Weighty

Tough Mudder: “How are we doing this?”

-me, after looking at pretty much any one of the climbing obstacles in Tough Mudder, of which there are several.

Yesterday I “did” Tough Mudder. I write that “did” in quotes because I skipped four obstacles of the 24 on the course, and it’s a coincidence that there were two planned skips (arctic enema and electroshock therapy were listed verboten by the doc) and two were unplanned skips (Everest and Stage 5 Clinger).  Arctic Enema is where you dive down a tube into water that has floating ice in it and is shockingly cold, and have to swim under an obstacle to get out of said water — so you are completely submerged.  Electroshock therapy is walking through about 15 feet of dangling electrical wires that will zap you.  Everest is a 20′ high slippery slope that you have to run at, run up (hope you don’t slip), and grab your team’s hands so they can pull you up.  Stage 5 Clinger is an inverted ladder (so the base is farther away from you than the top) that you have to climb and then pull yourself up and over.

I tried Everest. I tried it three times, and the third time I landed square on my right shoulder, and told my self enough was enough.  I’ve got an impressive welt and a jammed feeling; I can lift it but it hurts when I lift it just so.  I should have tried Stage 5 clinger more than the bit that I did.

My pull up game is *not* strong, although it’s getting better, and I struggled with many of the other obstacles that required me to do various forms of lifting my body weight with just my upper body.

Which gets me to this point: unless you are the kind of person who can do 25 effortless pull ups from hanging on your fingertips to pulling yourself up and over something with  no foot support, you will have to rely on other people in Tough Mudder.

This is hard for me (and others), and there’s usually one of two competing reasons behind it:

  1. You don’t want to rely on others because you don’t find others reliable.
  2. You don’t want to rely on others because you don’t want to inconvenience them.

I don’t have the first problem and once you finish your first few TM obstacles you won’t, either.  Random strangers will pull you up, grab your leg to help you get over an obstacle, come to help you, and encourage you to overcome your fears.  Yes that was me whimpering at the top of an obstacle because I couldn’t get a toehold and some completely strange person came up and coached me where to put my foot and reassured me he’d catch me if I fell.  Your team will also be there for you; I had only met one of my team members before this but every single one of them gave me a folded hand or a leg up at one point.  This was not my problem.

My problem is that I kept feeling like I wasn’t pulling my weight (no pun intended). I’m still not sure I did.  The Abseil and similar exercises– where there’s at rope or rope ladder — were no problem.  But anything that required team-provided-footing left me to feel guilty, like I hadn’t trained enough.  And in theory I had “trained” more than my team — following the guidelines, doing the runs (mostly — I only got two 8-milers in), etc.  As mentioned previously I can’t do a pull up but I was doing weight-assisted ones in the gym; that proves to not have been enough.

I can say with absolute and utter confidence that I would NOT have signed up for Tough Mudder if I  had known the volume of obstacles around heights.  Heights for me — particularly ones where I’m sure I’m going to injure myself but not die — are a trembling phobia that surfaced about twenty years ago and hasn’t gone away.  (For those of you worried about enclosed spaces: there’s a few of those, too, but they aren’t bad at all– not even MineShafted).  Had someone walked me through the course in advance I would have bailed, then and there. But having spent the last 3 years regretting the Tough Mudder I didn’t do, I’m very glad I didn’t talk myself out of this one. I’m glad I had to work through a series of heights challenges, I’m glad I had a supportive team and was reaffirmed in the kindness of strangers, and I’m glad to be back in “regular” training again. Except this time maybe I’ll do some more upper body work.

Those who know me are probably shaking their heads because they think this means I signed up again for next year: NOPE. This was one of those beautiful, shining days that sits on its own. My legs and forearms are thoroughly scratched and bruised, I have the aforementioned shoulder welt and a matching one on my hip. I have met new and awesome people. I have my orange headband.

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Yes that’s a massive bruise on my right shin. A lot of our course had berry bushes and straw packed in to the mud.

