Hold your hands up in front of your schnozz, fingers touching and hands flat. Now tilt your hands so a marble on your right wrist would roll off your left wrist.
(Shades of Jeff Goldblum teaching lovely Laura Dern about chaos theory. Which, now that I think about it, might be apt.)
Okay. Go back to having your hands flat. Now shift your hands as if they were flat on a turntable, so the right wrist goes toward the far wall and the left wrist comes back to you. There—got it?
NOW. Hands pushed to the right. (Or left. I don’t care.)
There. You’ve just demonstrated the three planes that your hips can be in when they’re wrong. There’s a lot of variation there—so if someone were to say, for example, you were hiked over to the right, you might justifiably wonder what the hell they’re talking about.
Are you over to the right because your hip is higher on one side? Because it’s rotated forward? Because the whole megillah has shifted out of the true alignment? BUT WAIT—WE’RE NOT DONE YET!!
Hold your hands in that same position. Now flip your right hand forward so the palm is facing toward the wall.
Or let your fingertips separate so the left hand is still the same but the fingers of the right hand are now pointing into that corner.
Do you see the damned challenge?? There’s a joint back there in the pelvis (two, actually; one on either side of the spine), and your hips are NOT one solid bone cradle. You can flare out. Or up. Or, I suppose, back.
HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY NOW?? BUT WAIT—THERE’S MORE!
My hips are the Ginsu knives of opportunity. Because now keep your hands wherever they’ve ended up but shift your shoulders in whatever direction you care to. Because YOUR TORSO MIGHT BE TWISTED OR ROTATED AND YOU WOULDN’T KNOW IT. It feels normal to you. You poor thing.
This is me, going through my hip exercises with the amazing Barbara. I’ve been doing the exercises faithfully since Jorge adjusted my hips last week, but my hip flexor has been annoyed by the exercises, and Barbara wanted to know why.
Well, “why” turned out to be because my hips were out and up and over and back and flared and sitting under a torso with a definite rotation. I mean, by the end of our session together, I felt like I’d been put in one of those astronaut training gyroscopes where they fling you around in three different axes until you’re either laughing helplessly or spraying vomit across the room.
Fortunately, the Barbara method caused laughter. Confused laughter—but laughter.
With her help, and Jorge’s, and Chip’s (all the experts at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA), I am going to master that gyroscope, by damn! If only there weren’t SO many variables!
OMIGAWD I KNEW IT! And you did, too! Listen to this!
A friend posted on Facebook about a theoretically scientific but actually SCANDALOUS book called (boringly) “Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases” that’s coming out. He linked to the abstract of the book in Science Direct by Katherine Flegal (you can read the abstract here: http://fbclid=IwAR35o5qv6z5kh6KXwY3Uo5617AZESBJT_tAUdTBj-xIPMi66htu7wrgAzss it’s pretty damned well written…although this link doesn’t seem to work and I don’t know why but Google it; it’s a good read), and I read it with increasingly rabid attention.
It’s by this woman—a CDC researcher—who did a very thorough and impartial study which led her to the conclusion that people with a body mass index of up to 30 are not just not MORE likely to die but are actually VERY SLIGHTLY protected from death by their weight.
Anti-fat warriors from across the medical spectrum landed on her neck, screaming like Visigoths with double-bladed war axes raised in bloodthirsty attack. Man, the story of the crap she took is jaw-dropping.
But hang on, there. What did you just say?
A BMI of up to 50 is NOT why I’m going to die? Oversized and ashamed in a tent-like hospital gown on a gurney with skinny people standing around me shaking their heads and commenting to each other “if only she’d had some self-discipline she’d be alive today??” WHAAAAAT???
The last time I saw my doctor, she was at pains to point out to me that I was FAT and needed to deal with that. (She cloaked it in prettier terms, but that was her message.)
And now I’m like—girl, you are a damned Visigoth, descending on me with your battle axe raised. Back off, slim; I could crush you and not even notice.
It’s easy to judge a person by their double chin or the broadness of their rear view. We can look at them and shake our heads, knowing that we are “better” or “worse” than them. And there are medical issues that overweight people face; there’s no doubt. Skinny people rarely get diabetes (and when they do—watch for pancreatic cancer next).
