Are you ready for The Takeover?
The one week of the year that strikes fear into the hearts of seasoned gym-goers. Makes us actually consider skipping workouts and encasing ourselves in the warm comfort of our beds.
Just to avoid…The January Joiners (JJ’s). (
They flood into our gyms with no idea what they’re doing. Wearing leotards on the elliptical (and only leotards. For real. This happened.) Bouncing around like they’re having a seizure (there was one guy who I almost pulled off a machine, ready to grab his tongue with a paper towel. Then I decided to let him be. If it really was a seizure, then eventually he’d fall off, which would free up a machine. Yes, I’m that evil.) Taking up all the good equipment. Stealing our elbow room in pilates.
Until all of a sudden it’s two weeks later and, just as suddenly as they appeared…they’re gone. And we can all breathe again. (And flap our elbows around like funky chickens as much as we so desire.) Whew. That was rough.
I’ve been bracing myself for this for months.
Developing exit strategies so that I can leave lab early to beat the crowd.
Practicing my elliptical hoarding skills (i.e. putting a towel over the timer on the machine so that no one knows how long I’ve been on it) and my innocent, oh-so-cute “no, I most certainly have not been on this here machine for more than 30 minutes, and certainly nowhere near 45″ face.
People Life skills. I’ve got ’em.
Yesterday was my first real chance to follow through. So I left work at 4:45. Aimed to be at the gym by 5:15, expecting to already see a line of JJ’s curled around the place waiting for machines.
Only to find that.
I’d been stood up. The place was empty. I needed both hands to count the number of free ellipticals, which is normally not true even for a random Friday night at 7pm. (Not that I know from experience. I totally have more of a life than that.*)
And apparently this is not just some strange Upper East Side phenomenon. According to the Twittersphere, gyms are oddly empty around the rest of the country as well.
Which leaves the question. (cue Paula Cole) Where have all the JJ’s gone?
Now. If you are one of the apparently few January Joiners out there, I mean no disrespect. We are all newbies at the gym at some point and look completely spastic on ellipticals (possibly still to this day). I promise.
But you have to stick with it. Don’t just be a JJ for two weeks…be one for life.
And at some point, it will stick. You will actually want to go. And next year at this time…you might just find yourself developing tactics to hoard your stationary bike for a full hour instead of the thirty minute limit. No judgment. At that point, I’ll pat you on the back, teach you the secret handshake, and hereby dub you a GR (gym rat). Welcome to the club.
No exercise regime is complete without good healthy food, however, so for this week’s Eat.Live.Be. I made this recipe for Vegetable Panang Curry from Bon Appetit’s October issue (our theme this week is magazine inspiration). While Bon Appetit’s recipes aren’t always health food friendly, they always have a segment of the magazine for Fast.Easy.Fresh recipes that feature quick recipes with seasonally appropriate fruits and vegetables, which are usually relatively good for you. This curry was one of them. It’s big on vegetables and big on flavor, two things I love in a dish.
Before I let you get onto the recipe, I just want to clarify something. I feel like I’ve been a bit hard on my parents lately with regards to this whole vegetarian thing and I just want to make it clear that I do NOT judge them (or anyone) for eating meat and I am NOT trying to convince them (or anyone) to stop. I would just love it if they were a bit more conscientious and respectful of my decision, as I am of theirs, instead of deriding it and referring to it as if it were a disease. And if they ate more vegetables in general…that would also make me happy. I wasn’t sure if I was coming off as judgmental or didactic in my last post and that is not my goal at all.
Panang Vegetable Curry
Serves 4-6, adapted from Bon Appetit October 2011
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp panang curry paste
- 2 tbsp chopped, peeled ginger
- 1 14 oz can lite coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 8 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves (I used dried)
- 2 dried chiles de arbol
- 1 butternut squash, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cored and broken into 1-2-inch florets
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 1/4 cup liquid tamarind concentrate or 2 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 2 tbsp water (I’d halve this or completely omit it)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 12-oz package firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
- kosher salt
- Heat oil in a large heavy wide pot over medium heat. Add shallots, panang curry paste, and ginger; stir until shallots begin to soften, 2–3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup coconut milk; stir until browned, about 4 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, lime leaves, and chiles; stir to blend, scraping up browned bits.
- Add butternut squash to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until squash is almost tender, 15–20 minutes. Stir in cauliflower, carrots, and peppers. Cook until all vegetables are tender, 10–15 minutes.
- Stir tamarind concentrate, half of basil, soy sauce, and lime juice into pot; add tofu. Cover and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes, adding more stock if too thick. Season to taste with salt. Serve, garnished with the basil.