I’m good.

 

 

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In Vein: The Vein Strikes Back

“If you’re going to see any reaction, swelling, or pain, it will happen somewhere likely between day 5 and 10.”

For me, it happened on Day 9.

Day 8 I had spent with the Sammamish Troop 571 Scouts in the annual Christmas Tree pickup event (you leave your tree on the curb with a donation, they take it away and chip it). As navigator my job was to sit shotgun and tell the driver where to go for a car with 4 scouts (who collected trees). Essentially I didn’t move much on Day 8.

On Day 9, my leg started itching. Not much. Just a bit. Around noon I got that naggy itch you get when there’s a hair or something in your pants leg, and you find it annoying. It wasn’t much until about 6pm, when it started to increase — first my calf was itchy, then my inner knee, and then up my thigh. Investigating, I found a thick red stripe from entry point to leg crease, and it started to hurt.

The on-call doctor informed me that I am/was now part of the 5% of the population allergic to the vein glue. They had asked if I had ever had acrylic nails and I answered yes, as there was a period of time in my life — roughly four years–where they were de rigeur. The ensuing fifteen years has provided plenty of time for me to formulate an allergy. The advice was to take some antihistamines and see how that goes.

That didn’t go so well. The next day I was on the phone with my doctor, and the day after that I saw Dr. Pepper (I am not making that up, that is his name, and he has four family members who are also Doctors Pepper), who took one look at my leg and said, “Yep, wow, that’s really bad, you’re having an allergic reaction.”

(For those who like data: my left thigh at its most swollen was 3.5″ thicker than my right thigh, and my calf reached almost 2″ thicker).

Onto the Steroids I go, which if you haven’t had a Prednisone Pack ever, are you in for a treat. It’s a tapered pack for six days, but on the FIRST day you take 6 doses. And if you get the pack at the end of the day, for the first day, you take all 6 doses at once, “before bed”.

I say “before bed” because you won’t sleep. In my case I got four loads of laundry done, some detailed analysis, updated some documentation, did some filing, did some housecleaning, emptied the dishwasher, reorganized part of my spice cabinet and half of a dozen other things I’m sure to remember later. For the record I was offered Ambien, but I’m not a fan and figured I’d make it productive.

The next day I had my regularly scheduled check up with Dr. Gibson, who indicated it looked like the steroids were working (Dr. Pepper had put a dotted outline to the swelling from the previous day, so I had a visual measurement aside from my tape measure), and I asked her if it was okay to run all or part of my half marathon. She asked when it was and I said “Sunday” (my time with her was on Wednesday). Verdict: I could walk the half marathon. Maybe run if I really really felt like it, for parts. She also cleared me to fly and did a quick ultrasound to ensure no DVT was present (there shouldn’t have been but hey I was in and the machine was right there).

Today is Day Four. The remaining days’ doses were a normal taper (1 in the morning, 1 at lunch, 1 at dinner, 1 or 2 at bedtime) and the swelling continues to go down, even though I spent most of yesterday afternoon walking around Disneyland.  This morning there isn’t any soreness, but I’m still a bit swollen. I think this little episode has passed, so I’ll check in with another update (for those of you interested in the process) in about a month (with pictures).

 

In Vein

I have had, since I was 14, a varicose vein on the inside of my left leg (90 degrees from my kneecap). It started as a 1-2 cm annoyance and then ended up about 4cm for a good long time. Somewhere in the last 5-7 years it grew and grew, and as I’ve come to realize that I am genetically likely to become my parents, I came to the decision to do something about it.

(Side note: in my thirties I amassed attorneys — family law, traffic law, estate law, construction law — and in my forties I am amassing doctors: cardiologist, vascular surgeon, physical therapist, etc.  Happy to give recommendations to any who need.)

