My Legs Aren’t Beautiful, Hence Why I Listen to Christina Aguilera Tuesday, February 21st

Me legs aren’t beautiful.

I know that’s not an award-winning discovery, but it’s something you notice when you’ve been going to the gym as much as I have.

Some folks at the gym have really beautiful legs; I fall in the “other” category on that one.

It’s not that I’m vain about my looks or my legs.  Trust me, I’m long past that when my hair packed its bags and decided to head for the drain.

And I know some of you reading may be thinking that its not “manly” to talk about legs not being beautiful.  Well, guess what?  I just spent 30 minutes on an eliptical, have confessed on this blog to not being the strongest guy on the weight bench, and I’ve described in detail how I hate the “ball crunch”, and yet have been doing them as regularly as someone who takes fiber for ball crunching.

In short: I’ve lost the ability to seem manly a while ago.

But the realization that I don’t have beautiful legs came crashing home to me the other day when I ripped my pants.

Yup. Every overweight person’s nightmare played out in the grocery store for all to see.

Now, in my defense, I was trying to hop a turnstile bar because, well, I’m 10 years old at heart.  And although my vertical cleared it, I didn’t account for the crotch of my jeans who didn’t quite clear it.

Tear. Rip. Exposed upper thigh.

And not the cool kind of rip that happens when the Incredible Hulk gets mad or when Hulk Hogan is about to wrestle Randy Savage (may light perpetual shine upon him).

Nope, it was that loud tear that happens when everyone is looking at you as you tried to be cool and jump in front of the really slow lady with the cane because you were in a hurry and, darn it, Mountain Dew waits for no one!

Luckily I was bowing to social conformity that day and had on undergarments (you’re welcome nosy bagger!).

But, I guess that’s what you get when you work your legs out non-stop for two months.  They’re just getting so muscular that my jeans couldn’t take it anymore.

That, or I need to start wearing a belt so that the crotch doesn’t sag.

Oh, and for those of you concerned, I did get my Mountain Dew.

Why?

Because I take Christina Aguilera seriously when she tells me I’m beautiful (including my legs), no matter what the obnoxiously skinny dude by the plant department was saying under his breath as he perused tulips (as if THAT’S manly…).

So, everybody mind their own business.  Just a 31 year old dude in a baggy sweatshirt out to buy some olive oil, Mountain Dew, and some toothpaste.

In short: nothing to see here.  Except ugly legs…

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All Abs, All The Time-Friday, February 17th

“Hey, why don’t we do an all abs routine?”

Sure.  Why the hell not?  I don’t have any, so its now or never in the development stage, I say.  In my 31 years of existence, I’ve only had abs once.  Once.  And the minute I learned how to walk, they went away because they were no longer my dominant muscle group.

The question above was the one Critter asked of me the night before our Wednesday workout this week.  As I assured you faithful readers before (which, I think, consists of random secretaries at my mother-in-laws work, my own mother, my wife’s sweet grandmother, a random friend in California, and the stalker who can only see my musings electronically these days), I have been doing the workouts, even though I’m not finding s much time to blog about them.

Which is really disappointing for me, by the way.  I like writing.  It relaxes me.  It allows me to vent in a way that few other mediums do.  I mean, how else could I adequately describe my hate for the guy who comes to the gym in the tight, short shorts?  There really is no other medium, other than poetry, that would allow me to vent with such flourish.

Actually…

“Tall, hairy legs now

I do not want to see them

Damn you short shorts guy”

That is an original haiku produced just now, and I think it does adequately convey my feelings toward that phenomenon.

So when Critter approached me about an “all abs” workout, I said “Why not?  I’m not expecting to use my abs today.”

And I didn’t.  And haven’t, since.  Seriously, I was pretty sure I had the flu the past 24 hours, but it may actually just be that the casing of muscle that flows over my internal organs was bruised so badly that my body had the flu symptoms of aches, pains, no appetite, and what my doctor friend Nate Little colorfully calls “loose bowels” as an act of protest.

