Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Halloween 2019

I was having trouble deciding what to be for Halloween this year and then my office announced that they’d picked a theme for the annual costume contest: horror movies. I figured that would help me as it would narrow down my options. But as I thought about it, most of the iconic horror movie characters are male: Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Chucky, Dracula, Frankenstein, Jack Nicholson in the Shining. The first two female characters that popped to mind were sidekicks to males: Bride of Chucky and Bride of Frankenstein, and I wanted to be something that was more her own character. I did consider Carrie and one of the twin girls from The Shining, but felt the latter was really a costume that required a partner. I started Googling for ideas and saw a movie that came out quite a while ago that I really liked: Corpse Bride. Yes, I realize that she’s also a bride, but at least she wasn’t labeled as the bride of someone – she just happened to have been murdered on her wedding day.

So I set off to the thrift shops to find either a pink prom dress to be Carrie or a wedding-like dress to be Corpse Bride. After going to FOUR different Value Villages, I finally found what I was after. Well, I did find some actual wedding dresses at the first few Value Villages I went to, but they were a bit more expensive than I wanted to spent on a Halloween costume. And also I was creeped out at the thought of buying someone’s actual wedding dress at a Value Village1. As an aside, if anyone is looking for a super cheap wedding dress, you can find them at Value Village in the range of $50-$200, which is pretty cheap for a wedding dress!

I ended up settling on two dresses in fact – there was one dress that had a good top but was too short to be convincing as a wedding dress and another that was long enough (but not too bulky), but the top of it was too small for me – I couldn’t zip it up due to the size of my back and shoulders from my weightlifting. So I just zipped that dress up to the waist and put the other dress on top. As a bonus, the short dress is totally wearable as a summer dress for me – and together they cost me less than $20.

The hard part of the costume was the makeup. I decided to go full on with body paint and do the blue skin and huge cartoon character eyes and paint a skeleton arm because the Corpse Bride has a skeleton arm. She also has a skeleton leg but I didn’t bother to paint that because my long dress would cover it and also just doing the face and arms took long enough.

My sister told me about the unknown-to-me world of makeup tutorials on YouTube (my niece is a teenager, so my sister knows about such things) and I found this video that I followed to do my makeup. And then I found this other video that I used to paint my skeleton arm.

I had to get up at 5:30 am to put on all this makeup – you have to do a few coats and you have to let stuff dry before you can paint other stuff. And there was a whole production about getting my dress on with the minimal amount of damage to my paint. In the end, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Corpse Bride at the office
Here I am at my desk at work
Corpse Bride at the office
The skeleton arm was my favourite part.

The worst part was that the makeup crumbled throughout the day, so I had to do some touch ups and I left a trail of makeup crumbs wherever I went. I’m sure the cleaning people weren’t too pleased that evening.

In addition to wearing this to work, I also wore it to the gym, as my gym does a costume contest too. Here I am doing a chinup:

Corpse Bride chinups
Corpse Bride chinups

All in all, I was pretty happy with the costume and I got lots of compliments on both the look and the dedication that it took to wear body paint all day. But I’m pretty sure that I won’t be doing another costume involving body paint for a very long time! I’m trying to convince my team at work that we should do a team costume next year. They seemed pretty enthused by the idea when they saw the costume that one of the other teams at work put together: they dressed up at Costco! The same team the previous year dressed up as the Price is Right. So we are going to come up with some kick ass idea of a team costume for Halloween 2020. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears!
For good measure, I’ve also managed to back squat more than my weight. Here’s me back squatting 70kg (or 154 lbs).

Squatting 70 kg – more than my own body weight!

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on


My other goal for this year is to do a full pull up or chin up without the assistance of any resistance bands (basically, you hang a resistance band off the bar you are hanging from and step into it and the band takes off some of your weight so you do the pull up or chin up motion, but without having to lift your entire body weight). When I first started going to the gym, I needed three different bands to do pull ups, but I’m slowly but surely working my way towards fewer bands. Like with the deadlifts, my current program has me doing 6 pull ups with a couple of bands, then 5 with fewer/smaller bands, and so on until I reach 1 rep. I tried to do my last rep with the second smallest resistance band, but couldn’t quite manage it, so had to do it with a slightly bigger band, but I was still pretty happy to be able to do that. Definitely made progress, but still have a ways to go. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have done one on my own!

  1. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing me in person in the past 12 months, you’ve likely been subjected to me waxing poetic about this at length. My apologies. []
  2. I decided not to video my 1 rep, because I wanted to see how heavy I could go and I knew there was a good chance I’d fail. I tried to do 70 kg, but I couldn’t, so I was glad I didn’t try to video that one. I backed it off to 69 kg and did that for 1 rep. Maybe I’ll be able to do 70 kg this week! []

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Mindfulness and the Gym

Dumbells at Strong Side Conditioning

So remember like eleventy billion years ago when I did that mindfulness course? I haven’t really done any mindfulness practice since then, but it’s always been in the back of my mind that I probably should1.

Well, it sort of hit me one day when I was at the gym that doing strength training is a mindful practice. Being mindful is all about being present in the moment and being aware of your sensations, thoughts, and emotions. When you are doing strength training – if you are doing it right, that is – you are paying very careful attention to your body in the moment. You are setting your stance just so – maybe it’s shoulders packed down, abs and gluts engaged, knees slightly bent, and then you are doing a very deliberate action – lifting in a certain way, focusing on feeling it in a particular muscle(s), focusing on breathing out as you do a particular movement. Sometimes as you go through your sets, you start to get a little lazy with your form – in my case, it’s often that my shoulders start to creep up and/or that I forget to breath. But then you’ll notice that you’ve slipped away and bring yourself back into the right form (or start breathing again!) and it’s much like when you are doing a meditation and notice your mind start to wander, so you come back to your focus on the present.

Dumbells at Strong Side ConditioningI’d been going to the gym for a few months when I realized how mindful this practice was. My focus was very squarely in the present moment – very aware of my body and not really thinking of anything else. I wasn’t worried about the future or dwelling on this past. I was just there, just being, just breathing, just lifting. And I wasn’t even trying to be mindful – it just happened. I remembered the times that I’ve done meditation and how extremely difficult it is some days to quite the mind and just pay attention. I still think it would be useful for me to do some other forms of meditation as well, as there is benefit to the act of being still and observing your thoughts as they arrive, but I think that becoming aware of the mindful nature of my strength training has not only been beneficial in and of itself, but also because it’s reminded me about being mindful. It’s made me more mindful of mindfulness.

There is a link between physical activity and mental health. Mindfulness practice has also been shown to be beneficial to mental health. While there are likely many mechanisms for how physical activity improves mental health, I wonder if any of the benefits of physical activity on mental health are linked to it being an easy way to become more mindful?

  1. Which is quite possibly the least mindful thing a person has ever said! It’s in the back of my mind that I should do that at some point in the future! []