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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

there's a thesis in here somewhere

I swear to god.  I have a shitload of seemingly only tangentially related thoughts and anecdotes which I can just feel could and should come together to make a sweepingly brilliant point if only...  I dunno. It's tantalizingly there in my brain, like a sneeze that just won't happen.***  Nevertheless, since I can't leave the house till my laundry is ready to come out of the dryer due to my extremely rational fear that said dryer might burst into flames at any minute, I will now spew those thoughts and anecdotes in your direction, then tie them up in the sloppiest metaphorical bow you ever saw. You're welcome!

This train of thoughts began as my dear wish that I could write an entire blog post about how much I hate and despise Fitness magazine. I refrained from writing that post because three paragraphs of my ranting and seething, while undoubtedly therapeutic for me, would probably just make you all yell at your computer screens, Well, just don't read it, Andrea, DUH. In my defense, I got a year subscription for my Kindle almost free and one needs something to stare at on the train or bus when one has run out of lives in Candy Crush and one is too brain dead from work to read, like, an actual book. (Particularly since the primacy of text messaging has led to the demise of hilarious overheard cell phone conversations on public transportation, which is what *used* to keep me amused during my commute circa 2008.) Anyway. I have this Kindle subscription to Fitness. It's probably actively bad for my health, considering every article I read therein tends to elevate my blood pressure. The cutsey-poo language is like a million (French-manicured) nails on a million blackboards.  In the eyes of the editors, Fitness readers don't have workouts or gym visits. They have "sweat sessions."  I'm not sure why this annoys me quite as much as it does, but it ties in somewhat to the idea that sweating more means you've accomplished more and, especially, that the main purpose of exercise is to burn or (in the words of Fitness!) "torch" calories. I know I've probably frothed at the mouth about this before on here, but the media and the fitness industry pushes this idea, especially to women, that we should be exercising to burn calories! So we won't be fatty fat fat! So we'll have "bikini bodies"!

Well. Not only is exercise probably the least efficient way to lose weight (I'd link to the studies for y'all, but I'm a lazy lazy blogger), this ignores all the other wonderful benefits exercise has, benefits far more important than ( torching calories.  It's good for your heart. It's good for your bones.  Being fit increases your quality of life, especially as you get to be a sad, decrepit middle aged person like myself.  And maybe better than all that, exercise is fun. Or should be. There is no healthy toddler alive for whom running around in circles, attempting to climb on or jump off shit they shouldn't, dancing around crazily, or dragging things too big for them to pick up isn't The Funnest Day Evah. Exercise, done right, is what allows us all to get in touch with our Inner Toddlers.**** (Naps, too. Exercise and naps. Also, probably, boobs, our own or others'. I'm convinced.)

Even more important than good cardiac health, bones that don't snap like dry twigs, or FUN, there's the fact that exercise makes us feel better mentally. Segue into next anecdote...

I have a close (male) friend who's been overweight the entire 11 years I've known him, while being at varying levels of fitness during that time. There were a couple summers he was biking a lot and got into really good shape, though he only lost maybe ten pounds. (See above!) Then he had a bike accident which, while fairly minor, brought up some latent issues relating to an old friend who had actually died biking in traffic, and he didn't bike for a couple years in a sorta phobic reaction. Because biking was the only exercise he found fun, other than walking which he does partly for transportation (lives in the city and it's actually less of a pain in the ass for him to walk to work than drive) and partly for fun when the weather's nice, he gained the ten pounds back and lost a lot of his cardio fitness. Meanwhile, his on again-off again girlfriend, who knew he was overweight when she started dating him, was bitching at him that he needed to lose weight and get in better shape. He grudgingly went to the gym for awhile, even had a trainer, but because he wasn't doing it for fun or really even willingly, he didn't stay on the wagon. Meanwhile his girlfriend poo-pooed anything he did anyways as not enough, since to her the only thing that really counts as exercise is running. (Wut?)  Cut to this winter when girlfriend broke up with him suddenly (after only weeks before professing her love and how much she wanted to marry him, but that's a whole nother soap opera), partly because he hadn't lost the weight. (Again, wut?)  My friend started going to the gym again and doing indoor biking. Not because anyone was nagging at him, not because of any feeling that it was something he *should* do, but because he wanted honestly to get back into the shape he was in those summers he was biking so much. He was also pretty bereft about the sudden break up, depressed, not sleeping. To his absolute shock, he found himself enjoying going to the gym, because when he did, he felt BETTER. Less anxious, less depressed, just in a better mood. (He's also been going to this nutritionist who's telling him doing intervals are going to burn a shit ton of calories, but maybe she's read too many issues of Fitness. Whatever.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, my laundry is almost done and I need to get ready for my sweat session. See you later.


