You deserve to be warned: I’m going to do some pathetic whining, so look away while you still can.

I’m realizing I’m in a depression. My symptoms? Anger beyond all reasonable bounds.

Anger and loneliness.

This is legitimate. In the last three years, I’ve lost my cat, my husband, my mother, and my dog. My son came home from college for a very long, very enjoyable Covidcation and is now gone back, happy and safe in the largely-Covid-free land of Vermont. People are locked up to stay safe and keep others safe, and I take that self-isolation seriously.

And my futhermucking cholesterol was 270 back in August. This makes me SO ANGRY. I’ve been working out so diligently for months now. It’s not FAIIIIIRRRRR.

But I’ve also been eating a lot of ice cream. So okay, it’s faiiiiirrrr.

So in August, I gave up ice cream. I gave up all sugar, actually. Well, except in the form of the occasional piece of pita bread, or some Stone Wheat crackers when I have tuna fish. I went back to diligently drinking 100 ounces of water a day. I’m living on salads with chicken, tuna, or salmon. I’m eating OATMEAL, which is quite a sacrifice for me. The result?


I dropped four pounds almost immediately and then have stayed the same. Unmoving. For six long weeks at the heartlessly depressing number of 238 pounds. I know I’m not supposed to weigh myself, but I needed some feedback. And the feedback that I’m getting is – why bother?

I can’t get the doctor to give me another cholesterol test for four more months, so NO feedback from the bloodwork, positive or negative. But my weight hasn’t changed, my clothes feel no different, and I’m grumpy as hell.

Today a woman I know posted, secretly and modestly in a work-out group I’m in, that she gave up sugar and all other toxins eight weeks ago and has already lost 20 pounds as a result. I’m SO HAPPY for her. And SO ANGRY for me.

More importantly, I’m entering new worlds in publishing my romantic comedy (now two rom-coms, with a third in the works to make up the trilogy). I’m like a fearful explorer in an untamed world, attempting to make the best decisions I can. And when I make a decision—when I approach a milestone—when something happens…

…then I whirl around in my desk chair, excited to share or bitch or hope or worry…

…and the last remaining cat is blinking at me.

Where is everyone?? Why am I all alone?

I hate meals the most. I feel my solitude the most at dinner. Where am I getting dinner tonight? What shall I have? I don’t know—what do I feel like? I’m not sure—what do I feel like? And whatever it is, it’s going to be a salad with chicken or salmon or tuna, curbside pick-up with a mask on. And no dessert, definitely. So don’t get too excited.

And there aren’t enough pillows in the bed to make up for the lack of the rom-com I’m supposed to be living.

Tomorrow I’m going to (A) apologize to the amazing Barbara for blaming her for an exercise, as detailed in the last blog post and about which I nursed unreasoning anger for far too long and (B) have a Zoom session with Regina, the amazing BDI counselor. She will give me tools and wisdom and perspective and advice… and I will be damned glad of it.

Because feeling this weak? It doesn’t feel right.

NOT Okay!!


Yesterday I wrote about a torturous exercise that Chip thought would be “fun.”

(Fitness experts have a VERY different definition of fun, I’ve found. These exercises VERY rarely include trivia contests or tiddlywinks or hootenanny sing-alongs.)

I was supposed to stand on one leg, bend down to get my hands on the floor, walk out into a plank, walk back in, and then stand up…all on that one leg.

This is an earth-shaking exercise, leaving me panting and desperate; perhaps (I thought) if I quietly wiped out all the internet on the Eastern seaboard, I wouldn’t ever have to do it again.

I wrote the “Okay” blog post about it, and my OTHER trainer Barbara read the blog. I know she did because she left me a “thumbs up” on Facebook. I like it when she reads the blog; it explains to her the things I can’t tell her during our sessions for lack of oxygen.

Today, I attended Barbara’s Balance class by Zoom. And there she was, looking all innocent and pretty and kind. She corrects and encourages and cheers us on. Barbara is awesome…


We were in the last third of class when she said—just as cheerful as could be—“put your weight or water bottle on the ground. Now stand on one leg.”

I began to get nervous.

“Roll down slowly and pick up the weight. Don’t put that foot down.”

What?!? I began hurling invective at my laptop.

“Don’t put your foot down, and don’t let your pelvis tip. Weight in the heel of the standing leg. Got the weight?” (No.) “Now, roll up.”


I have this unhappy adductor that stabs me in the thigh AND groin when I anger it. Barbara has taught me that it’s a weakness in the opposite hip; if I keep the non-stabby-side lifted, no stabbing. Yay.

