No Workout, No Cry…

I was 3 repetitions into my first set of leg extensions.  Spinny Spinny, which is the name I have given my brain when she churns too fast for my own good, wouldn’t slow down.  Every thought I had ever thought, it seemed, was passing through my head again, and all at once.

I stopped my leg extensions and turned off the novella I had just downloaded to listen to while I commenced my lower body workout.  It was the end of a long Monday, and I had no desire to lift weights.  I have been lifting weights most days of my life for 43 years.

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Will wait on this until I can give it a clear head…

Going back nearly 3 months now, my mind has been too occupied to focus on my workouts.  My life has gotten busier, I have developed other interests, and my responsibilities with my mother have increased.  It seems every time I walk into my studio to work out, I either get interrupted or my mind is so focused on all the would-be interruptions which haven’t yet landed, that I just pick one to accommodate so I can get it over with.

I have been at the cusp of a big change in my workout life for years it seems.  Aging, new interests, and the increasing responsibilities of my life have been whispering to me…

This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.

And I have ignored those whispers, refusing for years now to let go of what has most defined me in my life; my love of and my need for daily exercise.

At least a dozen times since my late 40s I have attempted to scale back, and just be grateful for what I can fit into a week’s time when it comes exercise.  Tonight though, I cry uncle, and this time I mean it.  I can no longer keep up the schedule of kinesis which has been the framework of my life, for so much of my life.

I have worked out with weights 5-6 days per week since I was 12 years old.  I have also included a peripheral 30-minute cardiovascular workout at a different time of day, and at least 6 days per week, for nearly 17 years.

Since this past Thanksgiving, I have been lucky to have taken 2 strength workouts and 2 cardio workouts per week, and some weeks there have been none.  N.O.N.E.  Exercise is no longer fitting in the way it once did, and it’s been frustrating.

That frustration is in part due to the absence of the chemical reactions which exercise provides.  This is the rapid exchange of serotonin between receptors in the brain which results from rigorous movement, and is what has kept me from killing people for 43 years.

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No Leg Day, No Cry…

But the larger part of my frustration is due to my own stubbornness – the expectation that I could continue my holy regimen despite that my life beyond exercise has just gotten more crowded and that exercise, whether I accept this or not, is being pushed to outer edges of the tent by forces much stronger than I.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up with the expectation that on any given day I will choose to perform a strength workout or a cardiovascular workout, but will no longer attempt fit both in on the same day.  The 27-hour days I have been hoping would show up to save my workout regimen, I now accept, just aren’t coming.

This is in no way to suggest that I am giving up on exercise.  In addition to being a longtime passion, exercise is still my livelihood.  I need to walk the walk.  I will exercise every day of my life so long as I am able.  It’s just needs to be a smaller part of my life now, and I will be accepting of any changes to my physicality which result from these changes in my schedule.

And this is not about moderation.  It’s about adapting to a changing life and accepting newborn priorities.  Those changes are now manifest, and I am realizing that the most dignified art of all, is the art of letting go…  Jhciacb

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This will be dead someday, and so too will I.  The art of letting go…

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Oklahoma’s finest one man band, Mike Hosty.  Enjoy…

Dignity Etched…

I often see things on social media which suggest to me that, even as I watch my mother age, as I also age, I’ll remember her more as she was when she was young.  Or at the very least, I’ll remember her as she was when I was young.  Though when I consider this, after having had my mother living with me for nearly a year, I’ll suggest they are optimistic reminders of a reality which won’t exist.  I’ve mostly forgotten the mother of my youth.

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As she continues to age, and as her physical and cognitive abilities lessen, the images in my head of my mother in her youth fade more each year, giving way to the more indelible imprints of my mother as she is today.  This is not a bad thing.  Five years from now, 10 years from now, or even 20, I’m sure I won’t want to think too much or remember too well the mother of my youth, but I will be grateful to remember my mother of today.

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When I think of her then, as she was when I was young, compared to how I see her now, there is an absence of much.  True, the mother of my youth could hike, swim, stay up late, and prepare a holiday feast for 12 in less than 3 hours, but there was yet to be the earned dignity which now defines her.

Today, as her steps become shaky, as her voice quivers, and as her hands resemble road maps with stains on them, the wisdom, the experience, and survivalism that come with these, add up to a dignity which I do want to remember her with.

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This is a good reminder to me that, as bright and capable as I feel I am today, I have yet to pay my real dues.  The dues I speak of are not the dues of career, of parenthood, or of middle-age responsibilities.  The dues my mother has paid – those she continues to pay, are the most important dues of all.  These are the dues of having it all, and of having it all slowly slip away, yet waking up each day to live a little more despite the inevitable decline of all things material, all things physical, and many things cognitive.

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I am grateful that I will remember my mother as person who falls asleep watching Jeopardy, who heats up a Stouffer’s creamed corn casserole for dinner rather than attempt to make one from scratch, who often calls me by my brother’s name, and who asks me the same damned questions again and again – all day long.

