Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planning break time before anything is broken

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I've been thinking about how working 8+ hours a day is unhealthy even if you do work out. Seems to me the thing to do is take a break at lunch to exercise. Usually, if I'm not taking a lunch-time walk, I work through lunch. Not the best way to treat your body, I know.

I figure I'll try doing the C25k runs at lunch, around the Nike track, rather than trying to run in the dark around my scruffy neighborhood. That would take care of three lunch-times a week from now until pretty much the end of the year. (The last two weeks are usually caught up in family visits and I can't keep to a schedule then.) And since I seem to do best with a bit of structure, I thought I'd try the 200 squats challenge. At least it's something that I can do at lunch without frightening my co-workers.

Tried the squats trial, and was appalled at how stiff my knees are. Is the 40s too early to develop arthritis? We'll see how it goes. Might have to smuggle in some arm weights and do weight lifting instead.

Exercise du jour: 200 squats week 1

Done! But *damn* I've got stiff knees. I'm too young to have stiff knees!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Steppin' out...

I'm betting none of these guys do a lot of sitting around...

Study du jour: Even if you work out every day, if you spend 8 hours sitting at a desk every day, you're at greater risk of a heart attack.

Now there's an incentive to take a walk at lunch. And walk down the hall to talk to the engineer instead of sending an email. And get up every hour or so to touch my toes. Or someone's toes, at any rate.

Plus, as of last night I have ... wait for it... actually parked my car in the garage. Yes, I know. It's un-American not to leave the car outside and stuff your stuff in the garage, but that's what I did. It feels meaningful somehow, like I'm putting the car away. Is this an out of sight, out of mind thing? I don't know, but it does feel like a positive step.

Exercise du jour: Week 1 of the C25k. Walk to and from the Max rather than taking the car. And maybe a walk at lunch, if the foot feels amenable.
Done! Well, the morning, evening, and C25k part. The foot said @!#%$ at lunch time. I'll try again next week. It's still encouraging that damn foot is letting me do this much without problems. So far, fingers crossed.

Photo montage courtesy of uppityrib.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Start over, the foot doctor said

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Start over, the foot doctor said.
And he's the expert, so I figured he said whereof he knew.

To me, "start over" means the Couch to 5k.

Yes, I've done that before. So why repeat myself? Because lame is the name of the game 'round these parts I need to find something that will help guard against my worst problem -- doing too much too soon.

It's weird. In the past, I did C25K to get me started running, now I want something that will tell me when to stop. Preferably before I hurt something. I need to work on stopping.

Yesterday, for example, I kinda sorta didn't hear the podcast guy say "stop running" so I ran through a walking section and onto the next run interval. When I was a couch-newbie, I wouldn't have missed his saying "walk now" -- hell, I'd have been listening most intently, almost begging him to say it. I'm not saying that I like running (stop laughing, Marie!) but... well... it is awfully nice to get into a groove and keep going. But that doesn't mean I enjoy it or anything like that.

Pretty much, anyway.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes rowing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

These are the times that try women's soles

I hadn't previously held this truth to be self-evident: not all soles are created equal.

When I went to the foot doctor, I wore my old(ish) Asics, which I'd now designated walking shoes.

He pointed out how worn the tread was, and told me that you shouldn't be able to flex a shoe past the toes. Then he flexed the shoe up until the toe was nearly touching the heel.

I was astonished. I mean, I'm not a marathon runner. At my craziest most fit, I've never run more than 8 miles a week. And yet in just one year, those shoes were toast.

What's weird is that I then went home and tried the same flex test on my old Pearl Izumis. (No, I don't throw old shoes away. Hell, I don't throw anything away. Hence the archaeological dig through the garage.)

Lo and behold! The Pearl Izumis flexed the toe area and no further. And the tread looked pretty good too. (I'm planning to wear the P.I.s to the foot doctor next time, just to see what he thinks of them.) I've had those shoes a full year more than the Asics, and even though I haven't run as much on them, I've run a lot and walked more. Yet they seem in way better shape.

