Lame Adventure 368: Feel the Burn

Recently, I suffered the humiliation of looking at myself in a store’s dressing room mirror. I was even fully clad. This horrifying encounter brought to mind a tale I wrote a few years ago about defeating the battle of the bulge:

Feel the Burn


Lame Adventureswoman

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit? … There’s a catch, though. Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt.

Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week? The New York Times

While at work, boxing 18,000 blue plastic cats, my mind drifted. Fitness is very important to me. It’s such a challenge balancing career and home life with a daily exercise routine. In recent years I’ve fallen behind on exercise, as I’ve doubled my love for Pub Mix.

A fat-full foodstuff.

A fat-full foodstuff.

If I could master interval training sessions six minutes a week — a mere seventy-two seconds a day — and the end result is a body comparable to a swimsuit model’s rather than it’s current compliment, the Liberty Bell, this could surely renew interest in the intimacy department with Tulip, my inamorata of four sizzling months and 6 ¾ tepid years. Last night while spooning, I delicately removed her earplug and cooed, “Are we ever going to do it again or what?” Her response to this love call: a deep groan reminiscent of a dying antelope. Once again I failed to reignite her ardor. There’s no question about it, I am a woman who must get fit in six minutes a week!

Once I achieve a maximum level of physical perfection in six minutes a week, could the principle of interval training apply to other avenues of my life? At this moment, I am specifically thinking about how it could pertain to boxing 17,983 blue plastic cats. Might there be a high-octane approach to fulfilling one’s employment obligations? If my forty-hour workweek were reduced to six minutes a week, I would have so much more time to pursue my life’s goals. I would even have time to recall what my life’s goals once were.

With my life’s goals re-established, I could next focus on travel. Every year Tulip and I visit the same places — her sister, Iris, in spring; brother, Thorn, in summer; my Uncle Cuthbert for Thanksgiving; and our sole brush with celebrity, the prairie dog-whisperer, Agnes Dunk, over the holidays. The monotony of this routine is stifling.  We owe it to our faltering union to see more of the world.  Tulip is averse to any travel above 96th Street or below 14th, but if it were possible to cross the pond and absorb the cultural magnificence of the great cities of Europe in ten hours or less, I’m certain she would be on board to do so in a heartbeat.  A warp-speed tour of the western world would pave the way for a journey east.  Who could possibly resist absorbing the glory of the Great Wall of China in nineteen minutes (or less)?

Then, there is the matter of nourishment and this patriotic habit I’ve acquired of consuming more calories than I expend. If I could both reduce and satisfy all of my food-related urges in fifty-one seconds a day, that would gift me with an additional eighteen hours a week, seventy-eight hours a month, or 936 hours per annum. That’s the equivalent of thirty-nine days in a calendar year. With so much extra time, I could achieve so much more. I could locate lost socks, read the classics, or develop a reality TV series about … time saving! It could strike such a chord with the viewing masses; there could be spin-offs of this series worldwide. As the mastermind, my name would join the pantheon of other legendary female media pioneers – Diane Sawyer, Rachel Maddow, Snooki.

Foolish me, I’m getting so ahead of myself! Now that I’ve completed boxing 129 blue plastic cats, and my work day has drawn to a close, I’m blithely heading to the fitness center for my first seventy-two second interval training session with Adolf, my trainer.  He is a buff young man with a shaved head reminiscent of a potato. It would be so nice to indulge in a piping hot plate of French fries right now. Before I can say, “Pass the ketchup,” he straps me into an exercise cycle, and is maniacally cracking a whip as I pump the pedals with the ferocity of a world-class competitor on performance enhancing drugs.  Within seconds, I am a cycling dynamo. Within seconds after that, I’m crying blood and screaming in agony for my mother. In fact, I’m certain that this pounding-pulsating sensation raging throughout my entire being must be comparable to suffering a massive stroke, a severe heart attack, and stage four cancer simultaneously.

Even though I am exerting myself as if possessed, the seventy-two seconds begin moving in slow motion. Reality reconfigures. I am no longer in the fitness center. I am standing in a shadowy tunnel where a light is shining in the distance and I am hearing voices from my past. I hear my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Glank, calling out to me, “Come here right now, you ornery brat!” She was run over by a bus in 2007 at age 93, confirming the old maxim that the good die young.

I hear our downstairs neighbor, Ira, crooning The Way You Look Tonight. He is still off-key and as three sheets to the wind as on that night his liver imploded. I conclude that alcohol is served in the afterlife. Comforting.

Who’s this shadowy figure? My nana! She’s wearing her orthopedic shoes and that dress in the print that reminds me of lentils. With her hands on her rotund hips, she bellows, “You eat too much crap and you watch way too much TV!  No fella will ever marry you!”

