Bit of Fiction: First Person Narrative [1200 Word Count]

2015 9-7 feat

The Ripple under the Calm

One-two-three-f … “Good morning Maureen,” Landen said annoyingly chipper. His thin mousey voice sharply penetrated through the early morning calm like a chef’s knife through rice paper. Startled, I practically slid out of my chair as I was used to being alone in the office at 6:30 a.m. As I struggled to regain my composure, my heart rebelliously wanted to thrash to an irregular rhythm, and my hands tingled with nervous sweat, I was completely flustered.  

I looked up to see a ghastly pale man smugly staring back at me waiting for a response. He was average height with a stocky build. Less like a bodybuilder, more like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The delicate voice seemed to be misplaced on him, and I always subconsciously looked for a clever ventriloquist hiding in the shadows throwing his voice on this poor unsuspecting sap.

I stealthily slid my hand down past my right jacket pocket and patted it gently. The sound of the pills gently rattling against the plastic bottle whispered reassurances, you’re fine. You’ll be alright. Nothing to fear here. Ironic that I’m the social media copy editor who communicates for a living via a screen and keyboard 24/7, but ask me to interact with a live warm human being, I am plagued by an absurd amount of trepidation. My calm exterior wrapped my incessant anxiety and bouts of panic much like a fragile egg roll, the authentic Dim Sum kind. All neat and tidy, even beautiful on the outside, keeping all the messy filling with all it’s juices confined within, restricted, and bound to adhere to social norms. But the slightest breach of the outer shell and all the messy filling pours out like a tsunami wreaking havoc on everything within its wake. Life as it is, is indeed full of ironies.

I observed him for a moment and breathed deeply. C’mon Mo, be normal. This is easy. Good morning, how are you? It’s only five words. Toddlers can mutter five words. Without looking directly at him, what I managed was “Good morning. Please call me Mo” in a rather arthritic manner. Well okay, that wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either. What a shame that real life interaction can’t be easily remedied with the arbitrary smiley face to make everything instantly friendly and happy.

I had hoped that would suffice the monotonous morning ritual but hopes are meant to be denied and trampled upon. As I started to turn away to carry on counting, one-two-three-fo … “Ya ‘no Maur … err I mean Mo, ya don’t look much like a Mo to me” he said drawing quotation marks in the air around my name with his index and middle fingers … twice.

“Whenever I hear Mo,” he again coupled it with a pair of invisible quotation marks; “Mo’s Ultimate Fire Tacos down the street pops in my head. They make really good tacos, very spicy but it’s a good spicy. Have you ever tried it?” he asked; pausing long enough for me to open my mouth but only to promptly close it again because apparently it was more of a rhetorical question.

“Ya no Mo, I think that’s what I’m gonna fer lunch today, hmmm maybe not, tacos give me gas. Lots of gas, the ripe ones too if ya ‘no what I mean,” he boasted with a wink and a snorted laugh.

My head was cocked oddly like a puppy trying with all it’s limited faculties to understand their human. I stared at him blankly with squinted eyes and internally deliberated on an appropriate response and my brows furrowed with annoyance.

What I wanted to say was, are you a fucking idiot? What the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t give a rat’s ass what my name reminds you of. And I certainly don’t give a flying fuck what you are having for lunch! And God help you if you make another set of quotation marks around my name with your despicable short little sausage-like fingers! Now fuck off you pretentious self-absorbed asshat!

But what actually came out of my mouth was a rather timid and cordial “uh-huh, I can totally see that” accompanied by a rather overt labored smile. His perpetual cheerfulness only added to my vex but with considerable effort I managed to refrain from downing my entire bottle of Xanax like ET going to town on some Reese’s Pieces. I swiftly turned away from him to begin absent mindedly typing ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ over and over at a breakneck pace, desperately hoping to fend off further sharing. Because despite what the popular saying suggests, sharing is NOT caring. Sharing is the opposite of caring. Sharing should be reserved solely for those who you care for the least!

Clacking away obnoxiously, my eyes affixed on the monitor while my fingers feverishly repeatedly to conceive the phrase on a fictitious email to absolutely no one; silently praying to be left alone.

“Oh well I see that ya busy I’ll catch up with ya later.”

I responded with the faintest nod to acknowledge his existence, nothing more.  As he finally took his leave and shuffled off, I returned to the task at hand. One-two-three-four-and a quarter. My little corner of the world has been reduced from a 6’ x 5’ office with a window to a 4 ¼ x 4 ¼ ceiling tile square sized cubicle surrounded by it’s brethren cubicles. The Office Efficiency Expert made claims that the notions of individual offices were archaic, old fashioned, and not conducive to the team spirit or collaboration. The new modern age office space consists of low wall cubicles to maximize everyone’s potential. At least that was the propaganda which was dispersed through multiple emails as we all helplessly bare witness to the demise of our private offices, one-by-one the walls came down and one-by-one cubicles popped up in its place. I imagine from a top view our new office resembled a honeycomb in a thriving bee hive. Each cube an exact duplicate of the other, occupied by a devoted worker bee, void of any distinguishing individual flavor in order to advocate unity.

