Monday, January 24, 2011

A little late for Happy New Year

But I do hope your year is going swimmingly. If swimming is something you like to do!

Okay, enough sentence fragments and unspoken apologies for neglecting the blog this long. The fact is that - except for 4 days of being SNOWED IN this month, I have made it to the gym at least five days a week, and never missed more than one day in a row. I'm enjoying it! Nobody bothers me, which is all that this Fat Mother of the Bride ever wants. No cheery "Welcome back! How are you today?" or "Looking good, there!" or the dreaded "Ahem, let me show you how that machine is supposed to work."

I'm fairly technologically naive, but I am educable, and I've been working hard on that. I have a video iPod, which I bought refurbished about 4 years ago, and have recently had to have refurbished again. I've only used it for audiobooks and some music, and when my grandchildren were here I had downloaded some Sesame Street video podcasts. But it occurred to me that this thing had great potential.

I used iTunes to purchase the first season (6 episodes) of AMC's The Walking Dead which people wouldn't shut up about. It was only $10, so I figured it was worth a try. I enjoyed the series (nothing spectacular, but it was fun. (My "insider" son tells me the whole writing staff was replaced for next season so expect greater things. Okay.) Anyway, I only watch videos on the 2-inch screen while I'm on the treadmill, bike or elliptical, and wow, can a 45-minute workout fly by when you're engaged in a Zombie Soap Opera!

I ran out of episodes in about a week, and I knew that iTunes purchases weren't really in my budget, so I turned to my vast collection of DVDs I never watch. When I had a job I was a real sucker for Dollar Store movies and TV series, and I'll even pay money for anything that has a monster in it. But I am always so far behind watching "real" television, especially since le bon dieu and AT&T have blessed us with a DVR, that I never watch those movies. I even bought the first 2 seasons of Lost on DVD.

So, from a Luddite perspective, transferring DVDs to iPod sounds like a piece of cake (umm, I'd love a piece of cake). Not so fast, fattie! I couldn't find any but the most obtuse instructions on the web, and a call to my Apple savvy son lent me a groan and a sigh, and "It can't really be done..."

After following said obtuse instructions (one set directly from Apple) and downloading a total of SIX freeware programs, I determined that it couldn't be done. At least, not for free (the only way my son does anything). I downloaded a charming little program called, wait for it, 1ClickDVDtoiPod and got 3 free uses out of it. Can you say dream come true? It should be called One-freaking-click-we-mean-it!!! I readily coughed up $40 for the whole program and now have the entire first season of Lost on my 30gig iPod. I watched two while doing 20 miles on the recumbent bike yesterday! I had forgotten a lot of the early stuff on Lost!

Have I lost any weight? I'm not sure. I weighed myself once at the gym when I first started, but it's a dial-type scale and I'm not sure to the pound how it read. I also drank at least a litre of water before I got on it. I weighed myself again the other day, and think it was down about 4 pounds, and I was again full of water. Anyway, it wasn't UP.

My endurance has increased phenomenally, although that's still in flux. I come home and flop on the couch and can't move for another 12 hours, so I'm hoping I'll get beyond that. As of this writing I have not injured myself, and that's a big YAY, but there are certain things I still can't do at all (e.g. any weight machines involving the knees). I'm concentrating on 3 types of aerobic machines: recumbent bike, elliptical and treadmill, and weight machines that target abs, lats and triceps. I'll add more.

Oh, and guess what: in only one month of regular exercise, I have been able to STOP taking blood pressure medication!! Lacking health insurance of any kind, I've been purchasing generic propanolol from an overseas outlet for about 8 years. I don't take very much, but without my BP was running in the 145/95 range. I forgot to take it a couple of days ago and checked my BP without it: 122/90. I took it again the following day and it was about the same. So I stopped taking the pills! Yay, me!! Yay, exercise!

Now, what was I saying about cake...?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ladies don't sweat, they "humidify".

It's been a long cold winter already, and while I do enjoy the occasional hot flash after I climb into bed (I really do enjoy them) I have spent most to the days lately shivering at this table, or running around doing a few chores before I'm too cold and fatigued and back shivering at this table.

But yesterday and today -- prepare yourselves to cheer -- I went to the GYM! Yes, the very same 24 hour gym I joined only three days ago. I'm already happily collecting stupid stories for you. It's so easy, all you have to do is walk out into the world, something I've been loath to do for almost a decade.

The gym franchise is owned by a too-fit, too-pretty, too-young couple who drive very nice cars, so I think it's working out for them (pun intended, you know me). They didn't give me any sales lip at all, and haven't bothered me during my sessions. I'm going to call them Mike and Poppy, because that's the kind of look they have.

