Regulate after NIGHT ELEVEN

1.15.19

Well, now I’m confused.

If the alarm goes off at 8AM and I wake up all Disney-like – stretching my arms up luxuriously and smiling at the birds singing and twittering at my window (okay – I mean the gray light of midmorning forcing its way between the slats) – then is that because I’ve finally gotten the right hormone regulated?

That is, have I persuaded the wake-up hormone cortisol to get with the program and do what it’s supposed to do after eleven straight mornings of waking up at 8AM?

Or is it because the go-to-sleep hormone melatonin now has the chance to put me to sleep at TEN THIRTY AT NIGHT??

So when the alarm went off at 8, I’d been pretty much asleep for NINE AND A HALF FRICKIN’ HOURS??!

Actually, I woke up at about 4:20 this morning, but I’ve figured out how to get my 100 ounces of water into my body AND ALSO stop drinking at around seven at night, so my bladder wasn’t desperate and I didn’t have to get up; I only lay in bed for about half an hour in an in-between awake/asleep time, telling myself a story (about how I’d hide a handsome stranger on the run from bad guys in my house while the faux-cops searched for him; I’ve been binge-watching “Justified” while knitting and such shenanigans seem entirely reasonable at 4:30 in the morning) until I put myself back to sleep.

So what’s the answer? I woke up easily because I’d slept for an astonishingly long time? For the eleventh day in a row?

Or because the cortisol was doing its job and waking me up?

And does it matter which?

Chicken or egg? Paper or plastic? Timothy Olyphant or Nathan Fillion? Do we really have to choose?!

I’m enjoying this long run of handsome men in my posts of late. In review: We’ve recently had Harrison Ford as Indy, Jason Momoa, Rob Lowe, and now Timothy Olyphant. Really – it’s a public service I’m doing by illegally posting these images. And it’s all in the name of BETTER SLEEP.

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On the other hand, if I keep posting photos of smokin’ hot men, luring in potential readers, and then they discover the blog is about a fat old lady trying to get healthy, mightn’t that annoy people? Jeez. THAT’S not the goal. But really – would you rather see a photo of me snoring? Yeah – me neither.

Regulate after NIGHT SEVEN

1.11.19

I’ve been sleeping by the clock for a week now. Lights out at 11; alarm goes off at 8 – no screens allowed between those hours.

Actually, no screens allowed between 10PM and 8AM, since Chip, the Body Dynamics nutritionist, says that the blue light of screens influences both the melatonin and the cortisol hormones – so no screens for an hour before bedtime, too.

Sometimes, I’ve found, I get rushed into the evening and can’t finish Rachel Maddow until AFTER 10PM, and then I tell myself I’ll just turn out the lights at 11:15 or 11:30 or whatever – as long as I’m out before midnight, I figure I’m good…

…but 11:00 rolls around and I’m so damned sleepy that I can’t keep my eyes open any longer and I give up and go to sleep.

This is highly unusual for me. I enjoy staying up late. Professor Bice, who taught Psych 101 a million years ago at the University of Virginia, told me confidentially (well, I was sitting in an auditorium with 299 other underclassmen, but he was a great teacher and I FELT like he was confiding a gossipy bit of news just to me) that somewhere in Scandinavia, where night lasts all winter long, some scientists set out to assess a truly uninfluenced sleep cycle.

So they took some willing grad students and put them in bunkers underground and totally isolated them. They had food for three months and all the school books they could want to study for their final exams.

(What kind of schools in Scandinavia were these? Where you could be absent from class for three months and then show up to ace the exam and everyone was fine with that? Maybe they were working on doctoral dissertations down there in their bunkers; I don’t know.)

And then they tracked when the students went to sleep and woke up by monitoring when their lights were on or off.

I don’t remember the results; it was something like when allowed to adjust to their own rhythms, the body’s hormones didn’t really like a 24-hour cycle and preferred something different. What, you may ask? I’m sorry – I was a terrible student. I don’t remember. But the concept has always stuck with me: What would YOUR body do if you had no sunrise/sunset, dinner to make, Good Morning America? What would your natural rhythm REALLY be?

