Ohhhhh….

2.24.21

Here’s a gift from Chip, the ballet-dancing Pilates instructor at Body Dynamics:

Sit up straight. (Or you can stand; whatever.)

Put your right hand on the back of your neck, as low onto your back as you can reach, so your elbow is pointing at the ceiling.  (If you have a small child around, this is where they will inevitably tickle you. Banish them from the room posthaste.)

Now swing your left hand up and over to land on your right elbow. It’s the job of the left hand to push down gently on the elbow. The goal is to lower your shoulder down. (You hiked it up when you swung your right hand into place, but don’t worry—you can lower it back down again.) Maybe your elbow could point higher? You want that right arm back by your ear if you can.

Left hand now drifts down to point at something at shoulder height. Not directly to the left of you; not directly in front of you. You’re pointing at something exactly in between. (I have no parenthetical comment for this direction.)

Now look at your left hand. (Turn your whole head; don’t just roll your eyes. You do that enough already. Your eye-rollers are the best-worked-out muscles in your body!) (And you thought I hadn’t noticed.)

Left hand up again, to cup the top of your head. (You are now susceptible to tickling on both sides. Hope you banished that kid as instructed.)

VERY GENTLY use the left hand to tug your head downward, as though you wanted to point your right ear at the floor. (You can’t get it pointing at the floor; don’t try. DON’T FORCE IT. But ear toward the floor is the direction you want to go in.)

Hold. Drool. Take a moment to identify the back/shoulder/neck muscles that are crying out in pleasure-pain. Feel the starch in those areas begin to surrender. Consider how much they do while they hold you upright in front of the computer for hours on end.

Now do the other side. You don’t want to be lopsided.

You’re welcome!

Too Many Apps Open

2.20.21

As the quarantine has dragged on, I seem to spend the first five or ten minutes of my sessions with incredible trainers Barbara and Chip at Body Dynamics by bitching.

Just out and out complaining about my state of looming discontent and feelings of isolation and distraction and self-pity for consuming anything even remotely considered foodstuffs. Both Chip and Barbara—because they are kind, compassionate humans but also because they deal with clients five days a week—have told me that I am not alone.

A lot of people are trapped in an endless February. The vaccine is coming, but it isn’t here yet. Hope’s right around the corner, but new varieties of COVID are even more catching. It’s chilly and grey in Virginia, but across the nation the cold is actually dangerous.

There are reasons to be overwhelmed.

Chip told me about one of his clients. She was having a tough time getting an exercise right, and I can relate to that. It’s taken me three years to actually feel anything at all in my glute mede—so the idea that I can’t always make my muscles move the way I’m supposed to? Yeah. That rings in me like a bell.

Chip’s client apparently sighed and said to him, “My brain has too many apps open.”

He told me this and I came to a complete halt. Just locked in place, lying on the matt doing bridges.

OH MY GOD.

That’s exactly the feeling I have when I can’t sleep for all the ideas in my head—or the To Do list is long and growing. That’s what it feels like when I’m trying to use my glutes and abs but the shoulders are somehow trying to help, or a diamond-shaped cluster of various muscles at my low back, or my feet, or anything else miles away from where the center of effort is supposed to be.

I HAVE TOO MANY APPS OPEN.

Does it ring with you, too? Can we figure out the way to hit that tiny X at the corner of the app and shut down a few of them? Most of them? ALL of them? God knows, we can fire them up again tomorrow. What do you think?

Later

1.11.21

The glorious reward at the end of the Body Dynamics Monday morning Cardio Class (10 am Eastern by Zoom; you could come, too) is the all-too-brief period of stretching. Barbara has a roster of Old Faithful stretches that she talks us through, depending on what fresh hell she’s put us through…

…and today she clearly felt she’d asked something of our quads (those long muscles down the fronts of your thighs), because we did the one where you hold your foot against your butt and point at the floor with your knee, standing on one leg like a sweaty, gasping flamingo.