My friend Nate is an awesome doctor, by the way.  He’s about to head into his year as chief resident at the University.  I remember going out for a beer with him one time and we struck up a conversation with some other beer-loving patrons.  Now, when people find out what I do at a bar, all they want to do is confess how they haven’t been to church in a while and then tell me something about their mother that usually causes them to cry.  It’s unpleasant.  But when they hear Nate is a doctor, he always gets the same question, “Oh, what kind of doctor?”

This question opens all sorts of imaginary doors, right?  Especially for someone like me who enjoys a little joke now and then.  But Nate has the answer down pat.  When asked, “What kind of doctor are you?” he invariably replies, “A very bad one.”

And that, as they say, is that.  No one bothers him anymore and he’s free to drink his beer.  So while I’m counseling Suzy Swigger, who has had about three too many brews, through years 6 and 7 of her childhood in the attempt to figure out why she can’t eat lemons (because it reminds her too much of her mother’s hair color), Nate is watching the game and enjoying his beer free from distraction.

Sigh.  One day I will learn to just say that I’m a tax lawyer.  No one ever wants to talk to them.

So this terrible workout Critter had us doing had three components: the part where we jump around like idiots, the part where I hang like a scarecrow, and the part where I say, “alright, I’m done” and walk into the smelly area (locker room).

We’ll begin at the beginning: the jumping.

Burpies. Lots of them.  After 50 pushups (not consecutively…please…), we start jumping up in the air and heading down in push up position.  Apparently this works our abs, although I’m suspicious.  It looks a lot to me like we’re trying to land planes.

And then we do tons of ball crunches.  And then I attempt to do something that I haven’t done in almost 20 years: jump rope.

Now, when I used to jump rope, it was double dutch outside Trinity Lutheran School in Toledo, Ohio. And am I embarrassed that I double dutch?  No.  Because I was good at it.  And I liked rhymes.  Down in the valley where my green grass grew, I was kissing Amanda Z.  That’s how I rolled.

But when you’re in a gym, you don’t double dutch.  Instead you attempt to jump rope by yourself with a flimsy chord, and you fail at it.  A lot.  And the other gym patrons look at you with a mixture of disdain and outright disgust.  “Who let the uncoordinated asshat in?” they ask each other by the water fountain.  All this time I thought they were talking about the Ewok…

That wast the part where we jumped.

And then Critter took these wonderful belts that looked like the back row special at an S & M store, and we went over to one of the huge pull-up contraptions at the gym.  Critter then took said belts, hung them over these two bars, and proceeded to put his arms through the belts in such a way that he was hanging, just by his arms, on this thing.

Oh yeah, and if you think we were doing this with no one else around, think again.  All around us muscle-bound men and women were walking, lifting, staring.

So, we hang by our arms, and then lift our legs up in a straight line using just our abs.  At least, that’s the theory.

Me?  I looked like I was swinging.  Like a misguided scarecrow hung up by my arms, a scene right out Wizard of Oz and I might as well have been singing  “If I only had a brain…” because, at that moment in time, it was surely under question.

After attempting that in 20 counts, twisting my abs so that my “side abs” (obliques for those of you who, like me, aren’t sure you even have muscles there anyway), we went back for terrible “6’s”

“6’s” are where you lay flat on your back and raise both your shoulders and your feet six inches off the ground.  It is as painful as it sounds.  And it makes your abs feel like scrambled eggs.

It was after this that we entered our third phase of the workout, the part where I say, “Ok, I’m done.”  After an hour of concentrated abs work, I was ready to call it quits and go to the smell area.

So abs, if you’re down there, start showing yourself.  I’d hate to have to keep concentrating on you until you make yourself known.  And that is a threat.

Today: I Drank a Beer. Friday, February 10th

Today I drank a beer.

That’s about the exercise that I did today.  I did walk to the liquor store to buy the beer, so I guess that counts.

But, all in all, I drank a beer.

Now, I don’t consider this a bad thing.  I’ve been very good about working out almost every day for a month and a half now: lifting, running, doing variations of running (like the banal elipticizing, spinning, stair climbing), climbing on inflatable balls, throwing my legs up on nylon strings to stretch them.

