The Gym. That'd be Bally's in Porter Square. The old, not climbing, not gymnastics, mundane gym. In which I pick up heavy things and put them down again right where they came from (unlike moving). In which I run to nowhere for 30-40 minutes. I was feeling a little lethargic and don't-wanna before I went, but then I went and was immediately better and had a good workout.
It is easy for me to hunch my upper back over, sometimes it feels good like leaning in to focus more intently on some small bit of work in front of me, sometimes it is just lazy. It is easy for me slouch my lower back and curl my tailbone under and sag down to some point of lowest energy in my chair. Sometimes I imagine that the ideal chair would allow me to do this but in a shape that was somehow good for me.
Sitting up takes work. Sitting up for a long time takes endurance. When I really think about putting my body into what I imagine good posture is supposed to be like I tense some little muscles in my lower back that within a minute are complaining that they're obviously not built to hold my 200 lb body in that position - at which point I give up and relax back into the slouch until I think about it again.
From what little seated meditation practice instruction I've had, and some principles from yoga, it seems like there ought to be a neutral low-energy upright position that doesn't involve being held there by little muscles. OR, my little muscles are atrophied from a lifetime of laziness and ought to be developed.
In the last week I've done an unusual amount of walking around without a backpack. That is what got me thinking about this enough to write it up. When carrying the weight of a backpack (an extra 10-20 lb probably) I'm thinking more about carrying that weight than carrying myself. When I finally get the chance to walk and just walk, I notice that it feels different to curl my lower back in various ways and it feels different to carry my shoulders at different positions. I'm still not sure what "right" is, but I sometimes I notice that something is wrong and I try something else and something else until I find something better.
I feel like my internal metrics are pretty sloppy. I don't know if I'm straight up or leaning. I'm imagining a magical medical future where some real-time MRI-like device embedded in a chair analyzes the stresses on my cartilage and muscles and teaches me a best position for my body as it is now and trains me to work for a better position by strengthening a few muscles here and there. That'd be cool. Until then I'll have to work on paying attention to my own body (often a good skill) and maybe look for tips here and there.
On Sunday I did an unassisted balk walkover off a 14" block. This was new and exciting. What usually happened when I tried to do this was that I stalled out halfway through the move and my arms buckled and I crumpled to the ground. On Sunday my arms were feeling much stronger and I was able to kick off harder and get over. Last night this was going so well that I moved down to an 8" block and did a couple from there. I don't expect to keep up a 6-inch-per-4-day rate of improvement, but it's still neat progress.
Other fun things last night included an assisted front flip (landed on one foot too hard and my ankle hurts. boo). I based while flexagon did airplane and A stood on her back. And I picked up J and R in a double-piggy-back.
This may be partially true, but for the other part I should probably try to not be a jerk about it.
. . . . .
and I don't have to look very far to see examples that make me think humbly that I have a lot more improvement yet I could do.
Thanks to flexagon for taking me to 'Acrobalance'. I'm not quite nuanced about the jargon, but I would describe tonight's class as half general gymnastics (head stands, hand stands, cartwheels, flips) and half partner circus tricks. The first thing we tried had someone crouching in front of me holding my ankles with my hands on their shoulders, then I crouch and roll back and they wind up inverted straight up their shoulders resting on my outstretched arms and holding my ankles for stability. That was probably harder than I should have done to start out on, but after a bunch of tries we got it right a couple times. Next flexagon stood on my shoulders, which was remarkably straightforward and worked the first time. Poof! She's 5'10" taller! Then a handstand in which I lay on my back and the handstander is on my hands. Finally, good old airplane ... with a third person standing on the flyer. :-) As I alluded to in the title, being the heaviest person there by at least 20% I was on the bottom end of all these maneuvers.( class details )
This morning I was doing a little stretching and yoga at home and felt unusually strong doing some crunches and core/ab work. Probably part of that is from being fresh in the morning and not tired from other things yet.
Anyway, good health feels good!
Fun late night activities have been including swing dancing Monday and Friday, and climbing Wednesday. I'm still regularly climbing on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I guess I haven't been blogging about it because it has become kinda routine. Still fun, still challenging. I might have kinda plateaued for the last few weeks, but I put on good performances today on a hard 5.8 and an easy 5.9. I've only gotten to the mundane gym about once in the last month.
I'm still larger and heavier than I want to be. There was pretty little food dicipline around my birthday party and thanksgiving. I've started to get better about that in the last week.
Progress? Eh, not so much.
Went to an overnight stay on election night instead of going to fabulous parties. (Maybe we can charitably imagine some virtuous sacrifice, but really it was just dumb planning and being inobservant when I signed up for this sequence a couple months ago.)
Swallowed a little radio transmitting thermometer so that they can data log my core temperature for the next 36 hours.
Pee into a variety of containers, including one big one to collect all my pee for 24 hours. (Totaled over 3.5 liters.)
Got woken up by nurses at 6am. They took my various resting vital signs.
Laid quietly in bed (but not asleep) breathing into a hood for 35 minutes having all of my gasses measured.
Gave a blood sample, drank a sugary beverage, gave blood again every 30 minutes until 2 hours out. Had to just lie in bed and couldn't really move for those 2+ hours.
Didn't get anything but that sugary beverage until lunch around 1pm on Wednesday.
Played silly computer games that were supposed to measure various mental aptitudes. They were easy. Some of them were kinda fun. It makes me a little curious about games like "Brain Age" that are supposed to be good mental exercise, and how if they're really well designed they should seek to the edge of your abilities and always be a challenge. Hmm.
Got a small sample cut out of my left quadricep.
Found out that last week's "V-O-2 max"(?) test rated me at 47.2 ml/kg/min, which they tell me shows that I'm in pretty good shape. Must be all that biking.
And got randomized into the control group. Not what I wanted, less exciting but also less work. Eh.
The interesting thing about my knees is that a couple years ago when I was in physical therapy for knee trouble, one of the things they told me was that I needed to strengthen my quads, which didn't make much sense to me as I thought they were pretty strong from biking and other things. What they told me on Wednesday was that the normal ratio of strength on that joint is closer to 2:1 and they were surprised how strong my hamstrings were. They said that this imbalance sometimes causes knee pain. Aha! Now the comment about my quads from years ago made sense.
So, there are a few exercises from the old PT routine that I may resume, and I've been thinking about my bicycling technique and whether I can change the way I use my muscles to pedal. But I shouldn't do too much. It might throw off the study.
Improving fitness definitely feels good, but it's still kinda frustrating that the chub isn't coming off noticeably yet, and this is definitely not the season to be over-insulated.