Tag Archives: Exercise

Raw Strawberries and Nonfat Yogurt

Just like every morning, just like a prayer to start the day, I got up, put on clothes, had some coffee and went for a run. Slow and easy does the trick, they say.  Good thing. I was slow, and I took it easy. Now I’m home, made more coffee, cut up a big pile of strawberries (they’re gone now; sorry. Can’t share with you), and sat down to yogurt and coffee. The yogurt is plain, Greek, and full of nonfat goodness.  I don’t know how that works, yogurt without the fat. I grin and bear it. Plain yogurt has never been my favorite thing.

In fact, I have never developed a taste for sour food in general. I need to sweeten my lemonade to balance the tartness. I never really liked raw, fresh berries. They’re just annoying. But, if you think about it, this is 1/4 of the palate of taste that I’ve basically rejected (1/5 if you count umami). In my life, I’ve definitely covered the gamut of sweet and salty. But bitter and sour are our basic biological response to poisons, most of which, I’m told are bitter or sour. Sour and bitter are reminders that, every time we drink alcohol, “just a dab’ll do ya.” Any more than a little bit, and you’re doing crazy things: you know, like killing yourself.

Somehow, over 47 and 3/4 years, I got used to eating, let’s say, gravy. It’s made with fat, liquid, a thickener (usually flour) and seasoning. And I love gravy. Especially the kind my grandma made so well, the white gravy with sausage chunks floating in it. Put that on a biscuit, and it’s like heaven for fifteen minutes. Gimme another plate please! But this doesn’t happen with strawberries, or yogurt, or almonds or grapefruits.

But strawberries are sour. Not poisonous; just sour. So are almonds, just a bit. (They’re also poisonous, just a bit, so don’t eat 1,800 of them at once). And grapefruits. Ugh. Nuff said about grapefruits. Although if I wanted to make a spiffy helmet for our cat, a grapefruit skin would be just the thing!

I guess those other foods are better for you than the buttercream frosting on your birthday cake. At least that’s what modern nutrition tells us. Who knows: maybe 200 years in the future, we’ll find out that buttercream is the staple substance that holds our bodies together, without which we just wither up and die and our body parts fly away like corn silk on the wind. But probably not. So I ate my strawberries and unflavored (shudder) yogurt this morning, the same way I have for a few weeks now.

I used to have a big purple terrycloth bathrobe. I stole it from Judi because I look way better in purple than she does. Also, I stole it because came down to my knees, and when I cut off the sassy purple ribbons that held up the sleeves, the terrycloth flowed smoothly down my arms all the way to my wrists. And God, I loved that bathrobe. I wore it around the house every single day for five years, until the elbows and butt wore out, and I had to utter sad words of goodbye. I made Judi it in the trash can so I wouldn’t try to get it out and patch up the butt. And God, I loved that bathrobe. So comfy. So purple.  So… robey!

But I couldn’t wear it every single day. I couldn’t wear it, for example, to work. If I tried, they would have sent me home to change clothes, or maybe to an asylum to change my brain. I wasn’t allowed to wear my robe to the grocery store. Or even to pick up Alex and Daniel from school. My precious purple bathrobe was for home only. Kicking around, reading Harry Potter novels. Making a big pot of vegetable soup. Downloading unlimited music from Napster. (What? It was a thing then!) Playing Sims. But my fluffy purple bathrobe was NOT for getting the mail, or even answering the doorbell to greet the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Except that one time. They never came back.

Maybe that’s what biscuits and gravy are: my fluffy purple bathrobe. They are a food for around the house, but not the restaurant. Besides, it is not easy to take a plastic Ziploc of gravy to work with you, even though it’s comfy.  So at work, which occupies two meals a day, I try my best to eat healthy. I pack about thirty pounds of horse food into the same Ziploc bag I’d rather fill with sausage gravy, and eat that on my breaks. I bring a big can of raw unsalted almonds for protein. As to not touching the day-old pastries in the store? I try my best to stay out of them. I leave my comforts at home and try to be healthy.

And you know what? I’m starting to get used to it. I wonder if taste palates can change, and how much it can vary.  I’ve noticed that the less salt I eat, the more outrageously salty something like potato chips taste. I’m still new to this. Maybe the same thing happens over time with strawberries and yogurt. The more you tolerate their natural flavors, the more you are able to enjoy them? And the more you enjoy them, the more you’re able to enjoy other foods like them… I suspect. I’m a novice at eating healthy. Maybe I’m just making this all up. It took me forty+ years to get to the point where I’d even try to eat this way. Who knows if it’s working. I guess I’ll find out in a few months. In the meantime… Here’s to a healthy colon! Wish me luck.

