Chicxulub, Man!


Suddenly, fire blazed across the sky. Every living thing looked up in astonishment; what could possibly burn in the sky, where there was nothing but the occasional winged thing floating on currents of air?

But there it was, for a blazing, breathtaking moment – a huge glowing THING with a long fiery tail that lit up the world. And then …


An asteroid struck the Earth, offshore from a place which would be known a mere 66 million years later as Chicxulub, Mexico. (What is it with that part of the world, throwing in those awkward Xs in the middle of things?? Aztecs and Incans, no doubt, having a laff riot with the language.)

The Chixulub impactor was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. There was chaos and madness and fire at the impact site, and then there was dust and darkness and death – but geologically speaking, that trauma lasted barely any time at all.

And then in the 1970s or 80s, some guy discovered the impact crater off the coast of Chicxulub, and it was a HUNDRED MILES WIDE – so big that even if it hadn’t been underwater, it would have been hard to grasp.

(There’s a kind of glass that’s forged in impossible conditions – nuclear reactors and asteroid strikes are two of them. That’s how they identified the impact crater.)

Wait, you say –  thanks for the ancient history lesson, but isn’t this a health and fitness blog? Shut up; I’m getting to it.

Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, it was discovered that the Chicxulub impactor crater was just the INNER ring of this massive, dino-killing asteroid. The outer ring?

The Gulf of Mexico.

That’s why it’s shaped in that arc, from the tip of Florida and down through Mexico. Look at the map; looks like a big, round bite’s been taken out of the area, huh? Yep. That’s the one what got the dinosaurs.

So – here’s the lesson:

When trauma happens (be it asteroid strike or the death of a husband/mother/dog or the continuing strain of a pandemic), there is chaos and confusion at first and then you adapt – but it can take distance and time and perspective to recognize just how hugely that impact has altered your landscape.

July 1st is the first anniversary of my mother’s death (followed three weeks later by the day I had to have my dog put to sleep), and all that comes hot on the heels of my husband’s death three years ago. And a pandemic. And political chaos. I’m kind of losing my mind.

What does that look like? Well – I’m sort of mean. I’m suffering from depression. I’m over-reacting to things that shouldn’t be messing with me. I’m not sleeping well. I’m eating poorly. I’m not drinking enough water.

So I had a Zoom appointment with Regina, the remarkably astute biofeedback counselor at Body Dynamics. (A virtual meeting meant no electrodes glued to my scalp – huge bonus!) And Regina gave me the words that created a handle on my situation:

“Your emotional reactivity is causing a loss of higher-order skills.”

YES! I shouted – that’s EXACTLY right! Let me write that down. Now: what do I do about it?

She gave me two tools. First, adjust my expectations of what I could accomplish, and how badly I felt about myself if I did not succeed. “It’s not permission to give up. But if you have ice cream for dinner, just get over it and try again tomorrow.”

Good one.

And next, she advised that I create a “connection mechanism” with my mother. Write about her, listen to her music, do something she liked to do. “In the Jewish religion,” said Regina, “a tombstone isn’t put up until a year after the death. Everyone goes back to the cemetery and has a second memorial, and it tends to come at a time when people really need that.”

Oh, Jeezum – that’s an awesome idea!

So yesterday I invited my sisters over, and the family of my mother’s best friend. We sat on the screened porch at socially-distanced remove and had lunch. We talked about impact craters, and how it’s so hard to see what’s making you crazy until you stand back and look from a distance. And it helped.

I’m not over my “emotional reactivity” yet; I have a few big anniversaries (or deathiversaries) coming up that I’ve got to get past. But I feel like it’s been valuable to recognize just how far the impact craters extend from the traumas of my recent life.

And maybe you’re dealing with impact craters of your own. I hope that recognizing them helps you deal with the aftermath. Remember: It’s not SUCH a bad thing that all the T. rexes and velociraptors got the boot!

Peace to you – and to me. Onward.

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Boom. Impact crater, creating new landscapes. Like the Man in the Moon – impact craters so huge you don’t even recognize them. Jeesh. Any parallels in YOUR life, maybe?? Take care of your mental health (she said, trying not to sound patronizing) – because without that, your physical health ain’t no thing at all.



Strength – Power – Endurance


Remember taking the SATs? All of us crammed in together in a gym or a library or the biggest place your school could come up with, breathing the same air WITHOUT MASKS and DEFINITELY not six feet apart – AHHHHGH!

Wait. Did I mean to go on a Coronavirus rant? I did not. I’ll start again.

