Tag Archives: exercise

How To Stay In Shape During the Holidays

There’s a lot of talk this time of year about people being too busy to exercise and keep up with their fitness routines. While I always find time to hop into the gym—if only to see if Hot Gym guy is hanging around—or throw in a Jillian Michaels DVD for 30 minutes so I can yell, “I’M NOT PHONING IT IN!, I understand that some people simply have different priorities.

Considering I don’t prioritize spending more than five minutes on my makeup in the morning, no judgment here.

But there’s good news! Because just like holiday décor doesn’t have to come from traditional places, neither does breaking a sweat and getting in a workout during the holiday season. I’m here today to let you know that it’s totally fine if the only jogging you do is of your memory while trying to remember where you hid that last freaking gift.

So pull off that ugly Christmas sweater, do a few light stretches and feel the burn doing things you’re probably already doing, my friends!

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Dashing through the snow to bring the trash bin to the end of the driveway before the truck comes in the morning.

Doing twisting crunches in bed to reach and hit the snooze again super-setted with kicking off the sheets or blanket in an effort to get untwisted.

Walking around the parking lot looking for where you parked your car (while ticking off the parking spot stalkers that are waiting for you to get in your car and leave, like you’re roaming around in the cold on purpose.)

Pushing a grocery cart through the slushy lot requires lower body strength while upper body strength is necessary to try and steer the cart away from the direction the slush wants to go—most often into another parked car.

When grocery shopping, lifting the overflowing basket you told yourself you would use instead of a full cart is great for building up your arms—be sure to switch from right to left for equal amounts of time.

Loading/unloading the car and then carrying all the groceries/purchases in one trip because you’re cold and don’t want to walk back outside is great for both the upper and lower body. Be sure to throw in a few kickboxing kicks as you try and catch the door before it slams shut.

Forget the stairmaster! Going up and down the stairs to retrieve boxes of decorations, armloads of laundry and gifts you forgot that you hid will get the job done just as well.

Lifting boxes of decorations alternated with moving furniture around—no, that looks better over there. No wait, push it over there.—works both the upper and lower body.

Putting ornaments on the Christmas tree involves calf raises to reach the top, squats to bend down pick up dropped ornaments and tones the shoulders when you take the ball full of tangled lights and throw them across the room.

Running through the stores trying to avoid people you know that you don’t want to get stuck talking to because there are SO MANY PEOPLE in the store and you just want to leave is great cardio, not to mention the plyometrics involved in the starting and stopping each time.

Don’t worry about eating those baked goods, as whisking and stirring ingredients for desserts sculpts your arms, quick squats in front of the oven to bend down and check how things are baking works your legs and lunging to catch the egg before it falls off the counter works your butt.

And finally—and possibly the most important exercise of all—is power yoga, and by “power yoga” I mean lying in corpse pose on the couch for a minimum of two hours a day.

See? You’re pretty much an elite athlete at this point, so enjoy those chestnuts roasting on an open fire and another slice of pie. After all, you’ve more than earned it.

P.S. I have to add that I was overwhelmed by your replies to my last post and on my Facebook page. I’m still trying to deal with everything, but all your support honestly made this ice queen melt quite a bit. I plan on writing about it a bit more in the future, because if nothing else it’s new blog fodder. But today, just…thanks. Now go do your grocery cart glute crunches!

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Common Scents Cardio

There are certain things that annoy me about going to the gym, and 99.9 percent of those things are actually people.

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And this is probably the other .1 percent.

But seeing as I do not own the gym or live in a serene bubble of immunity from stupidity, I put on my big girl yoga pants and sports bra—not hard, considering I’m probably wearing them anyway—and deal with them. However, there are general annoyances and then there are things that just don’t need to happen.

I bring this up because of one particular instance in the cardio room the other day in which I was on the stationary bike positioned in front of the treadmills. Seeing as I was the only one in there, I put on a HAZMAT suit to grab the TV remote to turn on something good to distract me.

Now let’s just say that there are a few members of the gym that everyone knows to be weirdos.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but these are the people that when you see their car in the parking lot, you figure your cardio will be ducking away from their conversations about diminishing pension plans, the color of their bruised and battered toe nail or anything else they can complain about.

On this particular day in question one of those gentlemen was on the treadmill behind me, drinking coffee while strolling along. Yes, he sips coffee while walking on the treadmill.

All of the sudden a horrible stench wafted through the air. It was only the two of us in the cardio room, so I knew that this guy had farted. Now I know things can slip out from time to time, so I held my breath for a second or two and dismissed it as no big deal.