(You think flamingos don’t get sweaty and gasping at the end of cardio class? That’s because unlike Body Dynamics, they exercise in private and don’t invite newcomers. YOU aren’t a member of THAT club!)

Barbara never fails to provide direction for people at all levels of fitness, because this is a low-impact cardio class filled with the halt and lame, the fat and stiff, the geriatric and the hopeful. There is NO “typical” Cardio Class member, and Barbara is careful about making sure no one is trying above their abilities.

So when we did the flamingo quad stretch, she said “If it’s hard to grab your foot behind you, put your leg up on a chair or the sofa, like this.”

Very often, I’m the one using the modified forms and finding them to be exactly right for me, but in this case, I happened to be holding my own foot as she gave the variant form.

Of course, for me, I need a LOT of momentum to get my foot up that high. I have to kick back hard and hope I can catch my toes in my reaching hand, and then I work my hand down my foot until I can reach around my shoe to get a good grip. It isn’t pretty, but I can do it.

And I felt a tiny flush of pride that this is something my body CAN do instead of needing the modified form. I’ve ALWAYS been able to kick my foot back that far, and can slowly and torturously work my way into a sound hold so I can join the other panting, fluffy flamingos.

AND THAT’S WHEN IT OCCURRED TO ME:

If I keep doing that a few times a week, I’LL STILL BE ABLE TO DO IT WHEN I’M EIGHTY.

This isn’t “run a mile” or “do the Jumping Jacks where you hop up and down,” both of which require a long nap and a huge amount of bitching in their aftermath. No, this was a simple stretch that feels pretty good. This was the REWARD for all the other stuff.

And all I have to do is keep doing it. When I’m tottering around the old folk’s home, I’ll have the capacity to catch my foot behind me and stand like a flamingo. Oh, sure—that’s not a skill greatly in demand for the average senior…but what about strong thighs? What about tendons and ligaments that still flex and move? What about a knee that’s been gently challenged and oxygenated by such a stretch?

What about the hand strength? What about the balance? What about the belief that I don’t have to be limited in my movements?

That one silly stretch…it’s huge. HUGE!!

This stuff is really going to pay off later. Awesome!

Love this image. I look EXACTLY like that when I do this stretch. (Well…maybe not EXACTLY.) See? She’s wearing flamingo pink!

Merry

12.24.20

For Balance Class today, glorious Barbara suggested that we, her students, might like to wear something festive for the day before Christmas.

Barbara, whose body is obedient and strong, has exercise garb for every occasion. I, whose body is disobedient and prone to sitting, have FOUR work-out shirts and FIVE pairs of leggings, none of which could be considered festive under any circumstances. Workmanlike, perhaps. Determined. Capable of containing the rolling waves of…grain. But not festive.

I confessed my lack of merriment to Barbara, who suggested I could decorate my work-out room, and she was absolutely right. There is a large garbage bag in my workroom, filled with plastic garlanding that I used to string along the fence at the end of the driveway when I was younger and cared that much…

…but it hasn’t been unearthed in a decade or more. Who knows what’s moved in there??

No, best to ignore that bag for the next few decades more. I decided my best bet was to decorate myself—and then claim I had to put my ornaments away as an excuse for missing a little of the Balance Class warm-up. Perfect!

As it happens, I’m feeling more than a little smug in the aftermath of Balance Class, and it’s not because I draped myself in glass ornaments. No, I have three reasons to be particularly merry:

The first is that while I was exercising my corpus, a very nice lady named Luz was upstairs cleaning my bathrooms. I’m exceedingly fortunate to have Luz in my life, and that alone should make me feel smug, but today’s reason was better.

Because when Luz isn’t cleaning my house, she’s on the housekeeping staff at one of the many local hospitals in this region, and that put her at the top of the list for the vaccine. She got her shot three days ago, with another one to come next month.

SHE’S BEEN VACCINATED!! It’s happening! It’s really happening!!

I’m so excited by this. I know I’m going to be far down on any list (I work from home, I’m in good health, I’m 60 with no pre-existing conditions), but I don’t care. I can wait. It’s enough to know that the people at greatest risk are getting the help they need. HUZZAH!!

