Silliness. Giggles. Joy.

These are rare and precious commodities by the end of February. Everything is SO SERIOUS.

But really – does it have to be? Can we not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps?

Is there not time for… well, drinks with plastic monkeys hanging from the rim, and a maraschino cherry lurking in the depths, like a prize for later?

When my dog sees I’m holding a Frisbee, he prances with such excitement that both front feet come off the ground, and when he chases it, his tail gets going so fast in a circle that I call it “the helicopter.” The only thing that makes him happier is to sit next to the Frisbee at the far end of the garden and laugh at me when I clap and shout and urge him to BRING IT BACK. He refuses. He’s not a golden retriever; he’s a golden acquirer.

My august and brilliant father was rendered helpless by two men in a horse suit; if they did a little four-legged dance, he’d (in the vernacular) lose his shit. World’s smartest man, unable to draw in oxygen for laughing so hard – which would set me off, too.

I had a summer job in college; my boss told me that once he and two friends were at a bar; they were mildly drunk and decided that all three would get on the boss guy’s motorcycle for a very sedate ride home. Everything went well until they came to a stop light, at which point no one thought to put a foot down. So they came to a halt and very slowly toppled over, like a Saturday morning cartoon of a chimpanzee on a tricycle. The thought makes me giggle.

Once I was sitting next to my friend John in a big staff meeting. He tapped the pad of paper on his knee to subtly draw my attention to what he’d written. I looked; it said “RUN YOU FOOL” and I burst out in a bray of laughter that hugely offended every senior member of the company. It STILL makes me laugh; I’m snorting as I type. John and I passed gusts of inappropriate laughter between us like a fast-shooting ping pong game and eventually we had to be separated like we were in second grade.

Laughter is contagious. It can’t be helped. You see two people wracked by hysteria, you don’t even know what’s so funny (and maybe they don’t, either – it wasn’t THAT funny)… but you have to grin, and maybe even give an unwilling, confused chuckle, too. It brightens the day.

Getting healthy means mental health, too. I can’t encourage you too strongly to take a moment to think about something that always makes you laugh. If you’re so inclined, post it here or on Facebook or wherever. Because laughter is contagious, and at the end of February, we all need to catch that particular bug.

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Something else that made my father howl: A guy pretending to ride a horse, followed by a guy clapping two coconuts together to provide a soundtrack. You’ve never seen a surreal scene until you’ve seen an Assistant Secretary of Defense in a burnoose cantering primly down a beach making coconut sounds with his clever cupped hands.



As far as I know, impatience isn’t one of the seven deadly sins – but greed is. (I base my knowledge of the seven deadlies on that movie with Brad Pitt, which I found so disturbing I watched it only once – which is to say, my knowledge is scanty at best.)

Greed or gluttony or avarice; that’s a sin, right?

And if I’m impatient, isn’t that the same thing as being greedy about time?

I’m talking about my weight, OF COURSE, because I am crazy obsessed. And you seem to be along for the journey, so what does that say about YOU, ho-ho!

We are of a tribe. Onward.

I did something particularly petty this morning. I got out of bed, peed, and combed my hair before I weighed myself. (You HAVE to comb your hair before you weigh yourself. Tangled hair traps gravity and weighs you down. Laws, yes – everyone knows that.)

Just before I stepped onto the platform, I had a blindingly fast and extensive discussion with myself. Last time I weighed myself, I was 224. Since then, I’d had my Fall Off The Cliff Ice Cream Incident, with container after container of Ben and Jerry’s lying in my garbage like fallen warriors and broken promises… but I’ve also regained my grip on who’s the master – me or sugar.

Me, damn it!

So I could have seen anything on that scale. I was hoping for 224. No, I was HOPING for 223, but I was crossing my fingers for 224. But – neither Ben nor Jerry is very susceptible to forking the evil eye at them or other occult symbols meant to ward off danger. Could be a higher number.

So I combed my hair again and took my courage in hand…

The digital scale halted on 222 for a second and flipped to 223. I gasped – which was enough to push it to 224, where it adamantly stayed. Oxygen – so dense.

