August 2012


I got thinking this morning, always a scary proposition in itself. When I was in high school, I weighed thirty pounds less than I do now. In 1970, that meant I wore a size 10. Today, thirty (okay 32.4) pounds heavier, I wear a size 8. Welcome to marketing.

I guess we all feel better about our size when we are told Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12. I wear a smaller size than her, so I must be okay – we tell ourselves that, but really … when she wore a size 12 was even before I was wearing a size 10. Wearing a size 12 today does not make you the same size (or shape) as Marilyn Monroe.

I remember the first time I went shopping and could fit in the size 5/6 shorts. I was so happy to be in this very small size that I bought several pairs of them. When I showed up at a Christmas party in a beautiful dress, I kept telling people to check out the size tag at the back – size 5.

I didn’t weigh any less or look any different than when the label said 7/8 or simply 8. But I felt thinner or sleeker wearing a smaller size. Excellent marketing.

Today, I wear a size 8. If every ten pounds means another size increase, I should be wearing a size 16 in Marilyn Monroe sizing – at least. If I was in a size 16, what would an obese person be wearing? Tent? Muumuu?

I’ve read about our piggishness and increased consumption of just about every dang thing. I’m including a picture of our sugar consumption. The amount of sugar found in ONE 12-ounce soda is the same as a 19th century American ate in five days. And there are enough sodas consumed here that it figures out to one soda every seven hours. (I personally don’t drink sodas, so someone is getting my share of that sugar.)

Sugar consumption over time

This article from the USDA is even scarier. We are eating more calories in every single category. Chart after chart shows increases. But the scariest increase (to me) is that for high fructose corn syrup – the sweetener in just about every damn thing. These charts show increases from just fifty years. From 1950-59 there was zero consumption. In the year 2000, there was 63.8 pounds per capita consumed.

This journey I have started on isn’t going to be as easy as I hoped. Not because CrossFit is so difficult (I had accounted for that), but because my food availability is so horrendous. No wonder we are all so fat. The food is killing us.

Picture you local grocery store. There are a few aisles of fresh produce, maybe. There is one aisle of fresh meat, a dairy case for refrigerated items, and then row after row after row of processed, easy-to-use garbage. Items proclaiming “LOW FAT” which contain a chemical shitstorm and that ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup are all over the store.

I don’t use a lot of packaged food items, but I use enough. I’m going to have to overhaul my diet as well as my activity level. All that and I have to drink more water. I can do this.

I’m not perfect yet. I’m not even competent yet, but what I really expect of myself is perfection. I’m fairly picky about other people, too. But for myself, nothing less than perfection is acceptable. The only real problem with that is that nobody is perfect.

For some odd reason, I thought I was going to be able to go from doing nothing to being fit and sleek in just under 27 nanoseconds. I have no idea why I would even consider this as an option, but inside my head is this much younger, once athletic person. That person has been sitting around eating chocolate and is hidden somewhere for now.

I once had cut muscles, definition, low body fat, and stamina. For some odd reason, my inner dictator (ID) is expecting that old me to show up NOW. And then my ID is expecting this old coot person to immediately learn absolutely never-been-done-before things with grace and alacrity.

Because I’m still (relatively speaking) thinnish, I think that I should be relatively fit. I think a lot of us believe fitness and thin/thick are positively correlated. They really aren’t. My thinking brain knows this. My thinking brain realizes that it has been 18 years and one month since I played racquetball for nine to ten hours a week. I’ve stayed thinnish because of good genes.

My feeling brain keeps being absolutely amazed by the fact that I still suck at CrossFit. My thinking brain is over there screaming, “Three sessions; you have been there for three sessions. You moron. Did you really think you could counteract decades in three sessions?”

And the saddest part is that my feeling brain replies, “Yes.”

Things to do to make this work better include drinking more water, eating more protein, drinking more water, stretching, drinking more water, keep returning, and drinking more water.

Failing isn’t in the falling down. Failure comes when you don’t get back up. I know this. Still, my feeling brain is appalled that I have fallen down. My inability doesn’t match my inner ideal of perfection. It isn’t even just an ideal. I need for me to be perfect. I’m appalled at any mistake I make ever and always.

The easiest way to make no mistakes is to never try anything new. If I keep doing what I’m good at, I can make far fewer mistakes. Instead, I’m pushing myself both physically and emotionally/spiritually in this new direction. I’m challenging myself to something much different than I have ever done before. I have never, ever lifted a barbell before I walked into CrossFit. But I have now.

Yesterday, my warm up was to run 200 meters. I knew where to go to get to the 100 meter mark and then turn around and come back. I made it halfway back before I had to start walking. My heart rate was 155 and I could barely catch my breath. It was 87 degrees out there with a heat index of 95. I’m 59 years old. I’m new at this (I have never run for distance in my life either. Running around a court is spurts of movement, but not constant running). I can make a list of excuses, but the miserable fact is I failed.

Unless I can think of this as a success, I’m going to be miserable. I’ve heard it said that what happens isn’t important. What IS important is what we tell ourselves about what happened. So what can I tell myself about this 150 out of 200 meter run?

Well, I didn’t just grab my keys, head to the car, and leave. I stayed put and got my heart rate down a bit and pushed on. That’s a plus right there. It would be much easier to never go back, to never push myself this way. There are so many things I can do that it seems silly, especially at my age, to even attempt this.

So that’s a win. I’m going back. This time, on a Saturday morning, we will see if cooler works better for me.

I’m going to suck at this. I’m going to suck at this for a long time. But, and here is the tricky part, if I keep going back eventually I will suck less.