I’ve been faithful.

So, today I get a beer.

I had planned to work out today, but believe it or not, I think I’ve finally hurt myself.

On Wednesday I went running in my awesome “Five Finger” shoes.  They’re these terribly stylish shoes where each individual toe gets its own sleeve making it look like you’ve painted your feet a different color or shellacked them to go running.

Actually, I find them extremely creepy.

Almost as creepy as the Ewok who lifts in the early morning when Critter and I are there.

Who is the Ewok, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you…

So, to get this reference you first have to be familiar with Star Wars, which means you either were born in the 80’s, are 12, or have an inactive love life.

If you’re still reading you’re a Star Trek fan, the above statement rang true for you, or you’ve overlooked the obvious offense in the hopes that it will pay off.

It won’t.

Anyway, Ewoks are small bear-like creatures who live in Northern California and live in trees.  The important part for this analogy is that they’re furry all over; totally covered in hair.

Enter the Ewok at our gym.

He comes in every morning always wearing the same white tank top which matches the perfectly white hair on the top of his head.  And the top of his arms.  And the top of his shoulders, chest, legs, back, neck.

And that’s I’ll we’ve confirmed, but I imagine there’s a pattern here.

And in addition to the absolute hair coverage, he’s also 5’4.

Pure awesome Ewokness.

To the right there’s a photo I snapped in the workout mirror:

Ok, so that’s not really him, but it looks darn close.

Now, before you think we’re terribly cruel, also know that every time we walk by him Critter and I end up singing the song from the last scene in Return of the Jedi where the Ewoks all dance around with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

So, yeah, we’re terribly cruel.

But to this guy’s credit, while he may not be the best at manscaping, he’s a beast in the gym.  He’s there every morning we’re there, and he’s lifting twice the weight I am…and he’s almost half my size.

So, perhaps the whispering “beechi-wawa” under our breathe is because we’re really jealous.

I hope when I’m in my 50’s I can lift as much as this guy…or at least more than just a beer.

Might not really be a picture

On Inflatable Balls and the Only Sign Language I Know…Wednesday, February 8th

So, I had to take a week off from blogging (although, unfortunately, I did not take a week off from working out).

Short of having one of my eyeballs completely pop out of my head randomly, last week was about the worst week I’ve had in the last three years of work.  And it’s a good thing that an eyeball didn’t pop out because, Lord knows, I could never pick it up to put it back in.  It would have to idle lazily where it fell, looking under the couch, or at my shoe, or wherever it ended up.

If you hadn’t picked this up earlier, I hate eyeballs and the very thought of touching one makes me run for a barf bag.  And, no, I’m not ready to tell that story.  Not yet.

But to catch you up a bit, last week I ran 1 day for 30 minutes, elipticized 2 days for 30 minutes, and only got 1 day of lifting in.  But given the fact that last week I contemplated jumping on the next blimp for Brazil, I consider that a victory.

Did I lose any weight?  Actually, I did.  But I think it was stress induced, not because I actually changed my eating habits (although I’m pretty sure I accidentally skipped a few meals).

But Critter had me doing these hellish lifting exercises last week.  He had us using the dreaded ball.

I used to think balls were innocuous.  Necessary for sports, dumplings, billiards, and to harness the ability to throw snow, I used to think their shape and utility were useful.

They are, in fact, insidious.

…I’m going to let all that double entendre hang there.  (Now it’s a TRIPLE entendre!)

So, we used these huge inflatable balls, and these were the platforms for our various lifting routines.  But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s move back a minute.

Critter and I rolled into the parking lot at the same time.  We both got out of our respective cars, right around 6:30am.  I walked toward him, with the express intent on killing him preemptively before the morning of hell began, but physiology didn’t allow for that.  My small hands don’t fit around his neck.

“I forgot the workout book,” he said.

Not wanting to endure crosstraining again, a series of exercises I have no doubt was developed by the Gulag, I entreated him to head home and retrieve the book.  I would begin with warmups without him.