So – okay. No harm done. No progress made, but also no ground lost. Everything is okay.

So then I did my stairs – nine times up and back two flights, huffing and panting and trying but failing to avoid stomping like an elephant. At the top of each flight, I tap the “LAP” button on the iPhone timer, although I don’t know why; it takes me between 36 and 43 seconds to go down and come back up again, and nine cycles makes six minutes and has for several weeks now… but I do it under the theory that perhaps one day I’ll be so blasé and easy in my cycles that I’ll FORGET to gasp at the bottom of each flight “This is number six” and might actually lose track of how many laps I’ve done. (And go endlessly fluttering up and down the stairs like a jock – a ballerina – a butterfly until many, many minutes have passed. Oh, have I done 35 minutes? My – silly me! SUCH fun.)

I am aware that it is the moisture in one’s breath that dehydrates – which is to say, there’s a loss of WATER when you exercise. And water – unlike tangled hair or oxygen – really IS dense and heavy.

So when I finished my nine cycles and walked around panting and counting my pulse for a while, I toweled off the sweat, peed again (no, no fluids had gathered in the reservoir in that brief time), and got back on the scale.

Yes, I know this is obsessive behavior – this is behavior that might lead to vomiting before I weighed myself, if I didn’t hate vomiting with every fiber of my soul.

This time the scale said 222 – which shocked me.

So now I know what I DON’T weigh. I don’t yet weigh 222 unless I deliberately dehydrate myself, which is CRAZY. I had to shake myself like a horse with a fly on its hindquarters. What was I thinking?!

It’s because I’m so impatient. I want to weigh less NOW.

But here’s the thing that’s so easy to forget: Maybe two years ago, the scale terrified me by reading an implacable 260 – the top of an upward progression I felt I had no control over. At the time, there was no hope of a lower number. NO hope. Let’s make that a two-sentence paragraph for emphasis:

No hope.

And now I’m greedy to get to 222. Or even 223.

Those numbers are STILL TOO FAT… but they are BETTER. If I am so impatient, then I have to look back at the last two years (less, really) as a huge, greedy gobbling of time that’s taken me from grossly swollen to muscularly plump. From a 55-inch waist to a 42-inch waist. From high cholesterol and concerning blood sugars to normal numbers across the board.

Yes, I’m greedy. Yes, I’m impatient. Yes, I want a quick fix.

But really – I’m GETTING a quick fix. My transformation is fast as hell, given that I didn’t think it was even possible. Once again, it’s my mind that is lagging behind my body.

I’m impatient… and determined.

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“What do you think we’ll find, Morgan Freeman?” “Probably a victim of gluttony, Brad Pitt. It won’t be pretty.” “Just so long as the scale doesn’t read 225, I’ll be okay.” “Son, you don’t know what you’re about to face. Keep your pretty face behind me; I’ll screen you from the worst of it.” “Thanks, Morgan Freeman. Nice hat.” “Well, I like a styling brim.” “I can see why. Let’s go.”


Photo Ban


“We should post before and after photos of you,” said Gwynn (the miraculous therapeutic masseuse at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA). “You’ve made such a change in your life – it’s exciting.”

Although I should have focused on a charming “Who – me? Why thank you!” modest reply to such a kind statement, I found I was scoffing instead.

“Before pictures? Are you kidding?”

Gwynn, long and lean and with the posture and carriage of the ballet dancer she trained to be, looked confused. “No – why?”

“There ARE no “before” pictures,” I said. “Fat women don’t like to see pictures of themselves. We hide from the camera. Stand in the back. Grab a dog or a pillow or a small man to put between us and the camera. There ARE no “before” pictures of me.”

And that’s largely true…

…and then Facebook gave me a gift this morning. “Prudence, we thought you’d like to see this post from a year ago.”

And there I was, larger than life, in a melon-colored shirt that I have since retired as being too – well, wow. My friend Robin had noted with kindness that I looked like the inside of a cantaloupe, and that was entertaining enough for me to post on Facebook about it, lifting my self-imposed photo ban. (Although you can still see the shame if you look past the “aren’t I playful?” grimace.)

