My Christmas List

1. Memory

In grade eleven four of my best friends and I did a lip sync to the opening credits of Sailor Moon.

It was pretty epic. I even did my hair in Sailor Moon’s weird ball-pigtail things.

During the musical interlude, five of our guy friends came out on stage dressed as aliens and monsters, and we kicked their butts (in classic Sailor Scout style, of course.)

This, weirdly, is one of the performing highlights of my life.

2. Weather

This happened:

IMG_20131220_160348

I was going to go for a long run yesterday, but with all of this white stuff on the ground, and my Yak Tracks nowhere to be found, I swallowed my pride and schlepped myself to the little gym located just down the street from my house.

(Schlepped really being the operative word here, what with the high degree of slippery-ness I was contending with on our absolutely treacherous sidewalks. Say what you want about us west coasters, but the majority of us really can’t do winter for crap.)

Anywho, I was feeling pretty dejected about this decision, what with how vehemently I claimed I was never, EVER going to return to a gym (especially that gym), but as I really wanted to move my body I girded my loins and went.

Oh dear me.

I really do loathe gyms.

For starters, a drop-in pass cost me ten dollars.

TEN DOLLARS!

What the what.

Second, nothing is sillier to me than running on a treadmill. Anytime I do this, I always think, “Man. What are the aliens thinking as they watch us do this crazy stuff?”

But mostly I just really can’t stand the clientele that frequent these establishments because everything they do just completely grinds my gears.

The thing that I hate the most? When dudes feel the need to one-up me after I’ve performed an exercise.

For instance, many times after I’ve used the chin-up bar (and am totally proud at the 5-8 chin-ups I’ve managed to crank out), some schmuck feels some strange compulsion to prove just how much stronger he is that I, and will ask if he can “work-in” (despite the fact that he hasn’t finished his reps on whatever other machine he has been using) and then do as many chin-ups as he can physically handle.

All of the barfs.

But in the end, the gym did serve its purpose and I felt all the better for having a chance to work out on such a wintery, snow-filled day.

3. Music

It is kind of a dream of mine to be an extra is a Bollywood music video.

No joke.

I really, really love Hindi music.

This is one of my faves, from a movie I really, really loved. (Song starts around 1:30)

Sometimes when I am baking or cooking, I stick on a 4-hour long playlist and just dance about the house.

Plus – the outfits.

THE OUTFITS!

4. Washing

I haven’t taken a bath in about fifteen years.

I’m just not really into them, you know?

I remember taking baths just when I was learning how to shave my legs, and I would shave my legs whilst SITTING in the tub.

GAH. I did so many crazy things as teenager, I sometimes don’t know how I made it through that decade of my life in one piece.

Anyways, I’m not exactly sure if there is one determining factor behind my decision to never take another bath ever again in my entire life (unofficial decision of course – it has never been formally decried), but I think it’s mostly just because I love showering SO MUCH and really, who has the time for baths? Let alone the fact that there is about a five minute window where a bath is amazing, and then you have to contend with the ever-cooling water, rogue body oils, and the realization that this is neither as relaxing or romantic as you were originally led to believe.

Plus, I always hated trying to read a book in the bath because my hands would always get really cold, and then I’d put them in the water to warm them up and then my book would get all wet from my wet hands.

GRIM TIMES HERE FOLKS.

5. Christmas

As I get older I cannot help but think that the majority of Christmas songs are just absolute garbage.

(Please note that I wrote songs, and not carols – most carols are epic and badass, and I sing them all at the top of my lungs every time I am in the shower, in celebration of the fact that I am showering and not taking a bath.)

But seriously – so many of these tunes that we are inundated with ad nauseam at this time of year are just ridiculously awful in the extreme.

For instance, topping my most hated list?

DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS.

Urg.

Oh I think they bloody-well do! Because I think it’s Africa and you know, not THE MOON.

Damn you Bono! What a bunch of condescending, tone-deaf, privileged jerks.

Seriously, this song is pretty much the musical equivalent of “but it’s okay – I have a black friend!”

It’s just the worst.

AND IT’S NOT OKAY.

6. Excitment

FOUR MORE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!

Marc and I are finally going to today to procure a little tree for our house, and we’ll be decking the halls with care.

Yay!

What are all you fab chaps up to tonight?

Do let me know. I’d love to hear as I dance the night away.

A girl named Jim

SO.

I haven’t quite quit the gym. But I have put my membership on notice.

Let’s call it a trial separation.

WAHOO! No more gym.

And as many of you know, I have quite a tumultuous relationship with my gym.

