Tag Archives: nutrition

Exercise for Dummies

Namaste! Tree pose with cactus arms.
Namaste! Tree pose with cactus arms.

“What are you doing?” He didn’t need to preface his sentence with “Now . .” It was implied by his tone.

“I’m shoving a magazine down my pants. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“No need to be sarcastic.”

“I’m using the magazine as padding to protect my spine from the hula hoop.” My new waist whittler had killer knobbly bits on the inside. To demonstrate, I gave the hoop a little spin.

“See? No pain. Whoops!” The fruit bowl took a hit and needed to be pushed back a bit. With the table cleared, myself carefully positioned between bed, window and wall, and Jimmy well out of the way, I could get my hooping exercise indoors instead of looking a fool outdoors.

I tried again. “If I put the magazine in my pants, keep my feet firmly planted, put my hips into it, concentrate and don’t let the hoop slow down, there’ll be no damage to me or the trailer.”

“That has to be one of the most stupid things you’ve ever done.”

“Thanks!” Who, after all, wants to be predictable?

“You’ve already injured yourself once.”

That was my leg. I can’t hurt my leg. The table’s in the way.”

“I still think it’s stupid if you’re risking hurting your back.” He’s trying to insult me or frighten me into stopping. It isn’t working.

Exercise is an issue in our confined quarters. We walk when we can, I swim when there’s a pool on the campsite and we both do sit ups about every six months. Even with constant tweaks to our diet to reduce calories and improve nutrition, our waistlines are expanding.

I worry about the blood pressure and obesity implications of eating a big meal then taking one step to the couch to have dessert and vegetate in front of the telly for the rest of the evening.

With Jimmy away for two weeks I had contemplated our lifestyle and found it lacking. In the midst of doing what I wanted, when I wanted to (instead of falling into step with the tour director/camp commandant) I exercised frequently and cleaned up my diet between bouts of reading trashy magazines and watching trashy TV.

“Guess what I had for lunch today?” I had asked Jimmy during one of our international phone calls.

“Please don’t tell me.”

“Sautéed spinach with Parmesan cheese slivers on top.”

“Oh God help me.”

“It was yummy.”

“The thought of it makes me feel sick.”

“Tonight I’m having jumbo shrimp braised with garlic, onion, ginger, Jalapeños courgettes and spinach.”

“I won’t come home.”

“Tomorrow I’m having a crab cake.” Jimmy doesn’t like seafood, shellfish in particular, so I gave him all the details because there’s an unruly streak in me.

Back to the exercise matter, it is only four steps from our dining “room,” or living “room” or “bedroom” to our toilet. We joke about going upstairs to bed. It’s one step up. My pedometer registered just 151 steps from late afternoon to bedtime.

Where’s that hula hoop? And my magazine padding?

How do you include exercise in your daily routine?

Can you imagine me hula-hooping in this same space? It wasn't a great success.
Can you imagine me hula-hooping in this same space? It wasn’t a great success.

Questionable Food and Unnecessary Drugs

Acting like a couple of refugees with a cash handout our initiation to the American way of life included a supermarket sweep – a dash and grab of food-type items of questionable nutritive value. So much choice. I loved the American grocery store experience and tried to linger over every box, can and bag of flavor enhanced matter. Jimmy hated it, but he hates shopping full stop. We were more used to small European mom and pop stores – sparsely stocked dusty shelves with cans labeled in French or Spanish. If we couldn’t pick it up or point at it, we went without. Shopping trips were short.


While I waited in line at the checkout I picked up a magazine as an impulse buy, a middle of the road ladies’ glossy mag, leisure reading of a journalistic standing halfway between say Vogue and The Weekly World News, The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper. The later headlines “Countdown to Apocalypse! The Anti-Christ is Already Living Among Us” or “Your Doctor Could be an Alien” or “Super Depression Coming – Millions will Starve as Economy Collapses” or my favorite headline “Aliens Mutated my Tofu”.

Back at home with my magazine after reading the first few pages I began to notice a trend. Counting up through the first 30 pages, there were 13 advertisements for drugs or medical interventions. There were cures for everything from asthma to bipolar disorder to epilepsy, but most commonly the drugs were to suppress the symptoms of excess. C’mon guys, don’t you think that if you didn’t have that fourth helping of pie you wouldn’t need to be taking medication for acid reflux? Come away from that buffet and you won’t need those fat burning capsules. A little moderation is called for and pushing your cart round the grocery store and loading your bags into the car does not count as exercise.


The American dependence on drugs was shocking. In a study in 2007 (when I was still feeling shocked about it) over 50% of Americans, adults and children, were on prescription drugs for chronic conditions which for many could be controlled by lifestyle changes.

But worst of all, I read every advert, put several life changing drugs on my shopping list and made a note of the 1-800 number for my free 30-day supply of the non-inject topical alternative to Botox for deep wrinkle relaxing.