Wrangling with B.O.B. (Garage Gym workout!)

A minor stress-related autoimmune flare has kept me out of the gym these last two days, but the garage saved me from inactivity in the meanwhile. The ironic thing is that working out is my therapy to help reduce stress, but if stress gets to me anyway, I’m sometimes unable to do my normal workouts! I know that those of you with autoimmunity issues know exactly what I’m talking about.

In the garage yesterday late afternoon, I wanted to challenge myself in ways that wouldn’t aggravate my right shoulder. I set B.O.B. to a greater height than usual, thinking I’d try to work with the height differential.

A sampling of screen shots from my workout with a 6-foot, 290 lb. dummy:

 

1). I started with a jump-rope cardio blast to get warm, jumping rope in 3-minute rounds to music from Disturbed’s The Sickness album.

 

Cardio: jumping rope

 

As usual, there’s nothing to see here, really. You can’t see the rope when it’s in motion.

 

The rope.

 

Moving on! Here’s the height differential I had before me:

 

Me vs B.O.B. (height differential)

 

I’m 5′, 4″ and 115 lbs. In this case, B.O.B. is 6′ and 290 lbs (fully filled with water)

 

Me vs B.O.B. (height differential)

 

2). I threw some kicks to see where they’d land on someone who’s six feet tall.

 

Side kick (placed and held)

 

I have short legs and I’m not flexible, so this is as high as it’d get. This is not what would happen in reality. If you’re taller than me, I’m much more likely to blow out your knee or your family jewels.

 

3). I tested my left back fist (leaving my right arm out of it). It was indeed a reach to get 6-foot B.O.B. in the face. In actuality, a person of this height would get throat-punched.

 

Back fist

 

4). I tried out some knee strikes on 6-foot B.O.B.

 

Pulling B.O.B. down for a knee strike

 

Knee strike

 

In my current condition with my right side, I can pull all day long, but pushing overhead or straight-arm lifting/extending are a problem. I did a lot of pulling in this work-out.

For these knee strikes, I jumped in to grab B.O.B. by the base of his skull, jumped back in my stance to pull him down toward me, and then came up to land a rear knee. Unfortunately, it only got to his chest. Haha. Again, in actuality in a street situation, my knee would end up lower. That’s fine. A hard knee to your solar plexus will knock the air out of you.

 

5). I found out right away that a standing rear naked choke was not going to happen on 6-foot B.O.B., so I just grappled him as best as I could, really testing my strength more than anything. In real life, I’d have to get him to the ground in order to choke him.

 

Using B.O.B.’s base to step up and get my arm around his throat

 

Even stepping up, I couldn’t twist my arm around to get a proper grip, so I just did this. (My right shoulder was fine with this.)

 

Pulling him back by the throat from the other side (sorry we went out of frame)

 

This kind of wrangling with B.O.B. made for a pretty good strength-training, pulling workout (so back and biceps, I guess).

I did a little more in the way of conditioning exercises…

 

6). Speed punches for muscle endurance:

 

Speed punches

 

Again, you can’t really see anything, but there was some speed happening in these rounds of speed punches. The goal is to stand close and hit fast, not hard. This is like sprinting in place with your upper body.

 

7). Jumping-in planks:

 

Plank

 

I kept a little bend in my elbows to avoid stressing my right shoulder.

 

Jumping in (then back out, repeat)

 

(I suppose all of this counts as knuckle-conditioning, too, since I’m always on my knuckles.)

 

8). For abs, I just did some crunches.

 

Lying on the floor (doing crunches), ha

 

9). I finished up with some stretching.

 

A few stretches at the end

 

I forgot to take a post-workout selfie, so here’s a screen-shot of one of the times I turned to face the phone:

 

(you get the idea)

 

That was it! This was a fun garage gym session. I got to sweat a little, and the whole thing was pretty instructive, too. I’m not done working with B.O.B. set to this height.

Failing at sleep. (New Year’s Resolution progress.)

Progress, of lack thereof.

