Hah! The E-S-D!


Lordy, you should hear me bitch. Sailors would blush on the mornings when I “have” to exercise.

(This is the way I think of it: I HAVE to work out. I’m being forced to. I signed up for the classes or one-on-one trainings; there’s no one holding a gun to my head – and yet it requires SO MUCH grit to rise from the paradise of my morning-sleep bed that it MUST be SOMEONE ELSE making me do this… and when I find them, I’m going to do some serious damage to some VERY important tendons.)

I get up on the mornings when I have to exercise and the only way I can propel myself to the drawer with the work-out clothes is to push bursts of really powerful profanity against the surrounding walls. The more profane, the greater the momentum – even if it does peel the paint.

I keep up this string of bitter invective until I’m actually in front of the Zoom conference, at which time some utterly out-of-control switch flips in my brain and I’m all happy and eager to see everyone and I can see on the screen my own old-lady-saggy skin stretched in a huge grin and I think – no one would know from looking at me that this is a BITCH.

But honey. It is. Every single time.

That’s why I was so blissed out when my college friend Amelia McCulley posted a link on Facebook from a researcher at our Alma Mater – the University of Virginia.

(Now I’m chanting at the computer – a stupid, poorly-rhymed college cheer that nevertheless makes me absurdly proud: Wahoo-wa, wahoo-wa, uni-vee Vir-gin-ee-ya. Who-are-ay, who-are-ay, Hey-hey, U-V-A. This is just lazy writing. I can’t help it. That’s the mating call of the Virginia Cavalier; Amelia and I know it well. And we ain’t the only ones.)

Where was I?

Researcher.  Right.

His name is Zhen Yan – so automatically you know he had a tiger mom who wasn’t satisfied with anything below a 100% from nursery school on. I cast far-reaching racial biases when I say I am quite sure this guy checked his math. WE CAN TRUST HIM.

And what does he say?

Exercise creates endogenous antioxidant enzymes – specifically, one particularly juicy beauty called “extracellular superoxide dismutase.”

((Too many syllables. I deal largely in four-letter words. Let’s agree to call these miraculous little health bombs the E-S-D, okay?))

So, you sweat and curse and your heart gets going fast and you have to mop your face with the same dishtowel that last week Barbara had you use to slide your feet along the basement floor after no one with any competence had run a cleaning product over that surface for too many weeks to count. (Oh – is that just me?)

It’s dire. Some mythical overlord has to “make” you do it. There is NOTHING joyous about it.


The creation of the E-S-D…

…which, UVA researcher Zhen Yan says hunts down harmful free radicals, protecting our tissues and helping to prevent disease.


Whaaaaat??? That’s AWESOME!

Read what Dr. Yan says:

“We cannot live in isolation forever. Regular exercise has far more health benefits than we know. The protection against this severe respiratory disease condition is just one of the many examples.”

Want to read the whole article? It’s not too scary; “extracellular superoxide dismutase” was the worst of it. Here’s the link. https://news.virginia.edu/content/exercise-may-protect-against-deadly-covid-19-complication-research-suggests?fbclid=IwAR11kVY_e_jSoeOcd9T6qSmZy_uG_N_ghEbtgt2p7H0AwMQfeLU685egDTo

Personally, I believe that the bitching I do every morning ought to count as cardiovascular exercise, but Barbara (and Dr. Yan) might disagree… so I’ll keep up the official classes, too. Bitching. Always bitching. But secretly very proud.

And lest you think YOU get a pass – here’s the sentence you need to read, also from Dr. Yan:

“Research suggests that even a single session of exercise increases production of the antioxidant.”

So come on in; the bitching’s fine. Barbara’s Cardio Class is on Monday at ten (and maybe Friday, too – she’s thinking of adding another class). Her Balance Class is on Thursday at 10. These are East Coast times. Come with. Your first session is free; after she hooks you through the extracellular superoxide dismutase (I’m getting used to it), each class is $15. Body Dynamics’ website is https://bodydynamicsinc.com/

And while you’re going through her ridiculously easy class which somehow still makes you sweat like a glass of iced tea on a hot day… you’ll also be fomenting cellular rebellion. Knocking out free radicals (which are SO much more dangerous than paid radicals). Whipping your E-S-D into fighting trim. It’s a bonus!

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KEEP GOING. That’s what we’ve learned.




In the darkness, her hand reached out, questing through a landscape of soft sheets and warm blankets. Moving silently, her fingers curled over her husband’s exposed, vulnerable shoulder.

Was it an amorous invitation? A long-festering “I’m going to throttle that guy if he doesn’t stop snoring” wish fulfillment?

No – in my (utterly imaginary) scenario, Gwynn’s hand took advantage of her sleeping brain to embark on an expedition all its own.

Gwynn is a therapeutic masseuse. She can use a Zoom call to guide someone through self-massage – but she can’t get those hands on tight, sticky, clumped muscles or tough, non-pliant fascia. She can’t reach out and tug a willing body into alignment. Not only is SHE socially-isolated… so are her HANDS.

