I miss Creampuff.
He is a young, blonde, handsome personal trainer who tolerated me, even on the days when I would sweat nothing but vodka.
I am missing him because this week I went to the gym (and did yoga!) for the first time in more than 2 years. Even though I walk on average 3 miles a day because I am living life with no car, I went to the GYM. Creampuff would be so proud of me.
For 18 months, I have been recovering from a horrific abdominal surgery in which a skilled surgeon more or less sawed me in half, effectively removing masses of scar tissue that had been limiting my movements for at least 6 months prior to that. The good news is that I no longer have daily pain; I rarely have a day when I even think about my GI tract, which to someone plagued over the years (almost 20) is nothing short of a miracle. The bad news is that I now have a rather healthy, large ass.
Before the pain had become daily (read: unbearable) I actually worked out bi-weekly with Creampuff, a cherub-faced young man so-named because he looked to me like a dream-faced teen crooner from the 1950s. He was too damn cute, but genuine in his efforts to help me relocate my abs and curb my drinking; he took pains to teach me equipment and techniques that wouldn’t hospitalize me when I did them solo. We never once referenced or discussed the reduction of the Sisters without him blushing (how cute is that, right?) and even though we became friends, he was a tough trainer.
He was newly married and they had a Chihuahua that ruled their house because his wife seemed incapable of training it. I often felt that the advice he asked me about conditioning and training dogs was likely implemented in his house on his wife.
They moved to California for him to pursue his Master’s degree dream,
and with his Beach Bingo looks, he will most likely never return to the east coast.
I have been thinking about Creampuff lately, because my life has finally taken on a rhythm into which I can add (and actually do) regular exercise, including (squeal!) swimming. According to my GP in the US, I am overweight (no shock there) but I have the heart and lungs of a 27 year old, low cholesterol, and the blood pressure of a zombie. I do not take a single prescription medicine. I drink (too much) I smoke (cigars) and I believe that life is too short for diets. But I do believe in hauling your ass to the gym every now and then. I think Creampuff would agree that there is no reason I couldn’t be a size 6 again.
I have friends who SWEAR by the Paleo-life. That’s great. But so is sourdough bread. And bourbon.
Heart disease runs in my family, as do struggles with obesity. I am not being flippant here about people who NEED DIETS. Obesity is (and I am not making a joke here) not a problem to be taken lightly, and if you live in a southern US state, you are statistically at the greatest risk for obesity in the country that has the fattest population in the world (1).
I know an obese woman who is so careless with her health that she is about as wide as she is tall; she complains about headaches, back aches and knee problems, (and more) but never does anything about it, through diet or exercise, when she desperately needs both. Why would you live in pain if you could something about it? She claims work, stress, kids, blah blah blah. I’ve never understood how someone can be that lazy, but it’s also habit, too, isn’t it? “The problem that got you into the gym didn’t happen overnight, so you can’t undo it overnight,” says Price, who co-authored the book The Idiots’ Guide to Functional Training.(2) Getting in shape feels overwhelming, and habits are so hard to break, including the ones where you sit on the couch and eat snacks on the daily. I get it. And motivation is key. But if it’s important to you, you find a way to do it, right? (And we’re back full circle to being lazy…)
Part of the reason I don’t believe in diets (for ME) is that I have good eating habits; many developed through hard years of surviving cancer treatments, during which certain foods were simply not possible, and becoming educated about nutrition was synonymous with survival. I’ve been known to go meatless for 3 months, just to give my lower GI a break. And Hurricane is to be given some credit here. The pantry of my childhood never held any snack that had Little Debbie’s face; I was raised to grow and eat vegetables. I am a damn fine cook, and I have better-than-average eating habits, admittedly. And, most recently, my body’s digestive-sensitivity to GMOs has been aided further by moving to a country that has growing restrictions on GM foods and has “opted out” of growing them (3).
So exercise is the path for me. I know this path. I am counting on muscle-memory to help me on this path. I will not “get crazy with it”, as Caddy likes to tell me. (I have the torn rotator cuff from an adult swim team experience two years ago to remind me of that one.)
My friend Ben, in his mid-life crisis, became an ultra-runner.
