Category Archives: Exercise

Already The Past

Already The Past

The headline is I have covid. None of my symptoms have been unmanageable. I, of course, have had every available shot. Not counting the tranquilizer darts at work, the ones they hit me with when I’m overactive. I would like to say I’ve been taking it easy. But that’s not the case. One of my memories on social media this morning is of me standing in the mirror, taking a picture of my huge scar a year ago. One of my principal complaints, other than being alive still, was that I couldn’t take long walks because of the surgery. Unfortunately, my scar has faded. I don’t ever imagine that I’ll forget the anxiety of waiting for my bowels to start working again. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain to someone who’s never experienced it.

I woke up this morning around 1:00 and decided that today would be the day for an ultra-long walk. It’s been glorious. With no plan in mind, I set out walking, having decided I would walk until I couldn’t anymore. Even if that required an Uber to get back. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. The days are blazing hot, but the mornings are always filled with a light breeze and the dead quiet of early morning Fayetteville. This city is an entirely different place once all the bustle dies down.

Yesterday morning during a decently long walk, two young people came into my sphere. Against my better judgment, I intervened right on the street on Sycamore. A domestic dispute and a baby were involved. I bluffed the young man involved. He seemed to listen to me. But I thought about them on and off the rest of the day. Lord, to be that young again when everything seems to be a life-or-death situation!

After a few miles, I crested the interstate. I stopped only for a minute to watch the scattered vehicles pass under me. It’s a little bit zen to do that at 3:00 in the morning. That was a handful of miles back, and it already seems like yesterday.

I walked along the road that leads to Mount Comfort, remembering the scarcity of that stretch just a few short years ago. At the outset of the walk, I listened to music, but after a couple of dozen songs, I pulled off my headphones and let the night sounds be my melody.

Recently I got the great news that perhaps my dead cousin Jimmy might have a daughter he never knew about. The possibility makes me happy. Both for the daughter in question and the memory of Jimmy. He would have been over the moon to find out he had a daughter. I can’t help but overlap the memories in my mind, remembering the feeling of finding out I had a sister I never knew about for 45 years. It’s just biology, of course. Family is mostly who we choose. I would love to have all the people who died sit with me in a room with food, coffee, and probably a few shots of whiskey. I shared my massive family tree with the potential daughter. I try to imagine what it would be like to go online and see a full history of a family you never knew you had. Just like I try to imagine my cousin Jimmy laughing in that special way he did when something tickled the crap out of him.

I can almost hear it here in the darkness.

The long straight stretch of Deane Street was deceptive. After crossing under the interstate and traversing the 90° turn, I could see the lights far ahead of me at Garland, and they seemed to be closer than they were. It’s a beautiful stretch of road in the darkness. The small lazy crescent moon, the aura of city lights along the cusps of the horizon, and the ear-shattering chirp of September insects. It’s somewhere around 1.5 miles along that straight stretch. That surprised me. Distance, like memory, is deceptive.

I think I will remember this morning for years to come. I hope it won’t be my last ultra-long walk. But I don’t take my stamina for granted anymore. All of us stand as witnesses to people being surprised by the mechanics of their bodies failing.

Regardless, I will have the memory. And that’s what life is mostly about, stripped away of the exciting intervals.

My cat Güino was unimpressed by my long walk. He demanded cat juice upon my return and then seemed to judge me for being absent for several hours.

Love, X
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There Is No Secret

This is a piece of motivation. Nadine, if you’re reading this, imagine that I’m an expert and not the goofball you know.

Stress will never disappear from your life. Neither will the obstacles that frequently jump up and surprise you. You’ll always be tired at times and not want to prepare delicious food that feeds your body. You’ll always be tempted to stop at some place quick and delicious on the way home. Given the certainty of those variables, you’ll have to come up with incremental changes. They won’t feel natural at the beginning. Nothing does. Continuity and comfort work for us. But they also work against us when we’re motivated to do something different.

If you want to eat less or eat more healthy so that you’ll look better, embrace it. Anyone who tries to discount the vanity and self-esteem aspect of looking better is fighting human nature. If you think you look better, you will almost always feel better. It will translate to energy and optimism. If you want to eat differently just to be more healthy, that can be amazing too. We all know that the food we eat is the fuel that helps our body protect itself. It’s equally important to know that you can do everything perfectly and still have illnesses and unexpected calamity. As we get older, all of us are forced to confront that.