Of course, we don’t live in bunkers. (At least, I don’t. I make no assertions about you!) And there ARE cues that begin or end our days. And I’ve now, after seven days, got the “go to sleep” cues all lined up and working for me.

I’m still missing the “get up” cues. So for the second week of my two-week experiment, I’m self-imposing EVEN MORE DRACONIAN regulations.

When the alarm goes off, I don’t have to leap out of bed immediately – but I can’t pull over the iPad to check messages or Facebook or any other form of delayed rising. I can lie there and admire how nice it feels when my hip flexors aren’t on high alert, but that’s it.

And by 8:30, I must have not just gotten up but also:

  • Peed (always the top priority in the morning – still working on getting in 100 ounces of water a day, and those 100 ounces have to come back out eventually)
  • Dressed myself in clothes you could answer the door in
  • Brushed my teeth and hair
  • MADE THE BED (I said these rules were Draconian)
  • Opened the bedroom curtains
  • Fed the dog and let him out.

Then and only then can I delve into the electronic world.

I’m thinking that by holding off on “what happened during the night that I missed?” until I accomplish that list, I’ll be a little more zippy in the early morning half-hour. And that, as much as the time the alarm goes off, should influence the cortisol to come on stronger and help me wake up perky after a great night’s sleep.

Because I don’t live in a bunker and I can’t just sleep and wake as I please. So why not let all those external cues work FOR me for once?!

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Note the shadows in this photo; the sun only hits my office desk in the morning, when I’m rarely awake… or at least, when I used to be rarely awake. Isn’t this a bold and dramatic shot? Pretty – sunshine! I feel like a healing vampire.

Regulate after NIGHT FIVE

1.9.19

You remember dreams only if you wake up during the night, so they can go from short-term to long-term memory. The same dreams are spooling out when you’re sleeping straight through; you just don’t remember them.

So I know that I really WAS tossing and turning all night last night.

(So often we assume we had a bad night’s sleep when in reality we were just unconscious during most of it.)

Because I had some weird and vivid dreams.

Melatonin is in the right cycle; I get sleepy as evening wears on. In fact, I can’t wait for bedtime because I’m worn out from the day and longing to sleep. (Although – last night, I did get caught up in the current book, which is Martin Cruz Smith’s Polar Star, in which ace Moscow police detective Arkady Renko is working on a fish filet factory ship in the North Sea, which is every bit as grim as you might imagine, and STILL he’s smarter than everyone else around him; love me some Arkady, and Polar Star is the best of a great bunch.)

Where was I?

Right – I bid Arkady a reluctant good night and snapped off my light at a little after 11.

Then I was up at 1:30.

And 3:30.

And 4:15. Not ENOUGH melatonin to keep me under.

At least the dreams were interesting. There was one connected dream that stretched across several grumpy roll over/go pee/sit up/punch the pillow episodes. In it, my sister Twig was waiting in my car while I ran into our childhood Safeway for something.

But in the Safeway were all these friends, and I got to gabbing. My good pal Rob Lowe (his presence in my dream obviously a product of too many Brat Pack movies in my youth, not to mention Parks and Rec, mmmm) had just invited me to assess how soft his new necktie was – isn’t that silky? Why, yes, Rob, it really is – when I saw Twig outside.

I found her and she handed me my car keys. I have a kidney infection, she said, and it’s really, really bad. She stomped off to walk home. I can drive you, I called plaintively, but she wouldn’t hear me.

(I actually think I might have a kidney infection; I’m going to the doc to investigate on Friday. That’s neither here nor there; I just think these ties to reality help to ground a dream.)

So then I couldn’t find my car. I stood in the rainy dark night as Rob and my other friends bid me a cheerful farewell. No car in the parking lot. Hah – I have a (dream-based) GPS tracker on my car; I’ll use that. Off I walked, down rainy country roads, following the beep of my car.

