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November 27, 2006

My Life in Exercise

My Life in Exercise

by Michele Martinez

The hordes are gone, the leftovers have been consumed, the house is tidied and only minimally damaged.  But the mirror on the back of the closet door remains, as does the bathroom scale and the extra five pounds on my hips and thighs that they insist upon showing me.


How could you possibly gain five pounds in less than that many days, you ask?  Easy.  Between the Wednesday night lasagna, all that butter and heavy cream in the mashed potatoes (yes, thank you, whoever suggested the heavy cream), and the apple galette with cinnamon ice cream (I confess that one came from the gourmet food place), and let's not forget -- since, as much as I love to deny this, alcohol does have calories -- the 23 mimosas I drank beginning early in the a.m. on Thursday.

By the way, here is my foolproof mimosa recipe:

  1. Send husband to the store for oranges;
  2. Get seven-year-old to juice them all.  (He will find this wildly entertaining).
  3. Ask father-in-law to pop the cork on bottle of Moet & Chandon White Star (as sweeter champagnes are preferred for this recipe).
  4. Mix, enjoy, repeat numerous times.

Not only is this a sure cure for dishpan hands, it feels like absolutely no work!

I'm losing my train of thought here.  The point is, I've gained five pounds in quite a brief time period, and I would like to lose them just as quickly.  I need a plan.

Now, let me take a moment to say that we here at TLC abhor the pressure that society places on women to be unnaturally thin.  We advocate healthy body image, balanced diet and empowering, strengthening exercise.  But we'd be dishonest if we didn't admit to falling victim to society's pressures now and then.   When even the "fat jeans" are tight, we get into the low self-esteem thing just like the next girl, so why not take positive action? 

There is only one way I know to lose weight, and that is to burn up more calories than you consume.  (Sorry, but that's just true).  Since I like to eat and lack self-discipline, serious dieting is not an option for me, nor is it even healthy.  Luckily, I do love to work out.  (I love to work out, like, a lot.  So much so that when I read You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again -- the most entertaining book ever written about drug addiction -- I totally understood why Julia Phillips substituted running for smoking crack.)

I acknowledge that mine is not the universal human experience.  I have struggled to explain my fixation to friends of mine who find vigorous exercise unpleasant if not downright painful.  What is your secret, they ask, or really what they're asking is are you insane?  Well, it happened like this.  I was in the right place at the right time:  late 80s, Palo Alto, the weather so perfect that one actually needed to look good in abbreviated clothing, the height of the aerobics craze.  A jam-packed gym.  A fit-looking blonde at the front of the room, probably named Heather, microphone in hand, exhorting us to "pump it up" in time to the disco beat.

How could I say no?  It was like joining a cult.  I fell hard.  And since then, it's been one craze after the next -- kickboxing, yoga, pilates, Lotte Berk, you name it.  Each with its own head games and specialized wardrobe to make you feel like an initiate (and give you an excuse to go shopping!).  Heck, after watching that unbelievable chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale, , I'm ready to try parkour.  Check out some amazing video of this latest thing, which is kind of like a cross between doing gymnastics and becoming a stuntman.

As far as bowing to societal pressure, my exercise fixation seems pretty innocent to me, and I have no plans to give it up.  What about you?  What's your poison when those extra pounds get you down?   Diet?  Exercise?  Or just ignore them and tell society to go pound sand?


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Since I've had a few days off, I've lost weight on the treadmill....only to gain weight because of muscle gain. I should mention that I watch football on the treadmill.

It's ironic, people tell me I look better, but I weigh more. When I weigh less, people tell me I weigh too much.

Yes, there's some parcour in the new James Bond movie, but for the full on rush, rent DISTRICT B-13, a French parcour/martial arts film. Kick ass all the way!

It's true that muscle weighs more than fat, Dave. But I'm fairly certain that what I gained in the past few days is not muscle.

Hey Mary, thanks for the tip. I'll look for that movie for sure. I love martial arts for the moves but parcour (is it with a "C"?) is even more gravity-defying and incredible.

I'm back on the treadmill this morning. It's too bad typing madly on a keyboard doesn't burn more calories, right?

Between all the out-of-town guests who wanted to treat us and two sets of neighbors who invited us for dinner to catch up, we didn't make a dent in the leftovers! But managed to consume more calories than if we had. How long does turkey last in the fridge, does anybody know? Otherwise I think we're eating lettuce for a week around here.

Doggone it, Michele, I thought that link led to Bond parkour! I burned at least five pounds clicking away, trying to make it work. And then, cussing.

