Today was a day of waiting for that phone call that will never come. Tomorrow probably will be, too. Waiting by the phone used to be one of those iconic 50s images — a teenage girl in a monogrammed sweater, coiling and uncoiling the rotatory cord while her parents watched the news on a black and white television. But now, in Cyberland, our phones are with us everywhere. If you’re waiting for that call, you can’t avoid the device that should, theoretically, be ringing. It has to be on your person (or in your purse; either way you glance down constantly and rudely, each time looking up with the wanton expression of someone whose just watched an ASPCA commercial accompanied by a mournful Sarah McLachlan song still gnawing at your psyche). If you don’t have your phone on you, you might miss an urgent eBay email telling you you’ve been scammed. Or a call from your mother who wants confirmation that her child is alive and not, God forbid, playing chess with the crazies in Washington Square Park. You can’t block the caller — what if the call does somehow come? What if they call, only to learn they’ve been blocked, and put you in their emotional outgoing box forever?
Besides sleeping and reading not-so-good novels from the 80s, I’ve been trying to distract myself in the most cliched way possible: exercise. Not exercise-as-punishment (even though I don’t quite enjoy it, yet), exercise to jumprope away my anger and tension.
I’ve exercised three times in 2013. I am proud of this tiny feat. I exercised yesterday and today. My reason for exercising yesterday: to undo some of the damage of Singapore noodles, a giant stale chocolate chip cookie, and a beer the night before. Yesterday, in a first for me, I exercised AND showered AND put on make-up all before noon. I felt like I’d solved The Da Vinci Code while swinging on a swing pushed by Derek Jeter; elated.
Today I didn’t wake up sore, which I assumed to be a bad sign. But maybe — could it be? — I was just doing the exercises properly. I’m following a regimen recommended by my pixie friend and probably soulmate, Eleanor, who lately looks toned instead of merely Tic-Tac-tiny. I’m slightly embarrassed to be doing a DVD at my place when I could be running or yogaing or SoulCycling. But it is what it is: Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred. My joke is that I didn’t realize I needed to do the workout for 30 CONSECUTIVE days. I’ve probably done it about seven times, never making it past three days in a row. Tomorrow would be day three; and Sunday could be huge — fourth day in a row, with the reward of Downton Abbey, The Golden Globes, and the season two premiere of Girls.
So The Jillian Tape — as it will henceforth be known — is composed of three 20 minute workouts, which increase in difficulty. Aside: Workout 1 is actually 28 minutes. Three minutes of cardio, two minutes of strength, one minute of abs. Repeat five times between the warm-up and cool down.
Anyway, because of my lack of soreness, today I contemplated progressing from Workout 1 to Workout 2, but I’m still hit-or-miss when it comes to my push-ups stamina (yesterday I did almost 30 without stopping, today I quit after about 12, backtracking to that rocking seesaw “girl push-up,” which resembles a mermaid futilely trying to stand). So Workout 1 it was. Yesterday, I had much more energy (and the day showed much more promise) at 10am; today I attempted the 8pm-right-before-pizza, 28-minutes-of-sweating-it-during-the-last-32-minutes-of-This American Life approach. It was much more difficult and my timing was wonky. I did make one positive change: throughout the workout, I use four pound weights, but during this one strength exercise where you contort yourself back and forth into a human rhombus, I used three pound weights. Made a huge difference.
I like Jillian Michaels. I like her lame ankle tattoo — you’ve got to commit to life-long good legs to get inked there. I like how her nostrils are a little too flared, but she hasn’t gotten a nose job. I think she is motivating; I do feel like I’m letting Jillian down when I leave her in her claustrophobic DVD case. I just don’t really like watching or listening to her. And that shouldn’t be taken as an offense. To commit to any sort of workout program, you have to tailor it in a way that you’ll actually do it without bitching. I mute the TV, because Jillian’s background music is like escalator muzak. Not even elevator music; escalator — what you hear as your ascending and passing all the blah beneath you.
I require fast, loud workout music. One day I tried Lady Gaga, but she got all ballad-y at exactly the wrong time (eventually I’ll write about “schizophrenic songs” — ones that can’t decide whether to be fast or slow). Once I tried Rihanna, but I wanted to sing along while I was working out and trying to copy silent Jillian, so it was sensory overload. I gave Beyonce, who I absolutely love, a shot, but when “Irreplaceable” and “Halo” come up, my butt kicks are more like butt taps and I sloooow down. Yesterday I tried a mix on the Podrunner app, and after the very long word from their sponsors, that went well. Today, as I mentioned, it was This American Life, not exactly heart-racing (although often heart-wrenching), but again, it was a strategic move: I knew the workout was almost over when TAL started thanking it’s weekly contributors.
On the DVD, Jillian’s weights/mat are front and center, and she’s flanked by two co-worker-outers. Naturally, your eyes want to fix on Jillian, the person mouthing the instructions in the center of the screen. But after three or four reps, Jillian stands-up — abandoning her own workout — to point out the great form her back-up girls have. It’s disorienting. I’m like, “Jillian, dude, either put one of those girls in the middle of the screen and keep walking around her like you’re about to saw her in half, or do the thing start to finish.” Again, this is extra hard when you mute Jillian. She’ll get back on the ground for the last five or six reps; by then, you feel like she’s phoning it in. Props to her compatriots for being so smiley and non-sweaty as I grunt and curse.
Here’s to me making it past day three.