Here’s one thing I’ve achieved so far in my 2018 resolution to get more sleep: I’ve acquired a fitness tracker with a sleep component that reviewers online seem to like. At the end of Month 1, that’s all I have to report… because I haven’t really used it yet.

I know.

Callaghan gave the tracker to me for my birthday. I wanted one, I said, because the tyranny of a device might be the only thing that can hold me accountable. I need to be able to look at the tracker every morning and be dismayed.

I dawdled, deciding on the fitness tracker gift a few weeks post-New Year’s. (My birthday is at the end of December.) I charged it and looked at it and said “I don’t have time to figure this out so I’m going to exchange it” and then grudgingly put it on last night, and this morning I was, indeed, properly dismayed – though not surprised at all – to see that I only got 4:58 hours of sleep. I know that it’s pretty much 5 hours, but seeing the number “4” makes it worse psychologically.

Ironically, it took me a little longer to fall asleep with the fitness tracker around my wrist. I could feel it thrumming, and from that and the tingling sensation in my wrist and hand came a sudden panic that the tracker was going to electrocute my brain during the night.

This is good. This is what I need. I’m failing at sleep, and I’m counting on this fitness tracker to deny me of my denial.

Changing an ingrained bad habit is one of the hardest things to do. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have New Year’s resolutions, right? Generally speaking?

Incidentally, I decided to wear the tracker at the gym this morning, just to see. Clearly, I need to do more studying to learn about this device. There’s no way you can burn 852 calories doing a Les Mills BodyPump class, is there? I did nothing else while wearing the tracker this morning. I put it on immediately before picking up my barbell, and removed it immediately after the cool-down. 852 calories doesn’t sound right. The Les Mills website says that you can burn “up to 560 calories” during BodyPump! I don’t know how the tracker is coming up with 852.

That aside (I didn’t get the tracker for actual fitness tracking, though I will wear it to BodyCombat, too, also out of curiosity), I do trust that using the tracker will motivate me to get to bed earlier.

Here’s to the beginning of Month 2!

Cancel your resolutions! (Staying motivated in the new year.)

We’re early enough in the new year that we’re still thinking and talking about our resolutions, or about our decision to not make them, as the case may be.

More than once, I’ve been asked how I keep my resolutions, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on that, for whatever they’re worth.

I’m not a life coach or a psychologist. I don’t have it all figured out. There seems to be no end in sight when it comes to my manner of inadvertently f*cking shit up or making a fool of myself or both, and the last thing I am is the walking picture of contentment, regardless of the (considerable) depth of my gratitude.

But I’m strong-willed when I have the passion to fuel my drive, and I do have a lot of that. In my opinion, that’s most of what we need. It’s hard to stick with resolutions in the absence of passion.

My main advice would be to cancel the resolution if you lose your passion for it. Focus your energy elsewhere! If the resolution is of critical importance, you will come back to it – or it will come back to you – once you’ve given yourself a break from the pressure of it. Sometimes that’s all we need to kick-start our second wind (or third, or fourth, or tenth): a break. Put that resolution down and back slowly away. Don’t hang onto it and worry over it and lament your struggle and your apathy and your “failure.” Just put it aside.

Yes, reverse psychology on your own self works.

If the resolution is not of critical importance, then you didn’t really need it, anyway. Sometimes, the mood you’re in when you make non-critical resolutions isn’t the mood you stay in for the next 365 days. That’s okay. That’s not a failure; that’s a realization.

Some other thoughts regarding staying motivated and not sabotaging yourself in sticking with your resolutions as the new year gets underway:

1). Deadlines hold no power. They really don’t. If you’re the kind of person who gets overwhelmed by the notion of a deadline, then try to relax where that’s concerned. Any progress is still progress. If all you can do today is get out of bed and get dressed, then you’ve accomplished something!

