Wellness


I have completed nine of my ten personal training sessions. I bought a package deal and was hoping to switch things up a bit and get out of my defeatist/defeated attitude.

I have learned a few things by doing this.

  1. I am in control of my attitude.
  2. I am not in competition with the entire world.
  3. I’m not in bad shape considering … being a human being.
  4. I really like working in a class filled with my people.
  5. There are many other paths to fitness.
  6. I like the one I’m on.

Jack has been both patient and particular. I have a new set of cues going off inside my head when I approach a movement.

I have had fun with the sled, something I’ve never before done. I have used the sled, but always on blacktop/asphalt and it is much different on carpeting or whatever that stuff is.

I have avoided the GHD for years, but did something similar out in the air conditioned part of the gym and didn’t die or fall off. I will gather together all my courage and attempt something on the GHD the next time it appears on the white board.

It is perfectly okay to say “I can’t” when it is something I can’t do. It is not okay to say it when it is something I don’t want to do or when it is something I’m simply unsure of, but if it has been tried and I can’t, I can’t. This isn’t defeatist, it is reality.

I really enjoy CrossFit. I like the group setting. I like the variety. I like the support. I like the satisfaction of completing some grueling workout and still being alive. I realize this isn’t for everyone, but it is something that I enjoy. I wouldn’t have ever guessed that a decade ago. I hated exercising in any fashion.

Because I know this now, I would encourage everyone to keep trying this or that form of movement until they find something they can actually enjoy. It makes a world of difference. You can’t keep slogging along when you hate the activity. There are way too many options to settle for that sort of self defeating choice. If you don’t like what you are doing, do something else. There are tons of other options available.

No matter what sort of exercise you finally find suits you, you need to care for your body outside of that realm. You have to stretch and tend to sore muscles. You can either get a massage, use a foam roller or other assistive device to massage the soreness yourself, do stretching exercises like ROM WOD or yin yoga, and then most important of all, you have to eat right and get enough sleep.

You do not need a certain number of ounces of fluid in your day, but you do need to listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink something or eat something like fruits or vegetables (these things are filled with water). Thirst is a sign to imbibe. Listen.

Trying something and not liking it doesn’t mean it was a failure. There are lessons even in our greatest defeats if we look for them. But simply not liking something isn’t a defeat. It is simply a lesson. Learn from it and seek your bliss elsewhere.

It’s important to keep moving as much as you can for as long as you can. Once you lose it, it is very, very difficult to get it back. Hold on to your health. You need it.

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We are now a biparticipation family with both of us making our way to the gym each week. Dick has a personal trainer he meets with once a week and on his other trip to the gym, he warms up with us back in the CrossFit area and then when we start our workout, he takes off for the machine part of the gym.

I go to the gym five days a week, taking a rest day on Wednesday and Sunday. I’ve gotten back into doing my yin yoga four to six times a week from twenty minutes to one hour per session. I just use YouTube and follow along upstairs where I have my space all set up.

Dick also golfs three times a week and walks the course, which he had maintained was all the exercise he needed. I knew he was not really getting all the exercise he needed, but going for a nice walk is better than going for a nice sit and watching TV so I let it go. At the end of last summer, there was a deal for a family member to get a special rate to join the gym and I didn’t even mention it to him because he has always thought I was a bit too extreme with my CrossFit stuff.

I did talk about it to someone else and he overheard and thought he might like to try. He went and joined up and had his initial assessment. He was as much out of shape as I was when I went for my first introductory free CrossFit class. He couldn’t do much of anything. He was chagrined to find he was in such bad shape.

That’s the thing. We lose a little bit of our youth each day. We age incrementally. We don’t really notice how much we have lost until we are smacked in the face with it. And then it is “humbling” for us. Inside our heads, we stop aging and we are adult and that’s it and we don’t really remember exactly how adult we are. Sometimes when passing a mirror, it can be a bit disconcerting to see an old person staring back, but we manage to move on and forget how old we really are.

We don’t realize that as we age, it’s not just smooth skin that leaves us. It is all manner of things. If we don’t ever have to try to do those things, we can just muddle through and be fine. But eventually, it catches up to us. We have neglected our physical selves for so long that we can no longer manage a whole flight of stairs or to get out of a chair without giving ourselves a push. It isn’t like we were running marathons one day and incapacitated the next. It is a slow descent into incapacity.

