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Redirection

Last year, my writer and blogger friends from my local critique group convinced me that a blog is supposed to stick to a main theme. I started my first blog as a mish-mash of topics that I felt passionate about, and I was told that was not the way to go.

I split off three topics into three additional theme-focused blogs, and this was the blog for my ups and downs of fitness.

Mostly through my lack of effort, this plan hasn’t worked the way I’d like it to. 1) Keeping 4 blogs “current” with new content is far more challenging and requires a level of effort I obviously cannot provide. 2) I’m led to believe that what matters most is not theme but passion. Readers want entries written not to fill content for content’s sake, but to express what’s on the writer’s heart. Despite a variety of topics on my original blog, people still find the topics they want and respond to the best of my writing.

Therefore I will not be updating this blog any more. I am going to consolidate back to one blog.

I deeply and sincerely appreciate all of you who followed this blog and responded to my writing here, whether through comments, likes, or simply views. I will of course continue writing about my experiences with the gym, so if you haven’t already followed my main blog and would like to, please check out SonWorshiper.

Silver Linings

This week I am reminded that what’s “good for me” may not always be what’s “best for me.” And what’s easy or convenient is rarely helpful for my health.

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Last week, I got screwed. Seriously. They put two screws through my left heel bone and into the bone above that. Sub-talar fusion, it’s called. The idea is to make two bones in a joint grow into one solid mass of bone that won’t move – thus mitigating pain and joint problems.

The downside (other than pain) is about six weeks of non-weight-bearing status on the left foot.

A friend lent me a knee scooter that her husband used after surgery earlier in the year, and at first it was great. I could wind my way through obstacles and zip down the aisles of the grocery store. It made getting out and about incredibly easy and even fun.

Then the handlebar started turning independent of the wheels. Something broke free or loosened up in the frame, and despite several attempts, we could not get the handlebar and wheel alignment to remain straight.

So when I hit a bump or need to turn, it’s dicey.

At first, I was annoyed. My new-found fun and freedom vanished in an instant.

Then I remembered feeling out of shape and out of breath every time I hop on one foot or crawl up the stairs. (I know, that’s an experience that might be kind of specific to me and my situation.)

Bed rest and lazing about have not been conducive to any sort of fitness.

After a full day of crutching around, my arms and shoulders are sore. My right foot and right leg want rest. But my energy level is up, and I don’t feel beat just getting around the house.

Like all that advice about parking further away and taking the stairs, sometimes the small changes in our lives are enough to make a positive impact.

I may be de-feeted, but I’m not defeated.

Ever had a change or an unexpected problem that turned into a positive experience? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in a comment.

Fat Talk

If your Facebook friends are like mine, your feed probably fills up with posts from Upworthy, whose goal it is to post meaningful content into social media. I generally like their offerings, but this one about women got my attention.

It’s probably worth a view, but here’s the short version:

A store is set up to sell clothes, and women are invited to check out the wares. There are signs around the store and tags on the clothes which reprint some of the terrible comments these women have made about themselves, stuff like “I look good from the neck up, #cow” and “you’ll look like a whale in this.” Some of the women appear offended for a moment, but then they realize, “OMG those are things I’ve said about myself!” Everyone talks about how they should think better of themselves, and they all grow as a result of the experience. Down with fat talk!

That’s all well and good. I know this video speaks to an all-too-common experience for many women.

What concerns me is that “fat talk” is pretty much acceptable anywhere in our society – so long as you’re not an average healthy woman making fun of yourself. When the target of the fat talk is an actual overweight person, then it’s open season. There are chuckles, smirks, judging glances, open stares. Some people at least have the decency to cover their mouths and whisper to their neighbor, as if covering a cough or disguising something unpleasant. But the laughter that follows is telling. It’s not unpleasant at all, it’s quite fun for all involved.

Except for the woman or man being made fun of.

“You wouldn’t say this to someone else,” the video declares. But the problem is, many people will say these things about someone else, just not to their faces. I’m not sure how that’s better.