2). Don’t say too much – not to be secretive, but to keep something sacred within. There’s something weirdly empowering about hoarding a goal or an aspiration. Maybe it’s just that if no one knows you’re aiming for it, then no one can ruin it… no one can judge your progress or lack thereof. Having a resolution that only you know about turns that effort into something magical, a secret quest, a journey that you take alone. Share a resolution or two with others, but keep one for yourself. It’s amazing how progress toward your secret goal can help to build your confidence.

3). Helplessness is a mere state of mind. If you feel helpless, tell yourself that you’re not, because needing help and being helpless are two different things. Thinking “I am helpless” is self-sabotage. Thinking “I need help” is not. If you’re capable of asking for what you need, then you’re not helpless… if you need help and you have the wherewithal to ask for it, you’re not helpless. You’re more resourceful than you know, and you have more courage than you know.

4). Your journey is directed by you. You can make your own decisions, own them, learn from your mistakes, and move forward accordingly. When it’s all said and done, you have executive power over your own life.

5). Suffering is a fact of life; it’s a motivator, not an impediment.

 

January 2018 – Here’s to a bright and beautiful new year.

 

Another thing to remember: every week has a Friday, whatever day that may actually be! Again, you can decide what day that is. Revel in it.

 

Yawn. (New Year’s resolutions and such.)

I used to be passionate about making and keeping New Year’s resolutions. Many of you may remember that. I’m kind of blasé about it now, and maybe that’s because I have just ONE resolution for 2018, and that’s only because I’ve already resolved… to get more sleep.

Yawn. (In every sense of a word that can sum up “boring,” ho-hum double entendre intended.)

I’ve been resolving to get more sleep for a long time; 2018 isn’t the first year I’ve re-stated this. There’s only one lifestyle fix I need to make, and this is it. I know that sufficient sleep on a regular basis is essential for optimizing physical health and mental well-being. I know this. 4-6 hours per night just. isn’t. enough.

Waking up later in the morning isn’t an option. I like to be up early. The problem is that I also like to stay up late, and this is what I need to give up. I need to give up late nights. There’s no benefit to me in staying up late.

I’ll keep working on it. Honestly, I don’t know why resolutions are so difficult to keep! New Year’s resolutions, after all, are promises we make to ourselves. Why would I not do everything I can to keep a promise I make to myself? I think we set ourselves up for failure by formally setting resolutions… so I’ll end this here. I’ve said too much!!

 

Sleep is so exciting that only a pic of theatrical lighting and dry ice would do.

 

It’ll be 2018 when I post here again, so Happy New Year to you all… and good luck with your resolutions, whatever they may be!

What I ate on Monday. (Full day of eating!)

To those of you who’ve asked to see this: here’s a full day of eating. (And to anyone else who’s interested, of course.)

May I just say that it was strange spending the whole day stalking my own food with a camera?

I chose Monday so I could track a rest day (no gym).

First:

  • Yes, I normally eat five to six times throughout the day.
  • After dinner, I don’t eat again until later the next morning (unless I’m going to the gym). I like a good fast before I start my day of noshing.
  • I love food and only eat what I enjoy.
  • Other than two cups of coffee in the morning, I only drink water.
  • I’ve cut down on processed foods, but I do eat more of it on the weekends. Even then, I try to keep it minimal and nutrient-valuable to some degree. I avoid deep-fried foods, sugary foods, and empty-calorie foods.

Before I get into the dirty details, I should add that:

  • I take meds and supplements, but the only one I’m mentioning here is my thyroid medication, because that explains why I wait 30 minutes before having coffee in the morning.
  • I drink water all day long, so I didn’t bother to include it in these pics.

Onward, then!

 

Monday, October 9, 2017

5:30am: Alarm. Get up. Take thyroid medication (for Hashimoto’s/autoimmune hypothyroidism) with a full glass of room-temperature water.

(Wait 30 minutes because of the thyroid med.)

6:00am: Coffee (Sumatra is my favorite!) with plain, unsweetened soy milk and a teaspoon of organic coconut palm sugar. (x2 – I have two cups of coffee)

9:30am: Two slices of Dave’s organic thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread, toasted and topped with creamy natural peanut butter (lots of it!), banana slices, organic hulled hemp seeds, cinnamon, and a light drizzle of organic light agave nectar. Raspberries on the side.

