Don’t read this if you’re in a good mood

weights It’s a new year (almost) and I swear my mood is not improving. There are some things going on that don’t help, but even the little things that should make me happy, are driving me nutz!

For one, after the “Season of Splurge” as I like to call Christmas, I was really looking forward to getting back in the gym and dropping a couple of pounds. But wouldn’t you know it, on Thursday of last week, I had just started my workout and went to turn on my MP3 player so I could tune out the outside noise and the darn thing just froze up. Nothing I could do fixed it. In the end, I had to toss it. I can exercise without my music, but I can’t run, which is what really helps me shed the pounds.

In a panic, I went to Fry’s electronics the next day and selected an MP3 player from their depleted stock. Got it home and loaded it up and headed to the gym. Turns out, the darn thing had no “sort” function, so all my songs played in alphabetical order, with each band’s songs right after each other. The little unit also would not turn up the music very loud either. Apparently, like seatbelt and helmet laws, they are trying to protect me from myself.

No thank you…I’m doin’ just fine!

So I have now ordered another MP3 player online, after verifying the features I want and I’m waiting on it to come in.

Meanwhile, the “I got a gym membership for Christmas” crowd has shown up and it’s like the blind leading the friggin’ blind.

Clueless 50-year olds literally wandering around the gym with their headsets on doing nothing but taking up space. Add to it the people who occupy a bench that has a particular use (such as the benchpress) for nothing more than a place to sit while they are doing ab twists, and I’m literally about ready to scream!

Despite a supposed drought, we’ve gotten so much rain the last few months that I can’t do anything to repair my backyard where the rain has washed out some of my new landscaping and it’s really cold to boot.

I dunno, I’m feeling very cosmically dumped on right now and I don’t see things improving in the near future.

Thriving Ivory’s lyrics keep running through my head, “…if I can’t see the sun, maybe I should go.”

Don’t worry, I’m speaking metaphorically here. (too bad Xanax makes you gain weight…)
Send me some good news, a joke, nude pictures of Bee Arthur…anything! I just need to cheer up!

Adventures in Swimming (with kids)

lifeguardBut I don’t wanna go,” he says with his fingers in his mouth and his little lips quivering.

Honey,” I say, “Mommy and Daddy have already paid for your swimming lessons, and you’re going to learn how to swim. Do you understand me?”

Yes,” he says, with his eyes looking towards the floor and with a posture that tells me he’s only doing it because he knows that the next thing I’m going to say will be something he REALLY will not want to hear, such as, “If you don’t get in the water this very instant and start swimming, when we get home, you’re going to your room until I say you can come out!

MLI has swimming classes every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at our health club. To work our schedules around his swimming and CareerMom’s desire to go to an aerobics class at 8:30, I went earlier, then after my workout, I took him out to the pool for his 30-minute swim session.

Last week, due to the holiday, he didn’t have his regular teacher. Instead, he had some young stud-wannabe kid, who was nice and who did a fine job. I figured we’d have the same guy today so we walked over to him and he said, “Oh, Anna actually will be his regular teacher. She’s over there.”

He pointed…I stared.

Anna.

A more appropriate description for her might be, “Future Baywatch Star” if Baywatch were still on television.

Anyway, after daddy composed himself, we walked over to Anna and introduced ourselves and after a bit more blubbering, I finally threatened convinced MLI to get in the water where he had 30 glorious minutes with Anna…while I tried (hard) not to look like I was trying not to look.

And don’t think little boys are dumb either. MLI clung to her (and not in a “I’m scared” kinda way) like he clings to a slice of pepperoni pizza. And for the record, he did NOT cling to the boy teacher in the same fashion.

So, next week, when CareerMom asks if I can again accompany MLI to swim lessons, I’ll cheerfully accept. And I think I’ll have to make Saturday, Chest and Biceps day…cuz…those body parts really need the work.

(Hey, I’m married, not dead!)

Just keeping my big mouth shut

I work out in the gym about 4-5 times per week, going on nearly 15 years now. Since I’ve been in the gym for so many years, I’ve created an “as-of-yet” unpublished list of Gym Etiquette rules and whenever someone violates those rules, I get really annoyed.

Topping the Etiquette list are:

  • not using a towel (there’s few things worse than getting on a machine or bench and finding a wet, sponge-like spot of sweat on the bench where the previous person didn’t use a towel…ugh!)
  • standing right in front of the weight racks when you are exercising (hey, others are working out here too ya know!)
  • sitting around on a machine doing little more than people watching or reading the newspaper  (really folks, just stay home…)
  • talking on the cell phone (OMG! Get a life. Can’t you go 45 minutes without talking on the cell phone?)