Look – there it is. Twig has disguised it as a huge, Transformers-like tow truck parked on the more-or-less lawn of some disreputable and very dark home. No, wait – it’s not the tow truck; my car is in the bed of the pick-up (this tow truck had a pick-up bed with two silver cars in it; mine was hidden behind the other) (and it was my last car, not the Countess). Clearly this was going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Never mind – I’ll go to my OTHER car. (I don’t have another car.) (Well, I do, but it’s not a green, impossibly small Fiat with a bizarre sunroof composed of square glass tiles that slid against each other to open.) Here it is, parked down the street. Oh, Lord, I’ve left the strange sunroof open and it’s raining; now my little car is going to smell. As I was standing on the sidewalk next to my little car, a large pick-up truck pulled off the road and onto the sidewalk; as it slowed to stop, it struck me a glancing blow on the head with its massive chrome grill.

I fell back into the wet leaves. I’m fine, I called – I can already tell I’m fine. (I might be wrong, I thought – but I didn’t want to worry the collection of teenagers now staring at me anxiously from the truck.) Two boys hopped out. They helped me up. You forgive us, don’t you? Yes, of course – now get out of here before I find out there’s something wrong and I change my mind about forgiving you.

Then I woke up.

Bizarre. Very vivid.

By the time it got to be 7:40 (my alarm was set for 8), I was exhausted from trying to sleep and gave up and admitted I was awake.

So does that mean the cortisol was doing its job waking me up? Or was the melatonin simply out of whack? I have no idea. I suspect I’m going to be tired today – and my To Do list just isn’t that long. I’m going to have to find ways to avoid napping. Arkady, I’m counting on you.

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Rob Lowe. Cute all his damned life. And – nice tie.

Regulate after NIGHT TWO

1.6.19

Melly (the delicate, easily-bullied hormone that controls getting sleepy) is enjoying her vacation from her abuser, the barrel-chested Cort(isol). Last night I couldn’t stay awake past 9:30, which is WEIRD for me.

But Cort – like all schoolyard bullies – is refusing to play fair. I was definitely not perky at 8AM when the alarm went off.

So, you think – you went to sleep at 9:30PM and were still groggy at 8AM? Is there something you’re not telling us? Drug use? Night stalking? Demonic possession?

No – nothing so interesting. I just woke up last night.

A lot.

At 1:30, I realized my 20-year-old son hadn’t come back from dinner yet. Sure, he’s a college kid; if he wasn’t at home, I wouldn’t even know to worry. That was immaterial; as I lay there in the darkness itching to pull out my iPad and kill some time (NO! BAD!), I envisioned him dead in a ditch.

Forget that there ARE no ditches in over-developed Fairfax County. And there ARE grossly-overfit cops everywhere. And the kid has ID. So the chances of him being both dead (or unconscious) and also unidentified are extremely unlikely.

Didn’t matter. I worked myself into a state and violated the NO SCREENS rule to text him. “Are you dead?” I asked wittily.

“Movies,” he replied. (This morning he reported that he and his buds saw “Aquaman.” It gets the 20-year-old boy’s Strong Thumbs Down. “What an endless waste of time.” “But he was pretty, right?” I asked hopefully; I dig the trailers. “Sure, but not pretty enough.”)

(Hey. I was going to post Bill the Cat as my image, but now I have an excuse to post Jason Momoa’s naked chest. Good for your dreams. Bonus!)

Anyway, I did a lot of spinning and punching of pillows and grumbling and not looking at screens all night long, until – as usual – I fell into the deepest, best sleep at about dawn.

This is going to change. I’m sure of it. I’m hopeful of it.

Morning sleep is the best sleep AT THE MOMENT. Soon it will be nighttime sleep and then won’t I be efficient and well-rested?!

After night two, the point is: Not yet. But soon!

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Jason Momoa. Rrraow.

Regulate after NIGHT ONE

1.5.19

Cortisol is the hormone that wakes you up. Melatonin is what makes you sleepy. To me, Cortisol is a barrel-chested man who bumps into the furniture and then utters a useless “Oh – sorry about that.” Melatonin is just like Miss Melly in Gone with the Wind (“Mel” being the link, of course) – long-suffering and sweet and pale and inclined to dying after birthin’ a baby like an obedient little wet blanket. She won’t stand a chance against Cort unless I get him back on his own orbit and off of hers.

