Category Archives: Fitness

The Break-up


I thought I could avoid it forever. I was so careful. Until this week- one simple misstep and I found myself face to face with him. The awkward encounter with the Ex.

It all started on Tuesday, when I went on Zoe’s field trip. Dozens of children were crammed three to a seat in a school bus. All the windows were up, and I could barely catch my breath. Finally, when I could take it no more, I began to remove my jacket.

That’s when it happened.

As I twisted in the narrow seat to take my arm out of my sleeve, I felt a twinge in my neck. Twinge is such an innocuous word for the cramping, searing pain that shot all the way down my arm.

My birthday is this weekend, and if I ever needed an indication that I’m getting old, having my neck seize up while trying to take off an item of clothing will definitely suffice.

Luckily for me, I have a massage membership, and several prepaid massages awaiting my use. The next morning I sat, barely able to turn my head, with a searing headache. I was desperate for relief. I called the massage place, and the woman said, “if you can be here in 20 minutes, I can get you in.”

I jumped at the chance.

I raced over there, got checked in, slung a warm neck pillow around my neck and sat in the waiting room. I was looking down at my phone when I heard my name called.


I looked up.

It was him.

“Oh. Hey. How’s it going?”

“Good. Follow me.”

He said very little as we made our way back to the room.

I took a seat on the chair and he looked directly at me.

“So, what can I help you with today?”

“Well, I tweaked my neck yesterday, and my middle back is pretty tight.”

“Ok, well, normally on a 90 minute massage I would start at your feet, but it sounds like you need me to start with your neck.”


He looks at me for a minute and then says, “It’s unusual to have an appointment start at 11:15.”

“When I called she told me to come down at 11, but then decided I couldn’t make it here that quickly, so she said 11:15.”

“Normally a 90 minute massage is 80 minutes hands on, and 5 minutes prep. I’m going to have to figure out the math.”

“Uh. Okay.”

“Get undressed, lie face up. I’ll be back in… I don’t know. A few minutes.”

He didn’t recognize me. I think I’m in the clear.

I get up on the table and wait for him to return. I always wonder what the deal is with other people. Does it really take them so long to strip down that they need a full 5 minutes to undress?

Finally he comes in, and I keep my eyes closed. I figure the less eye contact the better.

I sense him dimming the lights and he moves to sit on the stool behind me. He begins to rub my neck and I’m starting to relax. It’s quiet for a moment, except for the music playing overhead which reminds me of the type of music played during the saddest scenes of foreign films.

Where’s the tranquil Asian music? The pan flutes and the mandolins? This depressing piano music is making me think of the Holocaust and children on their deathbed with the Spanish Influenza.

“So,” He says. “You seem really familiar.”

Oh no.

“Have I worked on you before?”



“Didn’t I work on you a lot?”




Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

“When I worked on you before… Did I do a good job?”

He said it.

“Mmm hmm.”

What am I supposed to say? Your breath smelled like cigarettes and you constantly talked about the two LEAST relaxing subjects, religion and politics? I often left my massages more stressed out than when I came in? I was thoroughly relieved when I found out you were leaving so I didn’t have to officially break up with you as my therapist?

“You moved, didn’t you?”

“Yeah.I did.”

“So then I started seeing, um, who’s the big muscly guy who works at the GNC when he’s not here?” Who likes to talk about conspiracy theories and tried telling me he traced his genealogy back to King David. You know, David and Goliath-  David.

“Oh. Keith.” He said this like the words were distasteful in his mouth.

“Yes. Is he still here?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well then I had my car accident and I was in physical therapy for a year and a half. I just came back in the spring.”

“This spring?”


“So… who are you seeing now?”

“Dustin.” He has a breathy voice that makes my skin crawl, but he does a good job and doesn’t crush my spine with his forearms… like you’re doing now. Ouch!

“How’s the pressure?”

“A little hard.” I grunt out.

“Tell me again what you do for work.”

“I am a mom. And I work for my husband. I also write a blog no one reads.”

At the end of my massage he says, “Well, we’ve unfortunately come to the end of our time together. I hope I made you feel better.”