But if I’m standing on one leg, I can’t lift the damned hip.

Every attempt to pick up the innocent pink little weight was painful AND exhausting. I was cursing with whatever breath I had left, and thinking even worse things.

And all the other attendees of Balance Class were going through this nightmare, too… because BARBARA BETRAYED ME!!

At the end of class, I accused her of stealing the worst possible idea from Chip because she read my blog. “Who? Me?” Her words were innocent; her attitude wickedly pleased with herself.

After I dragged myself back up the basement stairs, crawling from riser to riser and sobbing in my misery (well, sort of), I got an email from Mindy, who was in class and who ALSO read the “Okay” blog from yesterday. She said:

“I will give you a million dollars if your next blog post is about perfecting yoga’s corpse pose. For an hour. Without a break.”


And seriously: You guys think you’re so clever, but my adductor is FURIOUS and I’m walking with a limp. This fills me with righteous victory. I HOPE YOU’RE SATISFIED!

The class flamingos are VERY ANGRY. They’re using the ALL CAPS KEY with malice of forethought!!



Okay. Stand at the foot of the yoga mat that you OF COURSE have just lying around your house, waiting for a little impromptu Downward-Facing Dog.

Lift your right foot. Now you look like a flamingo. (That’s you—long-legged and graceful as a wetlands beauty. DO NOT look in a mirror or a Zoom camera. Trust me on this.)

Bend down slowly to touch the mat at your feet. Feel free to bend your knee; that’s not cheating. Here’s the trick: Don’t let your hips rock out, so your right foot crosses behind your left leg. If you do, things are going to go wrong for the flamingo. Pelvis stays straight, like the flamingo has one of those carpenter’s levels embedded in it.

Now you’re standing there like Twister; one foot on the ground and one in the air, and two feet on the mat. Feels awkward, huh?

Don’t put that foot down. Walk your hands out farther and farther until you’re stretched over them in a plank. Again, no need to verify in mirror or Zoom lens; if you’re ANYWHERE NEAR a plank position, close enough. Win.

Don’t hang out there too long; you’re going to get tired. As soon as you’ve gotten your hips as low as you care to take them in that plank, start backing up those hands. Keep that foot in the air. Push that butt upwards.

Back up.

Back up.

Back up.

Pretty soon you’re to the point where there’s no more backing up without serious negotiations with the belly. Force your way past that point, until you’re once again in the original Twister pose; hands by your feet, one leg in the air and the other on the ground; both knees bent. Ass up. Praying that no one walks in and sees this foolishness.

Okay. Now REALLY make sure your pelvis isn’t tilted, because this is where shit gets real:

Stand up.

Don’t put that foot down. Weight in your standing heel. Glutes and abs have to work together. Go slowly or you’ll topple over completely. Haul it slowly and unstable-ly up to vertical.

Stand there, aghast and panting, crazed by how hopelessly hard that was. And then Chip says “Great! Two more times on that leg, and then three on the other and we’ll move on!” He says it like it will be no problem.

Does he not know me AT ALL??

I have no greater message. I just wanted to bitch. I mean—jeez, man!

Reject It


I’m always late to work. It is known, Khaleesi.

For the entirety of my professional career, my annual reviews were generally good. People were happy with the work I was doing. But I was chronically and eternally begged by my bosses to do two simple things:

Put your shoes on.

Get to work on time.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t giving my bosses a full day’s work; I’ve got a pretty powerful measure of concentration, and I was generally doing more work than anyone else in the same position. No, the problem was that I was setting a bad example for other employees, who WERE being held to business hours. I needed to respect that, too.

Every year.

Every year.

Every year.

And every year I would promise to do better. Until I began promising to TRY to do better. And then one year (poor Greg Adams was my supervisor at the time) I suddenly thought – I’m done promising something that I just don’t seem to be able to do. “No. I’m not going to. Dock my pay instead,” I suggested.

He goggled at me. Poor man; I’m not an easy person to manage. “I can’t do that. Come to work on time. Please.”

“I can lie if you want, but you and I know that it’s just not going to happen.”

When I became a freelancer, many MANY people were relieved.

That moment was a watershed for me. It took me decades to realize that intentions weren’t enough, and there was no sense wasting anyone’s time by pretending that they were.

I’m having that moment now. Ten days late, but I’m having it all the same.

I went to my doctor for my physical. I need paperwork filled out for my cruise to Antarctica in November so I made the appointment. Physicals now are conducted in such an amazingly cursory fashion that I didn’t even have to get undressed. My doctor spent time encouraging me to vote (which – duh. Of course.) and then we reviewed my exercise regime. Which, come on. It’s totally impressive, and more than 80% of her patients are doing.

