April 5, 2009

The Eyes to Butt Pleasure Ratio

The title of this did not sound at ALL dirty in my head. But then I see it out there on the blog in black and yellow – yeah---it looks filthy, actually, But the entry I assure you is not foul. Unless you consider “Exercise” to be a four letter word.

Endorphins are my drug of choice. I genuinely LIKE to get my heart rate up and hold it for extended periods. If genetics had been kinder (or if I had a modicum of self control when it came to potatoes) I would have a killer figure. As it stands, however, beneath my delicate coating of red-wine-and chocolate induced lady-padding, you can USUALLY find a fearsome amount of cardio fitness.

I hike, I go to boot camp classes, and I paddle-paddle-paddle my elliptical 5 – 7 times a week. Usually I put SONGS on when I paddle. I do not particularly LIKE songs*, but if I get on the dance channel the fast beat sets my rhythm and clears my head and short cuts me down into the world of my book. The songs fades to a useful background noise that controls the speed of my feet, and I get busy seeing ghosts and shooting things.

But I had that LONG bout of illness where if I got my heartrate over 100, I would cough until I vomited. SEXY! After 5 weeks of Whooping Cough induced sloth, my poor body felt like a sack of flounders. A mere twenty minutes of paddling my elliptical would leave me panting, and after, my body felt like a sack of ANGRY dead flounders, red and sore and pulsing with bad dead fish juju. It was hard to stay on longer than 30 minutes at a pop, and I was doing my evenings of boot camp at a draggy walk, yards and multiple reps behind the rest of the class.

I am bouncing back, though! Oh yes I am. But Slowly. Staying on the elliptical for my usual 45 - 50 minutes has been a challenge. SO…I decided to get some very good things to SEE WITH MY EYES to distract me while I made my muscles remember that they used to work out every day. I netflixed a BUNCHA high energy looking films, including SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I REALLY wanted to see it in the theater, but my dates to go kept getting cancelled or superseded by DEADLY (!!!) yet OBSOLETE ILLNESSES.

When it came last week, it was the first thing I put in. The deal I made with myself in my head was, the movie could only PLAY while I paddled. If I stopped paddling, I had to stop watching. Beloveds – I went 72 minutes before my calves started cramping and I had to hit pause and dismount. THAT MOVIE IS SO SO GOOD. I watched the entire long thing in two whopping great sessions, paddling like a crazed loon as it was so suspenseful and violent,and now I am SO sore the flounders have all been replaced by crackling bags of ZOMBIE BEES.

Completely worth it. I have not liked a movie so much since...A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, starring ALL of Viggo Mortenson, even a couple of his more...er...jouncy parts that I wish had remained a mystery.

You may hear it called the feel good movie of the year, which, okay -- I can see that. But SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is very violent and upsetting and harrowing. It is a brutal portrait of what it’s like to grow up in the slums of India---and I would NEVER go see THAT film, you know? A REALISTIC PORTRAIT OF HUMAN MISERY! Um...NO THANK YOU! But this film---the director uses Bollywood conventions and Epic Love Poem plotlines as a candy shell, a shell so sweet that after people talk about how hopeful and uplifting and human it is and THEY ARE RIGHT. Mostly. And yet I came away with the same strange feeling of being shown something true and human hidden inside the EPIC POEM-ness of it...same kind of feeling that I had after listening to THE KITE RUNNER on audiobook.

You should see it. I wasn't able to take my eyes off it, and now my butt is reaping the refirming benefits.

*Some of you insist that you are SURE I must secretly really, actually, truly like songs. I think it’s not fathomable to people who REALLY like songs that someone can be as soulless and unmoved by them as I am.

It’s okay. I feel the same way about chocolate:

I have met people who claim that they do not HATE chocolate, and who say they will eat a little here and there with a modicum of bored pleasure, but they say the chocolate has zero to negligible effect on their mood, their pleasure centers, their taste buds, and their post-chocolate-eating emotional state. They say they won’t go out of their way to AVOID chocolate, but they do not seek it out.

THOSE people are all clearly deluded, or perhaps robots. *nodnodnod*

Posted by joshilyn at April 5, 2009 6:24 PM

Joshilyn, I agree with you about Slumdog Millionaire. Harrowing and excellent. As for songs - do you mean all songs, or just the ones that you usually hear at the gym? Back when I was working out, I used to enjoy playing reggae through my headset. Or Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones album - but most of the songs I heard over the loudspeakers were just annoying. Good luck on your Back to Fitness journey.