***the first analogy that came to mind was that it's like when you're just on the brink of an orgasm. Be thankful I didn't use it. Also? I know that sneezes don't happen in your brain. Just to be clear.

****My powerlifting friend Auntie Hammie once told this story about how when she was a little kid her dad would take her for walks in the woods by their house and she'd do the usual little-kids-in-the-woods things like find frogs and dig in the mud with sticks, but she'd also usually find the biggest rock that she could lift overhead and bet her dad she could carry it all the way home like that. And usually she could.  Not only was this sweet and amusing in how it foreshadowed her adult interests, it also made me heart her dad, whom I've never met. That's good parenting right there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

truth in advertising, part whatever

The esteemed Ms. Crabby said in comments that she wouldn't actually mind seeing some of my flexing pictures, and it got me to thinking why I really haven't been posting "progress" pics on the blog anymore. Oh, I showed you my abzzzz when they started peeking out again in December, but other than that, recent pictures have been scant.

There's a bunch of reasons for that.  One of them is that I've been toying with whether I should associate this blog with my real name. (Contrary to what you might think, "malevolent" is not found on any of my legal documentation, no matter how badass a passport that would in fact be.) It's been a good ten years since I've done anything serious with my writing, i.e. anything that would generate income from it or expose it to a wider audience, and I'm at a point where I think maybe it's time to change that back.  The few people who do read my crap these days often tell me they enjoy it, tell me I'm talented, blah blah, and when I see the number of non-entertaining talent-lacking people who have actual readerships, I sometimes think, damn, girl, you ought to get serious about this writing shit again. And I'm not sure that getting serious includes linking your name and your writing to pictures of yourself in your underwear. I could be wrong though. Anyone who wants to link to Pulitzer prize winners in their bikinis, please feel free.

Another reason is that I'm not sure self-indulgent pictures of me are really what you guise reading this come here for.  I don't delude myself that anyone visiting this blog does so because they're inspired by my awesome fitness example or because I have anything to teach anyone. I'm pretty sure anyone reading this is here because we share a general interest in the topic of fitness and I manage to write about it in a way that amuses you. Or because you googled "serena williams boobs." Tomato, tomahto. I don't judge. But I'm not sure bathroom selfies of me in a sports bra satisfy either of those needs.

A third reason pictures on here are more scant than they used to be is that I take a lot fewer. As I'm pretty sure I've posted before, prior to being forced to take from-every-angle scantily-dressed pics for that transformation contest, I'd pretty much sworn off that activity because in general, it just makes me feel bad. Progress pictures often feel like non-progress pictures, especially when using the camera self-timer, and taking twenty shots in order to get three or four half-decent ones is just exhausting and demoralizing. So much about whether you look good, mediocre, or horrid in a picture is about lighting and angles that it's hard to determine what's even objectively true.  All my favorite muscle definition pictures have been taken in my bathroom mirror. Something about the lighting in that room either captures how jacked I am or makes me look more jacked than I am.  WHO CAN SAY?

Which leads to reason 3b, as it were.  Even pictures in which I think I look good, I am so super well aware that I only look good "for my age."  I'm an average middle aged woman who's just a little more in shape than most middle aged women.  If you wanna look at people for their aesthetic value, there are plenty of DLBs, Klokovs, or 20 year old college students on the interwebs. Plus Serena Williams' boobs, of course. You certainly don't need me and I'm not quite self-absorbed or delusional enough to think you do.

But, since I was asked, and since now it feels like it would be lying to perhaps let you all imagine me in your heads as far more ripped and lean and muscular and whatever than I really am, here's some show n tell.

My all-time favorite bathroom mirror selfie. Vascular like a motherfucker, I am.

During the recent Neverending Diet of Sadness.

