Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Recently, someone left me a comment on this blog saying that my title was a bit misleading. He thought my blog was about dispensing gym and execise advice. I like to think of my "musings" as gym advice; not necessarily practical BUT gym advice nonetheless. Then I thought, maybe I do have something to offer in terms of exercise advice. I have lost 60 lbs. of fat and kept it off. I have gained 20 lbs. of muscle and continue to stay lean & fit. So, what is my secret? How have I continued to reap the benefits of exercise? What is the magic pill and how do you get it? Easy:
Exercise safely & religiously PLUS Eat healthy & proportionately.
That is it!!! Follow those two things and you will achieve the healthy & fit body you were meant to have. Keep in mind that achieving peak health & fitness does not mean achieving a model-like, elite-athlete-type body. What it means is that you will be able to function efficiently with ease of effort while feeling confident and attractive. The other benefit, once you have achieved peak health & fitness is the ability to consume any and all foods because your body is now able to process all foods without storing it as fat. Here are some of my favorite foods you should try:
Champagne and Oysters w/ mignonette sauce
Riesling (Kabinett) and Fried Chicken
Sancere and Goat Cheese on Baguette
Chardonnay and Buttered Popcorn
Vouvray and Tortilla Chips
Sparkling Rose and Turkey Sandwiches
Pinot Noir and Pan-seared Scallops
Pomerol and Beef Stew
Cabernet Franc and Baby Lamb Chops
Cabernet Sauvignon and Steak Au Poivre
Malbec and Dark Chocolate
Sauternes and Foie Gras
Madeira and Salty Almonds
Port and Blue Cheese
Is it any wonder that I used to be fat. I gotta go. I am starving. Later.
Despite the negative spin I place on the gym, I honestly do believe that it still is a wonderful place to work and be. An old co-worker of mine reminded me of that the other night. I was taking group exercise classes (known as aerobics) before I started working for the health & fitness industry. It started at the University of Buffalo...
Dennis, a fellow Electrical Engineering major, dared me to go with him and Amy, his wife now, to an aerobics class. Well, the class was in a lounge that had a concrete floor covered by carpet. The class was led by a large screen TV and VCR with a tape of Jane Fonda popped in. To this day, I credit my fitness to Ms. Fonda; I will forever be grateful. Anyway. I remember huffing and puffing and struggling and bitching until we finally stopped. I also remember saying, "God, it's over!" To which some girl said, "That was just the warm-up." So, being me, I stayed. I finished the tape. I passed out on my bed. But I did get up and go back the next day.
Fast forward to a year and a half later... I had gone from a chubby 220 lbs down to a svelte 165 lbs. Needless to say, I felt great. I felt strong. I felt sexy. I felt confident. I felt attractive. I felt that others might find me attractive. I also did something that may be the key to who I am, I came out to myself.
Not everyone goes through such a moment. It is different for all homosexuals. For me, somewhere deep inside, I had equated homosexuality with ugliness; physical and psychological. I spent most of my time making sure that people liked me. I was the life of the party. The person that everyone liked to spend time with. I was the over-achiever who would own the house with the white picket fence, two cars, and a dog. The person with inner-beauty, too. But I always had problems with my weight and physical self.
When I changed my body and my attitude, something inside changed. I felt like I could conquer it all. Something like being gay was minor compared to it all. I was just another person who was moving through life with the same problems as everyone else. I just liked having sex with men, ONLY! It was okay to come out because no matter what anyone thought, I did not depend on them to be who I was. I achieved that all on my own. Nobody's judgement mattered anymore.
So, thanks to the gym and exercise for being the catalysts to me and a lot of other people who have used their positive gym results to be who they truly are. Thanks for the freedom. I don't own the house, two cars, and a dog. I do co-own a 1 bedroom plus den Co-op with a wonderful man, own 20 pairs of shoes, and a cat AND that is just as wonderful. Later.
Yesterday, after working out, I went out for coffee with a fellow instructor who happens to be a good friend. She wanted to talk about a job opportunity she had in Hawaii. Of course, I said, "GO, GO, GO!" Now, my answer may seem whimsical, impulsive, and careless BUT, honestly, I could not come up with a reason for not going.
