Reactions…

Newtons Cradle

Newton’s Third Law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

I’ve actually heard people use this to justify…or excuse…their actions or behavior in human interactions.

Come to think of it, many folks use Newton’s First Law (link) much in the same way…that is…to justify their actions, or as often, lack of them.

Thing is, Newton’s Laws are physical principles and apply to motion. While this might be uber-critical if you should happen to be playing billiards, launching a rocket, or crashing your car…they are totally and completely irrelevant when applied to human interactions.

Actions and reactions in human behavior are a choice, no more and no less.

The world is ever so much of a better place when we recognize this.

***

Exiting the outward opening door of the stairwell of my parking garage this morning I encountered a tall, professionally dressed black lady just approaching and reaching for the door handle.

Already out/through, I stepped aside and held the door for her.

She stopped within the swing of the door, looked me in the eye, and said, “Piss off.” The fact that she stopped where she did, and didn’t move on, told me she was looking for a confrontation.

I’ll admit my heart dropped a little…most folks are reasonably polite in daily interactions and it hurts a bit when for no apparent reason, they direct their bile squarely at you.

There are lots of ways I could respond to this, many, no doubt, less than polite and completely justifiable given the context.

What I did was leave the polite smile plastered on my face, cock my head slightly, and raise an eyebrow at her.

That’s the polite way to say, “WutDaFug?”

She stood there for a half-a-breath and then said coldly, “I don’t like men much today.”

Ah. One of THOSE days.

***

Let me be clear, THIS is NOT on me. Her reaction, perception, preconceived notion, or what have you about my maleness, whiteness, tallness, shortness, leather-wearing-ness, door-holding-ness or whatever “ness” she could conjure up is straight on her.

I’ve no control or responsibility, even in today’s hyper-sensitive and victim-culture world, for how others choose to interpret my actions or presence.

What I DO have control and responsibility for…and what IS 100% on me, is how I react to this sort of thing. I couldn’t think of anything I knew would make the situation better, but I sure understood a LOT of ways to make it worse.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Push back. Bounce away. Force for force. Bile for bile.

Yeah. No. Humans are NOT billiard balls.

***

Had she walked on, the encounter would have been over, leaving me in a slightly worse mood but otherwise with no harm done. With her standing where she was though, the encounter was far from over and for me to end it, I’d have to let the door go and walk on. It would either hit her or force her to move.

Neither impressed me as palatable options.

What I did, was leave the polite smile in place, continue to hold the door, and say calmly, “I’ve no need for you to like me.”

She looked me in the eye for a couple more heartbeats, said, “Huh.” and walked on.

The end.

I can’t tell you what her issue was. I can’t even say that I made the world a better place. What I know is that I didn’t make it a worse one…and sometimes that just has to do.

Choices. Recognize ’em.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Goals. I have ’em.

Goals. I haz ’em.

Now that I can do more than grimace when I think about moving a shoulder…and I am free of the 4 months of “no work/sudden movements” (12 weeks of that in slings on one arm or the other) and YEAR of “light duty” restrictions, I am back to attacking my fitness hard.

Some of you may recall my overall goal was to lose 200 pounds (100 in this go-around).

I missed it a bit…I got to -188 before my shoulder surgeries and subsequent YEAR of restrictions/rehab. I also let my nutrition slip a bit and gained some back…so now I’m sitting at -167.

Time to restart things, and hard. The goal has changed a bit though.

I now have THREE that I intend to attack simultaneously.

So…On to ‘da Goals!

1) Shoulder strengthening/rehab: Deliberate, structured, persistent, and careful training to bring my shoulders back to and to surpass their strength before the surgeries. This is a high bar. The damage to my shoulders from a lifetime of hard work and dangerous things was frequently referred to as “catastrophic”.

Note that my fitness quest brought this to light…and meant I had to do something about it…but really didn’t cause the issue. More of a “Straw the broke the camel’s back a couple years before it would have broken anyway…plus the camel wasn’t working with a crap to begin with” sort of situation.