The second reason I’m feeling smug is because after class, I paid my household bills and jumped into the car to take the payments to the post office. (I’m old school; only some of my bills are paid automatically. I had three checks in envelopes with stamps and everything. Very retro.)

I’ve been wearing this big, fuzzy sweater I happened across; I call it my David Rose sweater because it’s like one of those delicious outfits David wears on Schitt’s Creek that marries indulgent comfort with (possibly dubious) style.

But my David sweater was upstairs and I was just going to be gone for a minute, so I grabbed a jacket from the hall closet that I haven’t worn in a while…

…and it is LOOSE at the hips. LOOSE!!

I don’t weigh any less, but I think things are tightening up. That’s nice.

And the third reason I’m feeling smug is because I know that after New Year’s Day, Balance Class will be filled with new people (and perhaps some returning celebrities) who are pulling themselves together to exercise. What better way to greet the new year than to provide basic maintenance on the body you’ve been given?

I will welcome every single one of those people. I know—oh, boy, do I know—how hard it is to make the commitment to taking care of yourself. And every person who pulls it together after the holidays deserves a cheer and a pat on the back. I want to hug each one and say “come with me! We’ll suffer together—and when we’re at the old folk’s home, we’ll be glad we held the walker/wheelchair/eulogy off for a little while longer!”

But I was in class BEFORE New Year’s. My sisters and brothers in Balance Class and Cardio Class don’t have to face creating a new, healthy habit in the new year. We’re already there. And that makes me smug as hell.

There’s room for you in Balance Class, and Cardio Class. You can build a new habit—and have the chance to bitch at Barbara while on mute. She’s the gift you can give yourself. Check out Body Dynamics’ website; it’s the name plus “inc” followed by dot-com.

And then you can be smug, too!

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate this particular and exceedingly dominant holiday!

Delicious

12.12.20

A few weeks ago and out of the blue, my friend Alison sent me treats.

Have you ever heard of anything more glorious? It wasn’t my birthday. It wasn’t National Send A Friend A Treat Day (hey—THERE’S a happy holiday I could get behind!). It was just a random Tuesday and there was a box on my front steps. She is a goddess.

There were two different kinds of graham crackers, and delicious walnuts. And four—FOUR!—bags of a granola that I rapidly became addicted to.

So much so that I ordered more for myself.

Yes, in a few weeks, I went through FOUR bags of granola.

I put it in my morning yogurt, you see. This is the breakfast recommended to me by the amazing Chip, nutritionist and trainer at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA.

(Just FYI: Some fresh fruit. I sliced up strawberries today. Wheat germ; gives it a nice nutty taste. I dig it. Brown flax seeds. They get stuck in the teeth and give you something entertaining to crush up later. Pumpkin seeds, for the sugar-defeating zinc. Nuts or nut-based granola. Organic Greek whole-milk, no-sugar plain yogurt, or OGWMNSPY. (When you’re at the dairy case, envision a cave man spotting a group of women at the stream. Og women spy! That’s your yogurt.) A drizzle of maple syrup. My drizzle is looking more like a storm lately; we all have our demons to overcome.)

Everyone at BDI is amazing, but Chip is a twofer because he’s studied physical conditioning all his life and is also a nutritionist. I can grunt my way through whatever fiendish exercise he’s come up with for that day and then roll gracelessly toward the iPad on the floor and ask him whatever nutrition questions I’ve been wondering about. What IS constipation, anyway? If you had to eat fast food what would you pick? What do you think of this granola? Every single question is not only of great interest but also a MOST excellent stall tactic before having to do the next fiendish exercise.

And so, after bridging on the ball and then doing some modified can-can movement that he insists will benefit me but mostly just makes me curse vigorously, I ran the granola past him. He looked it up online and gave it the Nutritionist Chip Seal of Approval. The words “Good for them!” were uttered admiringly; I don’t remember now why, but probably because something was “sprouted.” Chip puts great stock in things that are “sprouted.”

