As the L.A. Lipstick Chronicles representative, I feel it’s my duty to keep up the Physical Appearance end of the conversation. Nancy began this thread last Wednesday with her reference to the treadmill she uses while watching TV but I’m going to take it one step further and discuss something I’ve never mentioned in print (probably because I made it up): Aerobic Housework.
Aerobic Housework is the perfect of union of one’s Inner Jane Fonda (the Jane Fonda Workout Jane) (or Kathy Smith or Bob Smith or Jack LaLanne) and Hazel. If you don’t know who Hazel is, ask your mother. I didn’t use to have an Inner Hazel, but it’s one thing to be a slob when you’re in your twenties and a
bachelorette or possessed of a roommate or two, and quite another to be a homeowner with five other humans and two canines on the premises. You let that operation get out of hand, and you find yourself on Oprah. I’m serious—there’s now a psychiatric disorder for people whose houses are too dirty, and as we know from that poor woman whose teenage son killed himself last year, there can even be criminal liability for bad housekeeping. So anyway, as I’m the only one of the seven creatures I call family with any standards of cleanliness, not to mention a dead grandmother who whispers in my ear that I can’t get
any writing done with a sinkful of dishes, Aerobic Housework is the way to go.
Here’s what you need for Aerobic Housework: a house or apartment with stairs, (with loud, happy music playing on every floor), and a heart monitor. The latter can be bought at any sporting goods store, and I’m telling you, once you start using a heart monitor, you’ll never go back to those lame pedometers again. The former I can’t help you with, but if you live in a ranch-type house, I suggest moving. To begin, attach the heart monitor, determine your aerobic range (for me, it’s 120 beats per minute) and then run up and down your stairs—or jump rope, if you’re a ranch house dweller—for as long as it takes to reach and exceed that magic number. In my case, I run up and down my upper set of stairs three times to get my heart rate up to 130 or so. And then the fun begins.
I start with laundry. There are six places in my house that laundry gets delivered to, and an endless number of place from which my laundry gets collected, so laundry collection and delivery can take a good twenty minutes of aerobic time. The key is, are you willing to jog in place as you fold? If you are, then you are an Aerobic Housework acolyte in the making. Because you can’t slow down. You have to jog everywhere, and hop up and down like a maniac when you’re in one place, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that you can do a lot of stuff while hopping up and down. Polish the dining room table with lemon oil. Clean the kitchen counters. Windex the windows and mirrors. Sweep the floor. Dust. Iron. Yes, iron.
The Level Two activities tend to slow down the heartbeat, so these have to be done piecemeal, interrupted with running up and down the stairs in order to get yourself back into the aerobic zone. These include emptying the dishwasher, scrubbing floors, loading the washing machine, changing lightbulbs, putting DVDs back into their cases, and making beds. You’re not going to finish any of these activities in one session, but that’s okay, because Aerobic Housework is a gestalt thing, a Big Picture operation, running upstairs to throw the fitted sheet onto the bed, then running downstairs to scrub six square feet of floor (I don’t use a Swiffer; I’m old school) and then running back upstairs to stuff two pillows into
pillowcases (while jogging in place) and then back downstairs to scrub out a toilet and do three more feet of floor. You get the idea. Ninety minutes of this and your entire house is sparkling and you’ve burned several hundred calories (this is vital if you eat as much chocolate as I do.)
Will people think you’re mad? Yes. Will your dogs bark at you? Yes. Will you amaze your houseguests, embarrass your children in front of their friends, and frighten the FedEx guy? Yes. Do you care? Not if you need to squeeze in that workout and clean the house for your mother-in-law’s visit (getting the house
“rid up,” as my Pittsburgh-born husband would say). My husband, in fact, wants me to do an Aerobic Housework video so we can make a fortune and retire, but I’m far too lazy to produce anything more than a clean house, and the occasional novel, so here it is, free of charge to you.
Oh: wear running shoes. This is a high impact activity that can wear out your feet. Also, be careful on those steps. I’ve only twisted my ankle once in the twelve years since I invented Aerobic Housework, but God forbid you’re laid up and have to resort to the Merry Maids. And need I remind you not to run
with scissors? Happy housework!