So this morning – 365 days later – I attempted to recreate the shot, to see if I could do my own before-and-after. Ignore the fact that I finally had my hairs trimmed, and my oddly stupid inability to look in the same direction as the original (morning hours are NOT when I am at my best).

This is what a year of working out looks like – a year of Chip (the nutritionist at Body Dynamics) patiently informing me about what a poison sugar is – a year of working slowly up to a pathetic six minutes on the stairs and ten on the elliptical. I am guardedly pleased.



One year ago:


With thanks and gratitude to the united front at Body Dynamics who are pulling me into a better future by shear dint of will: Barbara, Gwynn, Grace, Chip, Chad, Mario, and Jen, with occasional advice from Patrick, Jorge, and Josh. It takes a village to raise a child; it takes a team of no less than seven experienced professionals to get me off my increasingly-less-fat ass!

South Moon Under


I was having lunch today with my aged mother and my blissful sister Twig.

Mom was objecting to the noise level in the restaurant by pretending she couldn’t speak any louder than a whisper, which was exhausting me. Twig was eating roasted heirloom carrots and a cauliflower appetizer because being healthy is second nature to her; she’s terrifying.

After lunch, Twig asked if Mom and I would mind popping across the street to check out the store “South Moon Under.”

“Sometimes they have cute things.”

Mom and I were agreeable. I’ve been shopping in “regular” stores of late; by moving from size 2X clothes to regular old XL, my shopping options have expanded, and I’m trying to get over the fact that I shy away from many retail establishments like a dog that’s been smacked. I’ve never been in South Moon Under; maybe they, too, will have something that I might like.

Really, when you risk the emotion, going clothes shopping CAN be kind of exciting.

So off we went, moving slowly enough for Mom. (She had a third of a lung removed some 20 years ago and sometimes she finds she’s out of breath on chilly days when she has to walk too far. She’s a million years old, after all, and still up and strutting – a slow amble across the road doesn’t seem too much to ask.)

The clothes in the window looked… suspect. Or, put another way, they looked tiny. Like clothing for women who hadn’t long since left girlhood behind and who are very interested in displaying the maximum skin available.

Slim-hipped women.

I can’t help it; years of pressing my nose mournfully to the glass of places like this have made me instinctively regard the salesladies inside as The Enemy. I just KNOW they’re thinking, as soon as I walk in, “Oh, we don’t have anything to fit YOU, honey. Layne Bryant is just down the street; why don’t you waddle along?”

But I’m braver now. There is less of me. I can wear XLs. So I followed my tiny-butted sister and my aged mother into the store. If they could go, I could go, too.

Short story made long – the windows weren’t lying. The store had nothing larger than a “large,” and they looked like very small larges at that. And the clothes were… cute. Made of soft fabrics and cut to display the bounty of dewy mammary glands. I knew quickly that there was nothing here for me, but I wandered with a discriminating air, as if I was willing to be tempted into an impromptu purchase of a pair of shorts so tiny even the elfin saleslady said they looked like they were from Baby Gap.

And then? I should have seen it coming.

My mother – my MOTHER – decided she liked several bathing suits. So she tried them on. The salesladies all gathered around to coo at her. She bought two of the suits – high-cut thighs, strappy backs, no shoulder straps. She looked great, and SHE dared to come out of the dressing room, with her underwear sticking out, and walk around to gather opinions.

It’s not that I begrudge my mother a bathing suit. It’s that … well, I guess it’s that I’m still feeling like a major outsider who shouldn’t be allowed into such places. I look good, my posture is excellent, I have stomach muscles to spare. But I’m not normal. Not yet.


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This is not the bathing suit my mother bought, but it is on the home page of South Moon Down. I thought you’d like to see it. Women CAN be very pretty.  (Pity party.)



Is “sisteren” a totally-made-up Joss Whedon word? I got it from “Firefly,” of course – as spoken by the (at the time) demure Saffron, casting her big, dewy eyes downward submissively, the better to draw handsome Mal into her net.