I went on recommendation from my cardiologist (Dr. Maidan of Evergreen Cardiology) to go see Dr. Kathleen Gibson with Lake Washington Vascular. I like her because she’s direct and patient and answers all of the questions, and since we know I am the kind of person who showed up at the cardiologist with an Excel spreadsheet of my cholesterol metrics from the last 10 years, I had a few. She basically broke it down thus: there are two “tranches” of things I could do for my varicose veins* — I could get the problem child glued (the problem child vein is usually farther up the trunk, in this case my problem child was about an inch below my groin) or I could get the problem child lasered.

A woman after my own heart, she gave me a T-table of what to expect with each treatment. With laser treatment, I would be on antibiotics for two weeks. There would be local anesthetic but also a general “happy drug” for during the procedure (so I wouldn’t be upset by the burning smell that was me). There would be a 10% chance of DVT. I would have to wear a compression stocking for 2-3 weeks. I would not be able to work out for at least a week. It wouldn’t necessarily remove the visible varicose vein, just the problem child causing it, so I’d have to get a separate treatment for that.

With glue, there would be:

  • no antibiotics
  • <1% chance of DVT
  • no compression stocking
  • I could run the same day
  • no happy drug (just local)
  • and it would likely remove the visibility of the vein in about 3 months.

Why do people pick laser with how awesome the glue is? Well, insurance. Some insurances cover the glue. Most don’t, although I understand Medtronic (maker of the magic glue) is working with insurance companies on this.

I’m at the gym at least 4 days a week. I don’t like taking medicine (of any kind) if I don’t have to. And I have a luxury of being able to afford this procedure — so I went with glue.

Today was my procedure.

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Matt, prepping my leg. Glorious orange.

At 8am I checked in at the front desk, and was taken to a room to change. Shirt stayed on, so did undies; the rest had to go and I got to wear a standard-issue hospital gown (the kind that opens in the back) and a waffle-knit robe (which had me really warm). Coffee, iPhone, and bag in hand I went to the operating room (that’s right, I took my phone. There was no side table for the coffee but that was fine). After a brief discussion of music, Alice in Chains started playing and I was introduced to the crew: Megan, who was assisting during, Matt, who did prep (including betadining my leg, so it looked gloriously tan), and Pam who was on ultrasound.  Dr. Gibson was there, and Medtronic had two folks visiting as well including Monty who was part of the original company that developed this glue (out of Spokane, WA! Shout out!) which got acquired by a 2nd company which in turn got acquired by Medtronic.

 

At 8:30 I was prepped and Dr. Gibson took a time out to discuss the procedure so everyone was on the same page (including me), and at 8:35 I was getting local anesthetic applied. The needle was supposed to feel like a bee sting, but if so it was the gentlest bee I’ve felt. If you sew, and you’ve stuck yourself with a needle through say, just the top layer of your skin– so it’s annoying but not stabby– that’s about the range of pain. It lasted half a second and was gone, and short of pressure and the occasional tickling sensation that’s the last thing I felt, although I was completely awake and we were talking about the procedure, 90’s alt rock, and how Medtronic works with physicians and patients to solicit feedback.**

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the sharp, white diagonal line about 1/3 from the top is the needle in my vein. the rest is leg meat. 🙂

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Martha Stewart’s gun isn’t this cool. On the right is Dr. Gibson, that’s Megan behind her, and you can see Pam’s left arm on the left side of the frame.

The way it worked was this: a catheter was stuck into the side of my calf, about halfway up. Then, they put a super-long, flexible needle, and snaked it up my great saphenous vein . The glue was injected by what looked like the medical answer to Martha Stewart’s glue gun, and was held in place for 3 minutes. (At this point we all did a little sing along with Stone Temple Pilots). Then every 3 centimeters down the vein (so a slight tugging feeling, then pressure as they glued, plus 30 seconds wait for the glue to set) until they got to the injection point.

 

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All done. Very orange.

At 8:55 I was done, they put a band aid on the injection site, and washed most of the betadine off my leg. An ultrasound pass over the area to make sure there weren’t any issues, then I went to change and get my discharge instructions. No pain meds (unless I felt the need, in which case, Advil), be active (don’t sit on your butt), and if it’s going to be sore it will hit about day 5 to 10. Follow up appointment is January 11th.

