Friday, September 30, 2011

Stress Test

First – the good news. I got to wear my own shirt for the stress test.  The woman who attached the stickers tried to talk me out of it. “You’ll get sweaty.  You’ll get gel on it.” I rode my bike to the stress test center, so I was already sweaty.  Sticker Lady scrubbed me down with what felt like sand paper to get it all off before pasting on the stickers with the little metal buttons.  Then she had me lean onto her to smash them on firmly.  I told her I was glad to have a female doing this. She told me they make sure of that.

Note: this is a place where they have men help arrange your breasts in the mammogram machine. And as soon as I was stickered up, a man came in to do the sonogram, and another man came in as the doctor to warn me that exercise has its dangers.

Sonogram Man slimed me up and got pre-exercise echos. He kept asking me to hold my breath in or out while he took them.  I do yoga. It’s not hard to hold my breath. He told me that as soon as I got off the treadmill I was to get back on the table in the same lying-on-my-left-side position so he could get a post exercise echos.

Then they had me get on a treadmill. I did not know how to use the thing.  I tried walking on it, and the thing moved so quickly that my steps were short.  After about 6 minutes of this, Sticker Lady, who was now watching the heart chart as it printed, told me to let my leg move with the walking belt. This would give me a longer stride and feel more comfortable.  

Every three minutes the machine got faster.  After about 1 minute on level 3, my leg with the new hip started to feel sore, and I felt tired, so I asked them to stop the test.  Sticker Lady seemed surprised, but I insisted.  She’d said I could stop it any time after my heart rate got to 133, and it was over that.  They made a note that I wasn’t short of breath.  Apparently most people let the test go to that point. They wrote down that my reason for quitting was fatigue.  I guess they can’t just write tired.

I got on the table. Sonogram Man rushed over, like it was an emergency. This time it was hard to hold my breath. After exercise I breathe more deeply than before.

It turns out I’m a freak of nature.  My heart pumps the same amount before and after exercise. The doc had never seen this before.  Apparently everybody else on the planet pumps more after exercise.

No wonder I always was the kid nobody wanted on their teams.  No wonder I always felt like any physical activity was harder for me that all the other kids.  No wonder I had to practice for hours every day just to get a C in Physical Education.  And no wonder I continue to exercise daily – it’s a lifelong habit.  And no wonder, I’m suddenly one of the most fit people my age.  Gym was never work for everybody else, so they didn’t have to exercise in order to do it.  They didn’t develop the habit.  Finally an explanation! It really was easier for everybody else.

Of course the doctor didn’t see it my way. He wants to run more tests.  Hey – I got METs 8 quitting when I did. That’s Metabolic Equivalent Tasks. It means I was doing 8 times as much work as the average person does sitting still.  According to the table I found at   8.1 is the beginning of the highest fitness level for women over 60.  METs 6 is average.

 I’m fit.  And I don’t care if I’m a freak.  No more tests.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interval Training and Ranting

Time for another rant.

Some of the elliptical trainers at the gym face a television. The sound is off, so I usually ignore it. But, I’ve been doing Interval Training.

This means I work out in a cycle of normal speed for 2 minutes, speed up for 30 seconds, and resume normal for 2 minutes.  During the cool-down phase, I found myself watching the television.  The words are presented as text on the screen.

The advertizer began by asking viewers if they had too many clothes for their closets.  I was hoping this was going to be an ad for a place to donate the clothing for charity, or to be recycled into paper.  I used to be able to buy paper made from old blue jeans, but that seems to have disappeared.

NO it wasn’t something sensible like that – this was an ad for plastic bags to squish your extra clothes into. Then you were supposed to put the bags into your suitcase.  So, how are you supposed to travel? Or is the suitcase already packed?  Does this mean you are squishing underwear into the bags?  Who has too much underwear?  Bottom line, if a person has too much of anything, the problem is NOT where to store it. The problem is where to donate it.

Interval exercise is supposed to get your heart rate up.  Not the thoughts during cool down.

Next time, I’m going to try to get an elliptical that isn’t facing a television.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ecology in the Doctor's Office

The EKG lady led me to the doctor’s examining room.  She asked me to take off my blouse and bra and put on a silly examining costume.  I told her that’s an eco-crime.  My blouse will do just fine.  I only need a minute to get my bra off and my blouse back on.  If I don’t fasten the buttons, my blouse opens down the front, just like the costume, but it doesn’t create unnecessary laundry.

The EKG lady went out of the room and checked.  My blouse would be okay. I didn’t have to wear the costume.  She’d honestly been worried that there was a rule that she couldn’t do EKGs on people without the costumes.  

We can look out for ways to save the environment in every situation.  One less costume for the wash, one more step for a clean planet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Be a Weather Witch

In order to control the weather, it helps if you do some experiments first.  All the statements below work for me – but until you do your own experiments, there is no reason for you to accept that any of this is possible.  Just try it.

1) You have power over the weather -- you can use your mind to redirect the wind, or even to decide what kind of weather you want for a specific time in the future.

