24 January 2011

Sports Bra Aerobics

Like most of us past a "certain age," my body is no longer as fit and hale as it was when I was 21, but that's okay; it's seen a lot of life. And by "life," I mean "doughnuts." At 21, I was active: I walked a lot, I biked a lot, I did other stuff--a lot. Burning calories was not an issue, because with the metabolism of youth, calories melted off as quickly as I could pack them on. Then came marriage. I went from being constantly on the go to having no place to go, eschewing full-time jobs or school because my new husband planned to go back to school full-time in just a few short months, so starting something new seemed a bit pointless. And because I was living in a new place and didn't yet know anyone, I did all those things you tell yourself you'll never do: I stayed up late, slept till 10, and stayed in my bathrobe till 2. Then I watched TV and ate popcorn until it was time to make dinner for my husband, which allowed me to escape from the accusing glare of Richard Simmons on Oprah. I didn't want to Sweat to the Oldies. Being around sweaty oldies at age 22 was the last thing I wanted to do. Besides, watching Richard Simmons was not unlike watching a little afro-ed hamster jacked up on speed. No one needs to see that. I figured I was still young. I still had time.

We moved to West Lafayette, IN the first summer after we got married so my husband could start work on his doctorate at Purdue. After working for a year, I discovered that secretaries don't make very much money (shocking, I know), so I also entered the slave labor force sometimes referred to as "graduate assistants" to pursue my own MA, partially because the difference in the two salaries was so negligible, making it a win-win for me. The one thing they don't tell you up front about being a graduate assistant, though, is that the term "grad ass" is very literal, meaning "this work will make your ass grad(ually) spread." First, you sit on your backside in class. Then you sit on it for hours in the library doing research. Then you sit on it for hours at home reading assignments, writing assignments and grading papers until your bum is numb. It's not surprising that so many English grad students emit a faintly fluorescent glow from their pasty-white, sun-starved skin given how much time they have to spend working indoors.

After completing my MA, I worked as a lecturer for another year while my husband finished his degree. During that year I did manage to lose much of the weight I'd previously put on. Then we moved to Memphis. Two months later, I was pregnant. I began indulging again, justifying it to myself because I was "eating for two." Two Sumo wrestlers maybe. Then began my life as a mom. Those of you who are parents will know how it goes: you spend half your life on your backside--in the driver's seat, on bleachers at sporting events, at the table helping with homework, and in the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, orthodontists, principals, etc. It was grad school all over again. And because you are constantly on the go, you eat out frequently, usually at McHeartAttack's or someplace similar. Or else you eat those last few bites left behind on everyone's plates because you "don't want it to go to waste." That and you fear the inevitable PowerPoint presentations full of information gleaned on Google that the kids create to prove you wrong should you be so foolish as to suggest that they need to finish their dinners "because there are starving children in India/China/Wherever." You've gotta love modern kids.

Some 18 years of mommyhood and many pounds later, I now have a rear roughly the size of East and West Dakota. (Think of the crack as a state line.) Therefore, in keeping with this year's theme of "new" (as in new home, new life, new career, new adventures), I have decided at long-last to tackle my fitness issues (which implies that I have some fitness in the first place). Since I currently live in a house with three levels and thus two flights of stairs, I thought it would be nice to be able to traverse a flight without having my knees creak as much or more than the actual floorboards--which has yet to happen. Clearly, these cracks are a sign that I need to stop making excuses and just get on with it. Given that I have already avoided the clichéd "New Year's Resolution" by almost a month, I forced my husband yesterday to help me drag ye olde exercycle/clothes hanger from the basement and into the bedroom where I will be more likely to use it, or at least less likely to avoid it, with the added bonus that it will be within crawling distance of the shower for those handy, post-passoutworkout ablutions. Next, I downloaded Weight Watchers Mobile onto my phone, even though I have yet actually to sign up at Weight Watchers Online. Lastly, I had a Lean Cuisine for lunch. And I had breakfast. For those who know me well, this will come as nothing short of apocalyptic, considering I've been eating maybe 1-1 1/2 meals per day for most of the last 5-10 years. True, I did eat an ice cream sandwich while heating up my Lean Cuisine, but the goodness of the Lean Cuisine will cancel out the badness of the ice cream sandwich. Right? Right? C'mon, people--this is progress. Baby elephant steps. I even purchased some sports bras for the containment of my voluptuosity while I work out. I am getting serious here, people.

At least, I was getting serious until today, when my ample assets were kicked by said sports bra. Twice. For the past year or two, I've been making do with my trusty grey front-zip over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, which should tell you exactly how frequently I actually workout. It has never given me a moment's trouble, other than that one time when it decided to start slowly unzipping, unbeknownst to me, eventually springing loose at a most inopportune moment. It's hard to be discreet when your arm is shoved halfway down your shirt in an effort to relocate both ends of the aforementioned zipper and reunite them in Holy Matrimony.

Because Old Grey was in the laundry today, I decided to break out one of my newer acquisitions. I figured it would inspire me to work longer and harder on my exercycle. It's new. It's pretty. It's possessed.

