Oh. I Get It Now.


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!


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…

Morning Sleep


Bliss is being able to wake up naturally, whenever my body feels rested – and then (this is critical) lounging around in bed for HOURS. Wiggling my toes. Sighing with happiness. Maybe going back to sleep again.

It has always been, Khaleesi.

I’m more awake at night. I sleep most deeply in the morning.

But now I’m wondering…

With all this fitness training going on, I’ve become aware that my hip flexors are ALWAYS ON.

I can try to relax them, but nothing happens. Put your hands on the crease of your hips, right where your legs join your body.  Right in front, in line with the boobs. Are you in the right place? You’ll feel a tendon (or so you think).

That’s actually a muscle – the hip flexor.

Or hell, maybe it’s a tendon. I don’t know. The point is, on me it is always set at TENSILE STEEL. Couldn’t be tighter. That’s the price you pay for not having a nicely-integrated musculature between belly and butt.

Now, if I could get my core muscles to be slightly on all the time – like the rheostat in the dining room set to “candlelight glow” – and do the same for my glutes, then my body would feel stable enough to relax the hip flexors. Or so I’m told. But after two years of working on it, that moment has not yet come.

(Gwynn, the brilliant therapeutic masseuse at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA, says she’s been working on it for FORTY years. Great. So I’m one-twentieth of the way there.)

And now I’m thinking that the reason I feel such bliss lounging in bed on a lazy morning is because that’s the only time I’m conscious AND my hip flexors are not engaged. And it feels SO DAMNED GOOD!

Jeezum. A nap is sounding delicious right about now!

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Sleep is very important for physical and mental health. Isn’t that justification enough for an immediate nap??



It being almost Halloween, Marty’s adventures on a broomstick (she almost flew!) can be an illuminating example for all of us.

Of course, Marty isn’t a witch – she’s a Sister in Sweat; we attend Barbara’s Balance Class every Thursday together.

And the broomstick she almost flew on was actually a long dowel that had somehow rolled across the BDI garage (that’s Body Dynamics to you – the small, very cool gym where I seem to spend every free moment of my life) and fetched up under her car, so when she parked and stepped out, her sneakered foot landed on the broomstick.

The “she ALMOST flew” means that Marty wasn’t lifting off like Harry Potter at his first Quiddich lesson; it means she almost broke a hip or whatever happens when your foot slides relentlessly out from underneath you while you’re angling your body at a twist to get out of the car.

But you know what happened?

Nothing. Her foot slid off, Marty instinctively used her core muscles, she rightened herself, and said “Who the hell left a broomstick in the garage?!”

Nah. That’s what I would have said. Marty is a lovely and graceful woman who probably said something like “Gosh. I’ll move this so no one gets hurt.”

THE POINT IS – we grunt and giggle and drip sweat during Balance Class. We torment Barbara for her drill sergeant ways. We wonder if there’s a good enough excuse to skip this week (and there never is). And then one day, a broomstick rolls under your car.

And you don’t break a hip.

It’s HIGHLY doubtful that Martians with ray guns will threaten to kill me if I can’t do Barbara’s sadistic “unload the dishwasher” exercise (where you squat down and reach to the left, into an imaginary dishwasher, grab an imaginary plate, and then stack it high on an imaginary shelf to the right over and over and over again) or her tormentful “pick up that hundred-dollar bill” movement from the top of the Bosu. Over and over and over again.

But broomsticks happen. People come off curbs funny. The dog suddenly changes direction while you’re actually unloading the dishwasher.

Will your joints be oily or stiff? Will your abdomen be able to yank you upright again? Will you end up with a sprained ankle or just an uninteresting “guess what almost happened to me” story?

Balance class. Regularly. It’s annoying… but unless you’re hoping to fly on a broomstick, maybe give it a try. I can recommend Barbara’s class at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. You can meet some Sisters in Sweat there. Marty will be there.

Me, too.

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Flying on a broomstick sounds cool… but wouldn’t you hope there was some kind of a saddle? I mean, really. Think about it. Ouch.




Grace took one look at her client (me) and knew Something Was Up.

Generally I’m obnoxiously cheerful. Ready to get to whatever “stabilizing muscle” hell she’s dreamed up in her combo world of Pilates and a vast ballet background.

Not today. Today I refused to get out of the chair in the waiting area at Body Dynamics. “Whatever you had planned for today, I’m revising it,” I said like a dictatorial The Devil Wore Prada-style bitch. “I’m TOO TIRED for that. And I have things *I* want to work on.”

“What’s up?” she said, sitting down next to me.

Out it all came – every reason for feeling worn down and demoralized. (Not every reason; I left off needing to rewrite the novel and the fact that the expensive cheese was molding in the fridge.)

“My ankles don’t flex enough. My knees don’t bend enough. I run too slowly and my strides are too long. I’m tired. Mentally and physically.”

“Let’s take a walk,” she said. Grace is a superb trainer.

Off we went into a beautiful fall day, while I vomited forth gripes and complaints all over a sunny, sweet-tempered, lovely woman. “And my right HIP FLEXOR is killing me. And my LEFT CALF feels like it’s got something in there. And I don’t want to run three times a week. And I don’t want to run faster. And I don’t want to have more beats per minute. I feel like I’m not making any progress; things are just getting harder. WAAAAAAAAH.”

She let me vent for a while, making deliciously soothing noises. What she heard – that I feel like I’m not making any progress and things are getting harder – was, in fact, exactly the most important part of my pouty client temper tantrum.

“You feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole.”

“EXACTLY!!” I was standing on a sunny suburban street jumping up and down in excitement. (Well, not ACTUALLY jumping; see above, re: right hip flexor; left calf.) “Whack-a-mole! Every time we beat one issue down, another one pops up!”

“Okay,” she said. “That’s a matter of perception. You’ve made huge progress; you’re just not seeing it. And everything we’re doing is what you need to do to make the next leap. Ankle flexibility. Knee flexibility. Cardio conditioning. Think about why you want to run.”

“I don’t want to run,” I said petulantly. “I never want to run again.”

Grace is going to be a great mother. She flipped that particular dinner table right over. “All right. There are other ways to get to cardio fitness. We can do it on the elliptical.”

Damn it. She offered no resistance. I was left having to defend the concept of running to her, when mere nano-seconds before, I was The Rebellion.

“You want to be fit,” she went on. “You want to age in health. You want to face up to your weaknesses and fears.” (She didn’t say that; I said that to her and she smiled knowingly.) “So you run. We’re doing everything right to get you there. Stay the course. Don’t change anything yet. Wait until Barbara comes back from vacation and then we’ll discuss all of this with her.”

I flashed on the great post my friend Eleanor Harvey put on Facebook, a quote from the street artist Banksy who apparently said “When you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

Shit. I wasn’t going to be allowed to quit, even though I was whining as annoyingly as I knew how. And after a lifetime of training, too.

“All right,” I said grumpily. “But I think I’m not going to run on Friday.”

“Okay,” Grace said. “That’s fine.”

Then she put me on a GTS machine and made me stretch my hip flexors, and she draped me over a foam roller to work at my calves, and she jollied and bullied and coerced and entertained me through a partial workout. I came in determined to NOT break a sweat and she snuck a sweat onto me. Sneaky.

Those gurus are really good at Body Dynamics!

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I was draped over the foam roller and tiny Grace was leaning all her weight into my hip flexor to force it to surrender when one of the other trainers appeared before us. “I saw you running yesterday,” Bobby said to me with a smile the size of Montana. “It was really great to see. You’re really doing well!”

I rounded on Grace. “Did you tell him to say that?!”


I was left gape-jawed, staring at Bobby. He looked mildly concerned; what madness had his kind compliment caused in the mind of an insane client? “I’m having such a bad day,” I confessed. “I feel like I’m making no progress at all.”

He laughed. “You’re making progress. Trust me!”

Okay. I will!





There’s a beat that gets you. The one that pulls you out of your seat and forces you to dance. Or grind. Or whatever.

It’s different for everyone. For me, I get itchy when I hear a marching band’s drum line. (Yes, I realize that it would be MUCH cooler if I said it was Rick James’ “Super Freak” that did it to me, but as has been recently proven, my Rick James bona fides are a little lacking.)

