Saturday, January 23, 2016

The One With Zumba

My son’s girlfriend, Codi, and Savannah dragged invited me to a Zumba class a couple nights ago. As I approached the building, wearing my one and only pair of leggings with a long, baggy t-shirt, I babbled nervously. “I feel so self-conscious when I walk into a gym because I’m fat. But you need to go a gym so you can get un-fat. It’s really a paradox.”

It was dark so I couldn’t actually see them roll their eyes, but I’m pretty sure they did.

“Really,” I continued, “they should open a gym specifically for fat people. You’d have to be at least 50 pounds overweight to join. And they could sell work-out clothes in plus sizes because let me tell ya, you can’t find that stuff in regular stores! And regular, normal-looking people would work there instead of crazy-buff, hot guys and model-looking girls who make you feel like why bother?

"Are you done now?”

“I thought it was a good idea,” I muttered to myself as we walked inside.

Once inside the studio, I took my place at the back of the room, far away from the instructors, and more importantly, the enormous mirrors that completely covered the front wall.

“In my Fat Gym, there wouldn’t be mirrors on the walls,” I stated.

Codi and Savannah shook their heads.

“Ooooo, oooo! Or there would be mirrors, but they’d be fun park mirrors that made you look thinner! Yes! Now THAT’S motivation! I am totally on to something here! I know there’s a market for it! I, for one, would join the Fat Gym!” I gazed in the distance and announced dramatically, “The Fat Gym – a comfortable place to work out. I have a slogan and everything!”

Before Savannah and Codi could tell me to stop talking, the music started and everyone collectively moved; synchronized dance moves that everyone, but I somehow knew. I felt like I’d been plunked in the middle of a musical where everyone but me knew the intricately choreographed dance moves. I tried to follow the instructor’s lead, but since I’d taken up residence at the very back of the room, I couldn’t see the instructor. I did, however, get a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked like this:

 
via GIPHY

Unable to see the instructor, I picked out a person who looked like she knew what she was doing and tried to follow her. Savannah and Codi who had never done Zumba seemingly picked it up with no effort. Maybe they weren’t as polished as the women who had clearly been doing Zumba since the day they’d learned how to walk, but they were following along and holding their own. I, on the other hand, could not, for the life of me, make my body move even remotely like anyone else in the room. Except for the man in the back with me who was 75 years old if he was a day. I was doing almost as well as he was. Almost. Being shown up by a member of the geriatric crew does wonders for one's self-esteem. 

I stopped trying and stood there nervously laughing. "I don't get it! I have no idea what everyone is doing!" I felt like a total dork. Why had I agreed to try this? And why was the music so darn fast???



via GIPHY

After about half an hour, I finally started picking up some of the moves. The only problem is that I was 2 steps behind. By the time I finally caught on to what they were doing, everyone else had moved ahead and was doing something else. As everyone moved to the left, I moved to the right. I crashed into the woman next to me. “I’m so sorry.” I tripped into the person on the other side. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m doing!”

She responded, “It’s okay.” What she meant was, “What’s wrong with you?!” I felt like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy. And I was Lucy.


via GIPHY

Feeling a modicum of confidence since I'd been able to make my feet move like everyone else's (albeit a few moves late), I got cocky and decided to add arm movements. Up until this point, my arms had just hung like fat sausages at my sides. This is the point when I learned I have zero coordination. ZERO. COORDINATION. I am physically unable to make my feet and my arms move with any semblance of agility whatsoever. I am a total and complete spaz. This is why I never dance unless I've consumed copious amounts of alcohol at which point I cease caring about my spaziousitude and just have fun. The next time I go to Zumba (isn't that funny how I imply there will be a next time?), I'm going to drink first. Then I'll just rock out to Shakira and Pitbull without a care in the world.


 
via GIPHY

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The One With The Dermatologist And Bob Marley

I had this little spot on my cheek that started bleeding the other day. I didn’t think anything of it at first until I overheard some friends talking about skin cancer. I Googled skin cancer and clicked on the images tab. Hundreds of pictures of skin cancer covered my computer monitor. I do not recommend you do this. Take my word for it – you do NOT want to see those images. Ever.

I employed my M.O. and ignored it, figuring it would go away on its own. And it did. Sort of. Mostly. But when Savannah asked me to make a dermatologist appointment for her, I figured I should make one for myself too. I mean, I live in Florida now and they don’t call it The Sunshine State for nothing. I’m vigilant about slathering my kids in sunscreen, especially since three of them have Vitiligo, but I suck at remembering to apply it to myself. Then there were the days when I was young and stupid and I’d lie around our pool, covered in baby oil, a veritable piece of bacon crisping in the sun. And finally, I’m old. Old people get skin cancer. In fact, 1 out of 5 people will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. I decided it would be a good idea to get checked out by a dermatologist.

