I grew up with big dogs, a German Shepard and later a Labrador Retriever, but one of my grandparents had a smaller dog, a dachshund or a wiener dog which is a bit easier to spell when I remember that “i” before “e” rule. I liked the dog okay and even tolerated its annoying habits until the day I learned it had been sent to earth by Satan just to get me in trouble.
The dog, I have blocked out its name and gender from my memory, was light reddish brown, a hair color I acquired myself once from a bottle, with the typical wiener dog characteristics of a long body, stubby legs and a long nose. I remember it being rather lean compared to some of the others of the breed I had seen. The shape of this creature fascinated me. How these 4 stubby legs managed to keep the long body off the ground, barely off the ground but still not dragging its belly on the sidewalk, perplexed me.
I have been looking for new ways to max out my heart rate and burn calories as part of Operation Suck Less 2014™ and this quest led me to an unexpected relationship with the kettlebell.
Kettlebells are not a glamorous looking piece of equipment, just balls with a handle on them. They are of Russian origin and I vaguely recall a flood of infomercials touting their miraculousness several years ago with they were the new IT exercise. They are simple yet intimidating enough that they sit on shelves mostly ignored at my gym.
I had begun working with a Pilates instructor again and as we talked about my sucking less goals she suggested we skip the reformer for a day and try something new. She grabbed a kettlebell and excitedly demonstrated the kettlebell swing as if I was somehow going to be able to perform this feat.
Biking still does not work for my knees, so I have begun rowing as an addition to walking. I discovered I am incredible bad at rowing.
First, there is the form. Legs, Lean, Arms, Forward, Repeat. That is the order of the motion. A smooth, fluid motion that when executed properly is a beautiful thing. For me, I jerk about, slam into the end of the movement and almost fall off my seat at least once every session.
Second, there are my weak-ass arms. I fool myself with all the laps I swim thinking my arms are getting stronger, but holding my arms in proper form as I row is haaaaard. After a rather short time, my deltoid muscles are screaming at me. I tell them to shut up, they tell me to &*$# stop.
Third, there is the lack of grace in getting on and off the contraption. I have to actually lift my leg over the machine and try to sit down on a seat that moves without anything to hold onto. I am not a teenager I need handles! I have to strap my feet in and grab the bar that is now too far away without falling off; if I strap too tight I can’t reach the bar, too lose and I will fly off mid stroke. When I am done and tired, I have to do that same process in reverse.
I am incredibly bad at rowing, but somehow I am able to go a bit farther and a bit faster each week despite my arms protesting the whole time. I am just going to hold onto that and ignore the whole form and grace part and hope when I do fall off the machine or face plant trying to get on it, anyone looking will laugh with me because that will be a damn funny sight to behold.
For as long as I have lived in Minnesota, I have explored very little of the state beyond the Twin Cities and Duluth. It is my hope to rectify this situation. A City Pages ad for Ole Oppe Fest in Alexandria piqued my curiosity, it sounded like a perfect blend of small town charm and cheese and was a mere 2 hour drive away so I headed out.
As I was driving, I decided to swing into the Apple store to see what solutions they had for listening to music from my iPhone in my car. That led to a stop at Radio Shack of all places for an adapter. That led to a stop at another Radio Shack that had the adapter in stock. That led to the realization I had left my fitbit at home and a debate if I should return to retrieve it or carry on.
In reaction to the manifesto from the mass killer in Santa Barbara promising to punish women who had rejected him, my Twitter stream has been flooded with disturbing, emotional and angry commentary and experiences of misogyny tagged #YesAllWomen.
This conversation does not surprise me, as my slice of the social media pie has been sharing thoughts more often lately on related topics from rape culture in college, to bullying and other abuse. There has also been lengthy debates on Lena Dunham daring to be comfortable enough with her body to get naked on screen, the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria and the subsequent “#BringBackOurGirls” hash tag campaign and discussions on what is feminism including Neko Case’s response to Playboy labeling her a “female musician” and how Shailene Woodley, of the upcoming movie “A Fault In Our Stars”, is wrong or just misinformed on the subject.