Bringing the shoulders back to full strength with structured work and proper form should vastly reduce the possibility of this sort of injury recurring (translation: I don’t want to do this crap again!).

The sobering reality of this challenge is that it’s going to require a continually increasing intensity of work, basically measured by my shoulders being sore to the very edge of my endurance…for a year. Staying motivated to do this…each and every day…is not going to be an easy thing.

2) Fat loss: Rather than target a specific weight, I am targeting a body-fat percentage. I’ve learned a lot along this journey, and one of those things is that “proper” weight (by the BMI standard) is NOT a good measure of health. Rather, body composition IS. The percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass are what health is about. Every study, measure, and metric shows the more lean muscle mass you have, particularly going into your senior years, the better off you will be in every category. This includes things like Alzheimers, cancers, heart disease, and pretty much every disease related cause of death. This is NOT a small factor…something like a 40% reduction in all-cause mortality is achieved for those with a healthy body fat percentage and high lean muscle mass.

“Healthy” body fat is essentially, 10-20%. 15% is considered “athletic”.

In my specific case, at my current body composition, I need to lose 43 pounds of fat to attain the “ideal” 15% number.

To illustrate why I heap scorn on the BMI standard and ANYBODY that preaches it is this: Given my current muscle mass, if I lost 43 pounds of fat and achieved the 15% number, I would STILL BE MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OVERWEIGHT based on the BMI.

I am NOT, by any measure, built on a “light duty” frame.

To put that another way, I’d have to lose 40 pounds of MUSCLE along with the 43 pounds of fat just to squeak into the very top of “allowed” on the BMI. (at 6 feet tall the MOST I can weigh according to this standard is 175 pounds, worse yet, my employer’s measurement rounds DOWN in inches and I apparently am an eighth of an inch under 6 feet and thus, by “science of BMI” am 5’11” and I should be under 170lbs!)

You will not find a health professional ANYWHERE that will tell you losing 40-45 pounds of muscle is in any way healthy for you.

Why the hell to they preach the BMI model then? Heh…that’s subject for another story, but I’ve yet to get an answer from any health professional on this.

But still, my goal is NOT a weight of “217 pounds” (current weight minus the 43 pounds of body fat I need to lose). And the reason for that leads us to goal #3.

3) Add lean muscle mass: I want to pile on as much lean muscle mass as I can during the process. The short AND long-term health benefits of this are immense and well documented. The nutrition can vary somewhat between the two goals, but the work is the same.

But wait…

“But wait!” says the astute reader, “Goals must be achievable! Goals require a PLAN! Goals require a deadline!”

Yes. Yes they do. Otherwise they’re just wishes…

So. Achievable and a plan are the same thing.

1) The head game. If you don’t get your head in the game…and make this quest non-negotiable…everything else is a moot point.

2) Recognize that there ARE. NO. SHORTCUTS. Yes, I know this. But yes, I slip and must remind myself of it continually.

3) Get some help/motivation if ya need it. I am back at my trainer for the coaching, knowledge, and intensity. Accountability and making sure the plan is reasonable come along with consulting a professional. I highly recommend this, and it’s the piece that’s missing from our health-care and insurance systems…but that’s subject for yet another post.

A deadline. Yep. Need one.

That’s a bit complicated though.

I think, on it’s own, I could hit 15% body fat in 6 months…perhaps 8 (it gets MUCH harder as you approach that number). I even contemplated putting a bet on that…there’s a company out there that will basically bet you on your weight loss (link). This could be highly motivating for some.

As an aside, it’s a pretty safe bet for the company. The success rates are dismal, simply because there is little support, education, and guidance as to the actual process to achieve lasting success. Folks would much rather blow money on some miracle cure, and the “industry” has responded well to that desire. Most sell the “concept” of fitness. What you’ve got to find is somebody that sells the “results.”

I say again, There. Are. No. Shortcuts.

Do the thing.