Surprisingly, it takes MORE than 24 hours to reset those cortisol levels… Go figure.

On my first night of at least 14 planned nights of attempting to regulate my sleep, I fell short of the plan – but I’m working on moderation. If I’m not PERFECT, I’m not allowed to give up. I just have to keep working on it.

So the plan was to enter the “no screens” hour before bedtime by 10-ish, but I went out to dinner with friends and we sat around for a LONG time yakking and giggling, so I ran late. (But I ate no sugar! Yay me!)

Still, I did my yoga moves, and re-arranged my bedroom a little (it’s been years since I needed a good reading light by my bed) and was in bed reading by 11:15. What did I read? An ancient copy of “Leave it to Psmith” by PG Wodehouse that I know I loved about four decades ago but can no longer remember.

Still not sure I love it again; I got about five pages in and crashed with an audible thud. Thursdays are my big work-out days (Balance Class with Barbara followed by Stretch Class with Grace) so I tend to be tired anyway. Virtuously, I turned out my light at 11:30.

I’m deeply susceptible to suggestion, so once Chip told me that my late-night Damn-it’s-hot flashes were influenced by sugar – and once I skipped dessert for the first time since God was a pup – I slept right through the usual 2:30 – 3:30 wake-up phase. Nice!

Still, when the alarm went off at 8:30, I had my usual morning GAK response.

(The word GAK as typified by Bill the Cat in some comic long gone now is best expanded as me thinking “There is NO WAY IN HELL I’m getting out of bed this early; it’s cruel and unusual to even contemplate it. I will belligerently roll over and go back to sleep with malice of forethought.”) (See? Saying GAK is faster.)

But going to bed at a reasonable hour is only going to work if I get up at a reasonable hour too, and eventually my goal is 7:30 every morning. (The dog is going to LOVE this plan.) My wake-up hormone (cortisol) is supposed to be peaking about as the sun rises, and I need to train it to follow the light/dark pattern so the far-less-activist melatonin can have the chance to make me sleepy in the evening.

So setting the alarm (for 8:30 today) is only part of the agony; I also have to GET UP. Today it took 15 minutes, but I was vertical (and grumpy about it) by 8:45. Okay, maybe 8:50. Hell, I don’t remember. Too early for me, too late for the plan – so we call that a compromise and move on.

I was a slacker until 1, but then did have a very productive afternoon, including running stairs – at a pace that could only be called “running” if you were feeling very kindly toward me, showering, anointing myself with various unguents and potions, taking down all the indoor Xmas decorations, doing all the laundry (okay, there are still bed sheets to be folded), and plotting the plan of attack for a goth baby blanket for my future great-niece or nephew. (I’m going to knit a stormy purple blanket and then duplicate-stitch in a crimson spider web with a large, menacing red spider lowering down to land on the outstretched hand reaching out of a cradle… may need a schpoot of help with the art!) (Doesn’t that sound cool? And good for a very goth couple?)

I’m watching the clock carefully. Knowing I’m going to have to put all screens aside by 9 or so has made me jealous of my screen time. Like a middle-school kid with a curfew. Do I REALLY want to waste my time on solitaire?!

Did you know that you CAN pee without a phone or tablet in your hand? I know. Astonishing.

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Regulate

1.4.19

It was as if he was about to divulge the secrets of the Lost Ark and I’d said “Hang on, now – where’s Egypt, again?”

Chip the charming nutritionist at Body Dynamics has worked with me before; our “check-up” meeting should have proceeded along quite standard lines.

Instead, I shanghai’ed the conversation before it even began by saying “You know, I don’t get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.”

Chip’s reaction was the visual equivalent of pushing the reset button. Everything he can do to help me achieve nutritional health, it turns out, is hamstrung by a lack of sleep… and the more we talked, the clearer it was that all the issues I was having were at least influenced (if not outright caused) by poor “sleep hygiene.”

Including the MASTER demon in my nutritional hall of nightmares, sugar.

“When I’m well-rested,” I said, innocently making his case for him, “I’m better at resisting sweet foods.”