Today I go back to the foot doctor so he can try fitting my feets with orthotic inserts. He warns me that this might involve buying bigger shoes. If so, I'm heading for the running store this time.

Exercise du jour: If it's not too much to ask, God, I'd like to try a little running today. Please?

Done! Now off to visit Mr. Icepack and his cousin Mr. Ibuprofen

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My own personal archaeological dig

Move over, Xenia, there's a new archaeologist in town.

I was originally supposed to go into work this weekend, but they pushed that off until next weekend. And since this was a traditional dark and stormy night weekend, I thought I might as well do something useful while I was listening to the rain.

So I spent most of the weekend sorting through the layers of stuff in my garage. Like a tell, you can tell* a lot about my life by looking at the stuff I've kept for so many years.

Sorting through a heap like this involves time travel. I'd hit certain boxes that were micro-capsules from the past, mini-representations of entire eras in my past. It's tiring to sort through things; you end up re-living the memories and sometimes you dig up some pretty heavy stuff. I have always set great store by my storage, and it's traditionally been very hard for me to get rid of things.

Now, however, my biggest question, with most of this stuff, is "why?"

This weekend, I got rid of things that I'd kept for 10, 20, even 40 years. In some cases I have no idea why I was saving them. Is this a sign of old age? Am I evolving into a more spiritual being, detached from material possessions?

Or maybe my psyche is starting to feel like I'm on a sinking ship and I need to lighten the load.

p.s. Xenia, why don't you warn people that a large part of archaeology involves fighting off big, ugly, scary-looking spiders? I do feel someone ought to have mentioned that somewhere along the line.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes rowing.

Fail. Fail, fail, fail, fail. There are times when life gets in the way, and then there are times when you look at the schedule and say "WTF? Who scheduled this in today's list? Even Superman would have said "The heck with this," and gone back to the drawing board.
In other words, goals created in theory had no basis in tonight's reality. Not that I'm all that much in favor of reality, in general.

*Hey, it's Punday. You're supposed to make puns. Nobody said they had to be good puns.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rude awakening

funny pictures-Rude Awakening in 3... 2... 1...
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Last week's goal was to get up and get out the door by 7:30 a.m. Sounds simple enough... in theory. In practice, it went something like this:

Monday: Out the door by 7:50 a.m. Not too bad.

Tuesday: Well, okay, so it's closer to 8:00 a.m. Still not that bad.

: Hey, a lot of people might consider 8:30 to be quite early, really.

: Crap, why does the clock say 9:15?

: @#!$!% this @#$%, I need to catch up on my @#!% sleep and I don't @#!% a !@#% what @#%!% says.

In other words, there was a fatal flaw in my plan. I thought forcing myself to get up at crack o' dawn would naturally result in my falling asleep at an earlier hour. Not even close. By the end of the week, my brain was writing checks that my body couldn't cash.

Goal for the week: Forcing my fool self to go to bed early! And, yes, another crack at the goal of getting out the door by 7:30 in the a.m.

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Done! Up and out the door by.... well, okay, 7:45 a.m. But that's better than last week. (Not by much, okay, but still better.) Plus, I tried running. 20 minutes, with a few walking breaks. Slow running indoors, trying to put some of the weight on the heels. Off to ice and ibuprofe before it starts hurting. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another Friday, another picture of Hugh

You're not the only one who's happy it's Friday...

Study du jour:

Interesting. A study from Stanford suggests that people who feel pain but also have a strong sense of being in love are better able to cope with pain than people who are isolated and do not feel loved and appreciated.

"It's important to recognize that people who feel alone and depressed may have very low pain thresholds, whereas the reverse can be true for people who feel secure and cared for.

All the pieces are starting to fit together rather neatly...

Goal for the week: Yes, again with the getting up early and out the friggin' door. I just know this is going to become second nature. In another decade or so.

