Category Archives: Fitness

How Bad?

After a 13 hour work day (with a 9.5 hour operational sortie), I wanted nothing more than to go to bed as soon as I got home.

Well, I guess that’s not entirely true… because I forced myself through a 30-minute bodyweight exercise workout, and now I’m sitting on my new indoor bike pedaling away against moderate resistance while typing these thoughts.

I’m mostly doing it because I know the Air Force still has PT standards and I still have a PT test coming up in 2 months. And I don’t think I presently meet the standards, so it’s going to take action to fix that. 

How bad do I want to sleep? How bad do I want to avoid getting in trouble with the military? And how bad do I want to feel lighter, healthier, more energetic?

I know it’s possible… because a year ago I was in far better shape, and I felt great. How bad do I want that state back?
Throw the switch on the tracks of this train of thought, and let me think about writing.

Today I handed out four or five copies of my novel to co-workers and friends who expressed interest. One of them saw me signing a copy for someone else and said, “Hey, I’ll take one of those. I like your writing.”

I expressed surprise and asked, “What writing of mine have you read?” I forgot that he took a gander at a short story I’d written for a Blog Battle entry. And I realized that even though I work with a bunch of fellow nerds who love to troll and tease each other, some people genuinely enjoy my work.

When I handed a different friend his copy, I had another one of those “yes, you can look me up on Amazon” conversations. It felt awkward, as always. It felt cool, as always. 

And today one of my first fans asked, “How’s book two coming?”

I had to stop and admit that the book two word count hasn’t moved in probably a week or more. I’ve been flying a lot, but most writers (and I daresay all amateur writers) have full-time jobs and real-life demands. 

So how bad do I want to send a fan a link to Book Two?  How much does it mean to me that people want me to sign a book for them? What do my actions say about what this hobby/job means to me?

Since I started out writing, I’ve encountered several intelligent and capable people who also express interest in writing. But almost all of them talk about it as a “what if,” or “maybe someday,” or “it would be cool to…”

Diffraction was my “maybe someday” for several years, until I cracked down, cranked out the work, took the lumps of constructive criticism, cranked out more work on revision, and formatted the manuscript.

On December 21st, 2015, “maybe someday” became “today.” 
What’s your “maybe someday” dream?

How bad do you want it?

Makeshift Reblog

A friend of mine has started posting some parts of a philosophy of holistic fitness that he’s been thinking through. He focuses on the common experiences that unite us – shared ideas based on what it means and feels like to be a physical being. While I love to pick on him (usually in retribution) and disagree with him about many things, I’ve always enjoyed hearing his perspective. 
Maybe you will too. 

It appears he has reblogs turned off, but links work just fine.

Shadow-Boxing

A friend posted a cartoon that caught my eye. The character looked over a list of resolutions and expressed frustration, knowing this year’s efforts – like so many others – were doomed to failure. Then he changed the list to negative versions. “Get fat. Become weak. Watch more TV.” That kind of thing.

The last scene has his son looking at the list, while he lifts weights and sweats in exertion. His son says, “You’re off to a horrible start on these, Dad.” And he replies, “I know.”

I like that. 

I thought about 2015 and what I accomplished:

  • published three books available on Amazon and CreateSpace
  • regained an additional aircrew qualification in the military
  • Deployed to the Middle East for three months 
  • flew 89 sorties in the fiscal year (October – October) — roughly 1 every 4 days
  • beat out the rest of my coworkers on flights (one friend made it to 85… the next highest had 20 less than us)
  • started a family devotion time with my wife and kids
  • knocked out 5 separate debts
  • crawled out of the unfit mess I’d gotten myself into
  • started a walk-to-run program after not running for about five years
  • reached my lowest weight in about 10 years
  • used my talents in professional settings – performing vocals for the Japanese and American anthems for a co-worker’s retirement and playing Christmas tunes for social hour at our squadron holiday party
  • Played and sang for the chapel while deployed

All that said, I know “the rest of the story.”

