Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bon Jour Mon Ami

Just finished my first workout in nine days; not too many gyms in rural France or even opportunities during the day to use the one in town.
Busy days and evenings visiting old friends, playing with grandchildren, seeing the sights, eating and eating and eating.
A lot of walking, helpful, but not as complete an exercise as needed.
Main issue, stiff muscles, unwilling joints after 10 days away.
I have lost some ground that will prove hard to win back; seems age,sedentary behaviors always get the high ground in the battle for fitness.
All soldiers know how difficult the uphill fight.
The trip, Dinard, France, to attend the christening of our grandaughter plus a chance to see old friends and re-visit a beautiful area of the world.
Our flat, above a French Bakery and small market.
The aroma of baking bread, the only alarm required each morning.
Breakfast; Baguettes, Melon, Peaches, real butter, Quiche Lorraine, Tarte de Fromage, "Where are the Branched Chain Amino Acids, the Glutamine"?
Lunch; Country Pàte, Mussels, Clams, Grilled Mackeral, Cheeses (Fromage),more Bread, Wine, "Where are the Protein Bars, Shakes, veggies"?
Dinner; Lamb chops, Roasted Chicken (Swimming in Butter), More Fromage, Pom Frittes (French Fries), more bread, more butter, and then the Cakes and Tarts, Triple layered Chocolate Mousse Cake, Raspberry tarts, little cookies (Macarons) filled with creme, "Where are the meals of lettuce, boiled or baked chicken, tuna fish with salsa, beets, Brussels Sprouts"?
Gallons of Red wine, Bordeauxs, Rose', Champange, Pastice with water. "Where is the Iced Tea, Ice Water"?
Finally to end each day; Lipitor, Aspirin and Fish Oil Capsules.
It was a good trip, the food, the sights but especially the people.
Unfortunately it is time to return to reality.
Life generally isn't lived above a French Bakery.
Dinard, an enchanting French Village on the sea, featured in the movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock.
A large statue of Alfred graces the beach, the birds treat it like a private hydrant, the village struggles to keep him clean, a reminder that my diet and exercise have been far from clean.
Looks like I like Alfred need to get clean yet once again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It Is A Nine Iron Into the Green

The time 11:45. No way am I going to make Spin Class, so settle down and put one down the pipe.
I tee it up looking at the tight chute known as the number 18th fairway at Helfrich Hills.
I close the club face, the ball lands within 110 yards of the green.
It is an elevated green, add 10 yards, it feels perfect, I hit the sweetest nine iron directly at the pin.
The ball rests about 10 feet above the pin and the green is canted crazily forward.
Even a soft tap could send the ball off the green, I am putting for a birdie, I am missing spin class, I want to walk away with at least a par, speed will be critical, the earth is turning at 1000 miles an hour, the wind out of the west, the grain against me, what if I get the "Yips" I try to “clear the machine”.
It looks straight in, the green is dry, fast and badly slanted (I am sure spin class has started) I tap the ball, very lightly, it is moving picking up speed, it looks like it is going in, suddenly jerks to the left by an inch and slides by the hole.
Bye, bye Birdie, a great musical but a lousy golf shot.
The next putt, up hill, about two feet and I just slam it into the back of the cup, par.
It feels good but spin class is in progress, I sprint to the car, load up and head to the gym.
The spinners are descending the stair as I arrive; sweat pouring off of glistening foreheads, arms, legs.
“Where were you, one of the spinners chastises, we just finished and it was all intervals, hard, Sparta handed off to “Mel-an-nee”, good class, too bad you missed”, yeah I thought, the Birdie and Spin.
Anyway, I am in gym clothes, I am not anxious to lift but if I get started I know it will be almost as sweet as the nine iron.
“What do you want to do today”, I mentally say to myself as I picture a golf ball softly landing 1 foot below the pin, a sure Birdie.
Yeah, but why settle for a little Birdie when an Eagle might be hiding in the iron of the gym and just as suddenly my mind is off, “Spinning” new images of golf balls dropping for Birds, Eagles and Hole-In-Ones.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Smith Machine

Welcome to humiliation.
“What is the routine today”, the usual question from Sparta on training day.
“I need to do chest”, said I with unusual confidence. I have been feeling really comfortable with the free weights in the last few weeks.
Did she read my attitude or was it just time to show me how far I have to go?
“Lets go to the Smith Machine for some barbell incline bench presses”.
She loads the machine, two twenty-five pound plates per side; I am chuckling inside thinking no sweat.
I begin the activity, 10 reps and I am fighting hard to get the last one.
“Breathe” as she loads on more weight.
“I am humiliated,” I say.
“You want me to put on two of the large plates so it will look better?”
I don’t want to play the fool so I say, “no this is fine”.
More presses, hard, more weight, harder and now she is assisting with each press, then press and hold while she removes some weight, press and hold then continue, it is no longer fun, it has become serious.
In my heart I know she will not let the weight drop on me and crush something I love, like my ribs but there is a nagging suspicion that I have crossed into a new dimension.
Finally it is over and we go to a new machine, this one she helps me push out and then I am to let it down very slowly, one----two-------three---------four---------five then push out. Here she assists.
Each time it gets harder and harder and no whimpering is allowed.
I look; gratefully my time is up.
I always go in thinking I am mastering this new discipline; then I meet the Smith Machine and two new ways to torture muscle.
I am sure I will die before I am introduced to all of the vicissitudes of this challenge.
I only wish Granny Smith had invented this machine instead of naming an apple.
Grandmas tend to be nicer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good and Evil

Every now and then I really mess up and watch a 24-hour news channel.
I don’t mean to, it just happens; the news flashes by, I become mesmerized; it is overpowering, it is hypnotic and it causes a “Ball of Sorrow” to grow inside of me until I feel like I am going to burst.
If you have seen the movie, The Fifth Element, you might understand exactly what I am talking about.
An alien person is exposed to all of the evil on this earth, wars, murders, man’s continued inhumanity to man and decides that the world and it’s inhabitants are not worth saving.
This same story was played out in Sodom and Gomorrah in a biblical account ages ago.
Tibet has struggled, Haiti struggles, Pakistan is wracked by disaster, China is in trouble, Russia is on fire, children are murdered, women have ears and noses cut off because they want equality, Al Qaeda wants to destroy anything that is different form their version of the world, the Pope calls the ordination of women the “worst sin in the church” while avoiding the issue of abuse and a the crimes against individuals and humanity.
The world seems beset by evil and people that pursue it for their own pleasure and “grandification” when it would be so much easier to just, I hate to say it as Rodney King said, “Can’ t we just love one another?”
This is something that comes down to us from history, “Love one another” and we need Rodney King to remind us?
Good is necessary to advance civilization but for now if the news and the headlines are any indication, we are going the wrong way.
Evil seems to be way ahead if you are keeping score or maybe the recounting of it is what sells commercials.
I for one am going back to the gym, the pain is pure, the motive is self help and the people, they are excellent role models and easy to “love”.
I wish the world could spend more time getting fit.