Mike has GymRat written all over him, and was talking to another of his kind when I walked in for my first workout (first in almost 5 years).

Mike: "The Situation". You know that guy, right? The call him "The Situation".
Other Guy: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Mike: The Jersey Shore, on TV? I don't watch it but everybody knows who this guy is. He's called "The Situation".
O.G.: Nope. Seriously man, never heard of him.

By this time I had made it past them into the locker area to hang up my coat, and I couldn't hear them anymore, but I was left wondering what strange lifestyle this fellow leads that has protected him from knowing the identity of "The Situation", and how I can get me a piece of that.

I did a solid 30 minutes on the treadmill, not pushing too hard but covering more than a mile and taking the incline up a little. I was interested in using the exercise bikes, too, but there are only too of them and they are very close together. They are slightly different in design, and the one with the lower, wider seat was occupied by a lady I'm calling Pink Pantsuit. It was a tracksuit, but that's not alliterative. She was there, on that bike,  when I arrived, and she was there when I left.

Instead I waddled over to the Elliptical Machines. They have an astonishing 6 of these, in 3 different styles, and I tried the one closest to the window. I have a long, sad history with ellipticals, in that my husband and daughters have always loved them, and I have never been able to use one. Rather than the issue being weight or fitness related, it is tied to physiology, and the fact that I was born with a double-jointed hip. I have numerous hyper-extensions, in fact, and while cool in a playground setting actually cause instability and inherent weakness in adult joints, therefore strengthening of supporting musculature is more-important than ever.

In past attempts to use the fun and friendly ellipticals, I was plagued by a slight snap in my hip joint (usually the left) with every rotation, as a malformed tendon caught on the anterior face of  my ilium, and after a very short time this became painful. It didn't take anytime at all for it to be annoying. I was determined to find a setting at which I wouldn't experience this, and some machines were more usable than others, but for a decade or so I've been unable to find an elliptical machine that I could actually work out on.

The first one I climbed on had a deep stride to it, and within seconds my right knee was ringing with pain (it had pinged at me a little during my walk, but not enough to worry me). I climbed off. Checked Pink Pantsuit: still peddling, and watching me. I skipped the middle elliptical, because it looked more like a stairclimber and I know I'm not ready for that. Moved on to the third variety.

Heaven! I can hardly begin to tell you what it was like, but I'll try. It was a lot like being lifted, weightless, by four mighty angels and having all my limbs manipulated in space. My hip flowed in proper rotation without so much as a hitch, and after only about thirty rounds my knee pain vanished. I was pretty tuckered from the previous half-hour on the treadmill, so I only spent 5 minutes on the thing, but my spirits were soaring, and I felt like I'd found something special, something to set my sights upon.

I used a few arm and latissimus dorsi machines, focusing on more reps and less weight, but I didn't push that, either. I'm terrified of an injury that causes me to lose ground or motivation.

Today I stopped by again on my way home from Mom's. As I pulled up I could see Pink Pantsuit parked and peddling in the window and decided I will have to vary the time of my visits more. She was there when I left, too. I stuck to almost the same routine, pushing a bit harder and dripping with sweat. I was warm enough when I left this evening to carry my jacket over my arm. I really enjoyed that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Months from then, months from now...

Surely you appreciate the simpering tone of this entry? The last thing I want to - or should - do is write another "okay now I'm serious" blog post. The last several months have been out of my control, but I have also been eating whatever passed my way, and haven't exercised at all. I've reached the point of needing to have a little lie-down halfway up the staircase every night, and the elevators in my mother's building are actually, I believe, starting to sway.

But fogs are lifting, schedules are clearing, time is winding down a little more slowly. Christmas passed without agony, Mom is out of the hospital and cheerfully using a new portable oxygen machine, and The Bride has returned to her own home in another state after coming here to select a wedding venue, dress and bridesmaids.

Yesterday I signed up for 2 months at a gym. It wasn't the gym I liked best, and certainly wasn't the cheapest, but 2 things make it the Right Choice. 1) It is halfway between my house and my mother's, and I pass it at least every other day. All the other gyms in the offing are the other direction, and I haven't driven past any of them without some other urgent reason in months. 2) It's open 24 hours. I don't know whether that will be a pertinent aspect or not. I'm still a terible insomniac, and in my youth I did all of our family grocery shopping and most of my housecleaning in the wee smalls. But while I usually lay awake for a good portion of the night nowadays, I rarely get out of bed. Still, the gym is a tiny one and lightly trafficked, and the idea of having it to myself (24 keycard) is very attractive, indeed.

