We all have a duty to look after our physical health. The body is your vehicle through which your mind and spirit travel in and act through, throughout your life. We’re lucky to have abundant information, resources, and teachers to help us for caring for our body, but without personal responsibility and action, progress is left to chance. Ancient medicine taught us to be active participants of our own health, modern medicine encourages us to be passive recipients of health. We can make the best of both by placing more attention and energy on observing our body, environment, and taking daily action to create energetic surplus through moderating stress, practicing movement, good nutrition and quality rest.
I suspect that a lot of people reading my musings are already steeped in the wisdom of movement generally. It’s simply nice to find things like this on the big ‘ol Internet; A large article written by someone who’s clearly thought a lot, moved a lot, and thought a lot about moving. There’s a wonderful quote that feels parallel to this article’s sentiments:
No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training … what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which is body is capable.
Clearly (based on all these blog posts) I’m not afraid of repeating myself, and it feels in each moment as if I’m repeating myself. I see the same patterns in what interests me, and I think the same trains of thoughts. When I zoom farther out however, I see long, slow trends. The problem for me with repetition is that I find the salience of things tapers away towards zero. I’m [knowingly] within a few feet of a snake so rarely that my brain effortlessly applies maximum attention; but the number on the scale, not so much. What works for me is when the repetition is uncertain. I know I’ll read one of my quotes tomorrow, but it’ll be a random one—and I’ll remember it instantly as soon as I start reading it. Repetition repetition on to something else then… surprise! …more repetition!
Deliberate practice is the key to expert performance in writing, teaching, sports, programming, music, medicine, therapy, chess, business, and more. But there’s more to it than 10,000 hours. Read to learn how to accelerate learning, overcome…
I was dubious at their title, but this article—a tiny book actually—is exquisite. With an estimated reading time of 43 minutes, there’s a lot in there. For example, it mentions…
There is a place, right on the edge of your ability, where you learn best and fastest. It’s called the sweet spot.…The underlying pattern is the same: Seek out ways to stretch yourself. Play on the edges of your competence. As Albert Einstein said, “One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”
By definition LC is about dietary carbohydrate restriction. If you are reducing carbohydrates, your proportional intake of protein or fat, or both, will go up. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with a high fat diet, it seems to me that the true advantage of LC may be in how protein is allocated, which appears to contribute to a better body composition.
Zoinks! This short article is dense. I read each paragraph. Then slowly reread the paragraph, squinting slightly and turning each sentence over in my mind. It feels like there’s at least one actionable-item, (something to start doing, or something to stop doing,) in every paragraph. I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years trying to learn what I can about all the things in this article. It’s a beautiful assembly that backs up the thesis in the first paragraph, (which is quoted entirely above.)
I love the proverb: If there’s somewhere you need to be, you need to start walking. And the only place where I can start walking? …is right where I am now.
I’ve written a smattering of stuff about my training over the years. Once, in college, (age: 20) I was briefly in shape thanks to several semesters’ of effort put into Taekwondo. But in all that time since, I’ve always done well when someone else tells me what to do. “Do this today at this class. Come back for more.” I’ve also done well following the pack. There was an epoch where I was riding my mountain bike excessively, but I really got in shape when I started meeting up with others and trying to keep-in-sight people much better than me.
Last year, as the sun disappeared in a Pennsylvania grey winter, I began plotting a way to take what I had experienced when a seriously dedicated friend of mine had been planning my training, and turn it into something I could use in a self-directed fashion. I’m not a professional athlete and I don’t want to train like one. And on the other hand, simply “living my life” being active when I find those opportunities arising is not enough. I need some planning. So I’m working on that. Today, I’m just talking about the first piece of my plan: Tracking activity.
I have an older FitBit. It works fine, it’s not fancy-schmancy… but critically, I refuse to pay them monthly for extra bells-n-whistles. So this tracking sheet lets me take some notes about what I did each day, and to simply copy down the totals of time from the 4 zones that that FitBit tracks. Simply having the tracking system encourages me to be more mindful about activity—for example, it’s rather nice today, and I’ve a run in mind for later this afternoon.
The next piece of the puzzle is to begin working in activities that are more strenght-training in nature. A QM session, (there is one there on Tuesday,) some simple free-weight exercises, some bouldering, etc..
25 days ago I started a wee challenge: Trying to train every day for 100 days straight. I’d done this challenge in 2017 to mixed results. Physically it was mixed; training every day is too much and I ended up defining some recovery days as “training.” Mentally it was also mixed; I wasn’t trying to build a new habit, so the “daily” part didn’t work towards that, and it became a serious drag forcing myself to train every day.