I love me a drum line. I love that rat-a-tat, crisp beat. It makes me want to march at an easy pace, swinging my arms, feeling long and strong.

It turns out (as I’ve just learned today) that the muscles in your body ALSO have a cadence that makes them want to stretch and flex. Did you know? The answer is ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY BEATS A MINUTE.

This is, I am assured, absolutely scientifically proven. If you run your little feet at, let’s say, 150 beats a minute (which it turns out I do), then you’re going too slowly. Your muscles are spending too much time engaged; it’s like doing a series of little hops.

But if you shorten your stride and pick up your speed to 180 strides a minute, then you blend flex with time. The muscles dig it big-big. You not only get more fluid – you also have less wear-and-tear on your joints.

Easy, right?


My LUNGS are barely surviving at 150 beats per minute. How the hell am I supposed to go faster and take shorter strides?!

“Well, it’ll feel awkward for a while, and you’re going to need to let your cardio conditioning catch up. It’ll take a bit of time.” This from Liz, the expert at Body Dynamics who did my running assessment today.

“How long is a bit of time?” I asked, suspiciously.

“Oh, just six weeks.”

I didn’t fall out of my chair in astonishment, but only because I was too tired. I like to run on the treadmill at the same speed I run in the great outdoors, which is exactly 4.0 miles an hour and not a step faster. Liz had just had me running at 4.8 miles an hour and I was simply too exhausted to dramatize my distress by flailing on the ground.

“In fact, I might add a run to your week, to get the conditioning up to speed quicker.”

“You want me to run three times a week?”

“Just for twenty minutes,” she hastened to add, applying a cold towel to my forehead to keep me from unconsciousness. (Not really.) “Run for one minute at 180 beats, and then walk a minute. Do that, on and off, for just 20 minutes. You can do that, right?”

JUST for 20 minutes, she said. As if I was regularly running for longer than that.

I’m not. I’m really not. Fifteen minutes for a mile with Barbara on Tuesdays, around 22 minutes on my own around the lake on Fridays.

But then, with a sweet smile that masked her demonic purpose, Liz pulled up the results of the assessment. She’d stuck two sensors on my shins before putting me on the treadmill, and she’d video’ed my feet as I ran, so she was fully armed.

“Look. This is what your feet are doing when you’re going 4.0 miles an hour.”

“Why am I spending so much extra time on my right foot?”

“Why, indeed. But look – the left foot is taking on a lot more weight.”

“Huh? Does that make sense?”

“Sure – but look at what happened when you began running at 4.8.”

“God damn it, are you making this up? Is this a set-up?”

“Nope. You’re far more symmetrical at the higher pace. See? Same weight, left and right. Same time, left and right. This is a better speed for you.”

It is VERY HARD to argue with a kind, athletic, sympathetic woman who has computer sensors to back up her relentless authority.

She had me try running to the sound of a metronome, to make sure I was hitting 180 beats a minute. It’s every bit as impossibly fast as it sounds. About the only thing I have going for me, athletically speaking, is that I’m fairly leggy; I can take a pretty long stride. BUT NO. From now on, I’m to mince along like a cartoon character in full flight – upper body still, lower body blurring in a circle of speed.

Sigh. Can’t we just go march to the cadence of a drum line??


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Liz very kindly suggested I might attempt to shift my mental attitude toward running. A little positive thinking, she opined, might help. I’m sure it would. I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking. But DAYUM – it’s even harder to change my opinion of myself than it is to change my cardio conditioning. This is going to take more than six weeks!

Rick James


From a very early age, my son (probably the whitest white kid you’ll ever meet) could do a dead-on rendition of “Brick House” by Rick James.

Well, really – who couldn’t?

It’s ingrained in your soul. You know you know it. She’s a BRICK. (augh) HAUWWWWS. She’s mighteh, mighteh, just lettin’ it ALL hang out.

But the truly insidious part is the little bragging scream in there when he funks out “Thirty-six, twenty-foah, thirty-six – aughwww, what a winnin’ hand!”

