Over the past few years, I’ve noticed I’ve begun to put on a few pounds. I noticed this primarily because my wife kept saying, “Hey, you’ve put on a few pounds. When are you going to do something about it?”
In my younger years, I used to treat my body like a temple. But lately my body has become more of a Temple of Doom. So I’ve decided to do something about it.
I tried various fad diets: the Nothing-but-fruit diet, the Everything-but-fruit diet, the Mango & Salmon milk shake diet, the “All-You-Can-Eat-Just-So-Long-As-It’s-Cabbage” diet. None of them worked, in part because I usually gave up after about 40 minutes.
I recently discovered – much to my chagrin – that there are no short cuts to fitness and good health. So I came up with eight very simple daily commitments in the areas of fitness and nutrition. I once raced in the New York Marathon. (Okay, meandered might be more accurate description of my pace.) Heck, by comparison, this should be a piece of cake. Drat! Now I’m craving a piece of cake.
I’m not proud that for most of my adult life, I have tended to play it safe. I’ve always obeyed the rules and did what I was told. I’ve always used my turn signals, always separated the white from the dark laundry. I’ve always followed a predictable routine. If it’s 6:15 am, I’m hopping on the exercycle. If it’s 6:20 am, I’m in the bathroom flossing. A boringly predictable life.
But not anymore. I’ve decided life’s too short. I’m not going to be a conformist sheep following the herd anymore. I’m going to zig when they expect me to zag. I’ve decided to shake up my button-down life – starting by unbuttoning my collar. Hell, I just might not even wear a tie for work tomorrow. And there’s not a damn thing my boss can do about it (since I’m working from home tomorrow).
Lately I’ve turned into a rebel. It feels so liberating. My natural hair color is coffee brown. But last week, feeling in a dangerous mood, I dyed it mocha brown. I feel months younger. And look closely at my hair. I’ve started wearing my left sideburn an eighth of an inch lower than my right one – my silent protest to The Man that I will not conform to society’s rules anymore.
At sporting events, I now do the wave two seconds after the rest of my section. Sure it pisses off some fans. I’m living life on the edge.
This weekend I have the whole house to myself. Our elder daughter Rachel is a college freshman and our younger daughter Emily (who apparently really admires her dad – who knew?) is with my wife this weekend, visiting the college she’ll be enrolling in next fall. For the past few days, it’s been eerily quiet in the house – and eerily tidy. It’s weird to walk into my bathroom and not see my daughter’s curling iron, dirty towels and jars of makeup, eye liner, and moisturizing creams piled up in my sink. I barely recognize the kitchen now because there are no stacks of dirty dishes covering every square inch of the counter.
This got me to thinking about next fall, when for the first time in 19 years, there will be no kids in our house. We’ll be joining the ranks of a rapidly growing demographic: Happy People (otherwise known as “Empty Nesters”). Many couples look forward to this phase of life. But for me, it’s going to be a difficult adjustment. So I took time this weekend to look at old photo albums and watch old family videos. It brought back wonderful memories of many happy times with our daughters.
Like the 1,284 times I changed our daughters’ diapers when they were young (which, according to my rough estimate, is approximately 1,284 more times than my father changed his own kids’ diapers when we were young).
If you’re like my wife, then after you’ve been married for about two years you probably realize your decision to get married was a serious mistake. Marriage is difficult, especially if your husband is a humor writer or if you have kids. If both of those conditions apply to you, then may God have mercy on your soul.
My wife Michele (who prefers not to be mentioned by name in my columns, so will henceforth be referred to as “the woman who prefers not to be mentioned as Michele”) and I have been married for 26 years. Like any married couple, we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve squabbled over trivial disagreements like why I always pull all the covers over to my side of the bed at night, what was I thinking the time I taught our 9- and 8-year-old daughters how to hitchhike, and my minor lapse of judgment when I hired a police officer stripper for a surprise party for my wife’s 40th birthday. Turns out my wife was not quite as impressed by Officer Cinnamon’s sexy pole dancing skills as my poker buddies and I were.
So yes, we’ve endured our fair share of marital misunderstandings. But there is one issue which for years has caused more heartache and strife than any couple should have to endure. That’s right. I’m talking about the differences in how we load the dishwasher. It is still painful to talk about in public.
[This message brought to you by the Greater Seattle Tourist Information Bureau.]
Greetings, visitor. Welcome to Seattle. If this is your first time to the Emerald City, we’d like to share some fun facts about our great city to help you plan your trip.
Hey, did you ever wonder why they call it the Emerald City? It’s because everything here is always green. And that’s because it rains in Seattle 342 days a year. Isn’t that fascinating? So bring your bumbershoot and get ready for some fun out of the sun!