I dreaded all the impending superfluous communal customs which I am condemned to partake on a daily basis now. My body involuntarily shivered at the thought of all the smells, the people, the noise, the people who generated the smells, and the people who owned the noise, but mostly the people. The thought raced in my head like that little squirrel from “Hoodwinked” on Cappuccino. It caused my breath to quicken just to maintain pace. My heart pounded with such ferocity that I could have sworn my entire body vibrated with every beat. Perspiration began to form on my hairline and I instinctively grabbed my right jacket pocket and just firmly held it in my hand. I inhaled deeply through my nose and exhaled through my mouth. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be Milton right now. Even with the roaches in the basement and the surrender of the old red Swingline, it would be more than a fair exchange with life on the cube farm

Healthy Byte: New Spin on Push Ups

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These creative twists promise bigger calorie burn, a more stable core and a stronger upper body.

There’s a reason push-ups have stood the test of time—they work. “It’s a multi-joint exercise that targets your pecs, triceps, deltoids, abdominals and all of your key muscle stabilizers,” says Lucas Varella, a Tier 4 coach in Century City, California. “Plus, it doesn’t require any equipment, so you can perform push-ups anytime, anywhere.” The only catch is that in order to see results (and avoid injury), you have to do them correctly: Keep your head, neck and spine in a neutral position, your abs engaged and your lower body muscles (hips, glutes, etc.) activated throughout the movement.

How it works: Perform one traditional push-up using good form. Work your way up to 3 sets of 8. Once you can complete those without faltering, you’re ready to move on to these variations. “Mixing up your hand positioning and body movements will challenge different muscles, burn more calories and test your endurance,” says Varella. Tackle one of these exercises at a time. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps, using proper form, and then move on to the next one.

The Push-Ups You Should Be Doing

1. Plank-Ups
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, back flat, legs extended behind you, toes tucked under). Keeping upper body engaged, lower right forearm to floor, placing elbow under shoulder, then lower left forearm to floor. Hold plank for one count, and then rise back up to start, placing one palm on floor at a time.

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2. Mountain Climber Push-Up
Start in push-up position, and bring right knee in toward chest; extend leg behind you, and then immediately bring left knee in toward chest; extend leg behind you. Perform a push-up, keeping elbows by sides. Repeat.

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3. Bird-Dog Push-Up
Perform a push-up, keeping elbows by sides. Extend right arm in front of you and left leg behind you; hold balance for one count, then lower. Do another push-up, and repeat balance on other side (left arm; right leg). Repeat.

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4. Push-Up Row
Start in push-up position, gripping a kettlebell* in each hand, with palms facing each other. (*Note: The bigger the kettlebell, the more stable you will feel.) Bend elbows behind you, keeping them close to sides, lowering chest toward floor, and then press back up. Once up, pull left elbow behind you, bringing kettlebell up to ribs; lower. Repeat push-up and perform row on the opposite (right) side. Continue alternating sides with each rep.

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5. Uneven Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you), with left hand on top of the ball part of a horizontal kettlebell. Without rotating your torso, keeping hips and shoulders square, bend elbows behind you, lowering chest toward floor, and press back up. Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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6. Side Plank Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you). Lower chest toward floor, and then as you press back up, rotate torso to left and keep gaze on your left hand, as you lift your left arm and leg toward the ceiling, forming an X with your body. Hold for one count; rotate back to high plank and repeat.

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7. Sliding Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back flat, legs extended behind you), with a towel under your left palm. Slowly slide left hand forward, as you bend right elbow behind you and lower chest toward floor. Without falling flat, extend left arm as far forward as possible, and then slowly slide back up to start, keeping arm straight throughout. Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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8. Stability Ball Scissors
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, legs extended and together behind you), with tops of feet centered on a stability ball. Bring right knee in toward chest, then rotate torso slightly as you extend leg out, parallel to the ground. Perform a push-up, keeping body squared up as much as possible. Reverse motion back to start. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating sides with each rep.

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9. Traveling Push-Up
Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, legs extended behind you). Perform a push-up, and then step right leg under and to the left of your left leg and right hand under and to the side of left hand. Step left hand and leg over the right, moving back into push-up position. Perform a push-up, and then reverse motion (left hand/leg steps over right; right goes under left) back to the right (ending where you started.

