Archive | exercise

I’ve been fitbit

It started innocently enough. A friend of mine who just had her second child bought herself a fitbit, a little piece of digitized plastic that tracks how many steps you take in a day, the miles you walk, and the calories you burn.  Or the lack thereof, depending.

R. swore by her little doodad; she walked and she walked and now, damned if she isn’t on week four of a  couch to 5K program.  She swears the fitbit got her moving.

How could a little piece of plastic with a happy face on it motivate a person, I thought to myself, tossing another handful of candy corn into my mouth.

Here’s the thing: in New York, people walk. New Yorkers walk everywhere and if we’re not walking, we’re running to the subway, hauling ass up and down the stairs.  New Yorkers are like sharks: stop moving and we’ll die.

But out here in the land of cheap gas and big cars?  It’s a bit like walking in LA: people do it, but everyone around you thinks you’re a lunatic.  Plus the long distances between, say, where you live and where your children play football every damn day because you’re a spineless parent who didn’t say no exercise their angelic bodies on the football pitch, necessitate driving, which is why my butt is slowly morphing into the shape of my car seat.

Besides, we are moving into the season of festive eating, which will be followed quickly by the season of omigodimturningfifty and I think it’s time that I rid myself of that pesky baby weight.  The baby just turned nine, and although I hate to rush into anything, I guess I’d like to start my next decade sylph-shaped rather than car-shaped.

I swallowed my skepticism (along with more candy corn) and bought a fitbit.  Not the super-duper fitbit that measures everything, even the efficiency of my sleep (It’s simple: I don’t get enough sleep. Don’t need a piece of plastic to tell me that: just look at the baggage under my eyes.)

For the past few weeks, I’ve had the fitbit clipped to my pocket and every night it syncs to my computer.  It’s a little bit addictive, I have to say.  A person doesn’t want to think she can be so easily manipulated motivated by smiley faces and cheerful messages but . . . the other day I was in my office and had about 45 minutes before my next meeting. Usually I would check in on my other addiction — Tom and Lorenzo — but instead I went for a little walk outside.  Added a few thousand steps to my daily total … all in search of a CHAMP! button.

I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight yet, but now that I’ve finished the candy corn (imported from the States by a visiting friend, who I’m not sure I should thank or curse), I have a fighting chance. And yes, I know I could just choose not to eat the candy corn, but that seems just silly, given that Josh went to all the trouble of bringing it from Brooklyn.

I’m going to fitbit myself all the way to fifty, I guess, but just look at that little smiling face.  Wouldn’t that face make you take an extra step or two?

 

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Continue Reading · on November 28, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, aging, exercise, growing up, me my own personal self, NaBloPoMo

in which I share a cup with Gwyneth Paltrow

I have a Very Big Birthday coming up in  two months.  REALLY BIG.

As if to celebrate that fact, my body has started to disintegrate. I have this twingey thing in my knee, and then there’s that little hitch in my hip, and my neck sounds like there are cornflakes in it. Plus I have a shoulder thing.  I don’t know if years of waitressing, back in the twentieth century, have finally exacted their toll, or if I hurt myself doing something stupid, like exercising, but my shoulder has been out of whack for almost a year.

I went to an orthopedist and we did the whole healing-by-technology thing: MRI, Xray, electro-stim.  The shoulder got better . . . but it didn’t get fixed.  But now, with that big birthday looming in front of me, I decided that dammit, I don’t want to take a crunchy stiff shoulder into my next half century, so I went to an acupuncturist.

I’ve never been to an acupuncturist before, not out of any sense of doubt but because I am a freaking coward and so why would I deliberately choose to have someone stick needles into my flesh?

I walked into the office and saw these on the little table:

cups

Well, I thought to myself, I’m here for the needles. Not the glass cup flambé.

Wrong. Before I could say “gwyneth paltrow,” the doctor had a wad of flaming cotton waving way too close to my hair, thank you very much. Like a magician, she waved the flame, then did a press, twist, and pop with about ten little glass jars, all along my shoulder and collarbone.  “Thousands of years old, this cupping practice,” she said. “Dries out humidity in the muscle. But don’t worry,” – press, twist, pop – “I’m not doing it for long enough to leave marks.”

