Kettle Belle Chronicles: “Why I’m hostile to exercise”, or… “follow the way of the Wrecking Belle in the Real Madrid T-shirt and yoga pants.”

I sometimes toy with the idea of attaining exercise god status. The black yoga pants wearer,  that adored symbol of strength and power.  The all knowing being whom saunters into Pinkberry without a care or a ripple on her behind.  I endeavored to be the cut / toned / tony-excessively smooth pantaloon wearer.

I embarked on this journey with some reservations but higher than proper expectations.   I only wanted to do this if it fit nicely within my carefully crafted idea of invigorating exercise, and I painted a pretty good picture of the journey in my mind.  A precise one in fact.   I would accept it if it was moderately tiring but yet refreshingly rejuvenating.  If I could meet other ladies and affiliate with them and we could form a team of supportive women working toward the goal of being ridiculously hot!   Where shared experience and hardship made the journey that much easier and rewarding.  I couldn’t picture myself caring much about some sweat.  It might only serve to make me look like Jennifer Beals sans chair but still like Jennifer Beals.  I had the curly hair that hung around my face uncannily like her…when I didn’t blow dry that is.  And  I accepted that I may feel a modicum of pain, but that soon my muscles would be toned and sculpted.  But how much pain would be bearable?  And, as I would learn, I wouldn’t get to determine that.

Well it hit me like a kettle bell on the side of the temple when I found out that there was no magical group of women welcoming you into their leg pumping lair. The women arrived, threw down their keys, knock-off sunglasses, squeezed their water bottles into cubbies and threw their white towels round their necks.  They visually organized eachother, preened, hands on hips slowly checking out newcomers.  There were no smiles, just long gazes, that if you caught one, a sort of straight grimace was returned.  I seemed to have entered a paddock of overweight racehorses readying for competition.

I wasn’t exactly sure why all the life lessons I had had drilled into my psyche about ‘listening to pain’ were lost on the Exercise gods.  I reasoned, I was the person who was feeling the pain, the person whose brain was responsible for the urgent messages to cease and desist whatever the particular activity was at the moment, so why was ‘ignoring the pain’ the instruction that I was given? .” I had discovered the essence of the problem that I had with ‘exercise’  Do they believe that our minds are separate from our body? Does the body not work in conjunction with the brain?  does the brain not field signals from the body and then decide what actions to take?  Is it then wise that we keep working the body in the repetitive manner when the body is clearly saying, “NO YOU CANNOT KEEP THROWING THAT KETTLE BELL OVER YOUR WANING LEFT SHOULDER AND EXPECT NOT TO LAUNCH IT INTO THE CHEST OF THAT ELABORATELY SWEATING CROATIAN WOMAN!

We began with two laps around the building and were told not to stop.  One of the evil geniuses was stationed at the opposite side of the building to ‘keep an eye on us and make sure we did not stop.  Our herd returned bounding for the water fountain.  Seconds later we swang kettle bells to and fro.  We then did burpies until dizziness set in. We lifted heavy bars while doing jumping jacks. We swung ropes as though ceaselessly straightening them out.  We did squats that threatened to re-open our episiotomies.  Even if they were given to us years ago.  “Wider, Wider!”  How My mind begged my mouth to shout, “yah? let’s see you open that wide!”  We did push ups, chin ups, and fast weights to keep the cardio effect going.   We army crawls and the dreaded burpie.  Every time my body began to revolt, writhe with the equivalent of a physiological scream, heart pulsing out of my chest easily seen by passers-by, like some comic book grinch in love, and I would point at my chest signifying my lack of breath, The exercise god (female or male),  Impervious to my impending heart attack, would glance at me momentarily finally offer a deliberation,  “you can go further, you can do it Christine!”  As I looked up with long eyes, intentionally trying to clear my double vision, my soaked shirt seemed to bangle in the wind like some latvian wet towel air conditioner.  My jello thighs danced. My exercise god lavished a wide smile unto me saying, “THERE YOU GO!!!” Usually finishing off with the dispassionate and quite routine 90’s meme “YOU GO GIRL!!!”

