Mar 27, 2012

Exercising My Right to Sit Around

I've decided that my complete lack of interest in exercise, my 'sedentary lifestyle' (read: sitting at my computer, sitting on the couch, sitting at the dining room table, sitting on any available surface, sitting, sitting, sitting), and the extra weight I carry around, roughly equivalent to a third grader, maybe aren't such good things. I've been overweight for a number of years (Is there something other than a number of years?) and I've tried dieting with Weight Watchers online.  I lost seventeen pounds over about nine months.  Notice that I specify seventeen pounds, not "about fifteen pounds." When you lose weight, you want credit for every last ounce.

If you don't know how Weight Watchers works, you are given a certain allotment of points per day, about enough to satisfy a cat, and which are assigned based on caloric content, fiber, etc. You're also given floater points for the week to spread about as you wish, and you can create extra points by exercising. Say you're putting together your lunch. A bowl of lettuce is zero points, add salad dressing and it's two points, add the croutons and avocado that will make it tasty and you're up to twelve points.  Throw on the chicken for protein (protein's good, right?) and you're somewhere around sixteen points.  Add the roll and butter you really, really want and you're no longer able to eat dinner that day, just stare longingly as your cat gets to eat her kibble.

My approach to Weight Watchers was kind of like playing horseshoes, I just wanted to get close to my points allotment, I didn't care about getting a ringer.  Despite my failure to follow the rules, I did lose weight.  Then it took just about a year of cupcakes and ice cream to put it all back on.  Here it is on my hips, butt, stomach, and thighs, all smiling up at me, silently blaming each other "I didn't know sundaes were full of calories." "Me neither.  I think the stomach should have known." "Well, I say the brain should have stopped us." "Don't point fingers at me, the mouth had a role, too!"

And I hate exercise. I think of exercise as time I could be reading, cooking, watching a favorite show, or pretty much doing anything other than getting sweaty and having to take a shower and change my clothes.  Despite its kryptonite-like effect on my soul, I've tried to exercise in recent years. Then my body teams up with my soul to remind me of old injuries and to protest all this movement shit.

I tried yoga: the stretches messed up my back.  I tried a very fun aerobic class with light weights: it messed up my leg.  I even went to one session of chi dong, which is sort of like not moving at all, and it screwed up my back, too. My doctor sent me to physical therapy, which made me worse, and it was only when I quit doing the p.t.'s wimpy little rubber band stretches that my body settled down and quit complaining. My soul's still not sure.

Now I've taken a bold move: I've hired a personal trainer.  This ought to be fun.  Wait until he encounters my IBS. Stay tuned.

Mar 14, 2012

Take My Dentist, Please!

He is flighty, my dentist, like a robin darting from branch to branch. But my dentist flits from room to room, blue plastic gloves snuggly over his two hands.  The hands and gloves go with him, of course, as he leaves my sight line. I hear his voice in the other examination rooms (rooms, plural). He tells the other patients they are doing well, the crown looks good, the x-rays show no trouble, come back in six months, and then he returns to me, same blue gloves covering his hands.  Where have they been?

Once he used his blue-coated hands to pick up a magazine I had on my lap, People, to look closer at a photo of a movie star, then replaced the magazine on my lap and reached into my mouth with his waiting-room-magazine-touched gloves.

When he was performing a root canal on an abscessed tooth and it got very messy and out of control and his fingers just wouldn't work through the gloves, he tore off one glove and used his bare hand. Was it clean?  I don't know.

I have endured because I needed a dentist and because of lethargy and inertia, and, well, who knows why? And I did ask him once to change his gloves when he returned from flitting from room to room.  He was a bit taken aback but answered, "I didn't touch anything but, sure." And he put on new gloves.  Still.  

This dentist had been a replacement for the dentist who sent me to a specialist, who prescribed a night guard that locked my jaw in place for two years; who, the dentist, set a crown too high and would not listen to me when I asked her to shave it down, even though the bad fit gave me jaw troubles greater than I already had; and who, the specialist, suggested capping every one of my thirty two teeth to create a new bite, which sounded excruciating and ridiculous, not to mention expensive; and who, the dentist, was unapologetic about sending me to a wack job ‘specialist’ and so I spun the health-care-approved-providers wheel and ended up with my flighty, bird-like, gadabout-without-changing-gloves dentist.  He seemed so promising at the beginning.

