Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not The Right Kind Of "Crunches"

Getting old sucks. As each year passes, I rapidly am becoming one of the oldest people I know and am none to happy about it.

I have tried to compensate for the ravages of time and gravity with diet and exercise. I have found that with the diet side of things, I at least have a little less chance of hurting myself in the process.

(Except maybe in the case of Sriracha, which some friends got me to try recently and is mislabeled in stores across America as a "hot sauce", while in fact is a dangerously addictive drug. That burns your face off.)

Culinary Crack.

The day after I finished my 2nd round of P90X (11/11/11), I walked into a gym nearby my house and signed up for a 3 month trial. Then the day after that, my obviously being serious about fitness as I have become, I went in and immediately got straight to work on the task of severely injuring myself.

It is much easier than it used to be in the old days, as they now have entire walls of very expensive, state of the art machines devoted entirely to seriously hurting yourself.

I am not sure how I did it, since I am pretty careful about form, not pushing too hard, etc. I still don't know for sure, but I think it was the bench press machine and my already having bad shoulders (one from surgery and the other from dislocating).

In P90X, all chest exercises are pushups which are typically only pushing about 75% of your body weight... so maybe 125 pounds of my 170 pounds.

Typically, I would do 12 sets of pushups, anywhere from 20 to 30 reps. Since bench press is really the only exercise I wasn't able do at home in P90X with just the dumbbells, I turned up the weight just a little on the gym machine and did 3 sets of 165 pounds, 10 times each.

I could have done more, but my shoulders were already hurting, so luckily I didn't. I think if I shot for a max weight (1 rep), I probably would not be able to type this right now. As it was, I could barely lift the right arm the next day.

I also did a bunch of sets on 7 other machines, working shoulders, biceps, triceps and legs.

Now the right shoulder crunches loud enough for others to hear it, but to be fair, it only does that if I move it.

So, I still have to see the Podiatrist about the arthritis in the right foot. Now I guess I also have to see someone about the shoulder, maybe both of them. But luckily only one hip is bad!

Today I did Day 1 of P90X, but will not do it all the way through, as in every day for 3 months again. I am just trying to do enough to keep moving through December and maybe even speed the healing of the shoulder by getting more blood flow to it (and not pushing too hard).

My shoulder hurt like crazy tonight, so I held back a little, but I still was able to do 195 pushups and 165 pullups.

So, I will hopefully just do enough to not get out of shape for when it comes time to do P90X2 in January.

Assuming of course that any of my limbs will still be connected and functional come 2012.

Maybe I should just get a juicer, like Jack LaLanne. He did live to a ripe old 96, after all.

But who knows if along the way he ever got hooked on the Sriracha.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I am the 1 %

Recently, I have made some jokes at the expense of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement and for that I want to apologize. I am not too big or proud to admit when I have been in the wrong, and I was.

After thinking about what some friends have said to me, I understand that there is a time for kidding around and there is a time to take things seriously, because they really are serious matters.

Regardless of where you even stand on the OWS issue politically, you cannot fairly attack someone whose basic premise is wanting to simply see a little more equity and balance across the widely different groups in America.

I know what this is like, having been born with a lot more than most others in America, let alone the world. I am incredibly fortunate. Blessed.

I am talking of course about being born with a much, much greater amount of good looks.

I am the 1 %.

Some are born cute and grow up to be only average. Others are born hideous, but then blossom into a beautiful swan after puberty rearranges their faces a little, thank god.

And some start out ugly and skate through life a good 70 or 80 years without any improvement at all. You have seen them.

Me? Nope. Born adorable, shot straight into cute, then ruggedly handsome, etc. There were no in between stages or downtime.

Is that fair? Of course not. I also don't pretend it is not a bit of a burden, because more should be expected from me.

"To him that is given much good looks, much is required." This is just a fact and I understand this. I accept it.

If I could take even a small portion of my handsomeness and divide it equally between a bunch of ugly people, don't you think I would? I wouldn't even hesitate. I have to look at their faces more than even they do.

