Friday, March 24, 2006

The first rule of Fat Club

I've been debating with myself on whether to write about this at all. I've insisted before that this isn't a weight-loss blog, per se; rather, it's a blog where I alternately bitch about and make fun of the things that occasionally penetrate my usual inattention. A mixed-grill blog. Haha.

But. I have decided, after many months of soul-searching, to embark upon a very strenuous, medically supervised weight loss and management program, offered through my gym and, incredibly, co-sponsored by NerdCo and their insurance provider. They are paying the lion's share to help me get this shit under control once and for all, and for that I feel very much blessed, and privileged, and grateful. Also, if I fail to complete the program, I owe NerdCo Health Insurance $10 grand. Consider me incentified.

So. Since the NerdCo-brand Fat Club pretty much owns me from now until Christmas, I anticipate that it will by necessity come up in the blog from time to time over the next 32 weeks. Thus, if my new Nautilus regimen renders me too sore to dress myself, or if I end up eating printer cover sheets out of the recycling bin in a hysterical bid for carbs, ANY CARBS PLEASE BABY JESUS....well, Internets, you will be the first to know.

* * * * *

To enroll in Fat Club, you have to go through quite the battery of tests. Their offices in the gym convey this odd sort of louche, Dynasty Medical Center circa 1989 vibe: plush burgundy carpet, lots of brass and faux marble accents. It's a lot like providing Nordstrom's with a urine sample. The exam rooms are equally glamorous, and I had blood drawn while reclining on a vast chaise lounge upholstered in mauve vinyl. When I give blood at my Regular Doctor's, I sit in a plastic cafeteria chair with an arm chute bolted onto it like a torpedo chamber. I guess Fat Club atmosphere is what you get for the big bucks.

This week, I met with my assigned Fat Shrink. (She is not fat; she is there to counsel me into being less fat. She does, however, bear a striking resemblance to Rachel Dratch, so I fully expected her to bust out with something zany during the entire session. This was distracting.) Together we agreed that I was already getting quite a lot of therapy and so didn't need to talk Fat every single solitary week, and thank goodness.

I also had a fitness assessment on Wednesday. I was very anxious about it, largely because I did not know exactly what it would entail and so could speculate many different worst-case scenarios. What if I registered simply as "inert" on all their diagnostic tools? What if I, like, fell over, or shot off the end of the treadmill? Or tripped on it and abraded the flesh from my lower extremities, like Mike? (Sorry, Mike.)

"You should try and get some exercise beforehand, so your legs don't seize up," my father recommended. I am not sure how incapacitated by blubber my father thinks I am, but nonetheless this statement was not encouraging.

What if they made me jog with one of those oxygen mask-and-tube rigs strapped over my mouth?

"I think tests that sophisticated are really expensive," Boss informed me kindly. Boss is of course one of the healthiest, most active women on the planet and spent her Sunday trotting up 69 flights of stairs for charity; I imagine her fitness assessment would fall somewhere in the "can lift Kim over her head while dancing the can-can" category. Still, I amused and terrified myself in equal measure, imagining a NASA-caliber series of evaluations, culminating in the part where they strap you into the G-force simulator and spin you around, jowls a-flappin'. It's scientific!

It was, for good and ill, nothing like that. For the first half hour we filled out forms and reviewed the degree to which I was signing my life away. They took my measurements and my "Before!" pictures, at which I groaned. "Everybody hates this part the most," said my assessor cheerfully. Can't think why.

I was zapped with electrodes to determine my body-fat percentage, and made to blow into a tube to check my lung capacity. I walked on the treadmill to determine how long it took to elevate my heart rate to a certain point; the hardest part of this was trying to strap on the heart-rate monitor beneath my ample bosom.

I sat on the floor and reeeeaaaached for my toes while holding onto...a little stick on a string, that magically measured my flexibility. They also measured my upper-body strength by having me stand on a platform and curl a bicep bar tethered to it; this whole thing was wired somehow into a computer to record the results. I expected to be able to actually curl the bar; I hadn't realized that the tether was fixed and simply measured the force I exerted. It didn't move, and so I nearly did a back flip with the effort I put into that first pull. Luckily, I'd schlepped a 34-pound bag of cat litter to my car on Sunday, so I don't think my arm tone is entirely nonexistent.

Anyway. All my stats were duly noted and will be provided to my trainer and my nutritionist, both of whom I start seeing next week. At the end of the proceedings, the assessor handed me back my steaming Visa card and said, "Wait, I have one more thing to give you--your $4000 water bottle!"--a 28-ounce bike bottle emblazoned with the Fat Club logo, because yeah, you really want to wave that around. Ha ha ha ha ha.

In truth, I'm looking forward to getting freaking started already, though occasionally indulging in a pie-eyed, muttered round of whathaveIdonewhathaveIdonewhathaveIdone. We'll see how it feels next week, when I'm getting up at 6:00 a.m. for the expensive privilege of toiling under the command of a perky blonde. Energy! Woooooo!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Things that make you say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Dude. Dude. New item on the list of Things I Will Never Be Able to Stop Thinking About Ever: spontaneous globe luxation. Or, as Slate describes it, when YOUR EYEBALL POPS OUT WHEN YOUR EYELID IS PUSHED IN THE RIGHT WAY.

