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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

yoga beer and battle ropes

There was a time when one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday involved lifting at the Y in the early afternoon, then going across the street to the hipster cafe for a salad and a beer, then walking down to the yoga place and taking the late Sunday afternoon restorative yoga class. Having a beer before yoga always felt vaguely naughty to me, and vaguely naughty is my middle name.  This little bit of bliss came to an end when a.) the other hipster cafe on the same block closed down and the overflow of patrons meant I can rarely get a seat at my hipster cafe on a Sunday, even at the bar and b.) the yoga place switched the late Sunday class from restorative to Vinyasa, which is really too much damn work after lunch and a beer, okay?

Why'm I telling you this? Well, yesterday I found, and bought, what I will now and till the end of time continue to refer to as Yoga Beer.  Because it amuses me.  As do so very many things.

I had to buy it just for the name and (awesome) label alone but it's really quite tasty, even if I'm not the hugest fan of Belgian-style wheat beers.

Now, onto topics that actually have something to do with, y'know, fitness. Like battle ropes. Which apparently my Y recently got. They're wrapped around one of the legs of the TRX and I hadn't ever noticed them or seen anyone touch them until last week, when a dude went to town on them while I was stretching. That looks like fun, I thought. And also: the fuck? have those *always* been there?  I've decided that they have NOT always been there, since yesterday at the gym I saw a variety of people using them, including one of the big powerlifting regulars whom I like to watch lift and the Pack of Latino Mommies.  (I always stereotype chattering, slightly overweight women in their late 20s/early 30s who work out together as "mommies." Is that terribly unfair of me? Or just, y'know, accurate? You be the judge.)  I figure we can't all have suddenly discovered the damn things at once, so they must be new equipment.

Anyway, there are apparently a ton of youtube videos that will teach you how to use these things, but I picked this one to share with you all.

Because it includes a hot shirtless dude. (You're welcome.)  Who apparently doesn't know the difference between "to" and "too" but hey! sometimes if they're pretty enough, they're allowed to be stupid, amirite? OH, JUST KIDDING. On a whole number of different levels.

Anyway. I am going to attempt those things soon.  With my shirt on. Because I'm only vaguely naughty. C'mon now.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

working out as a means of loving your body

Sorry, kids, no clever title today.  This post is hard enough to write without wasting my finite amount of brain power on making the title something that draws you in. Journalism FAIL.

Why is this post so hard to write?  Well, mainly because I'm afraid it's going to be offensive. It probably is offensive. I honestly have a lot of offensive opinions. Mainly I keep them to myself. Despite my vaunted malevolence, I really try to be a kind person and part of being a kind person is not inadvertently**--or purposely--hurting other people's feelings***. But nevertheless I'm going to soldier on here because this shit's been on my mind lately due to conversation Elsewhere, and hope no one gets so offended they never wanna read this blog again.

Okay!  Back around 2007-2009, I weighed about twenty pounds more than I do right now.  That's the equivalent of about 35 lbs for those of you who can actually reach the top shelves in your kitchen cabinets. (Also? It takes me three tries to spell "equivalent" correctly every time I type it.)  I was deep into perimenopause as well which meant my body was doing all kinds of weird crap. I was depositing fat places I'd never had it before. (Low back fat, holla!) I would have weeks at a time of severe PMS-y bloating.  My boobs were so swollen and tender most of the time, not to mention hyooge, I had to sleep in a bra for comfort. Yes, you read that correctly: it was *more* comfortable to never free my tatas from the underwire. Craziness.  All of this combined to bring up the worst of my body dysmorphic/borderline disordered tendencies. I went through a period of fairly severe body loathing. There were times I'd feel okay about how I looked, but many more times when a clothes shopping trip would send me into a spiral of disgust and depression. There were times I'd feel sexy and pretty but other times I'd feel incredulous that anyone could find me attractive.

Part of the charm of my own particular crazeeness, though, is that it is pretty much self aware. I knew I was being irrational with the self-hatred and with letting it take up so much space in my head. So in an attempt to cope slash fix myself, I started reading a lot of body acceptance bloggers, many of whom were Fat Bloggers, i.e. women who'd taken back the word fat and were not ashamed to use it to describe themselves and who, in fact, identified that way proudly. Though I myself was not fat, I found reading those blogs therapeutic. If these people who weighed 100 pounds more than me could accept and love their bodies, why couldn't I accept and love mine, as middle-aged and seemingly rapidly decaying as it was?

