Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Man

That is all I heard.
It sounded like, “it’s up to you old man”.
I reeled, "Old Man", somewhere inside a wheel turned, a door closed, a latch fell, it smelled of dark and decay.
It was as if I was a bug, reduced to a small greasy spot after hitting the windshield of life.
Just hearing the words suddenly made it real; I felt my shoulders slump, I was afraid to take the next step for fear I might shuffle.
I turned to face my tormentor; “Did you say Old Man”?
“No”, she laughed, “I am older than you”, I said, “It is up to you Cardio Man”.
Were did that cape come from; this tight fitting suit wasn’t here a minute ago and what great super hero boots.
I guess, "this is a job", for Cardio Man.
Life it appears is 99% perception and at least 1% reception.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On the Ropes

It was an especially nice day, Boot Camp was held in the parking lot; the intensity was high, everyone broke a good sweat in spite of a temperature of 72 degrees and a nice cool fall breeze.
We finished with Abs, now time to train; today Biceps and Triceps.
The routine seemed straight forward, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, small weight, large weights, each time to muscle failure.
Sparta even threw in a different exercise that caused the triceps to really burn.
I looked at the clock and saw we had a few minutes left and I thought quietly, “Wonder what is next because I don’t have a “farthing” (a very small amount) of energy or strength left in my arms".
“Maybe I am going to get off a easy today and finish the last 6 or 7 minutes in animated conversation", some befuddled part of my brain postulated.
Trying to think of where it might go, I suddenly heard “On the Ropes” and I thought, “Yeah even Sparta sees that I am finished”.
But she went on, “Go set the seat height on the Preachers Bench while I set up the equipment”.
Like a lightning bolt out of a clear sky, it hit, I was headed into hell once again; the resistive training method or as I wrote in my Jan. 2010 Blog, Torturous Varying Tension Method.
This is a set of 21 up and down curls against resistance, supplied by the trainer.
Sparta can adjust the tension as she sees fit by judging the level of effort. She also continues to exhort if she doesn’t feel you are trying.
I couldn’t believe that I had to endure this after spending everything in the lift session. I even commented on this and was told, the best time for the exercise, when you are used up.
The idea that best describes this; you are climbing a rock face, you have climbed 278 feet you are cold and hungry, your fingers ache, your legs are lead, you have 21 feet to go. If you fail, you fatigue falling to your death, if you gut it out, you finish the climb.
It wasn’t pretty, I didn’t whimper, I didn’t fall to my death.
My arms say it wasn't trainer compassion but they could be lying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Famous Quote

My mouth stood agape,breathing was tough, my brain had already checked out, my legs barely supported me and I was fearful of trying the steps.
I had just finished one and one half hours of the worst Spin Class I had ever attended.
My question, “What the hell was that all about”?
“You may not be able to outrun your demons, but you can sure make them pant”.
My next question to myself, “Why do I have to “exorcise” your demons”?
This, I guess, is the price you pay for intersecting with another human.
We all have our demons.
I have had many, some so potent, nearly scared me to death, but in the end a friend always showed up and helped me exorcise my demons.
So, there is the answer to my question.
A true friend, no matter the cost, attacks your demons and well as his/her own.
Unfortunately, it was decided to attack the demons in spin class and that included a lot of hills, a lot of sweat and a lot of pain.
I have never had hamstrings and glutes hurt that bad.
It hurt to sit on them and so far I have not figured out how to drive a sedan standing up.
So the next time we need to exorcise or exercise some demons let’s do it in a Piano Bar with Martinis or on a beach somewhere and burn them out with the noonday sun.
Oh, and the next time it is decided to exercise them in Spin Class, please put a notice on the door, “May be Hazardous to your Health” (Not Really) but at least hazardous to a sedentary set of glutes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Changing a Name

Trysynthesis is morphing:

"The Trainer, Hard Work, Hard Calories; Finding Youth".

