you love.

saturday was my 38th birthday.  two year until 40 and i expect to be in better shape, health and fitness then.

yesterday, the day was windy and rainy but my 5 year old friend and i rushed to the park during a lull in the drizzle to kick a football around (soccer ball for you americans).

i’m at my best friend’s house in montreal and i’m here to declutter, organize, and clean her home.  since she’s my friend, i’m also rearranging her furniture while we talk about all sorts of things.  full disclosure: this friend really has helped me immensely in overcoming a lot of my self-destructive behaviors, not the least of these is a wildly dysmorphic body image and eating habits that bordered on full disorder.

she’s also a fitness freak like me.

what is fitness, really, anyway?  we can talk about it in the darwininan sense, often misunderstood, that states that the one fittest to one’s environment will survive.  or we can talk about it in the “why we workout” sense.

while we will be dipping, nay plunging, into evolutionary fitness at some point, today i want to talk about why we workout.

this is what we have mostly agreed are the measurements of fitness:

muscular strength:ability to move something through a certain distance

muscular endurance: how long you can exert said force

power: (my FAVORITE!) how much force can you exert in a specific time, work divided by time equals power

cardiovascular endurance: your body’s ability to supply muscles with oxygen over an extended activity

speed: how fast you can do a movement again and again

coordination: combining movements to make it look like one, NOT this

balance: being able to control your center of gravity, men please control that at all times unless i’m in the mood

flexibility: range of motion

tomorrow, i will be writing about my necro-crush‘s views on fitness and then we’ll tackle one more view point before we have a little talk.

okay, not all night.  all day.  ALL day it felt like.

i love the freedom of being able to drive from one country to the next.  i’m in montreal right now.  the road signs are all in french, the people walking around come in all shades, it FEELS wonderfully not american and people are all talking…well, they claim it’s french, but we know it’s truly quebequois.

i felt that i was in the car all day today.  when i got to my destination, my friend wasn’t home from work yet so i grabbed my keys, my wallet (ID), my phone and slapped my vibrams onto my cave girl paws and headed up the street to a park nearby.

the sky was blue, the air was crisp….if i could bite into it, it would have snapped and tasted like a granny smith apple, and kids were just letting out from school.  they were coming out in rivers.  i could tell that they felt like i did: free after being pent up for too long.

the park is about 5 blocks away.  when i got there, there were dapper middle eastern men walking small dogs, a stylish chinese couple, lean and twin-like in their hip androgyny.  there were some african ladies huddled together and right across the street was a school yard with screaming high schoolers.

i allowed my feelings to guide my “workout” and played like a little kid.  there were rocks, boulders actually that i jumped onto and from.  i ran from tree to tree, hiding behind the bigger ones.  i was about to climb a couple, but all the bottom branches had been cut off and i started to realize that a 38 year old woman clutching her wallet, keys and cellphone racing through a small city park, hiding behind trees could give the wrong idea.

i gathered myself with as much decorum as i could muster and walked home.  panting a little, feeling brand new.

wild:

    1. noun /wīld/ 

      1. A natural state or uncultivated or uninhabited region
        • – kiwis are virtually extinct in the wild
      2. A remote uninhabited or sparsely inhabited area
        • – he spent a year in the wilds of Canada