In the end, I decided against the bet. The three goals together were more important to me than a simple weight loss number, and in fact, the shoulders are the overriding target. I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was “motivated” to ignore the overall goal and/or do something that would compromise my health simply for a bet.

But, yes, I need a defined time-frame. Thus, I’ve decided on a year again. My goal is 15% body fat, strong shoulders, and as much lean muscle mass as I can achieve by this time next year.

My “stretch” goal is to hit the 15% by July…

We’ll just have to see how I measure up.

Oh…and in case you feel that such lofty goals could be de-motivating…let’s review a couple of the things I’ve achieved on this journey so far:
1) I’ve lost 167 pounds.
2) I’ve BEATEN T2 diabetes (actual remission!)
3) I’ve eliminated around $10,000 in annual and dangerous prescription drugs from my “repertoire”.
4) I’ve eliminated debilitating chronic pain (one could argue I’ve substituted a lot of muscle soreness for that, but that’s a positive trade and subject for another blog). I’ll point out for clarity that even my consumption of over-the-counter pain medications (Ibuprofen is my go-to) is all but eliminated. I may have taken 3 tablets in the last month.
5) I am accomplishing things daily that I could not have achieved even in my “farm work fitness” days. I’ve not been this fit in well…ever, despite the 40 pounds of extra fat.

This are not minor things. These were not easy things.

The path forward isn’t an easy thing either.

The trick is…whether I ever stepped foot on this path or not…easy was never in the cards.

I just wish I’d understood that sooner.

Do the thing.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer
You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Posted in Weight Management | Leave a comment

Back to the grind…

The stats…

Okay, back to my trainer this morning…1st time in over a year…

So, what do two major surgeries, 16 weeks (4 months) out of the year with NO gym/strenuous exercise, the entire REST of a year on “light duty”, and the massive amount of craptastic food pushed at us during the holidaze do for my fitness?

Well…I gained 20 pounds, lost 2 pounds of muscle…not good…but not as bad as it could have been.

I’m a bit ashamed of that…I *couldn’t* do the really hard work…but I could have damn sure tightened up on my nutrition. 

Ah well…still -167 off my peak…and only about 40 pounds from a lean 15% body fat.

Back to the grind!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Posted in Weight Management | Leave a comment

Felt good…

I had a barbell in my hands today…for the first time since the surgery on my left shoulder in August…

Yeah, it was lightly loaded, but I did it. Barbell bent rows at 95 pounds. RDL’s at 135. My shoulders were fine with this. Heavier weights are coming very soon.

My intensity in the gym has suffered this year, especially in the last few months since the second surgery, mainly because I spend a LOT of time doing light, twiddly exercises on the shoulders, working on functionality and very basic strength.

I’ve not been happy with that “low intensity” even though I DO get the cardio in.

Today was different. Just a few lifts, even light ones, had the heart chugging and muscles pumping.

It’s amazing to me, just how much of the body those seemingly simple lifts actually tax. Intellectually I know this…those sorts of movements involve nearly all the leg, shoulder, and core muscles…massive muscles and big movements.

Gawd I needed that. I also needed the confirmation…the affirmation…that my intensity is capable of coming up…that I CAN recover…and I’m rapidly headed that way.

I’ve got a lot of work to do…not only to get the shoulders back in form…but the rest of me too. I’m pleased to see that it’s at least possible…and it’s time I got back to it.

I’ll see you on the road…or at the gym.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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To “thing” or not to “thing”? That isn’t the question.

A tough morning today. Started out “off kilter”, so to speak, and I never quite got it back “on”…

It began with a fitful night’s sleep I suppose…weight of the world and all that…and very sore shoulders. PT’s been brutal recently as they prepare to kick me out. I’ve still got a long way to go but insurance will only allow so much of this stuff.

When the alarm went off I first knocked the durn phone off the table reaching for it…and then I swiped “snooze”…the first indicator of a swiftly tilting kilter. “Snooze” I seldom use.