Everyone who tries something new eventually hits the wall of the reluctance curve. You won’t see as much progress as you would like. Or you will have days where you fail. It will feel like those days of failure far outweigh any progress you’ve made. It’s not true. You have to exercise that muscle of habit. If you do things incrementally, over time, even with days of failure, you’re improving yourself and your habits. There will be days when you will drink an entire bottle of wine and probably eat half a cheesecake too. But over time, you will see that there are simple ways to eat a whole lot of food and be happy with them. It does require you think and plan ahead so that you’re not creating obstacles. Chances are if you’re smart enough and motivated enough to make such a change, you will be able to do it. It will be easy to point the finger at the people around you, because Lord knows they’re going to be eating entire pepperoni pizzas and ice cream while you are choosing better options. At the same time, there are times when you should go crazy and a pizza with them. Because life is short and food is delicious.

Try not to start habits that you cannot do for the rest of your life. Because once you start them and have some success, if those habits fall to the wayside, you’ll start eating unhealthy and put the weight back on. Diet and nutrition is pure mathematics. You have to eat fewer calories than you burn long term. It’s not so much about the individual days as it is the arc of your progress. It’s one of the reasons I advise people to not weigh themselves more than once a week or once a month.

For most of us, if you don’t have underlying medical conditions, no matter how bitter the truth is, most of us can hit an ideal weight simply by changing what we eat. Our bodies have developed over thousands of years to survive. Exercise has its own benefits, ones that overlap into other areas of your life. But you do not have to do any exercise changes to achieve your goal weight. You have to swallow the truth that your weight is nothing more than putting more calories in your body then you are burning. No matter how many calories you burn through exercise, the physical truth is that the overwhelming majority of your weight is diet and daily activity. I can’t stress enough that I am not saying don’t exercise or go to the gym if that benefits you. I am saying that we only have a certain number of hours in a day. If you can achieve your goal without using those precious hours in ways you don’t enjoy, then try to wrap your head around the fact that you can do it without activity that doesn’t bring you joy.

If you don’t have any medical conditions, you can be the way you want to be.

Read the last sentence as many times as it takes to believe it.

Will it be hard for you to eat differently? That depends on how you use your intelligence to learn new ways of eating and stick with them.

Choose your hard.

When we don’t choose, we are pushing the consequences to our future. We still have to deal with them.

You can do it. But everything hinges on you making the decision to invest in yourself.

If you’re happy with the way you look and especially so if you’re mostly healthy, embrace it. Don’t try to lose what you see as extra pounds. You can be happy with that if you have a happy outlook. If it is about your appearance, find someone who loves you. That kind of adoration is transformative for your self-esteem. It becomes easier to see yourself as they do, even if you are plagued by self-doubt.

Whatever your goal is, do not attempt to go from 0 to 60. Incremental changes are best. You can experiment as you go and find the things that work for you and skip the ones you don’t. That is what we’re supposed to do in life. We often skip the second half and forget to remove the things from our life that detracts from it.

Don’t bother with spending money on supplements or anything you have to pay for. It can all be done with delicious food that you like. In this modern age, we have more variety than we ever have. Take advantage of it and use your intelligence.

People ask me what the secret is. The secret is… There is no secret. Simplicity in your life and simplicity in your diet. Eat fewer calories than you burn and live a good life.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you’re starting. No one changes until they do. No matter how you got to where you are or the way you are, it took a lot of years of habits to get there. If we thought things could not be changed, it would be a horrible cynical world.

Love, X
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Sprint

“Are you willing to sprint when you don’t know the distance?”

My manager had me watch a short sports clip. The rest of the clip was good but that pithy last quote resonated. I liked it even though it was sports oriented.

Sprinting is running but not all running is sprinting. It is a commitment to go as fast as you can physically, as much as it is to focus your mind or go blank mentally and let your body do what it needs to.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere. It makes me think in multiple directions.

Just sharing it in case it causes someone else the same introspection.

X
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Walk

I’m out walking and exploring a foreign neighborhood. It started from an unplanned walk, one I would never experience inside my little world of the apartment. I’m certainly not killing time. Time can’t be killed, only experienced or passively ignored. It’s racing past. No matter how much you think you know about how fleeting life is, there is an undeniable recognition of it when you get older. Your spirit wants a bite of all of it, but the creature comforts in our residences and the magnetic pull of routine keep us in place.