But then it happened again. And again.

There is only so much one can take, so I started glancing behind me in that subtle, “I know you just farted and I’m trying not to gag” way I hoped would prove effective despite a history of ineffectiveness.

When another odorous breeze wafted up a minute later, I took to the less-subtle but often more effective “what the hell is your problem, dude?” gesture of pulling my T-shirt up over my nose in hopes of eeking out a gasp of fresh air.

At that point the Fart Factory gave a little laugh and said, “Ha. Is that me? Sorry about that. Must be the coffee.”

Was that him? The only other person in this room? And “it must be the coffee?” Then perhaps one should refrain from sipping Starbucks while plodding along in a bubble of odorous obliviousness, good sir!

At that point I just removed my shirt from my nose, gave one glance back in my, “I’ll give a small smile now as long as you cut that shit out” way I was hoping would discourage future flatulence through the sheer intensity of my gaze.

Thankfully from that point on the oxygen supply remained flatulence free, and I wasn’t subjected to the paranoia of someone else walking in and thinking that stench was from me.

After all, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you only break a sweat and not break wind. It’s really just common sense—and scents.

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Magical Thinking

There’s a quote in Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking” that I love:

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

That’s me, pretty much to the letter.

I had good intentions of keeping things super light here and not addressing some issues, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and act like everything’s fine every day. So today you get this crap.

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Long story short-ish, the past few months my OCD, exercise, weight, depression, etc. have really been kicking my ass. Everything except spacing out on the couch or exercising makes me uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable my instinct isn’t to sit back and evaluate why, but rather to simply escape.

Quickly.

Enter the (maladaptive) behaviors I associate with relief. But the problem is it’s never enough, and it becomes harder to sit with the most fleeting feelings of discomfort. (And when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of discomfort.)

In other words, it’s a temporary fix for a permanent predicament—that “life” will always happen and things are always in flux.

I guess it’s a little comforting to know that what we all struggle with in our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Everybody feels the pain of not getting what they want or getting what they don’t want, and most of the time it’s not because they suck and can’t get things right.

It’s life, and we’re not the only ones who feel we can’t keep it all together.

But sometimes the internal issues offer no rhyme or reason—no big life event you can cite—which makes you feel kind of crazy and write blog posts like this.

Because even though my intentions are good — I know I’m not a horrible person — I cancel plans because it might interrupt my “safe” routine. I do a good job at work, but don’t enjoy it or the fact that I’m stuck at a desk for the day. I’m pretty sure at times I come off as a flake.

I’m not a flake.

I’m trying to get by. And while I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them.

So why write this? I don’t know.

It doesn’t have some great motivational moment to end with other than the fact that my insecurity over publishing it trumps any insecurity you might have if you relate to anything written.

I can also add that if you do relate to anything here, just know that I pledge to try every day. Most days I fail, but I try.

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Maybe that’s it.

Maybe it’s so you (we) remember it’s easy to get sucked into online personalities presented in an edited version of reality, one where we’re often  given the good parts and a sliver of the flaws, just enough so that people relate. We forget that it’s only what they want us to see. 

Of course I’m envious of those who don’t have to deal with this stuff and can just be “okay” without so much effort, but I’m not ashamed that I have issues.

You should never be ashamed.

So while my next post is back to humor—writer’s block, be damned—this one exposes my flaws. After all, “I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

Magical thinking, indeed.

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A Letter to My New Yoga Pants

I understand you had higher hopes for where you’d end up, maybe some fashion-forward type with a perky butt that would fill you out better than I can and wear you only once every few weeks while “slumming” and sipping wine on a veranda.

However, the simple fact is that I chose you to come into my life and join a rotation of about three other pair of these pants. You play the hand you’re dealt.

I need to make clear up front that even though I will wear you when occasionally doing yoga, I’m aware you’re not technically yoga pants—you’re workout pants. I don’t pretend that you’re a $100 purchase from Lululemon that I’ll never buy when you’re actually a $12 purchase from Target, but seeing as I don’t sip wine and eat sushi on a veranda, please allow me to sound fancy when referencing you.

I also need to make it clear that for me, you aren’t just weekend wear or something to lounge in. You will become a highly valued member of my family. Because you’re new, you will be considered my “good yoga pants” and will be worn to the gym, the store, etc.—in other words, you will be a public figure of sorts. 

That means I’m going to need to rely on you day in and day out until I feel others get suspicious and I throw you in the wash.