When is the best time to try to keep our youthful abilities? Today is a great day to start, yesterday would have been better. If you can’t do much today because you waited too long, do what you can now and keep at it day after day. If you can’t make it up the entire staircase without using the handrail and struggling, then go halfway up and come back down. Do that five times with rests in between and then call it a day. Tomorrow, do it again. Then keep at it until you can manage the entire flight of stairs. Then keep doing it so it doesn’t go away again.

If you can’t manage to get out of a chair without help, use the help and get in and out of the chair ten times. Then rest (in the chair) and then when you have caught your breath, do it again. Keep this up over time and you will eventually be able to get in and out of chairs without assistance.

When you make it that far, try adding some things to your list of what you need to do to keep moving adequately. I lift weights, but not everyone has to do that. I enjoy it. Perhaps all you care about is getting the groceries into the house. So, practice lifting a full milk jug over and over. You can start with a half gallon and work your way up to a gallon. If you keep practicing, you might eventually be able to get all the groceries into the house in just one trip.

If you are young enough to not have fallen into such sad shape, keep moving now while it is still easier to make gains. The older you are, the slower you body is to respond to this stuff. Taking care of your younger self is something your older self will thank you for, be delighted with, and celebrate as you manage to hold on to the life you want for longer than those who didn’t care for their outer shell.

No one dreams of dying in a nursing home. I’ve never heard anyone say they hoped they ended up in one. The best chance you have for staying out of them is to take care of yourself now. Once it is too late, it will take a monumental effort to overcome the inertia of years or decades.

You don’t have to do CrossFit. It is all scalable and you can do CrossFit, but it isn’t mandatory. What you do have to do is adequate range of motion and some weight resistance. It makes a difference.

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I know that going to the gym helps my overall well being. I like pushing myself. I’ve grown tremendously. Things I once only dreamed of doing are now things I do all the time. I’m still not heading out to the Games or anything, but I’ve improved with continual practice.

It feels good to be able to move well. It’s impressive to see muscles on anybody and on me – dang impressive for an old fart. And so, I go to the gym without ever really questioning it. It’s what I do. I wake up and go to the gym. Period. No deciding. No debating. I just go.

I also know I have to eat better. I don’t have that choice any more. I’m pre-diabetic and if I don’t want to end up post-diabetic, I have to watch what I eat. I don’t get a cheat day. I can’t just decide I don’t want to do this now. I’m stuck with this if I want to stay on this side of the A1C line. And I do. So I eat and watch my carbs and try to choose better. No debating. This is just my life now.

I know I move better when I do yoga. I don’t do Hatha yoga or Vinyassa yoga. I do Yin yoga. It’s a practice that holds poses for minutes at a time, stretching as you sink into the pose and breathe in and out (through your nose when there isn’t too much pollen in the air). It helps with connective tissue stretching and allows you to move easier.

Somehow, I gave myself permission to choose on this one. I have no idea why. Probably because my routine wasn’t set in stone. There were no classes I had to attend or people would miss me. I have all my props right here at home and I can select from a range of over a bazillion YouTube videos. I have some favorite posting people who don’t annoy me as I’m trying to relax into the pose. It’s counter-productive to be annoyed while trying to do yoga.

I kept telling myself it was just an hour and I needed to get upstairs and stretch a little. Instead, I just debated myself and opted to not go upstairs, not stretch, not do the thing I knew would help. Last weekend, I finally forced myself upstairs and I was horrified.

All the things I could do once upon a time are gone. I’m not able to bend or move like I could a few months ago. Instead, I’m about as pliable as I was a couple years ago when I first got talked into doing some of this crap.

I know it is better to have this set of skills in my life for a variety of reasons. The most noticeable is that it makes going to the gym easier and that is why I finally got my unhappy ass back upstairs. But it makes the rest of my day better, too. It makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. It just has a whole host of benefits.