Faux tanned, oiled up, 111 lbs, and still the Bulgy Polish Catcher's Thighs are with us always.

But Eddies a handsome devil, isn't he?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

to prove i wasn't lying...

But first, for Mary Anne:



but never fear

Cranky Cat is on your side...

and that's all the tax-related cat humor I got.

This is gonna be real confusing for people who don't read the comments.  But people who don't read comments deserve what they get, nomsayin?

Okay!  Here's photographic proof of what I did today.

That's four servings of pasta with (ground turkey) meat sauce [472 calories, 11.8g F, 59.5g C, 34.8g P], four servings of black beans & rice with turkey [385 calories, 14.1gF, 35,2g C, 30g P], three servings of chicken stir fry [307 calories, 10.7g F, 18.3g C, 28.9g P] and twelve banana almond protein muffins [178 calories, 12.2g F, 11.8g C, 8g P].  My freezer is stocked. And my head didn't explode from the math.

But it was close.


smuggy mcsmuggerson, party of...

Now that we've discussed what a bad, horrible person I am, let's segue into how awful other people are. Because there's nothing better for one's self image than realizing that no matter how much of an a-hole you are, those jerks you have to deal with on a daily basis are much worse, amirite?

I've made mention before that I hang around on an online forum full of chicks who lift. I need an outlet for posting about my PRs or lack thereof, a place to post douchey flexing pictures without shame, and the camaraderie of other people for whom DLB or Klokov are actual celebs, y'know?  It keeps me from boring my real life friends (or my patient, saintly blog readers) TOO much. And for the most part, it's been a wellspring of support, lulz, and yeah, actual friendships. But as with any community of any kind anywhere, there are those people. The ones who set your teeth on edge and make you want to choke them with one of their own dirty sweat socks. (What? You don't get those impulses? Really?) My least favorite are the regular (and somehow well-respected?) posters who are bitchy, humorless, and smug, and who have canned, snotty one-size-fits-all responses to all the newbie posts. There's this one woman who regular spouts off that if you don't weigh every morsel of food that goes into your mouth, including prepackaged foods, on a digital kitchen scale, in grams, "you have *no* idea how much you're eating." Oh, bitch, please. As an experiment, I just went into my kitchen and weighed four slices of Stop & Shop whole wheat bread (which the nutrition label helpfully told me weigh 28g each) and found them to weigh 26, 28, 30, and 30g respectively. Then I made myself an almond butter sandwich because I was hungry and that bread smelled good. But, um, never mind that.  The point is, those slices of bread deviating a couple of grams of weight in either direction is hardly likely to be the tipping point in anyone's dieting success or failure and to smugly suggest otherwise is crazypants.  But time and again I see this advice delivered in a superior tone. Those extra twenty calories you didn't account for this week because you refused to weigh your prepackaged bread is obviously why you're fatty fat fat, you stupid cow.

Okay, maybe I'm just cranky about this because one of the things I'm procrastinating on doing today is a crapload of bulk cooking and baking for future work lunches and the part of that which is most odious is figuring out the calories and macros for the entire recipe and then how much is in each serving I portion out into my (fake) tupperware.

No, seriously, even without the 50 key calculator, it's a pain in my butt.

No, seriously, I'm not even bad at math, but it's just tedious.  If I could just cook up a bunch of food without worrying about how many calories and grams of protein were in each serving and whether my servings were more or less equal and blah blah, it would make the whole production less frustrating. And I'd be halfway done with it right now instead of not done at all and giggling over math memes on the internet.

Obviously it's all that fault of that smug bitch I can't stand, not the failure of my own self discipline, that I'm posting cat stripper pictures while my ground turkey sits neglected in the fridge. Obviously.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

judgy mcjudgerson, party of one

So, I found some Klokov video--don't worry, I'm not gonna force yous guys to watch it--which is basically Mr and Mrs Klokov Go to the Gym.  (One of Klokov's many charms is that he puts up a lot of youtube.) I shared this with some friends who are not sick of Klokov videos and, in doing so, I made a quip that Mrs Klokov should probably invest in some hair ties.  'Cause, you know, she has long hair and she's in the gym lifting with it down around her shoulders.  And it occurred to me that as non-judgmental as I strive to be, this is something I will judge all the damn time. If you have long hair and you are doing what you purport is a workout with your hair loose, I will roll my eyes (at least inwardly) and think you are Not Serious.  Which is ridiculous because I know that there are many other things people feel make you Not Serious that I myself do (wear makeup to the gym, wear tight and/or expensive clothing in the gym) and I am as serious as poison ivy on your genitals.

