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Monday, January 30, 2012

vile calumny and slander

Have you heard about the anti-cheese billboards in NY state? They were placed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group whose agenda is vegan and who have heavy ties with PETA. Their contention that cheese makes you fatty fat fat therefore is less motivated by concerns about your health, dear consumer, and more motivated by their animal rights political agenda.

Well. We all know how I feel about cheese, don't we kids? When I first heard about those billboards at the end of last week, I pulled out my camera to document what cheese I had in my house. Note: end of week=running low on groceries.

There was shredded parm:

There were goat cheese crumbles for my salads:

There were babybels, which no one has been eating because we only like the yellow or orange ones actually:

There was good ol' white trash Land O' Lakes white American from the deli for cheeseburgers:

There was a hunk of champagne cheddar, bought after I tasted a sample on a Costco run with a friend:

And there was string cheese, a staple of my diet:

There was also a tiny bit of part skim ricotta left in the tub, which I unfortunately didn't photograph.

I did, however, photograph myself this weekend.

See how fatty fat fat my cheese-filled diet has made me?

Suck it, PCRM.


here there be dragons

Here's my question to all y'all. In your fitness life, do you try new things? Or do you stick with the tried-n-true? In my admittedly limited experience, people mostly stick with what they know. At my Y, there are the pool people, and the Zumba/spin/cardio class people, and the cardio machine people, and the weightlifting people, and the yoga people. Oh! and the guys who just come to play pick up basketball. While the cardio machine people may wander over and do some half-assed weights and the weightlifting people may grudgingly grind out some cardio, what with the two areas right next to each other, I don't think there are a lot of pool people drying off and heading to Zumba or spinners squatting on their days off. And if there is anyone at my Y that takes advantage of all the fitness opportunities open to them, bless 'em, but I don't know who they are.

Of course, I count myself amongst the many. I lift weights. I grudgingly do some cardio on the machines. Outside the gym I go for walks and, rarely, runs in the nice weather, and I do just enough yoga on my own either on the mats after lifting or at home to keep my hips from completely seizing up. I have made it to one, yes *one*, actual yoga class in the almost a year and a half that I've belonged to the Y, and for god's sake, they're FREE. There are so many things I say I want to try, but do I ever make the time and effort? No.

I want to try spin class.

I want to try indoor rock climbing. (Not available of course at my ghetto Y, but one of our sister facilities in the fancy-pants neighborhood has one I could use.)

I want to try hot yoga. 'Cause having someone else fling their sweat onto me while I get in touch with my body and spirit seems fun. Or something. This however costs $$$.

I even want to try bootcamp some day despite the fact that a.) at my Y it takes place 3 days a week at 6:30am and the only physical activity I ever wish to engage in at that hour of the morning doesn't involve actually getting out of bed and b.) a friend who's a Vietnam-era vet laughs his ass off at upper middle class, middle aged people paying for faux "boot camp" and I can see his point.

Hell, I might even try water aerobics, if it wasn't almost entirely the province of little old ladies at my Y, many of whom use canes to make it to the actual pool. Eh. Maybe in 30 years.

So here's the thing. I am supposed to be on a rest week from lifting this week, mainly because all my weightlifting buddies gasped in horror that I haven't taken one since 4th of July. I'm bowing to the peer pressure. I'm sure my poor abused hammies will thank me. So what did I do today? I went to the gym and used the treadmill. Sigh. Not exactly breaking out of my rut, am I? Therefore I am setting myself a challenge. This week I will do one new fitness thing. And then I will report back, probably with humiliating but hilarious stories!

Stay tuned!


P.S. If you have an idea for something you'd like to see me try this week (for my health and/or my readers' amusement), drop me a comment!

Friday, January 13, 2012

well, you gotta keep your boobs somewhere

Can we talk sports bras? I am in the market for a new one. The one I have, pictured above, is 2 1/2 years old and has seen better days. The black (or something else I washed it with) has bled into the white trim, which is now kinda greige. One of the hooks is cockeyed and I have to keep squishing it back into its original form so it doesn't poke me in the skin when I lean against it. It's been washed a lot--I wear it several times a week, even though strictly speaking I don't need it to lift in (it just comes in handy for sticking my iPod into***)--so it's probably not as supportive as it once was. Yeah, in general: seen better days.

I've been looking online for possible replacements. Why not just get the same one that's served you for 2 1/2 years, Andrea? you ask. Well. Look at the back view above. See that top set of hooks between the scapulae? Once upon a time, they were a pain in the ass to fasten, but doable. Now, not so much. I would LIKE to attribute that to my awesome lat growth and say my arms don't meet as well behind my back as they used to, but honestly, it's more like I impinged my right shoulder doing dips and my right arm doesn't reach around my back quite as well as it used to. So, first set of criteria for the new bra? One set of hooks.

I have a bunch of criteria, actually. The one set of hooks goes both ways: can't have two sets, can't have none. Oh sweet baby Jesus, no. None of that pull on over your head nonsense. If there is anything as maddening as trying to get out of one of those pull-on sports bras when you're sweaty, I dunno what it could be. When I had one years ago I can remember spending five minutes trying to peel it off my sweat-soaked body and then having to suppress the urge to fling it across the locker room in frustration and stomp on it. Never again.