Oh sweet Jesus, I could totally have my eyeball come boinging out accidentally at any time. It was kind of Slate's Explainer to describe how to relocate my fucking eyeball back in my fucking skull, there at the end of the article, but at that point I was not paying much attention because of having leapt backwards over my desk chair, causing it to twirl emptily as I writhed on the floor holding my hands over my face JUST IN CASE.

Nighty night! Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

June Cleaver is dead

(Actually, after I composed that title, I had to run over to IMDB and check. I'm delighted to report that the lovely Barbara Billingsley, perfectly coiffed and fluent in jive, is very much alive and well, and was working as recently as 2003, bless her heart. Jus' hang loose, blood!)

My mom is a capable but largely indifferent cook. I mean no disrespect; she kept us adequately fed and everything, but Sis and I have no explanation for our own competitive culinary excesses and kitchen's some genetic quirk that may have skipped multiple generations, we think. Mom was given detention in junior high for throwing lemons around like softballs in Home Ec, so maybe she missed something that day? At any rate, she was fun, but not at all a cake-baking sort of mom...more the "smuggle contraband candy into the movies" kind of mom, which has its own merits.

This is a lengthy prelude to saying that I can remember my mother baking only two cakes in my entire lifetime. One was for my twelfth birthday: a round layer cake frosted to resemble a giant hamburger, with real sesame seeds sprinkled over the top "bun." I had begged and pleaded and cajoled for this cake, which I'd found in a kids' cookbook, and I'm not sure what aspect of my whining finally propelled Mom to forgo the Albertson's bakery and approach the oven. She entered the kitchen with the grim focus of a Los Alamos physicist; I wasn't invited to participate in the endeavor, girlish bake-bonding be damned. But at the appointed birthday hour she emerged dazed but triumphant, burger cake in hand. She could, it seems, follow an existing template. I was ecstatic, as this was the coolest preteen hipster cake I could imagine. For a brief afternoon, I ruled the sixth grade.

Five or six years ago, Mom endeavored to bake a lemon cake for Sis's birthday. I think there were intimations that she could not do this, and she took umbrage. Over the years, Mom's limited-to-begin-with selection of decent cookware had continued to deteriorate, but the fact that she possessed one round and one square cake pan did not deter her. Maybe I should mention here that in her spare time, Mom is a collage artist? So. Sis received a square bottom layer of cake, with a vaguely starburst-y bunch of irregular cake cutouts arranged on top. Mom had covered this all with a Jackson Pollock motif of different-colored icings, some of which contained alcohol. "Is this the cake from MacArthur Park?" I asked, which made Mom mad. (You can tell when she is mad, because she says "I'm not mad!!" and smiles very very hard.) Anyway, the cake was delicious, if terrifying in appearance.

Last Saturday, we celebrated Sis's 33rd birthday with a plethora of curries at Bombay Grill. I don't know what prompted Mom to attempt another cake...but several hours before the meal, she called me in a state of some agitation.

It was quite the litany of woes. Again armed with a single round cake pan, she'd elected to pour the boxed mix into a sheet pan rather than baking three separate layers in shifts. The oven in her new house is somewhat overzealous, and so the edges and bottom of the resulting cake were...kind of charred. Mom decided to turn it out onto a cutting board, trim off the offending blackened bits, and then cut it down the middle and plop one half atop the other: layers! Sadly, the cake was not as architecturally sound as she had hoped. Increasingly frantic applications of cream-cheese frosting to spackle it all together were, likewise, temporary solutions at best. Martha should avert her eyes here, because Mom is not so much having the revolving cake pedestal, or the offset spatula, or the skillful crumb-coating. At some point in the decorative process, her frustration got the best of her.

Here is the cake Mom presented to Sis, to honor her birth:

Note the shoring up of the foundation, here (and that Mom had run out of the cream-cheese frosting at this point). It appears to be proceeding apace with the NOLA levee reconstruction as performed by the Army Corps of Engineers:

I wish I had photos of us all completely falling out in the kitchen. Alas, these were taken once we'd had time to calm down and catch our breath. We were too curry-stuffed to partake, but Sis brought the cake to her office the next day and it was a smashing success.

"As God is my witness, I am never baking a fucking cake again. I want you all to hear me," Mom announced formally over this production. Which in my mind is a real shame, actually. I am closer to 40 than 30...I kind of want all of my birthday cakes to make this same rousing declaration, for the forseeable future.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

An open letter the person who parked next to me yesterday:

Hey! Hi! So, remember how you parked your expensive German automobile with wacky disregard for the pretty white lines painted on the ground to indicate regular, ample automobile spaces for all? So that I had to shimmy into my vehicle through an improbable six-inch gap, giving myself a free mammomgram in the process and pinching a nerve in my shoulder such that three fingers on my left hand are still a little tingly? Yeah, that! Well, I might have opened the door of my 10-year-old Korean crap car very vigorously into the door of your car. Two or three more times. You know, just to see that everything was working properly, what with the neurological damage and the mashed boob and all. Sorry about that. Except, completely and totally not, dickweed.