“Of course,” he said as if I’d said that it’s useful to inhale after I exhale. So I hastened to disabuse him of the notion that sleeping through the night was entirely under my control.

“I’m peri-menopausal,” I offered. “I wake up in the middle of the night so damned hot. So I get up and then I’m up for a few hours. That’s hormones.” I finished in triumph, sure I’d managed to overcome any insistence that I was in control here.

Chip is a wilier opponent than that. “Guess what influences hormone levels?”

“Sleep?” I guessed suspiciously.

“No. Sugar.” (D’oh! Sugar is ALWAYS the answer with Chip, just as any question Barbara asks can be answered by an automatic “Abdominals.”)

“So the hot flashes are more extreme if I eat sugar?”

“Try and see.” He looked smug. I know what the answer is.

“And I can resist sugar if I get more sleep.”

He nodded.

“And if I get more sleep, I can resist sugar. There are times when you’re very annoying.”

“Annoying but right.”

Chip, despite having every possible answer that points to ice cream sundaes being an unwise choice, is really a very dreamy guy. We talked about how to improve my sleep hygiene (this phrase gives me the giggles) – and the answer is to better regulate my schedule.

I can do just about anything for ten to fourteen days – my determination lasts about that long without reinforcement – so I’m going to embark on a REGULATION EXPERIMENT. These are its outlines:

  1. I’m going to dial way back on the sugar. Three desserts or treats a week and NO MORE. (Sure. For ten days to two weeks? I can hack that.)
  2. I’m going to do my evening “yoga flow” while watching Rachel Maddow, my spirit animal. I’ll give her half an hour before starting so I can fast-forward over the commercials, so I’ll start that at 9:30. That’ll last until 10:15.
  3. Once I turn off the TV, there’s 45 minutes to an hour for non-screen awake time. This means reading a physical book. No e-reader; the blue light of the screen is messing with my melatonin/cortisol levels. (I almost understand this and will explain poorly if anyone cares.)
  4. Between 11 and 12, I turn off the lights and lie in bed to stare at the ceiling. Eventually my body will learn that this is bedtime and I’ll actually fall asleep. Theoretically.
  5. I’ll set my alarm for the gaggingly-early hour of 7:30, and get up at that time every day. Yes – even weekends. Shudder. Again theoretically, my body will adjust to constancy so I’ll get up that early without feeling like I’m entering a disjointed hellscape.

No iPad if/when I wake up in the middle of the night. No cheating.

For ten to fourteen days.

I’m curious about what will happen. For so long, I’ve been at my smartest in the evening; I write better at night. I think better at night. Chip says that’s because I’m “cortisol dominant” – the “wake up” hormone is out of whack. I can regulate and get that brightness to show up in the morning.

Theoretically.

So this is the beginning of a new phase, courtesy of a nutritionist who doesn’t think nutrition is the ONLY answer to better health. Interesting experiment, huh? I’ll report back on how it’s going. (And if you decide to try it, too, I hope you’ll share your findings in the comments!)

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It’s my unscientific belief that blog posts are more eagerly read if they feature images of hugely attractive people doing exciting and exotic things. Who here thought, as I did, that when they finally opened the Ark, it would be freaking crawling with snakes?

Not Perfect. Just Better.

12.9.18

Look, lovey: The holiday season is teed up to make you feel bad about yourself. I’m sorry to point it out (under the “if I can’t see it, it can’t hurt me” philosophy, this is anathema), but it’s true.

From Christmas cookies to the sucking vacuum of emptiness at the festive table where Someone Important used to sit, you’re on an obstacle course of self-pity and self-hatred. Blend that with those memories that lurk just below where you can reach them (the memory that says “but you LOVE Christmas; what’s the matter with you? This is the happiest time of the year! Remember?”), and you’re on a tightrope, my little calla lily.

But here’s what I have to offer you:

You don’t have to be perfect.

That’s lucky, as perfection is (say it with me) unobtainable. Be real: You’re going to eat Christmas cookies. You just are.

