Tag Archives: exercise

It’s a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to die there.

I hate drinking water. Trying to drink it before noon makes my lips purse tightly together, my eyes scrunch shut, and my head swing away involuntarily like a baby trying to get away from a medication spoon. Hot weather and physical exertion make water more palatable to me, but otherwise I am as a camel. Or a cactus. My mother nagged me regularly to drink water and Mike has tried to convert me in the past, though he has mostly given up now. He and I are oceans apart on this: he gulps water in huge quantities as though each drop might be his last.

Recently I’ve been hiking much more, including carrying weight in a backpack to build up my strength. (Containers of water make excellent weights, incidentally.)  For as much as I hate water, I love hiking. It’s the perfect activity for me. There’s no canoe to portage, no bike to drag up the too-steep hill, no horse to saddle or shoe or stable. There’s just me propelling me forward according to the laws of the earth and nature. And hikers are, almost universally, friendly, happy people. There’s hardly anyone I meet on a trail who doesn’t have a hello or a smile at the ready. The end of a hike leaves me with a sense of accomplishment and the feeling that I’ve earned a seat at the brewpub and the reward of a dark beer.

Though I’m officially not participating in autumn, winter, or spring over the next several months (I’ve decided that those soon-to-be naked trees, endless cold rains, and murky dark hours don’t exist in my world this year), the weather has lately been purely glorious for hiking. Even the !@!!**& government got its act together and reopened the National Parks, so this past Saturday we hiked the Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River trails at Shenandoah National  Park. Along with being nearly hydrophobic, fully leafed trees make me claustrophobic (no humility here — am I special or what?). The leaves at higher elevations in the Park are past their color peak and have leapt to their anticlimactic  deaths, allowing the extremely late summer (recall my nonparticipation in autumn) sunlight (which I crave like an illegal drug) to filter onto the hiking paths, showing the hand of Midas on the lower trees’ leaves. I didn’t try to photograph that magic. I might as well have tried to swallow the sun.

The Dark Hollow Falls trail drops steeply for about a mile beside a capricious clear stream before connecting to the 4 mile loop of the Rose River trail, which is an up and down affair with rocky and slippery patches. Our pace was steady and felt comfortable. Mike figured later we were walking at slightly under 2 mph. I dutifully sipped water on the way and shed my layered clothing as I built up steam and soaked up sun and huffed determinedly up the inclines. Have I mentioned how glorious all of this was? It was. Glorious.

In seemingly no time at all, we finished walking the loop and re-joined the Dark Hollow Trail for our victory ascent, parts of which are as steep as a Grand Canyon trail. After briefly watching other hikers photograph the falls, we started up that final stretch.

And there I faltered. The beat of my heart was too big for my chest, I rapidly became nauseated, and my body heat evaporated. Light-headedness swarmed over me. I looked sideways to the trail to be climbed beside the falls, at the sunlit glow between the trees, bright and benevolent and beautiful. Yes, it was beautiful. In those few moments as I vowed to stay upright, I could acknowledge and appreciate how beautiful it all was and that I could drop dead in worse places.  But I knew in that instant, too, that I didn’t want to die there, no matter how beautiful it was. I’m pretty good with the matter of dying. There’s no way around it. Death by hiking isn’t the worst I could do. In my opinion it beats death by monotony or boredom, the method of death that insinuates itself quietly and insidiously and with little notice while one lives in bland ruraburbia, that Realm of Nothingness, where nothing changes, nothing happens, nothing moves forward, nothing rules.

I told Mike I needed to sit down and a flat rock at just the right height obliged me. I pulled out the water and started on it. My family history is lousy with heart disease — my mother died early of it and after that my father’s broken heart endured more attacks than I can remember. I banked on simple dehydration for my case, though. It made sense. I’d had coffee before leaving the house and insufficient water and food to see me through our hike. After a short period of rest and consumption of more water, all my systems were once more a go. Mike and I continued up the steepest part of the hike, ate lunch in a sunny spot overlooking a meadow, sent a couple of freeloading ticks to their deaths, and walked another two easy miles on a flat trail.

If I’m lucky, I think, the place where I leave this earth will be wide open with a staggeringly beautiful and endless blue sky and long, long vistas, somewhere in the majestic and harsh emptiness of the  Southwest. A pleasant temperature would be nice, one that would allow for the wearing of shorts, short sleeves and sandals. And I’ll be on a hiking path, suitably wide and not too rocky, with enough challenge in terrain that I could have that sense of accomplishment while loving where I am and what I’m doing. But that’s starting to sound more like heaven, I guess.