(Not that Poison Ivy. I'm pretty sure a good portion of the population would enjoy her on their genitals.)

Anyway. I started thinking about all the things that I do in fact judge people for in the gym, if only for a brief fleeting moment.  I would have previously said that I don't judge women who work out in a sports bra without a shirt over it, just that it doesn't happen in my gym, but recently it has started happening at my Y, and I think I'm judging it not for the act itself, but because this girl is flouting the implied social norms of our gym, i.e. that everyone keeps their shirt on, and therefore that it must be for attention.  I also find myself judging her because I only ever see her in the weight area with either a bro I assume is her boyfriend or a gaggle of other girls. And, yeah, I think you're Not Serious if you only ever train with your SO or a group of friends. Which, again, is ridiculous because really, am I gonna disrespect Dana Linn Bailey when a good portion of her youtube is her working out with Rob?  Yeah, yeah, I know most of you are as aware of who DLB is as you are Klokov, but she's a big deal. Here's a visual.

A visual in which DLB's doing something else I judge people for, wearing gloves to lift.  Though, on second viewing, maybe those aren't gloves, maybe they're Versagrips or similar. Which I won't judge you for.  Oh, I'm such a douche.

ANYWAY, this girl who is lifting at my Y with her shirt off and never alone is very young, maybe 19-20 at most, and it occurs to me I should cut her a huge break because when I was 19 years old no way would I go to the gym by myself and also when I was 19 years old I was prone to doing things for attention because of my insecurities.  Insecure 19 year old girls do lots of things that their future 51 year old selves tsk-tsk at when their future 51 year old selves should be having empathy instead.  So my new resolution is to stop judging No Shirt Girl and to believe that she is serious and that she's gonna keep coming to lift and that eventually she'll be able to do it by herself without a support group.

Also gonna try to stop judging people like Mrs Klokov who don't believe in hair ties. Maybe their hair is just less of an annoyance to them than mine is to me.

Ain't ever gonna stop judging people who use the pussy pad, though, or 200lb guys who put 25lbs on the calf raise. Please.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

i wanna do a couple other very bad things

Well, that depends on your definition of bad and your definition of want, but we'll get to that later. First, a tanning update.  I cracked and bought a Groupon for tanning, despite my certainty that it will give me cancer instantaneously, and then I also bought some super special tanning bed lotion that cost over $20 off Amazon that some other internet friends pimped out to me (I was so ignorant of this whole process I was completely unaware you needed super special tanning lotion) and then I was so busy at, and tired from, work that I didn't exactly leave myself time to do the tanning before I have to take my "after" pictures this week. Plus, honestly, I'm still a little skeered.  But I have to use that Groupon and that lotion, so it'll eventually happen. Meanwhile I fell back on the Tan Towels the lovely Ms Bethany recommended.  I am not sure my arms are a color actually found on humans in nature and my belly and legs need another coat today, having started out extra white, but I have to say, the faux tan did bring out my definition in the gym lighting last night.  So, at least partial success.

Now, onto other matters.  One of the very bad things I want to do is only bad in the sense that I have always been against it and have come out against it publicly in this very blog. And I don't so much actually want to do it as much as think I should do it. So, with those caveats out of the way, lemme set the scene.  I have always maintained that I do just enough cardio to keep me in shape for everyday life, i.e. I can sprint for and catch a train successfully without feeling like I'm gonna die. Well, a couple of Saturdays ago I was in that exact position, sprinting to catch the commuter rail home from work.  I made the train. And so did the people just behind me, a couple in which the mom was carrying a nine month old and the dad was carrying a folded up stroller. I made the train but I did feel mildly like I was gonna die. It's not that my heart rate was that high or that it didn't come back down, but my lungs killed. And I thought, Andrea, your VO2 max must suck or something and you couldn't have even been running *that* fast. (Nothing to disillusion you about how fit you are as being paced by people carrying a twenty pound infant and a baby carriage!) So, I glumly admitted to myself that I should probably suck it up and do a little more strenuous cardio a little more often. Specifically, I should suck it up and do HIIT, which I have always maintained I have no intentions of doing, since doing sprint intervals till you feel like puking sounds like no fun at all and I think working out ought to be, on the whole, fun.  Deadlifting is fun. Farmers walks are fun. Hitting shit is fun.  Even weighted planks are fun. Intervals are not so fun.