At the doctor’s office, I was escorted to a room by a young guy. He gave me a pamphlet about skin cancer and rambled on about checking your skin for suspicious spots, avoiding the sun whenever possible, using sunscreen, and making yearly appointments with a dermatologist. “The doctor will be checking you everywhere. She’ll even check your scalp and the bottoms of your feet and in between your toes.” He continued, “People develop melanoma between their toes. Bob Marley died from melanoma under his toenail that spread to his lungs and brain.”

I wasn’t sure how to react to that tidbit. Was that supposed to reassure me that I’d be fine since the doctor would check my toes? Or was he trying to freak me out? Or just making dermatology related conversation? My mind went to Jerry Seinfeld when he was dating the dermatologist, Dr. Pimple Popper MD. Saving lives? The whole profession is; eh, just put some aloe on it. I chuckled to myself because that’s what I do – imagine random scenes from movies and sitcoms and then laugh inappropriately.

“Are there any areas of concern?” he asked.

“Well, I had this little spot on my cheek here,” I admitted, while poking at my face in the general vicinity of where the spot was. “It’s really hard to tell where it is without a mirror. Anyway, it was bleeding a little bit about a month ago.”

He looked at my face, then took a pen and proceeded to draw a square around the spot in question. Then he handed me a paper gown and told me to change. Before leaving, he asked, “I’ll be in here assisting the doctor unless you’d feel more comfortable with two females in here?”

I shrugged, indifferent, and took the proffered paper gown.  “I’ve given birth 6 times. Modesty is a thing of the past.”

He left and I quickly changed, lest they walk in and see me with my shirt half off. I mean, I know they’re going to see me buck naked, but somehow it’s okay that they see me naked while I’m perched atop a paper covered table. Seeing me standing there with my pants twisted around my ankles, on the other hand, is a whole ‘nother world of embarrassment.

I hopped up onto the table and glanced down at the chipped polish on my toes. Oh no! She won’t be able to see my toenails through my red polish with the black and white stripes (my homage to the Blackhawks and their 10 game winning streak.) Great! I’ll probably die of toe cancer and all because of this stupid nail polish. They should really tell you to arrive polish-free when you make an appointment.

Bob Marley songs played through my brain as I waited for the doctor.

Don’t worry
About a thing
‘Cause every little thing
Gonna be alright
Unless you have toenail cancer
And then you’ll die

Thankfully the doctor walked in before I could create any more new lyrics. She introduced herself and held out her hand. I eyed her hand, then peered at my own, glistening with moisture. I’m cursed with the ability to produce inordinate amounts of sweat when I’m nervous. Clasp her hand and gross her out with the sweat, ignore her outstretched hand and offend her for not participating in her greeting, or mumble  something about having sweaty palms? I ignored her, then reconsidered and wiped my hand on my paper gown, ripping it in the process, and finally thrust my hand out toward her. She gave me an odd look, then got to work combing through my hair with her fingers, looking for signs of skin cancer. 

“Do you have a hair stylist?” she asked.

“Yeah, I know I’m really gray. It’s time for a touch-up,” I said, embarrassed.

“No, no, I just meant that if someone does your hair, they can let you know if they see anything strange.”

“Ohhhh.”

She continued to look me all over while I sat there. As she checked me, she called off official sounding names to her assistant who stood, bent over his clipboard listing all the weird skin conditions that apparently cover me. Satisfied that she’d thoroughly inspected my top half, she asked me to stand up. I tried to gracefully slide from the table, but the paper stuck to my legs and I pulled it with me. Then my knee buckled (thank you for that, Zumba!) and I kind of teetered for a minute flailing my arms out and hitting the doctor while attempting to regain my balance. Meanwhile, the paper which has fused to my thighs is still trailing behind me like an absurdly prosaic bridal train.
I gave a nervous little laugh as I pictured Ross trying to pull his leather pants up over his sweaty legs. (Again, it’s what I do.)

The lotion and the powder have made a paste!


When she finished her check, she told me that the spot on my cheek was pre-cancerous and not to worry because it could be many years before it turned cancerous, but still, they recommend getting rid of it with cryosurgery now. So she froze it with liquid nitrogen. I didn’t look in a mirror and didn’t realize I had a big red blotch on my cheek inside a square drawn with pen until I got to work. Pretty.

And you know what? She never looked at my toes!