She poked at my belly for a while and listened to my lungs and my heart. She signed me up for labs. (My cholesterol is too high. Again, duh. I’ve been living on ice cream. But that’s a post for another time.)

And then she said “I need to tell you that you should lose weight.”

“Thanks,” I said, not meaning it at all.

It’s rankled in me for TEN DAYS. I weighed 250 pounds on her scale – four pounds more than last year. I am one solid muscle, which of course weighs more than fat. But she didn’t care. She had no words of encouragement; she had no support to offer me. She just said what her Kaiser Permanente algorithm would let her say. “Lose weight.”

And now, ten days later, what I wish I’d said (and what I will say next time) was “NO.”

I wish I’d said “For sixty years doctors have been telling me to lose weight—and I have tried. I have dieted and exercised. I’ve cried and panicked. I’ve planned and plotted. And I’ve been ashamed of my failures. For SIXTY YEARS.

“But here’s what I’m realizing: I didn’t fail. YOU failed. Your medicine has entirely bypassed me. You’ve offered nothing at all to do this miraculous thing you want—this losing weight thing. Nothing that would allow me to lose weight and keep it off, safely and naturally. BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT EITHER.”

So fuck you, Kaiser. You’ve denigrated and dismissed me one too many times. If you can’t help, stop getting in my way. I’m managing my health; you’re not.

I’m not getting to work on time.

I’m not going to wear shoes.

And you don’t know any more than I do about losing weight. Health is the goal, not some number on a scale.

I swear. Greg Adams is lucky I was so mild-mannered!

Home Field Advantage


In the “It’s All About Me” category, I have to say – I’m loving one aspect of the pandemic, and that’s working out by Zoom.

I used to drive to Body Dynamics three days a week and work out there for an hour. Thursdays, I’d stay for two hours, because “Stretch and Roll” was right after Balance Class.

But now that Body Dynamics is in my basement (practically speaking), I’ve doubled the number of my classes, I’m spending NO time on the highway, and I’ve got my set-up worked out to a fare-thee-well.

Let’s look at the photo. What’s important here?


Well, first is the presence of the amazing Barbara, seen here on the iPad demonstrating a typically-loathsome exercise. (In this case, she was showing her Balance Class how she wanted us to stand, feet flat and hips square, while we pretended to put the pillow we were holding on the imaginary high shelf on our right – and then (silly! Wrong shelf!) on the left. Over and over and over again. And again. And again.)

So the second wonderful thing is that I am on MUTE so Barbara can’t hear me say rude things to her. For example, “Christ God, Barbara – how many times do I have to put this pillow up here??” And she can’t hear me counting. “That’s forty-seven times. Forty-eight. Forty-nine. Are you kidding?? COME ON – say three more! Let’s get past this one. SAY THREE MORE!”

Then there’s the small clock on the table, by which I measure how much longer I have to endure this torment. “Don’t do that,” Barbara has told me. “Turn the clock around – don’t look at it.” Little does she know that without the clock, I would crawl out of the room and go find another clock by which to answer the question SERIOUSLY – HOW MUCH LONGER??

But you know what really makes the Zoom work-out bearable for me? See that vent in the soffit overhead? That’s air conditioning. I keep it shut (because the basement stays pretty cool) until the desperation and heat build up in me. I deny myself the paradise until I can’t bear it any longer.

Then I flip that little lever and ice-cold air washes down on me, resuscitating my will to live. Maybe I’m supposed to march from side to side across the room – but once the vent is open, my steps get really, really small so I can keep my sweating forehead in the direct stream of chill.


If Body Dynamics installed blowers in front of every client and let her or him adjust the air that blew across their faces, I bet the satisfaction rate would skyrocket. Lordy, I just HATE working out… but I absolutely ADORE having worked out.

And air conditioning. I adore air conditioning.

The Vow


The minute someone says about me, “I’m sorry – it DOES look like the early stages of dementia,” I am vowing now to bust out the ice cream. It’s going to be ice cream morning, noon, and night.

That’s not quite true. There will also be Crunchy Cheetohs in there. (You have to have some salty to make the sweet more enjoyable. Speaking of which – Reese’s peanut butter cups!)

And I will drink Coke. Not diet Coke. I’m talking – all the sugar. Teeth-rotting quantities of Coca-Cola.

Because at that point, I don’t want to have a body that will obediently clock along to the centennial mark if my brain isn’t going to come along.