At least…I *thought* I swiped snooze. Fifteen minutes later I startled awake and realized I’d missed that mark. Crap. I’d not even dragged my fuzzy white butt out of bed and I was already late.

Coffee was in order…that’s my preferred “pre-workout” drink. I like it, it perks me up (see what I did there?), and it leaves me in a fasted state for my workout, which I’ve found to be helpful in training away my “insulin resistance”. T2’s a bitch yanno? And I killed it. This irritates a surprising number of medical folks.

So, coffee? Yes…except I turned on the magic Kerig thing, poured the water in, added the unsustainable (really?) pod, and then promptly pushed the “power” button instead of the red flashing “brew” button. Pushing the “power” button when it’s already on is akin to breaking Harry Potter’s wand. If you do this the magic just won’t flow. Also Voldemort will rule the universe but that’s not a real concern for me before coffee.

I remained blissfully unaware of my incorrect sequencing.

I turned on the news and got dressed for the gym. Well, sort of. Somewhere in the middle of the dressing part I realized I was hearing no comforting “COFFEE IS BREWING” noises so I went to investigate. Mmmm…yeah. If I ruled the world I’d never have to MAKE coffee before I’d HAD coffee. I would set things up the night before to make the magic brew but that’s resulted in fireballs and screaming and blood before…twice…but that’s another story.

Played the “fake out the machine so it will brew” game (it doesn’t like being interrupted) and sat down to put on my shoes.

Ahhh. Coffee’s ready. Shoes are on. Coffee’s consumed (man that ammo goes fast!). I’m ready. I stepped out in the freezing driveway and promptly found “Nosejob”, daAltima, wouldn’t unlock. I had to push the little button on the door handle a surprisingly large number of times before I understood why. Seems ya gotta have the keyfob for that. Stupid cars. Won’t work without keys. Some sort of security feature I guess.

Went back in, grabbed the ‘fob, and then realized that I had no pockets to put it in.

“Mmmm. Weird.” thought I, “All my shorts have pockets.” It’s sort of a prerequisite for me. Without pockets where would I put all those lead wheel weights I seem to find in parking lots? I still don’t understand why I feel the compulsion to pick them up, but pockets are required for this function or I end up carrying them around all day in my hand.

That’s when I realized WHY I had no pockets.

Sigh. I was only wearing my underwear and a t-shirt. Now, men’s underwear does have A pocket, but it is inconveniently located for carrying lead weights. Slightly uncomfortable if anything not intended to be in that pocket ends up there anyway. Particularly for working out.

Coffee interruptions. Dangerous things.

Ah well. It’s not likely the neighbors are out at 0-stupid-30…and they’ve seen it before anyway…more times than I can comfortably explain.

The neighbors are one thing…me at the gym sans shorts is another. Nobody deserves that.

Shoes off. Shorts on. Shoes on. Keyfob in pocket. “Nosejob” started, and I’m *FINALLY* on my way to the gym.

Except I have to detour. The road is closed. Half the lanes are closed for construction and it seems some truck driving dude missed the turn and got his back wheels stuck in the hole.

Good thing there’s not a lot of traffic. A quick u-turn, a couple different roads, and NOW I was on my way to the gym. I kept watching the horizon. I figured the way things had been going so far this morning, nuclear Armageddon might be up next.

But no. Clean trip to the gym. I turned off “Nosejob” and reached for my water bottle…only to realize it was sitting empty, on the counter, next to the magic bean juice machine.

“Who cares?” the casual reader may say, “you can make a workout without the water…they have drinking fountains anyway!”

Yep. But the magic keytag required to let me in the club is hanging from the ring on the side of the bottle…where it always is. In 18 months of “doing the thing”, I’ve never forgotten it (hence, why the keytag is attached to it).

So…after a choice curse word or two…back to the house. Water bottle acquired. Back to the club.