Freewheelin’ It with Bob Dylan

When I run, I have a rock and roll playlist streaming on my iPhone. Today’s selection included “Highway Sixty One Revisited” by Bob Dylan. This piece was one of his first, after the famous folk singer went electric. The song includes this memorable scene:

Well, Mack the Finger said to Louie the King
‘I got forty red, white and blue shoe strings
And a thousand telephones that don’t ring.
Do you know where I can get rid of these things?’
And Louie the King said, ‘Let me think for a minute, son.’
And he said, ‘Yes, I think this could be easily done:
Just take everything down onto Highway Sixty One.'”

Another fun song he wrote around this same era is “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.” I recommend you check it out.

I don’t like Bob Dylan’s voice. He makes me shiver with nausea and indignation. Bob Dylan delivers his music with all the tunefulness of a steroid injected goat. Yet, despite his bleating, his lyrics are filled with vivid characters and imagery. They can be fun, especially if you don’t try not to listen to him and, instead, listen to it. Occasionally the images come a bit too fast and you just drown in his mental thrashing about. I’m thinking of the words from “Like a Rolling Stone”:

You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat.
Ain’t it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn’t where it’s at,
After he took from you everything he could steal.


And of course I’m running with Bob. Yeah. This was a blog about running. At least, that’s where this whole thing began when I started writing this morning. I’m at the end of my second week of actual running. In the early part of the Couch to 5k plan, the online coach calls for you to run for two minutes, and walk for two minutes. I end up running for twelve, and walking for twelve. Then I have a five minute cooling off period. Since I walk around the lake in a big loop, I occasionally spot folks headed the other way. Sometimes I see them twice, which defies some kind of mental logic. How can I see the same old person twice and the same Irish setter twice, and they don’t want something either time? I guess I’ve been working in the service industry too long now.

And the two minute alternations? That’s where I’m at physically. I’m taking it easy, wanting to make a lifestyle of this, sort of like what I’m trying to do with writing. I realize I need to lose a bunch of weight, and working my butt off is the only way I know how to do it.

Oh–believe it or not, I’m still writing, although my schedule has been sketchy. I’m a morning person. I like to wake up, and get things done before my mind or body realize what kind of torture I’m putting them through. I’m not a horrendously evil guy, but on occasion my body thinks so. Still, I’m throwing 750 words, or sometimes just a paragraph or two, onto the computer every day, even if you don’t see anything.

Apparently I have old knees. They’re older than the rest of my body–with the possible exception of my ankles–by about fifteen years. The rest of me ages correctly, but my knees and ankles put up stiff resistance every time I try to move. I guess I could probably do low impact exercise like swimming, but this costs money, and requires squeezing my giant hairy body into swim trunks. Also, I need to face facts: I’m not quite there aerobically. Even my twenty four minute sprint walks tend to heighten my breathing until I’m sometimes not sure I’ll make it home.

Speaking of breathing, did I ever mention I use an inhaler for asthma? It’s not a bad condition like some people, but I do require an inhaler. It can be incredibly tedious to have your lung capacity diminish to the point of each wheeze sounding like Minnie Mouse.

As for diet? I just spent the last forty five minutes chopping up vegetables. I’m trying to make a serious attempt at eating more healthy food. This is going… Well, it could be going better. Most days I do well for breakfast and lunch, then when it gets to be dinnertime, I blow it horribly. For breakfast, banana, cherries and yogurt. For lunch, an assortment of veggies, and a dressing I made from yogurt and some variety of spices. I’m pretty much cutting carbs and fat out of my diet in the form of bread. I guess when it comes to it, I’m trying hard to eat things that improve potassium levels.  Avoiding cramps is a good thing. I ate dried apricots, but they had an awful lot of sugar. The other day I bought some prunes. They remind me of the cabin my grandparents owned in Wright’s Lake, way up in the Sierra Nevadas in California.  Great Grandma always had a big glass jar of dried prunes, and she’d dole them out slowly so we kids wouldn’t poop like seagulls. They were always a delicious snack that I’d really enjoy. Oh, and radishes too. I bought a bunch of radishes.  My Farmer grandparents always seemed to have radishes. They grew them in their huge backyard garden. I bought a few dozen of them today, washed them up and threw them in my veggie tray. I guess that’ll be my healthy dinner.

Then I chased a grumpy Alex away from the computer and began this blog. Nothing is earth-shattering today. I, ran, I shopped, I ate a little, I chopped vegetables, and now I’m writing. Work happens in an hour.

Oh, and Bob Dylan. He ties things together with his free-wheelin’ness. May your days be informed by his advice:

Look out kid!
Don’t matter what you did:
Walk on your tiptoes,
Don’t try “No-Doz”–
Better stay away from those–
That carry around a fire hose,
Keep a clean nose,
Watch the plain clothes.
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows.

Blessings and donuts to all of you.