This thought brought to you by THE OBLIQUES.

Barbara has me doing side planks every night, and I am now so heavily muscled that I’m going to need to find a lover after all, just so someone other than me can poke at my torso and say “Damn – there’s a lot of steel under all the blubber.”

(One hopes he will be more graceful than that in his commentary, but I’d be so pleased with the first half of the statement that I wouldn’t care much about the second half.)

To be sure, I still look like every bit of a 245-pound Marshmallow Fluff person. But under the fluff, I am RIPPED.

OH, HEY – I’m interrupting myself: Here’s why I haven’t blogged much lately: I’m launching my OVERWHELMING PUBLISHING EMPIRE as a romance writer. I have nothing published as YET… but if you’re a romance fan and are interested, you can check out my writer blog and sign up for my entertaining (!?) newsletter BLISS & GIGGLES if you go to pruwarren.com . That’s where I’m going to be putting the majority of my energies for the moment, just so you know.

Back to our previously-scheduled brag-bitch:

I wake up in the morning and it’s just me. Life as usual. Then I stretch and suddenly muscles from armpit to knee are rippling like an anaconda. I walk around flexing my butt BECAUSE I CAN. And I feel myself up a disturbing amount; really, it’s just not seemly. But I remain astonished by just how quickly this next iteration of musculature has appeared.

I think about the ability to move. To walk, and bend, and catch myself before I fall, and I think – I’m heading for a nice, healthy old age. I’m going to be okay, toddling around Green Spring or wherever I end up.

Sure, I bitch about how much working out I’m doing. Want the list? Oh, please let me tell you! Monday I do Barbara’s low-impact cardio class – which is via Zoom; you could do it too; Google “Body Dynamics Inc.” in Falls Church, VA – followed by Tracey’s myofascial stretch class. Tuesday, I work one-on-one with Barbara, and on Wednesdays with Chip. He does stabilizer muscles and she does global muscles and they talk to each other – which is more than you can say for my stabilizer and global muscles, ho ho. Thursday I do balance class with Barbara (that’s the big Mac Daddy of Body Dynamics classes; this is the gateway drug to better health. Sign up for that one instead of cardio.), and then Gabby’s stretch class. And then Sunday through Friday, I do a home exercise routine (with side planks) while watching Rachel Maddow (it’s a big dose of Do It Because You Should lately; Rachel is most unhappy).

And on Saturday I walk around my house with my hands on my own butt, grinning because I don’t have to do any exercises.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah – sure, I bitch. That’s a lot of working out. But I’m strong as an ox. And that’s going to be valuable later.

Unless my brain goes – which in my family? It’s a real possibility. (They were all drinkers, though, and I don’t drink at all, so I’m crossing my fingers that this will make a difference in my inherited propensity toward dementia.)

And once the brain goes – Ben, darling! Jerry, my sweet! Together at last – as long as I can remember to demand you… because I want to go out fast once the thinker is detached. Talk about making sweet, sugary lemonade from lemons!!

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This is what I look like, under a generous snowfall of fluffy, insulating fat. Want to poke me in the belly? Go ahead – feel that!!





“Oi!” you say, in your comedically thick British accent, “let me just slip on me trainers and we’ll go for a run.”

Because to the English, “trainers” means “sneakers.” Aren’t they adorable? (The British, not the shoes.)

If you say “trainers” in the US, we’ve all been conditioned by John Hughes movies to immediately envision not sneakers but the coach of the high school football team, who wears double-knit shorts and a whistle around his neck; he’s given to saying “Hustle up, ladies” to the varsity football players.

But there’s a third definition – and I finally perceived it when I was having lunch with a friend.

We were on my porch – outside; fresh air; low Covid transmission – having socially-distanced pasta salad (made by my adorable son; he’s such a good kid) and talking about how much we each valued working with Body Dynamics in Falls Church.

My friend was dealing with some pretty serious issues, and had been told by her doctors that the pain she was in was just the way it was going to be from now on. She was updating me on the remarkable degree to which her pain had receded. It’s not gone – but it’s rarely debilitating, thanks to the combined efforts of Body Dynamics physical therapists and personal trainers.

“I had no idea,” she said, “that anyone could have – that anyone would need – a trainer if they weren’t – you know… an athlete.”

She said it, and BAM, I realized that I had never really tackled that realization before. She’s right. Instinctively, I believe trainers are only for serious competitors. They make you go to boot camp and do burpees and wind sprints. They push protein powder in everything you eat. They live in cinderblock hallways redolent with the faint smell of sweat and pool chlorine.