As I have said before, group exercise instructors have very flexible lives: we tend to be able to pack up and go knowing full-well that no matter where we go, we can get some work. My fellow instructor, Jen, has the opportunity to go to Hawaii to run a Pilates studio for three weeks and then return to NYC to continue her life here. I say this is a win-win situation; who knows, she may just want to stay out there instead. She was concerned as to whether pursuing this opportunity was beneficial to her AND if she would be missing other opportunities in NYC while she was gone.
It got me thinking about two things: why do we concentrate so much on what we may miss when we leave AND isn't this all about mindset?
As humans, we tend to think about what we do not have or are not being offered. We tend to want the smaller waist, the higher paying job, the bigger biceps, the carefree attitude, etc. We also complain about not being given the bigger office, the nicer cut of meat, the prime spot in step class, etc. What we don't seem to see is what we do have: the healthy body, the paying job, the luxury of being able to put food on our tables, the ability to change our lives, the opportunity to be paid to go out to Hawaii for three weeks.
When Jen asked my advice, all I could see was a chance to go out to beautiful Hawaii, work in a relatively pleasant setting, enjoy some time away from NYC, and various other benefits. You see, Hawaii is so laid back that there is no way that she would be stressed out at the Pilates studio PLUS she would be out there staying with her hunk of a high-school sweetheart, who is single, interested again, is a triathlete, stunningly handsome... bottom line, win-win situation.
Why do we concentrate so hard on what we will miss? For once, I wish people would remember that their lives happen where they are. That no matter what else is going on in the world, they need to appreciate what is going on right now within their space. It's not about the possibilities that are elsewhere, it's about the reality that is within arms-length. I know I spent my first 23 years thinking outside of my circle. I am glad that my last 11 has been spent back within. Later.
Why do people "air their laundry" in public? By that I mean, why do people insist on arguing in public, insist on chatting loudly on their cell phones, and so on and so forth?
On my way back from Delaware this past Saturday, a couple sittting behind me and my friend, Janice, were having a heavy discussion on how the male felt that the female's actions offended him. He started out by saying that all he wanted to do was tell her how her actions made him feel ignored and irrelevant. He did not want her to explain or defend what she did, all he wanted was for her to know that she tends to do things that are offensive to him and others. What her actions were does not matter; needless to say, he was offended. Of course, she could not resist but defend herself and, in essence, blame him for being so sensitive and oblivious. Anyway...
This all happened as we approached New York's Penn Station, the last stop on the train. My first thought was, "Is this all necessary? We are about to reach our destination and they are about to go to their home, why start this heavy discussion now? And why in a public place? And why so loud?" I wonder why people cannot wait for the privacy of their own homes to have heated arguments or private conversations?
It happens all the time in the gym. Members stop exercising to have long conversations on their cell phones. I don't even understand holding on to your cell as you work out. If it's that important, you should be there instead of in the gym. Why can't people understand that most of the public does not care to be sucked into their personal drama? To me, all this loud conversing is intrusive to what I am doing. I come to the gym to work out, not listen to people having loud conversationson their cell.
I thought about whether I would feel the same way if it were two people just having a loud discussion in the gym. And I have to answer, YES! Certain areas are just not the place for loud conversations, let alone loud argumentative conversations. Anything beyond a greeting and small general interaction should be saved for a more intimate setting where people around you are not being affected by the intrusion of your booming voice. We certainly have become a society of "listen to me, I matter" ideology.
Well, you do matter but in your own world, not mine. So keep it down. Later.
I love the "straight-acting" boys at the gym. I find their aloofness quite endearing. Hey Butch-boy, you keep holding on to that "straight-acting" ideal. I'm sure it will work for you sometime.
I guess what I find exceptionally offensive about homosexuals who say that they are or like straight-acting men (only) is the narrow-mindedness that comes along with it. It's the way these "straight-acting" gays look at the rest of us queers who don't fit into their "straight-acting" world. I also find that gay men who harp on the straight-acting issue seem to be very uncomfortable in their skin. They often have scowls and never smile. When did smiling become a gay thing? When did being mean become a straight thing?
If you happen to like playing sports, hiking mountains, digging ditches, or fixing cars AND still have sex with other men, then you are GAY. Get over yourself! I happen to enjoy crushing my competition when it comes to any type of sporting endeavor. I also have a knack for fixing electrical appliances. I have been known to read the sports page (yes, read not just look at the pics) and discuss sports stats once in a while. I also enjoy laying out all my clothing to see what new combinations I can come up with. I have 24 pairs of shoes, not counting sneakers. I read Vogue, scream when I find something funny, prance around when I get a chance, and giggle with my closest friends.