The next time you're tempted to laugh and mock those standing up for what they believe in, stop to think about what you have and for some of us, what many others only dream of experiencing.

When you're born with so much more... handsomer, smarter, funnier, can run faster, etc., it is our responsibility to stop along the way and encourage and help those with so much less than we were given.

For the 9 out of 10 who range from "ok" looking, to average, to cripplingly unattractive, we are not better than them. They are people too. Just uglier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Local Old Guy Somehow Keeps Moving

I am old. Everyone already knows I am old (nigh a half century), but I paid a medical specialist this month to confirm it with specialized testing, such as x-rays and carbon dating.

My right foot has hurt for almost ten years and I always attributed it to a past martial arts sparring injury, when I accidentally kicked a little kid in the head. The second time.

While examining it last week, it occurred to the doctor to have me also remove the other shoe from the non-hurting, yet equally old left foot.

She asked if I ever noticed the foot's ball (latin for "big toe knuckle") of the right, hurting one was much bigger than the one on the left.

I honestly hadn't and thanked her for finally giving me something new to be self conscious of my body about. Awesome!

The x-rays came back on Friday and her suspicions were accurate, that the right foot has arthritis (latin for "old person knuckles").

Arthritis can afflict people of any age, but is usually associated with the demographic of decrepit fogies in rocking chairs, holding a big metal horn up to their ear and yelling "EH?" a lot. My people.

The good news is it only hurts really bad if I step down on the right foot and the bad news is I only do that about 20 or 30 thousand times a day. When I first started working out 6 months ago, its regular and constant pain of almost 10 years started to increase a bit, but has gotten a lot worse in the last month.

Serendipitously (or some other big word), this is the very last day of my finishing P90X for the second time this year and with the foot pain, I have been forced to modify some of the exercises.

One of them is called "balance lunges" and is a deep lunge with the back foot up in the air on a chair behind you. This allows you to really target specific areas, maximizing everything from falling over, to pulling a groin muscle.

(This was me, just 6 months ago!)

Other than that, the only exercises I have had to modify a little are the few that require either standing or stepping down on the right foot. So, only the ones that are not sit-ups.

I also started running 6 months ago and in that relatively short time, I went all the way from a 12 minute mile, down to an 9 minute mile, then down to a 7 and a half minute mile and finally down to a fairly impressive "oh my god, what's wrong with my foot".

From the doctor's referral, my next step is to go and see a Podiatrist, which is good, because I can finally ask an actual foot specialist how in the heck they got stuck with a name as stupid as "Podiatrist". I mean seriously... say it out loud.

I'll probably also ask what I can do to keep working out, running and maybe even continuing this whole "walking thing" I've grown fond of over the last forty-mumble years.

We'll see. I am supposed to start P90X2 in January and I'm already looking forward to the crazy pull-ups and any of the other non-foot-contact-to-floor exercises.

I'll definitely find a way to keep going without injuring myself worse. I have to. I can't imagine reeling back my working out, as I've gotten addicted to it.

I actually rely on exercising now, for regulating energy and mood levels as well as helping with other chronic pain conditions and being able to give lots of money to GNC every month.

I have had to compensate for other physical limitations. I have a bad left hip and two bad shoulders, one that I dislocated and the other that I had surgery on.

But I am being extra careful and modifying whenever needed, so I can keep active and continue exercising. I think it's important.

This will probably be the first time I have ever, ever suggested that others make a personal decision to improve their diet and exercise, but I really do recommend it.

Try it. You'll feel better, look better, live longer and have one more thing to really annoy people about.

In all seriousness, after I finished P90X the first time 3 months ago, I did a two part blog post about the health problems I have had over the years, wanting to focus on diet and exercise but being unable to.

(Part 1 and Part 2 of Bad Seasons, Good Seasons)

Diet and exercise are two of the few things at my disposal for helping with my chronic pain of many years.

Here are my before and after photos, going back to May, then to August and then from today.

I honestly have really worked a lot on my leg muscles too, but for now am only posting pictures from the waist up, to crop out the freakishly over-sized big toe knuckle.