Tag Archives: yoga

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.

A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops #2

Mt. Shasta, California
As if we didn’t have enough trouble already, I just had to stand in the middle of the road to take a photo of Mt. Shasta. Himself was having kittens.

California roads had put us in a predicament and would be our complete undoing without an on-the-spot repair to our trailer.

We were halfway to a campsite in northern California about to enter the wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains. Our water tanks were empty-ish in preparation for mountain climbing and our batteries were big dead weights barely capable of lighting one light. Our only company for miles and miles and miles was trees.

Our bed slide was out, the runner was broken and the slide wouldn’t go back in.

As the California sun shone down on our tin box house we grew hotter and hotter trying to affect a makeshift repair. Our hearts were hammering and we were gasping and shaking with exhaustion.

It had occurred to me that we could be stranded for days with no electricity or water while help was summoned and parts ordered from Hoboken or Timbuktu though that thought was not articulated.

Nor did Jimmy share his bleak thoughts with me. We’d pulled the slide out possibly for the last time ever.

With the slide pulled out we couldn’t tow the trailer. If we pushed it back in the runner would break causing more damage.

We took the only option open to us.

We let bloody-mindedness take over.

The decision was reached by mutual unspoken assent.

We tried again and again and again. We just needed to unscrew one screw from the ceiling and put a washer on it.

Again. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.

“Take a break,” I begged Jimmy. He was bright red in the face. I was probably the same but we each think we are invincible and don’t easily accept our limitations.

We tried again. Pull runner, engage screwdriver, grunt.

And again. And again.

“It moved!” Was I hallucinating? “Try it again!” I said excitedly, holding the screwdriver in place ready for Jimmy to put some muscle into it. The screw head moved a miniscule amount.

“Again!”

Each monumental effort, with both of us poised awkwardly and straining produced only about and eighth of a turn before the screwdriver would jump out and skitter across the runner. The screw head was acquiring a nice polished sheen and losing its sharp cross threads.

Seeing me shaking with exhaustion, heat and anxiety Jimmy called the next break and I sat quietly with my head and arms flopping down at rest.

“I took the screw out of the other runner last week. Do you want to know how long it is?” Without raising my head I let my eyes swivel round to his hand where he held his thumb and forefinger four inches apart. Needing eight colossal attempts from both of us to turn the screw one revolution, I wasn’t sure we’d survive the repair.

We let despair replace any stabs at conversation or conjecture and stared vacantly until the panting slowed, then resumed battle.

As long as the screw moved a tiny amount we were motivated to keep trying. The sight of a whole inch of screw poking from the ceiling turned the tide of the war and we got a second wind. The next inch was easier and I twiddled the screw out the last two inches with my fingers.

It only remained to put the washer on and screw the runner back to the ceiling. Flush with triumph, Jimmy decided to take the next screw out and put a washer on it as well. So pumped up with success was he that he put three washers on it.

It was a good idea, in theory, until we tried to push the slide in but the extra washers blocked the slide. It wouldn’t go in.

A cartoon of my expression is appropriate at this point:

Awooga.
Nooooooo! (Photo credit: Profound Whatever)

It was a minor blip as it happened and easily remedied. Victory was ours.

Our reward for perseverance was Sequoia National Park and among other BIG trees the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree in the world – not the tallest or the widest but the largest in volume.

The top of the General Sherman Tree:

sequoia 111

And here’s General Sherman’s bottom:

sequoia 110

See the little people above for perspective.

If you’re worried about us we had the runner replaced. And after a few more bruises I gave the hula hoop to Goodwill and took up yoga.

We’re Cracking Up

Our car is groaning and our trailer is cracking up, to say nothing of its occupants.

What has so far been a U.S. grand tour must now become a serious pursuit for a home base. Apart from getting on each others’ nerves in our mini home with no friends nearby to inflict our gripes on, things are conspiring against us – terrorism, government, airline policies, finances and weather.

Starting with the least inflammatory subject of weather, alternating humid heat and hard freezes are more than difficult to tolerate in our small living space. Both happened within the space of two weeks which came as a bit of a surprise in a winter snow bird paradise.

Everywhere we go we are of course the new kids in town and moving every three to seven days we don’t know what to expect of the weather. In a bid to find out we tune in the TV which is a game in itself. Jimmy winds the aerial up with a handle on the ceiling and tries to aim it vaguely in the same direction as others on the campsite. After a lengthy tuning process Jimmy announces glumly, “We’ve only got two channels.”

“Well that’s something. What are they?”

“One’s in Spanish and the other one is commercials.”