Workout worked out. Late, but done. I had to rush after that. Quick shower. Smack the wife on the butt. Hand her a couple lead wheel weights I was carrying around for some reason. Brave the Dallas traffic to go do the stuff that pays for all these shenanigans.

The point of all this?

Coffee coffee sumthin sumthin…

Ur. No. That’s not it. This is:

A year ago any single one of these obstructions would have given me every reason, excuse, or justification to skip the workout.

And while this came up deep in the dark recesses of my brain, today it never got any serious consideration.

To “thing” or not to “thing”? was never the question. “How big a mess am I gonna have to make to go DO the thing?” was.

…and that makes all the difference.

I’ll see you on the road…or perhaps at the gym.

Oh…and I’ve probably got your lost wheel-weights.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Posted in Weight Management | Leave a comment

Mourn or Curse?

Sitting in the restaurant…chowing down on a very good omelette and about 5 cups of coffee. I’m by myself…a quick bite after PT but before work…so besides the food, people watching is on the agenda.

Car pulls in…60ish lady driver gets out, goes to the passenger door, opens it, swings the feet out of 60ish male. Grabs folding roller/walker out of back seat, puts it in place…then grabs his O2 bottle out of the front floorboard, hooks it on the walker, and adjusts his nasal cannula.

She then leaves him and walks into the restaurant to get a table.

He sat there…and smoked a cigarette, before he laboriously stood up and made is way in, struggling to breathe the entire time.

People. I don’t know whether to mourn their stupidity, or curse their addictions.

All I could feel was an overwhelming sadness…and a little relief he didn’t just stop breathing or burst into flames.

Stay strong my friends…and if you’re not…then get that way.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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Right to the edge…

In fitness, we must stress muscles and our cardiovascular system in order to improve them. This is a well researched and easily demonstrable scientific fact.

It’s VASTLY misunderstood nonetheless.

“Stress” doesn’t mean approaching the edge of our comfort zone. It doesn’t even mean approaching the edge of our ability.

It means pushing past them.

There is danger here. If we push too far past the edge of our ability we risk injury or damage or other setbacks.

But there’s even more danger in holding back.

If we don’t get TO that edge we are training and teaching ourselves that our current status is ideal. If we are shy of that edge, we are training and teaching ourselves that we can back down, degrade, or atrophy. Stagnation and mediocrity are the BEST that can be achieved there.

We only grow, we only progress, we only change, when we push ourselves right to the edge, and a little bit past it.

This is true in FAR more than fitness. It applies to every aspect of life. Fitness. Career. Skills. Relationships. Passion. Everything.

Life and love.

We either push, and push hard, risking setback, failure, or injury, or we at best, stagnate.

It can be wearying and painful…but we cannot stop.

The edge though…is not clearly defined and doesn’t stay in the same place. Constant testing, pushing, work, and seeking are required.

Where is the edge? How far past it can we push? How long can we keep this up? What is the cost of failure? What is the cost of failing to try? Where is the edge between the edge? How much do we push? When can we rest?

Tough questions these. Finding the answers is a lifetime’s work…one way or another.

That’s a hard lesson to learn.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Posted in Weight Management | Leave a comment

Rewards…

Since they’re still actually serious about me coming to work, and I work in downtown for some reason, my company leases me a parking space (I pay a subsidized rate) in a nearby residential building. It’s an old corporate headquarters that’s been converted to high-end lofts and apartments. Still a work in progress, it’s not fully leased and so they’ve leased folks like us a few spaces on a lightly used floor.

I’m permitted to park on 5 or 7…which is really 6 or 8, since there’s a “1.5” floor in the parking garage to get it to line up to the actual main residential building.

There are elevators in the buildings that we have access to, but I generally take the stairs. Yes, I’m a masochist. Six or more TALL floors of stairs makes a good way to get the kinks out after or before the commute. It’s also just a bit of “fitness” work I can get in…in my long day of flying a desk.