Anyway, the granola was a GO in the morning breakfast—although Chip thought to caution me. “Watch out; make sure you’re careful about your serving size. If this goes down easy, you don’t want to eat too much.”

Sure, sure, I said dismissively. I’d already discovered that it took about a week for me to go through a bag that insisted foolishly that it held SIXTEEN serving sizes.

Over-indulge? Me?? Never. I just shake out a little on my yogurt, and then a little more. And then, because I haven’t gotten any of the really BIG clumps yet, a little more. And…a little more. There. That’s one serving size, right?? Just blur your eyes and don’t look too closely. I’m sure it’s fine.

I recently ordered some more. I’m addicted now.

It arrived at the same time as my sister Lexie, who drove for two hours to sit in my back yard with our other sister for a socially-distanced lunch of sushi. (Just about the tastiest lunch I’ve had since quarantine began, and also among the most cheerful company!)  Twig left too early, but Lexie was still around when I knifed open my granola motherlode.

Flush with sisterly love, I handed her an Almond Butter Crunch. “Are you still eating Chip’s yogurt breakfast? Try this on top. But watch the portions; it’s REALLY good.”

“Okay. Thanks.” She was distantly interested but thinking more about her two hour drive home.

An hour later, she was at a rest stop (had to let out all that good Japanese hot tea). She texted me. This is an exact transcription of that conversation:

Taking a potty break and thought to

tell you – OH MY GOD! Granola has

no right to be that good! I can’t stop

eating it and wouldn’t be surprised if

most of it was gone before I got

home. Thank you!

                        I’m howling. I think it’s amazing, too!

                        Glad you like it!

Love it!

                        Save some to try in your yogurt. Mmm!

We’ll see how much makes it back

My point is—wait. I mean, my points are: Send someone an unexpected treat; it’s a blissful form of kindness. Also: Share your good fortune with someone else. Also: Give yourself the gift of a Zoom work-out with Chip or anyone else at Body Dynamics. Also: If you decide to order yourself a bag of Healthy Home Foods Almond Butter Chunk reduced sugar granola, BE WARNED: It’s really, really good and there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to stretch it out for sixteen servings.

Still—a bag of healthy granola IS better for the body than that black tar heroin you were just reaching for, so…bonus!

Barefoot

12.1.20

Barbara had a curious observation today.

I was standing in the dark stairwell to my basement and Barbara (my astonishing Body Dynamics trainer) was on my iPad, propped on the floor but angled up so she could watch me do calf raises.

Which I was doing wrong.

Now, I ask you: If you stand on the stairs with your heels hanging over the edge, and then you raise up until you’re on your toes, is there ANY WAY to accomplish that without using your calf muscles?

Well, as it happens—yes. You can get up on your toes on the strength of your foot muscles alone, and your calves will come along happily for the ride, relaxed and blissed and enjoying the view from two or three inches higher in the stairwell. They will NOT break a sweat. They won’t even pretend to try. I mean, my calves are pure-damn freeloaders. I had no idea.

Barbara, from her peculiar position as if lying on the basement floor, kept saying “Are you leaning forward? It looks like you’re leaning forward.”

“Nope,” I said, in complete confidence, because I wasn’t leaning at all. And she was looking at my backside, anyway. How could she possibly see if I was leaning forward or not?

I’d forgotten. It’s Barbara. She has a sense that the rest of us don’t have. (It’s x-ray vision, or something.) “Okay,” she said. “Do twenty of those in a row.” So I did. No problem. Calf raises—what a nice change from pulling up the “headlights” (pelvic bone) with my abdominals, or trying to find my glutes. Up and down I went in the stairwell, without going up or down the stairs, which was nice. La-di-dah. Having a lovely time.

“Okay,” said Barbara when I was done. “What’s tired?”

“Um, my feet.”

“I knew it. You’re leaning forward.”

“I’m really not.”

I was.

Turns out that if you do a calf raise by using your calves (crazy old world), you go pretty much straight up. But if you do them with your feet, your hips rock forward a little. I couldn’t even feel it, but I was doing it.