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at April 5, 2009 6:38 PM

GREAT. Now I must have chocolate. And Slumdog. Neither is here - and both are obsession worthy. Oy Vay.

But I am happy you are cardio-kicking it up a notch again! Mainly cause your healthy heart and suchness is critical to my future reading happiness!

My cousin April is a WoW boot-camper in Athens. You people scare me! : )

Posted by: bowdawg at April 5, 2009 6:40 PM

Ha! I agree with you about the chocolate for sure! And Slumdog is on my list :)

Posted by: Heather at April 5, 2009 9:49 PM

Yes, I think anyone who claims to not enjoy chocolate must be a robot. Or perhaps just controlled by alien mind-rays from space. There's certainly no earthly explanation, right?

Posted by: ccr in MA at April 5, 2009 10:04 PM

Stop talking about chocolate. I just embarked on Mission: Be Less of a Whale Before We Open the Pool. So far my butt is LOSING, and by "losing" I do not mean "shrinking," I mean "giving in to chocolate and cellulite." Sigh.

Posted by: Mir at April 5, 2009 10:20 PM

Oh you are so good. I have recently been discussing butts with some friends, and we have decided that it is a bad thing if a butt appears to be growing snack trays off to the sides. I am moving from overweight toward downright FAT; some people develop double chins,but I have gone a whole different direction. If I were to exercise in shorts (and I assure you that will NOT happen THIS year!!), one might notice what I not-at-all-fondly call "Mini-Butt," my EXTRA--ahem--flabby area.

Where do you get your willpower to exercise for 72 minutes? And does that store have an outlet near me?

Good for you! (Fie, I say FIE, on me.)


Posted by: Jennifer at April 5, 2009 10:36 PM

You know, I have been reading your blog for yonks, and could never fathom how you could "not particularly LIKE songs" and yet...

*hangs head in shame*

I'm not that enamored of chocolate. And I bet no one understands that!

Posted by: ellbee at April 5, 2009 11:29 PM

Oh dear. Yes. I said MULTIPLE times to my besty Amber "I thought this was supposed to be heartwarming?!?!?!" And it was. But not before it took my heart, ripped into tiny little shreds of cardiac muscle, stomped the shreds, set them on fire, and then used modeling glue to put all the pieces back together IN EXACTLY THE RIGHT WAY.

I was exhausted after watching that movie, and I only sat on my butt...

Ms. J. You crack me up.

Posted by: Molly at April 6, 2009 1:13 AM

Does READING about your feats of cardio-ness count as a workout?

I have to confess, I also thought that you needed to only be shown the right songs. When I really should know better! No, I'm not the anti-chocolate person, but I freakishly don't like coffee, dancing, or any kind of sport whatsoever, and don't grasp how anyone would. It's a wonder the villagers haven't stoned me to death yet.

Posted by: Brigitte at April 6, 2009 6:50 AM

I have seen you eat...you have more than a modicum of self-control. And I have seen you exercise...it made me sore to watch you. And you do have a killer figure. Just ask your husband.

People who don't like chocolate? Are just...wrong.

Posted by: Amy-Go at April 6, 2009 9:23 AM

Delurking to say that my mother swears up and down that I was switched at birth because I do not much care for chocolate.

If only I *also* didn't care for cake, then, maybe, my body would look like someone who didn't have to fight the chocolate battle. *sigh*

Posted by: Damsel at April 6, 2009 9:25 AM

Congrats on getting back in shape. I, too, have begun. Just spent way more than I should joining a gym and I'm meeting with my trainer for the first time tonight. Yikes!

I don't get people that don't like to READ! How can you not like to read???

Posted by: Erin at April 6, 2009 11:24 AM

I also love to work out and love to eat.....chocolate for sure and just about every thing else :-)
I'm puzzled and have to ask....just what are you "paddling"??

Posted by: cindy at April 6, 2009 11:55 AM

I LOVED "A History of Violence" (and totally agree on the jouncy bits - I'd have preferred him to remain a man of mystery in those particular areas). You've given me the best reason to see "Slumdog Millionaire" I've heard so far...