"Anchorman The Legend of Ron Burgundy"- New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

Humidity in the muscles? Sounds dangerously close to the Elizabethean idea of each body being composed of four humors (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic), but I didn’t want to argue with someone holding fire so close to my head.

Then the needles came out. I expected needles in my right shoulder because that’s the shoulder with the problem.

Wrong again.

The needles were carefully stuck along my eyebrows, on both sides.

And as for those people who told me “don’t worry, the needles don’t hurt” … wrong again.

Ouch. And ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.  One ouch per needle stuck along my eye socket. I could see the needles in my peripheral vision, waving slightly, like whiskers or oddly placed tentacles. It’s not a look I recommend.

Those needles went out and another set went in on my left knee and left calf, which are still really marked up from the horrible fall I took this summer.  The doctor tsk-tsked at my injuries. “You are very active,” she said. I think perhaps she meant that I should cease and desist from all forms of exercise, advice that I’d be glad to take except then my incipient insomnia would come roaring back, I’d stop sleeping, become even grumpier with my children than I already am, take up drinking in order to help myself sleep, give myself a headache, and the entire grumpy cycle would start again.  So I will have to keep exercising in order to prevent verbal child-abuse and alcoholism.

Here’s the thing: when a needle goes into my left calf? It sends stabbing pains up and down my leg.  “Yes, that’s an old injury you have,” said the doctor, noticing my white-knuckled clutch on the edge of the table. “It’s going to take a while for the pain to go away.”

Oh goody.

I wish I could say that after my session with needles and cups, which  sounds more like I went to a tarot reading than a doctor,  I went off to play three sets of tennis with no problem.

Not exactly.  The shoulder feels better but still makes a whole variety of odd noises as I move; clearly it’s going to be a while before I’m ready to challenge Nadal on the court (like, um, never).

In the meantime, though, I’m feeling quite goop-y in my use of alternative medicine and have a strange desire to re-name my children after pieces of fruit and old testament prophets.  I think maybe the needles along my eye socket went into my frontal lobe.

 

Continue Reading · on November 8, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, aging, exercise, health, NaBloPoMo, pop culture

leave your shoes at the door

 

What it looks like when repairmen come to your house in Abu Dhabi:

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Everybody’s shoes get left at the door–whether it’s friends stopping by for a visit or workers coming to see why the dishwasher spews water all over the kitchen floor.

And even if I say to the repairmen, “no, it’s okay, please keep your shoes on,” the guys nod and smile and leave their shoes at the door.  It’s not just repair crews, either–furniture delivery people pause at the doorstep to kick off their shoes, no matter what they’re carrying and no matter what I say; my cleaning lady does the chores barefoot.

Bare feet seem less intimate, somehow, than stocking feet.  Sometimes one of the maintenance guys will have a hole in his sock, sometimes the socks don’t match; it’s like a tiny glimpse into their lives.  It’s an oddly vulnerable thing, isn’t it, that toe poking out of a worn sock?

Seeing the shoes lined up outside a door–or just inside the door, next to the rack that holds the “inside shoes” (flip-flops, slippers, slides) is one of those small moments when I realize I’m very far from “home.”

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading · on November 5, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, exercise, Politics, UAE, What’s It Like?

The Moral of the Skinned Knee

I’m borrowing the title of this post from The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, that great book about the importance of letting your kids feel some of the bumps in life instead of coddling and protecting them every inch of the way.  Judging from this article about the can-you-top-this attitude towards “care packages” sent to camp, parents seem not to be getting the message, however: smuggling candy to your kid by taking out half a box of kleenex, filling it with candy, and then hot-glue-gunning the box back together? Shoving M&Ms into hollowed out tennis balls, or tampon tubes?  Really, America? really?

Anyway. Here’s what I learned today:  you shouldn’t leave late for yoga class and half-trot to the CitiBikes stand in hopes of grabbing a bike and getting to yoga on time if you’re on an uneven New York City sidewalk and you happen to be wearing your favorite sparkly FitFlops.

Because you will somehow stumble on the loose cement and you will go sprawling on the sidewalk like … like … like a middle-aged lady falling.

