It’s Getting Hot in Here

Seventeen weeks of spinning 3-5 times a weeks should have me in shape for pretty much anything life can throw at me, right?

Not Bikram yoga.

Raised by a yoga teacher, I was mortified that I can’t even grab my slippery feet for the bow pose, a pose I once demonstrated in a book called Yoga for Children. I have the photograph in my mind. Nothing on the ground but my hips, auburn ponytails hanging down, freckled, upturned nose pointed to the sky.

Turns out, from all those spinning classes, I am perfectly in shape for: spinning. My friend Kayla, a physical education teacher, laughed at me kindly, “The Principle of Specificity,” she explained.

Bikram yoga is 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. You do everything twice. The room is 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 Rest of the World Degrees, 313.7 Kelvin) with about 40% humidity. I think it’s the painful heat that makes Bikram such an inaccessible type of exercise. First, it’s yoga, which eliminates a huge portion of the population (mostly men) from doing it at all. Second, it’s expensive, so no poors. Finally, it’s bloody hot. Not desert hot like Havasu or Los Angeles. Mid-west hot. Florida swamp hot. That’s what kept me away from it for years, despite a conveniently located studio. I abhor the heat.

I’m a pasty Scotch-Irish girl built for gloomy skies and frigid winds. I’m at ease in scarves, jeans, and motorcycle boots. It’s the end of summer so my husband and children are brown like toasted loaves of bread while I am a slighter pinker shade of pale.

My first class was Tuesday, two weeks ago today, and my second class was today. I meant to go back for the 6:00 a.m. class Thursday, but I couldn’t move. In fact, that first Bikram class had me out of commission for spinning as well. I would have shaken my fist at the Heavens and grumbled, “Bik-RAM!” but I couldn’t lift my arm.

Poor me, poor me, pour me a margarita.

The heat is repugnant, but the biggest challenge for me is my own frustration. My big, inflexible, fleshy body. It helps that my legs are strong from spinning. I can lock my knees and stand like a motherfucker. My Aries nature makes me angry when I cannot do something physical. As I reach for my foot and miss by a foot, or make contact but feel the slippery grip give way only seconds later, I feel the rage bloom in my chest where the peace is supposed to go. I can’t do this! My inner child fumes.

“If you fall out of a pose, don’t be hard on yourself,” the teacher says soothingly as if reading my mind. More likely reading my frown and body language.

During class, I thought, “I hate this. I don’t think I can continue a workout I hate.” I have a $49 unlimited first month, but will I be able to do this after that? The classes aren’t early enough in the morning to go before work, so can I truly see myself leaving work and coming here to this hell hole and sweating my way through a frustrating NINETY minutes of failure?

What do I tell my students? You have to fail. If you don’t fail, you’re doing it wrong. Angela M. Davis’ words bounce around in the rubber room of my mind: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

The child stamps her foot, But I HAAATE it!

Lying on my back in the heated room after 90 minutes of exertion, I can feel my heartbeat in at least seven different places. I did it. And I did it just a little bit better than the first time I did it. Maybe I can do this. Do I want to?

I think there is a worthwhile lesson for me in an exercise I’m not immediately good at. It hurts my ego, but I think my ego could use it.

Posted in Dieting/Fitness, Essays/Commentary, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Eat, Pray, Eat

I have spent years being useless at following through with fitness and diet plans unless those plans are to sit on my ass binge-watching TV while compulsively eating something yummy. When I announced on my blog and Facebook that I was going to work out every day from now until I go back to work on August 10th, friends and strangers encouraged a more moderate approach. It seems like a fair suggestion, but I can’t figure out a moderate approach to fanaticism.

My favorite binge foods are ice cream, cheese and crackers, and gummy candy. This menu was appropriate when I was on bedrest with my pregnancies if by “appropriate,” I mean “ill-advised, but let’s look the other way.” That was six years ago. With that fetus safely in first grade, I’ve had to have some honest conversations with myself.

What do I want to look like? My body will reflect the way I feed it. Do I want to look like I eat ice cream, cheese and crackers, and continents of Sour Patch Kids? Nope. I want to look like this:

jennifer_garner-5

But I don’t have this body type at all. I’m sure Jennifer Garner, who recently lost over 200 pounds in the form of Ben Affleck, is a typical small-boned miniature person like all actors are. I can reach for a more realistic goal if I find a different role model.

Like myself. Just not my current size. I know it wasn’t that long ago I said I was satisfied with my body and shape and I’d stop trying to be something I’m not. That I understood and accepted I don’t look like Sydney Bristow and the body I was born with isn’t too shabby anyway. Well, I say a lot of shit I don’t mean. Sure, I mean it at the time. Or I really want to mean it.

It’s a rollercoaster and it always has been.

Six months ago, Hell, four months ago, my plan to work out seven days a week would have been ridiculous. My unrealistic, extreme plans always fail because the star of that show is always me. I’m ever gung-ho to start an eating plan until it comes time to eat the food I don’t like (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) and forgo the ones I do (yummy things). In mid-March 2015, though, I started taking spinning classes and I’ve kept that up for 18 weeks now. I’m stronger and my cardiovascular fitness is impressive (a resting heartrate that went from 84 BPM to 67 BPM), but my size hasn’t changed. I move more easily and with less discomfort from my chronic back pain. My body is the same size, but it doesn’t jiggle.

