Why kettlebells

Dumbbells are about the weight. I’m just going right to the meta here. When you work out with dumbells they are the focus. You keep all other parts of your body still and move one hinge.

Kettlebells are about the movement. It’s about you and the weight. It’s about the space you move through. It’s a much more joyful experience.

Dumbbells are anti-rhythm, anti-momentum, anti-flow. If there’s a beauty in them and their associated movements it’s the beauty of rigidity and power. Very mechanical beauty, which is my perferred type of beauty to be honest… nevertheless with kettlebells the beauty is in the movement. You’re working with gravity, exploring it, rather than using it as a wet stone like a dumbbell work out. Kettlebells cause you to strike these poses that feel powerfully beautifully human like a Da Vinci drawing.

Dumbbells are about thinking how should I move this? While kettlebells inspire the creativity and make you think how could I move this?

So start light to get stretched out and used to the motions with good form then move up, explore all kinds of movement, throw it like a shot put if you’ve got the space, and if you can commit to doing Turkish Get Ups you’re a better warrior than I.

Advertisements
Posted in fitness

Year mark

We’re coming up on the one year mark since my first jog. It was some time after April 23rd because that’s when we were staying at Dick & Ingrid’s. Which also means we’re coming close to one year of playing squash because it was at Adge’s birthday that I drunkenly invited myself to squash the next day and Josh followed through and picked me up while still quite drunk. Me, not Josh, obviously.

October 2017 was when I started learning to swim.

December 2017 is the day I got serious about lifting because I worked out with Luke Oliver. And I’ve been dying to say this on the blog forever – I consider that the day I started because I went three times harder that day than ever before and I was fine. I don’t think a beginner can find their limits on their own – you just don’t know the ques from your body for what’s good and what’s danger zone. There’s a joke about being your own dominatrix and not having a safe word but I’m gonna leave it. Anywho that’s when I got serious about weight training.

Also October was the one and only time Luke Oliver came out to squash… but that’s none of my business… [sips coffee]

I remind myself that I’ll always be a beginner, it’ll always be okay to be embarrassed, I have no laurels to rest on, I should always expect training to be hard.

Whenever I’m running it starts getting tough I remember things like after one of my first runs I was so sore from my feet up to ribs that it hurt to be hugged, I remember how during my first 10k the blood was pounding in my ears so loudly it was blocking out other sounds.

And that my goal a year ago was to get where I am now. Just to get a little better, change the way I think and feel.

I had a couple of shirts that I’d stopped looking good in and I remember in April 2017 I tried to give them to Liv, who get’s a lot of my hand-me-downs, and she didn’t want them. So I kept them and as my diet and exercise kicked in I started to fit them again, then they started to be too small in the chest and shoulders, the sleeves squeeze my biceps. That’s the progress I can always feel when I need to, if I feel like none of this matters or I’m not progressing. Those shirts and I are on this journey together.

Goal for this summer: Speedos.

Posted in Uncategorized

The stigma around health

On the radio the other day they were talking about how fast food businesses thrive in small towns because of the blue collar working guys and job site lunch break culture.

It got me thinking about how that type of guy will mock so-called hippie health culture, and take pride in smoking and drinking and eating like shit.

It comes from conflating simplicity and truth, assuming the comfortable is correct.

It’s weird that people would become tribally defensive about something that’s killing them though. We see the Us V Them in so many strange things but choosing to die sooner and more miserably is a stance that on paper most people wouldn’t want to take.

And I know that not wanting to be a smoothie-drinking-yoga-fag is just code for change is hard and I’m scared.

But why? Why is it that our culture is so unhealthy at a time when all the information is out there?

This goes for the woke folks too. People live and breathe outrage over the destruction of Syria – where emotion has no impact or chance of impact except to show others you’re sufficiently moral – but won’t even quietly do something simple to prevent the destruction of their liver; which is completely within their control.

It’s odd that we’re living in extremely selfish, self-centered times and yet people only use it excuse hedonism and not to engage in self-care.

We just want to sit in judgement of others in anyway we can, no matter how good or bad they’re doing, and use it to justify not doing anything ourselves. I see so many people willing to dismiss whole nations and cultures who then won’t hold themselves to any kind of standard. Won’t even check if they’re getting enough calcium.

Either way it comes down to nihilism, the bad kind, where people consider the outside world so detached from their own wants and needs that they adopt nobodyism and unconsciously justify not caring about themselves because the world doesn’t care.

And so of course the answer is nihilism – the good kind.

The world does not care about you, nothing you do or say, nothing you’re for or against matters. Any way you feel about anything will cause you to be replaced among the hierarchy by someone who feels as the peers do and you will subsequently be a replacement for someone else. To no ends or avail.

You are however the CEO of your mind and body, if you matter to anyone it’s them. Build your identity around what you love, not what you hate, and the first and foremost thing worthy of loving is your cardiovascular system.