 

 

 

 

Then we looked at my before pics, and took some afters, which I will share here. Note: full impact in terms of visibility would hit around the 3-month mark, so this is just immediate results.

As always I’m happy to answer any questions based on my experience and/or pass them along to the professionals, and will update with my results as we go.

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before

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after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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before

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after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*as can be expected, your mileage may vary. This post is meant to provide an example of what can be done about varicose veins based on my own experience : talk to your doctor. Also, look both ways before crossing the street.

**an awful lot like I work with my customers at work — a combination of “what features do you want” and “what problems are you having”, because we all know that you get two different sorts of very valuable answers to those questions.

 

That Sinking Feeling

Today’s economic topic will be the Sunk Cost Fallacy. A sunk cost is something you’ve spent money (or other investiture) on and you cannot recover said money (or investiture). The $4.50 you spent on a latte this morning is a sunk cost.  So is the $90 you spent on shoes last month. And, oddly enough, so is the “free” doughnut you ate this morning, because even though it was monetarily free, it wasn’t calorically free – you “paid” in terms of calories for the day and, assuming you weren’t near-bulimic afterwards, you cannot retrieve those calories.  (And even if you did attempt to purge, you are still dealing with a sunk cost).

Generally speaking, it doesn’t make sense to take into account sunk costs when making a decision for future investiture – e.g., whether or not you spent $4.50 on a latte should not impact your decision as to if you will be buying a latte later today. You’ve already spent the money and can’t recoup it, so factoring in the presence it *would have* made in your budget is specious, you need to look at where your budget stands now. But humans don’t tend to work this way due to loss aversion.  They tend to frame an overall project to include what has been spent as well as what will be spent (time, effort, etc.) and look at it on the whole rather than what is left. One of the oddest presentations of this I am most guilty of, as are, I suspect, many of my friends: the Sunk Cost Doughnut.

I seem to be focusing on doughnuts, and this is because I had one today.  I am supposed to be watching my weight (I’m currently watching it nudge up) and today someone (Ms. Krieant, to be exact) brought in Top Pot Doughnuts, which may in fact be my favorites.  I have a workout buddy who insists that you can eat whatever you want as long as you work out enough and he is right, but he is also 25 and has been through OCS and it’s not enough for him to do pull-ups, he has to do them with a 50lb-weight strapped to his stomach. His and my mileages tend to vary.

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mmmm doughnuts

At any rate, today I ate one (1) Chocolate with Rainbow Sprinkles doughnut, at a caloric cost of 510 calories. That would be 1/3 of my supposed day’s calories, and so it is really, really hard not to take into account my sunk cost (doughnut/510 calories) and say “well, I’ve screwed up the diet today, so I will just start again tomorrow”. On the whole this is NOT logical because in theory I can pay attention to my caloric budget and be “good” for the remainder of the day, and only come  in a “little” over budget.  If I frame my caloric choices in light of the Sunk Cost Doughnut, though, and eat whatever I want,  I would come in drastically over budget.

A suggested method by economists is to evaluate future costs and avoidable future costs to establish the true prospective cost for the day (E.g., I must have some form of dinner (future cost), it probably shouldn’t include bread or fat (avoidable future cost)).  And so, as I use my “MyFitnessPal” app and truthfully admit to my 510 calorie digression, I sit here re-evaluating my planned caloric expenditures for the day.

They’re serving birthday cake down the hall.

An Open Letter to My Personal Trainer, David

Well David, it’s that time again, where I’ve done something rash and signed up for something I probably shouldn’t do. There’s a timeline involved, and some frankly optimistic requirements; I figured I’d apologize now and get it over with.

You see, I let the Ms.Krieant sign me up for Tough Mudder, and I have a little under 13 weeks to get ready. It has some impressive obstacles, most of which have me scared out of my mind, but as you know once I’ve said I’ll do something, I’ll do it…

…as long as I get to whine a lot about it.