But who cares about the overweight person, right? I mean, they’re already a lost cause. Let’s worry about the healthy women who have self-esteem issues, and let’s get them to stop saying bad things about themselves. Or so goes the implied logic.

I disagree. If shaming oneself is a terrible thing – and I think it is – then tell me: How can it be acceptable to heap shame on someone else?

Yes, let’s end “fat talk.” Let’s start by putting an end to finger-pointing, judgmental giggles, and disdainful looks.

That’s a worthy effort, to this reader.

What do you think? Is our self-inflicted “fat talk” a problem as described in the video? What about when it’s directed at others? Could this be, as my wife believes, a good first step in getting away from shaming others? Let me know how you feel in a comment. And if you agree, share this message with that video.

Bed Rest, Round 2

Here I am again, in bed, foot wrapped in a massive dressing and elevated to prevent swelling. Yesterday I had new hardware put into my left ankle to fuse two bones and hopefully mitigate chronic pain.

It’s technically accurate to say I got screwed.

But I am grateful. Much to my surprise, given a busy flying schedule here and at the base I will soon move to, my Air Force leadership found time and opportunity to get me into surgery with the same fantastic doctor who did an outstanding job on my right foot nine months ago.

I stopped flying a little early here, and I won’t fly for the first couple months at the new base. Everyone eats a bit of the cost, and everyone ends up happy. Win win.

That said, I still have to worry about my old frenemy, the gym. And by that I mean fitness or working out in general.

I passed my PT test for the Air Force, but holidays and general laziness have crept back into my routine. And now I can’t put weight on one of my feet, so a host of my favorite activities are right out.

And I’m due again in April, so above all, I have to watch my waist and get some exercise.

There are some exercises I can do here at home: sit-ups with only one leg hooked under something for support, one-leg planks, a variety of arm and upper body motions using dumbbells. Our gym does have one of those arm-bicycles (for lack of a technically accurate term).

And I’ll be spending time hopping around on one foot a lot. I used to go for ‘walks’ on crutches just to keep moving. The small hill outside my house always got my heart rate up, so that’s still an option.

The good thing is, I know what to expect from this process. It’s inconvenient, but if my recovered right foot is any judge, it’s well worth the pain and the downtime.

So, with no frustration or worry, I can say, “Here we go again!”

Do you have any thoughts on good exercises for someone who can’t put weight on one foot? I’d love to hear them. Post in a comment if you think of anything, and thank you!

State or Step

Failure.

Why is it success is so often followed by failure? Is it overconfidence when things are going well? Is it complacency and satisfaction with “good enough” that lets me settle for less than my goal? Or is it that I need that swift boot of desperation repeatedly applied to my backside in order to propel me to succeed?

It has been almost a month since I’ve watched my diet, almost a month since I’ve really pushed hard on a workout. Why?

Because I passed my dreaded PT test. Not only passed, but did better than I expected.

We had a party scheduled for the next day, so I took a day off to celebrate.

A day off becomes a weekend. A weekend becomes a week becomes two.

Two weeks go by and I feel some guilt and get to the gym or choose some healthy snacks for a day.

But the good habits I built – those are fragile. They can’t withstand a two week break.

And now the guilt becomes the excuse. “Oh man, I’ve been away so long… I don’t want to get back into it. It’s gonna hurt.”

Blogging and writing are the same way. The WordPress app symbol mocks me each time I open my iPad, and I avert my eyes in shame. “I’ll get back to blogging soon… soon… but I can’t face how long I’ve been away. I can’t fix another broken habit right now.”

Failure comes in two kinds: the step, and the state.

I learned long ago (and sometimes remember to put into practice) that we must plan for failure, for weak moments and bad decisions. Recognize the failure. Correct the problem. Adjust the plan if needed. Get back on track.

In that instance, failure is one step–a mis-step perhaps–on the path to eventual success.

Failure as a state is far worse. It’s the voice in my head saying I’ve been away from this so long, what’s the point of trying today? It’s the false hope found in banking on future opportunities. “I’m too busy today, I’ll do this tomorrow.”