I first held up my new containment device in an effort to determine which holes were for my arms, a feat made more complicated than one might expect by the addition of an open racer back which created extra entry points. There I am, standing with my arms in the air trying to get this thing on. Being a reasonably intelligent woman (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), I was able to navigate the extra openings and get my arms into the correct locations. So far, so good. Next, I attempted to pull the thing down, which involved the unfurling of all the spandex that had rolled up as I pulled the contraption over my head. After much squirming, grunting and swearing, I managed to unpeel the spandex and adjust it into its rightful place. Mission accomplished. Or not. Once unfurled, I discovered that the handy-dandy protective foam pads lodged inside each cup had folded into two, making my boobs look like they had taco implants. Okay, not cool. Time to remove the bra and fix them. I grabbed at the bottom elastic and proceeded to pull my new acquisition up over my head, only to get my elbows stuck in the extra holes and temporarily pinioning myself inside the sports bra spiderweb. After a few Cirque de Soleil-level contortions (which did not involve my hands flapping uselessly out of the top of the bra like I was performing bad shadow puppets at all), I was finally able to remove my sports bra and and attempt to re-seat the foam inserts.

Unfortunately, in addition to having extra holes in the back, the front bra cups overlap wrap-style, making the construction somewhat more confounding. I ended up turning
the thing inside out and back several times in an effort to straighten out the highly uncooperative foam. Each insert was essentially a molded triangle which required that you get the correct point in the correct corner. Easy, right? Except that the foam on one side kept folding up and turning around in circles inside the lining so that it took me a good five minutes to get it straightened out. The other side went a little more smoothly and I was ready to attempt containment once again. Up went my arms, down squeezed the bra, up rolled the spandex and I was once again girded by a giant elastic doughnut with various bits of flesh sticking out in incorrect locations. A few more contortions adjustments later and the bra was once more correctly placed, again with foam tacos over my boobs. Sigh.

Rather than attempt removal again, I merely shoved my hands inside the bra (is that classy or what?) to make the appropriate adjustments. If I had known that exercise involved enthusiastic groping, I might have considered pursuing it sooner. Frankly, my new sports bra and I now have a more intimate relationship than I do with my doctor. After finally getting the freaking bra on and correctly in place, I went to check out the results in the bathroom mirror. Hmmm. Okaaaay.

What I saw was a sharply creased line/peak running north to south on the right side, and a similar one running diagonally across my left side, such that my chest now looked like it had twin compasses pointing in opposite directions. While I am more than familiar with how much gravity sucks as one ages, I have never yet had one of my breasts pointing northwest, nor indeed in a different direction from its partner. This was a new development, so to speak. On the plus side, my bosom was duly flattened and contained in the sports trap bra as it was meant to be. It was so flattened, in fact, that my boobs were migrating towards my sides and up under my armpits where they would no doubt play havoc with any upper body workouts I chose to pursue. Perhaps they were merely in search of due north.

All this effort clearly called for a break, so I had a snack, did some laundry, read my email, let the dog out, took out the recycling, let the dog in, started another load of laundry and eventually realized I hadn't actually worked out. Story of my life--I am an inveterate procrastinator (I believe that anything worth doing, is worth doing right). Of course, this also means that I must once again attempt removal of my spandex cage. My previous experience proved helpful in that no shadow puppets were harmed in the removal of my sports bra; instead, I got one arm stuck behind my back and one imprisoned overhead as I jumped around trying to wriggle out of the thing, looking like nothing so much as a highly indignant Foghorn Leghorn: "Ah say--Ah say--get this flamin' thing offa me!" Can you imagine that 911 call? "Um, yeah, so I need help--I'm stuck in my bra and I can't get out!" Can't you just see the EMTs and firetrucks pulling up outside of my house with the Jaws of Life to remove me from my own personal spandex hell? That's assuming they could even work the machine, doubled over with laughter as they'd undoubtedly be.

In the end, I decided that "new" can wait for one more day. Besides, I got a good 20-30 minutes in while doing the Sports Bra Hokey Pokey, so I figure that's workout enough for today. And thankfully, the dryer has finally beeped. Old Grey is ready again to provide me with faithful (and hopefully less comedic) support. I'm sure the Fire Department will be grateful.


  1. OK, is it self-congratulatory to say I laughed out loud (fer real, not talking lying acronym LOL here) a lot of times reading this? Because if we're soul-mates, then Not Supermom must have thought I was close to this funny too. Score! Great job. I am wearing a nightmare of a sports bra as I type, racer back and all, and I actually pulled out my shirt collar to see if the cups crossed. Nope. But how freaky would THAT have been?

  2. Not Supermom does indeed think you are very funny; I believe she nearly spewed on her computer with laughter while reading your post, after which she immediately sent me the link. And thanks! I'm glad I was able to make you produce a proper laugh instead of merely an illegitimate acronym (those little bastards). I hope you are eventually able to beat your ninja bra into submission (hmmmm...that sounds like it should be on an entirely different sort of blog), because I'd much rather be your Spandex Soul Sister than your Traumatic Bra Twin.

  3. Okay, I can picture this in my mind that this is me! Because I've tried similar "said" items on before. Except, my arms are flailing like an idiot trying to grab the garment to pull it up off of me, freaking out and breaking out in a sweat. I can only imagine the person that views the security cameras are thinking. Especially when watching someone in full panic mode, walking like an orangutan with arms flailing because the "Man Made" contraption is around my head and shoulders; then bent over looking like a bull about to charge the red cape while getting the garment off, only to finally slumping down onto the bench, sweating profusly doing technique breathing like you have just given birth to "puzzle contraption" that is called a sports bra, if "said cameras" were installed in the fitting room.