Posted by: Liz at April 6, 2009 12:58 PM

You are so right about the chocolate. I know people who are allergic to chocolate who say they wish they could eat it and crave it all the time, even though it will make them break out in hives. If that is not proof that everyone secretly likes chocolate, despite their claims, I do not know what is.

That is a great strategy for the elliptical. I wish I had an elliptical in my room so I could do the same. At the gym there are like ten tvs on, all on different channels at the same time, and the volume is turned down super low and there are closed-captioning subtitles. I am not coordinated enough to read and walk/run/cycle at the same time. I usually get on the treadmill in front of the CNN tv and attempt to read the headlines. I avoid the MTV tv at all costs. MTV without sound is even worse than MTV with sound, because there is no one to explain what is going on, and left to my own conclusions, I CANNOT think of sane reasons for the images before my eyes.

Posted by: Haley at April 6, 2009 1:13 PM

I'm not a big song fan, either. My iPod is chock full o' audiobooks, without a single tune among them. I only listen to books when I go out walking (or on my commute to and from work, but that's only 15 minutes), so I'm one of the few people who can say that books are responsible for the rather good shape I'm currently in. (I listened to most of "gods" during an eight-mile walk to and from our local library, for instance. LOVED IT.)

But then again, I'm also a like-but-don't-love chocolate person--gimme something fried or salted...or fried AND salted...any day. So I've probably just lost you forever. Well, it was a beautiful friendship while it lasted, no?

Posted by: TC at April 6, 2009 4:44 PM

I just returned to NYC from Colorado-- and I DIED in the step class I tried to take there. And then my sister took my hiking and I DIED again. And on the elliptical, I swear, someone sucked all the oxygen out of the gym. Felt like I wasn't moving at all, but my HR was 170+. I'm headed out right now to see if I will suddenly have awesome stamina at sea level.

Posted by: elizabeth at April 6, 2009 7:15 PM

My son tells me I'm a "disgrace to sound." My students stare at me with abject horror. My friends mock me openly. For I do not like the music. I do not have the music in me. And I do not have the music in my iPod. But I have me some delicious books in there. If the books were food, they would be chocolate. They make me walk miles and miles so I can listen to them. And then I can eat REAL chocolate of the milk persuasion.

Yay us!

Posted by: Penny at April 6, 2009 10:13 PM

Recently I was trying to meet a deadline for an article and I turned on some loud eighties music in my office to drown out the household distractions. The music started and my 16 year old daughter ran down the stairs, opened the office door, became very wide-eyed, closed the door and went to tell her Dad she "was concerned about my behaviour" and asked him if he knew what was wrong with me!

Apparently I too am not usually moved by music.

Posted by: Anette at April 7, 2009 11:18 AM

I use the elliptical at my gym, but I've thought about getting one for home for the very reason you write about here--to watch DVDs and therefore work out longer! What kind do you have?

Posted by: Susan Cushman at April 7, 2009 1:05 PM

You are not alone, Birthday Sister. I do not like the songs.

I do not like new CDs, I do not like MP3s.
I do not like them in the car,
I do not like them at the bar.
I do not like a funky beat,
I do not like the Boys Back Street.

Okay. I'll stop. You get the idea.

Posted by: CityGirl at April 7, 2009 1:31 PM

Those said non chocolate lovers you mentioned. There are two in my family. One being my 11 year old son the other being my sister. Though my son will eat is on occasion, there are times he will turn it down.

Posted by: Audi at April 8, 2009 12:59 AM

But can you mix the endorphins with the chocolate for that truly euphoric high? Hmmm? Yes?

Oh Yes! (gets me through an entire day of homeschooling the boys!)

Posted by: Patti at April 9, 2009 10:14 AM

Wasn't it Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortenson where we see ALL OF HIS JIGGLY BITS? I literally had to avert my eyes because my husband was in the room, lol...

Posted by: Heather Cook at April 11, 2009 6:35 PM

I don't like to be critical, nor do I post comments on a regular basis, but I felt the need to voice my opinion on Mrs. Jackson's book "gods in Alabama". I was looking forward to a lazy day of reading this book and as I was flipping through it, I found a lot of language that I did not care to be reading. I usually give the books I read to my friends or to the Salvation Army, but I found this book unsuitable for either one.

Posted by: Katie Brown at April 12, 2009 4:21 PM