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Articles & Essays

"My plan? To fiddle while calories burn"

Published 01/06/13
The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

Sing along now, everyone: "It's the most guilt-ridden time of the year."

Weight Watchers spots have replaced the champagne and chocolate ads on TV.

Mere weeks ago, people were fighting for parking spots at malls. Now the same hordes are circling gym lots, stalking those poor folks who are dragging their post-workout bodies achingly to their cars.

And in magazines, instead of recipes for delights like sugar cookies and standing rib roast, you're more likely to see "Don't Throw Out Those Christmas Trees! Turn Them Into High-Fiber Fat-Burning Salad!"

Deck the halls with boughs of kale. Fa, la, la, indeed.

I have a declaration to make.

Just as many people decry the rampant commercialization of the holidays, I refuse to participate in the January mass-marketing of guilt. I decline to regret one single bourbon ball, piece of Moravian sugar cake or Hanukkah latke of December.

If you think latkes are safe from criticism because they're made from vegetables, you're wrong. In January, they are regarded as carbs fried in the Hot Oil of Doom.

No matter what anyone says, I will not sentence myself to 20-mile hikes, and a diet of crushing remorse and spinach-peanut butter-flax seed smoothies.

As for exercise, I already have a plan and everyone in my neighborhood knows about part of it. It's called the Procrastination Walk. The number of times I circle the block is directly related to how much I'm putting off writing. Some neighbors even call out to me, "Hey, having trouble with that lead again?"

The neighbors may know about another part of the plan, too, if they open their windows or have sensitive dogs: Playing the fiddle.

I checked several online nutrition sites and found that playing the violin burns from 100 to 170 calories an hour, depending on your weight and, no doubt, skill level. My six years of dabbling is probably at the low end from, say, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. I saw this woman dance and play through an entire concert while eight-and-a-half months pregnant and wearing a red sequined top that made her look like a bouncing disco ball. She was probably hitting at least 180 calories, since she was burning for two.

I believe that fiddle playing is more of a fat-burner than classy violin playing. I have to walk back and forth to the beer and snacks table during Celtic music sessions.

You've probably heard what the difference is between a violin and a fiddle: A fiddle is what you get when you pour beer on a violin.

Seriously, other than the refreshments, they're the same instrument. The difference is the type of music you play.

I haven't found any nutrition figures on the finer points of my fiddle exercise program, such as when I'm in a group and the others start up a tune I can't recognize. Does cruising along on the A and D strings until my brain kicks in burn fewer or more calories? I could make arguments either way.

How about that upper-body stretch while rosining the bow? Or the frustrated stomping when I mess up a section, again?

I could change up my routine and really feel the burn by fulfilling my lifelong dream of joining a marching band as a flaming baton twirler. Baton twirling in a marching band burns about 200 calories an hour. Carrying the fire extinguisher ought to double that number.

But playing the fiddle should at least cover the calories of the beer consumed. I guess I'm on my own for the guacamole and cheese.










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