Please Tell Me This Is A Good Idea


Everything in the gym was alien to me. There were weights, kettle balls(weights with handles), squishy balls, hard balls, straps, ropes, bars, pulleys and a variety of adjustable swing arm pulleys. There were also machines that looked fairly understandable because they had instructive pictures printed on them. Paul said to ignore the machines. He said they didn’t allow a free range of motion and didn’t promote “functional” fitness. The equipment we were going to use had no instructions printed on them. Paul was going to teach me how to use them.

We would have two different routines–A and B. Each would take about 50 minutes. Each would begin with foam rolling. Say what?calfbottoms

The bad news is that the web site for foam rollers says, “what is foam rolling and why does it hurt?” This was not an auspicious start for my poor tight muscles. But it was a beginning nonetheless.

Proprioception and Me


After his initial evaluation of me, Paul mentioned he had taken a course in college on exercise for seniors. He explained that one of the key issues was struggles with proprioception. I struggled just to repeat the word, and I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently it involves having an awareness of your body in space. Needless to say, if you have lived outside your body in your head, your proprioception is pretty skewed.

Not to fear, Paul told me, now we knew what to work on. First “functional fitness,” (getting off the couch, carrying the groceries, bending over to pick things up off the floor) and “proprioception” so I could know where I was. This would help with balance, an emerging challenge.

We agreed to meet twice a week and see how it went. He turned out to be nothing at all like a drill sargeant. I trusted Paul because he brought to mind the imaginary very helpful son I had never had as the mother of daughters. He was happy to have a woman his mother’s age actually be receptive to his ideas about fitness. We were off to a good start.

Nightmares of High School P.E.


When I was entered high school in 1960, there was great pressure to have us be “fit.” President Kennedy stressed regular exercise and the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercises were widely recommended. There were prescribed exercises, one routine for all women and one for all men.

High school gym class was required, and we met every day, dressed down into gym clothes and did group exercises in classes of 30 or so. At the end of every class, we stripped naked and ran through a series of showers back to our lockers to get dressed and on to our next class. If you were having “that time of the month,” you could wear shorts into the shower room. The gym teacher diligently checked off which girls were wearing shorts. I assume she was checking for pregnancy, though she never said. Because I was a late bloomer and not regular, I avoided the teacher’s  attention by copying the cycle of the girl in the locker adjacent to me, wearing shorts each time she needed them.

If you are thinking the whole time was a nightmare, you would be right. This was the memory I took to the gym and first met Paul who needed to understand my present level of fitness before he could begin to work with me. I was questioning my sanity as we began the assessment.

How to Begin?


I spent a lot of time thinking about how to get my body to be “functionally fit” again. You can think about exercise a long time without doing anything about it! I really didn’t know how to start, so the best approach seemed to be no approach. However, I had mentioned to my grown (very fit) daughter that I was thinking about being more fit. She is very much a doer, so the next thing I knew we were at the local fitness club talking to the manager.

I liked the gym. It was small, clean, five minutes from the house and no one was wearing skin tight lycra. There were various ages of people there and various body types. So far, so good. I was ready to take the plunge and sign up for a month’s trial. My daughter, however, knowing me too well, encouraged me to sign up for the year. She also insisted that I needed a personal trainer.

Wait a minute. A personal trainer? Visions of screaming Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser froze me in place. “Trust me Mom; you need a personal trainer.”

So I met Paul.

Living in My Body Again


I was a very active child, but then I became separated from my body and went to live in my head. This is a very common experience, I have learned since, but it meant I lost the physical strength I once had. I skated by for many years, but when I reached my 60’s, I started to lose what I now know is called “functional fitness.”  People started carrying my groceries, carrying my suitcases, opening doors for me, and in general reducing my strength even further as they were “helping” me. For the next while I will be blogging about my experiences–good and difficult–of the last two years’ time in a gym  working with a personal trainer, regaining my physical self.

I have also begun to put some poems up on the poetry page of this site. If you have previously found nothing there, check again.

Cleaning Up Someone Else’s Mistake


They are paving the street in front of our house, a complete restructure, not simply a patch. Yesterday a construction worker hit a water pipe, resulting in a major mess that lasted most of the day. The water people couldn’t find a valve to shut off the main because none nearby had been opened in at least 40 years. They finally went several blocks away before they could turn off the main and fix the broken pipe which merrily spewed water all day, flooding the street.