“We’ll strengthen your calves,” Barbara said. Great. Another muscle group in need of boot camp. And then she made her curious observation:

“All of my clients who tend to go barefoot have these really nice, strong feet and weak calves.”

What?? I came off the stairs with a thud. Really?

We talked about it. Do people with strong feet muscles tend to like to go barefoot? Or does the act of going barefoot build strong foot muscles?

“Chicken or the egg,” was Barbara’s assessment. “The two feed off each other. Doesn’t matter. You’re going to have strong feet and strong calves.”

“But I don’t have to put on shoes, do I?” (Exercise is one thing—but wearing shoes unnecessarily is a line I simply will not cross. Girl’s got to have some standards.)

“Right.”

“Okay, then.”

Had you thought about it? If you’re basically a barefoot person, is that why you have strong feet? If you have powerful calves, do you often go barefoot? It’s sort of interesting, isn’t it?

Weak

10.5.20

You deserve to be warned: I’m going to do some pathetic whining, so look away while you still can.

I’m realizing I’m in a depression. My symptoms? Anger beyond all reasonable bounds.

Anger and loneliness.

This is legitimate. In the last three years, I’ve lost my cat, my husband, my mother, and my dog. My son came home from college for a very long, very enjoyable Covidcation and is now gone back, happy and safe in the largely-Covid-free land of Vermont. People are locked up to stay safe and keep others safe, and I take that self-isolation seriously.

And my futhermucking cholesterol was 270 back in August. This makes me SO ANGRY. I’ve been working out so diligently for months now. It’s not FAIIIIIRRRRR.

But I’ve also been eating a lot of ice cream. So okay, it’s faiiiiirrrr.

So in August, I gave up ice cream. I gave up all sugar, actually. Well, except in the form of the occasional piece of pita bread, or some Stone Wheat crackers when I have tuna fish. I went back to diligently drinking 100 ounces of water a day. I’m living on salads with chicken, tuna, or salmon. I’m eating OATMEAL, which is quite a sacrifice for me. The result?

Nothing.

I dropped four pounds almost immediately and then have stayed the same. Unmoving. For six long weeks at the heartlessly depressing number of 238 pounds. I know I’m not supposed to weigh myself, but I needed some feedback. And the feedback that I’m getting is – why bother?

I can’t get the doctor to give me another cholesterol test for four more months, so NO feedback from the bloodwork, positive or negative. But my weight hasn’t changed, my clothes feel no different, and I’m grumpy as hell.

Today a woman I know posted, secretly and modestly in a work-out group I’m in, that she gave up sugar and all other toxins eight weeks ago and has already lost 20 pounds as a result. I’m SO HAPPY for her. And SO ANGRY for me.

More importantly, I’m entering new worlds in publishing my romantic comedy (now two rom-coms, with a third in the works to make up the trilogy). I’m like a fearful explorer in an untamed world, attempting to make the best decisions I can. And when I make a decision—when I approach a milestone—when something happens…

…then I whirl around in my desk chair, excited to share or bitch or hope or worry…

…and the last remaining cat is blinking at me.

Where is everyone?? Why am I all alone?

I hate meals the most. I feel my solitude the most at dinner. Where am I getting dinner tonight? What shall I have? I don’t know—what do I feel like? I’m not sure—what do I feel like? And whatever it is, it’s going to be a salad with chicken or salmon or tuna, curbside pick-up with a mask on. And no dessert, definitely. So don’t get too excited.

And there aren’t enough pillows in the bed to make up for the lack of the rom-com I’m supposed to be living.

Tomorrow I’m going to (A) apologize to the amazing Barbara for blaming her for an exercise, as detailed in the last blog post and about which I nursed unreasoning anger for far too long and (B) have a Zoom session with Regina, the amazing BDI counselor. She will give me tools and wisdom and perspective and advice… and I will be damned glad of it.

Because feeling this weak? It doesn’t feel right.

NOT Okay!!