This cycle will continue until you literally wear out your welcome, like the others who have journeyed before you. When that time comes, be secure in the knowledge I will keep you around as my “home” yoga pants, which is a pretty much like retirement in the Florida Keys for you.

Public appearances will be replaced with home workouts and actual yoga sessions, but your primary function is comfort. Every day when I get home from work, you are expected to be standing guard at the ready, next to the sports bra and T-shirt that complete my fashionista trifecta.

There will be challenges—cat hair, spilled food, quick sprints outside to try and move the recycle bin out to the curb on the days I remember—but when all is said and done, you will know that it’s you and you alone who provide me with a sense of relief and relaxation from “real” pants that just don’t get me.

So welcome to the rotation, my friend.

I look forward to breaking you in.

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13 Gym Tips for 2013

If you belong to a gym, you know the New Years crowd will soon descend upon the facility. Machines will be busy, the parking lot will be full and for a good two months the place will swell with momentary motivation, testosterone and a lingering scent of body odor.

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Those who stick around will soon become initiated with certain people and unspoken rules of the gym. And while I’ve talked about this before, it bears repeating as the new crowd looms large.

So if you’re new to the gym scene, here’s a stereotypical primer.

  1. Some women will primp before the gym and then walk around without actually lifting a weight. Remind them that telling everyone about their fitness plan won’t make them healthier unless they’re doing it door to door — they love that.
  2. With men, you may see Hammer pants and fanny packs paired stylishly with weight belts and wrestling shoes. Do not be alarmed! This is apparently a conscious decision on the part of the “bodybuilder” and any attempts to suggest otherwise will be frowned upon.
  3. Outbursts and primal grunting are perfectly accepted and often encouraged with statements like, “You got this!” and “Lift that shit!” Interject your own encouragement like “Hugs not drugs!”— they love that.
  4. Chit chat may occur, but only when the other person is resting in between sets. If you are in the middle of an exercise, plan on someone asking you a question completely unrelated and irrelevant.
  5. If you’re anything like me, Sundays at the gym will consist of 50 percent of people talking about how hungover they are, 49 percent of people pretending to listen and you.
  6. People will be wearing iPods and the like, oblivious to the fact that if they sing, we can hear them. Join in — it’s fun for all!
  7. People will write things down. They will do one set of pull-downs and after flexing in the mirror to admire the results of those eight reps of awesomeness, they will record it in their little notebook. Ask them if they’re writing a haiku — the look on their face will be priceless.
  8. Men will voluntarily shave things women hate to shave.
  9. Most gyms have the hard core guys that know days of the week not by Monday or Tuesday but by Leg Day and Shoulder Blow-Out Bonanza sessions. Most gyms also have a group of older women that meet in the morning and get most of their exercise from running their mouths and fueling the rumor mills. Do not mess with their coffee.
  10. Do not stare directly at someone using the inner/outer thigh machine who is wearing shorts. It’s like staring at the sun—you will not love this.
  11. There will be stalkers. People will hover around and wait for your piece of equipment or cardio machine despite the fact that there are a plethora of other options they could be using. Make loud noises or begin singing to buy yourself a few extra sets.
  12. People in the parking lot will also stalk you for a closer parking spot, even though that defeats the purpose of going to the gym. Chances are it’s not a cardio day, and therefore not something written down in the notebook.
  13. And finally, the sweatier and grosser you get at the gym, the more people you will run into when you stop to the store immediately after. However, ducking in and out of the aisles with your cart and sprinting to the register can also count as cardio. 

It’s really a win all around.

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Verbing the Crap Out of Hope

Stay tuned for my next post in which I quit with this serious crap, but as soon as I finished rambling on the obligatory“Hope” post last week, I already knew there was more that I wanted to say.

So I started writing about my situation and realized the post was quite personal. Nothing weird or anything, in fact I’ve probably written about it before, but it just had some details about things that I’ve done in the past and sounded too “journaly.”

I read it over. I deleted it.

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What’s happened in the past is done, and while I can certainly learn from mistakes that I’ve made, I often find myself stuck on what still hasn’t worked to justify where I am now. That’s not very hopeful, and needless to say, it won’t give me the strength to actually gain back my health.

But after reading a few of the other “Hope” posts, I realized a couple of things.

First, I don’t like hoping for things. With hope comes expectation, and with expectation comes the possibility of disappointment. Through the years my optimism has taken hits from reality, and I’ve let myself become jaded in more ways than one.

