Monday, January 25, 2010

Protein shakes and free lunches OR Fit to be tied

I keep talking about how it’s super hard to be healthy and it’s true. I’ve found that there are two pillars of healthy living. Last week I talked about eating right and this week I’ll tackle my misadventures with exercise.

Late last year I joined a gym. I figured it was time. People who frequent gyms are a whole different caste of people and as soon as I entered the doors they all turned and looked at me in disgust. They drank their protein drinks and gave me looks that seemed to say “You don’t belong here.”

There were some other people who were excited to see me, though. On of the gym's trainers, who could spot a sucker a mile away, congratulated me on my new gym membership and offered me a “free” training session.

Having lived in a capitalist country for the past 27 years I should have sirens going off in my head anytime I hear the word “free.” I took Econ 101 and I remember that one of the principles of economics is “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Too bad I slept through most of Econ 101.

The “free” session entailed the trainer pinching my fat with a humiliating fat-pinching device and looking me up and down with disdain. Then we had the following conversation:

Trainer: You’re really out of shape

Me: Yeah? Well you have an underbite, but you don’t see me bringing THAT up. Of course I'm out of shape! What do I do about it?

Trainer: I’m glad you asked. What you need to do is pay me a bunch of money and I will solve all of your health and fitness problems.

Then he said that the quoted price was a “special” and I had to decide today if I wanted to do it because the price was going up tomorrow, which is probably the oldest trick in the salesman book. I think he would've told me that no matter what day I came in.

As you can guess I caved and bought some sessions. Let me just say that having appointments with a trainer is like paying someone a lot of money to insult you for an hour.

I went to Chicago two summers ago and my friends and I went to Ed Debevic’s for dinner. At Ed Debevic’s the gimmick is you get insulted while you eat. The host, waiter and fry cook are all talking trash starting the instant you step inside and only ending when you are out of earshot. That’s like going to the gym and seeing the trainer, except at Ed Debevic's you get an awesomely greasy cheeseburger for your trouble. No such luck with the trainer.

Incidentally, an awesomely greasy cheeseburger is exactly what I think about the whole time I'm at the gym. That, and punching the trainer in the face. I'd do it, but he's taken enough steroids for a major league baseball team and would crush me into powder, which he would mix into a protein shake and drink.

It's not all bad, though. I've made friends with a few of my fellow fatties. We all work out together and it's great fun.

That is, until some musclehead comes and kicks us off whatever machine we're using like an elementary school bully kicking smaller kids off the swings.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Talking smack on eating healthy OR Healthy food is for the produce vultures

Let me say straight out that eating healthy is overrated. I’ve been trying to do it for a couple of weeks now and it is zero fun, which is a conservative estimate.

First of all, fruits and vegetables are extremely overhyped. Fresh fruits and vegetables are supposed to be the healthiest kind, but they go bad before you can even get them home from the grocery store. Bananas turn to brown mush in the blink of an eye and fruit flies start to circle around them like some kind of produce vultures.

Second, so-called “health” food was created to serve the same purpose as luxury cars, designer clothes and indie music: to create a special class of elitist snobs.

The single-most overrated thing about eating healthy is calories. Supposedly if you track how many calories you are taking in you will be able to eat better, which all sounds very nice until you actually have to do it.

Tracking calories turns every meal into a huge book report/math problem. You have to remember what you ate, record it and then research it to see how many calories it was, which is a maddening process. For example, a four-ounce serving of cottage cheese has 116 calories, but how much is four ounces of cottage cheese? A tablespoon? A cup? A furlong? I don’t know! Just keep that cottage cheese away from me because it’s making me so angry!

Even with sane measurements food can still be difficult to track, like Raisin Bran. It has 190 calories in a cup, which is great but who really brings measuring cups to breakfast?

Then try totaling that mess up. It feels like I’m taking the ACT all over again!

#23. On Monday Jesse ate one bowl of Rice Chex with milk, a granola bar, a bologna sandwich and two servings chicken turkey oyster casserole. How many calories did he consume?

I was never good at math. Part of why I majored in what I did was because it only required one math class. (Note to fellow math-phobes: social work = no math). Numbers and I do not get along, so after a few days of tracking calories I went nuts! A complete health food melt down.

I bought the first pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream I could get my hands on, but when I got home I discovered that the ice cream was all frostbitten and nasty. It was covered in thick ice and I had to scrape it like a car windshield on a winter morning. When I finally broke through I saw that the ice cream had devolved into some kind of shriveled ball. As best I can figure, someone let it melt on the front seat of their car with the windows closed on a summer day, refroze it and then sold it to me.

That’s pretty disgusting, but what is even more disgusting is that I ate the whole thing. I didn’t return it to the store and demand my money back. I didn’t throw it away. I ate it all in one sitting and was happier than a bull in a matador store.

Why? Because I’m an addict, of course! Junkies don’t care if their smack is mixed with baking soda, drain cleaner or huge nasty ice crystals. They just want smack.