When I first walked into the gym, my main goal was to lose weight and begin feeling better.
I never anticipated the shift in priorities that would follow.
I was lucky; a renowned trainer agreed to take my "case".
I did lose some weight.
I did begin to feel better (better than I have felt in the last 40 years).
But the most significant change was that I no longer felt like I was nearing the age of Medicare.
I actually feel young.
I have developed a keen interest in diet.
I now know the foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, calories associated with dietary choices, the serotonin system and the GI tract, amino acid depletion and it's impact on brain function and most importantly the foods that destroy initiative.
Ask yourself the following question, "how many minutes after you eat a food high in processed sugar do you want to take a nap"?
I would guess for most of us it is less than 20 minutes.
Do you feel like going out and playing a game of tag football after eating Thanksgiving Dinner and all of the attendant deserts?
I was listening to a researcher on NPR this morning who was talking about manipulating a gene that at least in mice acts just like calorie restriction and increases longevity.
So here is my take on the issue; if we as a population are striving to live longer it would certainly make sense that we would prefer to stay active longer, be younger and stronger late into life.
It would also be wise to avoid the need for invasive health care, hospitalization, assisted living and bags of medicine (Some of us do and will need these services along with medication but in general it is good to avoid them if you can).
The only way I know to do this is to spend as much time as possible in the gym, avoid excess calories, find and maintain your ideal weight, drive reasonably, wear a seat belt, avoid smoking of any kind, use alcohol in moderation (Red Wine seems OK), avoid illicit drugs, if married- be happy and have lots of friends, if unmarried be happy and have lots of friends, have a positive outlook and hope that you have a least a modicum of luck and a trainer of renown on your side.

To Quote Mr. Spock of the Star Ship Enterprise;
"It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want".
Instead, "Live long and prosper" is the better recommendation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bad Pain, Good Pain

I have been thinking about pain.
It has been awhile since I have experienced any real pain; in fact the last real pain I can remember is after an unexpected heart surgery.
Missed box jump, sudden twist to keep from landing on my face, “Who stuck that knife in my back”?
Landing and thinking this isn’t going to be good; Adrenalin pouring out, the adrenergic system on overload.
I tried to go to spinning but couldn’t sit on the bicycle without feeling the muscles tighten.
That was stupid; I shouldn’t be trying box jumps after carrying golf clubs for eighteen holes and doing leg presses.
The pain was real and bad; I could perceive no benefit to my person from experiencing this pain except to remind me that box jumps can be hazardous to your health when unprepared.
The other bad pain, a chest incision, an unstable chest and breathing, but that is a different story.
My brief description of two bad pains is not an exhaustive list; other pains in that category (mental pain, unrequited love, extreme humiliation, etc.) are extensive and we have all felt and been haunted by them.
Now to good pain.
Good pain does not elicit the sudden rush of adrenalin, the flight or fight; instead it is associated with the release of those wonderful little proteins know as endorphins.
This is the pain of extreme exercise, exercise to failure, exercise to the limit of endurance, the 10 yard gain against heavy hits, the end of the marathon, the success of the triathlon and suddenly the brain is bathed in endorphins, the feel good molecule.
The pain is real but it is relished and invited as a welcome guest.
It is easy to recognize good pain and bad pain;
Bad pain makes you small and vulnerable.
Good pain puts you on a plain often associated with Nirvana and minor deities.
So the next time you begin to hurt, if you don’t see Angels, be very, very afraid.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What a Great Day

I went to he gym early, 6:45 AM.
It was fairly quiet but blessed be the fates, I ran into the "Bear".
He was in, to exercise with Sparta; big weights, lots of reps, tons of "hurt".
I was happy to see him, it had been a while.
No hugs this time, just a good firm handshake.
I was into aerobics, first Stair master 45 minutes, then down to biceps and triceps.
The Bear was doing Fly's with big weights, Sparta was pushing.
I was on the outside looking in.
But I had my own agenda.
I was into repetitive curls, tricep burns and kettle bell lifts.
I had about a week of Abs to catch up on and I was guilty of missing my box jumps; Mr. Id would be very unhappy if I didn't do the box jumps and you don't want to make Mr. Id unhappy.
These are 18 to 24 inch standing jumps onto a box but beware your shins.
The "Bear" continued his lifts along with Sparta and then a neuron deep in my brain clicked.
I had previously known the mother of the "Bear", the She Bear.
I had met the "Bear" when he was a cub.
It all fell into place and I stood, looking, absorbing what a bear cub can grow up to be.
I decided right then that an Old "bear" can also continue to grow.
Thanks, "Bear" and thanks Sparta, who knows how to train we "Bears".
From the gym, an afternoon of golf in a clear crisp day with a stout wind.
The front nine was a struggle but the back nine was almost joyful as putting, driving and chipping all came together for a few blissful hours.
Dinner, Tilapia with a Tomato, Basil, Garlic Tamponade along with a very light white wine, Fete" Bastard Chardonnay while the piano played in the background.
Then a quiet evening sitting and talking with my wife and reading a great book.
Finally off to bed to dream of new days, the real days of "Wine and Roses".
So Lord if you want to take me now, it is OK.