I can sing it. I can even dance to it. But I can’t get past those numbers. That’s a winning hand?? Really, Rick?

My waist – my WAIST – is forty-four inches. I don’t even know what my bust and butt is – I don’t think the tape reaches that far.

Of late, I’ve been nattering with friends about the importance of the non-scale victory; that is, it’s critical that you don’t measure your health by stepping on a scale. That’s like trying to figure out the temperature by looking at the humidity. Yes, they’re connected – but they’re not the same thing. And the scale will tell you you’re doing well when you’re approaching malnutrition while it will make you feel bad even though your health is improving. The scale is a LIAR.

I can wean myself off the scale – but I cannot wean myself off Rick James, and his Barbie-like standards of what constitutes a winning hand.

Hang on – I lost my point.

No, there it is. It’s this: RICK JAMES IS NOT A GOOD ROLE MODEL, girls and boys.

And a figure that measures 36-24-36 is NOT the only winning hand. Larger numbers can dance like a whirlwind, too. (Sometimes, just as destructively, ho-ho.)

I’ve walked away from the scale. Now I’ve got to walk away from the tape measure, too. There’s a LOT of walking away when you’re cleaning out the attic of your brain, where all the out-of-date crap keeps gumming up the works!

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I came VERY close to posting a photo of Dave Chapelle as Rick James. In the end, I went with the actual musician, even though Dave’s version is hard to turn away from.

DAMN IT. Victoria Heckler has pointed out that “Brick House” is by the Commodores. Well, NOW what should I do??! All 53 of my followers could be misled!




I don’t want to get political (well, I do, but I won’t), but there’s no doubt we live in a male-dominated society. And I have a theory about the seemingly incidental reason for that.

Bear with me; this is my own personal thinking and not at all backed up by the experts at Body Dynamics.

Lookit: I’ve recently learned that women tend to draw power from what is known as the ‘anterior chain.’ That is, we use our backs and our quads. That’s the go-to – and it’s appropriate as sometimes we are in the process of creating other humans inside our core. A minor task, to be sure – only the one thing that allowed the species to survive. Don’t mind me; I’m just being a goddess.

Men, on the other hand, get power from the posterior chain. They use their glutes and their hamstrings, and their un-stretched, still-virginal abdominal muscles. And those are WAY bigger muscles.

So they move better (and not only because they’re generally speaking unencumbered by carrying newly-developed members of the species outside much less inside their bodies). They don’t have the mineral and vitamin drain that occurs when you breed a replacement. At least evolutionarily-speaking, they sleep through the night without having to tend to the replacements.

It’s true, men have more dense bones and heavier muscles; they are by nature stronger in the upper body. But they ALSO use powerful muscles instinctively that many women just aren’t very aware of.

Me, for example. It’s taken me TWO YEARS to discover the trio of glute muscles under all that padding in the buttal zone. (To be sure, I’m really only on speaking acquaintance with two of the three; glute min and I are still only nodding in passing while I can text glute mede like a new friend, and I’d call glute max if I was trapped at the airport in need of a ride.) And now that I have discovered the glutes, I sometimes wander through my empty house with my hands on my tail like a nut, feeling muscles move where there was once only silence.

(I’ve come to discover the difference between being fat and being flabby; the difference is muscle below the insulation. I’m still fat, but I’m not very flabby any more.)

(The things you learn when you walk around with your hand on your own ass.)

(Don’t try it with someone else’s ass, though; unwise at any time and downright deadly in this politically awakening time.)

(This makes five parenthetical thoughts in five paragraphs; this might be a new record. Ah, a challenge!)

So the female caveman (cavewoman?) can breed replacements. You’d think she’d be honored and revered… but she’s too tired to make everyone else bow down to her. And the male cavewoman (caveman?) is sprightly and fresh as a prehistoric daisy. He walks with his glutes so he goes fast and doesn’t get tired; let HIM lead the tribe and decide where to go. I’m busy with this squirmy little thing.

And that’s it. (In my opinion.) The difference between a matriarchal society and a patriarchal society is the anterior versus the posterior chain. (Well, fatigue caused by breeding – but also the instinctive use of butt and hams.)