Wait. What was I talking about?


I was in Balance Class today at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. (I’ve decided to go with initial caps on Balance Class. Could be balance class, but I think it’s earned initial caps if only because of the cursing I subject it to every Thursday between 10 and 11am.) (Or do I prefer “11 AM?” Space? No space? Caps? Lower case? Have to work that out.)

I was in Balance Class today. (Easily distracted.)

Barbara had us down on all fours on mats. We were to put left elbow to right knee and then straighten both out to the opposite walls (without, of course, letting the back arch). That wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t just been through a series of what felt like boot camp exercises. (Maybe that should be initial caps; Boot Camp. Huh.)

Karen was at my shoulder, matching me move for move. I gasped out, “Who would do this to themselves? Why are we DOING this?”

Karen’s reply? “Well, YOU got me into this class. THIS IS YOUR FAULT!”

And I snorted with exhausted laughter. It’s amazing how often I find I’m laughing my way through the agony of Balance Class, and I thought – Karen, you are my sister.

Not ten minutes before that, Barbara had stretched out a large rope ladder on the floor and told us we should do a plank with our hands at one end of the ladder. Then, moving one foot at a time and one hand at a time, we were to crab sideways down the length of the ladder, still in the plank. “Go ahead – what are you waiting for?”

What indeed? Special dispensation from the pope, perhaps. A note from my mother. Lightning to strike and take me out of this damned class.

Off I went, gritting my teeth. At my side, Beth followed. We went down twice, and then Barbara made us reverse the direction, to make the muscles on the other side cramp, too. When I finally got to my feet – and the dizziness passed – Beth and I shook hands. In our sweat and agony and determination, we were sisters. We did it. We made it.

What am I going to get my new sisters for Christmas? Will they help with Mom? Do we have to swap kidneys if needed?

And they aren’t the only ones. Marty is the sister of longest standing in balance class – or maybe it’s Callie. Barb is a regular, too; we all greet each other at the beginning of class like lost relatives. Really what we’re saying to each other is “Couldn’t come up for a reason for ditching either, huh?”

Marusha was trying the class today; will that new sister be back? I feel like today’s class was pretty intense. I hope she knows how much we all secretly enjoy being able to survive the class – tease Barbara – exaggerate our complaints (or maybe that’s just me!); I hope she comes back.

(Both Steve and Bob – the two male regulars – are honorary sisteren, even though neither were in class today. THEY came up with good excuses!)

Marty, Beth, and I were regaining our normal heart rates after class, commiserating and boasting (mostly me boasting because I am subtle as a brick to the head), and we decided that we would probably ache a lot less if we didn’t exercise… but we’d go back to dreading what the blood tests showed when we finally gave in and went to the doctor.

And when I’m 85, I don’t want to find I’m cursing myself for not taking care of my health while it was still a reasonably easy thing to do.

Since I’m going to Balance Class and trotting up and down the stairs and working out with Barbara and Grace and Chip and Chad, I expect that when I’m 85, I’ll be able to look left and right at the rest of my sisteren and be glad we all made the effort that got us well into old age with our health intact.

That’s the plan, anyway!

Room for more in the sisteren house; come on to Balance Class with us!

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This is what we look like in Balance Class. Mostly.

I Get By


Sunk in the clinging pool of self pity (O isn’t it warm here? Isn’t it comfortable? I’m just going to stay here for a little while…), I wrote a blog post (called “Rear View”) about being caught by surprise at a video of Jonathan that cropped up on Facebook. Specifically, I was surprised to feel sorrow, not anger, at the sight of him.

I’ve been angry for a while now; I guess it was just sorrow’s turn.

In that blog post, I noted that I’d been eating a lot of sugar and I thought it might be a sign of mourning; we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death, so I was going to cut myself a little slack on the Ben and Jerry’s front. That was a mature and thoughtful thing to think (and write, of course). I flattered myself muchly over it.

