Oh sure, they’re cute and fuzzy and we’re supposed to care about them and save them, and biodiversity is rapidly being eliminated worldwide, and this is genuinely a global concern, and blah blah. But come on. Unlike other bears, who are clever enough to be opportunist omnivores, pandas pretty much only live on bamboo. Talk about high maintenance. It’s sort of like the kid who will only eat Cheerios. Eventually, reality sets in. The world is not made of Cheerios, nor do Cheerios provide 100% of human nutritional needs…
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be afraid of such a tumble.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know many people who are very wise about other people’s problems, or who are good at finding solutions for their jobs, but when it comes to themselves they are paralyzed by their over-intellectualization. They can tell me in great detail exactly what they are feeling and what is wrong with them, but they do not act to change it. It’s like they’re holding a road map and sitting on a well-marked road, but they can’t make themselves turn on the car’s ignition. They just keep going over the map again and again.
I’d like to dedicate this rant to the memory of Rosemary Vernon, the Iron Belle who in her role as editor of the fitness site Dolfzine, remained dedicated to the cause of women’s training. I imagined her as a graduate of a fine finishing school somewhere, the kind of elegant woman of a certain age who always knew which fork to use, how to say a kind word, and of course, how to get deadlifting chalk out of your black workout clothes. She was indeed a steel magnolia: a lovely flower on the outside, but tough as nails inside.
In March, two sad things happened. First, Cable-Bar Guy JV Askem died of a brain tumour. Then, suddenly, the originator of the Supertraining group, Dr. Mel Siff, died of a heart attack. Yes, this is a site aimed primarily at women, but as I touch on in Boy Butches up Girl, there are lots of wonderful men who have been instrumental in creating a world where strength and hard work, not gender, are the primary qualities which matter in training. Askem and Siff are two of those men.
As I write this in mid-January 2003, my father lies in a hospital bed. At the moment, he is in no danger of dying, though one could not necessarily have said the same a few days beforehand, as he lay in bed at home, clutching the phone, waiting for the moment when the chest pressure became too much to bear and he would have to muster his strength to dial 911. He says that that night, he did not know if he was going to live to see the morning, and there is no hyperbole in this statement. I try to imagine what he must have thought about during those hours…
“People need to understand that for the average bunch of us who don’t have those special booster-rocket genes, we still have a remarkable set of genes that would get us to our mid-80s in good health. However, instead of taking advantage of those genes, we fight them with bad habits, obesity, and bad diets.”
—Thomas Perls, Harvard researcher into longevity
Your body is an incredible gift horse. Start looking it in the mouth.
On October 23, 2002, a column about women’s hockey caught my eye. Hayley Wickenheiser, one of the stars in the Canadian women’s hockey firmament, is having difficulty finding a team to play on because of institutional rules about playing with men. One comment in particular was noteworthy:
“There is, and long has been, a simmering hostility against women in hockey. The more boorish attitude is… that they’re just a bunch of lesbians anyway — a sad prejudice only reinforced when former hockey Olympian Nancy Drolet married her partner, Nathalie, in a Quebec civil ceremony.”
Woah woah woah. Waitaminit. The grrls get hitched (BTW high fives for social progress, Canada!) and it’s THEIR fault that sports is homophobic? Well that just makes me want to throw a Joan Crawford hissy fit.
This weekend I was shopping at the local market. I got hungry and wanted a protein bar. I popped into a health food store which I know sells them. I was confronted with a floor to ceiling rack of bars. I stood reading the labels. Soy. Soy. Some weird grains and shit. Soy. Nuts and twigs. Soy. Carb-A-Lot. Soy. Soy. Soy. Can’t a woman get some plain whey any more? I left without buying anything. As we were leaving, I said to the friend who was with me, “Dammit, all they have is that soy crap!” She shrugged and said, “Soy is the new hemp.”