My workout routine typically consists of 2-3 days of nothing but weight training, and then usually 1-2 days of half cardio/half weights. When my knees and back aren’t bothering me, I’ll jog for my cardio; otherwise I’ll use the elliptical. Regardless of what I’m doing, I always have my headphones on blasting my favorite tunes, but sometimes when you’re right next to someone being loud, you can still hear them.

The other day my knees were bothering me and I opted to use the elliptical machine rather than do my usual 2 mile jog before hitting the weights. I had been on it for about 10 minutes and I was in the zone. I mean, the music was pumping and I was tranced out staring at a spot on the wall across the gym. Peripherally, I could see people coming and going and part of me noted that someone got on the machine beside me, but I didn’t wanna ruin my buzz by looking, so I just ignored them.

About five minutes later, I noticed that I could hear this person talking on the cell phone. Trying to ignore them, I turned my music up and worked even harder. But like all annoying things, such as the theme song from The Wiggles, once you’ve noticed it, it’s in your head and you can’t ignore it. So, I turned my head to give the person next to me my most menacing stare, only to see that the person beside me was…drumroll please…CareerMom, my wife. Of course I didn’t say anything to her, opting rather to keep the peace and say, “Oh hi, didn’t realize you were there.”

I have since noted that she has a habit of talking on the cell phone while on the elliptical machine and while this still annoys the crap out of me, I just make it a point to avoid working out next to her. Needless to say, she has also NOT seen my Gym Etiquette guide, although I am tempted to print it out and just leave it lying about the house somewhere. But that would probably be mean…

There’s a fine line between obsession and crazy…

WeightliftingAt 34 years of age, I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination; however, I’m no spring chicken either. After nearly 15 years of fairly heavy weight training, my joints and skeletal system (especially my back) are probably more in line with a 44 year old. A study back in ’01 revealed that despite any bone density gains weight lifters earn from throwing around heavy weights, once they stop, those gains rapidly diminish. Add to that all of the joint and spinal damage nearly all weight lifters garner, and you gotta wonder why a person does it.

As I was working out this weekend, I noticed a young guy who is frequently there at the gym when I am. He’s probably in his mid-to-late 20s and it’s always been obvious that he has a great body, mostly because when he’s doing legs, he rolls his pants up so everyone can see his quads, etc.  And despite being obviously muscled, I never realized how much until I saw him in one of those tight Under-Armour® shirts (white) this weekend, where you could see every muscle, including one of the best sets of abs I’ve ever seen. Now, despite being 100% heterosexual, I can tell you that, from one weight-lifter to another, the dude looked incredible!

I can also tell you however, that he didn’t get that way naturally. I’m not saying he’s using steroids (I’m not “not” saying this either), but naturally, muscles simply don’t get and stay that full (read: pumped) without some help. It just doesn’t happen.

Of course, I started reflecting back to the time when I was “that” committed to my body. I was never in my wildest dreams as chiseled as this guy, but I was worlds better than I am now and it occurred to me what a young-man’s game this exercise thing really is. Some people might say I’m just being petty and jealous, but the truth is that it takes a phenomenal narcissist to create and maintain that kind of physique.

When I was 25, I once had a date critically tell me, “No woman wants a man who has a better body than she has.”

Truer words were never spoken. The kind of commitment it takes to maintain the thin-skinned six-pack look that models make look so easy requires an approach to eating that is fanatically limiting. It requires that every waking moment that isn’t taken up with work or other essential activity, be spent either at the gym, or hitting the pavement burning off the calories you just ate that your body didn’t automatically siphon off to feed your muscles. It takes the ability to turn the guilt you feel over eating a slice of pizza, into something positive like a few extra reps on the bench press. Basically, it requires sacrificing nearly every facet of your life that doesn’t revolve around your body, and that, my friends, is why you see so few married couples with children who are in such great shape.

Sometimes it takes this kind of mental meandering to convince yourself that you don’t suck. I’ve been really down on myself about my weight gain lately, and although it’s nothing major, it’s a stark departure from my 20s. Plus there’s that whole drive to look good for your mate. I suppose in the end, all you can do is your best and hope that it’s enough.

I mean, with two kids, who has time to be a narcissist?