Then, I used it as an excuse to eat container after container of ice cream. Not because I was sad, but because I was ALLOWED to be sad and maybe a little sorrow was going to creep up on me all unawares and I’d best be ready with the Oats of This Swirled. And then, since it was in the fridge anyway…

So I sort of went off the deep end. (Because if you’re eating ice cream anyway, then how bad could the pizza REALLY be?)

And with bad eating comes the self-loathing. Which inspires bad eating. You know this story, don’t you?

But THEN two things happened that were tremendously helpful.

First, my dear friend Sue came to visit. The word “darling” was created because people needed a word to define Sue. She stayed with me for two blissful days and we discussed food and fat and exercise and dead husbands (hers isn’t) and Patagonia (where she’d been, and OH HONEY I think I need to plan a trip). And we went for lunch to True Foods at the Angelika Center and had silly discussions about oatmeal versus yogurt over breakfast and before I knew it, I’d gone for TWENTY FOUR HOURS without any ice cream.


One full day – you know what that is? It’s a start. It’s the breaking of a bad cycle.

The other thing that happened was that Sue and I went to visit our delicious friend Ceci. (The word “adorable” was coined for Ceci.) When we arrived, Ceci was just finishing up a batch of homemade apple sauce for her wondrous partner Ashby (“charming” – that’s the Ashby word), who is having eating challenges.

Well, there’s only so much greeting and hugging and “how long has it been-ing” that one can do before surrendering to the inevitable question of “WHAT IS THAT SMELL AND CAN I EAT SOME??”

So Ceci dished us up two bowls full of piping hot applesauce, which I only didn’t gobble because I needed to savor every single mouthful and then lick the spoon. After groaning orgasmically for a while, I demanded the hard truth. “How much sugar is in this?” My tone was unintentionally accusetory.

“Nun,” said Ceci in her honeyed South Carolina drawl. “That’s just apples.”

No way.

“No way,” I said. (See what a good writer I am?)

“Ye-huh,” she insisted. “Apples. Crock pot. Immersion blender. Boom.”

Gentle reader, I thought – even I could follow that recipe.

So today I went to Whole Foods for the usual (pumpkin seeds, pears, and organic Greek whole milk no sugar plain yogurt, from which my plasma is made by this time) and I bought six apples – each a different variety.

And I came home and peeled them. (Knife or peeler? Jury’s still out.) And sliced them. And put them in the crock pot. And turned it on high and mostly left it alone for five hours. (Not entirely alone; Ceci said I could stir it every now and again, which – as it got to tasting better and better – I did often, just to lick the spoon.)

And then I dished myself up what I swear must be the inside of the best apple pie anyone ever made. It was UTTERLY satisfying… and suddenly it was 48 hours since ice cream. And counting.

So you see? I get by with a little help from my friends. Thanks, ladies.


The door of my fridge. This is like a greatest hits. On the bottom shelf, three containers of OGWMNSPY. (Organic Greek whole milk no sugar plain yogurt.) Some wheat germ. Some half-and-half left over from before Rusty went back to college; just about to expire. And one Tupperware of applesauce. Can’t wait to eat it. Might that not be good in OGWMSNPY?!?

On the second shelf, ALL THE NUTS AND SEEDS, which Chip now says should be refrigerated. NOW he tells me. I don’t understand; the grocery stores don’t refrigerate them – why do I? I’ll ask him later. For now, I moved my nuts and seeds. You should, too. (That’s walnuts, almonds, pistachios [cost a fortune but GLAHHHH they’re tasty], and cashews. The seeds are pumpkin, sunflower, golden flax, and chia. I can’t boil water, but I have an EXTENSIVE nuts and seeds larder, by damne!)



What defines your sense of self?

I’m tall. I’m smart. I value kindness. I think I can define myself pretty exactly… and then I come around a corner and realize that all that is surface paint on top of a MUCH more rigid sculpture.

I’ve discovered that my sense of self is foundationally based on a truth so basic that it’s like my heartbeat – so omnipresent that I don’t even recognize it. And this is that truth:

Prudence don’t run.