For a while there was a blame game about who caused the problem. Had the line been marked in the wrong place? Was the worker careless? But after a time, it didn’t matter at all. There was a mess and all hands were on deck to fix it. The construction crew and the water department worked all day until the line was repaired and work could resume. Police diverted the traffic all day. All the men(and they were all men) worked and joked and took care of things.

It reminds me of the current debate about the Middle East. Whose fault was it? Who should have done what? We need to stop blaming each other and figure out how to work together to repair the damage we caused.

Game Changer?


I was the oldest of four children, the television didn’t enter out home until I was nine, and even then there was only one channel. We played a lot of games. Clue, Monopoly, checkers, Chinese checkers, Uncle Wiggily, and Chutes and Ladders. We also played many card games including rummy, gin rummy, Michigan rummy(a family variation), casino, War, five card draw and canasta. I often won these games because I was older and had learned more strategies.

My younger siblings sometimes resented my winning and complained that it was unfair or that I was cheating. Every once in a while, a sibling would say “I want to choose the next game.” I would agree, and they would declare “52 card pick up,” throwing the deck of cards into the air and laughing as the oblongs flew around the room.

There is a big difference between a “game changer” and a “disrupter.” Today as one of our candidates for President is being described as a “game changer,” I remember my childhood card games. Throwing all 52 cards in the air changed the game all right, by creating a big mess that had to be cleaned up. And my sibling left the clean-up to me.

It Matters

Senator Eugene McCarthy

In 1968, I was twenty-one, at that time the legal age to vote. It was my first chance to vote for President and I was completely in favor of Senator McCarthy who wanted to bring an end to the war raging in Viet Nam. The draft was in effect, and classmates would be serving in the Army after college graduation. I already knew girls who had lost boy friends in the war.

Hubert Humphrey got the Democratic nomination that year and ran against Richard Nixon. I believed that there was no difference between the two candidates and sat out the chance to vote.

I was wrong. I should have voted for Humphrey. Nixon was a disaster and ended up resigning.

History seems to be repeating itself as young voters see no difference between the candidates. Those who supported Bernie Sanders talk about sitting out the election. They should not. There is a clear and dangerous difference this election, and I urge people to vote. I was there and I didn’t. I hope this generation is more discerning than I was.

“Turkey” Pot Pie


As I wrote yesterday, when my parents went out we either had fish sticks or turkey pot pies for dinner. If my mother was feeling especially generous, we had Swanson pot pie. This was the gourmet version. I don’t know how much turkey they actually put in the pot pie these days, but in the 1950’s the meat represented by the four visible chunks in the photo would have been it. The potatoes, far from resembling their photographed  natural selves, were little mushy white innocuous lumps.

Unfortunately, my mother usually bought the Safeway store brand frozen pot pie. They were still labeled “turkey,” but you would be hard pressed to find any in the soupy interior. These pot pies had a bitter aftertaste that I can still recall as I write this. We ate them of course. In those days no child was ever asked what she wanted for dinner. Adults would have been astonished at the thought that the children might refuse whatever was offered. We all were taught to join the “clean plate club,” and we were honestly reminded of the starving children in China. Why China I don’t know, since some kids were warned about starving children in Africa. Maybe because we were on the West Coast.

My siblings and I secretly murmured to each other that we would be glad to ship the pot pies overseas!


Fish and Chips?


When my parents went out for the evening, they left us with a baby sitter and one of two dinners. Fish sticks or turkey pot pies. I have recently understood that these were trends in food in the mid 1950’s. Fish sticks were the first taste of fish I ever had as a child. We ate deep fried shrimp at the Chinese restaurant, but had no other sea food except those frozen sticks.

The important thing to do with fish sticks was to cover them with ketchup or tartar sauce. I suppose that was because they had no taste at all on their own! They were frozen and reheated in the oven on a cookie sheet until “done.” They were not particularly crunchy, nor were they at all “fishy,” a selling point I presume. But we gobbled them down. Four for each of the four of us. With Ore-Ida frozen french fries to go along. They didn’t taste like anything either, so we coated them with ketchup too.

The fish and chips we ate in Ingonish, Nova Scotia were wonderful. They had nothing in common with the fish and chips of my childhood. Only the name.