So, here’s your chance — tell me, where is your death-wishing place? Where is your golden spot on this earth where you can begin eternity with a smile on your face? Where is it that you want to begin the fulfillment of the often-quoted, “Man thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return?”


Kendra, my new BFF (or, Comcast, how do I love thee?)

We pay a tidy sum monthly for Comcast to provide  internet access and television at our house. I have a slight addiction to the Weather Channel (shoutout to Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes — I heart you!) and am a recovering NCIS addict (who even thought about fixing up Mark Harmon with Jamie Lee Curtis?? Blech!). Music Choice gives me the Blues when I crave them and a Mexicana fix as necessary.

A remote the size of a small cat with about 100 buttons came with our service. I mastered the on/off and volume buttons and tried not to bump any others lest I be forced to press every button to get back to home base, or worse, be forced to call Comcast on my essentially nonexistent cell phone service. About a year into our service my nephew visited and informed us we had HD channels. Duh. Even I of very low threshhold viewing requirements could see the crisp, color-infused superiority of an HD presentation.

Recently, in a bold, devil-may-care moment, I pushed the “On Demand” button. It was as if I had stepped into Dr. Who’s phone booth. As angels sang softly in the background, an entire time-warp’s worth of extra programming appeared, for viewing at my leisure. Though I confess to frequently using television to put me to sleep, no longer did I have to wake up to the credits of my one favorite show rolling along. Easy menu choices allowed me to cue up my selection as well as pause the program for a drink refill/toilet flush/nose blowing break. I had discovered the alternate universe that is Comcast Xfinity.

And, I met Kendra.

Kendra, in the virtual, in my house.

Kendra, my new BFF. Smiling, encouraging, non-threatening Kendra, she who resembles my niece and invites me to come along with her, sometimes bringing her also-smiling friends, on a brisk walk or a booty-busting, sweaty dance session. Never condescending or insipid, always reasonable and patient, Kendra

You go, girl!

accepts me into the fold of her excercise classes without asking me if I have kids or telling me that’s not how we do things here or telling me she can help me get religion. I can see that flash in her eyes and the way she looks at her friends that she rocks, too; she’s trying not to laugh at someone in the background egging her on during the Rhythmic Groove.  She’s always available for me, for the quick 10 minute walk after I drag myself from bed before plodding off to notwork, or in the reviving half hour we spend sliding sideways and marching it out while rain again falls outside my windows. She’s having fun; I’m having fun. Kendra’s helping me get my groove back.

Comcast (literally) hasn’t always been there for me in the past, but Kendra’s changing that. She keeps showing up when I look for her. The value of that tidy sum we pay has increased exponentially. So, hey Comcast — thanks!

To Xfinity & beyond!

Exercise common sense.

My little Thought Landfill has touched on such eclectic subjects as inaccurate corn harvest estimates to bras that fit to haircuts that don’t to sleeping around. It’s time to take a big step forward and confront more controversial issues. If this post drives off my regular subscribers, I’ll have to live with that as I grow into my convictions as blogger and a responsible human being. So, if I offend anyone I’ll have to suffer the consequences since this subject has been on my mind for some time now.

What the hell are we doing that we’re calling exercise?

I subscribe to a few email newsletters to keep my little-used brain sharp and on its mental toes, so to speak. Last week I received two separate e-mailings from WebMD, which is a sentimental favorite website of mine, about hot fitness crazes. I imagine C. Everett Koop in his bowtie and glasses lovingly writing each newletter on a manual typewriter with only America’s best interests at the center of his patriotic heart. Dr. Koop always seemed like such a sensible man. Now I realize he either has nothing to do with WebMD, or he’s on vacation, or they’ve put him out to pasture. Does the following photo appear sensible to you?

Jumping shoes. Really.

No, me either. These are called Kangaroo Shoes and can be worn for low-impact aerobics or jogging. They also come with the following caveat: if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or balance problems, stick with springless shoes. I simply cannot wait to see someone jog by my house wearing these.  These contraptions should come with a plaster cast for the inevitable broken ankle. I assume they come in a kit with itty bitty, impossibly tight workout shorts since everyone in the photo wears them.

Where else are calories burned?

 Next up: pole dancing. Yes, this is indeed a legitimate(?) fitness suggestion. I’ve seen any number of classes offered locally, and I bet you’ve heard all about Pole Dancing for Jesus. (No, I’m not giving you the link — go look for yourself out on YouTube.) The WebMD newsletter  says you’ll burn calories while working your abs, butt, thighs and “more.”  More what? Tongue muscles? Risks include falling(!), rotator cuff strain, and tendonitis. These must be some of the more interesting injuries being seen in emergency rooms. (I have to admit, I’m kinda likin’ those silver boots, though.)