Preferably smack with marshmallow, caramel swirls and fudge fish.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't sweat it OR Mister Rogers was right

My office building is freezing. Not just cold, I’m talking arctic temperatures. I have to use an ice scraper on my computer monitor to be able to see what I’m working on. It’s cold. That’s how I turned into Mister Rogers, may he rest in peace.

You remember Mister Rogers, don’t you? Good. If not, a crucial part of your childhood is missing and you should go Wikipedia him this instant.

Mister Rogers was kind of famous for his sweater change at the beginning and ending of each show. I have my own sweater change now, which started because my office was so cold I would just sit and work in my heavy outside coat all day. I’m sure it looked ridiculous but it was the only thing that was keeping me from dying of hypothermia.

Then we all got together as an office and petitioned the building people and we got the temperature raised approximately one degree. I don’t have to wear my Eskimo parka but it’s still cold enough that I need something. I thought about getting a sweater but decided that I’m not that old, and obviously sweater vests are the much dorkier cousin of the sweater and are thereby guilty by association.

Truthfully, my arms are what get the coldest. If they had something like a “reverse sweater vest” that was just thick sleeves you could wear on you arms I would totally jump on board that woolen train. Unfortunately they don’t, and even if they did, a reverse sweater vest would look markedly dorkier than a sweater vest.

I decided to just go with a zip-up sweatshirt, which hangs on a peg in my office. Each morning I take off my Eskimo parka, put on the sweatshirt and zip it up. Every evening I perform this
operation in reverse. There you have it: Mister Rogers.

I’m not knocking Mister Rogers, I just hope no one sees me make the change because I know they'd laugh me to scorn. Mr. Rogers was a good guy, but certain elements of his show often made me uneasy when I was a child. First, in every episode a miniature trolley would roll through, stopping long enough to “talk” to Mister Rogers before rolling away into the “Land of Make Believe.” Then the show would morph into some kind of fantasy world populated by weird people and creepy puppets.

Next, when Mister Rogers would come in he would sing the “Won’t you be my neighbor?” song. This was just fine but some days he would sing it all backwards and instead of saying “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” he’d sing “It’s a neighborly day for a beautywood.” As a child I would watch and think, “Can’t you remember the words, Mister Rogers? You’ve only sung them every episode for a billion episodes.”

Lastly, in one episode Mister Rogers mixed butter and peanuts together in an attempt to make “peanut butter.” He ate most of it and said something like “It doesn’t taste much like peanut butter, but it’s pretty good.” All I could think was, “Mister Rogers, that's nasty.”

Growing up is weird, and now Mister Rogers is not even around to make me happy and uneasy at the same time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Top 5 Reasons why it's good to be a man OR I was recently diagnosed with amenorrhea, but they tell me that’s normal OR I like being a man. Period.

Before you get upset just remember that the title of this week’s blog is “Top 5 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be A Man.” Good, not better.

I always complain about having to pay for dinner and basically everything else, but there are a few things women deal with that I’ve always thought, “I’m glad I don’t have to do that.” So I made a list. (There are probably similar blogs/lists on the internet but I assure you mine is the best.)

1. Menstruating. Yeah, I said it. I figured I’d get that one out of the way first. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it. I saw a commercial on TV for Pamprin or Midol or something like that and I realized that men don’t have their own special brand of pain reliever. Perhaps that is significant.

Some girls claim to get moody or emotional during this time. I don’t know whether that is true or they just like an excuse to yell at people. Either way I can do without.

I don’t even want to talk about the squeamish subject of “feminine hygiene products,” but I opened this can of worms so I better just finish it out. I work in an office that is 98% women. When you are the only man in the room women kind of forget you are there and talk accordingly. Consequently, I’ve been privy to way too much uncensored girl talk, including topics like wings, strings, etc. The moral of the story is… gross.

2. High heels. I’m curious how many women have rolled, sprained, twisted or otherwise broken their ankles hobbling around on these crazy things. I asked a girl once why she wore high heels and she replied, “They make your butt look cute.” That’s crazy! I don’t care how cute high heels make your butt look. If there were shoes that made my pecs and biceps look huge but mutilated my feet and made me totter around like a stiltwalker I would… probably wear them.

3. Eyelash curlers. I saw a woman doing her makeup the other day. She pulled out a scary-looking device and started to raise it up to her face. I tried to stop her by yelling, “Look out! Don’t put that in your eye!” But that’s exactly what she did.

4. Childbirth. They made us watch a video of a woman giving birth in ninth grade health class and it was… unsettling, to say the least. A new mom recently told me, “Having one child makes you not want to have any more. I’m adopting from here on out.” From what I know, the only thing that could compare with the discomfort and inconvenience of being pregnant is the discomfort and inconvenience of living with a pregnant woman.

5. Waxing. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I have gorilla werewolf arms. I was going through a particularly vain phase earlier this year and decided to wax my arms. I know, I know. I don’t know why, I just did. It is safe to say that it would have been more pleasant to have my arms filed off or amputated with teaspoons and stumps would have been more attractive than ingrown hairs.

Basically women have the market cornered on pain, so I guess I’ll pay for dinner. Just keep those eyelash curlers away from me.