Am I sick? Or lazy? Or both?: or, the fine line between adequate rest, and getting my butt back in gear…

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I’m on Day 8 of what I thought was just a cold. Went to bed last Saturday with a sore throat, woke up Sunday with a head full of gunk. I expected it to run its course in a few days and then be back to life-as-usual. I cancelled my Monday appointment with my trainer, Russ, fully expecting to see him at our normal Thursday meeting. Wednesday found me still in the throes of constant nose-blowing and not much sleeping, so I cancelled Thursday’s appointment, too.

Thursday I actually felt a bit better and decided to expend a little energy around the house doing chores. It was a beautiful autumn day, so I capped off the afternoon with a brisk, but short walk. So I was surprised when on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I was fairly exhausted. Still tired today.

What’s going on? Colds don’t generally leave me this tired after a week. Could I maybe have a mild case of the flu, despite getting a flu shot? There are those like my beloved, the Haiku King, who say that flu shots are poison. Then there are those like me, who used to feel that way, but had the flu twice in two years and now think annual flu shots are just dandy.

And after nine days of NO workouts, not even any long walks, I’m feeling lazy and thinking that I should just suck it up and get back to the gym…that maybe I’m in a vicious cycle of laziness borne from inactivity, which begets tiredness, which leads to laziness, which leads to inactivity, etc.

Conventional wisdom says that if you just have a cold, you can keep working out. But I feel too exhausted right now to even hoist a 25- or 35-pound kettlebell, let alone swing it or snatch it. So I think I’ll give it another day or two and try to get lots of sleep, lots of fluids, and see how I feel. And try not to be too hard on myself. I rarely get sick. And I’m not young anymore. Maybe I just need a little extra recovery time.

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The third whine’s the charm….

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Shared by Jen Sinkler (www.jensinkler.com):

“If you complain about something once, no big deal. If you complain about something twice, pay attention, because now you’ve put yourself in the same position again. If you complain about something a third time, just shut up because it’s not really important to you—or do something about it.”

– Scott Rawcliffe, founder of The Fit Pro Podcast

Victoria’s Not-So-Secret: or, How the internet killed the thrill of lacy underwear….

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lingerie blog

I was lingerie shopping yesterday, and as I wandered through the aisles of lacy, frilly underpinnings, it got me to thinking….

I’m old enough that my first bloom of youth was over 20 or 30 years ago (depending on your definition of ‘first bloom’).  It was fun back then, shopping for alluring underwear, and I don’t mean just because I had a younger, more underwear-friendly body. There was the whole anticipatory factor: choosing some sexy undies that, when revealed, would wow your boyfriend/husband and give you both a bit of an illicit, risque, out-of-the-ordinary thrill.

It used to be easier, I think, for a woman to be enticing, and for a man to get excited about his girlfriend’s or wife’s body (and her sexy underwear), because there was a pretty good chance that hers was the only body he had visual access to. Sure, porn was available. But to see some random female’s undressed body, a guy back in the ’80s or early ’90s had to physically walk into the drugstore and buy a magazine or go to an ‘adult bookstore’ or strip club. Now, all he has to do Now, he doesn’t have to do anything, besides be breathing and online.

Whether they want to be or not, men are subjected to a non-stop barrage of electronic titillation. Website advertisers know that a picture of a shapely woman with an enticing headline will generate clicks, so they offer a constant stream. “Clickable content” found on a couple of news websites after a cursory search included the NFL’s most beautiful wives and girlfriends, seduction techniques ‘women can’t resist,’ 28 hottest actresses, most outrageous wardrobe malfunctions, etc. You get the idea. Not to mention the countless “look-at-me-i’m-so-sexy!” selfies that hapless (hopeless?) women post on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.

And of course, that doesn’t include the non-porn websites that are nonetheless filled with half-naked vixens: Esquire magazine’s “Women We Love,” Maxim magazine’s “Hometown Hotties” and “Girls of Maxim,” Sports Illustrated’s “Hot Clicks,” Men’s Health’s “Sexiest Women Ever,” and on and on.

How can any real woman compete with a cyber-fantasy seductress who’s been photoshopped to perfection? We can’t. And how many images of perfect women do men (especially young men) have to see before the idea starts to embed deep in their brains somewhere that this is how a woman should look to be desirable? And how many images before a guy gets so desensitized that anything less than perfection (i.e., a real woman’s body) just isn’t really all that exciting or impressive?

The pervasiveness of provocative photos of women’s bodies blunts the mystique and allure and anticipatory excitement of what used to be the big ‘reveal.’ Once upon a time, there was a delectable moment when a woman undressed and her partner was treated to what was, back then, not a mundane sight—the naked female form—something that was ‘special,’ as quaint as that sounds today. An intimate couple had a tacit agreement: a woman wrapped herself up in fun lingerie as a ‘gift’ exclusively and especially for ‘her’ man, and the man appreciatively received her that way. Although men at that time were surrounded by, and admired, clothed women’s bodies all the time, an unclothed one was something that wasn’t on display very much.

The ubiquitousness of naked women in our world, I think, has made the big reveal in the bedroom rather anticlimactic. It’s reduced the frisson of shared excitement and intimacy between men and women. And it makes a lingerie shopper more likely to fleetingly think: “Meh. Why bother? Racy undies or not, there’s no way I can compare with the dozens of beautiful bodies he’s already stumbled across in the cyberworld.”

Not that I’ll stop shopping for lovely underthings. I enjoy wearing them for myself, regardless of whether or not they impress anyone else. But sometimes I think it was probably more fun being a woman—and a man, for that matter—before the internet could fulfill our fantasies in just one click.