And you will lie face-down on the sidewalk for a split-second and think to yourself, before everything starts to hurt, “oh crap is this going to hurt.” And then it does begin to hurt and you realize that you’ve pulled not just one layer of skin off but several layers of skin, in several different places, and you will hurl a long litany of bad words into the quiet air of an early Sunday morning.

You will wonder for a moment if you can still make it to yoga, and then you will realize that there is a wee trickle of blood going down your shin, so probably not the best thing for a yoga class, and you will hobble back to your apartment.

You will not get to yoga but you will sit on the couch with your bloody knees and read about over-indulged children at summer camp.  You will wish that someone would bring you a tennis ball full of M&Ms, or at very least a cookie, but no one does. You realize that not only do your legs hurt but also that you are going to have the mother of all scabs on your legs.

There are several morals here, the first of which could be: don’t exercise. The second might be: only run in closed-toe shoes.  The third might be: always have a stash of M&Ms on hand, because sometimes a skinned knee needs more than band-aids. It needs chocolate. Or maybe a drink. I wonder how the care-package crazies would smuggle alcohol into their little darlings’ camps? Vodka in orange slices?  And god forbid any of these children end up in prison: mom will be right there smuggling contraband in by whatever means necessary.

Ouch.

leg

 you should see the other knee…and my right elbow…and the palms of my hands. 

I am way too old for these sorts of booboos. 

Continue Reading · on July 22, 2013 in exercise, Kids, NYC, Parenting

in which I am humiliated by a fiberglass plank

I have good balance. I can do standing balance poses in yoga (the mildly twisty ones, not the super-twisty ones); I have mastered the rudiments of stand-up paddle-boarding; I’ve even done some yoga moves on a paddle-board.

So I figured that learning to surf would be easy. Liam and Caleb did it in one lesson, in Weligama Bay, where the waves break evenly along a broad expanse of beach. The Sri Lankan teen-agers who were teaching them simply pushed the boards out to where the waves broke, aimed the board in the right direction and gave it a shove, saying “paddle, paddle, paddle.”  The boys paddled, they wobbled, they stood, they hung ten.

And suddenly they were surfin’ safari dudes who couldn’t wait to do it again.

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Watching the boys, I says to myself, I says “self, you’ve got balance, and you’ve got an Athleta bathing suit–what more does a gal need?”

The next day we got a tuk-tuk to bring us back to the bay and I rented myself a board. I paddled out into those nice gentle waves ignoring the twinges of pain in what’s become a Middle Aged Shoulder, I watched the boys and the other beginning surfers, I got myself lined up, I paddled, I wobbled, I…

…went face first into the ocean.

That board kicked my ass.

Who knew there were so many ways to face-plant into a wave? Even with the help of the surf teacher, who tugged me into the right alignment on the wave, the same thing happened again and again: the board would dart forward on the energy of the wave, I would start to stand, and…

splat.

Again and again and again, as my kids whizzed by doing that bouncing thing with their front leg to make the board go faster, and clamoring to go out to the big waves.

I was not an Athleta gal shredding across the wave’s curl. I was that Athleta gal’s middle-aged mom with a bad sunburn and a borrowed rash guard t-shirt belly flopping off a tongue-shaped piece of fiberglass.

Athleta, summer catalog 2007, Sayulita,Mexico, surfer Julie Coxthis is not me

But you know, mom’s got some pride, and I didn’t want to hurl the board onto the sand and stomp off down the beach.  Especially because it was only about nine in the morning, too early to drown my sorrows in a festive tropical drink.

One more, one more, one more…flop, flop, flop.

Then on what I told myself would be the absolute last time, I stood up! Flying, gloriously, for probably an entire 2.5 seconds, before again eating the wave.

It was enough, that tiny ride. We’re planning a return trip to Sri Lanka and before we go, I’m going to tend to the Middle Aged Shoulder, find some muscles somewhere (maybe on the internet? you can get everything on the internet, can’t you?), study the pictures in the Athleta catalog in order to find the bathing suit that comes with mad surfing skillz.

Besides, by the time we go back to Sri Lanka, I might finally have gotten all the seawater out of my lungs—and how better to go into my next decade than on a surf board?

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Continue Reading · on April 8, 2013 in exercise, Kids, me my own personal self, sports, Travel, yoga

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