So I realize that up until now your charge has been mostly to try to get me stronger while avoiding the injury of the month; in our short tenure together this has meant occasionally avoiding my knees, my neck, my upper back, my lower back, or my right hip. Now we need to ignore all of that, because I will need all of those parts working and functional.

I also realize that this means that the chattiness of our sessions will have to reduce, that we can no longer freely evaluate others in the gym as you hand me five more pounds of something or have me do 15 more push-ups. It means that you’re likely to give me homework, that I will need to actually do weight work more than twice a week, and that I will be very, very sore these ensuing weeks.

But David, I’m turning 40.

I realize this isn’t much to you — I think 40 hit and flew by for you about a decade ago, not that you’d notice, being an ex-Marine and all. I realize this isn’t much to most of our early-morning compatriots, as I think the average age at the gym at our time of morning is mid-50’s. It isn’t technically even much to me in the sense that I’m not having a huge to-do over it, nor do I want to see black balloons, nor do I think the day after my birthday I will suddenly fall apart or feel older. The fact is, David, I’m tired of having my body feel older now.

Five years ago I entered into a half marathon, having never run, because someone told me I couldn’t do it. (Actually, he laughed and said, “yah, right”). Three years ago I entered into a 2-day, 160-mile bike ride because someone said I wouldn’t want to do it. Last year I did the STP pretty much under the same auspices. And each time, I injured myself either in training or in the event itself. But each time, I did the training without any professional help.

You’re here to fix that, David, because at 40, I’ve decided I’m tired of injuring myself. And this likely means I’ll have to do a lot of things I was heretofore unprepared to do, like go to the gym more than 4 times per week and maybe, actually, you know, stretch. Perhaps even do my regular PT exercises. I have a support group in my friends — one lent a very pertinent book (Supple Leopard, indeed), one gave me tips on how to deal with the electric shocks (or at least a realistic impression of what they’re like). But your job is to make sure I’m ready, and so I really do hope you’ll understand the bullet-pointed list you’re going to get when next we see each other.

I still reserve the right to whine, though.

Pride (?) of Ownership

I have once again ventured into the land of Personal Training (receiving end). This is the third time and I hope it works like a charm, as the first one I worked with 4 years ago seemed disinterested (possibly a reflection of my attitude of “I’m paying you so my work is done here”), the second one found all the things I didn’t like and increased them in proportion (I hate kettle bells).

Up until now my ventures into physical activity consisted of the following process:

  1. I need to lose weight.
  2. I don’t make time for the gym.
  3. Unless I have paid for an event.
  4. If I’m going to pay for an event it should be a “big” thing.
  5. Which event has enough credibility and pressure?
    1. Half Marathon
    2. 200 mile bike ride
  6. Register for event.
  7. Feel pumped about event.
  8. Figure training schedule for event.
  9. Skip some days but don’t worry I’ll make it up.
  10. Train in earnest.
  11. Injure myself during training because I didn’t ramp properly.
  12. Ignore or marginalize injury because I’m in denial.
  13. Do event. Maybe whine a lot. Maybe get a little irrational.
  14. Injure myself during event and/or exacerbate injury from training.
  15. Go to Physical Therapy. Go Directly to Physical Therapy.
  16. Have PT person:
    1. Shake head
    2. Remind me of the last time We Were Together, Ask if I’ve Been Doing My Exercises
    3. Hand me New Exercises
    4. Graduate me 2-3 months later
    5. We both know we’ll see each other again.
  17. Celebrate my newfound physical wellness by “taking a break”.
  18. Gain weight. Go back to #1.

The part of this cycle I’m trying to break is numbers 2, 9, 12, and 17.  Hence, Personal Trainer.

