So I’m going to come right out and say it: not a huge fan of Halloween. My kids love it, I think; they actually seems kind of stressed out. One’s getting to the point where she doesn’t want to walk with me anymore; unfortunately, it happens to be my middle kid, who’s seven (my ten year old still sees no reason to be embarrassed by me–that’s going to be a cruel day, when she figures out the truth…) and though we never go farther than our neighborhood, it’s not going to happen. I, like all parents, harbor the irrational fear that Halloween is when all the perverts and pederasts dress up as Ronald McDonald or Raggedy Andy or whatever-the-creepy-fuck-else and snatch your kid and take him/her to the underground lair they built in a corn field and all you find later is their elbow.
That’s The Lovely Bones but whatever, I’m still sure Halloween is pretty much when that happens.
Anyway, my kids are either worried about their costume or just on edge in general. My son, the youngest (he’s four) will be Bumblebee the Transformer, and we’ve had to hide the costume from him because he’d rip it to shit if we didn’t. It’s possible that he’s forgotten, completely, who he’s going to be. Tomorrow, at school, he gets to bring one piece from his costume. The costume is two pieces: the mask and the body. I guess he’ll bring the mask. That should go over well.
My middle daughter will be a bunny rabbit, white, complete with mini-skirt and white tights. She, like always, has managed to find an outfit that’s both age-appropriate and skanky in equal measure. I don’t know how she does it. This afternoon I told her to be careful at recess because the outfit could get dirty, easily. She asked me what white rabbits do when they stain their coat “in nature.” It kind of blew my mind. What DO they do? Hop to the nearest car wash? What the hell?
My oldest has managed, as she has since she was three, to procure a costume that nobody but her can recognize. She will be Ferb, the silent, brilliant half of Phineas and Ferb, the mildly popular Disney cartoon. She picks these things and then gets frustrated when nobody recognizes her. Shit lady, don’t dress as a Dalik and then get pissed when everybody thinks you’re a walking trash can. Maybe that Claude Levi-Strauss get-up looks too close to, like, regular clothes…you know?
So I have a son in the middle of an existential crisis as to whether his head or his ass should look like a robot at school, a middle daughter dressed like a playboy bunny posing questions Jack Hanna might stumble over, and an oldest who insists on dressing only as inconsequential cult-television characters or unrecognizable historical figures.
But the real reason Halloween is underwhelming this year is that I won’t get to eat any of the candy. Because I’ve given up processed wheat and sugar. And I only eat protein, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables. Because I’m in shape. And very happy.
I don’t have to do this, I’ve lost all the weight I want to lose, and the only comments I really get anymore about the seventy pounds I’ve dropped are from my family. My oldest daughter now calls me Demi Lovato, and my middle daughter begs me to stop exercising because she’s afraid my head will start to look even more grotesquely disproportional to the rest of my body. And yet I continue.
I’ve recently started the third month of P90X, after the two months I spent doing the Insanity workouts. Both are Beachbody productions, and though I’m still unsure as to whether I’m beach ready, I do have a couple of observations about the two programs.
When I mention to people that I used the Insanity workouts or use the P90X workouts, they typically say, “My goodness, that is incredible. Can you give me some feedback as to which workout is more effective? Obviously both have been very effective in your case.” Actually, nobody has ever said that. Nobody really likes to hear about your workout plan; it’s like hearing about your dreams. Talking about it is like telling people how and how often you masturbate. It just seems like something you should keep to yourself. And yet everyone who exercises wants to relate every last detail, if not in person, than on some piece of shit blog.
P90X is more effective. we’ll start there. Not because it’s harder, but because it’s more manageable. The cardiovascular stuff is just difficult enough to make you want to keep at it, and the weight training, like all weight training, pays off in the short run with measurable results so you keep up with the program. The host, Tony Horton, is probably a passionate, intelligent, unimpeachable gentleman, but his patter veers extraordinarily close to douchebaggery when it’s not jumping the guard rails and crashing directly onto (or into) douchebaggery.
It’s not that he isn’t a fine instructor or motivator, it’s that you can tell that he has shitloads of the kind of insecurity that all stereotypical fitness instructors possess, the blarney and hale-hardy-well-met-ness of car salesmen the world over that comes awfully close to Biblical vanity. In other words, he is what I fear I will become if I spend too much time examining myself in the mirror.
However, the program itself is really genius. There’s no aspect or episode I feel like skipping except the yoga, but that’s because it’s ninety minutes long and I blame it for wrenching my back three weeks ago and making me miss two days of work. The way it switches up muscle groups, provides good lessons on form, and insists that it is in fact REST that builds muscle and burns fat jibes with all the research I’ve read the past year.
Insanity is probably more effective at achieving results quickly. I wouldn’t know, because I’ve effectively blocked those two months from my memory. I only remember that it’s so hard, and I had to stop so much, that I felt like a failure most times I did it. The fucking WARMUP is harder that anything in P90X, for the love of God.
The host–oh my God the host–is named, no joke, Shawn T.
Just the letter.
I feel trepidation when I mock him like that, I must admit, because I worry that he will read this blog, find me, and kill me. Shawn T’s system relies on High Intensity Interval Training, which basically means four minutes on, one off, five or six sets a day. What that means, essentially, is that you punish your body like you just caught it fucking your wife, drive your heart rate up to–no joke–around 200 beats a minute, and then collapse as if shot for the minute you get to yourself. The people in the video, Shawn T’s personally recruited workout buddies, can’t keep up. Shawn T., for his part, demonstrates the exercise, and then stalks around yelling at people. It’s highly effective. He calls them out by name. At one point he says, “We need to straighten are back legs…Josh!” Josh’s face literally registers an expression akin to someone who’s just awakened in a bathtub full of ice somewhere in Guatamala.
Shawn T. never laughs, rarely smiles, and registers a blithe lack of concern for your health and well-being. When I was in high school, during winter football drills (the last time I ever breathed that hard) I always took comfort in the fact that no matter how hard the coaches pushed us, their jobs were dependent upon keeping us alive. Shawn T. made these workouts a couple years ago; he’s just a face on a screen; the only people to see if I died or not would be when my wife or kids finally walked down to the basement to see why it got so quiet.
And yet I learned to love Shawn T., as one learns to love their abusive boyfriend or kidnapper. He was all I had for those fifty-five minutes, and I craved his approval. Every afternoon was my own personal, miniature, Stockholm-syndrome-like psycho-social freak out. I hated the person I was becoming, but couldn’t stop. I’d wait until the end of the video, thinking maybe this time Shawn T. will tell me I did something precious, something to be cherished.
And each time he would look into the camera, into my soul, and growl, “I’m Shawn T. This is Insanity. Drink your recovery formula.”
And I’d think, “Oh, Shawn T. I wish you would call.”
So Tony Horton is a cornball. He calls this girl, named “Pam,” “Pam the Blam.” You can tell she hates it. But she never met Shawn T. Because he’d call her “Stupid-Out-of-Shape-Bitch-I-Want-To-Bite.”
So be careful what you wish for.