10.1.20

Yesterday I wrote about a torturous exercise that Chip thought would be “fun.”

(Fitness experts have a VERY different definition of fun, I’ve found. These exercises VERY rarely include trivia contests or tiddlywinks or hootenanny sing-alongs.)

I was supposed to stand on one leg, bend down to get my hands on the floor, walk out into a plank, walk back in, and then stand up…all on that one leg.

This is an earth-shaking exercise, leaving me panting and desperate; perhaps (I thought) if I quietly wiped out all the internet on the Eastern seaboard, I wouldn’t ever have to do it again.

I wrote the “Okay” blog post about it, and my OTHER trainer Barbara read the blog. I know she did because she left me a “thumbs up” on Facebook. I like it when she reads the blog; it explains to her the things I can’t tell her during our sessions for lack of oxygen.

Today, I attended Barbara’s Balance class by Zoom. And there she was, looking all innocent and pretty and kind. She corrects and encourages and cheers us on. Barbara is awesome…

…OR SO I THOUGHT.

We were in the last third of class when she said—just as cheerful as could be—“put your weight or water bottle on the ground. Now stand on one leg.”

I began to get nervous.

“Roll down slowly and pick up the weight. Don’t put that foot down.”

What?!? I began hurling invective at my laptop.

“Don’t put your foot down, and don’t let your pelvis tip. Weight in the heel of the standing leg. Got the weight?” (No.) “Now, roll up.”

ALL SHE DID WAS LEAVE OUT THE PLANK.

I have this unhappy adductor that stabs me in the thigh AND groin when I anger it. Barbara has taught me that it’s a weakness in the opposite hip; if I keep the non-stabby-side lifted, no stabbing. Yay.

But if I’m standing on one leg, I can’t lift the damned hip.

Every attempt to pick up the innocent pink little weight was painful AND exhausting. I was cursing with whatever breath I had left, and thinking even worse things.

And all the other attendees of Balance Class were going through this nightmare, too… because BARBARA BETRAYED ME!!

At the end of class, I accused her of stealing the worst possible idea from Chip because she read my blog. “Who? Me?” Her words were innocent; her attitude wickedly pleased with herself.

After I dragged myself back up the basement stairs, crawling from riser to riser and sobbing in my misery (well, sort of), I got an email from Mindy, who was in class and who ALSO read the “Okay” blog from yesterday. She said:

“I will give you a million dollars if your next blog post is about perfecting yoga’s corpse pose. For an hour. Without a break.”

SEE, BARBARA??! WE ARE NOT FOOLED!

And seriously: You guys think you’re so clever, but my adductor is FURIOUS and I’m walking with a limp. This fills me with righteous victory. I HOPE YOU’RE SATISFIED!

The class flamingos are VERY ANGRY. They’re using the ALL CAPS KEY with malice of forethought!!

Okay…

9.30.20

Okay. Stand at the foot of the yoga mat that you OF COURSE have just lying around your house, waiting for a little impromptu Downward-Facing Dog.

Lift your right foot. Now you look like a flamingo. (That’s you—long-legged and graceful as a wetlands beauty. DO NOT look in a mirror or a Zoom camera. Trust me on this.)

Bend down slowly to touch the mat at your feet. Feel free to bend your knee; that’s not cheating. Here’s the trick: Don’t let your hips rock out, so your right foot crosses behind your left leg. If you do, things are going to go wrong for the flamingo. Pelvis stays straight, like the flamingo has one of those carpenter’s levels embedded in it.

Now you’re standing there like Twister; one foot on the ground and one in the air, and two feet on the mat. Feels awkward, huh?

Don’t put that foot down. Walk your hands out farther and farther until you’re stretched over them in a plank. Again, no need to verify in mirror or Zoom lens; if you’re ANYWHERE NEAR a plank position, close enough. Win.

Don’t hang out there too long; you’re going to get tired. As soon as you’ve gotten your hips as low as you care to take them in that plank, start backing up those hands. Keep that foot in the air. Push that butt upwards.

Back up.

Back up.