You’re going to look at an old family photo that’s been sitting on your dresser for years and suddenly burst into tears. If you hadn’t loved so much, you wouldn’t have been so happy – setting you up for the inevitable let-down now. That’s just the way it goes, and the longer you live, the more you have to lose.

So lower your standards. For heaven’s sake; why are you so hard on yourself?!

You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be better.

You didn’t work out yesterday. Maybe for a LOT of yesterdays. So what? Here’s today, all ready for you.

You’ve let sugar take over. You’ve become sugar’s co-pilot; maybe even the weak, never-listened-to navigator in the back of the plane going “Uh, guys? I don’t think we’re on the right flight plan,” while sugar and its preferred co-pilot, fat, are high-fiving in the front seats and calling each other “bro” like frat boys.

It happens. Eat the cookie. Get over yourself. Tomorrow is another day. And so is the day after that.

Just be better, not perfect. Do a LITTLE something for yourself. Take a walk. Hire a trainer. Skip dessert ONCE. Just once. You can skip dessert once; I know you can.

You don’t have to be perfect.

Just a little better.

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Full disclaimer: I LOVE Christmas, and am quite determinedly enjoying it this year. I’m meeting my sister at my mother’s house to do Mom’s tree, and I’ll have my decorations up before my brat gets home from college, so I am not annoyed by the fact that he has no interest in the holidays and refuses to help. I’ll listen to Burl Ives and Chris Isaak and I’ll deck my halls, fa-la-la-la-la! Hope you’re happy this season, too!

Evolution

11.13.18

I can hear Patrick Stewart purring about evolution, in that I-could-whip-out-a-spine-tingling-Shakespearean-monolog-if-I-wanted-to voice. I can hear him tell me that evolution takes place slowly, over millions of years – except every now and then, evolution makes a startling leap forward.

I’m having a startling leap.

This is the evolution in my attitude towards others – which is, obviously, how we judge ourselves. (How we feel about others is an unflinching reflection of how we feel about ourselves, but leave that for later.) Evolution:

Since before the time of the dinosaurs, I looked at people running on the street or on a jogging path and I knew (I knew) that this was the kind of person who didn’t feel right in their skin until they went out and put in a few miles on the pavement. He or she was arranging their day so they’d be able to carve out this precious alone time, where they could regain a sense of connection to the world and to their own bodies. They craved that rhythm; that thud. That glide. They felt better about themselves and the world when they could just go for a run.

So of course I envied and rather hated them, in an unthinking way. Runners (to me) were “they.” Sitters were “we.” A runner found peace and joy in an activity that made me sweat and curse and look around in desperation for a cab to get me out of here. Seeing runners made me feel bad about myself.

Then – the industrial revolution: I began learning how to run with Barbara. I came to see that it mattered how your foot struck the earth beneath you, and whether your ribs popped up, and why glutes were more powerful than quads. I became fixated on the position of the hips. Do they sway? (bad) or swivel? (good)

And then I looked at people running on the street or on a jogging path and I tried to see how they were running. Was all their movement forward, or were they wasting time going from side to side? Did they look like they were enjoying themselves? What had they chosen to wear to take their run?

I didn’t hate runners then; I still envied them. But I saw them as instructional examples. Seeing runners made me feel humble.

And then last night: The huge leap in evolution.

I was driving on a dark, rainy street and, impossibly, passed some long-legged guy out for a run in a monsoon in the middle of the night. “Man,” I thought, “THAT guy must REALLY love to run. I still hate it. I do it, but I hate it.”

And here came Patrick Stewart, rolling up in my mind in his X-Men wheelchair, announcing that I was just about to make a big evolutionary leap…

“I run but I hate it,” I thought… “…and that makes me MORALLY SUPERIOR to the people who run because they love it!”

You see it, right?? Doing what is right is undeniably good (in this case, taking care of the body I’ve been ignoring for decades). There’s no downside to that.

BUT if you love to take care of your body, then it’s nowhere near as hard for you as it is for someone whose abiding skill is the ability to remain curled up in an armchair for long hours in Westeros or Narnia or London in 1812 or any of a thousand other delicious locations.

You run because you love it – you are good.