I’ve tried. Really. This is the problem with running:

  1. Huffing and puffing. I can’t breathe – so that’s a minor challenge.
  2. Impact tremors, like Jeff Goldblum seeing the shaking in the glass of water in Jurrasic Park. When I attempt a locomotion in which both feet are – however briefly – off the ground, the slamming impact of my body back onto the ground is impossibly jarring. It’s uncomfortable to feel like you’re in a paint shaker.
  3. Humiliation. I know I look like a rhinoceros lumbering painfully up to trotting speed. I am not fleet – I am not graceful – I am not happy.

I’m not a runner. Some people are. I’m not.

And that truth, I’ve learned, runs through me like a subterranean river. If mad dogs chase me, I might just scream and then give up. Chow down, Fido – I won’t fight you.

But now I’m working with Barbara and Grace at Body Dynamics on my cardio endurance. I’m working with them on ellipticals, and when I’m not doing that, I’m trotting thuddingly up and down the stairs in my home.

I spend all of six minutes doing this, which seems extremely pathetic – until I think of it like this: It’s the same as running up the stairs of an 18-story building in six minutes. (This imagery requires a less-active pause every two flights, because after I climb the 28 steps from basement to second floor at my house, then I turn around and trot back down again, which is – duh – less exhausting.)

Anyway, I hate doing the stairs. I do it with gritted teeth. I run fueled entirely by determination, will power, and sisu. So pretty soon, when Barbara tells me I have to up my time from six to – gasp – seven minutes, I’m liable to rebel and outright refuse.

So what’s the answer? Is there a form of cardio conditioning that I could hate LESS?

And I’m terribly afraid that the answer is going to be RUNNING.

If anyone can teach me how to run without (a) huffing and puffing or (b) impact tremors or (c) humiliation, it will be Barbara.

I trust that she can do it…

…the question is: CAN I SEE MYSELF DOING IT??

Once again we see that the challenges in achieving health are physical – but LORD GOD OF CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING, they are also extremely mental.

So – if I can change my cardio fitness, can I also change my sense of self??

Stay tuned.

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A perfectly round door, like a porthole, painted green with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.

Affected by the books I read in my adolescence, this description of a door (from “The Hobbit”) perfectly captures what my high school biology teacher very boringly described as “a receptor” in the brain.

Mr. Domizio said that the hormone messengers in your system are shaped in unique ways, and would only fit into the proper receptors in the receiving cell – like a lock and a key. Too dull – and too simplistic.

Instead, I think of the receptor as a Hobbit door, and the hormone as a dwarvish visitor. There’s a hobbit inside the door, comfortably curled up with a book and a pot of hot tea, and the hobbit is inclined to assume that every knock on the door comes from Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, come to steal a few more silver tea spoons – so he won’t answer, just in case.

Now, if you hit the “minus” sign next to the map to draw the view up from the microscopic to the living-room view, you can see two toddlers.

One is Baby Barbara. She toddles lurchingly across the room to the arms of her delighted mother – her first attempt at running. Deep within her, the hobbit door is closed tightly – but there’s a cracked window, too. So the hobbit inside can hear the voice calling. “Hey – it’s Kili and Fili, the coolest and cutest of the dwarves, come to hang with you!”

And the hobbit goes to the door in delight and lets in his guests and they have a party and there is joy and active endorphin receptors, and baby Barbara thinks that running is pretty great.

The other toddler is Baby Pru. She toddles across the room to her delighted mother, but the window next to the hobbit door is sensibly sealed. Kili and Fili get swept away before attracting the hobbit’s attention, and the hobbit pours another cup of tea and turns the page, happy in inactivity. Baby Pru gets no endorphin rush and is content to sit in the lap of The Mother.

Every time Baby Barbara uses her muscles, she gets a little buzz from endogenous morphine. She begins to feel good when she exercises. More and more dwarves visit the increasingly pleased hobbit. Barbara begins playing basketball because it feels good to do so – and it feels bad and stiff and leaden NOT to.