So, yesterday after work, I trudged through the rain and entered the parking garage. Feeling a bit blue, tired, and chilly due to the cold rain, the dank concrete colors and harsh HID lighting did nothing for my mood. I *almost* entered the main building to take the elevator up. I do occasionally do this. Unpainted closed in cold concrete stairway or warm and well lit elevator ride? I actually stood there for a moment deciding.

Finally, I turned to the dingy concrete stairwell in the parking garage and started trodging (technical term) my way up. Masochism confirmed.

Usually, along about the third floor, I’ve entered “cardio” mode…head down, just grinding it out. There’s very little entertainment or tactile reward to be found climbing the stairs.

Except this time.

Approaching the fourth floor landing, head down, still rapidly trodging, on my last step up to the landing I ran smack into a cute little dynamo of the distinctly female persuasion. She was maybe 4′-6″ tops, outstandingly proportioned, toned, lean, and lithe. Well, except for her big tits…ur…assets…ur, eyes. Yep. BIG eyes.

She was just standing there on the landing, in a little black and very short slash cut dress…”slash” as in shoulder-less, angled from a partial sleeve over the left arm, with a diagonal cut down to low under her right arm. The very short hem-line matched the angle from high on her left hip. It accented all of her curves to effect and was defying several laws of physics just staying put on that figure. For an instant I wondered if spray glue was involved.

LOTS of cleavage, which I would have noticed anyway (yeah, I’m a guy, get over it), but got a particularly personal preview as when I say, “ran smack into” what I mean is due our respective heights, my rapid ‘head down and up the stairs’ action, and her facing down the stairs…when I stepped up to the last step before the landing I basically stuck my face right in the previously described…ur…assets.

*splut*

Not the usual sort of thing I encounter in a dingy concrete stairwell, and totally unexpected. Yet, I’d have known what I ran into even with my eyes closed.

Startled would be an understatement. I stepped back about 4 stairs frantically grabbing the railing while looking up and said, “Holy shit!”

She just stood there, one hand on her hip, the other clutching a red leather bag, which to my credit I actually noticed, matched the belt on the dress. She had a grin on her face.

She was stunning, and now I was looking up her very short dress. The thong matched the belt.

I’m certain my brain short-circuited.

*pop* *zork*

I may have actually blushed.

*reboot*

“Damn…”

*systems coming back online*

Shortly I said, “Uh, sorry. That was probably inappropriate.”

She just grinned even larger. “Not at all. *THAT’S* the exact reaction I was going for!” Then she started down the stairs and stepped around me. “I have a date with my boyfriend and want to surprise him.”

I took a breath as she stepped by. The first since our encounter I expect. I was starting to get dizzy. You really should breathe when hard-climbing stairs. The body’s funny that way.

“Well, if you don’t at least get a, “Holy shit!” outta him, you’d best call him an ambulance.”

That got a laugh. I love it when women are women. Many never figure out 90% of beauty is in the attitude. The other 10% is just showing up. This gal was running at about 300%.

I shook my head, took a couple deep breaths to get the blood flowing back to where it was actually needed at the moment, and finished my climb. Normally the only reward for doing so is knowing I can. Today there was something more.

I’m highly in favor of that.

For some reason, my blue mood had completely evaporated. Despite the cold rain I was wishing for my Valk, but hopped in the cage and cranked up the radio, and promptly had another good laugh. Pop station was poppin’.

“It’s going down, I’m yelling timber
You better move, you better dance
Let’s make a night, you won’t remember
I’ll be the one, you won’t forget…”

Scenery is important. Got bless those Texas girls. Some really lucky dude had him a date last night. Hope he knows what he’s got.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Firm stuff.

Five AM on a Saturday…and I’m sitting in the massive “big-box” health club, on one of about TEN lat pull-down machines, desperately trying not to puke.

It’s a moment, and all I can think of is that I unraveled myself from my warm, willing, naked woman, rolled out of bed, and ventured out into a cold rain just to do this.

At this moment, I can’t imagine why.