Exercise du jour:30 minutes rowing

Photo of Hugh courtesy of Nala WarriorLioness

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No diet is perfect, no exercise routine is infallible

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Quote du jour: Over the past four years I've come to realize that losing weight isn't about any one right way, even for one individual. It's about whatever way is working for you at this precise time in your process. Sometimes flexibility is key. Other times, you've gotta be hardcore. The trick is figuring out which approach needs to be applied when.
- From the It's all about the walls blog

Goal of the week: Out the door by 7:30 a.m. I can do this. I think.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If this is Hump day, does that mean I'm supposed to... never mind.

Quote du jour:Both success and failure are largely the results of habit.
- Napoleon Hill

Goal of the week: Get out the frakkin' door by 7:30 a.m.!!!
Update du 8:21 a.m. Um... this one's not looking too good. Will keep trying.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes rowing
Done! So I've accomplished something today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The true cost of eating Bad

Every Friday, the powers that be almighty admin brings a spread of pasties to the kitchen in our office. All sorts of dainty delectables that somehow have the power to call Merry! We need you! Come over to the dark side!

Something must be happening to my eyesight. Last Friday, I looked at the pasties and instead of imagining how good the food would taste in my mouth, I calculated how long I would have to ride the elliptical to balance out the caloric intake of that one mouthful.

I think I'm onto something here. I mean, forget putting calorie labels on the food, put something that the average human can measure quite clearly -- the toil of a treadmill, or whatever. That's the true cost of eating bad food.*

Goal for the week: Out the door by 7:30 a.m.
Um... I'm going to say no. Like yesterday, it was close. But it wasn't as close as it had been yesterday. Out the door by 7:55 a.m.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical

Plus, half an hour's worth of yoga done first thing in the morning. How's that for smugly virtuous.

*Yes, okay, and also that it's not good fuel to run your body on. But that doesn't have quite the same emotional impact, and when it comes to making food choices I'm all about the emotions.

Photo courtesy of Sifu Renka

Monday, October 18, 2010

Damn that Jennifer Grey, she's ruining the curve

Jennifer Grey is making me think resentful thoughts.

Not only does she have a pinched nerve in her foot, like me, she's also got bolts holding her body together and even so she's kicking ass on Dancing with the Stars. She's screwing up the curve for the rest of us. I can't even mow the lawn without my foot feeling like it's on fire, and she's rehearsing every day on the dance floor.

How do I know this if I haven't been watching the show? A friend told me. The conversation went something like this:

Friend: So, why aren't you running?
Me: The pinched nerve in my foot hurts. I need to rest the foot to get it better.
Friend: Jennifer Grey has a pinched nerve in her foot. It hasn't stopped her from dancing every week.

Maybe I'm being over-sensitive, but I seem to hear a bit of an accusation in those words.

I am bothered by the idea that pain is something you're supposed to overcome. Pain is your body telling you there's a problem. If you ignore the warning and "suck it up" you're not solving the problem. The only thing you're doing is bolstering your ego: "Hey, I'm tough. Sure, I broke my foot in three places, but that doesn't stop me doing a marathon every week. "

I read blogs written by Josie and Tricia. They're not giving up because the foot hurts, but they are listening to their bodies and modifying their workouts. And they certainly are not wimps; they're women who've worked hard to become thin and fit. And they still have to face injuries like mine.

Update: Ha! I actually watched a few minutes of Dancing with the Stars, but that was long enough to hear one of the judge's warning that Jennifer Grey needed to be careful or she was going to end up with serious injury.

Hmph. Bet my friend didn't see that bit.

Goal for the week: Get up crack o' dawn and be out of the door by 7:30 a.m. For me, that's a challenge.
Done? Well... okay, not quite. Out the door by 7:50. But that's a start.

Exercise du jour: No running. No walking. Just rowing. Patience, grasshopper.

Obligatory footnote: Yes, I'm sure Jennifer Grey is a perfectly nice person and she's certainly entitled to do whatever she wants with her own foot. I just don't like being compared to her, okay? Not that my friend reads this blog; I'm just venting.