Back up.

Pretty soon you’re to the point where there’s no more backing up without serious negotiations with the belly. Force your way past that point, until you’re once again in the original Twister pose; hands by your feet, one leg in the air and the other on the ground; both knees bent. Ass up. Praying that no one walks in and sees this foolishness.

Okay. Now REALLY make sure your pelvis isn’t tilted, because this is where shit gets real:

Stand up.

Don’t put that foot down. Weight in your standing heel. Glutes and abs have to work together. Go slowly or you’ll topple over completely. Haul it slowly and unstable-ly up to vertical.

Stand there, aghast and panting, crazed by how hopelessly hard that was. And then Chip says “Great! Two more times on that leg, and then three on the other and we’ll move on!” He says it like it will be no problem.

Does he not know me AT ALL??

I have no greater message. I just wanted to bitch. I mean—jeez, man!

Reject It

9.6.20

I’m always late to work. It is known, Khaleesi.

For the entirety of my professional career, my annual reviews were generally good. People were happy with the work I was doing. But I was chronically and eternally begged by my bosses to do two simple things:

Put your shoes on.

Get to work on time.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t giving my bosses a full day’s work; I’ve got a pretty powerful measure of concentration, and I was generally doing more work than anyone else in the same position. No, the problem was that I was setting a bad example for other employees, who WERE being held to business hours. I needed to respect that, too.

Every year.

Every year.

Every year.

And every year I would promise to do better. Until I began promising to TRY to do better. And then one year (poor Greg Adams was my supervisor at the time) I suddenly thought – I’m done promising something that I just don’t seem to be able to do. “No. I’m not going to. Dock my pay instead,” I suggested.

He goggled at me. Poor man; I’m not an easy person to manage. “I can’t do that. Come to work on time. Please.”

“I can lie if you want, but you and I know that it’s just not going to happen.”

When I became a freelancer, many MANY people were relieved.

That moment was a watershed for me. It took me decades to realize that intentions weren’t enough, and there was no sense wasting anyone’s time by pretending that they were.

I’m having that moment now. Ten days late, but I’m having it all the same.

I went to my doctor for my physical. I need paperwork filled out for my cruise to Antarctica in November so I made the appointment. Physicals now are conducted in such an amazingly cursory fashion that I didn’t even have to get undressed. My doctor spent time encouraging me to vote (which – duh. Of course.) and then we reviewed my exercise regime. Which, come on. It’s totally impressive, and more than 80% of her patients are doing.

She poked at my belly for a while and listened to my lungs and my heart. She signed me up for labs. (My cholesterol is too high. Again, duh. I’ve been living on ice cream. But that’s a post for another time.)

And then she said “I need to tell you that you should lose weight.”

“Thanks,” I said, not meaning it at all.

It’s rankled in me for TEN DAYS. I weighed 250 pounds on her scale – four pounds more than last year. I am one solid muscle, which of course weighs more than fat. But she didn’t care. She had no words of encouragement; she had no support to offer me. She just said what her Kaiser Permanente algorithm would let her say. “Lose weight.”

And now, ten days later, what I wish I’d said (and what I will say next time) was “NO.”

I wish I’d said “For sixty years doctors have been telling me to lose weight—and I have tried. I have dieted and exercised. I’ve cried and panicked. I’ve planned and plotted. And I’ve been ashamed of my failures. For SIXTY YEARS.

“But here’s what I’m realizing: I didn’t fail. YOU failed. Your medicine has entirely bypassed me. You’ve offered nothing at all to do this miraculous thing you want—this losing weight thing. Nothing that would allow me to lose weight and keep it off, safely and naturally. BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT EITHER.”

So fuck you, Kaiser. You’ve denigrated and dismissed me one too many times. If you can’t help, stop getting in my way. I’m managing my health; you’re not.

I’m not getting to work on time.

I’m not going to wear shoes.

And you don’t know any more than I do about losing weight. Health is the goal, not some number on a scale.

I swear. Greg Adams is lucky I was so mild-mannered!