Get to it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Healing

I used to only thinking about healing in the context of recovering from hangovers. Healing meant getting up to baseline after a drop of some kind and it often just meant waiting. And that did sometimes mean mindfully waiting and focusing on things like a gentle breeze and feeling it actively raise my spirits even in the tiniest of ways.

Now I use the word heal as a mantra when I’m floating. I’ll think it as I exhale. At its core its about my body recovering from my athletics. In the tank I feel myself stretching out and relaxing the muscles throughout my entire body.

Working out has become a kind of cure for my hypochondria. Things always hurt and I always know why and I know it’s healing because I’m eating right and resting adequately. I no longer have the apocalyptic feeling that extrapolates everything to it’s worst, inevitable outcome. Physically at least.

My body is also healing from years of disuse, neglect, and exploitation. And as it heals I know it’s doing good for my – for lack of a better word – spiritual healing as well.

I’m going through the same process Sam Harris went through looking for, and not finding, a secularly acceptable word. If I want to talk about my psyche I’d have to say psychic healing which is a phrase that also makes me want to knock my own hat off.

But that’s what it is, my spirits are higher, than ever before maybe, certainly the most stable good spirit of my adult life. That’s my vibe now, I have a good energy. And all that woo-woo crap.

In a strange and different way I feel sorry for myself still, it’s just my old self now. I felt sorry for myself in 2016 and I still feel sorry for that person. I can’t take any comfort in the idea that he healed and grew into this person that I like and am proud of because it’s not what he would have wanted.

I don’t know how to reconcile that, should I be looking to forgive my younger self or asking for his forgiveness?

Is healing about having the strength to deal with the past or freedom from dealing with and having the strength to build a new future?

How much of my future am I obligated to spend just trying to make my past look good? And to just look good to me? Everyone else feels the story is A) Continuous; and B) Great.

Everyone feels that 2016-Alastair became 2018-Alastair and is happy about it except 2016-and-2018-Alastair. And of course all the voices in my head of my former scene-mates who are calling me a washed-out never-was. But even they like my new muscles.

I’d say contentment comes from making peace with the versions of people in your head rather than having an obligation to make peace with the real person who may want and need complex and different things than you. I hear people forgive their neglectful parents or the murders of their children on the regular so I can probably come to terms with not being as cool as I thought in the eyes of other selfish twats.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Fitness Friday: If I Could Start Again From Scratch

Fitness, as I see it, is a broad, catch-all term for not feeling like a piece of shit.

So for me fitness started with vitamins. I started taking vitamin D in the winter four, maybe five, years ago and felt better so I never stopped.

If I could go back and start again I’d just start taking Glucosamine, 5 HTP, and St John’s Wort as well.

For a time I took Vitamin E and a pro-biotic but I figure those are covered by dietary sources.

Speaking of dietary sources…

When I started I was eating peanut butter sandwiches everyday. I figured it was healthy because it was brown bread. Then I read Tim Ferris’ advice to not eat anything white or that could be white, meaning bread, rice, pasta, etc. I stopped eating carbs and I just started shedding weight.

I started hard boiling eggs every Sunday so I could have two each morning, and I put a banana, walnuts, and broccoli in a bowl, that and 3 black coffees is breakfast.

And it turns out I guessed right. When I read Clean Eating For Dummies, and How Food Works bananas, walnuts, and eggs were mentioned on every page. Eggs are a good source of protein and they contain tryptophan which is a serotonin precursor.

You should know this but I’ll say it in case: you don’t just need serotonin to be happy, serotonin is happiness. The feeling of contentment is when serotonin binds to the 1a receptor. Period.

So If I could go back and start again I’d eat an ounce of protein for every 30 pounds of body weight, no carbs Monday to Friday, no dairy, and I’d eat eggs, walnuts, and banana’s everyday.

And I’d get a kettle bell first thing. 15 pounds.

KBs are a lot of fun compared to other pieces of equipment. When I did get one I got a 20 but it was a bit too much to do Atlas Swings with good form so I got a 15 as well. I want to go up and up and eventually get a 70 for standard KB swings.

Dumb bells are great, a weight bench is great, running is great but if I could start again I’d just get a single kettle bell ASAP.

And I’d learn about injuries.

This is something that just came out of watching YouTube videos but the exercises for rehabilitating injuries are the best for the tiny, strange, vulnerable muscles that you don’t intuitively know how to work. Everyone can curl their bicep but they don’t think to work their supraspinatus and they get hurt.

Don’t look that up, it’s actually just the last name of a Greek doctor I know.

After I destroyed my knees I became extremely proactive, downright superstitious, about injuries. My right rotator cuff was acting up was tweaking if I reached forward for a stack of plates – YouTube’d it, fixed my swimming form, found some stretches, found some dumbbell moves to strengthen it, and I’m better than ever.

If I see a video titled Elbow Pain From Pushups? or something, I watch it. Most injuries aren’t acute, they come from doing things slightly wrong for months. Watch all the form videos you can on the moves you’re doing and even moves you’re not just to pick up the little passing advice that could be memorable to you.