All gyms really.

Even if I did, once upon a time, go to the gym A LOT.

All throughout my undergrad and first year of my post grad I trekked to the gym between three to five times per week.  I didn’t know how to exercise without a membership card.  As such, I participated in fitness classes where generic but frenetic electro-pop made my heartbeat irregular. I read more back issues of Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and the Economist whilst climbing to nowhere on a Stairmaster, than a chronically bored Chapters employee.

In the two months leading up to my wedding, I frequented the hallowed sweat-box known as “Fitness World” so many times one of the front desk girls asked me if I wanted a job with the company.

But oh how things have changed.

The summer after our marriage, my husband and I moved to New Westminster (a city almost gym-free compared to Vancouver) and I started a job-school schedule that demanded between 50-60 hours of my time during the week.

I was so exhausted most of the time that the last thing I wanted to do before or after work (let alone on my days off) was head to the gym. Both my body and mind completely rejected the idea of regulated exercise.

And so other than riding my bike as my preferred mode of transit, I did nothing.

My old steed Beth.

However, after two glorious months of doing nothing, I began to miss a more dynamic lifestyle.  I did not, however, on any terms, want to return to a gym.  Slowly, I started to experiment with different sorts of outdoor activities.  What I quickly realized was that my body was capable of so much more than what it is confined to within the gym.  It was (is!) literally a vehicle – a means of getting around, of exploring places I’d never been, of spending more times with family and friends.

I ramped up my pedal schedule and started biking everywhere.

Queen’s Park became my treadmill.

I only re-joined the gym life a year later because of how horrible our weather had been, and I wasn’t about to commit to working out in the dark and rain all the live long winter.

But now I’m tired.

And I’m thinking that come the end of this trial run, I may just quit it all together.

Sometimes, you just need to reboot.

Here are my top four reasons why:

1.The gym can be very expensive. Most range between 20-50 dollars a month.  Some are even higher. If you multiply those numbers by 12, you are looking at upwards of 600 dollars a year.  Mine is pretty cheap, but I still think of the pretty shiny things I can buy with those sweet cash dollars.

2. The gym is an establishment frequented by the semi-sane that can, and will, turn you the exact same way: girls in their bathing suits talking on their cells phones; guys who are more interested in checking themselves out than actually lifting weights; people who don’t clean off machines or wear proper deodorant, who butt-in before you’re done you set or feel the need to step in and provide one-on-one support because “they took a class in college once…”  I know I look quite the sight dressed in my husband’s old t-shirts and shorts.

3.The gym is inside.  I know this is a total boon when living in a deciduous rain forest, but I truly believe there is nothing more refreshing and rewarding then exercising outside, rain or shine (give or take the ferocity of the elements.  There may be times where you have to concede to Mother Nature.)  However, you will never feel better or more alive than after completing a hard fought activity on unlevel ground, gulping down fresh air as the wind cools your flushed face.

Fun fact: every single item of clothing I am wearing in this photo belongs to M, save the shorts.

4. Finally, the number one reason to quit the gym is that you can stay in shape without it.

Just remember to:

Expect changes.  The first time around I thought I could just jump into the same level of exercise that I was accustomed to at the gym.  (This was also a very silly mistake as I had also been inactive for longer than I was used to.)  Both running and biking outside has a different affect on your body than the monotony of gym machines.

It will likely tire you out at a faster rate.

If you are capable of going to the gym every week, you are capable of going for a run/bike ride/hike/walk/ every week as well!  It is very easy to feel as though because the gym is there and you’re paying for it, you have to go.  There is no reason that you should lose the resolve just because you aren’t paying for it. 

That should be a reason to go.

And for goodness sakes, use your body.

Resistance work has got to be one of the most difficult but effective workouts I have ever done.  Plus you can do it in the comfort of your own home/dorm/common room.  Push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees – these exercises require no equipment and work like nothing else.

Of course I cannot guarantee that any of these things will work for anyone, let along everyone.  I wanted to write this post because I was so shocked and so happy by something I never thought I would be able to do.

I promise you will be amazed at the things you are capable of achieving.

I know I am.

Let’s get physical, physical

I have a love-hate relationship with my gym:

Love: It’s cheap as hell. For twenty-three bucks a month I feel as though my range to complain is quite, shall we say, limited.

Hate: Because it’s cheap as hell it’s a bit of a crap box. There is zero air circulation and the exposed pipes drip like dripping things (to the point where you start to think that you’re sweating more than you actually are.) I already sweat like a glass blower’s arse and because there is zero air flow, whenever I lift weights in front of the mirror I bloody-well fog up the part of glass in front of which I’m standing.