I tried really hard to come to terms with my new love handles, my belly bloat, my suddenly as-ginormous-as-when-I'd-been-breastfeeding (but without the awesome parlor trick of being able to shoot milk across the room) knockers****, and it worked a little.  But then one day someone close to me made an innocent comment about my weight, a comment that was in no way meant to be mean, and it made me aware that I didn't want to accept my new body, I wanted as close a replica to my old as was possible.  So I went on a hardcore diet. And despite the hormonal chaos my body was in, calories in/calories out prevailed. After two or three months of diligence, I was back at my happy weight and feeling pretty damn pleased with myself. Soon after that, I took up weight training. And things were never the same again. I'm not saying I never have a bad "body" day or that I'm always thrilled with what I see in pictures or in the mirror.  But even when loose skin or cellulite or belly bloat get me down, I can flex at myself in the mirror (yes, yes, repeat after me: like a douchebag) and like what I see. I made those muscles. I grew them with my own hard work and perseverance.  They're not like my breasts--a body part I've historically always liked. I didn't get them just by luck in the genetic lottery.  I MADE them.  I'm not joking when I say this has changed my relationship with my body in fundamental ways.

The reason I bring this all up and dump it on you in excruciating detail is that there's another blogger who I started reading in my Fat Blogger days. She was/is not a Fat Blogger, but instead has a fashion blog that is also about body acceptance. Her shtick is that she learned to love her body by dressing it well, in ways that make her feel attractive and play up the parts of her that she likes while downplaying parts she dislikes (in her case, her stomach and upper arms particularly). I slowly slowly slowly became disenchanted with this woman's blog and message for a variety of different reasons, but one thing that's been pretty clear all along is that she *doesn't* in fact like/love/accept her own body now any more than she did when I first started reading her circa 2008 and probably not any more than she did in 2003 or 1997.  She is still filled with angst about a whole vast array of physical "flaws".

And I can't help but think...what a waste.  If she spent just 10% of the time she's spent in the last 6 years obsessing over the parts of her body she dislikes and how to dress them to her advantage actually seriously working out, those parts of her she very clearly loathes so much would look vastly different. No, she would probably not look like DLB. Or Giselle. Or Serena Williams. Or Gywneth Paltrow. Or whoever her body ideal is, I have no idea. But her abdomen and her arms would look different, if not "perfect", and she could take pride and satisfaction in knowing that *she* changed them.  Not to mention the pride and satisfaction that goes with picking up heavy shit LIKE A BAWSE.

I realize I am probably projecting. And I realize that this completely goes against what I recently wrote about how the main point of exercise is to have fun. But if your relationship with your body is so fraught that you have to have a whole blog focusing on it and yet you're still losing the war, maybe it's worth trying something that will work. Even if it isn't necessarily your first idea of fun.  I dunno. I realize no one asked me.


In other completely unrelated, yet very related, news, have you seen this?  I'm assuming it's making the rounds on Facebook and such because I saw it linked today.  Just an example of how strength training can make you love your body.

**I really want "advertently" to be a word.

***I always feel like I need a big disclaimer that when I bitch about how much I disliked my body when it was 20 pounds heavier than it is now, that does not imply anything about how I feel about anyone else's body.  There are people much heavier (or skinnier or muscular) than me that I find devastatingly attractive. I find a wide variety of bodies beautiful and my ideals for how I wish to look have nothing to do with thinking anybody else needs to look the same. Plus, I don't really think anyone who's not planning on having sex with me should care what I think about their looks anyway. Which I assume means all of you, Readers. Unless Mikey Lowell's found the blog. Mikey, call me!

****I once wrote a blog post (not on this blog obviously) wherein I used about fifteen different synonyms/euphemisms for the word breasts without ever repeating myself. It was genius. (Oh, hush, it was.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

quinoa, wtf?

Before we get started, I have to tell you a story. I may have told this story before or I may have thought about telling this story on here before. I don't remember. If you have read it in the past, mea culpa. Just do what my real-life friends do when I repeat one of my, uh, scintillating anecdotes: let your eyes glaze over, nod a bit, and mentally write out your grocery list. Or something.

