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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and it is LOOSE at the hips. LOOSE!!

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

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

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

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

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

And then you can be smug, too!

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



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

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

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

So much so that I ordered more for myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a potty break and thought to

tell you – OH MY GOD! Granola has

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

eating it and wouldn’t be surprised if

most of it was gone before I got

home. Thank you!

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

                        Glad you like it!

Love it!

                        Save some to try in your yogurt. Mmm!

We’ll see how much makes it back

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

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



Barbara had a curious observation today.

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

Which I was doing wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Um, my feet.”

“I knew it. You’re leaning forward.”

“I’m really not.”

I was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Okay, then.”

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