I was able to pet a friendly duck, one who waddled up to me unexpectedly in a place I would not have expected to see it. I stopped and exchanged pleasantries with an older man in a wheelchair, his faithful little dog and companion begging me for attention. I of course kneeled down and hugged and petted him. The older man laughed in delight. I saw rabbits and birds galore. At one place in a small meadow, the proper word for which is glen, the multitude of birds chirping and singing drowned out the traffic.

When I started, I was surrounded by commerce and restaurants and diners outside drinking and talking loudly. The same occurred upon my return. They too are enjoying the world outside of their homes. It’s nice to see that covid didn’t eradicate our social nature. People are supposed to be surrounded by people. So much of the toxicity in our own heads is the result of our not practicing this truth.

I hope each of you had a lemon moment this afternoon.

Whether you did or not, I am reminded why it’s not wise to take a really long walk wearing flip-flop sandals. I would do it again though.

Love, X

FitBit Bingo Whining

Fitbit challenge notes…Not the most interesting post in the world, but an annoyance with Fitbit watch challenges…

I’m 55 and once weighed 100 lb more. I compete in challenges with people who are 30-plus years younger than me.

The Get Fit Bingo challenges aren’t fair. My goal numbers are always two to three times higher than the other participants. They shouldn’t use the word “bingo.” In that game, everyone draws from the same numbers. The game does not know who to participants are, nor does it make some cards harder than others.

I finally got confirmation through screenshots that my numbers were two to four times higher than everyone else’s. That’s okay, except they assign a winner. If I walk 150,000 steps, do 400 zone minutes and 500 flights of stairs, and the alleged winner does 1/3 of that, are they really the winner?

I compare it to playing genius-level trivial pursuit while the other participants are playing “who is smarter than a 5th grader.” If they are going to declare a winner, we should be competing on a level playing field.

What’s interesting are the arguments some people use to justify the disparity. They use my level of activity as a reason, saying some people are overweight or don’t walk as much. That’s exactly the point, isn’t it? I don’t get a handicap for being the oldest of all the competitors- and that’s usually the first reason given for such things. That is why we have age categories for so many sports. The varying groups don’t compete with each other.

With Get Fit Bingo, we are allegedly competing against one another for the trophy.

Other justifications given are that I am taking the word “Bingo” too literally. Fit Bit can use another word if they’d like. The rules of Bingo use a clearly set group of numbers. The arrangement might be random, but the numbers themselves are constant. Some people don’t get cards with fewer numbers on them. Everyone is playing the same numbers.

Each participant can choose his or her level of activity. If we are all running a race, each of us runs the same mile. And with other sports, each of us is treated as an equal participant.

That’s why I won’t do Get Fit Bingo challenges anymore.

People were already reluctant to compete with me due to my zeal and dedication in trying to make them earn their wins.

We’re all supposed to be running the same race.

I attached a screenshot. In that example, I am required to walk 97,600 steps and walk 43.3 miles. The other participant? He or she is only required to walk 49,000 steps and complete 18.4 miles.

Whoever finishes first “wins.” How is that a win? We’re not competing evenly.

Traversing The Road

Starting with a laugh… as I walked West Miller Street close to my apartment, I watched a greyish blue Chevy Traverse round the deceptively sharp curve to approach me. It was speeding of course. I walked along the right-hand side of the street on the grass. As the vehicle approached, I observed the older woman driving and notice the approaching speed bump. It’s not high profile. Had she simply driven over it, there would have been no laugh. Instead, she braked hard to avoid going over it at 35+ mph. The younger woman in the passenger seat didn’t appear to be wearing a seatbelt. She was turned sideways in the seat, drinking a presumptive soda through her straw. As the driver braked, the passenger went forward unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite see it when it happened, but she squeezed her styrofoam cup as she was jerked forward. The passenger bounced off the dashboard. Weirdly, both the driver and the passenger looked at me simultaneously as I walked and laughed. The passenger started pantomiming her displeasure toward the driver. She wildly pointed down and across her lap. I assume she was baptized in soda. I shrugged my shoulders when the driver looked at me again, having come to a full stop a couple of feet past the speed bump. When I looked back at the vehicle a few seconds later to note the make and model, I laughed again at the fact that it was wrongly named the “Traverse.” It certainly didn’t this afternoon.

Now I want to add another speed bump on top of the authorized one and watch as speeders coming from Woodland school hit it without warning. I could give it the name “Speed Wall” instead of a speed bump.