It’s not second nature for women to use their glutes or hams. But if we do learn how… do we take over the planet?

And can that happen on November 6, please?

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This is the image of a cavewoman using her posterior chain on a T. rex. There are so many things wrong with this image that I knew I had to steal and use it. Why do you assume prehistoric woman did not have access to ample quantities of conditioner, the skills of a fiendish tailor, the unseen presence of plastic surgeons willing to violate the norms of the species, and dinosaurs that had been extinct for some 65 million years before humans first began using their glutes and hams? Now who feels silly??

Diagramming Fitness


I ran a 5K yesterday.

Let’s count the number of things that can be wrong or misleading in a five-word sentence.

First, the word “I.” That’s correct. I WAS the subject of this sentence. Yay! We’re one for one.

Next, the word “ran.” That’s hugely misleading. In fact, I ran a little and walked a lot.

The weather broke yesterday and the air was cool and brilliant. I thought that almost certainly now that it wasn’t humid any more, I was sure to suddenly be a brilliant runner… so instead of going for the run-a-tenth, walk-a-tenth plan I’ve been working, I just started running. I passed the first tenth-of-a-mile line on the pavement with a jaunty wave – toodle-oo to you!

Then, as I neared the second tenth, there were two women walking in front of me. This poses a problem. I don’t want to stagger past them, huffing and panting – yes, that’s how long it took to go from jaunty wave to stumbling desperation – and then suddenly come to a crashing halt in front of them like an oblivious shopper at the grocery store who leaves her cart in your lane and walks off to examine cans of soup EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE RIGHT THERE.

So I had to jog past them. “Pardon,” I gasped; they grudgingly gave way a bit. Their ‘tude was enough so that I had to keep going, to prove I was such a dedicated runner that I NEEDED to push them over to one side of the path. I must have jogged somehow past the three-tenths of a mile line without seeing it and was staggering along like a fool until I saw four-tenths in the distance and decided that was enough… after that, it was walk-a-tenth-jog-a-tenth and be damned for the lack of humidity.

The path around the lake is 1.5 miles. The walking part was so much more endurable than the jogging part that I had a bright idea at mile 1.2 – I would take a SECOND LAP around the lake at a walk. Enjoy the dry, cool air. Relish the fact that I wasn’t jogging. Step gracefully to the side to model polite behavior when some poor bastard jogged past me. What a brainstorm!

Lack of oxygen at 1.2 miles can cause us to make these foolish decisions.

I got to the end of my jog and fished around in my wee little running belt, wherein resided my car keys and the perfectly enormous new iPhone I bought. My son warned me; don’t get the Ten. You’ll regret it. I hate it when my teenager knows more than me. He was RIGHT; this phone is too damned big.

I finally got it out without losing the car keys, and attempted to tell the running app that I was done with THAT loop; now I was going to walk a loop. You’re supposed to be able to do that. Barbara can do it.

It wouldn’t listen to me. It just kept insisting that I should “continue.” All right – fine. I will “continue” and simply understand that my per-mile pace was going to tank as I walked the second loop.

I noticed during this struggle that I made it below a 15-minute mile yesterday; I think it was 14:51. You’d think I’d know… but I don’t. Because for some reason the app refused to record the second loop. I don’t know why. So at the end, when I was gasping at the car, it showed NO data at all. I deleted it. Then it took away the 14:51 it had registered on the first loop. Just kill me now.

The entire journey – about 3.1 miles, all in – took me almost exactly ONE SOLID HOUR, which seems like an awfully long time for twice around the pond.

Wait – wasn’t I diagramming a sentence? Where was I?

I ran a 5K yesterday. Right. We’re up to “a 5K.” That’s deceptive. I went as far as a 5K, but I did it all by my onesie, see? And apparently there’s something magical about running a 5K – being a part of that grand collective of people all grunting and panting and sweating together – that makes people want to do it.

I don’t want to do it. I think I will spend my time worrying about (a) whether I will trip anyone, (b) whether anyone will trip me, (c) if anyone is annoyed by how slowly I must go, (d) how much you have to bribe a judge to not record any time at all, (e) why I am doing this to myself, and (f) my God, I must be done by now.