This person – this mother of mine now, is the mother that reminds me daily that I will be more like her in the not-too distant future, than the me I am today.  This mother, not the mother of my youth, is the woman who reminds me that it’s a fool’s task to believe in or even pursue perpetual youth, and that dignity comes only from letting go of youth, and letting go of all those things that, as time proves to us all, never mattered that much to begin with.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Sonny Condell and Scullion.  Enjoy…

Good Things Come In Slow Packages…

4Keeps Part I: My Inner Greed

When I earn or receive something that I truly appreciate, it becomes my desire to keep it as long as possible. My favorite shirts, best albums, and even special moments are things I will attempt to hold onto as long as I can.  Though we’re no longer married, I speak with my ex-wife almost every day – it seems I’m even a hoarder friendships.  I’m just not good at letting go. 

My strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and muscle mass are among those things I want to keep until I die.  These I get from my daily strength training sessions.  I never took steroids.  Not because I was opposed to the use of them, but because I knew I never would have come off of them.  The physical gains I have made in the gym are the physical gains I can maintain.

Complexity And Polarization

Like everything else in life, the concept of fitness is expanding and becoming more complex.  Here’s a duality for you:  In an era when the life expectancy of our children is actually shorter than our own, and obesity and diabetes among children and adults are at an all time high, exercise trends and opportunities are increasing.  I’m not a math whiz, but that doesn’t seem to add up.  We are more obese and less healthy than ever, yet people are working out more and working out harder than ever.  Actually the math does add up; as we become less satisfied with our physicality, new exercise trends develop to lure us – that we can make the changes we think we need.  This may be a good thing.

In the mid-1970s, there were just a few gyms in the entire city of Denver.  I once road the municipal bus nearly an hour each day to workout at the 20th Street Gym in downtown Denver – because it was the closest gym to my home.  Today I live in a town of just 40,000 and I look out my gym window and see another gym directly across the parking lot.  There is also one just behind me – in the same building I am in.  There are at least 20 places in my little town where people can pay to exercise.  More people are working out than ever before, and in different and increasingly complex ways.  But are we making progress…?

What’s Cooking In Fitness

Cross Fit is the sexy trend in fitness these days.  Cross Fit is the sum of interdisciplinary exercise actions, woven together to form an intense, and productive workout – workouts that can cause vomiting and fainting.  I have taken a few Cross Fit and similar workouts and I have loved them – intensity, hard work, results.  But are they sustainable…?  I’ll suggest that the Cross Fit disciples of today will not be taking Cross Fit workouts when they are 88 years old. 

Multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit and Hard Exercise Works practiced without an emphasis on proper exercise form will increase the window of opportunity to become injured during the course the workout.  I know three people who have become injured in the course of such workouts, and been rendered unable to workout, or do little else for months as a result.  Though potentially very productive, these types of workouts can break a body down…

I love Cross Fit and similar workouts.  However, most athletic injuries are caused by forces upon musculoskeletal structures that exceed the structure’s tensile limits.  This means injury is caused by excessive force or excessive motion. What could be more forceful or excessive than simultaneously slinging a sledgehammer in each hand, running with a tire chained to your back, or doing fast power movements in successively worse form as fatigue sets in through the course of the set…?

4Keeps Part II: Basics Work

Tom is 88 years old – he is my oldest client.  Tom practices basic strength training three days per week, with all movements executed in proper form, and through a complete range of motion. Despite that he’s 88, the slow, controlled strength training Tom practices can be challenging if    not intense – but it is also safe.  Tom has been lifting weights in this fashion for years, and has never been injured during the course of a workout.  He lifts weights to make his life better, not worse.

I have never been injured, nor had a client injured, including my most intense and competitive clients, during the course of one of my strength workouts – not one.  I’m not suggesting multi-disciplinary workouts such as Cross Fit are a bad route to get in shape, or get in better shape.  I’m suggesting that they may not be sustainable in the long-term, and come with an inherent risk. 

My Drug Is A Safe Drug

Basics work.  Traditional strength training is over 3,000 years old.  It has been practiced by ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese.  The standard lunge which I teach every week, has been performed by Spartans and Khans.

I understand that every fitness junkie has their own trip – lord knows I have mine.  My drug of choice, basic strength training, will be practiced by me until the day I die – because it can be practiced until the day I die.  Done properly, basic strength training offers great utility for life in the modern era, provides a supreme mental release, and is a great prescription for people like me who have a hard time letting go of good things.  Be well.  rc

Comments are closed this week.

Please check in two weeks for an essay yet to be determined.  Oh, and there is this from Sonia Dada, enjoy…

Complexity, Fatness, And Fitness…

A tease for my upcoming essay on complexity in fitness.  Please check back this Sunday for the completed essay.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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4Keeps Part I: My Inner Greed

When I earn something that I want and that I appreciate, it becomes my desire to keep it as long as possible. My favorite shirts, best albums, and even special moments are things I will attempt to hold onto as long as I can.  I’m just not good at letting go.  My strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and muscle mass are among those things I want to keep until I die.  These I get from my daily strength training.

I never took steroids.  Not because I was opposed to the use of them, but because I knew I never would have come off of them.  Though we’re no longer married, I speak with my ex-wife almost every day – it seems I’m even a hoarder relationships.  The thought of giving up something that once belonged to me is just hard to embrace.

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Please check back this Sunday for the completed essay.  Oh, and there is little nugget from Sweden’s, The Shout Out Louds.  Enjoy….