My Personal Trainer’s name is Dave. Dave is a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor and acts like it, which is good, but he’s also pretty cheerful at points and is sensitive to the random pains that come with arthritic knees. Dave managed to work me out so hard the first two days that I was actually sore in my armpits. Did you know you have muscles there? I did not… until they were sore. Or there was the time I coughed and my stomach muscles hurt…

This process started about three weeks ago and it’s fairly predictable – while I’m using MyFitnessPal to log all of my food (for the most part honestly), I’m typically tracking more calories than I ought to have, and usually due to the end-of-day meal. I’m also (theoretically) increasing my muscle mass, and since muscle weighs more than fat, my weight hasn’t gone down materially. *

The part that I’m proud of though is that, for more than 21 days (23 as of yesterday) I have made it to the gym 6 days out of each week – at least 3 runs and at least 3 weight workouts. My knees have managed to make it through 32 minutes of running with one, 1-minute break; there’s only minimal swelling and it’s gone at end of day. I’ve also noticed if I don’t run or work out (e.g., that 7th day) I’m a bit of a princess crankypants. I am taking all of these as good signs and hoping the adage that “21 days  makes a habit” is true.

And I haven’t signed up for any events, thank you.

*Actually muscle does not weigh more than fat, any more than a pound of gold weighs more than a pound of feathers, because a pound is a pound is a pound. However, the DENSITY of muscle is higher than that of fat, so the VOLUME required to make 1 pound of muscle is smaller than the VOLUME required to make 1 pound of fat – which is how come the inches go away long before the scale registers anything.

Lo Fidelity

I weigh X-3. In order for me to be healthy, I need to weigh X-22. (I was at X two weeks ago).

Having lost 22 pounds (or more) on several occasions — 5 major ones that I can think of, none of them pregnancy related — I know exactly how to do this. The problem is, however, that when I try to lose 22 pounds at 37 years of age, it is significantly different from when I lost 22 pounds at 18. Or 23. Or 27. My body does not react the way it used to.

At 18, I came back from Australia (6 month student exchange) and weighed 37 more pounds than what I had when I left for it. (I had actually just got done losing 15 pounds BEFORE I left). It took about six months, going to the gym maybe twice a week, taking the occasional walk, and eating smaller portions. That was it. Done.

At 23, I was a newlywed looking at my wedding photos, and particularly the rehearsal dinner ones. I had gained about 23 pounds. I remember crying on the floor of my Oceanside apartment, my then husband helplessly watching. I started walking 4 times per week, cut back on the food, and it was off in about 4 months.

At 27, we had just moved up to Washington. That 23 pounds came back. (Do you see a pattern here? Big change = big eating). I joined a gym and ate Slim Fast for breakfast, Lean Cuisine for lunch, and frankly whatever I damn well wanted for dinner. In about 5 months it was gone.

At 32 I was charged with losing 30 pounds, by my doctor. I was in Grad School, my son was a very active toddler and then preschooler, I rarely saw my then husband (he worked nights, I was working full-time and in the aforementioned school). We had friends staying with us who knew cooking and wine, and so I ate and ate. When I got to the doctor she diagnosed me as pre-diabetic, and told me to knock it off. She handed me a 1320 calorie diet, and I had to weigh everything. I also had to work out at least 4 times per week, for at least 30 minutes, and I had to break a sweat. In about six months the weight was off.

Then I got divorced.

Interestingly, the weight didn’t pile on with the divorce. Therefore, it isn’t necessarily negative things that drive my weight gain, but it is big change. Here I sit, with a couple of more Big Changes coming my way (nope, not yet, only 2 more months and then I can talk about it) and I’ve known about the Big Changes for about four months now. Four months of Big Change eating = I am now back to where I oughtn’t be.