He's also a leaner, which, if you've read my post about people who stand too close to me in line (January 2012 “Line Dancing”) you can imagine how I feel about someone who actually leans on me, especially because my reclining, elevated body's hip is where he leans and that area hits just below his waist.

Today I started searching for a new dentist.  

Dentistry is never fun but it shouldn’t be this bad.  I remember my orthodontist when I was a buck-toothed teenager, who held my mouth closed and my teenage body in the chair when the overflowing goop of the imprint tray made me gag, a lot, and then he continued to talk to me while my terrified eyes bugged out of my head, saying, “This will just take a minute to set.”  This same orthodontist was fond of talking about his sailboat, which at the time just pissed me off because we were poor and owning a sailboat was as remote as owning the moon, but in retrospect, just seems to fill the dentist stereotype, "Doc, how bad are my teeth?  What will it cost me?"  "Well, let's see, I've got three more payments on my boat so let's figure this out..."

Mar 11, 2012

The Hunger Games

My book club just read a young adult novel, The Hunger Games. Our group is rising one-by-one into AARP eligibility, so evidently we don't read at grade level. Remedial classes for us! In recent years we've also read The Golden Compass, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Twilight all with a much greater readership than we usually get. (Please, please note I refused to read Twilight.)

One thing you should know about our group is that it's 'reading optional.' Here's our normal meeting: chatting, chatting, laughing, eating, more eating, drinking, chatting, more laughing, much more drinking, more eating, simultaneous talking with no one listening, until finally someone raises their voice to shout over the fray,"Who read the book?" Three people out of ten raise a hand.  One or two others chime in that they read the first two chapters and may or may not finish the book at a later date.  If you didn't read the book, that's just fine, no ostracism or staring down of noses, just don't get in the way of the Chardonnay or the triple-cream Port Salut.  Then we talk about the book for an embarrassingly short time and get back to drinking, eating, and not talking about the book. This policy has kept us going for eleven years and I hope it keeps us going for another eleven.  Meetings are fun, just not very educational.  And you'd be surprised at how many people have opinions about books they haven't read. Just ask any censorship bureau.

But, I have digressed from The Hunger Games (which had unanimous readership in our book club) and our other young adult picks.  What makes them so compelling?  They are often page turners, much different from The Scarlet Letter I had to read in high school.  Yawn.  It seemed so dated, dry, and irrelevant. At about the same time I was trudging through The Scarlet Letter, my sister's friend moved in with us when her family kicked her pregnant ass out of the house. The irony was totally lost on my adolescent pea brain.

Now it seems I see people daily, all adults, reading The Hunger Games. Maybe this is just new car syndrome, in which you suddenly notice your new make of automobile everywhere you go, but I don't think so. The Hunger Games has taken the country by storm, in large part because the upcoming movie has brought attention to the book that birthed it.

If you haven't read The Hunger Games, I won't spoil it for you, I'll just say that it's very, very dark.  It is set in a dystopian future in what was once The United States.  The main character, Katniss, is a feisty teenager who faces need and danger on a daily basis.  The fact that the main character is a girl is a large part of what makes the book so compelling to me. I tried, but never could read The Lord of the Rings when I was young; it was just so male.  But The Chronicles of Narnia, with two girls in a family of four siblings, now that was grand.  Susan and Lucy were brave. They fought and ruled alongside their brothers. Earlier I was addicted to The Borrowers, published in 1952, which had Arriety at its heart. The adventures she had!  Evidently strong female role models have been around longer than we thought.

My advice to anyone is to read The Hunger Games. I went on to read the other two books of the trilogy.  The second is the weakest, I think, and the books have flaws, but Suzanne Collins' vision and execution are absolutely worth the read.  In our troubled, increasingly two-tiered, country, The Hunger Games is definitely relevant.