When I’ve been awake for too long, I’m entirely capable of talking myself out of anything that seems like too much work. So, I have my alarm set for earlier on the days I go to the gym and I have been doing just a thirty minute routine before getting ready for the gym. That worked on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday is my rest day. I do laundry instead of going to the gym. I could have gotten up and started the laundry and done a real whole hour yoga class. I didn’t. I decided around lunch time that my issue was I didn’t want to do a whole hour class. I have nothing better to do, but that was my sticking point.

So instead of blowing the whole thing off, I figured it was better to do a thirty minute practice than a zero minute one. And that’s what I did.

I have no idea how long it will take me to get the flexibility back. Since I’m perfectly willing to do this before I hit the gym, I should be able to get in five 30-minute sessions a week and then on my rest days, I can opt to either do some or no yoga. At least I can opt for that once I’m a little farther along the path of habit and routine. Right now, I really need to keep myself vigilant because otherwise I will be back to no yoga again.

And then there is meditation. I need to return to that as well. It is supposed to help with my scattered nervousness. At least that is the theory and it seemed to work that way when I actually did it. So, I tried some of that today, too.

I know how to be healthy. Why is it so much work?

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What do I want for my heath and fitness goals? Well, first of all, I want to have all my toes when I die. In order to do that, I need to keep my diet under control, especially my carb intake. Even if my next A1C is normal, I’ve been warned that my body is not able to process as many carbs as I would love to consume, so I’m stuck with a choice between full blown diabetes and unlimited chocolate.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for over six years now. I really thought I would be better at this by now. I’m not. Actually, I’m much better than when I started, I’m just not as better as I want to be. I would like to be Kylie or Liz or Wendy but I’m old enough to be their mother and so that is probably not ever going to happen. I guess I should pick something else. But what? I have no idea what is a reasonable fitness goal for me.

My stated goals for the year are to get rid of the stutter jump in my double unders and to get the courage to kick up to the wall. For the first, I have to practice and so that’s entirely up to me. For the second, I can hold my weight upside down at least for a short time. Kicking up to the wall is terrifying for me and I can’t even tell you why. But I’m brave enough. I think.

My unstated goal, or not written on the goal board, is to get to 50% of the double unders the aforementioned whiz kids accumulate. If I can get to half the number as that written on the board, I will be happy with myself. It will always take me forever, especially since I have to have that extra single under in there between each double under. If I can get rid of that, I should be able to get a few more in a row before my heart rate is too high.

But … all those Olympic lifts are dreams. There is always more weight regardless of what I do and there is always way more weight on all the other bars in the gym. And yet … there was a time when I could only dream of what I can do today. I could go back and look to see when the first time I got 35# overhead was, but I’m not that curious. I know it took me a long time to get there. I also don’t really know how long it took me to break parallel on my squat, but it was quite a bit of time.

Today’s WOD was a repeat of 15.5 or 27-21-15-9 of calorie row and thrusters. My Open weight for thrusters is 35# so that is what I did. I hate thrusters. My heart rate spikes and I have to rest. Even with that light weight. I actually had a time for 15.5 from 2015. It was 24.23. Today, I wanted to cut the reps. I actually wanted to cut the class. I really hate thrusters. But there I was and I knew I could do this piece of crap because I’d done it before. So I did 72 calorie row and 72 thrusters. I finished in 22.42.

So, after four years, I cut about 90 seconds off my time. That’s rather pitiful. While trying to make myself feel a bit better about it, I remembered that we had kilo bars or I was doing 33# before instead of the 35# today and so I actually put an extra 144# over my head. That didn’t really help me. I used to think I would just improve and work hard and improve some more. But I just work hard and don’t die which is really helpful. But it’s not an improvement.

So what should I expect? I’m now 66 instead of 62. Lots of people my age are already dead, which as I’ve pointed out, I’m not. So I should be grateful if not amazed that I’m still moving at all. And I know that as we age, we get slower and weaker but I’m not sure when this descent into feebleness actually starts and if I’m just going to fizzle out at some point. I don’t know if I should hope to maintain my lift weights or hope that they decrease by just small margins.

I have no idea what I’m doing. This isn’t new. I can learn the vocabulary. I can learn the movement. What I can’t learn is what is the correct thing for me to actually aspire to. This is true in and out of the gym.

I’ve been steadily losing weight since October. I can’t keep this up. I have gone back to counting everything not for the carbs, but for the calories. I’m not eating enough even though I’m never hungry. I’m not roller coastering my blood sugar and starving as a result. So I don’t eat enough and this affecting my gym performance.