  • I struggled for years to put those books together and can’t shake the feeling they could’ve been better
  • I’ve dropped several balls at work that now need to be addressed
  • I’ve let my relationships with my wife and kids grow stale or routine
  • I’ve done the same with my faith
  • I continue to make terrible spending decisions based on convenience, impatience, and selfishness
  • We’ve added or increased a couple debts while eliminating others
  • I crawled back into the unfit mess by ignoring fitness while focusing on other things
  • I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost
  • I’m still not doing anything on a regular basis with the talents I possess.

So this year, I’m not making empty promises to myself about what I will or won’t do. Like the comic, my list is full of anti-resolutions–the bad answers to questions I ask myself whenever I consider what 2016 holds. 

And I took a cue from a friend who recently posted a verse she chose for the year. My selection speaks to my frustration and my desire for better answers.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/1co.9.24-27.esv

I look forward to what this year holds… not because I expect some “new me” to appear. I just want to find the one I know already exists deep down.

Better Stories

I’m walking on my treadmill with my makeshift desk, typing out the broad-brush concept of my Echoes short story, thinking about the beliefs and possibilities we either cling to or cast aside.

“What weakens certain dreams?” I write. “What broke down the belief ‘I am beautiful’ or ‘I can be a writer’ or ‘I will find my true love’ in this fictional character? What breaks that down in each of us?”

Over the last few days, I’ve found new interest in conversations where co-workers discuss the struggles involved in trying to change their lifestyles or develop better, healthier habits. I’ve noted in myself as much as in others the ease with which we settle on the worst possible outcome in certain situations, seemingly assured by past experience that there’s no point in hoping for something better.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves really suck.

A muffled voice and motion in my peripheral vision gets my attention, and I pop out an earbud. 

“Daddy,” my wild middle boy asks, “can I go outside and play?”

“Sure, if Mom’s cool with it.”

He darts off, and I notice our 4 year old Dude trailing behind him down the hall. And back again, as his brother heads for the door wearing a sweatshirt hoodie on Okinawa. I call his brother back and tell him to change his shirt into something more appropriate to the humidity and heat. And there goes the Dude, following his brother back down the hall once more like a duckling with its mother.

Who do we follow in life? Who do we look to for inspiration? Whose statements about the world around us hold the most weight in our minds? Whose statements about us do we accept as obviously true?

I have a coworker and friend who is a fitness beast. He does all that CrossFit / TacFit stuff that scares the crap out of me… stuff where you pile a bunch of weights onto some torture device and walk down the street, or you lay out giant tires and pound them with sledgehammers, or you squat untill your legs erupt in fire like volcanoes (and then you squat some more). He and his wife built themselves a gym in the garage, and he posts pictures of their workout efforts fairly often.

He’s also a great photographer with a gift for capturing beautiful moments with his wife and kids. One of his recent pictures came to mind as a perfect example of what I’m writing about here:

 

There are people in your life that you inspire just by being you.
Photograph and copyright – Bryan Holm. Used with permission.
 
Who are we looking up to in life? Whose example are we consciously or unconsciously following?

And who might be looking at us, deciding what stories to believe about themselves based on our words and actions? 

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves really suck. 

Write better ones. 

Making Time

“I would, but I don’t have the time!”

Whether the topic is exercise, writing, a volunteer opportunity, or some other optional pursuit, I’ve heard and said those words countless times. I’m sure you have too.

But we’ve all probably heard it said: <em>You make time for what matters to you.</em>

It took me by surprise a few years ago, but writing really matters to me. Given my job–or more specifically my desire to keep my job–fitness matters too. Most of all, spending time with my wife and kids is a priority, but it’s so easy to get distracted and shove that to “tomorrow.”

I’ve found I can double the benefit I get out of the same amount of time.

One: a lot of my writing is done on a stationary bike. I can prop up the iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, and tap keys while pushing the pedals. Can’t I find an hour a day to spend on NaNoWriMo? Why not spend it on the bike?

Two: I took a board we had from moving and laid it across the arms of our treadmill. Makeshift desk for free instead of hundreds of dollars, and I can walk at a light pace (2-3 mph) while writing. It’s not much, but it’s not sedentary!

Three: I’ve been reading to my kids for some family time, doing funny voices for different characters and sharing some of my favorite books with them. Now I often do it while walking on the treadmill. Again 3 mph seems the magic pace where I can read (a little uncomfortably) while challenging myself a bit.