But the distance I traveled yesterday – wondering about the state of my calves, thinking about Timothy Olyphant’s hips (it helps me turn on my glute medes to think of the way that man walks) and Will Smith’s butt (I have “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” on my jogging playlist; don’t judge) – was, in fact, just about the same distance as a 5K. Which I mostly walked.

Where does that leave me?

“I” – true.

“ran” – misleading

“a 5K” – misleading

“yesterday” – true.

Final grade: Partial credit. Does that mean I don’t have to run a 5K with people??


It really was a gorgeous day, though. Can you feel the cool, dry, benevolent breeze blowing in my face from this photo? I took the picture on the second, walking loop. There was NO WAY I could fight that stupid phone out of the belt during the jogging/panting/cursing portion of the course.



I’m thinking of the curve of the hip in silhouette.

I’ve always envied a slim one. In men, I think it looks snaky and quite wonderful to be slim-hipped. Add a broad chest to that and call it a masterpiece. Yum.

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This is actor Timothy Olyphant – America’s preeminent snaky-hipped slab of deliciousness. Presented solely in illustration of a superior pelvic structure, of course.

(But, I rush to point out – I ain’t going anywhere near that slim-hipped fellow. I could crush Seth Bullock/Raylan Givens like a Saltine, and would rather not go through the humiliation of calling the rescue squad in because I broke some pretty male.)

In women, the slim-hipped look is liable to fill me with black envy. I’m talking real this-speaks-badly-of-you-Pru jealousy. From the time in third grade when pretty Liz Gilmore brought in one of her father’s old button-downs to protect her school clothes on arts-and-crafts day and the shirt fell straight from her shoulders, I have looked at slim-hipped women and felt instinctively ashamed of myself.

I have to have specially-tailored shirts to get that look – shirts that balloon out at the waist. It takes a lot of careful engineering to get that lovely-column-of-graceful-beauty look.

But I’ve learned something RAWthah exciting, my petal:

I have retroverted hips.

This means that my femur heads stick into the pelvis in an unusual way.

I don’t mean to insult you by explaining something you already know, but this is something I did NOT know:

Your leg bone doesn’t come straight down out of the pelvis. (Even if that’s the way Walt Disney always drew it in cartoons.) The femur (that’s your thigh bone) (sorry if that was patronizing) has a part that juts out to the side, with a big ball at the end of it. And the ball is what sits in the hip socket, so there’s actually a sort of cross-brace at your hip that goes to the vertical of the thigh bone.

Weird, I know. Seems like a design flaw to me – but I guess there’s no better way to let the leg be able to move in THAT many directions.

For most people, that ball-and-socket effect means that the femur juts out of the hips at about eleven and one o’clock (assuming your pubic bone is 12:00). Some people might actually have their hips at ten and two o’clock; a few people have them pointing towards 12:00.

Mine go straight out to the side, at 9:00 and 3:00. That’s why I sit or lie with the sides of my feet flat on the ground.

It’s called being retroverted.

(There were, of course, other wonderful words for hips that ran more typically, and hips that were the opposite to mine, sending femurs out to the front of the body, but I lost them in the shuffle. I love a good word; I’ll have to ask Jenna the brilliant physical therapist at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. She’s the one who diagnosed my retroversion.)

(I made up “retroversion,” but it sounds good, doesn’t it??!)

Now let me explain why this delights me.

If I contracted a dire wasting disease and lost every ounce of excess flesh on my body, my hips would be lean and bony – but those retroverted femur heads would STILL stick out to the side. That’s just the way I’m built. It’s not will power, it’s not a weakness of character, it’s anatomy. I can’t change it, no matter what.

So isn’t that cool??

It’s not MY fault my shirts won’t fall straight down like Liz Gilmour’s in third grade!



“Retroverted” sounds interesting, I think. A combo of “retro” (“oh, Pru – she’s so retro” would be a compliment, implying 1960s shag carpeting and large “The Prisoner” orbs for lamps) and “perverted” (“Oh, Pru, she’s so perverted – you know, she broke Timothy Olyphant the other day – a perfectly good slim-hipped guy” would ALSO be a sort of badge of honor).