When I exited the convenience store a few minutes later, I drank my diet soda and crushed ice with enthusiasm. A nun dressed in all white entered as I held the door open for her. One of the regulars who is also quite the scam storyteller asked me if I wanted to buy some weed. With a very serious face, I said, “Yes. I need five pounds of it if you have it.” The look on his face was priceless. “Five pounds? How long will that last you?” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, I’d say about nine or ten days. Can you hook me up?” He shook his head, still not realizing I was joking. “No, I can’t get anywhere near that amount!” I told him I was very disappointed in his inventory problem. I walked away, shaking my head, pretending to be concerned. I didn’t look back. I didn’t dare. There is no way I would have been able to avoid laughing.

At the intersection with Onyx Coffee, I watched as drivers carelessly drove across the crosswalk and ignored the road markings. Because I was feeling clever, I crouched down and pointed my fingers on the concrete, pretending I was a sprinter about to take off across the crosswalk. My eyes were focused on the red indicator across the street. As I did so, a white Chevy pickup pulled all the way across the crosswalk in front of me and stopped. His intention was to make a right turn, even if he had to block pedestrians to do so. I walked in front of his vehicle. Instead of pointing at the crosswalk or the sign across the street, I instead pointed at the grill of his truck. “Oh my god!” I said. And kept pointing. “You need to see this,” I told him, continuing to point. He put his truck in park and exited his truck to see what I was gesticulating toward on the front of his truck. As he did, I walked across the street and kept going. I didn’t look back that time, either. I wondered if he might get angry and return to curse at me. He’d have to make at least TWO more turns to head back in my direction, though.

When I walked two streets past my apartment, I watched a man climb inside the dumpster on the corner. He was having trouble, so I told him to use the truck fork holes as steps. He must have been a newbie to the dumpster scene. I didn’t talk to him long, but it turns out he has a decent job in the evening. He’s been scavenging and reworking furniture and different items. His truck was parked several feet away in the apartment parking lot. He also told me something interesting: that he often found construction workers’ beer in there. They often use it to hide their alcohol while they’re on the job site. He told me that last week he found a bicycle that required only a few dollars of parts – and that he sold it for $100. I wished him luck and told him that he should take a look in the dumpster at my apartment on Sunday afternoon. He thanked me.

I didn’t see another Traverse as I crossed the speed bump again.

X
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Art? And Walking…

“Someone” started an art project on the north fence. 🙂 I fixed as much of the fence as I could, using 200+ hex fence screws, by hand, without power tools. Those are painted floor tiles, backed with buffering felt pads to allow for slight movement and expansion. I’m not done yet. Is anything really ever done? It’s been amusing to watch the passersby and neighbors take a double-take as they walk past or drive up. I have 100+ feet to use if I want. Is it art? I don’t know. But it is colorful and a much-needed dose of it for this pale place. Now that it’s spring, I’m adding color everywhere. Including a super-secret project I’ve been doing incrementally. The super-secret project requires a little bit of stealth, as it’s not an authorized art display. But it sticks out like a blazing pair of pants if you look in the right direction.

Last week, I made an effort to wear my FitBit more consistently. I fell short of 160,000 steps Monday-Friday. It’s somewhere around 72 miles. I might have overshot my competition a bit. 🙂 My previous closest rival wouldn’t join my workweek hustles this week. The whole point for me is to challenge myself. But it does work much better if someone is nipping at my heels through the week.

Cold

My heart of glass beat both brittle and warm this morning. Almost beyond my control, I found myself putting on my wireless headphones and walking to work. Despite the cold at 4 a.m. As I passed Pack Rat and the reflective pond, I looked up to see a shooting star falling and heading Northeast.

“If I had only known the last time would be the last time, I would have put off all the things I had to do…” It was pure synchronicity that the song Lynette had recommended to me was playing. Some songs resonate differently, and especially so when I’m the sole occupant of the entire trail.

I thought of Willie, Nelly, Barb and Barbara, Mike, Jimmy, Buck, Bobby Dean, and Carolyn. What they would do to be able to feel cold and their fingers tingle, looking up at the streak of illumination as it fell.

I could not hear the mockingbird but I knew it was out there, waiting for first light. My pace quickened. As the steps accumulated into the thousands, I no longer noticed the cold. I sang and whispered to the mockingbird.

My brittle heart unaccompanied on the cement path. Feeling happy. And thinking of all the people who no longer have the chance to feel the cold.

Love X
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