The exercise gods believe in “pushing oneself” It’s a rite of the baptismal font of back sprains.  The ungainly church of belly crunches and impossibly performed burpies.  “If you push yourself, you will surprise yourself.’  ….”If you push yourself….you won’t be sorry…”  “If you push yourself you will be so proud!”  I find an extreme dichotomy in the fact that the women or men that are ‘coaching’ you, many of whom you do not know from Adam or Eve, are ripped beyond belief and do not remember their own days of cookies and carmel macchiatos. Well not really anyway.   Those discretions are seen through skinny-latte coloured glasses. If you ask them, the cookies are remembered as necessary ‘Tiger Milk Bars” maybe only two a day, and the caramel macchiatos are declared but suddenly remembered as intermittent at best.   The bad ‘ol days of minimal muscle and ripped adipose are forgotten and that is the disconnect.

Half way into the reality of the work out, the dry throat, the slight dizziness.  The women wince in pain and look up as they rise from doing push ups.  They begin to knowingly glance at each other.  The tired faux warrior princesses realize that they need each-other.      They begin to look for the affiliation that they narcissistically did not seek in the beginning of the workout.

Class after class this social machination repeats itself.  Ignore each other, then feel pain and affiliate. Rinse and repeat. Do they like it?  Do they like communal pain? Additionally, Do they enjoy paying the Exercise Gods to “make” them push themselves?  I offer that they do.

Part of the motivation comes from pure peer adulation for ‘just doing it’ being ‘brave.’ I was recently told I was a ‘real trooper’ I kept going in part because I didn’t relish the idea of letting everybody know that I thought it was ‘too hard‘ for me.  I had just been given the rather militaristic moniker of “Trooper” and I was feeling a tad nationalistic at the time.  I pictured myself a sort of stylized  Jane Q. Public  upholder of the exercise ethos. Well, within my circle of soft-bellied family and friends.

Ultimately, I found that the exercise gods wanted me to believe that my body was my enemy and that I must conquer it with my Jedi mind.

It was not proper to let my body tell me that one or another exercise could not be done.  Somehow I was to overcome all of the brutal messages that my body was sending me about my pain and satiety.  I really WANT TO DO THIS, but my analytical nature may be getting in the way, oh! that and my muscle capacity!  How can I know whether I can actually do this? …Guess I’ll just have to trust the ‘wrecking belle’ in a Real madrid T-shirt and Yoga pants.


Stay tuned for hopefully twice weekly updates on “The kettle Belle Chronicles” (Written by unwilling exercise maven, Christina Long) about the ugly and hopefully someday ‘beautiful’ side of cardio / strength training classes in Los Angeles on “The Trouble With Milk.”


Say NO!! to “Uber-processed Foods!!” let’s have a “REAL FOOD REVOLUTION!!”

Ah…the diabetes epidemic, it’s epic and it’s sad.

Why are there so many people with diabetes? 23.6 million people—7.8% of the population!  “Why?” is the million dollar question,  but It’s not too hard to generate a pretty likely hypothesis.  If we look at the basic machinations of business, or, the way our food industry and national economy have changed, and the ever growing number of diabetics in the United States, it’s not hard to see a pattern. Here’s what I see.  The food industry more and more has evolved to produce largely low quality highly processed foods, food companies have answered the distress call from 2 income families strapped for time and have produced quick serve  inexpensive meals and accompaniments at very inexpensive prices.  This is great for busy parents and even singles who come home tired and have to throw a meal together in thirty minutes or less, but… In the process the  ingredients necessary to provide products  largely consist of uber-processed materials.

Uber-processed:  vacant of much nutritional value.

High in fat,  carbs and / or a high  glycemic index (which means it hardly takes any time for the body to turn the food into sugar, and most of it gets stored as fat) Uber processed means that it can have the likes of High Fructose Corn Syrup or other nefarious sugars, fats, oils, conditioners, bulking agents, coatings, thickeners, gums and colloids contained in it.  Even savory products can contain sugars like HFCS, xyanthan gums, colloids, or even titanium dioxide which is not assimilated by the body and it is just used as a whitening agent.  (did you know that white chocolate is not chocolate at all?  it’s all the other ingredients in chocolate without the cocoa powder but with the addition of titanium dioxide? ) That’s what makes it white!  Betcha don’t eat white chocolate anymore….it’s franken food for sure.