But the insistence—medical and societal—that being overweight is unhealthy and dooms us to an early death MIGHT JUST BE A TOTAL FALSEHOOD.
I find this enraging and inspiring and exciting and perplexing. My entire body image is bound in shame. But…does it have to be? Despite years–no, I mean decades (no–I mean a LIFETIME) of effort—restrictive eating and endless exercise and the advice and counsel of very smart, very compassionate people (not to mention my doctor, who grrrr), this is how I look. This is who I am. This is how my body seems to want to be.
And it’s just possible—JUST POSSIBLE—that this is the way I SHOULD be.
Damn. Isn’t that wild?
This is me, even less attractive than I could be because my hair is pulled back in anticipation of yet another exercise session in the basement via Zoom. I exercise ALL THE DAMNED TIME. You’d think that would be enough for my doctor and the medical community–but no. They want me to lose weight TOO. Well now I’m thinking–why?? What’s it to you, bub?!
Put your finger on the hollow of your throat. Now use the other hand to put your finger on your belly button. Is one hand exactly over the top of the other? (Wait—sorry. Go to a mirror first!)
For me, the answer is WHAT THE HELL.
My body, thinking it was perfectly upright and vertical, had such a torso twist that I’d say my collar-bone pointer was a full inch to the right of my belly-button pointer. WHAT??
Jorge, wonderous physical therapist at Body Dynamics (Falls Church, VA—if you’re anywhere nearby, these are the people you want working on you/with you), was watching my reaction in the mirror.
“But, Jorge,” I protested, “I’m straight up and down. I’d swear I was straight.”
“I know. Your body is convinced that this is the best alignment for you. We’re going to fix that and show you a better way.”
This moment of confusion came because—of course—Barbara (world’s most uncanny and skillful personal trainer and body science master; see above, re: Body Dynamics) has been working with me for a long time on why my adductor so often sings a piercingly high note. Ouch.
(Adductor: Long muscle from knee to pelvis, along the inside of the thigh. Attaches in a place that would make you feel vaguely discomforted were I to point to it.)
Barbara said, in her I Am Omniscient And Can Interpret Your Movements Through The Zoom Screen Like A Summer Beach Read way, “I think maybe one of your pelvic bones is out of alignment.”
I made a noise like a startled chicken, because it was my unlettered opinion that there is ONLY one pelvic bone; that the pelvis is one solid cradle from which femurs spring like Athena from Zeus’s forehead.
But not at all. The pelvis is made of TWO bones. More than that, there’s an actual JOINT between the two. Did you know? Me, neither.
The most obvious reason why is that so women can have babies—duh; should have realized that—but this is apparently an evolutionary advantage that men get, too. EVERYONE has a right pelvic bone and a left pelvic bone, with a tough little hinge in the middle. And the two can either BE misaligned or get KNOCKED out of alignment, after which the body adjusts and makes you think you’re standing straight up when in fact the hollow of your throat is a good inch to the west of your midline, which is a freaky thing to discover, I’m here to tell you.
So I had a conversation with Gwynne (Body Dynamics COO, but her secret identity is as a massage therapist of uncanny skill and damn, she’s on administrative leave and no one’s getting those magic fingers at the moment COME BACK TO US GWYNNE) and she said—Jorge. Jorge is the guy for you. She set up the appointment.
(And then she happened on me and Jorge standing in front of a large bank of mirrors at BDI; she lingered, smiling, in the background, and watched Jorge work his magic. But I knew she was there. YOU’RE RIGHT, GWYNNE: JORGE IS AMAZING!)
So here’s what Jorge did the FIRST time I went to see him:
Pulled my leg.
Literally. He did his observations and poking and prodding and used his clever hands to “see” what was going on in my body. Then he had me lay on my stomach, held my ankle, lifted gently and moved my leg a little to a position that he liked. “Now, don’t get mad at me—I’m going to tug on your leg.”
“Okay. Go ahead.”
Then he tugged, and dragged me three inches down the table, which made me burst out laughing.
“Well,” he said, “giggling is better than getting mad!”
We did exercises and talked about what was going on and pointed at hollow of throat/belly button and I left without any pain…and that lasted for two and a half days.