Okay!  When I was a teenager, I had this mental block.  I knew there was a word pronounced "or derves" and I knew it meant appetizers. I also knew there was a word "hor d'oeuvres" one saw in the newspaper and cookbooks and such and that it meant appetizers. I was, however, mentally incapable of putting those two facts together and remembering how to pronounce hor d'oeuvres when I saw it in print. So I would say "whores dee overs", knowing it was wrong, but totally flummoxed on what was right.  (OBVIOUSLY I DIDN'T TAKE FRENCH IN HIGH SCHOOL, OKAY?) My mother thought this was hilarious and it became a family in-joke. For years and years after I finally figured out "or derves" and hor d'oeuvres were the same word, we continued to call them whores dee overs. As in, "hey, what kind of whores dee overs do you think we should make for Thanksgiving?"

Maybe you had to be there. Ahem.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that even though I *know* quinoa is pronounced KEEN-wah, every time I read the word, I pronounce it quin-NO-uh in my head. Then I chuckle to myself, because I am under the delusion that I'm funny.  In fact, sometimes I actually purposely call it quin-NO-uh in conversations with my friends. They don't laugh or think that's wicked amusing, because obviously none of them are as as weird as my family of origin was. Obviously and sadly. God.

So, KEEN-wah.  This one of those foods that all the healthy fucking fit people eat and I can't figure out why exactly. I mean, much like Ezekiel bread, I can't figure out why it's supposed to be *so* good for you. Everyone's all "high protein grain" blah blah when, according to the package label, a 160 calorie serving has 6g of protein. Well, a 150 calorie serving of my oatmeal has 5g of protein and nobody's telling me that's a high protein miracle grain. I don't get it.  The Quinoa Council's PR person deserves a raise. All I'm sayin'.

Nevertheless, when I was at Trader Joe's last night after work, I finally broke down and bought some.  I figured that as a Fitness Person, I better give in and try this shit before I was exposed as some kind of fraud. I've already publicly admitted I don't eat kale. I'm on shaky ground as it is.  If it weren't for my passionate relationship with Greek yogurt (plus that loaf of Ezekiel bread hidden in my freezer), my blogging privileges would have already been revoked.

Next...what the hell do I do with it?

Had a brilliant flash of inspiration. Since I already had ground turkey and red bell peppers in my refrigerator waiting for me to turn them into stuffed peppers, I would make quinoa stuffed peppers.  I didn't actually have a recipe for stuffed peppers in mind, so if I was gonna wing it, why not wing it with a totally new, unfamiliar, untested ingredient? Go big or go home.

Here are the results:

I know my food styling and food photography skillz could be improved upon, but trust me when I say they are delicious. And healthy! Each one is approximately 401 calories, 35.3g protein, 35.9g carbs, and 14.2g fat. Basically, all they are is quinoa cooked with chicken broth mixed into browned ground turkey seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning stuffed into a pepper and baked for half an hour, then topped with a little shredded cheddar till it melts. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

You could save 55 calories by omitting the cheese, BUT WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?  

Quinoa, I might just be a believer.

Kale, I'm coming for you.

(No, I'm not.)


Sunday, May 4, 2014

in which i do your mother's day shopping for you

Williams Sonoma wanted to sell me a Vitamix S30 Personal Blender, just right for making one smoothie, the to-go-cup for which they helpfully supply with the blender. It's on sale for Mothers Day, bee tee dubs.

That's a beautiful blender right there. Not sure my kitchen's klassy enough to showcase it though, what with my lack of marble countertops and white subway tile.  Good thing, actually, because that fucking blender is $399.95 on sale.  Oh, Williams Sonoma, you so funny.

Then an internet friend who's a Canadian living in Sweden recommended these Freddy brand workout tights.

Those are some nice looking pants right there. Pretty sure my ass isn't klassy enough to showcase them though. Which is also a good thing since they cost $109 American.  No fancy Italian leggings for me!

Moving on to things I *can* afford, there are tank tops with amusing sayings I approve of.

 Not sure which one I like best, but since my Y is a family atmosphere, the one that says ass on it is probably right out.

But since the best things in life are free...

here are a couple blogs that I recently discovered which I think y'all will also enjoy.

Cheaper than Therapy

and Rose Runner's Shitty Blogger series

And then, for extra lulz, a little Game of Thrones humor.