I’m currently using an iPhone App called “Myfitnesspal“, which has an online counterpart, and is free. I log everything I eat and it tells me where I’m at during the course of the day not only calorically, but nutritionally. For example: I have learned that one (1) Rainbow Sprinkle Top Pot Doughnut is 2/5 of an entire day’s caloric intake. I have learned that 4 cups of salad (which gets me full) is about 1/12th of a day’s caloric intake. I have learned that white wine is calorically “cheaper” than red, and that on days where I’m “good” the scale will not necessarily be kind to me the next day, but on days where I’m “bad” it will not necessarily be mean, either. (A recent evening that included steak and wine resulted in the scale telling me I had lost a pound. A recent evening that included all of 4 cups of lettuce and some vinaigrette resulted in the scale telling me I added a half pound. It’s vexing.)

I also have fitness requirements, having learned that I need to be committed to an event in order to keep me honest. The difficulty in this lay in my schedule: I have an active boy child, who participates in Karate, Boy Scouts, and Baseball. Somehow the stars have aligned so that Saturday rides now conflict with Saturday games, and Tuesday spin conflicts with Tuesday games. I’ll still do the STP, though. I may do it slowly and I may hurt like hell the next day, but I’m on for it.

It would be really, truly fantastic to just take it off and leave it off.

Subject To Good Behavior

Well, I’m back in the saddle again. I gained 4 pounds over the Holiday(s), and part of it was not going to the gym as often as One Should. So this week has been a week of going to the gym and eating Lean Cuisine for dinner, which is just about as enchanting as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, a good point of spin class is that Instructor Deb (the former cheerleader) has some excellent tunes. A good point of weights class is they vary the routine so often you’re pretty much ready to switch up when they are.

Is it bad that I spent my entire hour of weightlifting class fantasizing (as my muscles burned and twitched and shook uncontrollably, especially toward the end) about what I would *eat for dinner*? Knowing that it would be a Lean Cuisine? I think so.

Something that I’ve learned: Lean Cuisines will warn you in very STERN TERMS that they should be cooked properly. The shrimp pasta one will insist you cook it until the shrimp reach 165 degrees. Tell me: do YOU stick a thermometer into your shrimp pasta when you cook it? I do not. I cooked it until those suckers were pinky orange. If I’m dead due to undercooked shrimp tomorrow, now you know why.

Something else that I’ve learned: the guy in the weightlifting class who has the most to prove will wimp out fastest. This is an hour of loading up a bar, lifting it above your head, doing deadlifts, doing lunges with it behind your neck, doing crunches with it above your head, etc. This is not a lightweight (no pun intended) class. So YOU, Mr. loaded your bar up to prove something, you really oughtn’t’ve, and when you give up on your overhead lifts (shoulders and biceps, yo!) instead of just downweighting, it’s very sad. For you. Also, don’t wear those shorts anymore. They’re too loose and when you lift your legs for bicycle crunches I know WAY too much about you.

More sad is that I’ve spent the night (not including a conference call) watching Food TV. That’s right: I worked out to the point of shaking, I ate my 300-calorie Lean Cuisine, and now I’m watching Guy Fieri stuff his face at multiple restaurants. Tonight’s theme is apparently Italian, and if you think that some parts of my brain are screaming at other parts of my brain in what we ought to do about that, you’re right.

I could spit, but it would just burn calories.

A Special Hell

Of late I’ve attempted to go to more of the fitness classes offered by my Big Fancy Gym. For one, it helps my cost-ratio-comparison calculator (hello, Excel!) and for two, it keeps me honest when it comes to working out. It’s very easy to beg out of the cardio bike at 30 minutes because there aren’t 12 other people doing it with me, and there isn’t a preternaturally chipper fitness freak in front of me eyeballing me and 12 other people on said cardio bike. Classes start at 60 minutes and some are 90.

Disclaimer: I do actually love my instructors. But it’s that special kind of love that smacks of… well… smacking.

Today’s experiment was “Group Fitness”; actually it’s one of 3 group-type exercises offered at my Big Fancy Gym. It’s the first time I had gone to this class and for sheer entertainment value (yours, mine, and ours) it cannot be beat.

It was helmed by a woman who is probably 2 years my senior, 50 pounds lighter than I am, and I would not want to meet her in a dark alley. Folks, when I say she was ripped, I mean that the girl in the Bowflex ads wishes she were this gal.