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10. Pike Push-Up
Start in a pike position (upside down “V”), with palms under shoulders, toes centered on top of a stability ball, legs together, hips raised toward ceiling. Keeping lower body still, bend elbows behind you, slowly lowering head toward floor; carefully press back up to start.

Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

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“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”

~ Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

Healthy Byte: Day 970

“Complete abstinence

is easier than

perfect moderation.”

~ Saint Augustine

Day 970 Fried Rice

Of course St. Augustine was referring to abstinence from something else entirely but its actually very applicable to my maintenance success. I am a huge advocate for moderation and I am as loyal to living the 90/10 Rule as a dog to a master holding to a piece of juicy bacon. But I think like many things in life there are no absolutes. 

The 90/10 Rule affords me the emotional and mental permission to indulge guilt free. And I have long touted to be a firm believer not to banish any food group(s) or specific food into permanent exile and to a certain extent, that remains my motto. However like superman, I do have my personal kryptonite. There is one item that I have completely, ruthlessly, and utterly unapologetic in eradicating it from my diet entirely … my frenemy … rice.

Rice to me was like the one ring to Gollum. I loved it and I hated it. I loved it because it was a meal staple for as long as I can remember. I hated it because I lacked the ability not to commit gluttony when it comes to it. A meal didn’t feel like a meal without it. It was rice with breakfast, rice with lunch, rice for dinner, rice, rice, rice!

For me, rice is very much unlike other foods which can be easily satisfied with a small sampling or a substitution. For example, if I wanted cheesecake I’d be perfectly content with having one slice from Barnes & Noble Cafe instead of an entire cake from Cheesecake Factory. Or if I was hankering for chips, I can easily be fulfilled with an individual bag stocked near the checkout rather than the family size bag from the chip section of the grocery store.

But rice … no. It lured me to lose my faculties and carelessly toss care into the winds. If there was a tub of fried rice I can probably inhale half a tub in one sitting & return to finish the rest in about 15-20 minutes. It’s was one facet of my food source that I truly felt was beyond my control. So because of this lack of inability of self restraint, I resorted to utterly eliminate it from my food repertoire multiply by infinity. It took me approximately 18 months to slowly transition away from my ‘feeling’ of a proper meal by incrementally reduce my rice consumption. From absolutely zero accountability of portions size down to ½ cup before switching over to quinoa and bidding farewell to the lovely little morsel of rice. I donated any unused rice to local food bank and even donated my rice cooker … but please don’t tell my mother. 😉

It has been almost two years since I have had any rice. And I know that may sound like a horrifying sacrifice but to be quite honest, I don’t even miss it now. I don’t miss it because I avoid it like the plague. Prolonged avoidance makes me forget more and more what the allure was. Since I no longer remember the allure, I lose my taste or craving for it. And since I’ve lost my taste or craving for it, I no longer eat it. Sound familiar? (chicken and the egg phenomena)

So now I can walk into Panda Express and stand right in front of the shiny giant cask of fried rice and not pathetically salivate at the site of it. I can order a double serving of the vegetables in lieu of without a second thought. My complete abstinence of rice has allowed me to be truly free.

So I encourage everyone to reflect and identify any possible personal kryptonite(s) which may be throwing a monkey wrench in their long term maintenance. Then I would doubly encourage to consider a complete abstinence rather than the uphill struggle striving for perfect moderation. It’s not defeat or a lack of will power; it’s the wisdom to know & to chose a different path.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS

Different Set of Skills Required for Maintenance

“It seems somewhat similar to love and marriage. What gets you to the altar is likely to be quite different than what keeps you married in the long-term. [And] not recognizing this transition and adapting with different practices will also get you in trouble.”

TIP OF THE WEEK

Chesse. Who doesn’t love gooey dooey melty cheese? And cheese is one of those items which can quickly add up in calories with very little effort … at least for me. In my search for a cheese dupe, I’ve come across an ingenious version of my favorite – provolone cheese. Sargento was actually the first to produce an ‘Ultra Thin’ line. It’s ingenious because it melts the same, gives comparable cheesey satisfaction but at a fraction of the calories & fat. By swapping out the cheese to my daily work lunch sandwich, I save 33 calories per sandwich, 165 calories a week. 9,240 calories a year. And again, small daily changes adds up quite nicely in the long run.

2015 9-1

Per 1 Slice Regular Slice Provolone Cheese Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

(Store Brand) Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

Difference per Sandwich
Calories 70 40 37 33
Total Calories from Fat 45 27 27 18
Total Fat 5 3 2.7 2.3
Saturated Fat 3 1.7 2 1 to 1.3

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