I have no exercise advice, sorry to say, but I can share some medical wisdom. If you must slice open three fingers of your right hand while opening a sour cream container on Thanksgiving morning, it's best to be pre-anethesized with lots of Mimosas. And post-anethesized with lots more.

Uh, Dave, those people who tell you you weight too much--just walk away from them. That's exercise, too.

P.S. Would someone please spell that word I can't spell? Thanks.

Ramona, the running blond Bond image was included just for you. I thought that would be enough, but apparently I thought wrong.

Nancy, I think turkey lasts until you can't look at it any more. No, wait -- until the sight of the outside of the tupperware container is too much for you. Luckily, turkey alone is lo-cal. But unluckily, turkey alone (with no gravy, and no mayo for the sandwich) is also incredibly boring to eat.

This morning I met up with Bryan Kest and his nimble band of yogis. He's a chatty one, but very easy on the eyes. I agree with Michelle, diets and me don't agree. They just mess with my head. For the same reason I avoid scales.

I never heard of parkour but after the video I was intrigued. I'll try anything, but after visiting this link http://www.parkour.com/pk/training.htm
and reading the bottom section, I'll stick to something tamer. Gotta love how the UK can make even the harshest of injuries sound dignified.

Michele - Do you suppose we could get together after this #$*&@ December 15th deadline so I could put my hands on your temples and absorb some of this, uhm, addiction? Because sitting here writing, my thighs are breaking the chair....

I'll start by walking over to your house. That might trim off a 1/2 an inch somewhere.

Great blog!

I try to go for eating sensibly and in moderation, and kicking up the exercise a notch (I love to exercise, too, Michele, but don't have nearly as much time for it as I'd like). My biggest problem is coming home late in the evening (given after-work activities 4 days a week, it's usually between 7:00 and 8:00 pm), being really hungry, and just not leaving the table until I've eaten way too much. Even healthy food adds calories when you do that. Sigh.

I'm beginning to contemplate taking a hiatus from martial arts (I'm doing more teaching than working out) and hooking up with a trainer instead -- that would do the trick, but it's a hard decision to make. So I dither . . . and keep hoping my morning half-hour on the elipitcal keeps the bulges at bay.

I believe I walked off a few calories at B&N this weekend, but my plan to drop the holiday poundage never works until after the holidays! For now, I'm walking walking walking (at my age parkour is a remote dream...or a new knee!) and trying really hard not to look at chocolate covered anything. Or cashews!Or really good bread! Somehow my body has been genetically programmed to try and store up for the winter and that's what it wants. Carbs.

Sarah, the key to the addiction, for me anyway, is turning the exercise into something hip and groovy that makes you feel like you're part of the times. Cheryl (hottie yogi) and Kerry (kickass martial arts) have clearly succeeded in doing this for themselves. For me, it's at least half about the wardrobe. I love yoga just for the HardTail fold down pants.

The personal trainer route is a great one albeit not cheap. The key is to find somebody who will kick your butt and not just become your babysitter/new best friend. You can find a pal to work out with for free, but somebody who will design an exercise program and really push you to your own personal limits, now that is worth the money. If the trainer can come to your house and fit into your schedule, that adds a convenience factor that also helps justify the expense.

Kerry, portion control is a big issue for me, too, and it's exactly like you say. It's about coming to the table starving and then just pigging out. When I am thinking ahead, I try to drink lots of Pellegrino or have a lo-cal snack so I'm not so famished, but some days it's hard to find the time.

I nominate Bryan Kest as Yoga Bond. If there was such a thing.

Ooh, I just checked out Bryan Kest's website. Definitely a hottie but not very Bond-like. Ramona, I think the words "hottie" and "Bond" are now synonymous to you, but the rest of us are not using them that way.

Yes, Michele, I'm another exercise junkie. I guess it's no accident that we met at some conference or other in the fitness center, on adjoining Stairmasters.

For me to get into exercise, there has to be music involved. Often loud, fast, pounding, way-too-young-for-me-and-the-lyrics-if-I-could-understand-them-would-disgust-me music picked out by the 18-year old martial arts teacher in the front of the room yelling at me to "GO. GO. GO. HIT. KICK. HARDER."

I've tried personal trainers. By Session #3 we're always sitting around, drinking coffee and shmoozing.

Michele, you're so right about finding the right motivation for exercising. There's a great line I read somewhere about a woman not just wanting muscles to accessorize her clothes that says it all for me.