Fortunately I tend to work out in a fasted state…blood sugar management, insulin levels, fat burning…it’s supposed to benefit all those things, depending on which school of nutrition/exercise you are paying attention to on that particular day. Today it helps with…well…NOT “tossing my cookies” all over the rubber coated floor and gleaming machines.

No, you shouldn’t work out when sick. Thing is…I’m not sick. I’m broken, and working on the repairs.

It’s a lot tougher than it looks.

***

I started the morning with 30 minutes of endurance cardio. High incline treadmill, at whatever pace required to get my heart-rate into the desired range. Today I’m shooting for a sustained 80% of my max. Maximum heart rate is an age-related definition of what’s advisable…basically 220 minus your age, and then the 80% of that…and maybe a little fudge “bump up” factor since…yanno…I’m not *cough* old or anything…so around 140 beats per minute or so is a good endurance workout for me. Hit the treadmill, crank it up…and once I hit the heart rate range, go for 30 minutes. Warm up and cool down don’t count for the time.

Fun, right?

I hate cardio actually…I find it boring, mundane, and the like…it’s a grind…but on the treadmill I can stick in the headphones, crank up the tunes, turn off my brain, and just rock it out. It’s a necessary evil…or required good…depending on how long I want to keep kicking up dirt in this world.

So far so good. Cardio done. 300+ calories burned. So much for a light warm up….

Now it’s time to get to work.

Usually this is when I’d go pick up heavy things and set them down again…over and over. More cardio…of a sort.

Strength training = moving iron.
Cardio = moving iron…faster. *That’s* the cardio I like.

But not today.

Today I’m going to stretch and bend and twirl my arm around in little circles and do other very “non-grunt-worthy” twiddly bits that would no doubt seem silly to any of the serious “on a mission” folks that show up at the gym at “O-stupid-thirty”…if they were worried about it. But that’s the cool thing about serious folks at the gym. They’re serious…and they expect whatever you’re doing…is serious to you too.

They don’t need to know why.

The faithful reader may remember I had surgery on my right shoulder in January for catastrophic injury to my rotator cuff muscles. Multiple full tears, retraction, atrophy, abrasions and the like. A four hour surgery and six months of PT got it to a usable state, so in August, we repaired the other one…which turned out to be in even worse condition. Five hours of surgery on that one.

I started PT on the left one last week…and of course, am continuing the exercises on the right one as well. On TOP of the scheduled therapy sessions, I spend at least an hour a day working the shoulders. I’ll be doing this for months…as in “double digits” of months.

It is painful. There’s a line…I have to continually explore to find…between “stressing it so it will grow stronger” pain and “tear something up” pain. It’s an edge…and though it moves around, I’ve become quite familiar with what it feels like.

I have a lot of endurance, and a high tolerance for pain…but the deliberate infliction of it upon myself makes me queasy, and eventually nauseous. There’s a hard limit to how far I can push that.

I touched that limit today.

***

First up, a rather long bout of mild stretching. I have to be quite careful with the left shoulder. Tendons were reattached to the bone in LOTS of places and I’m endeavoring to keep them there. I can be a little rougher on the right (which has had 8 months more to heal). Then several exercises on the right to stress specific muscles. I was perhaps 40 minutes in when I hit the lat pull-down machine.

Light weight, but high reps…it’s perfect for stretching the shoulders, particularly the newly surgified one) to their range of motion. The better arm can control the motion, and the lesser can “ride along” in the areas it doesn’t have any strength.

Thing is…all of it…every last exercise on the shoulders…is pushed right to the edge of the “good” pain. Every motion. Every rep.

It’s NOT intense…not in the way pulling hard weight is…so I tend to skip much rest between sets. The “light” work feels like I’m wasting my time in the gym, and in retrospect, I find that funny…since I’m far beyond caring what, if anything, any other gym goers at this unlikely hour would care about the weird stretching and odd use I’m making of the equipment.

