Things I Learned at the Gym


  • Henry Rollins once said that the iron doesn’t lie. And he is correct.
  • The treadmill doesn’t lie either. You can’t lie to yourself about how fast you’re going or how hard you’re working. There is no stopping to look at something interesting, no stopping to take a sip of water. You either keep pace, or you fall on your face.
  • Most of the trainers I’ve met are nice people whose profession is helping people out. Of course they’d like you to be their client, but that’s business.
  • I’ve been complimented on my flexibility. It doesn’t matter whether or not you can lift 200 pounds if you can’t reach your shoelaces.
  • If you go to a gym, you will encounter a vast array of physical fitness levels (well, most places anyway). Remember that each one of them needs to be paying attention to their own workout; chances are they don’t care what you look like — and will only notice you if you’re clearly in trouble. They’re not laughing at you. They aren’t “miring” you.
  • There appears to be a small number of songs that will never go out of style as far as gym playlists are concerned. Iron Man is on that list.

Every Afternoon


Translation: Every Afternoon in Grenada, Every Afternoon a Child Dies.

Here in Las Vegas, our Child Protective Services office is under fire. Here’s a dead baby found incidental to police serving another warrant. Here’s a boy beaten to death for lying about reading some Bible verses — sadly, school officials alerted CPS to a potential problem just hours before his death. Here’s a child sex abuse case. And the latest, a baby dead after having been removed with his 8 siblings from a home described as having “deplorable conditions.”

There’s a lot of finger pointing, a lot of shoulda-couldas. The fact remains that CPS — and the police — have limited resources to do a Herculean job: keeping every child safe.

But you know what? Every time some busy-body calls the cops or the CPS for a false abuse charge, or a kid or pre-teen left in a car for 5 minutes while mom runs a quick errand, or a kid merely being outside without direct adult supervision? The cops and CPS workers pushing that paperwork can’t spend that time investigating a real case of neglect or abuse. The end result is more kids hurt and more kids killed.

In Closing: walking is good for you; license to work; so much for “elected” officials; shoe’s on the other foot; I love Max.

Sign of the Times

IMG_20140716_102931 (1)

“Vintage Antiques? Well, honestly I was hoping you had some brand new antiques!”

In Closing: sick and tired; CISPA is back from the dead; “Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many early deaths as obesity”; ok ok, we’ll tell you what the NSA is doing, but we aren’t planning on stopping; institutional sexism; a third of Americans think cops are liars; Target pulling out of Canada; on a living wage.

Exercise is a Good Habit too

Did you know that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight? You probably did. Did you also know it can prevent bone loss as you get older? Maybe you just don’t know how to get started without spending a lot of money on one of those exercise programs advertised on late night television.

Well, thank heaven that Google turns up a lot of good places you can start without necessarily buying a gym membership or some expensive videos. Just remember: whatever you do, keep doing something. Remember that this is a habit that’s going to take some time to do right (and even longer if you do it wrong). But all the research says it’s worth it.

Edit: Yet another study says exercise is good for you. Of course, If you started printing out these studies, you might go broke just buying paper.

In Closing: Ted is right; Schneier on doxing; sounds good to me; Mrs. Quimby would probably be in big trouble; the answer is blowing in the wind (and the sun too).

The Shorties Man

Federal Judge uses Common Sense: It is super effective.

Net Neutrality: It’s not dead yet.

Our waning privacy: The FBI is trying to scare Congress. The NSA might find themselves near the end of their leash (a girl can dream).

Strangest thing you’re likely to read today: I promise.

Ok, maybe it’s not a magic anti-aging pill after all: Resveratrol.

Women With Ballots: scary! Be sure to vote, ok?

The Pope: Look, he either speaks the words of God or he doesn’t.

Alcohol: Why doesn’t a bottle of liquor have calorie info on it?

Resume: Um, yeah.

I apologize: I mentioned this story last week, and I am sorry to have gotten pulled in to the hype.

Modern: World War I.

Need new workout clothes?

I am not getting paid a dime to say this, but I like Champion workout clothing. Let me tell you why.

I was sold on the original Champion JogBra years ago. It has since been replaced by higher-tech even-lower-bounce products. In certain activities, it’s very important that The Girls don’t move around too much. Some of the new models even have double layers for more support — and there’s space between the layers for your gym locker key or armor or something. But my love of Champion goes much further than just bras.

These products are durable. I have a couple items that are about 5 years old and still going strong. The only reason to replace them is to keep from getting bored wearing the same old thing. You just aren’t going to get that kind of wear out of the stuff you find at the local discount store.

Now I like fashion as well as the next person. Champion manages to have both “new hip styles” and classics that you will always be able to wear to the gym. Come on, a modestly cut pair of navy blue workout shorts isn’t going out of style. Fine, pair it with a workout shirt in the latest “in” color.

For those that are plus sized, Champion absolutely has larger sizes. I can’t imagine how demoralizing it must be to know you need to work out to lose weight, yet  have a hard time finding exercise clothes that fit properly. At the risk of a really bad pun, they’ve got big girls covered.

Champion products are also very reasonably priced. I’m a clearance rack junkie, personally, but I can get an entire outfit of stuff (sometimes two) for what one premium bra from Lululemon costs — and I don’t have to think about wearing something called a Ta Ta Tamer or supporting a company with questionable values.

And finally, this may seem like a silly point. It is clear that orders are processed and packed by a human being. I know this because when I order a bunch of stuff, my items are packed into “outfits.” Say I have two bras, two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of capris? They will be in two envelopes, one top/bra/bottom in each, color coordinated. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some new workout clothes to toss in the washing machine.