Franken-Food feeds diabetes

Given enough time, Uber pr0cessed food (Franken-food) contributes to diabetes.   One of the major problems is that the food companies have strayed very far from what is considered “real food”.   Why has this happened? It’s all in order to keep the food companies competitive in a struggling economy, or in ANY type of economy to be exact.  Whether it’s cruising along, or sinking under the weight of inflation, food companies will keep re-developing their existing products to keep a profit margin, or just to stay ahead of the competition.  It’s all about the almighty buck. This food matrix has been in progress since our food chain became corporate owned a slow process over many years.   It’s just the business of business with competition at the core.  When business gets tough products are re-formulated with ever cheaper ingredients.   But what about the product that goes on the shelf?  The customer may be Vons and the items sold may be vons syrups, or vons yogurt.  Now the consumer is buying a product that is not exactly the same (that’s okay actually, as long as the product has the same body, taste and the ingredients are exactly what is listed on the packaging), but when real sugar gets substituted with high fructose corn syrup (which acts compeltely different in your bloodstream) or a a natural starch, in a yogurt, is changed to a colloid or a certain type of gelatin in order to hold the body of the product. The consumer can be surprised by the change or not notice it at all.  It’s just business right?  Well in some cases.  Sometimes products are “changed to death”  I call it.  Take the highly regarded “Chips Ahoy.”  No…please!  TAKE THEM!!! really! they suck now!  …But really those cookies have been changed so mightly and so often that in my opinion, they have become the flagship of Franken-Food!, they have  become so processed and different than their original incarnation that I refuse to waste my money on them anymore.  I used to LOVE LOVE LOVE them!  No longer.  They are dry, crumbly, lack luster in taste, color and appeal.  They remind me of a  double walled 250 pound test cardboard box.  Yes, I used to be a buyer…you guessed it…of food ingredients and packaging.

Away we go to the  produce and meat and organic section

I understand what an R&D food lab does to stay ‘relevant’ cost wise, but to me…there are limits.  Or at least there should be.  Someone should tell that to Nabisco. The guys that continue to peddle  “Chips Ahoy” cookies to people too young to know what they are supposed to taste like.  Our food has gone from relatively healthy in the 1950’s …okay it was fatty and fried, but at least it was REAL!!!) on through the 1960’s to the beginning of the “diabetes age” which is currently in full swing and started in the mid 70’s.   I believe that most of the food on American retail grocery shelves can and should be classified as “frankenfood.”  Just start reading ingredients in the grocery store.  Our family made a pledge to cut out High Fructose Corn Syrup and in addition any type of diet sugar.  It has not been easy finding products on the grocery store shelf that lack either of the two!   It seems to me that  the only natural items to be found in the modern day grocery store are in the  produce or meat section.  Even there you have to make sure and find the section that is marked “organic” or “without hormones.”   The organic section, which most markets now have, contain items that are sometimes twice the price of the beautiful franken-veggies, sometimes they even cost three times more.  “Real food” is what the name “organic” should be changed to, it’s much simpler, more true.  But if it was simply called “Real food” do you think that retailers could make the consumer swallow such an increased price?  I don’t think so.  Organic sounds like an uncommon process that takes time and special concern and therefore, well…it’s worth the extra money right? better for you?  special?  Not.  Those are the ugly vegetables that the REAL ones the ones that we should have been eating all along! ,  It’s a shame that we have been duped into throwing away extra money on a selling point, when they are really selling our regular vegetables back to us the way they USED TO BE  before the farming industry decided to help nature produce at the most convenient time and with a prettier color and condition.

Boutique, Schmoo-tique.