And I think her hands must be going buggy.

Sometimes I lie on Gwynn’s table and I can tell her feet are almost off the ground; she’s putting her entire body weight (such as it is) into whatever muscle of mine she’s coaxing into “hurts so good” submission. If it were me, I’d be exhausted by the end of the hour.

“How many of these massages can you do a day? Don’t your hands hurt?” I am constantly amazed by how strong and clever she is.

“Quite a few,” she says with a smile. “I’m used to it.”

And now, Body Dynamics has gone virtual. My one-on-one trainings with Chip and Barbara have been as challenging and brilliant as ever; they can both STILL see every cheat I’m attempting to get away with. (Most of my cheats are unintentional… most of them!) The group classes continue to be a blast. A horrible, sweat-inducing blast. If I needed Chip to explain why I shouldn’t live on cookies and pasta, I’m sure I could sign on for a virtual nutritional consultation. (But jeez – why would I??)

But the massages – those intuitive hands, that encyclopedic brain figuring out the WHY of my various physical limitations – those are back-burnered for now. Gwynn offered guided self-massage, but you know that just wouldn’t be the same. (Or maybe it would. I should probably try it. She’s such a good teacher; I’m sure I’d learn a lot…)


And I bet Gwynn’s hands are getting wicked cabin fever. She probably looks down and is astonished to discover that her fingers are curling and flexing in hunger. Her family and her dogs must see her coming and back away, hands held up. “I’m GOOD, Mom – seriously!” She sits, fidgeting, on the sofa and analyzes Anderson Cooper’s shoulder alignment.

We’re all suffering under this brilliant, burdensome quarantine, but spare a thought of pity for the therapeutic masseuses of the world. I know your hands miss me, Gwynn, and I miss all of you!

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There are VERY FEW photos of Gwynn on Google Images, and what there are are blurry. We’ll have to make do with Thing from the Addams Family as a representation of my fantasy that Gwynn’s hands are probably skittering independently around her house looking for something to massage.





I Wish


I wish I didn’t have to exercise this morning.

After my alarm goes off – and after I’ve hit the snooze two or three times – I’m pure lizard brain. It’s all instinct and desire and grumpiness; it takes a few minutes for rational thought to come back on line.

In fact, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror putting toothpaste on the brush before logic returned. I’d once again offered my whining, complaining wish to the cosmic void – damn, I really wish I didn’t have to exercise this morning – when the reply showed up from the upper stories of the mind.

If you don’t exercise, you will inevitably decay and have a feeble, limited old age. You’re not getting any younger, you know.

Rational brain is annoyingly patronizing.

Fine, replied lizard brain. I’ll clarify: I wish I LIKED to exercise.

Undaunted, rational brain had a fast come-back for that. If you LIKED to exercise, you wouldn’t need Barbara and the Body Dynamics team. You’d have exercised all your life and relished it.

And Jeezum Crow – ain’t that the truth? By my age in life, all the easily-fixed character flaws have been ground down. Don’t bite your nails. Stop sharing everyone’s secrets. Quit offering to help strangers who don’t need any help.

(Still guilty of all three – but working on it.)

What’s left are the recalcitrant, dug-in-deep character flaws that are rooted like a tree stump. You’re going to need a truck to get that one out. Or maybe a backhoe.

And I just don’t like to exercise.

So if the genii appeared to grant me a wish, what would I REALLY wish for? When I’m so longing to crawl back into that lovely bed and pull up the covers and curl up and hug the feather pillow and burrow down and purr like the cat in a sunbeam??

I guess I would wish for the strength of character – the determination – to haul it out of bed, stuff myself into some Lycra, and make it to the next Body Dynamics appointment, where Barbara’s energy (or Chip’s charm) will carry me through one lone stinking hour out of the 24 in which I can give my body what I know it needs, instead of what it thinks it wants.

Just a little determination. That’s all I’m wishing for.

And – poof! – here I sit, stuffed into Lycra and eating a nutritious breakfast, ready to sign on to a zoom session with Barbara.

Huh. Wish granted.

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And I never got to see the handsome genii! Hang on – don’t I get THREE wishes, Will Smith??

Proud Today


There’s a scene in The Big Chill where Jeff Goldblum (at his oiliest and least appealing, so you KNOW I’m going to find a hotter photo than THAT for this post) (oh, damn – found it!) says…

“Don’t knock rationalization; where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”

That sounds like the purest, high-grade truth to me today. I spend most of my psychic energy fighting a demon – the demon of pure cane sugar, who lives in the Everglades and chortles fiendishly while it breeds its crystalline children, sending them out into the world to ruin good intentions and metabolize into fat and plump up the pillows so that cancer – when and if it arrives – will find the accommodations to its liking.