In Closing: one young lady’s solution to child marriage; blah blah Snowden NSA privacy snooping et cetera; Her Majesty; fighting among ourselves?. See you all next time.

An apology and explanation, of sorts

A few weeks ago, I needed to buy cat food and cat litter. I was in a little bit of a hurry that particular day, so when I found there were no carts inside the pet supply store, I did not return to the parking lot to search for one. I casually picked up a 30 pound bag of cat litter, placed a 5 pound bag of cat food on top, and briskly walked to the check-out stand.

Now, if you like humor, think about this mental image: a 4’11” redhead in full airport-walking mode carrying two heavy, bulky objects.

I didn’t think a thing of it until the cashier asked if I would like help out to my car.

So this is my apology. I’m sorry that I forget not everybody can do that. I forget that not everybody can hike themselves around 6 miles of hilly sidewalks and still be ready to do it again the next day. Unless I have house-guests to remind me, I forget that many people consider my almost-daily workouts to be “extreme” if not “crazy.” I forget that most of my classmates take the elevators up to third floor classrooms — or avoid classes in those rooms altogether! — instead of taking the stairs.

But here’s why I say it’s only an apology of sorts. I firmly believe that most people can get in pretty good shape too. In fact, almost everybody can engage in some new behavior that will at least let them be healthier next year, as long as you are actually conscious. I was not born with somehow superior genetics, I was not thin and athletic as a child. I can do many things today that I could not when I was younger because I worked at it. This is where you might say “oh sure, she must spend 3 hours a day at the gym!” Not true. Sure, I do some workout most days a week, but it does average out to less than an hour a day and most of it is in the comfort of my own home.

New Years is a time when a lot of people make empty promises to themselves to engage in new, healthier habits. I know that the overwhelming majority of these promises are empty and soon to be broken, because if it were really important, you wouldn’t wait until some magic date on the calendar. However, you’ve got a much better shot at a modest goal or three than a huge change of lifestyle so keep that in mind if you want to make changes for the better.

That said, I will still share some items that I hope will help you be healthier at the end of 2014 than you are today:

  • “If you’re a woman who thinks it’s okay to tell a skinny woman that she needs to eat a sandwich, I hope you don’t mind when that skinny woman tells you that you’re a fat ass.  Because that’s exactly the sort of shaming you’re giving her.” Don’t feel so “good” about yourself that you have to put others down.
  • If you’re going to get busy in the gym, don’t forget flexibility training. Even football players benefit from yoga. That’s right, I linked to the sports section and the world didn’t end.
  • You do have the time to cook good food, if you plan ahead.
  • Two from Tom Venuto: on attitude and predictions.
  • I still stand behind these two posts on diet and exercise.

Good luck next year. We could all use it.

In Closing: I didn’t know legless land fish existed; more researchers under the delusion that people can shop around for a hospital; another crappy ruling from another judge who doesn’t understand security vs liberty; that oughta work!; you don’t suppose income inequality and NAFTA could be related, do you?; new crypto; and a few pictures.

Strange Epidemic

In the last week, I’ve read two completely unrelated stories about two women who came down with one very rare but very serious medical condition while participating in the same activity. That’s the kind of coincidence I don’t like hearing about.

The condition: Rhabdomyolysis. I’ll let WebMD tell you more about it, emphasis mine:

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. It results from a breakdown of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream. This can lead to complications such as kidney (renal) failure. This occurs when the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine. In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis can even cause death. However, prompt treatment often brings a good outcome.

They go on to say that among the more common causes are “Extreme muscle strain, especially in someone who is an untrained athlete.” Think on that for a moment.

The activity is CrossFit. Here’s the story that started me thinking, and for balance here’s a rebuttal. While I was still digesting this bit, another article on CrossFit induced Rhabdo came across my RSS reader! What a horrible coincidence. For pity sake, they’ve nicknamed this potentially fatal syndrome Uncle Rhabdo! An excerpt from the original item:

A quick search of the Interwebs [sic] reveals copious amounts of information about rhabdo purveyed by none other than CrossFit trainers. Scouring the scientific literature in mainstream medical journals, however, reveals a only a few peer-reviewed papers. The science confirms that exertional rhabdomyolysis, as this form is sometimes referred to, is uncommon and normally reserved for the elite military trainee, ultra-endurance monsters, and for victims of the occasional psychotic football coach. Rhabdomyolysis isn’t a common condition, yet it’s so commonly encountered in CrossFit that they have a cartoon about it, nonchalantly casting humor on something that should never happen.

As you may have guessed from the rebuttal to article one, CrossFit people are passionate about it. I would love to link you to, say, a nice balanced Wikipedia page about CrossFit, but it “has been identified as posing a potential copyright issue….” Here’s some of their WODs, or Workout Of the Day. These are the ones Men’s Health considers the “most brutal.”

Yes, they do this stuff pretty much every day. Yes, they encourage beginners to join them, and the quality of training those beginners receive varies wildly according to the skills of the trainer. I’ve thought about doing it myself, but then I keep running into Youtube videos that convince me I want nothing to do with it, and not just this blooper reel — notice that some of these people are doing it in the gym where somebody should have corrected form. Do you really think these people received adequate training before trying to lift that? Maybe we should work on basic presses and lunges before trying a clean and jerk?? Look at these women being encouraged tokipp” — cheat! — at pull ups. I’d rather do 5 pull ups Tony’s way, Mark’s way, or Scooby’s way than 50 CrossFit’s way; healthier for my shoulders and back, and more honest too. I don’t have room in my life for “Uncle Rhabdo.”

So yeah, “untrained athlete” plus extreme workouts every day equals a high chance of injury.

Alert the media.