I’m a long-time follower of yoga. The breathing, the focus, the stretching have comforted and strengthened me both mentally and physically. Its rising popularity is also its nemesis, bringing competitivenss and “extreme” to the practice, neither of which can or should be applied to yoga.

Water + board = waterboard yoga

 This is referred to as floating yoga. A stench by any other name still stinks. Balance during yoga poses is intensity enough without having to try to also remain afloat.

Suspendasana. No namaste here.

 Aerial yoga — beyond ridiculous. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years with a minimum of props, and there are enough downward-facing poses without adding bungee cords, or “hammocks” as they are euphemistically named. The New York Times recently published articles about the increase in the number of yoga-related injuries — well, duh. Injuries will occur in any form of exercise, particularly when competition, peer pressure, and bad judgement are involved.

The photos above show women participating in these “exercises.” You can read into that whatever you like; one fact I read is that these examples are not “manly” undertakings. Fear not, though, the boys are going for the glory as well through “elite” fitness such as P90X and Insanity Workout, which promote “muscle confusion.” (Egads — intentional confusion — shouldn’t that be illegal?) The newsletter instructs the reader to consult a physician prior to engaging in these, particularly in regard to pre-existing joint problems. I take that to mean if you don’t have joint problems, you probably will after going Insane.

WebMD is not the creator of these crazes, just the purveyor of the newsletter which afforded me an interlude of “WTF?” and “WTH?” moments, significant eyebrow exercise and astonished blinking, and some some mental gymnastics. I’m thankful to them for that. But I’m going to keep my yoga grounded, my shoes spring-free, and my insanity level low. I think I’ll take a walk, do a little dancing or a little Zumba, push a lawnmower, take the stairs. You get the picture. I can hear my joints whispering “thank you” and my blood whooshing gently through my arteries. Wherever C. Everett Koop is, I think he’d agree with me.

I might have to get me a pair of those silver boots, though.

Dear Santa, about that list. . .

Dear Santa,

I know I probably should have gotten this list to you earlier, but isn’t a last minute rush just that sometimes – a rush? I suppose you’ve checked your list twice and might be struggling to find my name on it; I can spell it for you if necessary, or I may be listed under “Q” for Queen. Let’s not get into the naughty or nice theory since it’s really like evolution, relativity, or string – just a theory.

Since I am a little late about submitting this I thought a different format might make the process easier for you. I’m just going to tell you what I don’t want. That makes anything I do receive a bonus.

No exercise equipment – We both know I’m not going to use it. That exercise ball I bought for a pilates class lies in a state of unhappy deflation in the garage. I will never again use it for exercise purposes; it makes me look like a circus poodle. It might be useful as an Annoying Orange or jumbo Halloween pumpkin. My stepper has a pair of my shoes on it; I’m not in them. Ever. The mini-trampoline was not meant to stand permanently on edge. The hand weights shouldn’t be doorstops.

 No raise at work – Really. It’s just not about money anymore. When I find my grossly atrophied brain or my self respect, I’ll explain further.

No unpleasant surprises – Pants that fit yesterday but don’t fit today; mint in my chocolate brownie (eeuuw); horseradish that I mistake for cheese on my food(!!); there is no Santa Claus.

No more cellulite – I have quite enough already. I’m not exactly blaming you, but I have my suspicions.

 No more speed limits – We both know they don’t apply to The Magic Bus or the Queen.

No more laws – We’ve got enough. Every single instance of every single happening in every single corner of the U.S. simply cannot be controlled. Let’s lighten up, have a little fun, exercise some personal accountability, hold each other to a higher standard, read the fine print before signing.

No root canals – Who came up with such a barbaric procedure? Drill this, Mr. Dentist.

No more brown, anything –Brown is protective coloration in my neighborhood. I like more cheerful, life-affirming colors, like bright green, or purple.

 No sushi – Tuna out of a can is still tuna out of a can.

 No more cholesterol – My arteries will function fine without it. This would also support the no exercise equipment request.

No Target-brand Sun-Dried Tomato crackers – these are really dry dog food in disguise.

No more Facebook changes – I know, but it can’t hurt to ask.

So, thanks in advance for not bringing me this stuff. I hope there hasn’t been any trouble with PETA this year regarding the reindeer (or was that just a rumor last year?), the elves haven’t skipped out to Occupy something, and Mrs. Claus continues to enjoy her supporting role.

 Affectionately (if not obediently) yours,

Queen Linda