So here’s my little PSA – use sunscreen, pay attention to any moles or spots on your body that change, and see a dermatologist because skin cancer is highly curable when caught early. And take off your nail polish before going!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's That Time of Year Once Again

It’s that time of year once again; the time of year when I make my annual pledge to lose weight, eat healthier, and get in shape. Traditionally this means 2-4 weeks of eating things like quinoa, salmon, and blueberries while drinking enough water to ensure 49 trips to the bathroom in any given 24-hour period. During this period, I will exercise until my muscles hurt so much I cannot get off the couch without the help of my children (and a whole lot crying and pathetic moaning noises.) This 2-4 week period is followed by a slow weaning of the recently adopted healthy habits in favor for chocolate and binge watching Netflix while lying like a sloth on the couch. What can I say? It’s tradition.

I weigh about as much as I did while pregnant, which wouldn’t be horrible except for the fact that I’m not actually pregnant. I look in the mirror and am absolutely disgusted with myself. And I have no one to blame, but myself. I think of the Serenity Prayer often.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
And the wisdom to know the difference. 

Weight is one of those things I can change. There is no excuse for not accepting responsibility for that. Or well, actually there are a million excuses (believe me, I’ve invented quite a few myself – I can’t go for a walk or I might be hit by a fish falling from the sky and I can’t do Bikram yoga because Satan teaches that class.) But those excuses are just that – excuses. In the end, something as transient as weight is fully in my control. It’s up to me to make the decision to change and then to put a plan in place and stick to it long-term. 

So here I am once again, resolving to make permanent changes. Once again. To that end, I started exercising once again. I started off slowly, or well, I thought I was starting out slowly. The last time I regularly exercised, I could jog 5 miles. I thought walking 3 miles wouldn’t be a big deal. I thought wrong. 


I met my friend, Cheri to walk. Cheri is the Monica to my Fat Amy. When I'm like:



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She's all:  "No, c'mon, we can't stop, c'mon, we've got three more pounds to go. I am the energy train and you are on board. Woo-woo, woo-woo, woo-woo!"




When I woke up Sunday morning and saw that it was raining, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the dreary weather that would enable me to get out of walking for the day! Of course, then I couldn't get up off my knees so I just crawled to the bathroom on all fours like that was my plan all along. Cheri, however, being the Monica-type, declared that a little rain would not put a crimp in her plans to torture me make sure we exercised. I ignored her text, thinking that eventually she'd give up and find something else to do. After the 28th text, I realized I have crazy persistent stubborn determined friends, and if I didn't show up to walk, she'd hunt me down.

So I pulled on my shorts and a t-shirt, and we walked around her neighborhood. In the rain. And the unseasonably cold, 50-degree weather. Cheri is like a foot taller than me. Now imagine a sloth trying to keep up with a giraffe. Got that visual? Yeah. So Cheri walks backwards. She works her muscles out differently by doing that and I have a sporting chance of keeping up with her. I never really thought about how we looked until a neighbor (wearing a winter coat and hat) called out to us. "I saw you two walking yesterday too. Why do you walk backwards?"

Without missing a beat, Cheri answered, "So I can watch for danger this way and she can watch for danger in that direction." You know, just in case ninjas attack from all sides while we're walking in broad daylight. In her gated community. The guy stared at us for a minute while questioning the sanity of people walking backwards in the rain.

Then again, maybe he was staring because of the way I was dressed. I had opted for beige shorts and a light pink top. Within a block, my clothes were soaked. The stripes of my bra showed through the t-shirt that was plastered to me. And my black underwear showed through my light shorts. Actually, my underwear probably didn't show through too much because it had all but disappeared in a wedgie of epic proportions. That's what happens when you're fat, your undies are too small, you're walking fast, and there are people around to see through your wet clothes. Yep, that's me - keeping it classy.

A mile into our walk, I insisted I was having a heart attack.





She countered with a peppy, "You're not dying! You're getting in shape!"

We walked another mile before we neared her house. As soon as I saw it, a tear of happiness slipped down my cheek. "I can see the end! We're almost there! Just a few more steps . . ." I panted.

Cheri turned the corner and headed in the opposite direction. "C'mon! You can't stop now! We have to do 3 miles!" she called. I think I responded with this:


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We finally made it around another winding loop of streets and came to her house once more. "I made it," I gasped, tears of joy mixing with the sweat and rain. I started to turn up her driveway.

"You can't stop now! We haven't done 3 miles yet," she said, looking at the app on her phone. "We're at 2.9 miles. Come on! Down to the corner and back!"

"You go ahead and walk down to the corner and back, you sadistic wackjob! I'm going to pass out."

"You can pass out after you've done 3 miles. Come on! You can do it!"

I trudged behind her, chanting, "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," (which, roughly translated, means, "I love you. Thank you for kicking my butt.")

The whole ordeal wouldn't have been so bad expect that I shockingly did not lose 20 pounds from that walk and really, I don't think that was an unreasonable expectation. And of course, the fact that my underwear needed to be surgically removed by the time I got home.




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