Just as I’m about to engage in defensive discourse with my ancestor, the training session is over. I fall off the bike, but before smacking into the floor, Adolf catches me. He declares proudly, “You did great! Look, no vomit for me to clean anywhere. Tomorrow, we do swimming, yah?” My exact response to his suggestion eludes me, but I recall the word Nazi figuring prominently.

I return home thoroughly discombobulated. I am unsure if I reached my sanctum sanctorum via taxi, the number two train, or ambulance, but I do know I am standing in my living room, albeit on my hands and knees.

Tulip is reclining on the couch in either a seductive pose or she’s hooked up to an IV. My vision is askew and I cannot tell if she is clad in a mint green body suit and our couch is flesh colored, or she is naked and the couch remains mint green. This is just too much information for me to process in my state of distress.

I crawl into our bedroom. She follows me. While lying on the floor, I pull off my clothes as best as I can. My Quisp cereal tee shirt is bundled atop my head keffiyeh-style.

Tulip is towering over me. I now have a lucid read on her state of attire. She is not wearing a single stitch, nary a throw pillow. She looks at me in a come-hither way I have not seen in eons. I mutter, “Don’t even think it,” and anemically tug the comforter off the bed. Before it puddles onto me, she draws closer and asks, “Wow, are those abs?” As I fade into a coma, I make a mental note to pack my swimsuit for tomorrow’s session — and a few Red Bulls for afterward.

81 responses to “Lame Adventure 368: Feel the Burn

  1. I want you to know that I was exercising vigorously during the first six minutes of reading this and now I resemble a steak fry rather than a potato. Thanks!


  2. My dearest LA,

    Thanks – I smiled all the way through – I needed to smile after my two weekend warrior marathon sixteen hour days and not arriving to my living room last night till after midnight, (actually eighteen hours for yesterday), on my hands and knees; too tired to sleep.

    I hope your exercise routine works for you – I can tell you, my sixteen hour days are doing nothing for my physic: I feel like the rag doll that the doberman chewed the ass-end out of, but still with the battle of the bulge.

    Thanks again – great story telling!




    • Glad you enjoyed the tale R. I LOVE the comment: “I feel like the rag doll that the doberman chewed the ass-end out of, but still with the battle of the bulge.” But I know exactly what you mean!


  3. Snoring Dog Studio

    I’m exhausted now and just want to go back to bed. Interval training for me means working like a dog out in the garden and then coming in to have a piece of cake. I am truly sick of fitness.


  4. hahahahahaha
    I loved it: “Her response to this love call: a deep groan reminiscent of a dying antelope.:
    “You did great! Look, no vomit for me to clean anywhere. Tomorrow, we do swimming, yah?” this brought back memories from when I was a teenager and was part of the track team, my couch would tell me that if no vomit was involved the workout had been useless.
    I keep telling my Walrus to workout, since we are together he has put on 20lbs, meaning we cannot shares clothes anymore, the greatest advantage of being gay is gone, taken from me, no more double closet.
    Really nice post.
    Now I’m gonna pig out on paella if you excuse me.


    • Leo, I’m in-between romances right now, but I forgot all about the double closet! My ex, Voom, and I could work that, but my more recent exes have all been much bigger (no, not like your dear Walrus), but taller, curvier and (ahem) stacked. Last Year’s Model was a Latin goddess straight out of a pulp novel called “Uncaged Rage in a Too Tight Skirt”. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrowl!

      Glad you loved the post!


  5. “Six Minutes a Week” causes me to see dollar signs …. the infomercials … the books … the DVD series …. book deals …. speaking engagements …. a regular slot on a network show … the reason to renew Oprah’s book club … and the list goes on.


  6. How do I love your writing, V? Let me count the ways…Succinct, articulate, intelligent and funny as hell! Oh yes, and please stay away from the light! I suspect with all the walking you do living in NYC that you’re way more fit than most (except for the pub mix, maybe substitute carrot sticks.)


    • Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, shucks Cathy, thanks. I’m so glad you liked the tale. I actually have been eating carrot sticks for the past month. As much as I do run around town like the gadfly that I am, I have got to resume a daily exercise routine before the flab overtakes my entire being. The middle age metabolism needs a push before I completely head in the direction of an obsolete Oldsmobile, metaphorically speaking.


  7. Six minutes a week…reminds me of the hitchhiker/serial killer from Something About Mary. Uncredited part by Harland Williams. Check out this astoundingly creepy yet hilarious exchange with Harland and Ben Stiller.


  8. you mentioned snooki. What’s that i see? Fire AND brimstone falling from the sky? thanks, thanks a lot!


  9. V, you are such a good writer, and this piece is especially well written. Impeccable. I so enjoyed reading it. This brings to mind your and Milton’s “Manhattan Project.” Yes? How’s it going? I’m looking forward to it.

