My kid peeked around the side of the big office chair in front of the computer to see if I heard her. I am not proud of what happened next. Not in the least.
See, my husband has been away for work for the past 2 ½ weeks and my tolerance is, well, not what it normally is. I keep telling myself that I could have a husband in the military, that I could be a single mom, etc etc and I know I really have nothing to complain about…but it doesn’t change the fact that the infrastructure in our house is built on having two parents. When we drop down to one things are a little stressful.
Anyway. I saw red. I had just had a loud-ish conversation with her teenaged sister (who had been home alone all day and amassed an impressive heap of dirty dishes, food wrappers, and apple cores beside the couch) about how this treating-me-like-the-hired-help thang wasn’t going to continue under any circumstances. I went off like a cannon.
“SERIOUSLY? You’re just going to shout “Hungry!” at me and expect me to jump up and fetch you a snack?!” I stood up and started stomping around, angry-cleaning and waving my arms and yelling and spluttering about how she and her sister were emphatically NOT going to treat me this way and if she thought that announcing that she’s hungry was going to get her the desired result she had another think coming. I went on and on – and I actually got a considerable amount of tidying up done as my tirade continued and I flung shit around. When the living room/dining room was clean and I came back down to earth from berserker-rage-orbit, I finished off with, “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME??”
No response. Louder:
“SARAH! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME??”
I spun her chair around and was face to face with a perfectly calm, perfectly happy kid. Wearing headphones. The heavy-duty noise-cancelling fancy-schmancy headphones that are usually used for late-night video gaming. She hadn’t heard a word I said.
She looked up at me with her big innocent blue eyes and said, “Yes Mom? Did you say something?”
Everything hurts right now. Moving is a veritable ton of work. Did I overdo it in the gym today? Yeah, probably a little – but it was worth it! I may feel like a sack of wet cement but I am one hell of a happy sack of wet cement when I am exhausted from lifting stuff. Which got me to thinking.
All the stuff going on in the world right now is making me sad. People are so polarized, so vitriolic, so irrationally devoted to their own dogma, so angry…that it seems as though we are on the brink of some kind of massive global meltdown. And you know what? If that happens, if we wipe ourselves off the face of the earth, we bloody well deserve it.
Lucky for everyone, I have figured out the answer to all of the world’s problems. Seriously. All of them. Are you ready?
The answer is, of course, lifting. And I’m not talking about just any bullshit 20-minutes-of-brisk-activity-gets-the-heart-rate-up stuff, I’m talking about getting into the gym, doing some big-ass lifts, and LAYING DOWN 100% OF WHATEVER YOU HAVE. You don’t necessarily have to puke or injure yourself or die or anything. Just get after it, HARD.
Hear me out on this: I submit that if everyone – everyone – spent one or two hours a day, 5 days a week picking up the heaviest weights they were capable of and putting them down again, we would virtually eliminate most of the world’s problems, and here’s why:
Lifting feels awesome. After you’re done. Personally, I think it’s fun during, but I get that it would be naive of me to assume that everyone feels that way. I know most people hate working out because it kinda hurts. But after it’s over? Hell yes motherfuckers!! The sense of accomplishment after a good workout will leave you glowing for the whole freaking day. Lifting weights lifts your spirits.
Conversely, if you have a bad day in the gym or on the platform, the existential despair kills any and all aggressive tendencies. No time for making trouble for anyone else – hell, you won’t want to even make eye contact with anyone for a few days. With lifting it’s just you against that barbell – no opponent, no other team to vibe out – and the bar doesn’t give a shit either way. This means it’s all on you to make it happen, and nobody but yourself to get angry at if things don’t go right – lots of life lessons about responsibility to be learned there.
Lifting makes you an expert at conflict resolution. I have two daughters (ages 13 and 11) who squabble insidiously, and it’s annoying as hell. When I’ve smashed myself in the gym, I have infinite patience to help them resolve their differences peacefully, and most of the time it works. You know why? Because I am too freaking tired to do anything else! Just think of what the world might look like if all of its leaders were too tired to do anything except compromise over a protein shake.
Strong people are confident people. If you challenge the outer limits of your physical strength on a regular basis, you develop a sense of quiet assurance that you can probably handle whatever life throws at you. Things just don’t seem as threatening. And if anyone gives you attitude you can always just shrug and think to yourself, “I can probably deadlift more than them” and walk away.
People who lift are more patient, more tolerant, and generally more chill than people who don’t. You know why? Because being angry takes energy. Spreading misery is work. Hating requires a lot of extra steam. Now, if you were to go into the gym, crank up some heavy metal or some gangsta rap (I am partial to metal for working out but that’s just me), harness every ounce of blind rage you could muster, and bust out heavy squats until your legs quivered and standing upright in the shower afterward was a challenge, I guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that there will be no energy left to get angry over the guy who cut you off in traffic. Or people whose religion/politics/etc don’t line up with yours. Live and let live, bros!