 

 

Random thoughts at 4 a.m. ….

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  • There is no time of day at which it’s easier to convince oneself that one is the only person on earth than at 4 a.m.
  • It’s nice to see headlights outside on the street and realize that you’re not the only person on earth
  • Cats are a good thing
  • The darkness of night, though utterly predictable and mundane, is unrivaled in its power over not only our mental outlook but also our ability to maneuver physically
  • Cats are unaffected by the darkness of night, and thus, all-powerful rulers of the universe
  • Reading the news lately is like being in a Stephen King novel
  • Listening to someone next to you soundly sleeping and delightfully dreaming can be both comforting and maddening
  • Connecting to other people is hard
  • Fall in my part of the world is like waking up to an unexpected, perfectly wonderful gift each day
  • Spicy, hot tea at 4 a.m. is great
  • I can’t think of anyone who would not benefit from singing lustily with a large group of people. I once read that some scandinavian towns have nightly group sings in the town square. I bet these are very happy places indeed.
  • Not being able to see the mug of spicy, hot tea on your desk at 4 a.m. is a bad thing

A simple, yet grueling, workout for those of us who get easily distracted…

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kettlebells loafingBut wait! First, I have an announcement to make. Victory is mine! The other night, working with trainer Russ, I managed a body-weight deadlift for three reps. 135 pounds. Cue gasps of astonishment, followed by applause, here. It may not sound like much to experienced lifters, but it’s an accomplishment for me. Because I’ve never in my life been athletic. Because up until a year ago, I never regularly lifted anything heavier than the weekly bags of groceries. And because I’m old, for cryin’ out loud! Compared to 20-somethings, that is.

Russ says he doesn’t see much practical point in the average person exceeding lifts of one-and-a-half times her body weight. So my victory is short-lived…I need to work on adding the next 65 pounds or so to that deadlift barbell! And a good start to that will be including the following workout in my rotation, with occasional variations.

For me, part of the problem with doing a variety of exercises in a circuit is that I lose track of what I’m supposed to be doing: how many reps, whether this is my third time through the circuit or my fourth, etc. A beautiful solution is the compound kettlebell workout, the variations of which are limited only by your imagination.

A compound workout simply means seamlessly stringing together various lifts/movements into one set. Outlined below is the compound that Russ had me do earlier tonight, using two 8 kg kettlebells. Since I had never strung together these movements before, he started me off light; I’m sure I’ll be working my way into using two 12 kg bells. It’s just this:

Two cleans, followed by one shoulder press, followed by three front squats. 

That’s one set. Then, he had me do four pull-ups (alas, these are still on the assisted pull-up machine…but I’m steadily working on losing the assistance, eventually). Next, two sets of the above compound. Then four more pull-ups. Then, three compound sets. Four pull-ups. All the way up to five compound sets, again followed by four pull-ups. And then repeat the whole ladder, starting again with one compound set and working your way up to five. 

It sounds easy. But by the time you finish the fifth ladder of compound movements, the second time around, you’ll have completed 90 squats, 30 shoulder presses, and 60 cleans. Not bad for 20 or 30 minutes of effort! 

Moving Day: or, How did I get all this stuff up the steps?

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I just moved. I’m hoping for the last time. Nineteen months ago I left my husband of 25 years and my nice house on a leafy green street. I moved into a boxy, post-war apartment with little but my clothes and a pillow on which to lay my head. I had no bed, no furniture at all, no dishes, no pictures to hang on the wall, no decades-old accumulations of stuff. I remember my first dinners there, sitting in the bare living room, on the floor, eating a salad of torn lettuce and cheese, using the single plate and fork that I had hurriedly purchased at Target. My sole companion that initial week was a stinkbug, who would often join me for dinner, laboriously crawling across the vast expanse of beige carpet as I ate and reveled in my new-found freedom and occasionally threw witty bon mots his way.

Well. A year and a half later, and my post-war box was feeling a bit confined. Plus, it didn’t have any outdoor sitting area, the kitchenette was so tiny as to be almost nonfunctional, the laundry was expensive and all the way down in the basement, and worst of all: the steps. The steps! A pox upon them! I’m in reasonably good shape, and even I got tired of the steps. Every single blessed item that I added to my life: every bag of groceries, every coffee mug or piece of clothing I purchased, every letter I received, every tube of toothpaste, every bottle of ketchup or Christmas ornament or hanger or box of Kleenex, had to be carried—by me—up 30 steps. Unless I parked in the lower parking lot, which added eight more steps. Which doesn’t sound like much. But trust me, it adds up. And gets very old. Especially when you’re old.

So I was delighted to find a new apartment: a bright, airy, incredibly spacious, charming 1920s place with nine-foot ceilings and huge rooms and enormous, light-filled windows and a washer and dryer and a patio AND a real kitchen with a dishwasher and best of all it’s all on the FIRST FLOOR. I moved in last Saturday. Oh my, it’s a lot of work to move. But I feel like I could stay here for a long time. The place is so huge that, if I’m sitting in the front room, I can’t hear the oven timer when it goes off in the kitchen at the opposite end of the apartment. It will take some getting used to.

Tonight is my first night staying here alone, and I must admit that the dark, unfamiliar, silent hall outside my bedroom is a tad creepy. Especially when I think of my oldest son’s first, excited comment when he saw the place: “Mom! Cool! It looks just like the Rosemary’s Baby apartment!” Oh, thanks, Andy. Tonight, I’ll stay nestled all snug in my bed, while visions of demon-babies dance in my head.