It is a special kind of torture when you are at a point in your life when you must tell yourself to “let it go” repeatedly and there is a catchy, uber popular Disney song by the same name playing everywhere. Torture.
I have never heard the entire tune, have not seen the movie but I am tormented by the refrain. Maybe if I see the movie I will finally release myself from its musical grasp, but I am having trouble confronting my fear.
I try to tell myself to “let it be” or “don’t worry, be happy” or even “shut up” but I fail and the song worms into my brain. It is ironic that a tune about letting go, won’t let go of my inner music channel. Torture.
I wish I were one of those people that could put something behind them and move on quickly. Me, I mostly do but there is always this remnant that swirls about until one day it miraculously evaporates and fades from memory as if it had never been a thing at all. If only that could happen sooner and on command I would be a bit more at peace.
Side note: this process is true of everything but my resentment for my mother and her pet killing/giving away tendencies. No matter what I try, I have never been able to fully let that go as evidenced by a recent unexpected outburst. I probably need to let go of the notion that I can let that go.
Right now the swirling is about a friend, also an ex-boyfriend, who sometimes is a total inconsiderate tool. I am annoyed. What I am annoyed about is not worth putting down on paper yet thinking about it makes my jaw clench, my eyes squint and my stomach floppy…and my head full of profanity. I am torn between my desire to write a long detailed explanation of my anger to him and the resolve that it would not matter or change anything. It never has.
I remind myself that people make time for what they care about and what their priorities are not for my expectations and the only thing I can control is my response. I tell myself to accept people as they are, not how I wish they would be. I ask myself if this will even matter in a year, a month or a few weeks. I reluctantly admit that I have not mastered the force and I do not control the Universe even though I really should because things would suck so much less for us all, well maybe not people I get annoyed with.
Ultimately, I tell myself to let it go and then suffer through that damn song swirling in my head along with the various remnant thoughts that just won’t give me a break. Torture.
I took a break from Operation Suck Less 2014™ and it was glorious!
I often struggle with knowing when to say when. (I also struggle with proper grammar and I am not sure if that second “when” should be in quotes or not. Meh.)
Since my brain likes to see things from every angle, sometimes I have too many conflicting voices drowning out what my body is trying to say. Push through the pain. You need a rest. No pain, no gain. Give it up. Hold on. Let go. Take a nap. I have a hard time knowing if my body has had enough or if my inner quitter is just being a spoiled brat; this conflict can lead to injury as well as overall lameness.
I had a couple days of zero motivation and half-assed workouts before I was meant to leave town for a long weekend. I decided to just give it a rest for those days, try to walk a bit, stretch and not eat sugar, but otherwise just exist and suck as much as I wanted.
I kept telling myself it was a break (in the voice of Ross from Friends), not a break-up and when I returned from my trip I would resume my workout and eating routine just as before. I was also leery, knowing that past short breaks have turned into months of couch sitting and junk food eating.
On my trip, I did much less walking than I wanted. I ate a bit of sugary treats but also much less than I wanted. I repeatedly thought about how nice it would be to get back in the pool although I was not completely buying it.
The first day when I returned I walked just a little. The next couple days I swam but skipped the rest of my planned activities. I still felt tired, my back was having spasms and my motivation was still lost, so I took a day off.
Then something strange happened, I woke up last Sunday ready for a workout. I practically ran to the gym (which looked like normal walking to the rest of the world I am sure) I hit the row machine, kettlebells and the treadmill for intervals. I sweated and was completely gross but it felt good.
My performance was the best I had ever done. Each day this week has been the same, suddenly I can swim a bit faster, walk a bit faster, row a bit longer and swing an extra set. Everything seems to be clicking again, my back has stopped acting up and my motivation is back in full force. Yay!
I wish I had a formula for this switch that flipped so I can recreate it again when I will inevitably need it. I never understand how things change from one day to the next when all other variables to be the same. I guess I needed a break. I guess I also needed to persevere until things clicked again.