 

Toast with natural peanut butter, banana slices, organic hulled hemp seeds, cinnamon, and organic light agave nectar. Raspberries on the side.

 

1:10pm: Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, a sprinkle of organic hulled hemp seeds, and a lot of nutritional yeast, aka nooch. (Maybe too much nooch. My blood tests always show that my vitamin B12 is “borderline too high.” B vitamins are fat-soluble, so there’s such a thing as “too high.”) Broccoli on the side. An orange.

With pasta, I like veggies on the side. I’m not the biggest fan of veggies in my pasta.

 

(plus olive oil and sea salt)

 

Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, a sprinkle of organic hulled hemp seeds, and a lot of nutritional yeast. Broccoli on the side. An orange.

 

After lunch: A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

I’m inexplicably hooked on this. I drink it twice a day, every day, after lunch and again after dinner. It’s weird because I don’t necessarily like the way it tastes, but I love it and look forward to it. It makes no sense. I’ve been drinking it for a year now.

 

Glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

 

3:25pm: A pear.

I have fruit four or five times a day. Since I quit eating sugary sweets about a year ago, fresh fruit has become an ecstatic experience… especially the fruit I eat in the afternoon. Somehow, that one piece of fruit in the afternoon makes my whole body feel energized and alive. It’s amazing.

 

Bartlett pear

 

5:15pm: A bowl of mixed nuts and sunflower seeds (somewhere around 3/4 cup).

I also eat nuts and seeds every day. Sometimes I throw raisins in there, too, but raisins are sweet, and let’s face it… nuts and seeds are wonderful vehicles for salt. They’re also wonderful carriers of trace minerals that we need in our bodies, not to mention other nutrients, a little protein, and a lot of healthy fats.

Examples of trace minerals: magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, iron, copper, etc.

(I’ll never say “no” to raw and/or unsalted nuts and seeds either, though. I do like them. It’s just that salt is my one vice.)

Walnuts! I prefer unsalted walnuts. Anyway…

 

Mixed nuts and sunflower seeds (roasted and salted)

 

8:00pm: We’ve been eating large salads for dinner four to five times per week, and cooked meals for dinner on the remaining nights. On Monday, I made our salad with red leaf lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, thinly-sliced mushrooms, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and cracked black pepper.

I love red wine vinegar on salads, but my favorite thing these days is just to press some fresh lemon juice over the salad already drizzled with olive oil. With lemon juice, I can really taste and appreciate the flavors of the lettuces and greens.

I didn’t get a pic of the finished salad, but here’s the main ingredient:

 

Red leaf lettuce

 

8:30: Small bowl of blueberries.

 

Blueberries

 

After dinner: A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

There you have it… a smattering example of what I eat on an average weekday rest day.

Let me know if you’re interested in seeing a full day of eating on a gym day, or a full day of eating on a weekend day when I eat more processed foods!

I stepped on a tiny cactus and it was hilarious. (On relationship – and other – articles.)

Yesterday, we were standing on the gravel in our front yard when I shifted my weight and my left foot rolled toward the outside of its flip-flop. It rolled to the left and stuck itself onto a tiny cactus.

 

Foot, meet (camouflaged) cactus.

 

The mishap wasn’t terribly painful. It was a very small cactus, as you can see at the top of the pic, and my feet are pretty dry and callused all the way around. (Apologies if this is TMI.) It was more, you know, that moment you realize that you’ve managed to roll your bare foot onto a cactus. It was more the idea of it.

There was no need for a fuss. I just exclaimed in surprise.

Me: Ah! I stepped on a cactus.

Callaghan: Poor cactus.

I thought his response was hilarious. I laughed, and I thought, he gets me. He may have been kidding, but I shared the sentiment: poor cactus! Granted, I also thought it was funny. But still… this is just us being us. Callaghan knows my sense of humor. (He also knows that my feet aren’t delicate.)