Injuries can make you stop or they can make you better.

And furthermore if you’re coming from years of not exercising you’re as good as injured anyway. Everyone’s  natural athlete as a kid and then some of us take a 20 year break. We’re not actually at scratch, we’re way below. The worst thing you can do, and everyone’s heard this, is think you’re going to get in shape all at once. That’s like if you got hurt playing a sport and after a day off doing nothing you played three games back to back, thinking if some sort of weakness in my running caused me to get hurt I just need to run more.

Coming back from injury or inactivity is about working all the neglected support muscles, it’s about nutrition, and it’s about realistic self-talk. Don’t want to get back in the game or in the positive just want to get back up to scratch.

So I guess if I could start again I’d respect what my knees were telling me but I’d also go ahead and injure my rotator cuff.

Posted in Pragmatism

Hangovers

A lot of people pride themselves on working while hungover. They’re insistent and defensive that they work as hard or harder than anyone.

It’s like running uphill in 40 pounds of body armour. Yeah, you’re working hard but the other people you think aren’t working hard are getting up the hill on time, they’re just not overcoming the self imposed struggle that you are.

And you might think it makes you tough, building up that strength and resilience, but if you never take the vest off you never reap the benefits.

I’m back to drinking and I’ve had casual drinks on a weekday for the first time this year and it was illuminating. I wasn’t hungover per se, in fact I was stunned that the lowest day for 2018-Alastair would be a blissful peak for 2016-Alastair, but I could feel the fuzz and the laziness and it’s only because I’m such a roll of good sleep, good nutrition, working out, and being mentally engaged that any friction in the system stands out.

There’s this notion that when we were kids we automatically felt great and it naturally fades as we get older. But it’s more like when you get your first job and rather than save any money you blow it all and then suffer for it a decade later when you could have 5 digits in the saving but you have piles of clothes you won’t get rid of because of how much you liked them when you bought them. What I’m saying is we spent our health recklessly and now we have health debt. And that I just got rid of a bunch of clothes I never wear I feel better.

You can’t tell how far the scales have tipped to the bad unless you really give’em one strong tip to the good. We talked about this at work that we’d all stayed in the bad for so long our view got skewed and what we thought was a 0 was actually a -2 and what we thought was feeling good was actually just a 0, just being neutral.

But health and happiness isn’t just the absence of suffering, there are positive numbers on the scale. With running, floating, squash, eating clean, saving money, reading, lifting, and being in a good relationship – even if all those things only accounted for a 1 point bump – I’ve got a lot of positive numbers to draw on. It’s a wide, harvestable field, my friend.

When I was randomly hungover all the time I wasn’t doing anything with my health anyway, I could continue to blow it, but now I just can’t afford it. My self-expectation, my spending of my health, is high on a daily basis. I’m actually getting better as opposed to overcoming and obstacle I put in my own way and calling catching up to the starting line progress.

Calling sickness strength is a mental band-aid, and it only works until you experience real strength.

Posted in sobriety

To love yourself first

No one thinks about their ideal romantic partner and says I want someone who’s really in love with their self.

The intention of the phrase you can’t love someone else until you love yourself first is you can’t love someone else if you’re unhappy.

If you ask someone to love you when you think deep down you really aren’t offering them anything it’s going to eat away at you. Bizarre jealous behaviour is really people looking for confirmation that they aren’t good enough.

Now I’ve known people who did have an extremely high opinion of themselves who weren’t relationship-ready. They declared, with quite a lack of evidence, that they were great and it was everyone else in the world’s fault that no one else saw it.

These people didn’t register as being the least bit happy. No matter how great they said they thought they were they couldn’t spend 5 minutes with themselves. They were really just dragging around the weight of their own entitlement and even they were sick of it but didn’t know what else to do.

We’re fed the idea that having big dreams and never settling is the key to happiness but we only see the winners of the game on TV, the big dream never settle crowd that didn’t accomplish anything are still walking around the real world feeling angry that they never hit the prime and it’s getting too late.

When we idealize vain stardom it’s because they never had to grow up. They get to stay in the safety of emotional childhood and we envy that on some level because growing up comes from defeat.

The reason never growing up sounds so good is you never have to experience the pain of defeat. And we tell ourselves when we’re young that we’ll never be one of the defeated.

But just because you experience defeat doesn’t mean you are defeated, not forever. You take the sting and you grow back with some wisdom, some humility.

That’s why people who are their own biggest fan don’t seem too happy, they know ultimately they’re missing out on something.

I think if you want to love yourself, and be loved by someone else, you have to earn it, not just demand it or pretend it or try to believe it hard enough to keep that Tinkerbell alive.

You have to be honest with yourself just like you have to be honest with anyone you love. In fact what it means to love yourself is exactly what it means to love someone else, you need to be honest, forgiving, understanding, protective, etc. Not just infatuated, not clinging for your own sense of self-worth.

Posted in Uncategorized