Baby Pru gets no buzz. She remains comparatively inactive. Over time, leaves blow up against the door. Every spring, pollen season adds a rim of grime around the door, and every fall the grit of autumn fills microscopic cracks in the wood. Knocking visitors of any persuasion are unable to get any attention. The hobbit, well-stocked with books and tea, hangs out. Exercise brings no joy; no endorphins make it through.

Ultimately, Barbara runs marathons and Pru runs a laptop computer.

Can the closed door be cracked open? Is there a way to break through 58 years of the “No Visitors” sign on the gate? Will I EVER feel joy from exercise??

I think that every knock at the door – every time I exercise and the endorphins are released from my muscles into my blood stream – a layer of grit and dust falls from the door. If I exercise enough, the knocks on the door will crack things open faster than road grit can clog it up again. So if I send ENOUGH dwarves to bang on the door knocker, surely at some point the hobbit will give up and open the door and then the larder will be well and truly raided…

Joy. From exercise.

It hasn’t happened yet. I’m still at “satisfaction” for exercising, not a gentle euphoria. When I finish trotting up and down the stairs for six endless minutes, I’m proud to have done it… but still tired. Still unjuiced by it. I’m not yet to the point where I feel uneasy or twitchy if I DON’T exercise. I’m waiting for that day, though. I’d really like to enjoy this, instead of constantly needing determination to get my cardio done. Christ, I dislike the cardio interval training.

But if you will recall, I’ve often referred to Barbara as my Gandalf, and Gandalf was the one who got Bilbo to open the door… So in J.R.R. Tolkien we trust!

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I lay in my bed and stared at the ceiling. The time projected up there (clearly enough to be seen without my glasses) was 7:46.

That’s a time that is absolutely normal to most people – but I’m a freelance writer, and I’m smarter at night. So a quarter to eight in the morning is a gag time. Ech.

Balance class is at ten today. Should I stay or should I go?

(In the soundtrack of my brain, Joe Strummer slung his guitar over one shoulder and that iconic riff began to spool out. Ba-da-da, ba-da-da-da, DAH.) (Frick, frick, frick.)

On the GET UP side – Bob has agreed to DJ today. This is the first time anyone in the class other than Steve or me has volunteered to provide the music and I am looking forward to it. Everyone in balance class is on the Wisdom and Experience side of the gender gap (we’re old), so it’s unlikely that Bob will be treating us to something cringe-inducing, like electronic dance music or techno. He mumbled something about the Beatles and the Beach Boys last week, so – thumbs up.

On the STAY DOWN side – I never did get back to the store to retrieve the two large containers of yogurt that must have stayed out of sight on that new “here’s your grocery bag” carousel the Giant installed a while ago. So I BOUGHT yogurt – I just didn’t actually get it home. So now I’m out of the mainstay of my breakfast.

Barbara frowns with great severity on anyone attempting to take Balance Class who hasn’t eaten. That means I’m going to have to go with the fallback:



It doesn’t matter if you call it “parritch” with a Scots accent; oatmeal is just not good. You can dress it up with all the fruits and nuts and liberal use of raw honey that you want; it’s still going to be warm, lumpy library paste. Might as well burn it in the cooking process; perhaps it will give it some character. Some flavor.

So the Clash and I lay in bed together. “Hoo!” called Joe, with his ankles crossed and his head propped up on my satellite pillow. “Hollah!”

I’m very self-indulgent in the early hours; very prone to turning over with determination and saying “It’s not good for the body to go with this little sleep. I’ll do my HEP today instead of balance class.”

“Darlin’, you gotta let me know – should I stay or should I go?” crooned Joe, whacking away at the guitar lying across his stomach.

In the end, the single element that saved me from sinful sloth was that I realized I had to pee anyway. And once I was up, I just kept going. Now I’m typing while grimly spooning up oatmeal. Gross. Soon I’ll go get dressed and go to Balance Class and listen to good music (although not as good as the Clash) and at the end of class, I’ll feel absurdly proud of myself.

All because I had to pee this morning.

The moral of the story is: See how important hydration is?!

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