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But this lead me to my second point in that hope doesn’t have to be the unicorns crapping confetti cheesiness that I roll my eyes at. The definition of hope is quite fluid, and for me I think it includes giving up the expectation that the past should’ve been different and that the future is screwed up from that.

Rather insightful, no?

Well, crap on that, as I also realized that although being insightful and aware and hopeful and all those pretty adjectives are admirable and important, “hoping” is never enough. It takes action—verbs—for the work to be done, as uncomfortable as that work is.

And despite being (relatively) rational, educated and informed, I can’t think myself out of every situation. To be honest, I really have to put the emotional stuff on hold until my brain and body are better physically healed.

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In other words, do the work.

So the first step is hope and the next one is action, and although I usually agree that baby steps are fine and beneficial, sometimes I have to call bullshit. With me, baby steps can often be crutches, the “at least I’m doing a little of something” to justify still staying stuck.

Sometimes I just have to “leap and the net will appear” and all those other clichés, even if that means falling on my flat ass, cursing, getting up again, falling, taking another step forward and hoping I’m doing the right thing.

Ahh…there’s that “hope” word again.

However, when backed up with action at least I have proof that I tried—I am trying. It’s 100 percent hour-to-hour with the food and exercise stuff. It sucks, it’s feels foreign and I’m still not totally leaping.

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But I’m trying.

And  I (and you) can still verb the crap out of hope.

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I Hope So

No offense to anyone, but I hate being tagged for things in the blogging world, mostly because it feels chain letter-y and those things creep me out.

But Jerrod tagged me in this Hope Blog Relay and threatened very mean things if I refused to participate , mostly because Melanie threatened very mean things if he dropped the blogging baton. I just couldn’t live with the guilt.

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Okay, I probably could, but I’ll give this a shot anyway.

The gist is you write about hope and then pass it along. Snark aside, this was hard. Like, “I don’t want to do this and I’m going to throw a great big tantrum” hard. Why? Because most days I feel there is there is no hope for me, so writing about it feels like an exercise in futility.

Well, I’ve written about depression multiple times, so it’s not like I don’t have much to say. I have a lot to say, but I’ve already said it before. For those who don’t want to click on the links, here’s a recap:

I don’t choose to be depressed.

I don’t wake up and conscientiously make a decision to already wish I could go back to bed. I don’t isolate and choose not to just “snap out of it” or to be so OCD that now my body has gone from whispering warnings to screaming satanic-like shouts.

While I could go on about the health things as of late, I’m not sure this is the place or the post. I’ll simply say that they add to the whole “absence of hope” thing.

But this relay isn’t about that—it’s about having hope.

So I thought about writing a funny or inspirational piece using other people’s stories and the choices they’ve made that have inspired hope in others. Then I called bullshit on myself.

Because while I’m sure that would be lovely, it would also be a bit of a cop out.  And as comfortable as feeling like crap can become, I’m tired of ignoring the fact that hope can exist for me too and that every day I have a choice. 

I can choose to own it.

I can choose to quit acting like hope is this foreign concept that applies to the whole world except me.

I can choose to admit that while there are physical barriers, I don’t help myself like I should.

I can choose to reach out to friends, family and doctors again without feeling like it makes me weak.

I can choose not to wait for something or someone to come and do all the work for me, to change the course of my sometimes tumultuous path.

Will I choose all these things? I don’t know. 

I’ve said it all before and it still kind of feels like a crap shoot. If I was reading this I would probably be rolling my eyes and saying, “Good lord, woman. How is this hopeful? Eat more, quit exercising, smile and get yourself some serious drugs.”

OK. I probably wouldn’t think that about anyone else, but that’s how I feel. In fact, I didn’t even want to write this at all. It sounds whiny and like I’m rambling on when all I want to do is delete this and post something funny.

But I choose to be honest today.

I choose to admit that I want to have hope and deserve to be healthy again. 

And I choose to pass that along.


For those of you who actually stuck around until the end of this thing, gold star for you today! I promise more “normal” ramblings next time, but today I was passed the baton, and as part of the relay I’m required to pass it along.

While many bloggers have already been tagged, there are a couple that I want to feel forced to participate (but no obligation, of course.)

Nichole at MichonMichon

Dana at The Kitchen Witch

Cara at Fork and Beans

Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Jen at When Pigs Fly

If anyone else wants to join in, please feel free and continue this thread with anything about hope. You can even add that fun little graphic up there (not me smoking a piece of asparagus, but the relay button thing.)

And in my final act as freaking Pollyanna, tell me one thing about hope in the comments. What does the word mean to you?