But NO!

We’ve been deceived by “Weird Science” and “Sixteen Candles.” We ALL need a personal trainer, ESPECIALLY if we are not particularly athletic – for, as previously discussed, doctors really don’t have the time or the training to help you safeguard your health. It’s up to you, and what the hell do you know?? If you had control over everything, you wouldn’t be in the shape you’re in now!

But you know what happens when I begin any Body Dynamics appointment? From a massage with Gwynn to a workout with Chip or Barbara? They say “What’s going on with your body today? How do you feel? What’s going on in your life?” And for a few minutes (maybe longer) we talk about it. From “my left calf feels sore” to “I can’t sleep longer than four hours to save my life.” They listen – and then they work with me to improve my daily condition and my long-term outlook for a healthy old age.

Is that something most people need? Is it a better definition of “trainer” than some track shoes from Great Britain or a barrel-chested whistle-blower?

I say it IS!

So I’m out and out advising you: Get yourself a trainer. “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t have the time.” “I don’t WANNA.” I hear you – I do. But the choices you make now will determine your future… and if you think changing for the better is hard today, imagine how tough it’s going to be tomorrow. You can do it – more, you deserve to do it.

Body Dynamics is doing online sessions; you don’t have to long for Barbara or Chip. You can WORK with Barbara and Chip. Or find someone else. But know that you don’t have to struggle alone; there are people who really do know how to help.


Isn’t Barbara adorable? I’m just madly in love with her. And Chip, too. And Gwynn. I’m so lucky!





Well, it’s finally happened. The kid’s brain seems to have expanded; while the overwhelming majority of his time, attentions, and desires continue to rest firmly in the video game world, there is now JUST enough brain left over for him to realize that after nearly four months at home with his mother, he’s bored.

So if he’s not actively blowing up other teams or armored reptiles or space aliens (a practice that requires extremely loud screams with his online buds in which he rags on them mercilessly – and one assumes they rag on him – and then everyone howls with laughter), he is wandering the house in search of something.

He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but I’ll tell you: I kind of dig it. Because mostly what he ends up doing is throwing himself down on the chair in my office to see if I can entertain him at all. We end up talking, which seems otherwise unlikely, given that he’s going to be a senior in college in the fall. We talk cars. We talk about book publishing. We talk (and I stay focused, mostly) about video games.

But what my son loves most is to argue.

How we got on the subject, I can no longer remember – but I found myself in a heated debate with him about the role of doctors in society. This is, as I’m sure you understand, a topic upon which NEITHER of us has even the slightest experience or wisdom – but his eyes began to shine and he sat up straighter. Conflict? Debate? I can call you an idiot? This is Rusty’s mental playground. I hope to hell he ends up in law school.

The premise: Is it a doctor’s responsibility to safeguard, maintain, or regain general health?

I took the positive. Hell, yes – my doctor ought to be the first person I turn to in the low-priority, endless quest to be healthy.

Rusty took the negative. Hell no – a doctor should be able to identify life-threatening conditions and that’s it. If you want to improve your health, you go to Barbara at Body Dynamics. (Rusty’s heard me shout Barbara’s praises ALMOST as often as you have.) You go see a trainer.

“What?! That’s absurd! You think a doctor plays no role in HEALTH??”

“A doctor plays a role in CANCER. Beyond that, get out of my office.”

Oh, a battle for the ages was joined. We hammered at each other like titans at the forge; the valleys rang with the echoes from our volleys. He with mighty Mjolnir balanced on his shoulder, me with Excalibur making tiny, threatening circles in the air above his skull.

It was the best gift I could have given him.

But eventually I wore out. I’m so much older than he is. “Now you’re just making me tired. Go away.”

“Hah! That’s because you know I’m right!”

“You’re absolutely not right. I’m just done with this. Go play a video game.”

“Oh, come on – you think a doctor has time to care about your general health? They get minutes – MINUTES – with a patient. How are they supposed to help you with anything as hard to define as improved health?”

“Get out. Get out of my office. I’m begging you.”

“Well, this is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Bye, Mom.”

Sigh. The worst thing is, I sort of wonder if he isn’t right – and that makes me EVEN MORE tired.

You don’t want to weigh in on this, do you? Do you expect your doctor to safeguard (or restore) your health? Or do you only expect the doctor to stop you from dying? Tell me in the comments. If you agree with me, I’ll tell the kid. If not, he can slaughter digital bad guys in happy ignorance.


Born to argue. Is it time for him to go back to college yet??

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.