From all the available evidence, we’ll be living under some sort of pandemic strictures for longer than any of us could possibly want. I’m not gonna say that a mask is the must-have accessory of the summer season (and maybe the fall and winter too), because I don’t have to. For now, many of us Californians are spending the bulk of our time at home. And one of the hidden perils of the plight is flab — avoiding it or, if necessary, conquering it.
Even convicts in solitary get to stretch a leg in the prison yard for a specific, albeit minimal amount of time each day. I believe that those of us under current civic guidelines are entitled to walk around our neighborhoods and carefully navigate some area hiking trails and beaches while covering our mouths and noses and keeping the mandated 6 feet-plus of social distancing. But is it enough, particularly when we spend so much time indoors, where stress eating or convenient serial snacking can (sorry) consume us?
NO VARIETY, LESS SPICE
We’re able to replenish our larders if we have the patience to wait in line. Unfortunately, the combination of laying about in confinement near a full fridge and wavering will power can play havoc with a waistline. I’m not particularly adept in the kitchen and find myself wearying of the few meals I can properly prepare; and the admittedly decent packaged salads and frozen salmon dinners from the grocery store are leading to flavor fatigue after the umpteenth go-round. Those infrequent occasions when I get food to go take on celebratory status. The other evening, I picked up Kung Pao Chicken from a local Chinese joint, and when I got home and dug in, I felt like I was dining at a Michelin 3-star restaurant. I might lack the joy of cooking, but I am definitely filled with the joy of eating . . . especially of late.
Whether the hunger is for comestibles or company or pre-outbreak activities, it can manifest in indulgence. My consumption of Trader Joe’s trail mix can rival that of a Boy Scout troop. And once I succumb to my urge for the most comfortable of comfort food and prepare a pasta dish so simple that I can make it happen, it’s almost impossible to stop the carb-overloading. I’d like to say gluttony becomes me, but that would be a lie. It becomes more of me. The only way I’ve found to counter the urge to chow, plus avoid its consequences, is activity, especially the aerobic kind. And I’m not a jogger, nor will those more low-impact forays outside do it for me.
WORKING OUT, ROCKING OUT
I do have the luxury of a stationary bicycle (a.k.a. the bike to nowhere) at my place, affording me the opportunity to put in daily 20-minute pedaling sessions with sufficient resistance to juice up my circulatory system and bring on a nice tingle. Additionally, I block off 15 minutes in the morning for yoga stretches and light calisthenics. Considering the potential for sloth the rest of the day, I knew those exercise breaks weren’t enough.
So I dug into my laptop’s audio files, found what I was looking for, and made a mini-playlist: Chic’s funky anthem “Good Times,” Marvin Gaye’s insistent soul strutter “Got to Give It Up (Parts 1 & 2),” and Deee-Lite’s techno-disco rave-up “Groove Is in the Heart.” All three numbers are in 122-126 beats per minute range, and if they don’t make you get up out of your seat and shake your body, call the mortician. I launched the music, and for 20 minutes, I danced with glee in my office space. It was endorphin-generating fun, and it was an effortless workout.
FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM
I’ve been repeating the personal dance party once daily or nightly ever since, programming sets of old-school R&B (Junior Walker’s “Shotgun,” “Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You,” and The Bar-Kays’ “Soulfinger”), new-wave (The B-52’s’ “Love Shack,” New Order’s “Blue Monday,” and Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”) and good old rock and roll (The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me (All Night Long)”). Or I mix it up. There are so many fantastic dance tracks out there — Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” David Bowie’s “Golden Years,” Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” etc. — that I’ll never run out. Neither will you. Gather your favorites, and as K.C. would say, get down tonight.
The tendency to be sedentary must be countered or we’re mere weeks from becoming one of those doughy future humans in Pixar’s Wall-E or, in a much creepier movie reference, Star Wars’ obscenely corpulent Jabba the Hutt. For me, the battle against such a fate requires diligence in distracting myself from stuffing my face and, above all, remembering to dance.
Michael Snyder is a print and broadcast journalist who covers pop culture on “Michael Snyder’s Culture Blast,” via GABnet.net, Roku, Spotify, and YouTube, and “The Mark Thompson Show” on KGO radio. You can follow Michael on Twitter: @cultureblaster