Friday, Apr. 20, 2007
Dear Diary:

One of the saddest things about becoming fit is that I also completely lost my, uh, boo-tay. My gluteus maximus was more like my gluteus flatimous.

Yes, I am afflicted with board butt. Pancake ass. Call it what you will, I have been the poster child for this.

It's hard not to be bitter.

Part of it is biology�some of us are born with bubble butt, and some of us are born with tushievitus, a tendency towards the anti-bubble butt. As well, the body will jettison muscle before it will jettison fat if you start cutting down the excess calories. Why? Muscle takes a lot of energy to maintain. Fat takes zero energy to maintain and is a safety mechanism for the body, there to get us through hard times. As far as the body is concerned, cutting back calories is a hard time.

Really, when they talk about women damaging their metabolisms with yo yo dieting, that's what they're talking about�the destruction of muscle through dieting. If you restrict calories but you don't rebuild muscle, you throw yourself behind a metabolic eight ball.

The derri�re has a lot of muscle, muscle that's not nearly as crucial as, say, the heart, so out the window it goes as you shed weight. In my case, part of gluteus flatimus is also due to my august years. I'll be 56 in May and gravity has had a lot of years to drag things down.

But, like I said, because so much of the behind is muscle, there's the potential to rebuild it. A bionic butt if you will. In the six year's I've been a gym rat, I have done almost every butt exercise known to man.

Lunges�forwards, sideways, backwards, walking (with 25 pound weights in each hand)�been there, done that. Almost zero effect.

Squats, deadlifts, cable machine moves, steppers, pelvic lifts with a 45 pound weight on my hip bones, running on a steep incline. Been there, done that. Almost zero effect.

And then, about a month ago � well, this would be the part where I cue the heavenly choir and I step into a beam of light to announce that I have found The One True Buttal Exercise.

There's this guy at my gym who's been going as long as I have. When he started he was this tall, skinny, gangly 16-year-old. Now he's this tall, amazingly strong man in his early 20's. With my trainer out of the picture, I've been picking his brain.

About a month ago he saw me doing a mix of sumo and pli� squats. "Working on your glutes?" he asked. Now normally I don't discuss my behind with the opposite sex, and certainly not with men young enough to be my children. But hey, it's the gym and this is a guy who's put on serious muscle without the use of steroids or other enhancements. He's the result of sweat, pure and simple.

So I explained my unending war on plank butt.

He taught me the one legged squat.

It has worked in a way nothing else has. This would be the part where the Hallelujah Chorus swells to deafening levels and we all are overcome with emotion. Feel free to weep. I know I want to.

There are many ways to do this squat. If you have killer balance and knees of steel, you can do it this way.

My balance is questionable. I've had knee surgery. So the way I do this is to gently hold a pole, extend one leg out and lower myself on the other. I make sure to keep my back straight, which keeps my knee from drifting over in front of my toes. (When the knee drifts over in front of the toe, huge strain is put on said knee. Do I want more knee surgery? No, no I do not.)

I squat all the way down, until my butt is almost on the floor, which really makes the glutes work. When I push up, I push up through my heel and not my toe. I don't use my hands for anything but balance, forcing my legs and derri�re to do all the work. Believe me, my stabilizing muscles still get an amazing workout from this.

It is brutal. The first time I tried it, I could only do five on each side. It took me two weeks to work up to a set of ten on each side. Me, the woman who does Iron Mikes with a 25 pound dumbbell in each hand, the woman who squats her body weight. It has taken me a month to work up to two sets of ten. I only do them once a week now instead of three times a week because of the potential for knee problems.

Once a week seems to work fine.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I'll never have a gluteus that's truly bubblemus, but less flatimus is completely do-able.

Yesterday was one of those glorious, sunny spring days that I wish I could bottle and save for the hard grey days of fall. I played hooky from work and spent part of the afternoon running and walking on my road. It felt fabulous to finally be able to work up a sweat outside.

Grass is already greening up in the valley here. The snow should be gone at our elevation within a week. I am dizzy with excitement at the thought of actually being able to get my hands dirty, of planting things, of continuing my rock wall projects.

Some of my friends can't understand why I keep project fitness going. I've shed the extra weight and after all isn't it all about how you look?

Um, no.

If I keep myself strong and healthy, I can do the things I love for years to come. If I don't, then my life will get a little smaller every year. I know women who are younger than I am who already have a very hard time doing basic stuff such as lifting a large bag of groceries. Yikes.

In a way, this is my own, tiny, war of independence, fought one bicep curl at a time. The gluteus less flatimus is just icing on the cake, eh?


Mileage on the Marnometer: 112.88 miles Ten percent there rubber duck. Ten percent there rubber duck.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2007: 500 miles

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