This is a photo taken of Ben in a race that traversed the SAHARA Desert. #definitionofinsanity
You can learn more about this and his latest craziness on his blog http://www.pussyfootingaround.net,
and also in his up-coming memoir.
Ben had been cautioned by doctors to change his poor (diet and exercise) habits and when he committed to it, boy did he ever. Moved from Kent to Monaco.
Generally speaking, I support all lifestyle changes that involve relocating to the Cote D’Azur.
But, like our recent move, even this is not without its complications and stresses, and he dealt with his through running. ULTRA running. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. And his transformation, mentally, spiritually, and (of course) physically is truly inspiring.
I’ve never been a fan of running, mostly because since the Sisters arrived in 9th grade, it’s one of the most awkward (even painful) activities to do. Do you see many women with big boobs running? Of course not.
Additionally, most workout gear is ill-fitted to any woman with more than a C-cup, so any woman out there without the body of a 13 year old feels my pain. Victoria’s Secret workout gear is a prime example of this nonsense. Have you seen this product line? (4) It looks great on the 5’11” size zero with implants, but in reality, how exactly do you think a tube top would look like on a pair of droopy boobs worthy of a National Geographic cover? (Trust me, it’s not pretty.)
As an adult, I grew to hate running and runners, because in no other sport to its participants attempt to suck you into their world using methods similar to cult recruitment.
As far as cult ratings, runners are the tops (worst) with tennis players coming in a close second.
Crossfitters, while zealous in their devotion, are mid-list overall, despite the fact that
they have more than their share of socio-economic (and otherwise) snobs.
But I see a Tough Mudder everyman-crossover that so far has prevented the Crossfitter Culture from Complete Cult Status.
Swimmers do not tell you that chlorine is life-changing and openly insinuate that your life will never be fully realized if you don’t join an aquatics club immediately. Yogis respect your life choices without condescension and judgement; they do not promote their success in a difficult pose with a trendy milestone bumper-sticker. People who play basketball or soccer or baseball /softball well into adulthood do not roll their eyes at the non-athletic adults on the sidelines; they gladly drink beer with them after games. On the snobbery hierarchy of fit adults, Runners are on top (being the worst lot to consort with) and Bowlers are the lowest (My People).
Runners will not only put great effort into selling you on it, but will look down their Cult Membership fit noses at you if you don’t. And Lord have mercy on your soul if you have a big dog and don’t jog with it. Then you are a special kind of moron in their eyes, and they throw hollow pity in your dog’s direction, and rest-assured, you will never get invited to their Fourth of July BBQs. Additionally, women over 35 who job tend to not to have day jobs. They jog at 2 in the afternoon before the kids get home from school and I see them on my lunch hour; I burn with elitist hatred and fight the urge to run them over with my car.
I fully appreciate the dedication and training that go into being a runner. Especially one who runs seriously, in marathons for instance. The ones with real bodies and real sweat and no push-up bras.
These are women are a shape I could never be without serious surgeries.
I have not had hip bones that narrow since I was 12. You cannot be voluptuous and run the Boston Marathon.
I’m sure my 12 readers have comments on this. And I welcome them all.
These women (in the Boston pic above, and all marathon runners) are incredible and deserve respect. And I will gladly give it them.
So long as they don’t try to recruit me, thank you very much.
In the meantime, I will waddle (er, walk) my ass to the gym and find me a new training buddy (a woman this time I think) and watch the latest episode of Orange is the New Black while I sweat vodka on the elliptical. Creampuff-approved.
(1) Borrell, Luisa N., and Lalitha Samuel. “Body mass index categories and mortality risk in US adults: the effect of overweight and obesity on advancing death.”American journal of public health 3 (2014): 512-519.
(2) Admittedly, I am not sure if this book is being marketed as a “complete guide”, in that it is comprehensive, or that it’ target audience is being identified as total morons “completes idiots) but many of the basic principles are sound, and could satisfy both criteria.
(3) Varela, J. C. (2014). Opt-out Clause in the Cultivation of GMOs Is Closer (Or Not). J. Risk Reg., 359.
Scotland to ban GM crop growing (BBC) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-33833958
(4) Kate Hudson can also KISS MY ASS.