Why isn’t it enough? What is this need to be “thin”?

I spent a week from Monday to Friday eating no sugar, no flour or bread products, and nothing fried. Corn tortillas took center stage as my favorite “grain product.” I like to eat the same meal over and over which some diet plans say is perfect, and others say is treason. Meal planning bores me. I like very few things (I’m a vegetarian who dislikes vegetables). In order to use up the ingredients I buy before they go bad, I have to repeat meals. The week was mostly corn tortillas with black beans, eggs or egg whites, a little cheese, salsa, and greens. When I was 30, I would’ve dropped 6-8 pounds eating like that for five days. At my current mid-forties age, I can’t seem to make that scale budge.

Going forward, now that I’m not in my twenties or thirties, I need to stop looking for fast weight loss diets and focus on long-term sustainable lifestyle changes that will show results gradually but permanently.

Posted in Dieting/Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Married Sex and Superfreaks

Amy Schumer is everywhere. Odie and I actually have our first double date in 6 years to see her movie this Friday. In season 2 of her show, Zach Braff plays her husband in a sketch where he and his buddies play cards and talk women. Braff keeps attempting to join in with graphic sex tales about his wife, played by Schumer.  The friends are grossed out.

“What’s with the wife stories? Are you some kind of psychopath?”

Braff keeps trying to join in on the woman-objectifying sex talk, but the friends get more skeeved out with every story. They remind him they know her as she intermittently appears with nachos and home baked cookies. “We all went to college together!” bemoans one.

Schumer nails it, as usual, by talking super dirty to Braff, her husband, in front of the boys, leaving Braff to gleefully declare, “I guess I should eat up. I gotta shit on those tits.”

I’m fascinated by the way people are disgusted by married sex. Not married people, of course, but the public at large. En masse, if you will. Schumer’s sketch encapsulates this disgust beautifully. There are underlying assumptions that there is nothing “freaky” or kinky (or art-worthy) about the sex married people have, and that it is simply not titillating. Or worse, that it doesn’t exist at all.

If you did freaky things when you were dating, what is it about the ring that makes you stop? Wouldn’t people be more inclined to get their kink on in the security of a marriage? I mean, condoms come off, we share a bathroom and a tax return. What’s there to hide at that point? My husband saw the obstetrician cut my taint with scissors. What do I have to be shy about?

While spinning to “Superfreak” when my instructor was in an “old school funk” mood, I wondered what “superfreaks” actually do. What can you “not take home to muth-AH?” Is it butt stuff? Because if that’s what “superfreaks” do, is it really “super” freaky? Or is he talking riding crop on the clit and shitting on her tits? I honestly have no idea.

When I was hanging out with my fuck buddy after high school, he confessed to me that his girlfriend had asked for anal once. It was like this “Can you even believe it?” story. I’ve dated men whose experience was so limited or traditional that a BJ was considered “freaky.” In the series Cathouse on HBO, the sex workers assure the camera that men come into the brothel and ask for things “their wives won’t do.” (In my case, that would be the laundry).

In the film Closer, when Julia Roberts’ character is confessing infidelity to her cheating husband and his double standard, he asks her detailed questions about the sex. After answering a few pointed questions she replies, “We did the things that people who have sex do.” Maybe that cleared it up for Clive, but we don’t know what other people do in their bedrooms. Some politicians and religious organizations are obsessed with regulating it (at least for other people). We assume that everyone is doing what we do, but at the same time, we wonder if we’re “normal.”

I haven’t read 5o Shades, but I’m told it’s supposedly BDSM. Which I had to look up because “in my day” it was just S&M. Most of my S&M experience was pretty tame, I guess. I never had a “safe word.” It was more like, “Can you loosen these? I can’t feel my hands.” I know for sure that pain does NOT excite me, which I learned by getting a full bikini wax from a Dominatrix. No, thank you. I’m not a sadist either because I didn’t ever get turned on by the things that hurt my partners. I just felt bad for them.

Unless it was them tripping and falling. Because that shit is always funny.

I’ve affectionately teased Odie about being “vanilla” and he has lovingly refrained from calling me a skank. You know your husband loves you when he says, “I guess if you really wanted to you could [redacted], or I guess I’ll [redacted]. I mean, I’m not exactly keen on the idea. But, I love you, honey, so… just let me know.” I’m not sure if it was his pained expression or the fact that he was actually wearing a t-shirt with a four-leaf clover on it that reads “Lucky Shirt,” but all I could do was laugh and laugh. And promise never to [redacted] or expect him to [redacted].

So, is the conversation I just described typical, normal married stuff? Or am I a freak? He did take me home to “muth-AH” so does that mean I’m NOT a superfreak, or he just didn’t know I was? Or have we come so far as a progressive society where “Truffle Butter” is actually a damn SONG that you now DO take superfreaks home to meet your parents? Are your parents superfreaks? What exactly are their super powers?

“Am I normal?” is the question that led to the creation of every search engine ever.

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a good time girl. “For a good time call,” as Sia would say. As long as you think binge watching Breaking Bad and eating gummy bears is “a good time.”

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary, Pure side-splitting comedy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments