Category Archives: self betterment

In Which I Pick a Fight with my Personal Trainer

I joined a new gym earlier this week and got suckered into a personalized fitness assessment.

“So, what are you going to make me do?” I asked the consultant after we made our introductions. “I better not puke.”

He led me to his office and we started with an interview.

“What are your fitness goals?”

“Goals? I guess I’d like to lose ten pounds and stop being afraid of the resistance training machines.”

Next he wanted to know what my current exercise regimen was.

“I don’t have one.”

“Are you sure? Bike riding? Swimming? Walking the dog?”

“Nope.”

He made a few notes and then asked me to tell him what I eat in any given day from daybreak to sunset. I couldn’t believe my luck. There is nothing I love more than itemizing my food intake, but rarely do I come across anyone willing to listen with genuine interest. For example, when the P-Dawg comes home from work and I say, “Do you want to know what I ate today?” he always says, “No.”

I began to happily recount everything I’d put in my stomach since Monday. At first J.B. (that’s my fitness consultant) thought I might not be eating enough, but then I owned up to the occasional ice cream cone or glass of wine with dinner.

“How often do you have a glass of wine?”

“I don’t know, a couple times a week maybe? What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?””

“That’s bad” J.B. said. “Real bad. Did you know that a glass of wine is no better than a slice of cheesecake?”

“Are you kidding me? No it isn’t.”

“Yep, it is.”

“No it isn’t.”

“It’s true. I read it in a mens’ health magazine.”

“But how do you figure? Wine has no fat, and less calories per serving than a Coke!”

J.B. was relentless. “It’s converted into fat once it’s in your system. It’s like a sugar surge your body doesn’t know what to do with.”

“There is no way it can be as bad as cheesecake.”

“Well, it is.”

“That’s the most ridonkulous thing I’ve ever heard in my life and I refuse to accept it.”

There was an uncomfortable silence as J.B. and I stared each other down across the table, and then I said, “I’m just sayin.”

Next we walked over to the physical assessment area, where I had to stand on a scale.

“Can I take my shoes off?” I asked J.B.

“No,” he said, “I’ll subtract a pound.”

“I’m pretty sure my shoes weigh two pounds.”

J.B. gave me a stern sidelong glance, and I got on the scale, which showed a different reading from the one I’d gotten at home that morning.

“I know you probably hear this all the time, but I think your scale is slightly off” I said to J.B.

After that, he measured my BMI, strength, flexibility, and endurance.  I had to pull on some weights with all of my might and this is just between you and me, but they didn’t budge. I did pretty well on the treadmill, but I bombed the flexibility test, which was clearly rigged because I can do a cartwheel.

Afterwards, J.B. showed me a big fancy printout which said I was 39, and not 37 like I always thought. But if I signed up for more P.T. sessions, J.B. felt sure he could whittle me back down to 27 in three to five months. He also said I reminded him of his sixth grade teacher and he figures my kids will be taller than me in two to three years.

Depite all of that and the cheescake debacle, he was a pretty nice guy and I signed up for a month of sessions.  I start Friday, wish me luck!

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I Could Be a Sniper

I skipped through the front doors of the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute for my nine month post-LASIK follow-up appointment yesterday.

I’ve been skipping a lot since my eyesight was restored to its pre-pubescent acuity last June. I have also been playing a game called, “Who Can Read the Road Sign First, Suckers?” when driving around with the kids, and executing spontaneous cartwheels because I no longer have to worry about my glasses falling off in mid turn. Next up: target practice.

Despite shamelessly fabricating answers during the letter chart reading portion of the exam (they all looked the same), I passed with flying colors and my corrected vision was deemed “20/20.”

“Do you have any questions before you go?” Dr. D. asked me.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” I said, unfurling the scroll on which I had penned them. “First of all, I’ve developed an uncontrollable twitch under my left eyelid. It’s starting to get annoying because people think I’m making passes at them” I said, winking at the Doctor.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t claim responsibility for your ocular spasms” he responded amiably. “My wife has that, too. Could be due to stress.”

“Okay” I said, glancing at my list, “Can I go back to rubbing my eyes vigorously? I have been restraining from this practice for fear of dislodging my corneal flap, but since my eyes are completely healed now, I was wondering if I could really go to town up in there?”

“Well, we never recommend that anyone ‘go to town’ as you said, with the eye rubbing, but I will say that it would take a lot of pressure for you to actually dislodge your flap. In all my years of performing this surgery, I’ve only ever had one patient who damaged her flap, and that was because someone banged a car door into it.”

“Holy shit.”

“Don’t be too alarmed. She’s fine now – her vision is back to 20/20. The presence of the flap was actually helpful to us in repairing the damage.”

“Saved by the flap!”

“In a manner of speaking, yes.”

“OK, then, no rubbing. But what about makeup? Do I have your permission to go Tammy Faye Bakker on the eye shadow?”

“Just make sure you are using clean applicators and be careful.”

“Let’s say I was putting on mascara, and the wand slipped, stabbing me directly in the flap. What would happen to me?”

“You would probably scratch your cornea and it would be treated in the same way as a corneal scratch on any other eye patient would be.”

“But I wouldn’t go blind?”

“No. You would need to call us as soon as possible so that we could treat you, though.”