So, when you go to the “real food” section,  you see labels like:  “Boutique mushrooms” or “heirloom” this or that.  but who can afford to buy the real food?  Yes some of us can, but most of us say why should we?  The process that the American food system has followed has been a sad one powered by the machinations of business and inherent capitalism.  Not that there’s anything wrong with capitalism, it’s what makes America go, and what gives us healthy competition to be better and better, but maybe it’s not right for the food industry.  Making food for ever increasing profit is innately going to fail the health of the people of America.  A failure for the people but a success for business.  Where is the collective conscience of the American Food Industry?  Why have we not see an action group that will first of all admit that “making food for profit” is a tall order that is only destined to fail consumers?  Or advocate for a “real food” / ” meaningful food content standard?” Just as the Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis scare raised concerns and forged certain controls in the meat industry (whether they worked or not), those ideas of taking control of something in our food industry that was out of control, is beneficial.  It’s time to encourage the food industry to balance the quest for profit with the responsibility they hold as first and foremost providers of nutrients to the masses.   Is there a way to change our system or the supply chain in order to encourage this change?  It is true that business must survive but at the expense of increasing diabetes through offering food items increasingly void of nutrition is irresponsible.   Franken-food has fast become the majority of the food our nation is fed on.   Most of the products on our shelves (major grocery chains that serve most of our country and thus most of the citizens of the united states) have products that contain HFCS (High fructose corn syrup)* some type of color, artificial or added “natural” flavors and colors,preservatives for extensive shelf life among other food agents.

One Franken food leader rises to the top of the ranks

One hundred percent sucrose (Sugar)  got a bad rap back in the late 60’s and it got worse in the late 70’s, the word was out that it was making people gain weight and that calories mattered more than ever.  The real problem was that HFCS was introduced and so was aspartame and they were being formulated into coke and pepsi.  Sure people were using more and more sugar, but the real truth was that Coke and Pepsi’s war was heating up and as they competed and lowered prices to gain customers, they were re-formulating to keep their profit margin and yet offer their drinks in larger and larger serving containers!  The only way to do this was to substitute 100% sucrose for HFCS.  High Fructose Corn Syrup reacts differently in the human body causing the insulin levels to be come abnormal. Our society is drinking an steadily increasing amount of soft drinks such as diet coke since the late fifties and now these products contain aspartame (Diet Coke to this day has aspartame on it’s ingredient statement I just looked about  days ago), or other sweeteners which hold back the calories but have an extreme effect on blood glucose levels (the brain still perceives diet sugar  as sweet in fact tests show it is ‘perceived’ as sweeter and the body’s insulin levels react accordingly.  and reacts as so!). So it seems it  isn’t really the real sugar that is making everyone fat, it is the franken food ingredients such as HFCS and the high glycemic foods in our dirts. sugars….Sugar is in everything from bar-b-que sauce to tomaoto sauce and of course cake mixes and cereal and even in savory sauces you mix with water and pour over your pork chops for dinner. Most of it contains HFCS.  Our country is starving for real food and we are eating ourselves sick, but we are being provided food that is making us sick. We are sick with diabetes and commingling ailments as a result of diabetes.

Refuse to walk down Franken-Food aisles!

In the process our bodies assmililate this sugar (most of which is high glycemic) too quickly and store it as fat.  We can eat less and yes still stay fat or even get fatter on very little food.  Some people say…”Hey!  I hardly eat anything, only diet food when I actually DO eat! and I still gain weight!  Well the problem is what’s in the food.  Oh, and yes exercise can help but even if you get out there everyday, you must rid your body of franken food, which it does not know what to do with but store.   The only way this can change for Americans en masse is for the masses to revolt.  I’m talking about a food revolt.  We need to consciously decide to only buy real food.  Buy the organic (err…REAL fruits and vegetables), and dairy without hormones and additives and finally meats with no hormones or chemicals.  it means foregoing ANY processed foods.  No Uncle Ben’s mix it up mashed potatoes.  It means buying the potatoes that haven’t been sprayed (yes they might look a little uglier), but that’s REAL FOOD! it’s like getting so used to seeing  everyone with nose jobs, chin implants and boob jobs that we forget what REAL PEOPLE look like.  They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, nose shapes, lengths of chins and there’s a reason for it all…natural selection and personality identification within a group.  Anyway, we must refuse to walk down the aisles with the Coke, Sprite, even the Crystal Light!  (Crystalline Fructose).  We must tell the food industry that they must treat consumers health as gold and that if they want to sell to us, they must make ‘healthy food’ number one in the equation.  They cannot sell us food that fits our price point IF the food is detrimental in ANY WAY to our bodies.  This is why our country is the leader in diabetes.  Body image is impacted as the body grows to abnormal size and a feeling of uselessness, sadness takes over thereby increasing the depression.  As doctors prescribe antidepressants to the depressed individuals, their bodies take on more weight as most medications to treat depression also increase appetite, and if that person is still hooked on franken-foods, the cycle enriches and widens perpetuating it’s self.  Pretty soon the only thing keeping the individual from deep medical depression or worse are the pills themselves that are making them fat.  Who wins? The food industry is staying afloat doing this (selling it’s franken food), and the pharmaceutical industry is having a field day off of the profits of medication for depression.  Never have I seen more commercials for a widening array of depression medication in my life.  This process is not easy to see at the outset but nevertheless this cycle becomes apparent with some reading and watching what is happening in our society.