But I'm considering them.

And now onto the second thing. People who are grossed out by potty talk and the mention of bodily functions really need to bail now.  Got it?

Are you gone?

I mean it. If you read after this, it's your own damn responsibility.

Okay.  The second bad thing I would really like to do is colonic irrigation.  I first read about this in the Globe sometime in the '90s*** and it immediately seemed to me like something I would like to try.  To delve straight into the TMI, though I would not say I am chronically constipated, I often feel like when I go, I could go more, but it won't happen.  Particularly when I am dieting and on the poverty calories.  In fact, the best thing about having a cheat day while dieting is not eating all the crap food I've been missing as much as the monster dump the next day.  That feeling of my intestines being totally cleaned out, not in an unpleasant diarrhea way but in a nothing's-blocked-up way, is extremely... pleasurable? satisfying? nice. I'ma go with "nice" because any other terminology sounds vaguely sexual and I'm pretty sure you people are already vowing never to read this blog again.  ANYWAY.  I have always had it in my head that that is the feeling colonic irrigation would give you.  But I obviously never did it in 1994 and over the years I sorta forgot that the whole procedure ever existed.  Until I recently saw it mentioned again somewhere. Being in the midst of my poverty calorie cycle and not happy with the bathroom consequences of such, I thought ah, yes! I always wanted to do that!  So I started googling.

It costs a lot of money.  Plus, I'm sure the initial consultation that goes along with my $130 first session would be all about how I'm not supposed to be eating meat or ingesting sugar or drinking beer or whatever and I'm not sure I could sit and listen to that spiel when all I want is to get that empty feeling of a mondo poop.  Not to mention that when I picture in my head what the operators of some place called ISIS Holistic Clinic must look like, all I get is this:

And then I start giggling, because Fred Armisen in that wig is never not funny.  So, colonic irrigation, i.e. hydrotherapy, probably wouldn't end well for me.  Which is just as well since the medical community is probably as against it as they are tanning beds.  Best case scenario, you've wasted your money engaging in an activity like douching or liver "cleanses" that presumes to clean an area of the body that totally doesn't need any outside help; worst case scenario, some hippie chick who looks like Fred Armisen doesn't know what she's doing and perforates your intestine.

Still sounds better than HIIT.


***apparently this was some kind of big fad briefly in the early 90s, as it's a punch line in one of the first Ab Fab episodes as well.  Saffy's yelling at Eddie about how she outsources responsibility for everything in her life including "...and once a week someone shoves a hose up your bum and flushes it out for you!"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

foam rolling, the sequel

I wrote about foam rolling for y'all once before.  Two years ago when I first bought mine, to be exact. Embarrassingly enough, even though that foam roller sat on a mat at the top of my stairs where I had to walk by it multiple times every day and even though I took the time to youtube all those foam rolling videos and even though I am a massage therapist licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and thus apparently should know better, I have never really used it all that much.

A few weeks ago, however, I tweaked my low back a bit and it really stiffened up on me in an annoying way.  I felt confident I wasn't injured, just super tight, and I really didn't want that to keep me from my usual workouts, especially since I'd so recently regained my mojo and gotten back into a good, regular routine. Foam rolling to the rescue! But not in the usual way. I'd been reading about people using it in their warmups, rather than, or in addition to, after their workouts.  Apparently this is indeed in line with current scientific thinking.  So I decided to try it, what with my gym having several foam rollers lying around.  They're not as hard and thick as the one I have at home (shut up), and one of them had what appeared to be someone's toenail clipping adhered to it (I don't even...), but they're conveniently there.  So now I go in, do a lil elliptical/crossramp to get the blood flowing, foam roll my back, glutes, and (occasionally when I'm feeling particularly masochistic) IT bands, then lift.  As the British say (at least on TV--don't mock me, British readers), it works a treat!  At the worst of my back stiffness--which has thankfully resolved--I was even foam rolling in between sets to get through my leg days.  Without the foam rolling, I'd have said fuck it and gone home.