“How about racquetball? Can I play racquetball?”

“Just wear protective eye gear.”

“And swimming? Can I open my eyes underwater in the pool?”

“Sure. It might be a bit uncomfortable, as it is for the general population. I’d recommend wearing goggles if you plan to spend a lot of time with your eyes open in chlorinated water.”

“I probably won’t. I don’t like to get my head wet. But what about scuba diving? Is that something I could technically do?”

“Are you planning on going scuba diving?”

“No.”

“Okay, Mrs. Rama.” (rising to leave and extending his hand for a shake) “I think you’re all set!”

“When should I make my next appointment, Dr. D.?”

“You don’t need to come back here.”

Really?”

“Yes. Just call me if you have a problem.”

“Any problem at all? What if-”

“It’s been a pleasure treating you, Mrs. Rama!” (showing me the door) “Good day now.”

“OK, then! Goodbye! Thanks for the new eyeballs!”

And with that, I waltzed out of the eye clinic with a clean bill of health.

But I forgot to ask if it would be OK to get permanent makeup tattooed on my lids. It was the last item on my list.

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Fridays with Lorrie

In my violin teacher’s living room this morning, I was fumbling through a rhythm exercise I had executed perfectly just hours before in the privacy of my home.

“I want you to know” I said, “That I sound so much better when I’m practicing by myself and doing it backwards. But then I come over here, and by the time you’ve corrected my hand position and bow hold and reminded me to relax my neck, everything just goes to pot!” I said, by way of a joke.

My teacher considered this, but did not let it roll. “I will always be correcting you,” she said. “That is my job. You can’t come in here, no matter how hard you’ve been practicing, and expect to play perfectly. It’s not like one day you’ll show up and I’ll say, ‘That’s it! You’re done! On to the symphony with you!’ There is always room for improvement, and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t point that out.”

I was dying to explain myself further, to stress the fact that I wasn’t expecting perfection, I only wanted her to know that I play much better when she’s not breathing down my neck. But if I’m honest, in my heart of hearts I am always sort of hoping that one day she’ll say, “You know . . . you have real talent!

But she continued: “Being so hard on yourself is no way to live. When you expect perfection of yourself, it spills over into your relationships with others. You expect them to be perfect, too. And no one wants that.”

She had imparted this wisdom with no hint of malice or judgment, but still my jaw dropped to the floor. Was my violin teacher lecturing me about personal relationships? The last time anyone besides my mother had offered up unsolicited advice was in 1997, when a close friend counseled me to quit the job I hated or stop bitching about it, already.

And then my teacher brought up my old nemesis, the adorable eight-year-old violin student.

“I think I’ve mentioned him to you before” she said. “He can barely get through one measure without me adjusting something, but do you know what he does? He just laughs, shrugs, gives me the cutest little impish look, and keeps on going! He is totally unfazed! And SO JOYFUL! I wish we could all be more like him!” she said, sunbeams shooting out of her ears and reflecting off her dangly silver zen earrings.

And I was like, “Is he also writing you a weekly check for $25 directly out of his allowance?” but I kept that thought to myself. Because what she said had really struck a chord with me. Especially the part about perfectionists demanding that others be perfect, too.

I thought about my kids. And my husband. And everyone else who had let me down at any point in my life for coming up short in the Department of Excellence and Precision.

How could my teacher have read my personality so accurately?  Had she been at our breakfast table when I was yelling at the kids for smearing Nutella all over their white school shirts first thing this morning? Was she a fly on the wall when I was having an aneurysm because of the way my husband had loaded the dishwasher? Was she there when I fired that one tech writer who did sloppy work? Or when I told my study abroad housemate in France that no one could understand him because his accent was so bad?

My violin teacher has seen right through me, and I think she’s on to something. While I have to say that being neurotic has served me well in life in many ways, I don’t know that I would want to live with me, or have me for a mother.

So. I went in for a violin lesson today, but left with a sparkly nugget of zen wisdom.

And I think I’ll keep it.

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It’s Not Like I’m Garfield

Rimarama: “You know what? I am SO GLAD I signed up for this Erma Bombeck writers workshop! I think it will be really good for me.”

P-Dawg: “Oh?”

Rimarama: “Yeah! I mean, I’m sure that BlogHer would be fun, but I feel like I’ll get a lot more out of this from a writing standpoint, you know what I mean? I’ve always wanted to hone my humor writing skills. Plus, I get to meet KC.”

P-Dawg: “It’s funny, when I think of “humor writing,”, I never think of you.”

Rimarama: “What are you saying?”

P-Dawg: “I don’t know.”

Rimarama: “You don’t find me the least bit entertaining?”

P-Dawg:

Rimarama:

P-Dawg: “It’s just that when I think of a humor writer, I think of somebody like Lewis Black, you know? Someone whose all crass and crotchety.”

Rimarama: “Are you telling me you’ve never once laughed at anything I wrote?”

P-Dawg: “I -“

Rimarama: “Have you even chuckled inwardly?”

P-Dawg: “I’ve chuckled inwardly.”

Rimarama: “‘What about, “guffawed?’ Have you ever guffawed?”

P-Dawg: “Well . . . it’s not like you’re Garfield.”

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