Four: For relaxation, I play video games like World of Warcraft on my laptop. Hello, treadmill desk! Yes, I’ve run instances in WoW and finished off quests while walking on the treadmill at the same time. If I’m going to play for an hour (haha, an hour, that’s so cute, let’s be honest 3 or 4 hours) I might as well get something beneficial out of the time. Something more than just another level or another piece of pretend equipment.

Five: “But Dave,” you say, “I don’t have a treadmill, and I don’t have access to a good gym or a stationary bike.” Great point. Let’s assume you’re fortunate enough to have a tablet or at least a smartphone. Hopefully you also have access to a school track or walking path, or a safe sidewalk route where you won’t get run over or jostled by other pedestrians. (Come on, certainly you have a place to walk.) I walk around the track sometimes, tapping away at my on-screen keyboard or entering words into my wee little phone screen. I’m going to have to edit later anyway, so mistakes and auto-correct failures don’t really matter. And do I look weird? No, I just look like I’m trying to relive my teenage years, walking with my head down, eyes and thumbs glued to my personal device. People are going to judge anyway. I might as well do something productive while they’re doing it.

I know, none of these are novel ideas or earth-shattering fitness breakthroughs.

IMG_1322.JPG

What they are, though, are answers to many of my excuses.

What have you found as a helpful way to maximize your productivity? I’d love to hear in a comment.

Do It Now

I’ve got some freedom and free time on my hands while I’m on a business trip to the States.

And I have all sorts of grand plans for how to spend the time. Writing my current project, planning my NaNoWriMo project, catching up on other bloggers’ posts, reading up on a few subjects, playing some piano at the music room in the community center, maintaining a healthy diet instead of the junk food that’s readily available.

One of my goals is 2 hours of aerobic activity each day. Maybe not all-out soul-crushing intensity aerobic activity, but 2 hours of good exercise.

Of course here I sit in my room as the clock ticks away the remains of the day.

I messaged my wife to let her know I’m headed to the gym (where sometimes we can’t chat online), and the message captures something I’ll file away in my Motivation folder:

My inner procrastinator is crying and calling me a traitor.
My inner procrastinator is crying and calling me a traitor.

I don’t know what tasks you have on your to-do list, but one of the lessons I constantly have to re-learn is that none of them age well. If you can do it now, do it. Enjoy looking back on the completed task rather than dreading the task that lies ahead.

So, I’m off to the gym. See you in a couple hours.

Pain-ini

Last week I whined about the juice bar in our gym on base selling what I presumed were pizzas at lunch time during my workout.
I’m all for unhealthy food choices as an exercise motivator. We used to celebrate Push For Your Pie Fridays at work, where we’d have a goal of total push-ups performed by the office team, with a pie to share at the end of the day as a reward. (I may re institute this plan in my next job.)
I’m the Spin Instructor who confessed I was only turning the pedals so I could justify a Caramel Macchiato later.
But at the 45:00 point in an hour on the elliptical, the aroma of fresh toasted panini is over the line of what is reasonable!

The political side of me says this is smart and this is capitalism. They have a perfect crowd of hungry customers.

But my rage will not forgive this affront.

It’s the Anti-Thin, the Abomination of Dietary Desolation. It is a wrong thing, a trap for the unwary. And there is nothing but despair within.

This is why I can’t come in here with money.

I want to burn that place to the ground.

I guess I’ll go eat my stinking can of tuna with some steamed green beans instead. And it will taste like ash, as my heart seethes with hatred.

They should know better than to mess with people on a diet.

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Counter-Productive

After Physical Therapy this morning, I hopped over to the base gym to put the rest of my body through some paces.

Having not eaten breakfast, going just before lunch time might have been a mistake.

The gym at some point opened a lunch bar. I walk in to the area with all the exercise equipment and immediately smell all manner of deliciousness. Is that pizza? I heard folks talking about gyros. This on top of the smoothies and shakes they already offered?

Whose side are these people on?!

I guess it’s no worse than me a few years ago as a Spin Instructor, bringing doughnuts to my class as “added motivation.” Maybe this is karma.