I have to somehow give myself permission to fail, to be imperfect, to be totally suckass. Then maybe I can grow enough to master this.

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

First published at RGQ this morning.

My son began his gym rat days as a sophomore in high school, at the age of 15. Since that time, he has tried many different types of gym things. He has tried extreme fitness stuff and been so muscled he was lumpy.

Today, he is owner and head coach at CrossFit Hilton Head. I am linking to his webpage because it can explain what CrossFit is much better than I can. There are several pages, different links, movies of athletes at his “box,” and much more.

My son has competed in several garage games and even hosted one at Hilton Head this summer. Athletes are dedicated to total fitness, not just one facet. It isn’t just weight lifting or strength training. It isn’t just endurance. It isn’t just cardio or just mobility. It is ten different facets of fitness all built in one place.

Those who come to the box are athletes. And they are helped to achieve “broad, general, and inclusive” fitness. The specialist excels in one arena, often to the detriment of other facets of overall fitness. At the box, all types of fitness are enhanced.

And it isn’t just fitness. There is also a focus on nutrition with an emphasis on the Paleo diet. And it isn’t just that … but a sense of community and cohesiveness. Athletes (not members, but athletes) don’t come to the box to use machines and ignore other members. There are no earbuds and very few machines.

Movements are based on how we use our bodies throughout the day and throughout our lives. There are community projects and causes. There is a philosophy that what takes place at the box doesn’t stay at the box but makes your life richer, better, and more grounded outside the box.

I have watched my son go from some bulked up muscle bound weightlifter, to a healthy, strong, resilient athlete. And better yet, I have watched him enjoy bringing others to this same place of health, fitness, agility, strength, endurance, and most especially generosity. Their community is wonderful.

I have been the score keeper for his I CAN Games, a really fun adventure as I watched athletes compete from six groups. Men’s proscribed, scaled, and masters and women’s proscribed, scaled, and masters. The “masters” here refers to older athletes. I’ve also been on The Rock when he was running a blood drive and contributed to that endeavor as well.

I’ve loved watching what he does.

I used to be a jock. I’m old now. I’m so old that my son is a small business owner. I have four grandchildren aged from 3 to 9. I have had an AARP card for over a decade (because you can get one when your spouse turns 50). I am 59 years old.

Today, I weigh more than I weighed just before that small business owner was born. Of course, I tell myself, he was born early and weighed only 6 pounds and 1 ounce. I’m only two pounds lighter than when his brother, full term and weighing 8 pounds, was born. In other words, I’m not my old svelte self. In fact, I’m what I consider fat.

To be sure, most people who see me don’t think of me as fat since I can wear a size 8. But realistically speaking, I weigh as much as I did very, very pregnant. I don’t like that. I’m also really out of shape. I get winded easily. I can’t open my own jars. What I do best is sit at my computer and read screens.

I hate the way I feel – old and weak. I hate the way I look – old and fat. On the plus side, I have silver/gray hair that I absolutely love and a sense of style which plays out in an extensive wardrobe.

So, I don’t have too much to do. I want to lose 15 pounds (but I wouldn’t cry if I lost 20). I want the jiggly parts of my body to only jiggle when *I* want them to, not just because I’m walking fast. I want to open my own jars without a struggle.

I went to the free introductory class at CrossFit Summerville: The Anvil on Saturday. I didn’t do well. In fact, I mostly sucked. I was there with six young men who were all so much better at everything (except the one stretch thing where even old, as a woman I just did better). I couldn’t get through the entire hour. It was pitiful.

However, I went back on Monday afternoon and signed up. I began my first class. I’m going to revert to my old racquetball self. (I haven’t played for about 16 or 17 years now and apparently that is enough time to turn into a total slug.) I can see that it will be a struggle. But on the bright side, I can’t get worse. There is only one way to go from here.

I have watched as Kirsten began running again and I’m thrilled with each of her “best time” reports. She has done so much. I plan to become an athlete, just like her. And my son. And his brother.

The best way to live a long and healthy life is to get out of my chair. And no matter how slow I go, how little I can do now, I’m still lapping everybody sitting on the couch.

Do you have any health goals? Do you have any exercise regimen? Have you ever heard of CrossFit? (I hadn’t until my son opened his box.)

Will you help keep me accountable? I need you to watch me and make sure I don’t weenie out. I can do this with your support.

The article is actually entitled “Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?” but the wording for Facebook is “How come there isn’t a liberal version of Ayn Rand?”

Why did it become so popular to substitute the wonderfully short, terse, succinct, perfect word  “why” with “how come” and how do we make it stop?

Questions about why

Every time I see something with a “how come” to it, I want to start screaming WHY? The word you are looking for is WHY! Please stop with the idiotic use of how come.

Is it supposed to “enhance” one’s intellectual standing in some way by using a “big” phrase instead of the correct simple word? I know people who write using large words so that perhaps they may sound better educated. It is always scary when they are trying so hard and yet use an inappropriate word in place of what a truly literate person would use. But that’s a different issue.

The reportorial list of Five Ws is just that.

Who?

What?

Where?

When?

Why?

There aren’t Four Ws and One H. There is no how come on the list. It isn’t there because it is really poor usage.

Did it start when we told our three-year-olds to stop pestering us and quit asking “Why?” every three to five seconds? Did it start because we are anti-intellectual in this country, perhaps as a way to feel better about our poor scholastic standing in the industrialized world? How come Why is this happening?

I think I can stop now. I hope so. I don’t know why I finally took the time to actually write about this today, but perhaps I can help even one poor soul who will stop using how come when they are asking why.