2) Looking at the radar weather scan can help you decide what you want the winds to do, such as   redirect a cloud -- toward you if you want rain, away if you don't.  If you just need a few hours before you get home, you can slow or redirect the wind.  For this, you can just look up at the sky and decide that no rain will fall until you enter a safe place.

3) You can do long-term planning, which is what I did for the wedding. I decided what I wanted the weather to be like and send my thoughts up to the clouds for about a month ahead of time.

4) You can bring rain to parched areas.  It helps if you have other people working with you.

5) You can make the rain stop and start – for example, you can make it be dry while you wait for the bus, let it rain while you ride the bus, and then stop again when you get off the bus, only to start again once you are safely in your destination building.

This is not a matter of wishing.  It is a matter of real control.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Don't Believe

This is my 9/11 Rant.  When people talk about how a few suicidal maniacs crashing planes into buildings “brought us together” I have no idea what they’re talking about.  As I see it, this country has never been more divided.  The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.  Our government went to war against Iraq and Afghanistan.  Why?  Nobody in the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan directed the attacks.  Our government was angry, and like an angry child, they decided to hit somebody.  The division of Americans who approve and Americans who don’t approve has caused arguments as severe as those that led to the Civil War.

But it’s become more insane than that. It’s not just about wars any more.  I recently quit a discussion on Facebook because my opponents refused to abide by what I consider the two ground rules of debate: 1) no name-calling and 2) no making stuff up.  What’s the point of debating if the other side is going to lie and throw insults around instead of discussing verifiable facts?

And it got worse than that.  One opponent insisted that because I do not share her religion that I’m going to hell.  I asked her why she believes in hell when most translations of the Bible don’t use that word.  She didn’t answer.  So, I asked why she believes the Bible.  Again, no answer.  She says I’m too liberal for her to talk to and my head is in the sand and I’m going to hell.

So, we’re down to a fundamental question.  Why does anybody believe anything?  Our government wants us to believe there was a good reason to go to war against Iraq and Afghanistan. But they don’t give us reasons.  People who believe what they are told, put their lives on the line for our government. Those of us who want proof, feel fear on their behalf.  

My Facebook opponent wants me to believe in her religion.  Why?  Because she read it in a book? Because some religious leader told her to?  These are not proofs that I can accept.  I get it that she doesn’t want me to go to hell. I suppose that is kind of her. But she thinks I need to believe her religion in order to be saved from her imagined hell. And that she thinks her God needs her help to save me.  But in all religious books, the people who are active in the stories have had their own personal encounters with their deity.  They have reason for what they say and do.  My opponent has had no such experience.  What is her reason?

This is the core divide now; People like me who want reasons and facts and people who are capable of believing what they are told.  This seems to be an impassable divide.  Far more serious than about who can own slaves, or can a state secede from the union -- it's about us all becoming slaves to dogma, being forced to join a union that we never voted for.

I don’t expect the religious fanatics to win, to destroy our democracy far more thoroughly than the terrorists even planned. But our democracy will continue to suffer until we find a common ground on which to communicate. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Blonde Bombshell Walk

Yesterday in Feldenkrais class at the gym, we worked on hip movements.  We lay on our backs, knees bent, and used our leg muscles to lift our pelvises.  We played with moving our feet closer to, and further away from our buttocks. We moved our knees further apart, and closer together. We worked with picking up our spines, one vertebra at a time and putting them down again, like a string of pearls. The variations took over an hour and our teacher said he’d have more next week.  Then he asked us to get up and walk. To feel our hip joints and pelvises.

I was aware of many smaller muscles, what I call micro-movements, particularly in my left hip with all the gadgetry in there. I walked slowly to appreciate these new sensations.  The gym room has a mirror on one wall. I saw myself walk.  I looked like a blonde bombshell – okay without the blonde hair, slinky clothes, and bedroom eyes.  But I’d recognize that walk anywhere.

Do you suppose the blonde bombshells took Feldenkrais classes in gym?  Who knew that walking like that was healthy?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Thanks for Weather Witching

Before my cousin’s wedding, all the talk was about the weather. My cousin (actually first cousin once removed, but she’s still a cousin) had planned an outdoor wedding and rain was forecast.  I told everybody not to worry – my husband, the alien, and I are weather witches.  The weather will be fine. I promised. I reassured.

It rained the morning of the day before the wedding, but when my husband and I got off the train in DC, the skies cleared.  Still assorted relatives continued to stew about the weather.  It will be fine, I said. No rain.

The wedding was held under clear skies. Not a drop dampened the chuppah.  Happy celebrants. This is a couple who love each other. The bride is the daughter of one of my cousin’s on my father’s side.

At the dinner afterwards, one of the relatives told me she had prayed for no rain, and her prayers had been answered.  Another relative got up and gave a speech thanking the bride’s deceased grandmother for intervening with the weather on her grand daughter’s wedding day.  Everybody seemed to have done something to clear the skies. Nobody thanked us.

Rain fell after my husband and I got on the train to leave town.

I offered to teach my friends in Texas how to make it rain - so far nobody is interested. Weather Witching is a learnable skill, like doing a sommersault, or making soup.