No, I haven't been yet. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fattie on Sabatical

It's been a wild ride for the last few weeks. There was no real point in posting because my weight loss issues were heaved laboriously onto the back burner, there to simmer and fill the house with an enticing aroma. Hmm.

My oldest daughter and her husband have been out of work for a while, and his mom offered him a place in the Hill Country to live rent free, since she had recently evicted her tenants. Son-in-law flew up to look for work (no luck so far) and child-o-mine and her 3 li'l punks convoyed up across 6 states last week in a rental truck (me and chatty grandson) and minivan (daughter and 2 dozy toddlers).

The week prior we made a mad dash down to the Beaches to visit Young Daughter since the punks had never beached before and the sisters won't see each other again until that Fateful Wedding Day next spring. In between, my own 83 y.o. mother managed to come down with pneumonia and require a short hospital stay, with Faithful Self at her side. So really, I haven't been home in something like a month. I actually packed dirty clothes because I knew I could wash them here.

The House in Hill Country isn't nearly ready to move into yet (the aforementioned tenants trashed the place) so the family of five have been bunking with Mother-in-law and her boyfriend, a crotchety old man if I ever met one. It's a tiny house, and nine of us have been sharing a bathroom. It has snowed 3 times since I arrived, and the fellow refuses to turn on his furnace. The bedroom I'm sharing with the 2 dozy toddlers is colder than Sister Mary Albert's knickers, with no curtains on the large window and only a heap of woodenish handmade quilts for warmth. At least the punks have footie pajamas!

Tonight I fly home to warmer climes, and will control my own thermostat, diet and schedule again. I'm not diving right in to anything, but I have an appointment to speak to Derrick the Giant at one of the gyms I visited, and at least I won't be sneaking cheese out of a stranger's fridge and trying to explain why all the bread is gone again.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Another delay as I plan to manage to mean to think of something to write. I visited a local gym, finally, and swaggered in with a big grin loudly saying, "Okay, fellahs, tell me why this should be the 20th gym I join!" At least I got a chuckle from the steriod junkies at the front desk. The blustery one swung himself out from behind the counter and shook my hand, introduced the other guy (his physical clone but a shy, shrinking violet) and launched into his screed. He asked me to name the other 19 fitness centers to which I have belonged, and stopped me after the FOUR I've joined since landing in this state 12 years ago. I haven't done it for more than three years now, I told him, and I murmured "I used to be very thin," and he actually drew a breath and said, "Really??" But his patter was otherwise pretty good, and the gym cost is reasonable. It's huge, in a old supermarket, and very well-appointed. Still, I would have to drive past all four of my previous gyms to get there. I think there are seven traffic lights. I can already hear myself making excuses.

I smiled and looked enthusiastic and drove to the other place. That was in the opposite direction, in the middle of nowhere, closer to my house and in a brand new building. It's a 24/7 gym; they give you a keycard and you let yourself in, and if you have a heart attack at 3 AM your body just lies there as the treadmill gradually bumps your skull up and down and rips out all your hair. The staff is only there 4 days a week, and this wasn't one of the days.

It took another week before I remembered to go back on a staffed day, but I finally did and got a lackluster tour by a pretty young woman who didn't curl her lip at my bulk nor seem to work on commission. This place is tiny. My husband once had a megillionaire boss who gave us a tour of his palatial home one Christmas, (there was a strongly implied tone of  This is how I live. This is how you shall never live) and he had more equipment in his basement than this gym has. But honestly, I'm only going to be walking on the treadmill for a long, long time. They had three of those and three ellipticals, too.

The smaller gym charges more monthly but they don't charge anything upfront. The larger gym doesn't require a commitment, but they charge an annual fee, payable every January, even if you join in December. The larger gym offers two different memberships; one includes a free session with a personal trainer, and other includes four sessions. The smaller gym doesn't do the PT thing.  Neither one offers much in the way of classes, but I have never been drawn to group activity, either. 20 years ago, the idea of slipping out of the house and getting a workout at 2 AM would have been as appealing as baby bunnies delivering a cheesecake, but realistically I can't see myself having a nice workout in the pre-dawn. Not anymore.

And suddenly the point is moot. At the end of this week I promised Big Daughter to take her and her 3 children the visit Little Daughter at the beach. We'll be gone only 6 days, but a week after our return I'm helping Big Daughter move out of state. Driving the truck while she drives the minivan, dontcha know. I'll be gone another week and home after Halloween.