What – you think waging war against Demon Sugar doesn’t require MASSIVE amounts of emotional force? Then you don’t have a problem with sugar.

Because THE DEMON IS EVERYWHERE, and he tempts you (well, he tempts me) pretty much all the damned time.

If there are cookies in the house – eat the cookies. Might as well. Then they’ll be gone, and I won’t be tempted.

Same for any chocolate.

Double for any ice cream. ANY ice cream. Last night I ate an entire container of Snickerdoodle ice cream from Artie’s (they’re doing curbside take-out; I go there a LOT). I didn’t even like it – it’s way better at the restaurant with the real whipped cream and the satin-rich dark chocolate sauce. But I ate it anyway. Manfully. Like I was performing a service to society.



So why do I entitle my blog post with the word “proud?”

Because I AM proud. I’m pounding down cup after cup of hot tea (because I put in so much sugar that it’s more like a cup of sludge) – but I’m also ripped. Wait – that deserves all caps.


I’ve been taking the online classes at Body Dynamics. (You can, too – we can sweat and bitch together. Bodydynamicsinc.com will get you there.) I’m taking two group classes each week followed by two stretch classes, and two one-on-one sessions with my glorious trainers, Barbara and Chip. Six hours set aside so smart people can guide me through helping my body get stronger. I’ve done this for a few weeks now…

…and sweet pea, you’re lucky we’re all in quarantine right now because I’m in the mental place where I’d be walking up to strangers on the street and demanding that they poke my belly. “Feel that! Feel those muscles! And around to the side – see? Like rocks!”

The backs of my thighs. Even the long-dormant and inert “muscles” under all the sit-down padding are beginning to flex with awakening interest.

I’m iced with a generous layer of fluff… but under that? Man, I’ll kick your BUTT. I am SO STRONG. And that feels pretty freaking good!

So – yes. I’m rationalizing when I fall to my knees and worship the sugar demon. Yes, I’d sacrifice a goat and read its entrails if it meant I’d get some toffee chip cookies out of it. Yes, I did write “buy more sugar” on the shopping list today. (Just a few weeks ago I was proud that I wasn’t rolling in the sugar bowl like a pig in a wallow and now look at me. Sigh.)

But I’m also one tall, plump, walking muscle. And I’m proud of that.Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 2.59.12 PM

Let’s see. Can I get this back to Jeff Goldblum? Oh, sure. Look who’s been working out. Nice muscles, young Jeff Goldblum!




I always thought I was an extrovert because I can talk to anyone.

(Except handsome people, who make me feel pathetic and thick and suddenly silent.)

Whenever there was assigned seating (like at a wedding reception), my husband used to make me be the one to sit next to strangers because I could do the social chit-chat thing and then he wouldn’t have to… which annoyed me, but – yeah. I’m good at it. Still, I was always exhausted afterwards. It was such a huge psychic toll.

And now I think that what I wasn’t realizing is that I am actually a highly-chatty introvert.

Because all this time alone? I’m good with it. Social distancing feels pretty glorious to me. Sometimes people call me on the phone to check in and I find myself thinking “all right – that’s enough. I have to get back to my plans, now. Move it along.”

(Of course – let me be clear: I am among the most privileged people you’ll ever meet. I’ve already retired. My aged parents have already been gathered to their great reward. My son is robust with good health. I have ALL of the privilege and NONE of the worries of this virus, and I can at least academically appreciate that.)

But I’ve discovered that I have three friends who really and truly ARE extroverts – meaning that they get their energy and sense of self from how they interact with others.

And those three people really ARE in extremis right now.

All three are people who are driven to HELP. No matter what’s going on, their instinct is to leap up – lend a hand – offer a boost. They are all volunteers, all selfless, and all superb hosts or hostesses because they really do want to make sure their guests are happy and comfortable.

And they’re climbing the walls now. One bravely shared with me a totally out-of-character descent into actual anxiety. One is making masks with the frenzy of a fanatic. One is doing a ding-dong-ditch, leaving baskets of treats on the doorsteps of friends and running away.

My point is – the quest for good health includes MENTAL health, too – and you can probably help a little if you think of who in your friend circle is the best hostess and then call them. Talk to them. See if there’s something you can do to help – or if just talking helps to take the edge off for them. Because this shit is REAL.

I’d be violating my own philosophy if I left out a reminder that exercise creates “endogenous morphine” in the brain – a term that’s been shortened to endorphins. If you or someone you know could stand a hit of self-made morphine, try a little sweat on a regular basis. It will not only relieve your stress. It will also restore regularity to your days and give you a reason to get up and put on new clothes. MAYBE even shower – although who would know or care if you didn’t?!

I thought this meme was a cute joke until I checked in with a few people. It’s not. Really: Check on your friends. The extroverts are going through something they really, really didn’t prepare for.

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May you have peace, good karma, and ongoing health. Don’t let the cabin fever tempt you into foolish behavior; stay where you are!