Do I classify any of my interests as masculine or feminine? No. Can a female enjoy digging ditches? I hope so. Can a male enjoy having 24 pairs of shoes? He should. Does that make them any less of a human being? Absolutely not! Does that make them homosexuals? Not unless they have sex with people of the same gender. In this day and age, shouldn't we stop associating a lot of interests with gender? Isn't that from the olden days?
In my encounters with these "straight-acting" gays, I have noticed a "holier than thou" attitude. As if it makes them more acceptable as gays because they fit the heterosexual idea of masculine traits. Honey, they still know you are gay and guess what, they don't think of you any better because you can splice an electrical wire. I do find it interesting that before any of us come out of the closet, we spend our entire life acting a certain way so that our secrets are not discovered. When we finally do leave the closet why on earth would anyone want to continue "acting"? Later.
Today, a friend died. It's not often I question my mortality or mortality in general; today I did. I wasn't very close to this friend but my partner was. We are broken up over it even though somewhere in the back of our minds, we knew it was inevitable. She had suffered through a long illness and asked that her pain not be prolonged. She is very brave. Her mother is very brave. My partner is putting up a brave front. I love him.
After working out this morning, I ran some errands, bought some food, and came home to go through my wardrobe. After trying on some outfits, combining old and new items, I decided that I needed to go to the gym more. Get in better shape. Pay more attention to my physique. Get thinner. What a priority.
I was cooking dinner for Mike and me when we got the phone call. We are feeling down. I hate myself for allowing vanity to become a priority. The gym matters because it keeps us in good health. Our vanity should not be the reason we go. Workout to stay healthy because if you leave this world to soon, someone will painfully miss you. I miss someone. Later.
As a fitness instructor, I get to create a very comfortable schedule. I tend to work when I want to and where I want to. When you are new to the business, this is fantastic. You get to do something (exercise) that you are going to do anyway AND get paid. Not to mention the fact that you can take naps in the middle of the day. You also get the option of spending your day doing other things besides sitting behind a desk. In short, fitness instruction is like freelancing; AND it comes with the option of getting benefits if you work as a full-time instructor.
As a cook, freelancing is also great. You get to work in a kitchen (which I love) without the pressure of standing on a restaurant line being screamed at by some unhappy Sous Chef who has been there for 20 years. On top of all of that, you get paid between $15-20 for freelance work as opposed to $7-10 for restaurant cooking. By now, you are thinking, "at least you get benefits in a restaurant". Think again! Line cooks do not get any type of benefits (health or otherwise) for the hours they spend making expensive dishes for demanding clientele.
Of course, as in any freelance work the downside is knowing that your current work is finite. Even though the only time I have ever truly struggled to make ends meet is when I was a manager at a wine store, I still freak out when I am not working either as a fitness instructor or freelance cook. Recently, I have been especially anxious about not having any cooking work. I get scared that I will never be called to work in a kitchen again because my skills will become rusty. I get anxious that all the downtime I have is not doing me any good emotionally.
I constantly look for freelance cooking work by applying to various catering companies. Unlike other companies, most catering companies are run by one person, who happens to be the chef, the manager, the marketing rep, and any number of other titles. Of course, they are so inundated that they don't always necessarily get back to you right away. Which of course adds to my anxiety about being idle. But, nonetheless, I continue to look. Yesterday, I even applied to work in a restaurant as a prep/line cook. I did it once, so I thought I would give it another try but this time in a less-pressurized environment.
Even though I have been teaching a lot of classes (which does pay well), I fear that I am being sucked back into the health club industry. I don't feel comfortable with that; I don't want that. I don't want to go back to relying on the fitness industry for my well-being. I love teaching classes but I don't want it to be my main source of income again. I do see myself having some sort of kitchen position while teaching a few classes a week; about two to four. The idea of having to physically exert so much energy into something that I know will not be my future is disheartening. I don't feel that teaching so many classes is helping me pursue a career in the culinary world. I worry that I will be stuck in the fitness industry.
On an up note, all this exercise has gotten me in great shape. Later.