      adjective /wīld/
      wilder, comparative; wildest, superlative

      1. (of an animal or plant) Living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated
      2. (of people) Not civilized; barbarous
        • – the wild tribes from the north
      3. (of scenery or a region) Desolate-looking
        • – the wild coastline of Cape Wrath
      4. Uncontrolled or unrestrained, esp. in pursuit of pleasure
        • – she went through a wild phase of drunken parties and desperate affairs
      5. Haphazard, esp. rashly so
        • – a wild guess
      6. Extravagant or unreasonable; fanciful
        • – who, even in their wildest dreams, could have anticipated such a victory?
      7. Stormy
        • – the wild sea
      8. Very enthusiastic or excited
        • – I’m not wild about the music
      9. Very angry
      10. (of looks, appearance, etc.) Indicating distraction
        • – her wild eyes were darting back and forth
      11. (of a playing card) Deemed to have any value, suit, color, or other property in a game at the discretion of the player holding it
    this is lifted from merriam-webster’s dictionary.  i put the most relevant ones in bold so that we can understand where i’m coming from.
    i particularly like #4 and #9.  angry is something that a lot of women don’t allow themselves to get.  anger is something i hold in for days, sometimes years and then kablooey!  a house gets trashed in rage or worse, it never goes kablooey and i’m sitting in the dark somewhere, rocking in a fetal position, hoping that my heart would just stop.  true story.
    and, we often, if not always forget that getting healthy (or getting back to healthy-we’ve all been there!) is best done with a fabulous pursuit of pleasure.  i really do get a kick out of lifting something heavier than i could last week or eating foods that make my body sing.  it feels good.  approaching health from a wild perspective is a highly sensual experience.
    of course, the first few words: “in a natural state” are the ones that will really be thematic for this blog.  we’ll discover together what that is.  hint: it’s not this.
    but, i must admit, #11 is my very favorite.  life is a game, really.  it is meant to be played with gusto and whatever cards you’re holding right now, it’s up to you to deem them valuable.  whatever value you ascribe to your life is the value it will have.  you may not be the dealer in the game, but trust me, you have my permission to make up the rules.  everything that you see in society, everything that you read, everything that you eat, everywhere that you go, every event you attend was MADE UP by someone.  your life is yours to make up, too.  also, true story.

okay, so this is called the wild woman PROJECT.  what’s that all about, right?

i’ve decided to be my own guinea pig.  the glorious bruce lee said: “knowing is not enough, we must apply.  willing is not enough, we must do.” (by the way, i used to have a t-shirt with bruce lee’s face emblazoned across the front in crushed velvet.  it was two sizes too small so it was my “boobs lee” t-shirt.  i lost it.  i loved that thing.  my birthday is april 16th so if anyone would love to make my day……..)

where was i?  thoughts of bruce lee always distract me and make me think of my own boobs.

yeah: knowledge isn’t enough….i know some shit about health and fitness.  i know that living in a way that can closely simulate the ways we lived since we first became a species is the way to go.  but, i haven’t applied it.

i guess i wasn’t willing.  yes, being a wild woman sets you apart from the pack.  we are hardwired not to want to be too far apart from the pack.  a lion can easily pick you off that way.  so, i’m hoping to do two things: get fit enough to outrun the fuckin’ lion and create a pack that wants to run along with me.  you can dig as deeply as you want for the lion metaphor: aches, pains, too much fat, too little muscle, feeling old, feeling bored, whatever your lion is.

so, here’s the project: i am going to apply the things that i know.  i learned most of this stuff from here and here, as well as a shit ton of other places (resource list coming soon!) but also, when i really pay attention, my body is a pretty kickass teacher…

play along with me on this project.  please don’t have a boring goal like “i want to lose 20 pounds.” or “i want to fit into the jeans i graduated from high school in”.  here’s why: people lose 20 pounds in a lot of different ways: chemotherapy, anorexia, POW camp….do you see where i’m going with this?  and if high school is as far away from now for you as it is for me, those jeans are FUGLY.

instead, how about: “i want to be able to squat my body weight” or “i want to know what every corner of my town looks like from the seat of my bike” or “i want to know i can defend myself if i have to” or “i want to win a race against my kids” or “i want to hike the appalachian trail” or “i want to learn to kiteboard” or “i want to go three rounds with a trained boxer”.  whatever.

i have several specific goals that i will share with you soon, but, the general goal is to apply what i know about being a wild woman.  boys, play along and be wild, too.

sadly, the first image that comes to mind when the phrase “wild woman” is read is the boobs (oh, bruce why did you have to go so young!) flashing drunk girl on spring break.  again…BORING.  instead, i think of the Dahomean warrior women, from who i descend.  i think of diana the huntress.  i think of the amazon.  but, you know, with more of a sense of humor.

so, let’s get wild, strong, and let’s have a grand ol’ time playing at it.