“Mmm Hmm,” I say with my mouth muffled by the headrest into which my face is squashed down.

“Get dressed and I’ll go get you some water.”


I quickly pull my clothes on and head for the front desk. I hear the door open behind me and I turn to face him. He looks like a sad puppy dog.

“Listen, I know you’ve got a thing going with Dustin, but if you ever need to come in and he’s not available, I’m going to give you my hours.”


He fills out a card and hands it to me.

“It was really good seeing you again. I hope you give me the opportunity to work on you another time.”

“Ok thanks.”




It’s never easy running into an ex. Occasionally I see one of my former hair colorists or stylists at the salon. They look at me with that expression of betrayal and I hold my head up in defiance- I’m happy with Naomi and Marques. You can’t make me feel bad about moving on to someone better.

I’m still Facebook friends with my beauty bark guys, even though I was unhappy with their service.

My neighbor owns a nail salon I have been to infrequently. I pray as I pass by her house that she doesn’t notice my fresh, gleaming French manicure.

I walked by another neighbor’s and saw her house cleaner that I had interviewed but decided against hiring. I pulled my hat down over my face.

I’m terrible with break ups. I’m an avoider who hopes they will forget about me and move on without me ever having to say the words:

“This isn’t working out.”

As for my massage situation, I’ll just have to be more careful next time. The last thing I need right now is to be in a three-way massage triangle.

That didn’t sound right.

You know what I mean.





Ouch! And Other Thoughts During Yesterday’s Mountain Bike Ride


Yesterday my husband decided he wanted to go for a bike ride. I haven’t been in a while; a really long while, actually. I decided to go along. The following are my thoughts during yesterday’s outing.

> This can’t be my helmet. This strap is so tight I have created 3 additional chins. ( It was not my helmet, it was Nathan’s. You know it’s been a while if you can’t even recognize your own helmet.)

> Ooh, mountain biking is so much more fun than running, and yet still a good workout.

(One minute later)

>Ho boy, I am out of shape.

> Was that a bug? Did a bug just go up my nose? It did. A bug just totally went up my nose.

> Clearly my innate klutziness not only extends to mountain biking, it is exacerbated by the random holes, rocks and tree roots.

> Ouch!

> Oh good. Downhill. Too fast. Too fast. Toooo FAAST!

>Please, God, don’t let me crash in front of these real mountain bikers. They’re already annoyed that I’m here.

> Wait- what are they looking at? What are they- Aww dammit, I knew should have worn a sports bra.

>Oh look! My husband can still do wheelies, intentional or not!

> Ack! another bug up my nose. Don’t you guys have any sense of self-preservation?

> Don’t hit that rock. You’ve got plenty of room on either side. Don’t hit the rock.

WrenthamSF 019

>You hit the rock.

>Is it forward or back on the gears to make it easier to go up the hill? Oh crap. Wrong way. Now my hands are too sweaty to shift back.

>I think I just heard a tree knock. Another one- yes, that definitely was a tree knock. I knew these woods looked squatchy.


>I’m pretty sure we are on the wrong trail. This has to be a trail for more advanced cyclists.

> Actually I don’t think this is a trail at all. More like a gauntlet.

>What was that I was thinking earlier? Biking is easier than running?

> My hoo ha can’t take another bump. Can’t you trees keep your roots to yourself?

Trail outlined by roots

>Good thing I’m done having children. Pretty sure that last bump made me sterile.

>Ferns aren’t as soft as they look


>Oof! I’m almost positive that bump just made me pee my pants.

>Bug in my eye! Bug in my eye!

>Oh goody. Only 1.6 miles to the parking lot.

>Hmm. Even tree huggers litter their clif bar wrappers. I thought you people loved the environment!

>Almost there. Try not to crash into the parking lot.

>Phew! Made it! I wonder how long it takes for a bruised undercarriage to heal.

image Sweaty, dirty, bugs in my orafices. But I survived.