Ok, yeah, I know this isn’t a 100% bulletproof theory, and there are assholes in every demographic…but a worn out asshole is a less vitriolic asshole, so there’s that. I remember back when I was doing some research on dog behaviour in preparation to adopt a dog. I read an article that basically took apart every undesirable canine behaviour by reiterating that DOGS NEED REGULAR AND SUFFICIENT EXERCISE, and when they are bored or restless or have too much energy they start getting into trouble. The article finished by stating that “a tired dog is a happy dog.” I would go as far as to say that in this respect, humans are the same – and most people who feel compelled to get all up in each others’ bidness just need to do some heavy-ass deadlifts. You’re welcome, world!
I’ve decided that for my next trick I must learn to speak German. Or Icelandic.
I’m serious – I’ve been watching a lot of European strongman training videos on YouTube lately and I would dearly love to understand what they’re saying. Because, you know, watching ginormous dudes pick up atlas stones and cars and logs is fun and exciting and all but I feel like I’m missing out on good information. Also languages are cool.
You know what’s not cool at all though? Opening up a video on YouTube and having to vomit into my mouth for a minute and a half while I watch the commercial for Special K Pastry Crisps while I wait for my German strongman video to load, because for fuck’s sake:
“You’ve been so good all day. Satisfy your snack time craving and maintain your healthy lifestyle at the same time. New Special K* Chocolatey Caramel Pastry Crisps are a light and delicious treat you can enjoy two for 100 calories. Now this is an indulgence you can feel good about.”
Because “being good” and “being bad” are words that should never describe eating habits. Because cravings are a sign that your diet is missing something. Because there is absolutely no place in a “healthy lifestyle” for that fucking garbage (unless calorie-reduced diet ‘crisps’ are your favorite thing ever, in which case go ahead but I question your taste). Because I shouldn’t feel good about other indulgences? Fuck you. And also your grammar is shit.
The commercial is even worse – patronizing and guilt- and fear-mongering and sexist and…would you ever in a million years start a commercial with “we got a bunch of men together and invited them to eat on camera, guilt free”? I could go on and on but I won’t because I have more stuff I need to rant about.
One problem with spending any time at all online is that the internet starts to think it knows who you are and then starts tailoring what kind of advertising to show you. It has figured out that I am female and that I am interested in fitness and health (I can’t imagine how that might have happened) and therefore I am party to lots of advertising of health and fitness products designed for women. Gimmicky shit that plays on all the insecurities that blanket our gender and hold us down, just because there’s more money to be made that way. The manufacturing sector would lose billions – BILLIONS – if we decided suddenly that in order to be the best versions of ourselves we’d eat good food, train hard at doing stuff we like, and love ourselves and be supportive of each other no matter what the outcome was.
Speaking of training, I am sick to death of looking at advertisements for training programs geared specifically toward women. What the ever-loving fuck is a female specific training plan?
No really – take a moment and think about what comes to mind. Is it a fat-loss program? Probably. Light weights so we don’t get bulky? Yup – check. “Fixes” for “problem areas”? Right again. My favorite is when male trainers design female-specific programs, so that he can develop a harem of loyal followers that he can “fix”. Ladies, we don’t need female-specific training or diet programs. We need programs that suit our goals, whatever they are, but nobody has “trouble spots” that need “fixing”. We are all (men included) just fine the way we are. If you want to lose fat, get stronger, build muscle or whatever, find a program that works for you that is specific to that goal. But here’s a secret: men and women have the same muscles, in the same places. With a couple of obvious exceptions, our bodies function the same way. (Disclaimer: yes, I know that there are various medical conditions which are gender-specific. I am talking about generally healthy people here – if the term “generally healthy” doesn’t apply to you then you should probably listen to your doctor and not get your advice from anyone on the internet, including me.)
Here’s a handy tip: if it’s marketed specifically to women, it’s probably garbage. If by some weird chance it isn’t garbage, you still shouldn’t spend money on it because they desperately need to change their advertising strategies. They should also fire the asshole who thought it would be a good idea to perpetuate and profit from the ideas that women aren’t good enough, they aren’t very smart, and they are generally too big and need to take up less space. Those ideas are dated, tired, and patently untrue – could we please let them die already?
No, we don’t need your nutritionally void low-calorie snack food that comes in a pink/purple box. If we want to indulge, we will fucking indulge and there will be no guilt or shame or “bad”-ness involved. And no, we don’t need your training or diet advice which will “fix” us or make us sexy or any of that shit. We will train to be awesome at things we like doing and feel good about it. And we will stop feeling guilty about the ways in which we fall short.