Remember taking the SATs? It was a time of grinding stress for me, and the feeling that I was unquestionably the stupidest person in the room – probably in the entire nation of eleventh-graders.

The only time I even approached a feeling of confidence was on the English portions. You want me to tell you what’s wrong with that sentence? I’ve got this. You want an antonym for the word “rapacious?” Years of novel-reading made that a breeze. (Let’s go with “abstemious”).

As for synonyms – here. Hold my beer. English I got.

So when the world’s finest trainer, Barbara (of Body Dynamics, and she does virtual, so you could glory in her brilliance too!) hit me with what I THOUGHT was a synonym but it wasn’t, I was so deeply confused.

We were discussing the reality that when I’m in her cardio class (45 minutes of Is It Over Yet on Mondays at 10) or her balance class (60 minutes of I’m Not Watching The Clock YOU’RE Watching The Clock on Thursdays at 10), I know when I’m getting tired because my back muscles start bitching.

“Use more abdominals,” she said – as if that was easy.

“I KNOW,” I protested. “But they’re TIRED. That’s why I’m going with my back.”

“Yeah,” she said – not agreeing with me. “We’ve given you lots of abdominal strength, but not enough endurance.”

“What?” I was  knocked off-center by this (mentally; it matched me being knocked off-center by whatever exercise we were doing). “How can I have abdominal strength but not endurance?”

She answered me, but of course I couldn’t hear her; I was too busy frantically reviewing SAT regulations to take in what she said.

So the next day, while working out with Chip (also a brilliant Body Dynamics trainer), I button-holed him. “What’s the difference between strength and endurance?”

He nodded. This is apparently a common question among people who make their living re-shaping the bodies of people in need of a lot of re-shaping.

“And power,” he said, as if he hadn’t just lobbed a grenade into the mental library where I am, apparently, perpetually taking the SATs.

“What?? Don’t make it worse! Now, power really is the same thing as strength. Cut it out.”

“No – wait. Watch.”

He backed up from the camera on his laptop and assumed a push-up position on the yoga mat behind him. Chip is a dancer; he has those long, lean muscles that in no way prepare you for the oomph he can muster on the slightest whim.

“This is power,” he said.

Then he dropped his chest down almost to the floor and was suddenly hurtling upward like someone had stepped on the end of a rake, until his head was about three feet off the floor and his hands met in front of his chest in a loud, cracking clap.

I gasped at the sheer beauty of the movement, and missed him saying “And this is strength,” followed by a perfect regular pushup that a normal human might be capable of aspiring to one day after months of intense work and grim determination…

But I had stopped applauding by the time he said “And this is endurance,” and then he repeated the perfect pushup about five times, smoothly and easily.

“Wait! Wait! Go back – what was strength, again?”

So then he did all three of them again, like it was nothing. By the end, I was cackling in a very unladylike manner because the idea of doing ANY of that was so far beyond my imaginings, much less my physical abilities.

Eventually he calmed me down and explained. “Power is strength over a very short burst. Endurance is strength during conditions of muscle fatigue – it’s strength over time.”

Jeezum. Sounds like a formula… and I was SO BAD at the math SATs.

I asked Chip if he was training me to be good at strength or power or endurance. “Yes,” he said with a brilliant Chip smile. “All three. We want you to have strength, power, and endurance. So we keep pushing your limits. Slowly – but we keep going.”

“Surely at some point, I’ll get to a mythical “maintenance” stage?” My question was hopeful; his response was depressingly pragmatic.

“As we age, muscles want to weaken. It’s easy to slip into a much more rapid decline than you would have experienced a few years ago.” (He was being diplomatic. I’m sixty now; I’m unquestionably in the “use it or lose it” category.)

I was definitely whining. “So we’re going to keep increasing these exercises every time I can manage them? This is never going to get easier?”

He wrinkled his adorable Chip nose; he knew the answer I wanted to hear but was forced by his innate fairness to keep me informed.

“When it’s easy, you’re not pursuing power, speed, or endurance. And that means you’ll be increasingly more limited as you age. Which is NOT easier.”

Damn it. That’s an annoyingly good answer.

So now you know, too. There’s a difference between power, strength, and endurance. Which one should you be going for? The answer is – Yes.

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Wish I had a photo of Chip doing that clap; it was so much more fluid and powerful than this meaty steroidal shot – but I was too busy gasping to take a picture. You’ll have to go with this outrageous theft from Google images. Although – now that I’m looking at it, doesn’t it look like this guy has let his left hip drop down JUST ever so slightly??! Everyone’s a critic.