The Fitness Rollercoaster And My Adventures With Abs Girl, Jersey Boy and Yoga Man


I’m gonna be straight up honest with you. I didn’t go to the gym today. I didn’t go yesterday either. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym. I have what basically amounts to a lifetime membership at 24 hour fitness, and I think I have been there 10 times in the past year. My car got rear-ended last July, causing me back and neck injuries,  and working out and/or running have been difficult for me.  I actually thought about going today. My neck went out last Wednesday, but I’m feeling better this morning. Writing about going to the gym is ALMOST as effective as GOING to the gym, right?

I miss the gym. Sorta. I prefer running outside, but when you’re running inside on a treadmill, or lifting weights, it gives you more time to observe people than when you fly past them. Ok, maybe “fly” is an exaggeration. “Move slightly faster than the old couple out for a stroll” is probably more accurate. I miss the opportunities for people watching at the gym, and I’m not thrilled about the extra weight I have put on this past year.

I was never much of a fitness fanatic. If you may recall from my previous post- I was not what you might call athletically gifted. I had asthma, a lack of coordination and a lack of confidence. I never quite understood people who exercised for fun. Occasionally I tried the 20 minute aerobic workout videos ( “4 more. 3 more. 2 more. Now take it to the left and one and two and three.”) And for a time in the late nineties I did “Tae Bo.” My need to take a shower after the Tae Bo tapes (and yes, I mean VHS tapes) was precipitated less by the workout and more by the dirty feeling I had from the creepy way Billy Blanks looked at me through the TV.

My favorite workout tape, though, has to have been “Seven Minute Abs” as seen here:

7-minute-abs (the full clip from “There’s Something About Mary.”)

By the time I was 35, I had given birth to 4 children and had my gallbladder taken out due to poor diet. I knew I had to make a change. I tried the “Biggest Loser” DVD’s, but hit a wall after about 15 pounds. I remember saying to my husband, “I hope you like me exactly as I am, because I’m pretty sure this is the best it’s gonna get.”

His response was to take a pretty large risk by giving me sessions with a personal trainer for my birthday. That could have gone very not well for him. But I decided to seize the opportunity, and showed up at the gym with fear and trepidation. When I asked Jeff how he had chosen the personal trainer he said, “I looked around, found the biggest, meanest looking guy there and said, ‘that’s the one!'”

317156_4419244451842_1022087964_n Not intimidating at all.

And he wasn’t kidding. But in 3 months, Mike Cahl (still training in Orange County, CA if you’re in the area and need a kick-ass trainer) transformed me from a soft, squishy size 14 (plus ) to a rock hard size 4. I wouldnt believe it either if it hadnt happened to me. A colleague of my husband’s started calling me “Robomom.”

Soon this asthmatic who got out of PE with a doctor’s note for all of high school, was running an average of 20 miles a week. And I was spending lots of time at the gym.

When we moved back up to Washington from Southern Cal, I noticed there was a vast difference in the clientele of the gyms in each location. Whereas the Huntington Beach 24 hour fitness looked more like a nightclub or the set of a workout DVD, my new gym looked like the bar scene in “Star Wars.”

Over time I began to pick out my favorite regulars. There was Jersey boy,


No, not that “Jersey boy.” Jersey boy was a guy who worked out every single day in what appeared to be his high school football jersey. He looked to be at least 5 years out of high school. Jeff’s theory was that he wore it because the cut of the shirt made him look broader in the shoulders. All I know is his mom must be really good at laundry to make sure he had the same jersey clean every day.

There was “anchorman.” I dubbed him this because he reminded me of this guy:


our former anchorman in Los Angeles. “Anchorman’s” mustache was tighter than this, though. Last year he shaved off the mustache and I was very disappointed. Maybe if I ever get my rear back to the gym I will see he has grown it back.

Every gym also has its resident anorexic. When I lived in HB, I actually mentioned to the front desk at the gym that they should do something about the fact that she was literally killing herself before my very eyes and they told me there was nothing they could do about it, for fear of being sued. The girl up here spends hours on the elliptical. HOURS. She wears a giant pink parka and looks like she’s being forced to keep moving even though her body can barely function. She smells like death. The front desk up here said that they limit her to two hours by policy, but then she goes to the other 24 hour fitness about 15 minutes away. If someone wants to kill themselves, there’s not a lot you can do about it, I guess.