When I finished the 2017 challenge I knew it sucked and definitely didn’t want to make that a thing I did often, nor even yearly. When 2020 rolled around—my physical activity was exactly as usual, with me outside doing various things just as much as 2019—but I started thinking about doing some more rock climbing (outdoors, on real mountains.) That prompted me to think about getting into better shape. For me, that’s primarily removing fat. For the first couple months I concentrated on diet, which means focusing on when and how much I’m eating.
After I peeled off 10 pounds of blubber, that’s when I had the idea to take on a fresh 100-days-of-training challenge. It was exactly what I remembered it was like: It sucks. In years past I would have just embraced the suck and pushed through the thing. Note that I would have constantly considered myself to be failing. Entirely missing a day here and there, realizing I need a rest day and defining recovery as training, and just generally nagging myself with, “I should go train.” Instead I simply punted on the whole thing and deleted it entirely.
…aaah, yes, the power of “no” when you have a bigger “why” burning inside you.
In certain circles it is said, “what was once your workout will become your warmup.” In my journey of rediscovering activity and play, there was a long period—20 years now, perhaps—where I was able to focus primarily on growth, forward motion, and transformative change. This made for a very long period where my workouts did gradually became my warmups. Certainly I’ve always had rest days; nearly 10 years ago, when I started parkour, it was all I could manage just to recover over the course of the entire week before heading back to the next hard training session. Rest and recovery were always in the mix, simply because I began my journey of transformative work in my 30s.
I’ve found it increasingly challenging to remember the importance of recovery now that I’m no longer shoving the needle of progress ahead day by day. Truth be told, I’m squarely on the mid-life plateau and it is time to take life more freely. Sure, the days of working every day for seven years on the house, climbing mountains, jumping on stuff, and doing things which cause police officers to say, “…and you sir, how old are you? You should know better!” are not over. (As far as I can tell.) But these are also, certainly, the days where spending a couple hours, every day, sitting still reading and writing is truly blissful.
It took me years longer than I had originally hoped to finish this series of posts. I’ve recently decided to push these posts out the door so that they could possibly be of some use to others. Having them laying around as drafts-in-progress isn’t helpful.
As this series was being written, I took a terrific detour working with two friends who were experimenting with starting their own personal training company. They used me as a guinea pig for testing their coaching and training systems for nutrition, psychology of eating and physical training. During this time working with them I succeeded at some huge improvements in psychology (related to eating) and achieved the best physical condition I’ve been in in recorded history. If you want to do a deep dive, check out, Training for the New Alpinism.
What do I want? I simply want to be able to move and play. I’m constrained by physical limitations (age, body type, etc.), but mostly just by my total weight. So although I always want to increase my general fitness, the current first order problem—and I’ve linked directly into the Wikipedia article to the section that could be a profound, new way for you to consider when solving problems—for me is simply weight. For me, that is almost entirely driven by psychology—psychosis?—as it applies to food.
What am I tracking? I’ve often heard, “that which you measure gets improved.” Tracking and measuring does focus your attention, but it only gets you data. You have to be motivated to analyze that data and make adjustments to your routine. Am I making progress? Is the rate of progress what I expected when I planned? Is the progress too slow or too fast? What can I change that would affect the progress? What happens if I cycle periods of tracking a lot, and tracking nothing? You have to look at your assumptions, analyze, research, and experiment to figure out what’s true. “Science, bitch!” ~ Jesse.
This is an insane, 3-hour-long interview. Which I listened to twice. (So far.) Christopher Sommer ( https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/blog/ ) is an Olympic Gymnastics coach and this interview has broadened my horizons– about training, about strength, about recovery, about success, about goals, about gymnastics… I could not even decide what to pull-quote.
So I went for a walk to shake off the aches from two solid days of training at the new LVPK Academy. And I got to the part where I normally loop back and I thought, “I’ve never actually walked up to that upper parking lot…” So I did. Above the lot, another level higher, is a wide open soccer/football field with brilliant green grass, and those 5-tier, ubiqitous, aluminum bleachers. I laid down on the top-most, narrow bleacher– just basking as the bright sun, and the cold wind argued back and forth about wether it was warm or cold weather. Just staring up at this gorgeous blue sky containing one of those new-fangled aeroplanes and one of those old-beaked vultures– the teeny tiny black speck near thebottom, just a bit to the right, …you thought it was a mark on your screen didn’t you? Ever do that yoga pose where you cross your legs and lay back on something alinged along your spine, put your hands behind your head, crack open your entire chest, pull your shoulder blads back and just streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch?