Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm too sore to come up with a title anyway

Once a person reaches a certain age milestone in her life, “going to the gym” means something entirely different than it did a mere decade before.

In my twenties, when my metabolism was working as biologically intended, a swift walk upstairs would be enough to burn off 9000 calories and go into negative numbers in pant sizes at Benetton. At that time, “working out” was an aerobics class once a month that would be sufficient to justify the membership and the Olivia Newton John leg warmers.

Today, not in my twenties or thirties, it’s a little different.

First off, there is no way on earth I’m spending any sort of money on clothing designed to hurt me. Spandex only looks good on the after photos of the gym experience, not the before or during. If I wanted to be wrapped in synthetic fabric that made me sweat, I’d hug an IRS agent.

Clad in my ill-fitting T-shirts and yoga pants, I’d have been happy just to spend the mornings of my Golden Years on the treadmill, endlessly cycling through segments of Live with Kelly and Michael subtitled, but my friend workout partner convinced me we need to step things up and attend a “body sculpt” class. I failed to mention aloud that although I am indeed in the beginning stages of osteoporosis, I don’t think human bone is sculpt-able material, but I acquiesced and prepared to be molded.

In body sculpting, chisels are about the only tools not used. The first ten minutes of the class are spent on a scavenger hunt through the YMCA to find all of the various items needed for people over 35 to lose 16 ounces. There is the mat, the step, giant inflatable balls, half giant inflatable balls, weights--both light and heavy depending on the sadism of the instructor--and finally, the bands.

The bands.

And although they resemble jump ropes, the bands are entirely different as there is no jumping; only the bandaging of the hyper-extended limbs that occur on every single exercise.

It’s curious that they feel the need to utilize all of these various and sundry apparatuses as with the exercise floor so crowded, someone is sure to trip and break a hip. And no one would even hear their cries of pain over the overly-loud Motown music from the 60’s on 6 satellite radio channel.

This was all going through my mind as I stumbled awkwardly through the first few refrains of “What’s going on,” wondering the same exact thing. The instructor then barked out a series of instructions that ended with the band being precariously wrapped around our feet, arms and necks resembling a room filled with human slingshots. Very unsteady slingshots. Made from brittle limbs from a tree with Dutch Elm disease. And readers.

It wasn’t exactly the body sculpture I had imagined.

I resisted both the temptation and gravity not to launch myself toward the instructor, and from the bit lips and tenuous arthritic grips on the handles around the room, I was not alone. But we all somehow managed to make it through the class without impaling ourselves on a ballet bar. Ensure smoothies at Urban Juicer awaited.

I can’t say it got any easier in the following classes, but my definition of “success” has mellowed as have I.

And certainly the definition of “sculpt” has as well.

So for now, I think I’ll skip the bands and weights, keep the Band Aids and waiting for the treadmill.

We Dutch Elms look better whittled anyway.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Potty talk

Today I was a guest on to talk about potty training. Although I'm a couple of years removed (THANK GOD) I did pass along a few brief tips on the subject which should air on Sunday, March 10 at 8 p.m.

This is the article I wrote for the Tampa Bay Times on how exactly I suggest.

Carry on.

While I am by no means one of those self-proclaimed parenting gurus, there is one parental challenge that I have now successfully completed four times which pretty much makes me an expert in the field. 

At least the septic field.

Potty training.

With the exception of my mother in-law who claims to have six children who miraculously trained themselves by nine months, I do have a few helpful insights for the rest of us who find this task just a bit daunting.

Again, this is based on my personal experience with four children, so please feel free to spend hundreds of dollars on videos, how-to books and advice from people who have never had children if you still feel the need. But I say forget the expensive gimmicks, all you need to stock up on is plenty of sheets, clothes, paper towel, exaggerated cheerfulness and patience.
  1. Timing. Despite what some folks (and mother in-laws) say, there is no magic age designating instant bladder control. I have found that this generally happens between ages 2-3, but it could be a little earlier or a little later. You’ll know when they are ready when they begin to show an interest or the moment they retrieve the wipes, diapers and hand sanitizer from the child-locked cabinet in the bathroom. But don’t push it if they aren’t ready--it will only take longer to complete.
2. Planning. Once ready, you need to figure out the optimal time in which to start. Pick a relatively free week where you or the child’s caregiver can devote the proper time and attention to this. Know going in that you will have about a week (but probably less) of a lot of laundry, changing sheets and mad sprints to the bathroom. This can be a messy business now, but only to ensure that it won’t be later.
3. Cold turkey. I know these are fightin’ words to parents of toddlers, but alas, the truth hurts sometimes. There is no difference between a diaper and a pull-up diaper when you are three, except that your parents sigh a lot harder when they try to change one over the other. You can’t expect a two year-old’s mind or bladder to differentiate between a.m. and p.m, so do everyone a favor and don’t switch back and forth because it only confuses things.

4. Now that you know what not to wear, let your child pick out their new fancy pants. Does he love Spiderman? Get it. In an Elmo state of mind? Get that pair too. No matter who you choose, buy a lot of packages so you can change them often that first week.

5. I’m a big fan of praise, praise, and more praise as its own reward, but hey, if you think a treat jar will be an effective tool in your family, then go for it. Try it without it first, though, I bet you’ll be surprised. 

  6.  I have friends who have had success with the “diaper fairy,” --a one time visitor that takes away the diapers one night and leaves a small token in its place. I like this concept a bit more than the treat jar because it’s just once and doesn’t require a dentist.

7. The Real Thing. Potty chairs don’t seem to work for me, again, because it just seems to add an extra step. The big deterrent is that they don’t really flush, which takes all the fun out of it for a kid, and certainly takes all the fun out of it for me since taking advantage of modern plumbing is why we do this in the first place. A stool by the big potty and sink works well.

8. Around night three, you’re going to be sick of changing sheets and want to succumb to the diaper just this once, BUT DON’T GO TO THE DARK SIDE, LUKE! You will be thankful that you didn’t when you are not making excuses at their first sleepover. It’s all about consistency. And laundry.

9. Accidents happen. But if you are fully-committed to this, they will happen far less frequently.

10. Anticipate. Help your little one at every step by anticipating when nature is going to call. Make a habit of going first thing in the morning and right before bed. If you’re going out, try going before you leave. That may seem like obvious advice, but teaching your child that they have control over this process is important, and it’s the one time we as parents are allowed to give them the answers on their homework.
And finally, celebrate the triumphs, forget the failures. Really, it’s a week or less of hassle for such a big step in your child’s life. Before you know it they’ll be standing in lines at rock concerts and sporting events without an issue and you’ll be bragging to your mother in-law that you potty-trained in three days.