Winnie the Pru


“A bear, no matter how he tries,

Grows tubby without exercise.

Our bear is stout and fat,

Which is not to be wondered at.


‘Bite me,’ replies the bear,

‘This is how I was stuffed.

See if you think it’s so funny

When I unsheathe my hidden bear claws and rip your face off.’”

With apologies to A.A. Milne


I was working out with Barbara yesterday.

We were in the big PACE room at Body Dynamics. We’d just run a mile. (In fact, we’d walked even more of that mile than normal as the humidity was so high you could pull water from the air by miming the wringing of a towel and I was having a hard time sucking in enough oxygen to power the machine.)

Barbara had finally isolated whichever of my muscles she’d wanted through a Torquemada-like contraption she MacGuyver’ed on the spot. (Mixed metaphor much? Can you imagine Torquemada and MacGuyver standing around looking at the rack and wondering if they could make it work without creaking so much? “Hang on – I’ve got my Swiss Army knife here…”)

I had a fat rubber band around my legs above the knee. I can walk in this, but it’s a lot like what I imagine wearing a mermaid dress must feel like. Then I had a second band around one ankle; that band was connected to a really massive elastic strap tied to the wall.

(There are more official names for these things, I’m sure – all involving syllables like “flex” and “thera,” but I don’t know them nor care to. How can I keep track of 1980s music trivia AND the name of all the odd work-out equipment at Body Dynamics??)

My job was to get to the far stretch of the wall-tied elastic. Then step one pace farther to the side and bring my feet together again – that puts resistance on the inner thigh. Then squat. Then stand up again and step one step back toward the wall without my leg flying out like it was being tugged by a long elastic band WHICH IT WAS. There are concentric exercises when you flex, and eccentric exercises in which you resist the relaxing of the flex. These people are crazy.

I don’t know what the band around my knees was doing, but once I did the exercise with the band, Barbara’s face brightened right up and she patted herself on the back. “I’m a genius,” she said happily.

I could only agree with her in theory; I STILL don’t know what was happening – but since we were apparently working a slacker muscle, I guess I don’t really need to know. At least she doesn’t want me to keep this rig on 24 hours a day.

So I was already dripping with sweat from the run. I had my aged brow furled in concentration. I was trying to remember to use my glutes AND my abs AND my inner thigh, but NOT my back to complete a highly-unnatural series of movements. In short, I looked like a teddy bear in a terrifying bondage video featuring latex and cursing.

Barbara made some note in her computer (“my client looks like a teddy bear in a terrifying bondage video,” I assume). Then she returned to her post of exactly in front of me to notice immediately when I began to cheat.

And in going from computer to surveillance, she happened to hop adroitly over the wall-tied elastic strap.

This was nothing. She didn’t even notice. But I did.

It was an unnecessary expenditure of effort, coming from a woman whose body is so obedient to her, so comfortably fit, that she can jump over a line instead of step over it BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD.

I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about how all the fit, attractive, kind people at Body Dynamics are persuaded that MY body can ALSO be obedient. They don’t have decades of contrary information to taint this sunny belief.

But YOU know what I mean, don’t you? You go on the same diet as someone else; they lose weight, you somehow manage to gain. You exercise regularly; you become a fat person with muscles.

My body has never been obedient before. It has its own ideas; it assumes that it is a teddy bear, stout and fat; that’s the way it was stuffed. Holding on to the determination to change that is beginning to wear on me.

I’m bitching, of course; my body HAS changed, and I need to keep that firmly in mind. But it hasn’t changed much recently, and I find I am impatient. What have you done for me LATELY, broad ass? Bulging belly? Lungs that can barely get through a mile-long run?

Wait. (I’m now lecturing myself.) I don’t ache when I get up in the morning. I no longer fear blood tests. I can walk from here to there without pain. Yes, I know all kinds of things my body CAN’T do – but I can’t forget about the things I CAN do.

And as I age, I’m going to be one tough stout teddy bear. A geriatric Winnie the Pru in a headband, working out with all the young toughs. Barbara will be leading the class, of course.

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Keep going. Just keep going.