Falling in love with martial arts and wanting to really fulfill my potential got me to quit smoking and start doing more other kinds of exercise to support that habit. For my sister, it was ballroom dance. Now I'm riding more and training less, and I can really see the difference in my fitness level (riding is much less aerobic than my old m.a. workouts).

Harley, I'm with you on the music for aerobic workouts. But what I'm really loving right now is having my eliptical trainer where I can watch Xena while I pump. Talk about motivation!

Yes, I remember that, Harley. It was Bouchercon in Chicago -- nice gym there, great view facing the water, lots of machines, clean. I definitely rate the convention experience in part by how good the gym is.

The trainer thing -- you have to get somebody who's not interesting to talk to. My current trainer only wants to talk about exercise, so we actually work out. But I had a trainer for three years once who was this cute Long Island Italian princess with an unbelievable social life. I basically paid her to regale me with stories about going clubbing, sleeping with hockey players and getting hit on by Matt Dillon while I ran my own workout. Not that that wasn't worth it in some sense. She definitely kept me entertained.

Good for you, Kerry. You are so in the right place.

Is there a mystery series featuring a personal trainer? (Remember, this is a mystery writers blog?) Surely, there must be. If not, somebody go write one, with Bryan Kest as the model.

Move over, Blond Bond. I think I have a new pretend boyfriend.

The personal trainer detective is a brilliant idea, Ramona!

Is anybody writing this morning??

Inspiring Blog, Michele!

Unfortunately, I have nothing to contribute. I don't even squeeze my own oranges when I make Mimosas.

I am writing - merger documents. Spellbinding.

Oooh, merger documents. Kathy, that is just way too hot for Monday morning.

For me, it's easier to imagine a personal trainer on the wrong side of the law. A major, major character in my next book (Cover-Up, March '07) is a personal trainer named Miles Ortiz. Built, totally sexy, with a rap sheet, and willing to shall we say meet all his clients' needs.

Kathy, I kind of miss stuff like crafting documents. Or at least writing appeals briefs. It's so real compared to making everything up.

Shit - you mean we're not supposed to make this stuff up?

Kidding. Nothing funny about med mal tail coverage. And no, I am not making that up.

Did y'all hear? Pam and Kid are fini.

I can only answer for myself, but no, Nancy, I'm not writing. Obviously.

So soon? It looked like the real thing to me. What is there left to believe in?

I love the personal trainer idea. She would have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people in all kinds of settings, including conferences/conventions (for continuing education -- required for some kinds of certifications) and competitions (either her or her clients). Lots of fodder there, yes? Plus, she'd be really strong and could run far and fast. And possibly kick butt, depending on her training (and let it be known that formal martial arts techniques are frequently less-than-useful in self-defense situations, and that the few "kickboxing" instructors I've seen can do neither very well).

Um, who are Pam and Kid (cringing in ignorance . . .)

Gosh, according to the issue of In Touch! that I got on Saturday (Only $1.99!!), Pam and Kid were unhappy about the miscarriage, but were raring and ready to go for another. Maybe we need Alyson to weigh in here with the real scoop.

Kerry, you're better off not knowing...I just mentioned it as a testament to writing avoidance.

Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock, Kerry. I bet they're back together before the ink's dry on the story. (Oh, wait, there is no ink any more, is there?) Think about how many times she left Tommy Lee and then went back.

I think the personal trainer/sleuth idea is useful mainly for the access it would afford to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Think about all those wealthy celeb clients with deep dark secrets.

Too many word echoes in the last post. I just got a flu shot and it went to my head, I guess.

A personal trainer would be lovely in a perfect world. But as it is, I have an elliptical machine in my basement and every morning for half an hour I watch local news (there's no cable down there and we have one channel without it) and work up a sweat. And then I go to work. If I don't do this the first thing when I get up, I will never do it. And I know half an hour isn't much, but it's what I've got and it "maintains" the weight I'm at. At least I think so. I don't own a scale. I don't want one.

Thanks for posting, Karen. I have an elliptical too. I love it -- easy on the joints.

I think my Nordic Trak Cross Country Ski machine is broken. It's not working like it used to.....

I'm feeling virtuous because I've actually dragged my butt out of bed the last two days and gone to the gym at 5:15 AM. The post-Thanksgiving bloated feeling got me moving. If only I could keep it going even as long as Kid and Pam's marriage.

I'd love to be addicted to exercise, instead of chocolate (didn't have any of that yesterday, either - that was harder than the 5AM exercise).

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