If we were a different couple, the one of us who planted the edge of their bare foot onto a cactus might’ve been miffed when the other responded with flippant sympathy for the cactus. If we read and believe the numerous “relationship” articles people are writing, we might even worry about it. Is our relationship doomed because I stepped on a cactus and he said “poor cactus”?

I’m talking about article titles such as: “10 signs that you’re headed to divorce,” “Signs that your partner might be cheating,” “What your sleep position says about your relationship,” “How to tell if your relationship is toxic to your health,” “5 things men/women hide from their partners,” “10 things he’s thinking when you’re naked,” etc.

Do you ever wonder whether these articles are written to ring alarm bells? Maybe they’re written by divorce attorneys who need clients. Maybe our divorce-rate is higher because we read such articles. I know this is hyperbole on my part. I’m just saying.

Some of the content of such articles may be universally true, but a lot of it isn’t applicable to every relationship… a person is unique, so the anatomy of a relationship is unique. How can these articles apply to everyone?

Generally speaking, I think, reading everything in the news and believing everything we read can give us doomsday ideas. Paranoia. Maybe even self-fulfilling prophesies.

On that note, I’m running late. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Mind as muscle. (Working out: suggestions from a non-professional.)

This is for anyone who’s decided to start working out, has started working out, and is now wondering, “How can I continue to do it?”

I’ve been asked. There’s no single answer. I can suggest, though, that one way to stay committed to working out is to stay interested in working out, and one way to stay interested in working out is to focus – not on other people, and not on yourself, but on what you’re doing.

That’s the key: In order to follow through on your commitment, you have to stay interested.

 

Fire in stone

 

1). Here’s my first suggestion:

Don’t compare yourself to others. 

Those people working out around you? Ignore them.

2). My second suggestion is the one that’s the most important to me, personally:

Focus on the fight in front of you.

Don’t focus on all the fights, all at once. Just on the one directly in front of you right now.

If you balk at the word “fight,” remember that “fight” is a common word, and that most of the time, we don’t use it in a violently combative sense.

Fight cancer, fight fatigue, fight the urge to laugh, fight the impulse to say what you’re thinking, fight for air. Fight for equality and justice and rights, if you’re so inclined. Fight for your family. Fight to defend yourself. Fight to stay alive. Fight back.

Fighting is a mental endeavor, first and foremost.

When someone says, “You have a lot of fight in you,” that’s high praise. It suggests that you’re mentally strong. You persevere. You don’t give up. You’re brave.

Imagine taking that perseverance and bravery with you when you go to work out. Imagine setting small goals to achieve your long-term goal in increments. Each small goal is a fight. Focus on it, and you may find that your interest is held because you’re immersed in a moment that has an end goal.

Fitness goals come from somewhere. They come from your mind. They come about because you’ve thought about them. You had a thought that became a decision that led to the statement “I’m going to work out.”

That’s a testament to your strength, already! You’ve declared that you’re going to work out, and it was your mind that got you over that hurdle. Your mind already did the hardest part, so you can trust it to help you follow through.

What about confidence, though?

I remove confidence from the equation because I don’t consider it to be the means to an end. I would suggest, “Just focus on what you’re doing. Don’t worry about confidence.”

After your workout, you can exult in the confidence you’ve gained knowing that you gave your ALL to that workout.

Your confidence will increase each time, developing gradually as a result of what you’re doing. Eventually, you’ll carry it with you into your workouts without even knowing it. It becomes a force that you can access subconsciously.

Going into your fitness endeavor trying to believe “I’m confident” is setting yourself up to focus on that. Your focus should be on what you’re doing, not on how you think you should be feeling.

My two suggestions are interrelated: If you compare yourself to others while you’re working out, your focus will no longer be trained on what’s in front of you. What’s in front of you is the goal you’re aiming to achieve in that moment. It’s your fight… use it to direct your focus and to keep your focus where it can benefit you the most.