weather related exercise

My workout today was snow-related: I couldn’t shirk because there’s supposed to be  a snowstorm tomorrow (6-10 inches), and if it’s bad, I’ll stay home. I wondered if there would be a crowd at the gym–sort of like hitting the grocery store and buying up carts full of toilet paper and beer before a storm, but no. It was me and 3 high school boys, a couple of guys on the treadmills, a tiny old (by which I mean older than me) woman who monopolized the sit-up machine, and a hockey class in the basketball court.

I was working on my arms today, and wondering why my biceps look fine but the triceps are lagging. Actually jiggling. Wondering also why this is something peculiar to women. Is there some evolutionary reason that women’s arms start to go soft below? What am I being naturally selected for? If there’s a team that requires squishy triceps, I don’t want to be picked.

When the tiny old woman (just over 5 feet, I estimate) was done with the sit up machine, she began  a complicated series of exercises which she performed standing on the mat by the wall mirror. She shrugged her shoulders, made circles with her arms, bent forward from the waist, and jigged in place, all the while smiling as if she were the host of her own fitness show.

She made me think of Paige Palmer, who used to exercise on TV in Cleveland wearing a leotard, her blonde hair in a well-hair-sprayed swirl. We had a black and white TV, so I thought her hair was gray. I was mildly impressed that someone who seemed to be a grandmother was wearing fishnet stockings (as she sometimes did) and doing jumping jacks.  My grandmother wore flowered cotton dresses, black lace-up shoes, and by the time I knew her, did nothing more strenuous than walk from the kitchen to the front room (to be fair she was 80-ish at the time). Exercise was not something respectable older people did then. My mother’s aerobic action took place in the house and the yard: scrubbing the floor, using the wringer washing machine, mowing the lawn. Paige was as odd as a space alien at the time, but apparently she was a harbinger of the future, for here I am, at an advanced if not ancient age, trying to get rid of the jiggle, wearing dedicated exercise clothes (no leotard, no fishnets).

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vegetable glam

Yesterday I used some of the Mustard Seed Market bounty to make lentil soup, which we ate with some of Dean’s bread-machine bread. We congratulated ourselves on our healthy dinner, meant to offset the baconfest at brunch.

It’s-Still-Sort-of-Winter Lentil Soup

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 carrot, 1 apple, and 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 large leaves kale, rib removed and chopped small
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • a few splashes of hot sauce

Saute onions in olive oil. Add kale, carrots, lentils, and broth – simmer about 10 minutes. Add potato and apple, simmer 10-15 minutes more, until lentils are just tender (this depends a bit on the particular lentils, so you have to spoon out a few and test them). Add orange juice, spices, and finish with hot sauce to taste. An easy and very good for you dinner. Serves 2, with leftovers for next day’s lunch.

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health by association

Gym today: arms. My triceps are still lagging, or to be honest, jiggling. The pull-up machine is killing me.

But the news of the day is that I made a visit to the Mustard Seed Market – an organic foods emporium. I bought kale, multi-colored carrots, exotic mushrooms, and some carrot juice (also a carrot cupcake, but it was gluten-free and totally organic).

The best thing about going there is the wonderful assortment of healthy food–really nice produce, interesting organic products, some local. But a side benefit is that it makes me feel more healthy – as if just shelling out $63.41 has improved my fitness and immune system.

When I was browsing in the baking aisle, two women were fervently discussing whether or not it was worth it to grind one’s own flour. How could I not be healthier after spending time in such an atmosphere? (Although I’m not planning to do any flour-grinding.)

When I came home, we had pan-sauteed wild-caught ocean perch (sustainable, of course), boiled potatoes with a dab of organic butter, snow peas and carrots, and then shared a pack of Paul Newman dark chocolate peanut butter cups, because a little chocolate is a healthy and wonderful thing.

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Yesterday at the gym I worked on my legs. One of the gym regulars was there–a man, probably in his late 30s/early 40s. I have terrible gym envy of him, because he can lift the whole stack of weights on most of the machines. I don’t need to do this, I’m never going to be able to do this, I wouldn’t have been able to do this even if I was 30 years younger–but I still feel a tinge of green when I watch him do it out of the corner of my eye. He doesn’t even seem to be breathing hard.

However, I will record my stats; as in-comparison pitiful as they are, they’re good for me. On the leg press: 125 lbs. On the leg extension: 100 lbs. On the leg curl: 87.5 pounds (apparently the front of my legs is stronger than the back). On the hip abduction: 7 bars (they don’t have weight marked on them–how confusing is that?). On hip adduction: 9 bars; shouldn’t the insides and outsides of my thighs/hips be able to do the same amount of weight? apparently not.

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weekend workout

Today was sunny–cold but not freezing. D and I went to the park to walk at the Snow Rd. park, where the path runs along the creek, which was high from snowmelt. This was the 1st time I’d done any significant hiking sinced before Xmas. It was almost intoxicating–the air, the cold rising off the creek, the sight of a half dozen ducks floating on the brown water.

Then later–the gym, where I worked on my arms. The Y is always oddly uncrowded on weekends, unless there are basketball playoffs. There was me; the curly haired boy who gives tours of the workout room to prospective members; the couple he was showing around; a couple of teenage girls, who were walking backward on the treadmills and giggling; and a guy who was doing something with the medicine balls. (Why are they called medicine balls? What is medicinal about them?)

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sunny day

Today my exercise was situational, which means that I walked across campus 3 times for a couple of distant meetings. And then I walked around the grocery store looking for things to take to my aunt’s house for her dinner (stuffed cabbage, roasted potatoes), plus other stuff: some wine (Bon Anno cab), a hyacinth, Kleenex.

This would have been a perfect day to walk on the all purpose path at the park, since it was sunny, breezy, and in the 60s, but instead I had an obligation first to the stem cell seminar and 2nd to a discussion of basic writing techniques.

Totally healthy dinner though: seared tuna, sauteed onions, boiled potatoes, and brussel sprouts.

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is it still February?

After 2 skipped gym days (work is cutting into my exercise time), I had to go today. It was a total cardio day: 15 minutes on the elliptical, 15 on the treadmill, and 20 on the bike. I had a book, which was good because there was no basketball to watch.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if I was one of those people who get up early and exercise first, before they go to work. If I was, I could just go home and flop on the couch and eat a few bonbons. But I am so not one of those people. I hate getting up early and the only thing I really like to do in the morning is read, silently, while not talking to anyone. One of the good things about my job is that I don’t have to be there early–if I get there before 10 everyone is amazed. So I’m never going to be at the gym at 6 AM. It’s good to know your limits. 

Sometimes I stretch in the morning and call it yoga–that’s the best I can do.

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