Steroids #1 called my cell and left enthusiastic messages every day for a week, offering more and more enticement and one-time-only deals. Gym #2 has my number but has never called. I'm not sure which approach I find more attractive. In any case, I shall have to wait until November to make a decision. I guess I could pop in an exercise DVD or something in the meantime. I mean, I guess I could....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grocery Shopping, in person

Where am I headed with this? I want this blog to be entertaining, maybe occasionally poignant and ultimately uplifting (take that as many ways as you can get it). But the subject depresses me, and lately I've had to erase an entry as soon as I've written it, because the last thing I want to be is pitied.

There are moments, however, that can be humorous and still inspire. I raised 4 kids for 30 years, and did all the grocery shopping for all those decades. As a lifelong insomniac, I thrilled at the introduction of the 24-hour market and used to do my shopping in the middle of the night, when I could think clearly and be less-distracted. But I hate shopping. All kinds of shopping, and food shopping most of all.

Now, rather suddenly, we are empty-nesters, I don't have a job and my husband works from home. We eat whatever we want, whenever, often calling a bowl of cereal "lunch" and an egg-and-potato omelet "dinner". It's all yelling up the stairs "I'm reheating the spaghetti? You want some?" and down the stairs, "No, I just had a burrito." He does community theater and keeps odd hours, and is not above wolfing down fast food on his way to or from.

Like this, we suddenly run out of food in the house. OUT. In manners that could never have happened when I was "doing for" others. The bag-o-salad is rediscovered as a slimy bag-o-goo, the cheese crusted at the edges, the eggs are gone, the fruit is gone, the frozen veggies are down to discolored, frost-singed balls twisted in plastic bag ends, the bread is gone, and unlike my granddaughter I do not find the prospect of a "peanut butter spoon" to be the beginning and end of haute cuisine.

This generally leads us to eat out, defiantly guilty. We start our meal with dammit we deserve this once in a while and end it with, geez, did you know that wine was $8 a glass? So the following day I slink back to the grocery store. This is a major deal for me. Nowadays I have mostly in-house clothing which I won't even wear to the mailbox until after sundown. To go out to the grocery store requires the same casual dress as eating at our neighborhood bistro, but the payoff is diminished, so I'm reluctant to squeeze into it. Anyway, once I'm dressed I zip over to the supermarket. If I have planned at all I get there early on a weekday. I never see anyone I know because after 12 years in the same community I don't know anybody.

Rarely do I make a list, or if I do, rarely do I remember to bring it with me. We were simply OUT of food, and I made the additional mistake of arriving at the grocery store hungry. I was anxious to get out of there with as little as possible, but also fell prey to my appetite in more than one aisle. I also remembered my husband, who does NOT have any weight problem, had run out of his bedside candy. He loves to keep miniature chocolate bars and licorice and a few others things for late night. I rarely accept one, but I knew that he was presently bereft of all of it.

I worked with handicapped people for most of my adult life, so it does my heart good to see the local markets making an effort to hire mentally-challenged adults as baggers and stock people. This week  had a new young woman bagging, barely out of her teens, and eager and energetic. She gave me a lopsided smile and helped me unload the grocery cart. As she did, she shouted loudly into the air, "I got your DONUTS! I got your SOUR CREAM! I got your HERSHEY BARS! I got your PIZZA! I got your OTHER DONUTS!  I got your ICE CREAM! I got your TWIZZLERS!"

She did not holler out "I got your broccoli" although I had bought some of that, too. In fact, the "sour cream" she proclaimed was actually low-fat soup in a sour cream-type container, but I guess she was enjoying announcing the products she most admired. After unloading the cart she whooshed down to the end of the conveyor belt and began bagging the items, holding each one up to the light and bellowing the most-embarrassing ones aloud.

I haven't been back to the store, although I know I forgot a few things and have run short of a few others. I really do have to go out again. Maybe I should look for this young lady and make an effort to only buy things I want everyone to know I have?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sigh. The elevators at my mother's senior living complex have to carry thousands of pounds every day, including the heavy motorized scooters driven around by disabled people. The buildings are around 30 years old, and probably built by graft and payoffs in the first place, and those elevator scare the beejeebers out of me. Mom lives on the 3rd floor and I do all her grocery shopping for her, so most of my visits there are solo. I come in on the ground floor and ride up to the third (top) level, and the elevators creak and shake and whine all the way up. There is an occasional CLUNK or even a whistling noise, and the little boxes shudder and seem to sway just a little. I'm almost always alone when I ride up (or down) and I never fail the think this will be the time. The cable will break and they'll haul my lifeless corpse out of the basement and say "She was more than Old Otis could handle!"

Worse, I wonder if three flights is enough to kill me. I'd hate to be alive and hear them say that.