This class revolves around weights — as in, weights on a barbell that you lift and reach out with in various poses (on your back, in squats, in lunges, sitting, etc.) and other weights (not on a barbell) that you do the same, and then some good ol’ fashioned crunches that make your abdominal muscles scream at you for days. Also, she plays classic 70’s and 80’s buttrock for the soundtrack. I got my money’s worth.

What was wholly unexpected is that, upon entering and looking lost (my best defensive mechanism to date), the most frail-looking older lady came up to me (85lbs soaking wet, maybe) and offered to help me set up. She encouraged me to take lighter weights (“Don’t try to be a hero”), set me up, and then did her set-up. Her set-up was a little more aggressive than my set-up but boy howdy am I glad I followed her advice.

Many parts of my body want divorces from other parts of my body.

Our instructor kept checking in with me — publicly (“How’s it going Bobbie? You doin’ okay?”) — and all discourse was in that chipper post-Cheerleader “I’m loving the burn” voice you get only from people who, well, love the burn. “And we’re doing this for 8!” “In twos!” “Double time!” were common chirpy cheers.

Let me make this perfectly clear: if there were a way I could have ditched this class halfway through in favor of a couch and a Cabernet, I would’ve. As it was, I had cheerful participants all around me offering me helpful advice and if there’s one thing I can’t *stand* is the thought that *someone else* thinks I can’t do something. I don’t mind ME thinking I can’t do something, but that is not an opinion that is okay from anyone else. That sort of thinking got me into two half marathons, a triathlon, a two day bike ride, and a master’s program. Okay, so we can all agree that it’s a good sort of thinking.

But my biceps, triceps, quads, hammies, and glutes all agree: What the (*deleted expletive*) was I thinking?

Screams and Scares and Pizookie Pie

Oh my. There are two things battling for Most Scary Aspect of Last Night: Maris Farms’ Haunted Woods, and my caloric intake.

BJ’s in Tukwila is known for good beer and pizookie pie (a large, warm cookie with a scoop of ice cream on top); the have this unfortunate aspect of their menu, however. Like most 1Up to Applebee’s type places (Cheesecake Factory, anyone?) they  have a menu that rivals a phone book, so that you actually spend time reading it. They should get Patrick Stewart or James Earl Jones to read it, I’m sure they could lend the proper gravitas to something as ubiquitous as a Cobb Salad. I digress…

At the end of the BJ’s menu, in very very small print, is the nutritional information (including horrifically realistic calorie counts) for everything you can get there. Having something as seemingly innocent as chicken pasta got me nearly four-figures in the hole, and the couple of glasses of wine followed up with most of a Cookies and Cream Pizookie Pie pretty much finished me. I’m fairly certain I’ve had enough calories to power me for the week. Scary, scary stuff.

Then we went to Maris Farms. Maris Farms is located out on the Sumner-Buckley Highway, and you just know as you exit the 410 E you aren’t in Kansas anymore. We were passed by a large red pickup truck with ANTLERS on either side of its rear-cab windows. ‘Nuff said.

The Haunted Woods at Maris Farms is ostensibly 30 minutes (not including line wait, which we didn’t have much of thanks to fast passes) and it feels longer. If you’re a screamer (Hi!) you will be hoarse at the end of it. If you’ve been there before, note that they do change it up — I went last I think 3 or 4 years ago, and there was definitely some novelty. The souvenir mud lining the base of my jeans and my black docs was part and parcel of the fun. This year it included dead bodies, zombies, ICP kids, hillbillies with chainsaws, ghosts, vampires, people being sawn in half, people being medically experimented upon, a weird set of walkways that make you feel like you’re being squeezed out of them, trick floors, pitch-black mazes, and people just scaring the hell out of you.

It is important to note that there are porta potties just outside the entrance and exit, but nothing midway.

I think I’m good for another 3-4 years.