I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. And I really don’t know how to find out exactly what that should be. I’m this old and still just winging it. I really thought that eventually, I would know something. Not yet.

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How much water do we need to drink every day? If someone tells you a number, run. There is no number because the real answer is, “It depends”. It depends on several different things, none of them are how much coffee you drink.

It depends on the weather outside. You need more to drink when it is hot and humid than you do when it is cold and dry. The more you perspire (and from here on out I’m calling it sweat), the more you need to drink.

It depends on what you are doing or have recently done. If you are sitting on the patio reading a good book you need less water than if you are at the gym working like a maniac. Again, the more you sweat, the more you need to drink.

It depends on what you eat or have eaten. If you have a bowl of deliciously covered in melted butter and salt popcorn you need to drink more than if you a bowl of deliciously chilled watermelon.

Your body strives for homeostasis. It’s what drives most of your autonomic nervous system. You need to maintain your body’s pH and you never even think about it. You need to maintain your oxygen level and you only think about when you get short of breath. You need to do many things to keep yourself alive and your body only lets you know about when there is danger ahead.

If you don’t breathe, you will die in a matter of minutes. If you don’t eat, you will die in a matter of months. If you don’t drink, you will die in just a matter of days. It is the second most important thing your body needs. Air, then water, then food, and at a far distant remove are all the other things.

So, you body lets you know when you need air and you breathe. Gasping for breath is a terrifying thing and we try to avoid it, but some of those workouts are just that difficult. When your body is getting low on water, you get thirsty.

Food is trickier. We now live in a time of unnatural abundance. Food was never this plentiful and most of one’s life was making sure there was enough of it to get through the winters or lean times. That’s why we store fat, just in case we run out of food later. We don’t just get rid of the extra calories we don’t need right now like we do with water. And now that food is abundant, we eat often when we aren’t hungry.

Having noticed this early in the last century, some diet people advocated that you drink more calorie free water in order to fill your stomach and your time. This should stop you from eating out of boredom. And so the eight-eight rule was born out of dieting, not anything medical.

I am a Baby Boomer. Back when I was in school, there were no water bottles in every child’s hand. We got to line up and get a drink at the drinking fountain before or after morning recess, at lunch, and on very hot days – again in the afternoon. Otherwise we just turned into sand dunes. Wait, we didn’t. We all lived to become this massive economic wave still irritating all those after us.

That’s because you don’t die of thirst in a matter of minutes and being thirsty will eventually get you to a water source, at least in this country where we have plumbing and water fountains spread around like dandelions in spring. You don’t have any bad consequences from not drinking all damn day long even when you aren’t thirsty.

In fact, one of the problems with this nonsense is when you drink too much after dinner. Then you are up half the night getting rid of all that excess water you didn’t need in the first place when what you really do need is a good night’s sleep. Americans are woefully under-rested. There are very important physiological and psychological things that take place while you are sleeping. And when you are up making trip after trip to the bathroom, they don’t get done. By the way, your kidneys know you need to sleep and slow down their filtration during the night so you can sleep. All this extra drinking is thwarting your body’s real health system.

I was nurse for over twenty years. Never once in all that time did we ever force any patient to drink a certain amount of water. We did, on occasion, have to limit the amount of water patients got. If you have certain medical conditions, your body will not get rid of the excess fluid and it builds up in your lungs and you can drown.

I have no idea if all this drinking to excess and for no good reason is going to cause any medical issues down the road. All of the United States is being used as a test to see if overworking kidneys for no reason whatsoever will lead to kidney failure later in life.

People in countries without good plumbing are not drinking half their body weight in water and an extra cup of water for every cup of coffee and throwing some in for good measure just in case. They don’t die of dehydration although they might die from lack of cleanliness which would be exacerbated by using water to drink when not thirsty instead of cleaning up bacteria laden messes.

Every time I see someone telling me how much water I have to drink, I know they know nothing about health, science, or medicine. They are spreading an old wives’ tale based on a dieting tip that may or may not have any basis even in dieting.

If you are thirsty, get a drink. If you aren’t, enjoy your life. And get a good night’s sleep because that is really important.

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