In the next 4 months, I have 5 weeks of trips planned for my trying to age gracefully North American tour and I hope I can time my breaks and perseverance to match because I enjoyed the time off, but I am loving the increase in performance even more.
***Tiny spoilers, you have been warned***
After years of anticipation, the new Godzilla movie finally hit the theater and I was one of the dorky people waiting for the doors to open for the first screening. I loved it. It was obvious the people making the movie are fans and it was fun to see my favorite monster updated.
The things I enjoyed most about the movie are the same I enjoy in all my franchise favorites, although there was a disappointing lack of jig dancing, the fights, destruction and a cohesive story. I always want more Godzilla, and this movie is no exception, but the anticipation of his arrival and first roar probably enhanced the moment. Godzilla looked great and effectively conveyed an array of emotion; his roar and atomic breath were used perfectly.
The story was cohesive, well paced and included plenty of elements found in many of the previous movies including kids in peril, annoying love stories, clash of science and military sensibilities and main characters that are miraculously always in the middle of the action.
I prefer when Godzilla’s main antagonist is another monster; it allows him to be both terrifying and sympathetic simultaneously. The M.U.T.O. are a welcome addition to the kaiju club and have a strong story and distinctive look from past foes. They will not replace King Ghidorah as my favorite, but I was glad to see a new, fully realized creature and not a recycling of the past or a lame foe. The monster battles were awesome and I loved how some of them were revealed via background action and newscasts.
I had a few nits, I always do. While I enjoyed the M.U.T.O., I did not love their facial/eye design. Bryan Cranston’s wig was a bit wonky. Lead actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson bores me and seems interchangeable with many action actors of his generation; I hope he is more interesting as Quicksilver in the upcoming Avengers movie. While I liked the story, I wish Godzilla had a bit more to do in the beginning and that the M.U.T.O were not the sole cause of the early destruction; I don’t mind waiting for my movie monsters, I just want them to be the focus.
Overall, I am a huge fan of the movie and had a lot of fun watching it. The audience was really into it and there were many pockets of discussion all over the theater as people were analyzing it in depth. The only problem with seeing the movie first thing is I had to patiently wait for my few monster-movie friends to see it as well so we could compare thoughts. Looking forward to the sequel!
It began slowly, like a tiny leak in an exercise ball, my enthusiasm for Operation Suck Less 2014 began to wane. Eating healthy became unappealing. Exercise became tedious. I struggled but managed to continue for several days when suddenly, I went completely flat and every ounce of motivation evaporated from my body. Nothing was left but an overwhelming desire to nap and nap hard. No silly power nap would do, I wanted the kind of nap where my face becomes part of the pillow and I wake up disoriented and trying to decide if my need to eat or go to the bathroom is greater than my need to just go back to sleep.
So after barely making it through my morning swim on Monday, I told myself it was okay to not make my daily walking goal and took several back-to-back naps. My kitty seemed to approve and the pillow crease in my face was deep. It felt good.
I knew this was a slippery slope; once off the crazy exercise train, it can be hard to get back on track. There was a part of me wanting to push on, ignore my desire to rest and go through the motion until the motivation miraculously returned. That part of me was convinced to shut up by the rest of me that wanted a nap. Maybe a rest would rejuvenate me and really what would 9,000 less steps actually mean in the long-term.My healthy eating took a similar detour. I didn’t go full on chips and cake gorging but I had some greasy Chinese and load of peanuts.
All of this happened while telling myself that this was temporary and I would start anew tomorrow.
Then tomorrow came and it was more of the same. Naps. Lounging. No exercise. Eating borderline crap.
And now it is another tomorrow. I want to just go back to bed but I have so much to get done today. I want to skip my morning swim and Pilates but I think I would feel better if I participated. I will be out of town this weekend so my routine will be interrupted then, maybe I should just wait until next week to get back on track. Or maybe I should make the most of these next couple days. What to do…what to do…