5 minutes on the eliptical to get the heart rate going.  Then up the stairs to grab a mat and begin ab work.  Supermans and crunches followed.

And then Critter shows back up.  By that time I’d already completed 60 Supermans and 60 crunches and he’s all like, “Well, let’s get started!”

“I have started!”  I exclaim.

“Right.  Burpies.  20.  Let’s go.”  He might as well have said “Let’s build sea-worthy craft out of Tinker Toys.”  20 Burpies with already socked abs and arms was not going to happen.

And yet, I surprised myself.  I was able to mete out 18.  They hurt, though.  Alot.

And then he thought it might be a great idea to do 70 pushups in sets of 9 and 10, with 30 seconds of rest in between sets.  “We have to work on your upper body strength,” he said.  In my mind, though, I imagined him nursing an upper body injury from that place where I beat him bloody with a yoga mat.

Oh yes, I could do it.

But instead I obliged the pushups…although, as Critter said, I “didn’t go down very far.”  Ignoring the “that’s what she said” jokes here, I’ll just admit that my pushups were more like “Hold the body ups and bend the elbows a bit-ups.”

I have no shame.

After all of this, we began the lifting.  Grabbing the 20lb hand weights, we rolled out the huge balls at which point Critter said, “Ok, sit on the ball…”

I laughed.

He continued, “…and we’re going to do chest presses and shoulder presses using the balls.”

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but unless you’re trying really hard to confuse your body, I don’t suggest it.  The fact that your body has to keep balance while lifting 40-50lbs over your head makes it start to spasm in places you didn’t know were alive.  I felt my sides start to quiver; the tops of my legs began to shake.

And I suddenly became self-conscience that someone could look up my shorts at that weird angle.  But that thought took a back seat to the quivering I began to feel in my  biceps as the lifts went on, and I had this terrible image of me dropping one of these weights on my head and passing out cold.

In this vision, when the ambulance arrived, the EMT would say thoughtfully to the gym manager, “Well, it’s a good thing he could only lift 20lbs.  Otherwise, he might have died.”  At which point the manager would go back to wet vacing the blood, and I would live through the event with the great embarrassment that I survived a direct blow to the head only because my upper body is underdeveloped.

Sigh.

Luckily I was able to keep the quivering in check, and therefore skip having that vision become a reality.  All in all, it was not a bad workout.  The tension that comes with lifting on a huge inflatable ball really does work a lot of muscles, and it kept me from the terror of the weight bench at least for one day…even if I did have visions of death.

You know, it’s amazing the visions that I have when I’m working out.  I don’t know if its the extra blood going to my brain or the sheer boredom of the whole thing, but I think up crazy things while exercising.

Take yesterday, for example.  As I was running 3 miles and rocking out to my ipod, I must have somehow envisioned that I was the only one in the gym.  How do I know?  Because I started doing sign language to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” at mile 1.2.

(If you want to learn to sign the song, just click here)

“What’s that doing on your ipod?” you might ask, to which I would respond, “Mind your own business.”

Regardless of how it got on there, I was rocking out to it.  And at just over a mile, it came in handy.  As I was making butterfly motions toward the grand windows that face Montrose Avenue, however, I realized that I was gaining an audience.  The two people running to my left were viewing me suspiciously.

If I were to re-vision this, I would imagine them being able to hear the music too and, being ultimately inspired by the teeny-pop awesomeness that is that song, they would nod their heads and begin to imagine the “Hollywood sign” and lamenting that they had missed the “high heels memo” as well.

There we would be, all nodding our heads like “yeah” as we ran the pounds away.

But, reality was much less exciting and much more cruel.  After I noticed them looking at me at the second repeat of the chorus, they sheepishly smiled and gave a little chortle.  And they weren’t laughing with me.

I just smiled back and signed to them “thank you.”

Other than the lyrics to “Party in the USA,” it’s the only sign language I know.

Last week in review:

Cardio: 3 days

Lifting: 1 day

Meditation: 2 intense days

Flossing: Semi-regular…starting to step up that game.

Weight at the beginning of the week: 231

Weight at the end of the week: 229