    You do know, though, that clothing stores use funhouse mirrors, right?


    • Samantha, thank you for confirming my worst nightmare in that dressing room is not true and I am still indeed the svelte sprite of yesteryear and this spare tire circling my gut is only a 3D optical illusion …

      If all goes well, the Manhattan Project will be revealed by Lame Adventure 372, or by months’ end. So, continue to stay tuned. It is coming!


      • I can personally vouch for the image you see in the dressing room mirror being an illusion. Moreover, I cannot fathom why they do not illuminate dressing rooms by candlelight.

        Looking forward to the Manhattan Project! 🙂


  10. Sounds like a good work out and with your mind racing afterward, I gotta believe you burned calories for hours!


  11. I wonder if they sell that Pub Mix down here? If so, it’s probably labeled Shit-Hole Redneck Dive Mix. The reality show about saving time is a great idea. Too bad I’ve only got 72 seconds to devote to the program and I’m afraid the commercials are going to take up most of that. This is one of your best so far, WV. My muscles are already starting to get sore just from reading about your excruciating workout.


    • If only we could get fit in 6 minutes a week, Russell, I’d gladly challenge a heart attack if that meant more laying around time! Glad you liked the tale. I have a few of those tucked away. Shit-Hole Redneck Dive Mix sounds like the same heavily salted and fat-fortified gourmet treat as City Slicker Pub Mix to me.


  12. Brilliant LA! This is just the kind of exercise regime that I need! I may hook half a bike up in the bedroom and have a go on the cheap! And I really could do with getting me some abs right now… must dash – things to prepare!


  13. i’m not sure what was more entertaining this post or your exchange with Leo. Either way, thank you.


  14. OK now I want a house dress that looks like lentils. That sounds like an excellent outfit to get fat in.


  15. Ah, youth and our belief in a magic something. V, someday we’re all going to look back and wonder why we paid money for someone to torture us and “whip us into shape.” Just stay away from the store mirrors. I think it’s a conspiracy to make women feel more inferior so we’ll buy more stuff to make us stop feeling that way. Why wouldn’t they use rose-colored lights and serve wine? I can’t believe you turned down Tulip’s advances. Seriously was it worth it? That fat mix stuff looks tasty.

    And how much longer on the Manhattan project?


  16. If you (or rather your character–ha! fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on you again, trickster!) is REALLY as patriotic as she claims (i.e., “more calories than I expend”), then she likely would refer to F***** fries as “Freedom Fries,” and she CERTAINLY wouldn’t have mentioned Rachel M***** without a parenthetical (hissss!).

    You, madame, or your literary doppelganger, are a sunshine patriot!

    Also, “The Way You Look Tonight” is beautiful no matter who’s singing it. Such a lovely, lovely song. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, eh, comrade?


    • And as proof of my contention, you’ve managed to get “The Way You Look Tonight” stuck in my head, and I’ve been crooning it. Despite coming out of my yapper, it still sounds awesome.

      Just thinking ooooof you, and the waaay you look toniiiiiiiight.


    • Hey, Smak, are you getting all Thomas Paine on us over here? Rachel’s my hero(ine)! At least intellectually. I would love to quaff a few with her.

      For me, the definitive rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” was Frank’s. It was featured in one of my all time favorite NYC-themed commercials:


  17. Fantsatic read, Lame, made me guffaw today.
    A new convert of just five days, I recommend a bike. They’re fab and they don’t hurt. Are there bike lanes in NY?
    And cross the pond already! England awaits!!


  18. lordy, sugar! i was in a dressing room yesterday (i HATE shopping) looked in the horrible mirror and damn near DIED! wtf, right? anyway, i bought the clothes anyway. wait, we’re talking about exercising, right? hey, i walked from the car to the department store and around the store and then back to the car. isn’t that enough? maybe i’ll walk out to the mailbox…


    • So you must have been shopping in a store that used the exact make and model of mirror that reflected me Savannah! Can we have some kind of class action lawsuit here for pain and suffering? I’m not at The Grind today. Thanks for the reminder that I should check my mail — see what bills await me.


  19. Pingback: Oh, Wednesday! | Me! Me! Me me me!

  20. Loved the “tongue in cheek” humour of the post.

    I guess for any change to happen, we need to have the willingness and the capacity to embrace it. Most times, there exists that intrinsic conflict between our heart ( the Why?) and our brain ( the how?)



  21. With Tulip encouraging you, I think you’ll do great. 🙂 xo


  22. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude. I know that you were probably in pain but this was too funny. I loved this workout story and the 72 seconds of madness that all led to the most awesome punch line of the story “Are those abs?” HA! You killed me, and then your mental note was even better. Good post!


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