Then I went to balance class and did back lunges. Very modestly, but I did. And there went the adductor—just like that.
But yay! My first follow-up visit with Jorge was that very afternoon. “I think I’m back out of alignment,” I said to him. “It worked—it just didn’t stay worked.”
He did his alchemy and agreed with me. “Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do this time.”
I was all ready to have him drag me down the table by the right heel—but no. Things got a LOT stranger.
I lay on the left edge of the table and he lowered it so I could put my left heel on the ground. Then—the guy really deserves hazardous duty pay—he put my right knee over his shoulder, and his hand on my left knee.
“I’m going to push into your right leg slowly. You match my pressure—but don’t push me to the floor. Okay?”
He and I were in a position that…well, there was no giggling allowed. This is THERAPY, see?? Stop that, you! Take this seriously!
He leaned into me, as if to push my thigh up against my torso, while I resisted the push. Once we’d established our pushing equilibrium, he said “Lift your left leg. Lift it. Push.” His hand was on my knee, holding the leg down. Left leg UPPPPP. Right leg DOWWWWWN.
So I was, essentially, trying to scissor this kind, smart, wiry-but small man between my powerful legs, and he was resisting for all he was worth. I stared at the ceiling, trying hard to neither giggle nor catch his eye nor hurt him nor hurt myself.
Then we did it two more times. And I used every inch of muscle power, too. The poor guy.
But then—he did his assessment again. And so pleased with himself was he that the next thing I saw was a hand coming into my view of the ceiling; a high-five from Jorge. “That’s it. That’s got it.”
He said not to mind how hard it was to re-align my hips. The harder it was to get them back, the harder it would be for them to be misaligned again…so now I’m very hopeful.
My adductor is TOTALLY silent. I think it totally worked. I’m being very cautious; no sitting with one knee crossed over the other for a while; no jumping up and down. No damned lunges, BARBARA!!
I hit a pothole once in my car, so hard that it popped the tire. When the service guys fixed it, they advised that I get the car aligned. A hit that hard would knock everything askew. So of course I paid for the alignment. Why wouldn’t I?
So why would I not pay attention to whether or not my hips were perfectly aligned? I’ve actually given birth, and once a dog wiped me out on the stairs so hard that my tailbone hurt for a solid year. It would be surprising if my hips were NOT out of alignment.
But not anymore! Thanks, Barbara! Thanks, Gwynne! And boy howdy—thanks, Jorge!
By the way: When I do the hollow-of-the-throat/belly button test now? STRAIGHT AS A PLUMB LINE. Simply incredible.
Chip hit me with one of those observations yesterday that sort of revolutionize how I see the world. And he did it SO CASUALLY.
Chip is the Body Dynamics trainer who works with me on stabilizer muscles. (He’s constantly coming up with exercises that make me say “I didn’t even know I HAD a muscle there.”) He’s a truly lovely human, which is lucky because for a while there, he made his living dancing in the ballet.
Seriously. Like, he paid his rent because his body was so disciplined and obedient and graceful that people would pay to watch him dance.
And EVEN KNOWING THAT, Chip is a delight. (I don’t mean to be unpleasant—but in the perpetual grade school of my brain, Chip is WAAAAAAY over there on the other side of the gym, climbing ropes and swinging on rings with HIS friends while I’m over here crying through the damned President’s Physical Fitness test with MY friends. In evolutionary terms, it would have been very unlikely for me to EVER run in Chip’s circles, except that he’s so damned nice.)
So yesterday, I was lying full length on a foam roller. (Ever done that? The first time, it’s like The Return of Torquemada. So viciously uncomfortable. And then, sha-bang. The body just adjusts and decides that THIS feels GOOD. Mm.)
Chip had a four-part exercise for me, but we’d just gotten through the first part—which was, like so many of these actions, deceptively easy.
You lie there, knees bent and feet on the floor. Now let one knee fall out to the side.
Hang on—not FALL. They call them “knee fall-outs,” but please. You think anything as uncontrolled as a fall will get the nod? Hah. Move your knee out to the side, but do NOT allow the body, on its round foam roller cylinder, to tip to the side.