We want real food and we want it now!

It seems to me that saying “NO” to “Uber-processed foods,” “Franken-foods” would be a start.  Let’s just stop walking all the aisles of the store and just circulate in the fruit / vegetable , meat and dairy areas. Let’s buy the ingredients to make our own bread.  We don’t have to give that up, but we can sure make it without dough conditioners right? and preservatives right?  If enough people say NO to uber-processed foods / Frankenfood, the food manufacturers will provide what the people want.  A bonus to saying “NO!” to Franken-Food is that farmers and farm co-0ps will have no reason to use mega-pesticides and dangerous agents in order to have a perfect looking crop, as there will be no demand for those perfect fruits and vegetables, and farm-workers may actually have the benefit of staying healthier as they come into contact less and less with these dangerous chemicals in their workplace.  We are who the food marketers study.  We are the people creating the “trends”  In order to react to the marketplace, they watch our every move.  Remember what WE BUY is what keeps THEM in business.  We have the control.  We the people.  We are the marketplace.  Let’s show them what we want.  We want health,  we want to be rid of diabetes as a society.  We want real food and we want it now.

She’s not WILD about “WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE!” what?

WTWTAThis post was Seen in “mom-Formation”
I had a comment about the movie and some words about being an open and brave parent.

FIRST…read the “Mom-Formation” blog

Tagline: Everything you need to know about Moms, Motherhood and the state of parenting today! YAY!!!

Review Title: Not wild about “Wild Things”

“From what I’ve heard from friends, it’s more disturbing to parents than children. Supposedly it does deal with a lot of emotional aspects, and I think that children are often too young to understand them, or to be made uncomfortable by the sudden onset of the unexpected emotional and psychological depth. To kids, it’s just a movie about a boy and his monster friends.”

Either way, I am a huge supporter of seeing any movie before taking your children to it. It’s the best way to make sure you are prepared to answer any questions that your kids may have.

Mom Formation Blog

Here is my response:

chrissylong Says: 
October 24th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

“Where the Wild Things Are.” is a very deep, clever and original movie. It is a “take” on the children’s book. It is a very important lesson for children that “act out” and / or are victims of splintered families. Sometimes we are children of divorce, or some other “life happenstance” are “mad at the world” and we see our parents as “mean” or “uncaring.” We don’t know their battles. But how can we? We are children at the time! This is just a story (extrapolated from a basic story, refining and expanding characters), that attempts to speak about family, the value of family. No matter what your situation you can almost always be sure of three things:

1) You are lucky to have a family

2) Everyone is fighting some kind of battle

3) Anger and escape are not always the answer – Even for kids.

My 9 year old and 12 year old were really affected emotionally by this movie. I could see it in their faces. They got the point. It’s a point that is hard for parents to make…in words that is. I applaud the movie for it’s braveness, it’s depiction of a child’s confusion, their spirit of freedom. Max’s behavior was typical of a child  confused, hurt and angry, as we can all be at several times in our lives. I, personally,  found that my sons’ worst moments of frustation can look amazingly similar to the scenes depicted. Why whitewash the REAL BEHAVIOR of children at different emotional states? Why not show our kids that other kids go through similar emotions and then have  a frank and realistic talk about these ideas?    P.S.  a visit from a few Therapy session refugees from a Woody Allen movie from an alternate universe was a welcome spin on the “Wild things” themselves.  What a clever and poignant outing.  DO NOT MISS THIS MOVIE!!