Photo courtesy of Alan Light

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Attacking my inner slug on its home turf

Dat alarm not 4 me  Must be wrong number

[Note: inner slug is not nearly that cute. Plus, it can spell.]

One thing the week of Ornish quotes taught me was that I need to find a way to change my reaction to stress and frustration.

Once damn foot stops hurting, I want to go back to bike riding. (Yes, just as the winter is coming on: rain, darkness, all that good stuff.) The best part about commuting to work on a bicycle is that you can get all your rage, angst, aggression worked out of your body before you even get home. Then there's no urge to eat bad food, drink bad liquids, or grind your teeth.

The challenge here is that to commute by bicycle I am going to have to get up early and come into work early. So long as I can get on the road by 4:30, commuting by bike should be fine. What I really want to avoid is the 5 o'clock drivers, cause they're a cranky and inattentive bunch. (Even in the Portland suburbs, where bike riders are really not uncommon at all.)

To leave work by 4:30, I will need to get in to work early.

Goal for the week: To Get Up Early Every Morning and Get Out Of The House by... oh, let's say 7:30. To me, that's hella early, so it's a good challenge.

That's one thing I can start on now, even while damn foot is still cranky. It's a three-pronged approach:
- I have to wanna be disciplined about going to bed at a reasonable hour. Surfing the internet is a luxury, not a necessity. Shut down the computer by 8 p.m. every night.
- I have to wanna do the evening yoga session every night. It really helps me unwind.
- I have to wanna un-friend Mr. Snooze button. It's over between us, S.

Done. Well, except for shutting the computer down by 8. Need to work on that.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Summary: week of Ornish and yoga

Very stressful week, working very long hours and not enough time for sleep.

At first I thought that it was just evil chance that I'd get hit with this load of work when I was trying a little extra exercise. Now I'm wondering if maybe that was the point God was trying to make. The yoga sessions were the only change that I made this week; I gave in and ate quick (bad, high fat/sugar) food for energy or to shut the stomach up while I typed. Didn't lose any pounds this week.

Despite all the stress, the yoga helped. Not on the scale, though. (Though since I didn't gain despite all the bad eating, maybe it did help. Hard to tell.)

I do think it helped me fall asleep once I went to bed; usually, after a stressful day, I tend to lie awake stressing some more, but this week I dropped off right away.

So... I didn't see any dramatic improvement, but I didn't slide back during this week. And despite all the long work hours and short sleep hours, I feel pretty good about life. Though I need to schedule sleep in there somewhere.

And the week of Ornish quotes -- I need to change my behavior when chaos reigns around me. I tend to get resentful, which is natural but unhelpful. My work comes at the process, after a long line of other people's jobs, and if other people take longer than expected, the pressure is on me to complete the job on schedule even if that means working late hours and going short on sleep. Geez. I can't even describe it without resentment coming into the paragraph. That needs to change.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ornish: day 6

Is it supposed  to look like that?

Quote du jour:
We tend not to question our beliefs, our perceptions, and our patterns of behavior, even when they are causing problems for us. The same homeostasis that protects us from change also makes it more difficult for us to transform even when it's in our best interest to do so.... Part of the value of pain is to help motivate you to change.
- Dean Ornish

Goal of the day: Pay attention. If I find myself wanting to eat something unhealthy, ask myself why I want to do this right now.
Done! Of course, in this case the answer was "because I want to stay awake and alert so I can finish the project even if I am working on it at 11 pm due to someone else's lack of planning not that that bothers me much I'm just going to vent about it here and maybe grind my teeth a bit."

Goal of the week: Final day of the week-long yoga challenge.

Exercise du jour
: 30 minutes rowing

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ornish: day 5

funny dog pictures-NOM!!!!  no, just a leef
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Quote du jour:
What makes the quick fix so seductive and addictive is that the relief seems so real. When we believe that relief in the short run comes from that which helps to destroy us in the long run, then we have a problem.
- Dean Ornish
Goal for the day: Today, I vow not to go for any quick fixes that make me feel worse in the long run.
Um... can I go for best two out of three? The problem is, when I get hit with a boatload of work and unrealistic deadlines, something's got to give. I didn't have time to prepare healthy food and bring it in to work. This is another goal that I'll have to try tackling again. I wish I could say otherwise.