Kind of Like a Greek God

You might remember that about 4 years ago, I was running daily. I even ran a 10K. My Facebook post from that day (August 26, 2012): “I ran the South Lakes 10K today! My time? An incredible 1:35:12. I even got a police escort to the finish line, because they’ve never seen ANYONE finish a 10k as slow as I did. At least they didn’t make me pick up the orange cones along the route…”

Last place. Last one to cross the finish line before the cops closed the course. But damned if I didn’t finish the race. I felt like wing-footed Hermes, for just one day.

Then, stuff started happening. My library job at US Geological Survey had ended a few months before. I was unemployed for 9 months. My depression kicked in, and I just didn’t have the energy or the fight to run. I took a job in the restaurant industry. My schedule was all over the place. Some days I was up at 4 AM, and some, I didn’t have to work until 3PM.  It was tough to maintain a schedule.

I began to experience plantar fasciitis.  For those of you who haven’t experienced it before, well, it’s heel pain, brought on from too much “on-your-feet-all-day”. It was so extreme, I even had to take a day or two of work.

After a couple months of forcing myself not to run, I finally felt sufficiently recovered to start (slowly) running again.

I slipped on the ice and fell on my butt. Twisted my ankle. So I gave myself a week to recover. I slipped on the ice and did it *again*.

It seemed like The Gods of Run were against me so I gave up. I focused exclusively on my work. I gained weight.

Now, it’s three years later. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my life, and you know what?

SCREW the Gods of Run.

Apart from exercising my brain, which this blog tends to help sufficiently, I am also trying my best to make my body a bit more healthy. About a 7 days after I got the CPAP machine (That was early in April), I felt like I had enough energy to start walking again.

So I’ve been walking 6 weeks.  At first I wasn’t going very far, I doubt I was even walking a mile.  But I was outside, it was springtime, and I was walking.  Those were the most important bits.

I’ve forged a course around Lake Thoreau now (ok–it’s called the Red Trail and it was already there–but it was new to me. It’s a paved walking trail. Every once in awhile I see someone on a bicycle, but it’s not all that common. Usually just folks older than I am, or agressive runners. Once I saw an entire South Lakes High School PE class doing the same circle as me. It’s approximately 2 miles around the lake, from my front door, so 3 tours around the lake is a 10k.

I’m not quite at my old level yet. I’m taking it easy. If I’m hurting, or if I have to walk in the dark to get around the lake, I take a day off. If it’s raining or the weather is bad, I delay my walk. I alternate between leisurely days, and “fast” days, when I push my pace and try to sweat a little.  I hope that, before summer, I’ll be able to push my pace from a fast waddle to a slow lope.

My route takes me past the golf course, over a little bridge, right to the back entrance of the South Lakes High School, across the dam, past a shopping center, but the odd thing is it feels like I’m in the woods most of the way. It’s not uncommon to see a half dozen cardinals (the birds–not the church officials).

People are nicer on the trail. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the same as the Regency Era’s landed gentry taking a tour about their grounds. I always pass folks on the trail, and they smile and wave. Sometimes they exchange a cheerful greeting. Once an old lady with a cane and a bad dye job offered me information about exercise clothes that have built in pockets for smartphones.

But not built-in smarts for people with hands in their pockets.

Yesterday I took another nosedive. I dunno why. Weak ankles. Let’s blame weak ankles and Communism.

There was a large white Reston Association work truck in the middle of the trail. I’ve seen it before. The two guys, one clean shaven, and one with a beard, lean against the truck and guard their lawn tools and their big orange cooler full of Gatorade. Since the stupid truck was on the stupid path, I had to walk in the dirt. I tripped over a root, or an ankle-high fence, or a lawn gnome or something. Before I realized it, I was face-forward in the dirt. I’d twisted both my ankles and scratched up the palm of my right hand. I was approximately halfway through my walk, so I just continued the way I went.

Even though it was pretty obvious from my shout of “DAMMIT,” and the sound of 300 pounds of meat falling in the soil near the lake, the guys did not shirk their duty. No Gatorade was stolen. They didn’t even look my direction. People can be neato.

I was fine, although I’m still taking Tylenol to dull the ankle pain.

But this time, the Gods of Run aren’t going to spoil my time. I need to get healthy. With my writing I’ll get a sound mind, and with my exercise a sound body. Kind of like a Greek God, if that God were Dionysus. Or maybe I’ll be the Patron Saint of Falling Over A Lot. Only time will tell.

Runnin’ with the Devil

He lashes me with his red spiky tail, and is riding my back, as I trudge forward at a leviathan pace.  Hi! I’m BrianJane, and my Devil weighed 100 pounds more than is good for me last May.

Continue reading Runnin’ with the Devil

We Can Work It Out

I have never been a fan of what the layperson calls “exercise.” We educated ivory tower folks, well, we tend to call it “exercise.” It’s too early in the morning to really do semantics. So sue me.  The point is, I’ve never liked it.

I’m an uncoordinated slob. I would like to point out that, like all you other uncoordinated slobs out there, things tend to jump into my path and lie down, with the proven intent of making me trip and fall. Continue reading We Can Work It Out