Tag Archives: exercise

Lame Adventure 395: Impulse Shopping

Last month, my gastroenterologist ordered me to lose the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.  I am paraphrasing his exact wording, but he insists that I must slam the brakes on my widening middle age spread and focus on getting back into shape. My knee-jerk response was spastic discombobulating followed with denial that devolved into defensive arguing. Then, I coughed up a copper penny I swallowed when I was five and purchased a spin bike that set me back another 44,899 copper pennies including shipping. It arrived two weeks ago tomorrow. Here it is.



I cannot show anymore of it because I have yet to open the box. Allegedly, inside is one Spinner brand FIT bike, 4 DVDs (but it is not specified if any are from the Criterion Collection or my second choice, documentaries about historical people of accomplishment or my third preference, celebrity sex tapes). In addition, there’s an 8-Week Weight Loss Program (on week 9 do I revert back to my 5-Year Weight Gain Program?) and something called Guide to Ride. The last could be an advisory sentence: “Climb on and cycle your guts out lard ass.” Until I open this box, for all I know what’s inside is a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys. How would I feel about that? After I finish brooding it would solve what everyone is getting from me for Christmas this year and 15 years hence.

Everyone (in unison): Lead-filled sock monkeys again! You suck!

If this had been a delivery of tile samples to my place of employ, The Grind, I would have opened and inventoried the contents of this box at warp speed to ensure that we received exactly what we ordered, everything was intact nor were any lead-filled sock monkeys included. I did shift into overdrive playing intermediary between the delivery service, FedEx, and my apartment building’s manager who graciously arranged to have this hippopotamus-sized hunk of steel carried up to and placed inside my third floor hovel. She knows that I have reached the age when my carrying anything less portable than a bottle of Windex and eleven craisins will elicit huffing and puffing worthy of a 19th century steam engine, coincidentally exactly what I feel like most mornings when I wake. Huh, maybe I should do something specific about getting back into shape?

One of the advantages of living in New York City is that I do not need to own a car. My main sources of getting around are public transit and walking. Over the weekend, I needed to go to my market, Fairway, to do some foodstuff shopping. I walked to the store. It was very crowded, but at least the homicidal maniac-types were sleeping in and everyone that showed up was civil. I was determined to grab what I needed and go as quickly as possible. Returning home I encountered a loose Brussels Sprout on the sidewalk near my sanctum sanctorum.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed sprout.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed Brussels Sprout.

As I was photographing this rare sight, I remembered that in my haste I had forgotten to pick up pita bread. I went home, dropped off my sack of groceries and then embraced 21st century technology and texted my friend, Coco. Why suffer in dignified silence when one can grouse in whiny text? It’s vital to have a buddy to share one’s suffering with and for me, that buddy is Coco.

Coco (via text): I hate when I forget something at the store. I feel your pain.

I returned to my market, where I again wended my way through the masses and picked up pita bread and on impulse, a package of chocolate sea salt cookies — in defiance of why I have gained a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

When I returned home, Coco texted me.

Coco: Glad you accomplished mission pita.

What she does not know is that Project Lazy Lard Ass is continuing with gusto. When I get around to opening that spin bike box, preferably before I polish off every chocolate sea salt cookie, I hope that I am not greeted with a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys, or equally irritating, a spin bike missing a fly wheel.

We're all in this together.

We’re all in this together.

Now for some shilling in this quid pro quo world we live in. My worst seller, Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan, is being featured tomorrow at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized e-book recommendations. You choose from 32 genres, indicate your preferences about content and then their computers, or maybe it’s a gray-haired lady in orthopedic shoes named Agnes, do the rest. Check out their site:


Lame Adventure 388: Thought is Cheap

Recently I thought:

Me (thinking): I’d like to get back in shape.

Currently, I am situated in between two poles. On the one side there’s the pole that is fantastically fit and I’m moving with the grace of a gazelle, prompting this type of flattery:

Flatterer: You look great! Have you been quaffing from the fountain of youth?

The opposite pole is dire. I have turned into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet prompting the screaming silence of disapproval and behind-the-back commentary:

Behind-the-Back Commentary: Has she gone downhill! Obviously, she’s guzzling from the sewer of age.

For twenty-five years, to stay in shape I stationary cycled and lifted weights in the privacy of my sanctum sanctorum. The Tunturi exercise bike I bought in 1986 is now quite rusted. What is of even greater concern is that it has been steadily drizzling parts on my rug for most of the past two years. When I vacuum, I hear the disturbing sound of deeply inhaled chunks of metal rattling through my ancient upright Eureka’s intestines. What remains of my exercise bike is in such a state of dilapidation I am in a quandary. Should I attempt to ride it again or just put it out of its misery? Maybe place it on cinderblocks in my building’s front garden? If I do ride it again, what if a part that should move fluidly jerks violently, catapulting me through the window and I bounce off the concrete patio three stories below? What a way to introduce myself to the first floor tenants — surrounded by paramedics with mops.

The time has come to invest in a new exercise bike. In today’s world that is a spin bike. I could see myself perched atop one of these state of the art fitness machines complete with a narrow seat made from a composite material with slightly less give than granite, having the cardio workout of a lifetime provided a massive coronary or a blood clot erupting in what’s left of my brain does not mar the plethora of health benefits. I can envision myself cycling off excess flab on this, my personally watered down to an anemic drip Tour de France, or more accurately, Tour de Crappy Rent Stabilized Studio Apartment.

Recently, I saw a lovely sunny yellow spin bike on display on Amsterdam Avenue outside SoulCycle, the spin enthusiast’s temple of spinning. A single class there costs $34 while the VIP 50-class package tops $3,500. I don’t do classes, nor do I have a spare 3,500 clams to burn, but I would welcome having a shiny new sunny yellow spin bike in my humble abode.  I went online to price it and discovered it is $2,200. There’s no way I am going to spend those kinds of shekels on an exercise machine, but I was curious to see for myself what exactly makes this bike the Lamborghini of spin bikes. Does it come with an engine?

Sweet bike, sour price.

Sweet bike, sour price.

I set out to do some investigating. Just when I was about a storefront away from SoulCycle, a poster caught my eye in the doorway of a bakery called Crumbs announcing the arrival of the Crumbnut. I did a swish pan and was instantly inside Crumbs.

Welcome sucker!

Welcome sucker!

In May, Dominique Ansel, a French bakery in Soho introduced the original Cronut, the spawn of a croissant and a doughnut. People have lost their minds over this delicacy and start lining up outside this bakery on weekdays at 5:30 in the morning. Dominique opens at 8 and limits two Cronuts per customer at $5 each.  Right now, they’re baking about 300 a day. Some of my longtime readers might think that this is the exact type of lunacy that has “Lame Adventures” written all over it. I hate to disappoint but there is no way I am going to do this. Here at Lame Adventures, I have standards.

I saw that the Crumbnut costs $2.95. They were filling an entire tray. I could have easily bought two dozen. I bought one, hightailed home, took a bite and discovered that it has the consistency of a hockey puck, but with slightly less flavor. I also suspected that the vintage was easily half a day old.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

Then, I remembered that I was so distracted by the advent of the Crumbnut, I completely blanked on checking out the SoulCycle bike. Thanks to a cheap knock-off Cronut, I have inched closer in the direction of atrophying into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet. Pass the chocolate.

Note: my friend Jackie Cangro has written an excellent post about Faux-nuts and I urge you to check it out here.

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.