Then bring the knee back up to center. Repeat, on the other side, until both knees have wandered from the pure path ten times.
Chip happened to compliment me on my knee fall-outs yesterday and I was smug in response.
“It’s because I’ve figured you guys out. While it LOOKS like the knee is the place for action, this exercise is REALLY about the glute of the still leg. That’s what stabilizes me.”
I got the Chip Seal of Approval (which looks like Chip pointing to his own adorable nose and then to me). “That’s it exactly,” he said. Then he told me an illustrative story.
“When I began dancing, people would have their legs out here.” I peered at the Zoom screen. Chip had his arm straight up and over his head. I’m sure he COULD have done it with his leg, but he showed me with his arm. “And they’d be focused on that leg. Where it was in space. What it was supposed to be doing. When really…”
His other hand came down onto his hip. “THIS is where they needed to focus. THIS is the part that’s holding everything up.”
I preened in delight, having come to this realization after working with him for ONLY four years. Me and the ballet dancers. We’re like THIS.
“So when I started, this leg was called the working leg.” Then he spouted some ballet-speak while moving his long, straight arm through space. “But now they’ve changed it. Now they’re called the GESTURE leg and the WORKING leg. Because they’re both working—not just the one that’s moving.”
I often dream up reasons to stall, to stop exercising when I’m with Chip or Barbara, but with these words, I actually came to a halt involuntarily.
The GESTURE leg and the WORKING leg.
The other three parts of the exercise were thrown into a new light. Part two: Do the knee fall-outs while holding weights overhead; left knee falls out to the side, right arm does a fly to the side.
Part three: Put the weights down. Now march your feet up and down, one at a time. Again, don’t let your body fall off the foam roller; hips have to stay level.
Part four: March your feet while the opposite arm goes back over the head to tap the weight on the ground behind you. Now hips AND shoulders have to stay level and stable.
And with every single action, I clarified with Chip. “Okay—left foot, right arm are the gesture limbs. What’s stabilizing on the other side? What’s the working part?”
“Stabilize with the right glute and left lat. Keep your shoulder down.”
Honey. I’m telling you—it changed things. The exercise is NOT about what’s moving. It’s about what’s NOT moving.
I’m going to need to think about this some more.
Give it a think next time you’re exercising or walking or whatever. Don’t focus on what’s moving; focus on what’s NOT moving. Mind-bending!
Here’s a gift from Chip, the ballet-dancing Pilates instructor at Body Dynamics:
Sit up straight. (Or you can stand; whatever.)
Put your right hand on the back of your neck, as low onto your back as you can reach, so your elbow is pointing at the ceiling. (If you have a small child around, this is where they will inevitably tickle you. Banish them from the room posthaste.)
Now swing your left hand up and over to land on your right elbow. It’s the job of the left hand to push down gently on the elbow. The goal is to lower your shoulder down. (You hiked it up when you swung your right hand into place, but don’t worry—you can lower it back down again.) Maybe your elbow could point higher? You want that right arm back by your ear if you can.
Left hand now drifts down to point at something at shoulder height. Not directly to the left of you; not directly in front of you. You’re pointing at something exactly in between. (I have no parenthetical comment for this direction.)
Now look at your left hand. (Turn your whole head; don’t just roll your eyes. You do that enough already. Your eye-rollers are the best-worked-out muscles in your body!) (And you thought I hadn’t noticed.)
Left hand up again, to cup the top of your head. (You are now susceptible to tickling on both sides. Hope you banished that kid as instructed.)
VERY GENTLY use the left hand to tug your head downward, as though you wanted to point your right ear at the floor. (You can’t get it pointing at the floor; don’t try. DON’T FORCE IT. But ear toward the floor is the direction you want to go in.)
Hold. Drool. Take a moment to identify the back/shoulder/neck muscles that are crying out in pleasure-pain. Feel the starch in those areas begin to surrender. Consider how much they do while they hold you upright in front of the computer for hours on end.
Now do the other side. You don’t want to be lopsided.
As the quarantine has dragged on, I seem to spend the first five or ten minutes of my sessions with incredible trainers Barbara and Chip at Body Dynamics by bitching.