Another crucial requirement? It must come in actual bra sizes. Small, medium, large doesn't cut it. It has to be an actual bra, not a sports top. Additionally, it must of course come in my actual bra size (or indeed, one size larger, because I have to size up in sports bras) and my bra size is not all that typical.

A not crucial but "it would be nice" requirement would be for it to not cost 60-something bucks like the last one. If I'm wearing it primarily to stash my iPod in, it doesn't have to have *quite* the level of engineering as it did when I wanted it primarily for running.

Let's look at some candidates, shall we?

Natori Sports Bra 34439

Pros: plenty of room to hold the ol' iPod, only costs $48, comes in colors like gray and red and black. Note: I prefer a colored sports bra to one that's white or flesh-toned, so that when the straps are showing under my beater, they look less like bra straps and more like another top.

Cons: it has underwire. Not sure how I feel about underwire in a sports bra. Hmmmmm...

Freya Active Underwire Sports Bra 4492

Pros: that's a damn nice looking bra.

Cons: it cost $60 and not only has underwire, but molded cups too.

Panache Full-Busted Underwire Sports Bra 5021

Pros: another nice looking bra.

Cons: costs $68 and not only has underwire but "contour pads". Wut? Now they're just fucking with me.

Anita Active Front Close Sports Bra 5523

Pros: in the black color, it doesn't look quite so much like something your Great-aunt Madeline wears in the nursing home. It doesn't have underwire.

Cons: that's a whole lotta bra and a whole lotta hooks to fasten, even if they are in the front.

Shock Absorber D+Max Support Sports Bra N109

Pros: by the same company as my old one and seems to closely resemble it, with no underwire and no molded cups BUT only has one set of hooks in the back

Cons: even in black, it's just kinda "meh" looking and it's $59

Moving Comfort Fiona Sports Bra 350003

Pros: comes in black, sky blue, and brown, has no underwire, no padding, only $44, has rave reviews online

Cons: ummmmm, maybe we have a winner?!?

Anyone have a favorite sports bra they'd like to recommend?


***Please. If you think there's something weird about that, all I can say is obviously you didn't have an immigrant grandmother who could produce a hankie or a change purse from in between her voluminous cleavage at any moment

Thursday, January 5, 2012


That's Ed Zercher right there (or so google would have me believe), doing a feat of strength, skinny old man legs n' all. Mr Zercher was apparently a famous weightlifter/strongman in the 1930s whose legacy to us all was the--c'mon, you got this--the--the--that's right! the Zercher squat!

For those of you who don't know and who just cannot be arsed to watch the videos I painstakingly search youtube for just for your benefit, sigh, a Zercher squat is a front barbell squat with the bar held in the crook of the elbows. This is officially my new favorite exercise. But I've only done them once for practice and once for real, so, y'know, that might change. Right now I think they are the most fun you can have with 85% of your clothes on.

Oh! and that's one point I want to bring up right away. I initially tried these after failing very sadly at regular front squats. I just could not get the bar into a position that wasn't either digging into my clavicles or choking me. After I whined online about that (and made the obligatory bad sex joke about choking because, yes, I *am* just that immature), one of my online weightlifting buddies suggested the Zercher as an alternate quad-specific squat. However, she warned, they are uncomfortable on that inner elbow area. Oh! I said, I'll just do them wearing a hoodie. (As all my friends know, I own very many hoodies.) However, I didn't actually need a hoodie--a long sleeved t-shirt worked just fine, at least at the piddly weights I started out on. But, yeah, do wear sleeves to do these or, as another friend suggested, wrap a towel around the bar. Anything to cushion the pressure. This is NOT, I will have you know, analogous to using the pussy pad to back squat, an activity we here at MMINAE do not and will not countenance. You are not a sniveling wuss for wearing sleeves or wrapping the bar to Zercher. If you use the pussy pad, however, we can't be friends anymore. Oh, okay, we can, but I'll mock you. Just a little.

Besides hitting up the quads without making you feel like you have a barbell in your trachea, the Zercher has other benefits. It is supposedly the safest squat for your spine, so if you have back problems that preclude regular back squats, it might be a good alternative for you.*** However? Skip to around 2:30 of this video. (Or watch the whole thing. You got something better to do?)

Did you SEE how rounded his back was on that "Zercher deadlift"? Eek. My spine almost herniated a disk just watching that. From this I can conclude, Zercher squat=good for spine, Zercher deadlift=not so fucking much. In fairness, this dude went onto make more SquatRx videos, so apparently he ain't crippled himself yet.

Another benefit of the Zercher in my scant experience is that you can go low. By which I mean to say, I can go low. ATG, as they say. I found it extremely satisfying to feel my elbows slip between my thighs and have the bar actually touch the tops of them and KNOW I was down as far as I could possibly be, to know with that cue that there was no way I could accidentally/unconsciously cheat any of my reps.

The final benefit of these, at least in my gym, is that they will make people look at you and think, "WTF is she doing?" They are a fairly obscure exercise, but one that looks kinda old skool and badass. Extra points, I guess, if you do them wearing a hoodie with Ed Zercher's likeness on it. BRB, adding that to my gift guide!


***We here at MMINAE do not give out unsolicited medical advice nor do we take any responsibility for you doing something fucking stupid. Clear this shite with your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist, okay?