Torture, Tabata Style!

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“Did you just start working out?” asks a beautiful Australian woman of probably fifty years old as I literally lay on the fitness room floor of my local gym praying that I don’t vomit.  She continues, “I’ve been working out for about four years now, and I promise, it gets easier.”

Well, good for you! I think and consider kicking her in the neck, but then I realize that I can’t lift my leg that high.  And, no, I didn’t just start working out!

“I hope you’ll join us again on Thursday,” the beautiful woman says and smiles at me so genuinely that I honestly feel guilty for immediately hating her.

After a sad attempt at stretching, I push myself up to a standing position and start to clean my sweat off the equipment that I used to torture myself for the last 45 minutes:  one of those half balance ball thingies, a body bar (the leader of the group told me not to use anything under 9 lb.), two 7 lb. dumbbells (“Anything under 6 would be a waste of your time!”), and a blue mat completely covered in makeup colored droplets of sweat.  (I forgot to remove my makeup before going to the gym, which meant for 45 minutes my makeup mixed with my anti-aging creams and pooled in my eyes.)  Red faced, red eyed, drenched, and stinking like a wet dog, I forced a smile, “Absolutely, I’ll be back!  See you Thursday!”

The workout was called Tabata, high intensity interval training that requires the participant to do ridiculously cruel exercises for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat until you either pass out or die.  For 45 minutes I attempted squats with side kicks, cross over jumps and squats using the half ball thingie, three different types of sit-ups, jumping jacks, renegade rows from a plank position, burpees with dumbbells, and, my personal favorite, crab walks.  Lil, the beautiful Australian woman, an adorable Asian woman who apparently doesn’t have sweat glands, and the one man in the group lapped me twice while I prayed for the strength to lift my ass off the ground with my arms and crab walk across the floor.  Pure, complete, total torture!

But in the spirit of renovating my backside, I will go back on Thursday.  I am now determined to be able to crab walk.  I don’t know why I need this skill, but I now feel like I must be able to crab walk.  So, here is my new challenge:  for the next four weeks, I will crab walk with the beautiful Australian woman on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  (Less tortuous cardio workouts will be completed on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.)  After four weeks, I will take my measurements and re-evaluate my need to crab walk.  Maybe in four weeks, my ass will be smaller, which would make it much easier to lift off the ground.

For now, however, a short prayer is in order.  (Please pause for a moment while I try to get out of this chair and kneel.  Ouch.)

Dear Lord, please protect me tonight from debilitating leg cramps that will catapult me from bed and onto the floor causing me to scream out Claire Huxtable style, “Cliff! Cliff!”  For my Cliff is away.  No one is here to hear my cries of agony.  I will be forced to lie on the floor until you finally grant me the strength to stand.  I could be there for weeks.  Amen.


I Dream of Chili!

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Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip to D.C.  Over the four days spent exploring the city, we toured museums, became overwhelmed at Arlington Cemetery, shopped ‘till we nearly dropped, and ate our way through D.C.’s impressive dining scene.  We tried restaurants both fabulous and forgettable, but one meal still floats through my dreams.

On our third morning, we took the Metro to the Arlington Station.  We headed back towards D.C. on foot across the Potomac.  We toured nearly every monument and memorial between the riverfront and the Smithsonian museums.  After being tempted to punch a woman who thought it appropriate to drape herself across the Vietnam Women’s Memorial as if auditioning for America’s Next Top Model, soaking up the celebratory atmosphere at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, and touring the immense World War II Memorial, Jay and I were ready for lunch.  We had walked at least a zillion miles and had earned a tasty meal!

We hopped back on the Metro and headed north to U Street.  (My feet were extremely grateful for the 10-minute rest on the train.)  As we stepped off the escalator, we looked across U Street to see our destination:  Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Thanks to a lifetime of loving Bill Cosby and, most recently, paying attention to President Obama’s inauguration, I had been tipped off to the wonderful delights of Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Jay, on the other hand, had never heard of the place and wondered why we should bother leaving one area rich with dining options to go to an entirely different part of the city just for lunch.  Once I told Jay that we were to have what Bill Cosby claims is the best chili dog in the world, he was game.  (And I win the Wife of the Year prize for suggesting chili dogs for lunch!)

Ben’s Chili Bowl did not disappoint!  Reasons why I love, love, love this place:

  1. The chili sauce is hands down the most delicious chili I have ever had!  Slightly spicy, slightly sweet, completely savory!  (I am a little sad at how much better this chili is than my own.  My ego is bruised.)
  2. For only $5.70 you can have 1/4lb. half pork and beef smoked sausage topped with mustard, onions and chili sauce.  (If you are concerned that one dog will not be enough, I recommend sharing an order of chili fries with your group.  They are delicious, but finishing that much food on your own would be a monumental task.)
  3. The staff is super friendly and did not treat me like an idiot when I asked, “What is a half smoke?”  (A half smoke is half pork, half beef smoked sausage.  I felt kind of stupid after asking the question.)
  4. Even though the line is always long, it moves fast!  You will be feasting on your chilidog in no time!
  5. The owner obviously has a sense of humor.  I found the “healthy choices” section of the menu hysterical.  This is not a place you go for good health.
  6. I can order the chili sauce and half smokes online and enjoy all the deliciousness at home!  (Guess what Jay’s next birthday dinner is going to be?  www.benschilibowl.com/)

So, the next time you find yourself in D.C. put your diet on hold for a day and head to Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Trust me, you will be dreaming of chili, too.