Just out and out complaining about my state of looming discontent and feelings of isolation and distraction and self-pity for consuming anything even remotely considered foodstuffs. Both Chip and Barbara—because they are kind, compassionate humans but also because they deal with clients five days a week—have told me that I am not alone.
A lot of people are trapped in an endless February. The vaccine is coming, but it isn’t here yet. Hope’s right around the corner, but new varieties of COVID are even more catching. It’s chilly and grey in Virginia, but across the nation the cold is actually dangerous.
There are reasons to be overwhelmed.
Chip told me about one of his clients. She was having a tough time getting an exercise right, and I can relate to that. It’s taken me three years to actually feel anything at all in my glute mede—so the idea that I can’t always make my muscles move the way I’m supposed to? Yeah. That rings in me like a bell.
Chip’s client apparently sighed and said to him, “My brain has too many apps open.”
He told me this and I came to a complete halt. Just locked in place, lying on the matt doing bridges.
OH MY GOD.
That’s exactly the feeling I have when I can’t sleep for all the ideas in my head—or the To Do list is long and growing. That’s what it feels like when I’m trying to use my glutes and abs but the shoulders are somehow trying to help, or a diamond-shaped cluster of various muscles at my low back, or my feet, or anything else miles away from where the center of effort is supposed to be.
I HAVE TOO MANY APPS OPEN.
Does it ring with you, too? Can we figure out the way to hit that tiny X at the corner of the app and shut down a few of them? Most of them? ALL of them? God knows, we can fire them up again tomorrow. What do you think?
The glorious reward at the end of the Body Dynamics Monday morning Cardio Class (10 am Eastern by Zoom; you could come, too) is the all-too-brief period of stretching. Barbara has a roster of Old Faithful stretches that she talks us through, depending on what fresh hell she’s put us through…
…and today she clearly felt she’d asked something of our quads (those long muscles down the fronts of your thighs), because we did the one where you hold your foot against your butt and point at the floor with your knee, standing on one leg like a sweaty, gasping flamingo.
(You think flamingos don’t get sweaty and gasping at the end of cardio class? That’s because unlike Body Dynamics, they exercise in private and don’t invite newcomers. YOU aren’t a member of THAT club!)
Barbara never fails to provide direction for people at all levels of fitness, because this is a low-impact cardio class filled with the halt and lame, the fat and stiff, the geriatric and the hopeful. There is NO “typical” Cardio Class member, and Barbara is careful about making sure no one is trying above their abilities.
So when we did the flamingo quad stretch, she said “If it’s hard to grab your foot behind you, put your leg up on a chair or the sofa, like this.”
Very often, I’m the one using the modified forms and finding them to be exactly right for me, but in this case, I happened to be holding my own foot as she gave the variant form.
Of course, for me, I need a LOT of momentum to get my foot up that high. I have to kick back hard and hope I can catch my toes in my reaching hand, and then I work my hand down my foot until I can reach around my shoe to get a good grip. It isn’t pretty, but I can do it.
And I felt a tiny flush of pride that this is something my body CAN do instead of needing the modified form. I’ve ALWAYS been able to kick my foot back that far, and can slowly and torturously work my way into a sound hold so I can join the other panting, fluffy flamingos.
AND THAT’S WHEN IT OCCURRED TO ME:
If I keep doing that a few times a week, I’LL STILL BE ABLE TO DO IT WHEN I’M EIGHTY.
This isn’t “run a mile” or “do the Jumping Jacks where you hop up and down,” both of which require a long nap and a huge amount of bitching in their aftermath. No, this was a simple stretch that feels pretty good. This was the REWARD for all the other stuff.
And all I have to do is keep doing it. When I’m tottering around the old folk’s home, I’ll have the capacity to catch my foot behind me and stand like a flamingo. Oh, sure—that’s not a skill greatly in demand for the average senior…but what about strong thighs? What about tendons and ligaments that still flex and move? What about a knee that’s been gently challenged and oxygenated by such a stretch?
What about the hand strength? What about the balance? What about the belief that I don’t have to be limited in my movements?
That one silly stretch…it’s huge. HUGE!!
This stuff is really going to pay off later. Awesome!
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!
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!
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.”
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.)
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?