Goal for the week: Yes, again with the yoga. I know it's going to take longer than a week to make this a habit; right now I'm just getting through on will power. And for now, that's okay.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes with my elliptical. I'm starting to find the elliptical machine a good short-term fix. Feel good after I stop, don't feel any bad effects later on.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ornish: day 4

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Quote du jour:
Anything that helps you to transcend your isolation will help you to lose excess weight and keep it off. More than that, though, transforming and transcending isolation is the essence of real healing.
- Dean Ornish

Even if surrounded by people, if you feel disconnected than you are isolated.

Goal of the day: Today, I'm going to contact a friend I haven't spoken to in a while. Bridge the gap.
Done! We're having lunch on Friday.

Goal of the week: Yes, I'm going to keep up the yoga. I'd like to try getting to sleep earlier, but it's the only time I can guarantee yoga time. And I suspect that yoga is helping me drop off rather than lying in bed for an hour or so.
Done! Though I didn't get to done before 1:15 am.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes rowing. I do find myself liking rowing. I suspect it's because it's an exercise you can perform sitting down.
Done! Okay, not quite. When I saw that I couldn't start until after Midnight, I compromised and only did 20 minute on the rowing machine. Still think it's worth the dang star, especially because I stayed up late to get it done.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ornish: day 3

demotivational posters
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Quote du jour:
We become addicted to what makes us unconscious, so we don't feel the pain we create. The temporary pleasure is used to hide the chronic pain. Worse than that, when we blunt the capacity to feel pain, we also diminish the capacity to feel pleasure, joy, and love, both for ourselves and others. When we can deal with the pain more directly, then we can increase our awareness and joy rather than diminish it.
- Dean Ornish

Goal of the day: Okay, if something bugs me today, I'm going to leap on the elliptical. Well, I will if I'm near the elliptical. If someone at work bugs me, I'll try some push ups, squats, and stretching. If none of those are possible, I'll write it out. I will not try to drown the anger, angst, or annoyance in food.
(Watch today turn out to be a perfect day, with no irritations at all. What the hell. It could happen.)
Well.... can't really call this one a fail or a win. It'll have to go to the judges. The thing is, I was so sleep-deprived, after three days of putting the To Do list ahead of sleep, that I was too zombie-like to get irked about anything. The good part about this is that people stopped asking me to do One More Thing because they could see how tired I was. The bad thing is that I didn't get a single chance to practice positive ways of dealing with angst. I'm pretty damn sure I'll get another shot at this goal another day.

Goal of the week: Day 3 of the yoga-all-week.
Done! And almost 40 minutes until Midnight. This is an accomplishment.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical -- even if I'm not irritated.
Done! And before 10 pm, even. Much better.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ornish: day 2

Celebrity Pictures - Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart
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Quote du jour:
When we understand the benefits of our choices, then they become easier to make. What appears like self-restraint can become self-empowerment. Ultimately, it's a choice between true freedom or being a slave to our compulsions.
- Dean Ornish

Today I am focusing on the idea that it's freeing to eat green leafy vegetables rather than grab something pre-made at the Deli. I chose the freedom of eating healthy food.

Goal of the day: Today, I make a vow. No sugar, no alcohol, no meat. I almost said "no caffeine" but I think three "no"s are enough for the day.*
Fail. Note to self: do not make stupid vows when you're up the night before until 1:30 a.m. trying to get everything on your To Do list done already. I was so tired at work today that I kept making stupid mistakes (as opposed to my more usual intelligent mistakes) and even coffee wasn't keeping me awake. Hello sugar!

Goal of the week: Day 2 of the week-long yoga fest.
Done. Again, after Midnight. This bodes ill for the morrow.