If I had any doubts that this was the right path to take, they'd have been assuaged by the fact that Klokov rolls during his warmup.  Except that, y'know, he uses actual pipe.  Because he's Klokov and more badass than you or I or basically anyone.

Yes, yes, I know that's in Russian.  Klokov's in tights and an extremely snug shirt, basically putting his foot behind his shoulder. Do you REALLY need to know what he's saying?

I thought not.


I promise I'll stop talking about Klokov soon. As my friends know, I tend to get fascinated with a famous person and want to read all about them, discuss them, etc, then it passes.  Be glad you didn't have to live through my Jay-Z period.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

cold fat and klokov

Oh, hi guys. I'm on the home stretch of my miserable diet body transformation, and while I'm not quite as lean as I was immediately pre-surgery in 2012 (damn surgical menopause), I now weigh the same and I *am* lean enough to be noticing some alarming interesting things going on in my body.

You can see where my ribs connect to my sternum in-between my boobs.  I freaked out when I noticed this and pulled out my anatomy references to see if there was, like, some part of my pec I was supposed to be developing there to cover that shiz up. But no. It's all fascia there with fat over it and when the fat is gone: chicken bones between your breasts! Woohoo!  Apparently the pro-ana girls call the ability to see your entire sternum and the ribs connected there to your "xylophone" and covet it as greatly as they covet the fabled thigh gap, but it really is not attractive.  I think the only way to be very lean and not have that is to have gigantic fake tatas that are positioned really unnaturally close together. And that has, y'know, it's own aesthetic problems. Chicken bone chest it is! At least until I gain some fat back.

Meanwhile the only place left on my body that does still have a significant amount of fat on it is the back/side of my thighs. Bulgy Polish Catcher's Thighs for the muthafuckin win!  Those saddlebags will see me through a war, a famine, or possibly the zombie apocalypse.  But they are getting smaller. Last night after I finished working out it was 9:30 and I was blissfully alone in the women's locker room, all the cardio bunnies and pool ladies having sensibly already gone home. As is my wont, I thus took the opportunity to wander around in my undies, closely examining my fat, muscles, and veins in the mirrors.  Like a douche.  I was interested to note that my thigh fat was bright red (in contrast to the locker room pallor of the rest of me***) and when I touched it, it was ice cold.  This pinged something in my brain. I thought I remembered reading something ages ago about how if your fat is cold after exercising, that means it's being metabolized.  I was all excited to go on my weightlifting message boards this morning and ask my smart friends about it.

Well.  One of my smart friends who vaguely remembered that cold fat meant *something* went and did the web search for me.  And I am saddened to report that what it means is the exact opposite.  Cold fat in a woman's hips and thighs means it's stubborn fat, fat that's very difficult to get rid of, and part of the reason it's difficult to get rid of is that there's very little blood supply to it, so it's difficult to mobilize those fat cells outta there and into the bloodstream.  The little blood supply is why it's cold. Duh. The answer to this is apparently fasted cardio.  Or not.  This battle of the metabolic nutritionists makes little difference to me as fasted cardio ain't ever gonna happen.  I already get up at 4:30 am on work days and I sure as hell don't care enough about getting rid of my saddlebags to get up any earlier. Besides, the zombie apocalypse is probably closer than you think.

Meanwhile, while I was getting my friends to use google for me, another friend's journal contained this Klokov video:

If you don't know who Dmitry Klokov is, what's wrong with you?  Um, I mean, if you don't know who Dmitry Klokov is, he's a Russian weightlifter and one of the strongest, most flexible, and coolest humans on the planet.  He's also not *too* hard to look at.  The things I could do to those thighs...

I complained to my friend that FINE, now I was obviously going to waste my whole day off youtubing more Klokov video. To which she replied, that's not a waste. Another friend popped in to say that she follows his instagram and that's a sweet sweet rabbit hole you probably want to fall down...

So, in recompense for your having to read about the weird shit my body's doing, here's some more Klokov for you.  Enjoy!

It's amazing. Who foresaw that skinny kid would become KLOKOV?  Obviously someone did.


***Still no tan. Working on it.