There’s the old woman who walks the treadmill in her mom jeans. I’m not sure why she doesn’t just bite the bullet and get herself some comfortable workout clothes. I have also often seen a man wearing street clothes on the treadmill with a giant set of janitor keys hanging off his belt loop. He doesn’t walk very fast, so thankfully it keeps the jingling to a minimum.

About 3 years ago, a new guy showed up just after New Year’s. It was clearly a resolution situation. He had on a new blue sweatshirt, matching blue sweatpants and shiny white shoes. He came back the next day- same outfit. For two months I wondered when he would decide that the resolution was going to stick and he could invest in a second sweatsuit. It never happened. The last time I saw him, he was still wearing the same cornflower blue Hanes sweatsuit. I wear something to the gym and it doesn’t come back clean out of the laundry room for weeks. I can’t figure out how these people wear the same thing every day. Maybe he has several sets of the same exact outfit. That is more plausible to me than that he washes it every single day.

There’s a trainer who works there that I would never hire in a million years. Besides the fact that he has a serious paunch in his belly, he’s slimier than a slug. He has longish hair that he slicks up with some sort of greasy product, and he just has that “creeper” vibe. One day he showed up and he had colored his hair with blue streaks. It was not an improvement. I guess my feeling on personal trainers is that they should look somewhat like what you aspire to become. There is nothing about that greaseball I would want to be like or want my husband to be like.


One day I was in the back of the gym doing curls. I looked over into the room where they do classes. There was an older man there in the back row, closest to the window. He wore tight yoga pants, and he clearly was enjoying the class. CLEARLY ENJOYING.  If you know what I mean. Two days later, I’m back there again, yoga is happening again, same thing. Eventually I had to change my workout schedule so that I was no longer doing curls during the 9 am T/Th yoga class. It’s like a car accident- I was horrified and yet couldn’t stop looking.

yoga2 “I really REALLY like yoga. Really.”

I gotta say though, my two favorites were Abs girl and Orgasm girl. Abs girl had the most spectacular abs I have ever seen on a human woman. Seriously. For a while, she seemed to have a thing with this giant buff guy who couldn’t turn his head because his neck was so thick. One day, they were no longer spotting each other. She had a new spotter, and he was with one of his other musclehead friends. He kept looking longingly over at her. I suspect Abs girl broke the big guy’s heart.

amazing-girl-abs1  Not actual Abs girl abs, but you get the idea. Is it any wonder he was so sad when she dumped him?

Orgasm girl, well, she was in a class all by herself. Every single thing she did in the gym came along with a vocalization. Every rep had a sound effect. Every bench press, every leg curl. Everything. And they were all straight out of a porno film. We get it. You’re hot. You want everyone to see that you’re hot and you’re working out. Not everyone wants to hear what it makes you feel like. I could do that too, you know, but I have self control and grunt it out like everyone else. I know the sounds I make are way less pleasant, but they are appropriate to the activity in which I am participating. One day I noticed Orgasm girl was no longer svelte in the middle. She was pregnant. Apparently her method of working out was more effective than I had imagined it to be. Or was it less effective?

As for me, well, I have a long road back to the peak of my fitness. I can still run 3-5 miles in a stint, but the next day my neck and back feel like I have been jackhammered. I may need to take up a new form of exercise. I tried hot yoga, and I didn’t die, but I didn’t love it. Plus I’m not good at scheduled classes. Every time I showed up right before the class was supposed to start, and the only spot left on the floor was directly under the heater. I felt like a rotisserie chicken.

Now that the weather is better I should probably take up walking. It’s tough on the runner’s ego to walk, but I think I just need to get over it. I’d rather be a semi-fit walker than an unfit former runner.

I do need to get back to the gym, though. My injured self can still do some toning and light cardio. Besides, I think it’s time to check up on all my old friends, and maybe find some new ones. It’s worth the pain for the entertainment. sits-down-at-a-machine-at-the-gym_last-person-wa It could happen. It totally could.