Exercise du jour:30 minutes with Michael Rhoda-Bhote. I'm starting to get the hang of this rowing exercise stuff. Or at least I'm feeling comfortable about the delusion that I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Done. Finished the rowing at 11:03 p.m. This week, I am nothing if not consistent.

*Okay, also no Twilight movies. I promise. All day.
Okay, a baby star for keeping this vow as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A week of Ornish: day 1

Stolen from The Ironic Catholic, who leveraged it from a copyright-free Google images site.

Quote du jour:
[Meditation] satiates the hunger that is not satisfied by food alone. And when your soul is fed, you have less need to overeat. When you directly experience the fullness of life, then you have less need to attempt to fill the void with food.
Other ways of feeding your soul -- that is, healing your isolation -- include: altruism, compassion, massage, psychotherapy, and yoga.
- Dean Ornish

I was browsing through a book written by Dr. Ornish (Eat more, weigh less) and ran across some paragraphs that struck me as worth pondering. So I thought I'd put them up here, one a day for a week, and ponder them.

This quote made me wonder if I should try an experiment.

I don't feel any urge to undergo psychotherapy, massage, or meditation. I'm not seeing any especially altruistic or compassionate things I could do at the moment. But I do have that yoga DVD. Maybe that's a sign.

Goal for the week: One week of daily yoga sessions. See if it makes any diff on the scale.
Done! And with seven minutes to spare before Midnight. I can tell already that it's going to be one of Those weeks.

Yes, I know, to do a true scientific experiment I would have to do this for longer than a week. But if this were a true scientific experiment I would also have to divide myself into a test group and a control group and double-blindfold myself when weighing on the scale and… well, anyway, this is strictly a personal anecdotal study, worthy only of publication in the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Note: If you want real, proper exercise experiments, go read Charlotte's blog.

I'll still keep up with the aerobic exercise as well.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical

Friday, October 08, 2010

I'm either getting old or becoming a neatnik. Maybe both.

Look, if the picture's not there, use your imagination. Picture a really muscular guy, not an ounce of fat on him, muscles the size of mountains, posing for the picture. In the background are a somewhat untidy dresser, an oddly placed router, and some pom-poms.

I must be getting old. My first thoughts were:
1 - gosh, maybe I should take up weight lifting
2 - dang that man needs to spend a little less time lifting weights and a little more time cleaning up his room

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes on the elliptical, and yes, okay, some weight lifting too. After I clean my room.

Done! Well... okay, so maybe the room isn't perfectly clean. But it's cleaner. A little bit cleaner, any way. The exercising, definitely done.

Impressive muscles courtesy of Life of Sport

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Why I am not better than cable

Pet Peeve du Jour: I wouldn't mind people dropping in unexpectedly, if it weren't for the fact that they expect me to drop what I'm doing to entertain them.

Excuse me? You want free entertainment, find a television. You want to know if I'm free to go do something fun, ask me. Don't just suddenly take it into your head to "drop by because I was in the neighborhood" and then expect me to stop what I'm doing when I need to get these things done today. You stop by my house because you're bored, I'm likely to put you to work.

The trouble with friends or relatives who are retired or out of work is that they have a lot of free time and haven't had to do the 9-5 stuff in quite a while. From my own experience, I can vouch that it's easy to forget that other people have deadlines when you do not. All the same, they could try to see the other side of the picture.

Okay. Done now.

What did people do before blogging? This is a great medium for venting about irksome irritations that aren't major enough to write a novel about, but are frustrating enough to poison a perfectly good day.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes with my rowing machine, whom I've been informed is actually male. The full name is Michael Rhoda-Bhote.*

Done! Finally. Okay, to the more technically-minded this might seem like it was completed on the next day, given that I finished exercising after midnight. But there are times when it pays not to be too technical, and this is one of them. It's done.

*My apologies to anyone who just got a 60's flashback/earworm. P.S. Thanks Gina for christening the rowing machine!