When packing for a trip to Seattle, don’t worry about packing your sunglasses – because you won’t need ‘em!
FUN FACT: Many Seattle residents live their entire lives without ever seeing the sun.
Some Seattleites believe the existence of the sun is a myth, sort of like Mount Olympus of ancient Greek legend. (Ironically, there actually is a Mount Olympus in Washington State – but thanks to the clouds no one from Seattle has ever seen it.)
For years people the world over have sought my advice as a foremost authority on matters of the heart. Perhaps it’s because I’m half-German. Or maybe because I got an A- in French in high school – the language of love. I don’t actually have any formalized training in this arena. And I still don’t quite understand position #27 of the Kama Sutra.
My love advice credentials stem from a series of devastating, soul-crushing, failed romances in my formative youth, all of which ended catastrophically. (To this day, I still can’t look at a wrist corsage without suffering traumatic flashbacks.)
February 14th is Valentine’s Day, officially recognized by Hallmark as the one day each year men are expected to demonstrate their love for their wife by buying a sappy card with flowers and chirping birds, inside of which is written a banal poem with hackneyed rhymes like “you’re my wife” and “rest of my life”. Oh, and don’t forget the heart-shaped box of chocolates. Here’s a useful tip: Make sure you leave at least 5 chocolates for your wife – I’d suggest the caramel-centered ones. You know how much she loves caramel. The other 364 days you guys can go back to not showering and channel-surfing between ESPN 1 and ESPN 2. Your job is done.
… is never to make any, of course.
It’s January – a new year and another chance to wipe the slate clean and press the RESET button on all those failed commitments from the previous year. Every year, I revisit my New Year’s Resolutions from the previous year, not so much to analyze how many of them I kept, because of course I kept NONE of them. Rather, I look back to chronicle how many weeks it took before I had completely bailed out on my very last resolution.
Usually that date is around January 16th. But then there was that one exceptional year – 2004. I made it all the way through February before completely giving up on all my resolutions, goals and dreams.
In looking back over my past New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend. Over time, the goals I set kept getting more and more ambitious. Meanwhile my results have hit a bit of a plateau… then slowly slipped off the edge of that plateau…. into the deep, dark, cavernous ravine of best intentions gone miserably awry. So this year, I have decided to set more reasonable goals in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. Let me explain with a few examples.
Don’t believe me? Then maybe you’ll believe a study which concluded that marriages where the women do all the housework while the men retreat to the parlor to smoke cigars, read the newspaper and discuss politics with other men in top hats are happier. Okay, so that study was based on focus groups of landed gentry horse farm owners in Greenwich, CT in 1879. But now a brand new study appears to validate those previous findings.
A recently released study by Norwegian researchers reports that the divorce rate among couples who share the housework equally is 50% higher than those where the woman does most of the housework. “The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study titled Equality in the Home.
One conclusion emerges: Norwegian researchers apparently hate women. Another theory is that Norwegian men suck at doing chores. Still another theory is that lead researcher Thomas Hansen has a serious axe to grind over the fact his ex-wife, Ingebjørg, took him to the cleaners in their divorce. But that’s just my wife’s theory, and she’s never particularly cared for Norwegian men. (I’m talking to you, Sven Jorgensen.)
In my younger years, I used to jog five miles a day, do 50 sit-ups each morning, and row 15 miles to work. I was a nationally recognized fitness expert and author of the best seller, Earlobes of Steel. But now that I am older, I know better. At best, all that exercise will add less than 30 years to my life.
Not long ago, I tried out a fitness class called sports yoga. I stuck with it for what seemed like forever, by which I mean nearly four sessions. There was just one small problem: yoga was really hard. Try as I may, I could never get my left foot to wrap around the back of my neck. I never got the knack for how to balance my body off the ground using just my thumbs.
I even wrote about my nightmarish yoga experience previously in a post called The World’s Least Flexible Man – the 100% true retelling of my very first yoga class. So I hung up my yoga mat. I’m simply not that young anymore. My body is no longer capable of contorting like a human pretzel. And before you know it, I’ll be celebrating my 80th birthday. (Okay, technically not for another 23 years, but in geologic terms, that’s a blink of an eye).
It seems every week there is a new research study about yet another popular food staple that has been linked to cancer or heart disease. It can all be very confusing. First they tell you that grape juice is a heart-healthy beverage. Then another study comes out arguing that it’s bad for you (contains as much sugar as soft drinks).
As one of the nation’s leading nutrition experts, I have compiled a comprehensive list of unhealthy food groups. Avoid the following food groups, and you should be able to lead a long and healthy life – assuming, of course, you don’t live in Afghanistan, Somalia or Detroit, in which case all bets are off.