I run even though I hate it – I am good AND disciplined.

I am BETTER!

Patrick Stewart would no doubt deflate this evolutionary burst of ego. Fortunately, he’s busy at the moment doing something extremely clever. Probably Shakespeare, or boldly going where no man has gone before. So I remain pompously inflated with my own arrogance.

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PS: I haven’t run in a week; I am laid low by a cold. BUT I WILL BE BACK. Like Professor Xavier.

 

 

 

 

Sway v. Swivel

11.4.18

Brilliant teens at science fairs and robotic clubs would have spotted the mistake immediately. If you’re directed to build a two-legged structure that can walk across the room (a very disappointing challenge to brainy robotics types), they’d know right off that my plan was bad.

See, to get from here to there, I take a step and sway all my weight onto that foot. Then I take another step and sway the weight to the other foot. Progress is made, with the kind of hip-sway that makes a long, full skirt swing appealingly at the ankles.

But OH LORD, they cry – that Sophia Loren action is not going to win the science prize. It’s inefficient. It wastes a huge amount of energy. Its top speed is “saunter” – and we’ve got to get going faster than that.

So instead, they build a stationary pelvis with wheels on either side. The legs are linked to the wheels and rotate around like the rods on a train that drive the wheels. NO sway at all.

It’s the difference between a sway and a swivel.

To move like Barbara and other people who love to run, you have to use your obliques. The left hip moves toward the front; the right hip moves to the back. There’s now a twist in the torso. Apply the obliques to yank that baby back front and center. Power comes from the muscles running down the sides.

To move like Barbara, you have to use your glutes. The power comes not from flinging a foot forward and pulling up to it with the quads, but from pushing off the back foot with the glutes.

(I posed to Barbara that if you could do both – push with your butt and pull with your quads – you could maybe fly like the wind; she looked started and then thoughtful. An evolutionary breakthrough?!)

I feel, with this realization alone, that I have graduated from kindergarten to first grade in the running process. Of course, to watch me run – torso clamped tight in an effort to not sway at all – you’d think there was something wrong with me… but I have faith that the tiny, weak little muscles now being called into service will soon power up.

I’ma win the science fair.

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So I started out with a Google images search for “science fair.” Wow. Those are some dull images. How about kids in lab goggles? Ooh – steampunk goggles. Wait! Dr. Horrible! Yeah! It has nothing to do with running – but how adorable is this image?!

Oh. I Get It Now.

10.21.18

I am abiding by the letter – but not the spirit – of sound nutrition.

That is, I ate my yogurt for breakfast. You know – nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, wheat germ, OG WMN SPY.

(Organic Greek Whole Milk No Sugar Plain Yogurt – OG-WMN-SPY, like a cave man going google-eyed over nymphs bathing in the river.)

I drank a big glass of water.

And then I delved into the Hallowe’en candy.

No, I didn’t buy it for trick-or-treaters. To my sorrow, I get maybe three every year; I tried handing out the biggest candy bars I could find in the hopes that news would spread, but it never did.

Now the idea of carving pumpkins all by myself is too depressing. Not that the boy or the husband would have enjoyed carving with me, but I would have forced them to make jack-o-lanterns with me and they would have submitted. Now one is in college and the other is dead, so my favorite sport of pumpkin-carving has been pretty much permanently shelved.

And without a pumpkin hopefully glowing on the front step, even my three lone trick-or-treaters won’t bother.

So I bought the candy FOR ME in a very weak moment. I’ve been grazing on it all weekend.

And now I have this extremely cool work project to do and I find I have NO OOMPH. It’s like my willpower is being fueled by…

Oh. I get it now. The sugar is affecting my MOOD as well as my BODY. The yogurt breakfast isn’t helping me; it’s barely holding the line against a perilous descent into a powerful sugar-induced coma.

Damned sugar. It is a LOUSY nutritional partner!

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It’s like sugar is a huge guy named Bubba and I was just ushered into gen-pop prison as an object lesson to other white-collar criminals. You’re mine now, grunts Bubba, in the guise of Hallowe’en candy. First, braid my hair…