Himself, the holder of the remote, insists on muting the sound of commercials so I lose interest. Nothing is more mind numbing than commercials without sound, except commercials with sound, but at least you know when the program comes back on. The next time I look up it’s still commercials. “Do you know what channel it is yet?”

“Umm . . . .” He had his head in the newspaper. “We can do better than this. The picture’s not very good anyway. Turn the aerial just a little that way.” I’m sure he knows what he means when he points from a distance of six feet to a three inch handle but I don’t. “No! The other way.”

The tuning process begins again and sometimes we manage to catch some local news – the car that stalled and held up traffic in town for two hours at rush hour, little Sammy’s lost cooter, iguanas dropping out of trees like overripe fruit due to the cold weather.

Just as we start to prepare for the night with blankets and setting the furnace just high enough to keep hypothermia at bay, we realize we’ve been watching the news in a town in the next state.

By the time we locate our nearest town on the weather map Wendell Weatherman has moved on to the weekend forecast. I lay down in bed with a quilt and two blankets to hand if I get cold. There is a little fan heater I can snick on quietly in the night to keep the temperature even between blasts from the furnace.

Hot weather is more difficult to manage. Our small fan is ineffectual in humid heat and to put on the air conditioner in the middle of the night involves putting on a light, finding my glasses and the remote control, and causing a great whumph! as the fan and cooling unit kick in. Which of course is why himself hides the remote under his pillow.

The rant continues on Friday.

Kitchen, dining room, sitting room, bedroom, TV room, yoga studio all in one. How claustrophobic is that?
Kitchen, dining room, sitting room, bedroom, TV room, yoga studio all in one. How claustrophobic is that?

Obesity Solved

As newbies to civilization the cause of the American obesity problem became clear to us. Cable TV is in the process of transforming us all into couch potatoes. As Jack, the cable guy, snipped and plugged and programmed, Jimmy and I were astonished at the channel list – Home and Garden, Country Music, Classic Rock, Vintage Cars, The Military Channel, A & E, Speed, Canal 52, Digital Music, Digital FM Radio and on and on and on. “Ooo! Look! There’s a jewelry channel.”


For the past two years we’d “enjoyed” watching a tiny flat screen TV in our caravan, receiving terrestrial channels broadcast in French and Spanish. Having a smattering of both languages helped little with translation. Ensconced in our new apartment, we were as excited as kids at Christmas at the prospect of television shows that we could understand.

As soon as Jack left, Jimmy commandeered the remote and splayed himself across the couch, mouth open, eyes glued to the screen. Every 30 seconds or so I would hear, “Oh! BBC World News,” or “There’s a soccer channel!” Excitement mounted as an eyebrow exercised a facial muscle, “Sky Sports News!” Then a little arm action, “Premiership football!” and lastly most of the upper body celebrated “Arsenal vs. Chelsea tonight!” He’d been deprived of European football/soccer in any language. Things calmed down again and after some leg raises – right and left onto the coffee table, and arm raises – right and left crossed over chest. He was sedated once more by the big flat screen with only some high speed thumb action flicking endlessly between football and motorcycle racing and the occasional yelp or groan emanating from him.

OK, confession time. I have made fun of Jimmy, but after I’d been up for an hour and a half by 7:00 am the day after cable installation, my thumb joint was sore. I’d surfed and searched and watched an evangelical lady preacher with big gems on her fingers, Sponge Bob Square Pants, all 15 minutes of a commercial for the tempur-pedic mattress having noted the toll free number and envied everyone getting a good night’s sleep, a Wal-Mart advert in Spanish and then settled on cruising through the 79 digital radio channels on TV, everything from Adult Alternative (uncensored) to Rap, Rock, Retroactive and Rock en Español. I was transfixed with the Traditional Christmas Music channel and Gene Autry singing the cowboy version of Frosty the Snowman.


I’m now doing telly yoga and meditation. “The spirit of light in me respects the spirit of light in you.” This rather lovely and calming meditation was swiftly followed by a boisterous advert for a “Yoga Booty Ballet” DVD.  “Only two payments of $19.95! Order now and firm up your booty! 30-day money back guarantee!”

I have to tell you, though, that when Jimmy got up (only in the sense of not still in bed), and fell into his dent on the couch, I found him in a trance staring at a still picture on the TV-cum-radio of Bob Seger sitting on a Harley while singing (Bob not Jimmy) The Little Drummer Boy.

When the novelty wears off, we’ll get some exercise. Or not. But our waistlines tells me we should.

Apologies for the title. I haven’t solved the problem, just identified it. There’s no magic bullet here.