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I used to laugh at forwards, until it happened to me… or the perils of exercise.





I hired a personal trainer.  I’ve been fairly active for the last two years, but kind of freely and sporadically, and I really wanted to step up my game, and get off the weight loss plateau I’ve been stuck on. What better way to achieve that, than to find yourself accountable to a well built man who will encourage you, motivate you, yell at you or give you advice as the situation requires, right?

So I had my first workout two Fridays ago. It was a full body workout, at about half capacity, so as not to cause undue damage to my lazy muscles. By the time it was done, I was drenched in sweat, red faced, absolutely fatigued, and could not raise a glass of water to my mouth. Still, I felt good and oh so virtuous as I limped home. And then my body rebelled in the most spectacular fashion.  I don’t know if it was hormones, age, if I’m simply far more optimistic about my physical fitness level, or what, but it was sad, funny, and painful at the same time.


My girl friend sent me one of those email chains about women and personal trainers. You know the one I mean:




This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular workout routine:


Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, I  purchased a week of personal training at the local health club.  Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear.

Friends seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.



Started my day at 6:00 am. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting for me. He is something of a Greek god– with blond hair, dancing eyes, and a dazzling white smile.  Woo Hoo!!

Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines.. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!

Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around.

This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!



I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it!  My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile.  His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!  It’s a whole new life for me.



The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it.  I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals.  Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.

Christo was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.

My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put me on the stair monster.  Why the hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators?  Christo told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life.  He said some other shit too.



Asshole was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl.  I couldn’t help being a half an hour late– it took me that long to tie my shoes.

He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom.  He sent some skinny bitch to find me.

Then, as punishment, he put me on the rowing machine– which I sank.



I hate that bastard Christo more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic, little aerobic instructor.  If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it.

Christo wanted me to work on my triceps.  I don’t have any triceps! And if you don’t want dents in the floor, don’t hand me the damn barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.

The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher.  Why couldn’t it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?



Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today.  Just hearing his voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel..



I’m having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over.  I will also pray that next year my husband will choose a gift for me that is fun– like a root canal or a hysterectomy.  I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!



And this was my reply to her – pardon the language, I was too sore to care.


I used to laugh at stuff like this until last Friday…


Friday – came home shaky and wiped out, and passed out until Saturday, no dinner, NOTHING.


Saturday – woke up in enormous pain. EVERYTHING hurt. A lot. Stairs were painful, sitting down was painful,  brushing teeth – painful.


Sunday – more pain. Popping advil, can’t put my hair in a hair tie – hurts too much. Asked James to wash my hair. Evening I said fuck it, and took methocarbomol with codeine – didn’t really help.


Monday – still can’t do ponytails. Called and cancelled Tuesday’s workout as I’m clearly not moving yet.


Tuesday – only the most persistent muscles hurt, the weird small ones that you didn’t know existed.


Today – residual pain around elbows and butt. Should be okay for Friday….





And this my friends is why I haven’t posted lately. It hurt too much to move my fingers.


PS – On a serious note, I’ve had a few workouts since, my recovery time is getting much better, my diet is inching closer to where it needs to be, and believe it or not, I’m having fun.




Chicks with tools


I’ve always had a healthy interest in using my hands – in MAKING stuff – be it cooking, fixing a fence, growing a garden and other such pursuits. I took shop in high school and occasionally help James in his work as a hardwood installer.


But while I have enthusiasm in spades, I have an appalling lack of experience and know-how. My father is reasonably competent at building/making/fixing stuff but he’s not a good teacher, lacking all patience. My uncle is a cross between MacGyver and an artisan, and can build or make anything, including a full blown house, a sauna, a patio, etc. but alas, most of my life we were on separate continents, and I lacked say, a reitred neighbor with a woodshop next door, or something equally convenient.


So a Lee Valley Woodworking For Women course seemed like the answer to my prayers – the course was taught by an experienced carpenter, was geared towards newbies, and promised to teach many handy skills while accomplishing a fully finished product – in this case a lovely bench.  And my intrepid adventurer of a friend Jean and I, promptly signed up.


The course took two evenings and an entire Saturday, which was not nearly long enough for eight teams of women to accomplish such a lofty goal as a full blown bench, I’m sorry to say. Apparently what takes an experienced carpenter about six hours, takes easily three times as long with inexperienced people tripping all over themselves, asking questions and sharing tools.


The course started out peachy – with lovely intros, a crash course on power tool safely, a handing out of supplies, and a tour to the power shop in the back which contained one of them amazing table saws that stop when they hit flesh, you seen those ads on YouTube? Apparently it’s like magic, and they demo them with hot dogs. Luckily we didn’t have to test that feature of the table saw, although we did learn all about kickbacks the hard way.



The first day we mainly chopped up our pieces of wood into some of the required parts, glued the bench legs together, and went home. The time flew by obscenely fast, and it was lots of fun.




The second day we finished chopping up the pieces (just about), and did something else and the day was over. That quickly. Seriously, they could teach the theory of relativity at that workshop. Poof, and it’s over, what three hours?


The final day promised to be busy from the get go – we were to finish cutting ALL the pieces now, plane some of them, give them a three second sanding, glue the frames together (using biscuit joints), jigsaw some decorative arcs, put everything together, build the cushion, and stain the bench. Sounds like much? It was a marathon mixed with a comedy of errors.




First there was the ridiculous instructions of the bench blueprint that had to be ignored, and new ones written on the board. Then there was the wrong cutting of the holes with the biscuit jointer, resulting in some unnecessary wood removal, then there was the not quite precisely cut pieces that had to be held together with hope, prayer, buckets of glue and an obsene amount of clamps.  The list goes on and on. At first we were all precise and such, and as the day went on we threw perfection in the toilet and had fun just clamping and gluing stuff until it held, racing against the clock the entire time.



One of the major challenges was the lack of adequate supplies for all the students, which made getting everyone through all the steps incredibly frustrating. There were only a couple of sanders, two jigsaws, and NOT ENOUGH CLAMPS! Now I know why all those woodworking forums all say ‘buy lots of clamps heh heh’.  Those supplies would have been barely sufficient if there was a master plan that divided the class into two groups, and applied each half to different parts of the project from the get go, with military precision.  But as self-organized as we tried to be, there are major logistical difficulties in getting everyone through the single miter saw, table saw, planer with any degree of speed. Basically the project chosen by the instructor was a bit ambitious given the size of the group and the equipment, and it could have been done better if there was much more organization and pre-design of a game plan.




Overall Jean and I both enjoyed the course, but certainly more in retrospect than at the time. At the time there was only a frenzy of sanding, gluing, clamping, swearing, staining, and stapling.  There is a certain trade off between building something useful, in the amount of time given, and learning new skills. For those of you who speak woodworking, the bench was held together with bisquit joints, which is great, but I’d rather have learned a mortise tenon or a dovetail joint. It’s unlikely that I’d have a bench, but that’s the trade off, I guess.



But at the end of a really long day, the benches were finally finished.  I am quite sure that mine at least, should not support a full sized person, but the cat sure approves.  🙂





Here’s Jean’s masterpiece – her chosen stain was absolutely stunning, giving the wood a weathered, old finish, reminiscent of an ‘old barn by the sea’. And she chose outdoor fabric so that the bench can be outside.