But I still feel the lack of intensity. It’s required…if I tear these shoulders up now it’s unlikely a good repair will be possible, so I MUST do this AND “take it easy” for a while. I know this.

Still tastes like failure.

The final set of lats did it. Pushed me over the edge on the “queasy” threshold. I sat there, breathing hard, occasionally retching, white as a sheet, and recovered my composure. Those of you that have experienced this state probably know that my fondest wish at that moment was that something would just kill me and get it over with.

It would be another 5 minutes before the desire to live returned.

Yeah, it was a moment. And I’d left my woman’s arms to put myself through it.

This is when you figure out what you’re really made of…and you understand despite your doubts and failings, it’s pretty solid stuff.

Or stupid stuff. I mean, I did leave my warm and willing woman to be here…now.

So, you may have to pardon me the sudden and intense inclination to take the next person that lets me know how weak my character is…and break him or her in half.

I won’t, of course. I’m made of firmer stuff than that.

Or stupider…

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Posted in Weight Management | Leave a comment

Cut short

One lane slowly rolls by…and I have time to burn the image indelibly into my memory.

Black blood and brain material. Splattered. The body not even covered by a blanket yet. The cops just trying to do traffic and not look. The paramedics on the phones waiting on instructions from the coroner or the investigators. Should we cover the body? Wait just a bit more. Don’t want to disturb any evidence.

There will be an investigation. Tire tracks through the blood. The path is clear. The car/truck that mowed him down is nowhere to be seen. They’ll take pictures and mark the road and scoop up the remains and file everything away. Even if they somehow bother to find the other driver, well, it was just a rider. The other driver will say something like, “I didn’t see him.” The authorities will nod and explain that the rider chose to be out here so it’s really his responsibility. You should have stayed. You should have called. But no biggie. Nothing would have helped him. Brains can’t be put back. Just be more careful. Have a good life.

One firefighter putting oil soak down. Building a barrier to keep the blood from running into the remaining traffic lane. Cars splashing through the blood would seem…irreverent somehow.

The motorcycle, as prone as the rider…but showing more life. The lights still glowing. It’s a plea really. *Please get up. Let’s go.*

There will be no answer. The machine is as doomed as the rider. It’ll get dragged onto a wrecker, dumped in the corner of an impound yard, and never see the road again. Perhaps bike and rider will meet again on another plain.

You’d think it would make the news. It doesn’t. The news is too full of the most shameful display of dog and pony and posturing assassination politics yet…the grandstanding and carnage there would be almost as distressing as the carnage here…if their show wasn’t so laughable. I’d trade every one of them for five extra seconds for this man to react to the conflict that killed him. Even one second may have granted him a lifetime.

You’d think I’d be immune…to the death and brains and blood. I’ve seen it before. Too many times. Several times I’ve known their names. Immune…or at least jaded.

I’m not immune. I’m not jaded. I don’t…cannot…see the body there as one drop in a sea of humanity…irrelevant. Superfluous. Invisible. Replaceable.

Rather I see the family that’s waiting for him…that will instead get a call. The wife or girlfriend that was his warm and willing woman…and will sleep alone tonight. The dreams and hopes and goals in front of him. The people he’s impacted behind him. The things and projects and stuff he worked on and nurtured…that now will languish and die.

The rest of his life was in front of him when he got on this ride. I can guarantee he didn’t know that it was to be so short.

I can’t help but know how I’d feel if this happened to my lover. I can’t help but wonder what would happen to HER life if this happened to mine.

But that’s all I can do…wonder. The scene here is over. Played out. Static. Printed. End credits. No thoughts, no actions, will change the outcome. No explanations will matter. There is only death and carnage…and the pain that dispatches to others.

My turn comes to squeeze by the constricted lanes. The car behind me honks. I resist the urge to just stop and pay my respects. They wouldn’t matter to him anyway.

I take a breath and wipe my eyes and slide on by. On into the rest of my life.

I expect I’ll revisit this in my dreams…

Y’all be safe out there.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Road Stories | Leave a comment