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
until TURN OFF THE XBOX AND GO WORK OUT. —MacBeth, by Shakespeare, slightly modified.

Here’s my commitment: Never let a misstep determine the state I’m in.

How about you?

Snacko

“Hi, my name is Dave, and I’m a snackoholic. Yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing how much I eat, so I just kind of owned it.”

In the military, we often have a snack bar in our units. There’s a term called the “Snacko” that sometimes gets thrown around. I first heard it in Japan, where coworkers said “Snacko-san.” I assumed it meant the snack bar. But Urban Dictionary informs me that it’s a joking name for the lowest ranking officer, the individual tasked with refreshing snack supplies.

There’s an additional duty no one wants!

Some days at work, I find myself constantly grazing. Snacking. Munching. Whatever you want to call it, my hand is constantly picking up a small morsel of something to eat.

I’ve been doing the same job for 18 years, and I have tried to fight that habit. But it persists.

I’ve tried strict diet programs, calorie counts, restrictive food choices, and even the popular advice of “Just put down the fork, son.” Those all work great for a time, then snap on a bad day. And when I fail and give up the strict regime, I end up worse than before.

So I’ve gone all Bruce Lee and embraced this situation in order to defeat it.

They forgot about his most famous quote: Waaa-PAAAAAAH!!!

They forgot about his most famous quote: Waaa-PAAAAAAH!!!

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Instead of a bag of chips, I’ll pack a microwave steamer bag of green beans… they come out crisp, perfect to nibble on one at a time. For a change, in the past I’ve tossed them in a pan with some garlic powder and a touch of cooking spray oil to brown them up.

I skip the sodas and sugary energy drinks for my thermos of black coffee (ok, I do put in some Splenda) and a big bottle of water.

I just finished carving up three fresh peppers into a tupperware dish: one green, one yellow, one red. They’ll make a sweet, juicy treat in the middle of the day.

Skip the fast food or the giant sandwiches and microwaveable meals (though there are certainly healthy options). That’s why God made beef jerky or a string cheese for some protein, and steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots for some vegetables with a touch of fiber.

Fruit’s an option. I squirrel away granola bars in my backpack for the occasional snack between meals. I can even spare an unhealthy favorite treat now and then. (Jelly Bellies are a favorite, despite their hilarious “fat free food” label.)

Doing this gives me room in even a fairly strict diet to splurge on things like the cheesy hash browns with ground beef on my dinner plate.

For me as a snackoholic, it’s all about finding the happy medium: never ravenous, never stuffed. If I’m ravenous, I’m prone to terrible decisions about food choice and portion size. If I’m stuffed, it’s most likely because I made those terrible decisions already.

But if I’m never hungry, merely peckish, nibbling on this or that out of the healthy options I’ve set aside, then even a day of snacking works out just fine.

When I pay attention to what I make available to myself, I can stop paying so much attention to how much of it I’m eating.

Monday in Disguise

Labor Day gave a welcome and relaxing break from most labor.

But Monday did not miss its opportunity, and snuck in under the guise of Tuesday.

I hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. Gym clothes were folded neatly in my bag, tennis shoes set beside my desk. As the clock ticked way past my intended departure time, and as crises demanded solutions or added stress for the near future, I reminded myself I came ready for this.

No little work drama was going to deny me the chance to feel better! No pressure or fear of impending life changes were going to keep me from pursuing the healthy life change I’ve been seeking.

So here I sit, grinding calories and circumstances together into fuel to pedal this bike up a steep climb. My legs are screaming, but my stressors are silenced for this beautiful, precious moment.

It’s like the old adage about prayer and personal reflection. My inclination is that with everything on my plate, I don’t have to waste on a workout.

The truth is, with everything on my plate, I can’t afford to miss it.

What’s your favorite stress reliever to drive off the workday pressure? I’d love to hear it in a comment. Maybe it’s an idea I should try.