Self-control won out over hunger, at least for today.

If you go to a gym or fitness center, do they serve food and tantalize their customers with the aroma? Or do you find yourself tempted when you jog or bike past some restaurant in the local area?

Share a story in a comment. I need some company in my misery. 😀

A Day Without Vitamin M

One of the jokes in the Air Force flying community is that Flight Surgeons love to hand out Motrin / ibuprofen like it’s a vitamin or daily supplement. “Vitamin M” is the nickname, and the 800mg horse pill is the most common form.

My recovery from surgery is going great; following X-rays this morning, I was released by the orthopedic surgeon. The two screws embedded in my foot are in the right place, and the bones are fusing together.

I’ve started physical therapy as well as my own personal workout routine, and for the most part, those are relatively painless.

So today, as I walked down the hall, sucking breath through gritted teeth and wincing with each step, I thought, “What is wrong? I haven’t felt this bad in weeks!” My legs are sore from extra exercise on Monday, but this was more than aching muscles.

Then I realized I haven’t taken any Motrin today. Normally I pop a dose with the Vitamin D supplement my surgeon put me on, because there’s always a constant buzz of pain coming from that left foot.

Today was a good reminder. I don’t need the Motrin. I am getting better. I’m not back to 100% yet, but I will be soon. I’ve walked around all day, accepting some discomfort, and forcing my foot to cooperate.

That said, now that I know I don’t absolutely require a pain-killer, I’m probably going to take one tomorrow… Because I can choose to, not because I have to.

It’s a good feeling to have that option.

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It’s a scientific fact. I’m pretty screwed up.

Grinding Gears

This morning I forced myself out of bed to honor a commitment.

My swollen Frankenstein foot is healing. I’m attending physical therapy sessions to strengthen it. But my whole body needs exercise. My speed has to improve, and my waistline must shrink so I can pass a fitness test.

Time to move.

The first hundred feet powerwalking feel like running a motor with no oil. Like trying to get my tires out of mud or gravel, and they’re spinning with no traction.

It’s like my old 10-speed after a long winter. I’d pull it out of the garage once the snow melted, and spray WD-40 over the chain and gears. But it still took a few minutes of pedaling to shake everything loose. Grinding metal. Sudden jolts as the chain stuck and snapped loose. Frequent rattling. Then finally, it became reliable.

Even then, when I shifted speeds, the chain would sometimes slip off. I’d have to stop, put it back together, get the chain back on track, and start up again.

Effort is the oil in the engine of greatness.

The Chinese understand this. Their word for “to add oil; lubricate” ( 加油 / jia you, pronouced “jah yo”) has the figurative meaning of increasing effort, pushing harder, stepping on the gas.

With this foot, I’m never going to be a marathon runner. I’ll probably never sprint very fast. I won’t be an awesome basketball player.

But I will regain and surpass the speed I once could achieve on this foot. And I will be able to shoot hoops with my daughter again. And who knows, maybe even I’ll go back to running a fitness test instead of merely walking.

Because I will wake up on cold mornings, spray some “oil” on that ankle, suck it up, and start walking. I will get on the bike, strap my feet in, and turn up the resistance. And when it gets easy, I’ll add another level or two.

What matters isn’t where you’re at now. Where you were before doesn’t matter either. What matters is where you’re headed, and what you’re willing to do to get there.

Writing–really, any creative effort–is similar. I used to say writing was a hobby. But I’ve put in effort and study to improve my craft. I keep doing so. I call myself a writer, because writing is what I do, what I will continue to do.

In fact, I call myself author, because I’ve written numerous short stories and devotionals. I’ve put over a hundred thousand words into a manuscript and I have composed over 150 songs. Maybe soon I will self-publish. With some hope, maybe I will one day have work printed in a publication or published by a professional company.

All I know is that today I will sit down at the keyboard and turn words into sentences, phrases into paragraphs, passages into chapters. Then I’ll edit and revise until it’s the strongest work I can produce today.

And I won’t be content with that, so I’ll make myself do better tomorrow.

I’m not saying I’m great. I’m saying I’m not satisfied.

What commitment to yourself are you going to honor today?