That this makes me feel sexy as all get out is an understatement.

And is also a lie.

Love: On days where I feel like the athlete of the century it has everything I need, especially if the weather happens to be total crap (like, say, how it has been for the past seven months.) I can run, bike, lift weights, use stability balls, etc. all under one (incredibly) leaky roof.

Hate: On days where I feel like anything but the athlete of the century, my gym taunts me like a school yard foe. I have to walk by it on my way home from transit, so if I ever decide that it’s not in my best interest to workout (despite having schlepped all my gear with me to work that day) I can feel its mocking stare as I scuttle by its front doors without actually going inside.

Love: The sense of accomplishment, fatigue (but the good kind), strength, and general bad-assery I get after finishing a workout. There are not too many things that feel quite as good as a monster training session, and the gym is obviously a well equipped place to provide this feeling.

Hate: The utter dejection, fatigue (the bad kind – the kind you get after a brain melting day at work), and overwhelming urge to go home, put on your pajamas and EAT ALL THE NUTELLA you feel before you start your workout. At said gym.

Love: Days where I have the whole place to myself and no one talks to me, drops their weights, or grunts/shrieks like an obnoxious fool.

Hate: The exact opposite of everything I just said. And no Mr. Pathological Liar – I don’t give a flying flashdance about your double PhD and MMA supremacy!

So there you have it. It’s a complex relationship, but one that I am in for the long haul.

Or at least until I move to a city where the climate hangs around 22 degrees (Celsius) all year round.

Wanna come?

These little white lines

Dear Women:

Remember when we hated you because you were fat?  Boy did we ever dislike you then!  There aren’t too many worse things a woman can be!  Am I right, or am I right?  Oh, what’s that?  You’ve lost weight?  You joined a gym and started running and lifting weights and trying out new exercises and are the fittest you’ve ever been in your life?  Well good for you!  Too bad we still don’t like you.  I mean, even though you’re not fat anymore, you’re just less fat.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re skinny enough.  Plus, you now have stretch marks and seriously, EW.  I mean, can’t you at least try to take care of yourself?  Good grief women.  Just get your head in gear okay?  You can start off by buying this bullshit product which will do nothing to actually minimize the look of those disgusting lines, but instead, further reinforce a feeling of perpetual failure.  Because goodness knows you have failed.  However, if by chance this product does work for you and reverses this natural process, and then maybe, just maybe, we’ll allow you to take pride in your body.  However, by “your body”, we don’t mean anything more than what you look like.  Lest you begin to think that you can feel good about yourself due to the amazing things you can accomplish with your body, just remember – you’ll never be good enough and you will never be more than the sum of your physical parts.

Sincerely,

The World

I work out at a small gym.  It’s a pretty simple organization – exposed pipes, leaky air conditioners, and minimal equipment.  For relatively low price, I use its facilities between three to four times a week with little complaint.  However, two copies of this ad have been hanging in the ladies change room for over the past four months.  I didn’t pay much attention to it at first, but as I passed by it day after day, it really began to grate my gears.

It drives me crazy that a place committed to promoting healthy choices would chose to hang this ad in the women’s washroom.  While I understand that because the gym is so limited, it probably requires the extra revenue from the ad space, but couldn’t they have chosen something that promoted body acceptance (especially within the medium of healthy living, or healthier living?) over HEY EX-FATTIES!  GET RID OF THOSE STRETCH MARKS BECAUSE THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE SO GROSS!

I am so sick of constantly being told how fat, ugly, pimpled, yellow-teethed, glasses-ed, wrinkled and cellulited I am.  Because ninety-nine percent of the time all this is nothing but water of my rubber ducky back.  I am okay with my “flaws” – but mostly because I am capable of standing back and taking pride in the things my body is capable of doing.  However, this used to never be the case, and as I said, the one percent of the time that this does bother me, it really hits me hard.

And the reason that this is sticking so deeply in my craw right now, is because it is at the gym – the place I go to feel fantastic about myself.  The place where I push my body to its limits and marvel at how strong, fast, agile, flexible – WHATEVER – I can become through commitment and hard work, and not the purchasing (under social pressure) of some crap cream.

I think I may go in tomorrow with a notepad and scotch tape and stick the following onto the glass:

Hey Ladies!  I hope you had a great workout today.  Take a moment to reflect on how much faster or longer you can run, how much more you can lift.  Take a moment to relish how good that feels and keep trying new things!

And then I’m going to watch this and feel bloody brilliant: