workout space in the den

Using Home Workouts to Fight That “COVID Zombie” State!

I finished my first home workout in 10 months yesterday. I know that seems like forever, but COVID! I also had foot surgery that took me out of “circulation” for over five months. Plus we moved, and other “reasons.”

I turned 60 this year, and I am very aware of just how fast the body declines when inactive – I could feel myself sliding further into the “couch-potato/COVID zombie” zone as the months passed.

Yesterday I finally strapped on (new) runners and hooked up with my personal trainer, Omar, for a first-go-round at trying to get back at the fitness thing. Luckily my trainer uses virtual training, so I set up my Canon DSLR as a webcam hooked to my laptop, pumped the Zoom video to the big-screen, and plugged in a pair of sport earbuds.

I’ve got a pretty simple but effective exercise space set up in our den, with a cheap folding bike, a portable bench, adjustable weights, and a suspension strap that hooks over the bathroom door. My foot surgery makes lunges (and anything else where I have to bend my toes forward) nearly impossible, so we had to adjust things a little bit.

After a quick couple of miles on the bike to warm up, we got at it.

First, up (after figuring out the whole toe-bending limits thing) was three sets of goblet-squats, side-ways lunges, and airplane balances, interspersed with half-mile bike “cool-downs.” I got to use one of the adjustable weights for the goblets, making them pretty much a thigh-burner. After the first airplane set, my PT added a 10-pound weight to the offset leg to make it more interesting (read: almost impossible).

The second set used the suspension strap for body-weight rowing, then swapping for resistance bands on the suspension system to do some chest presses and kneeling pull-downs, wrapping up with a plank. I managed all that pretty well, even pulling off three 30-second planks (I could only do 20 when I first started workouts last year).

All this in about 40 minutes – which left me entirely spent. I had to stare at the stairs for a while before gaining the courage to attempt to climb them. It turns out I had forgotten how to breathe, especially during the lower-body work. I was pretty good during the final set but had to sit and gasp for a bit halfway through the first. Thankfully Omar was “All good – take your time!”

I was smart enough that I had eaten two hours prior, so lots of energy, but my body was “What the hell was that, Dave!!” Even after we ran out of time after two run-throughs of the final set I managed to finish the final triplet on my own. 

It’s now Friday morning, the day after, and my muscles are complaining mightily. But at the same time, it feels fantastic! I feel like I have more energy already (probably endorphins or something) and am looking forward to the next workout. Now I am regretting putting it off for so long. The longer I delayed, the more guilty I felt, and the less motivated I was to get back to it. The fact that I still had seven paid sessions with my PT was the final push to get me back to it.

Procrastination may be a profound (un)motivator, but wasting money proved to be a more powerful force! I couldn’t NOT use those sessions up!

Our bodies are a gift, and it is far too easy to take them for granted. Here’s to staying out of that “COVID Zombie” state for a while!

The Rock

 

This is a guest post, graciously allowed by its author, Paige Woodbury. Her willingness to share her relationship with her inner self is inspiring. To see it on her personal blog, I have included the link here.

A pinch from the inside,
a small pull at the thread,
that sense comes creeping in.
No control, not even of flesh,
twisted into knots and stuck standing stiff, heavy, unsure.
Pulling at my hair, begging for the ground –

the rock.

I wonder.

My mind has taken me this far, how far can it go?
Can I carry this rock with me up a steep hill?
Every hill?
Do I push, do I pull?
How far can the body and mind stretch and bend?
If I change,
what will come of this life of trails that I’ve carved?
My familiarity, nostalgia, dug deep into the forest floor of my mind.
mossy, musty, heavy-hearted,

dirt.

How do I make way for light?
To tap into the abyss and knock out darkness,
when it is weighed ten times more.
With darkness do you cradle it, comfort it,
assume the role of mother?
Do you belittle it?
Break it down and bully it?

A torturous goal it is, to create like this.
To challenge and question.
I’m sure one day I’ll hear the voice,
chiming in “you’re alright, keep going”.
And I’ll be partners with my darkness, carrying it alongside me,
I’ll create, and live, despite it.

I’m sure.
One day I’ll find the beauty in my darkness,

the rock.
                                        

– P. W.

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

I read an article last week that charted changes in Canadian life expectancy since 1921. If I had been born in that year, the odds are good that I would already be dead. The average life expectancy of a person born in 1921 was 57, a milestone I reached last year.

canadian life expectancy

By the time I was born, in 1960, life expectancy had grown to 70 years, and now, a child born in Canada can expect to live to be in their mid-eighties. What a fantastic gift that is. Continue reading “The Gift of Time”

Two people on a bench

Being Aware: Compatibility’s Key

I believe my spouse is so much better at understanding and describing how relationships work than I. The fact that I am aware of that may be the key to our compatibility over 25 years.

Last night we were talking about relationships, as one of our daughters enters a new one after several years of single life. I wondered out loud what makes people compatible, despite being entirely different personalities. I used our relationship as an example.

My partner, as is their gift, got straight to the “meat” of it.

“We know what little things drive each other crazy, and we avoid doing those things around each other. We care about, and are aware of, who we each are and what makes us happy.”

What an excellent example of what can make being together either stress-free or intolerable. The simple act of being aware of each other can make all the difference. Continue reading “Being Aware: Compatibility’s Key”

lost person with compass

How to be a Decent Person?

How Can We Be Decent?

One of my favourite comedians, Jim Jefferies, has a straightforward rule about being a decent human being: “Try not to be a cunt, and if you do that every day, you’ll be a good person.” (link to video)

Crude, but perfectly valid advice.

You cannot expect to learn morals from outside of your own experience. They must be absorbed by observing your role models, parents, peers, and personalities you encounter. Once absorbed, you need to process those impressions into what your choices will say about you.

Why Not Depend on Religion?

Most people look to religion to get their moral compass bearings, which is a valid start. Christian’s Sunday school, Muslim Koran readings, Buddhist teachings, they all point to methods to determine what is right and wrong. But it is dangerous to rely strictly on external sources to inform decisions. So many millions have been marginalized, discriminated against or killed just because of strict interpretations of ancient words – which mean vastly different things in today’s more complex world.

Instead, as you grow up you should start taking your moral bearings from within. Once you’re past 6 years old, relying on someone else to tell you right from wrong is avoiding your responsibility as a human being.

Be Responsible

As a mental experiment, imagine if every word you said was tattooed on your skin – would you speak any differently to those about you? What is impressive is that every person has that capability – to just be a decent person by attempting to treat everyone else respectfully.

We are all exposed to social media that captures people behaving badly: racial insults at a cashier, road rage, fights at Walmart, politicians denying sexual abuse charges. It seems like an endless parade of people behaving like they’ve forgotten what those early lessons in right and wrong were teaching. All to the point where we become desensitized to the pervasiveness of questionable behaviour.

So a challenge: we all have the power to be the light of reason in someone else’s life, as long as we follow a path that fits with our moral compass. Do that, and as Jim Jefferies says, “you’ll be a good person.”

You might also like: Zen Koan 45: Right & Wrong

serenity comes from within

Serenity is a Skill You Can Learn

Serenity is not bestowed from outside; it can only be built from within. You can actually learn to be calm, by practicing “thought before action”.

What is “Calm”?

I am known for being calm. I can remember how many times I have lost my temper since I was in my mid-twenties, and count them on one hand. A passage comes to mind when I think about how I achieved that serenity.
 
“CALMNESS of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.”
 
James Allen wrote this in 1903, in his short book “As a Man Thinketh”, a set of brief essays that outline how each person is the architect of their own life. It is one of the jewels of early western thought on the power of our minds to direct our lives.
 
“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”
 

Serenity Now!

As we engage in the world, it can become easy to get frustrated and angry at others. People do not behave as expected, much of the time. But you might as well get mad at the stone on which you just stubbed your toe! In the end, you can only govern your own thoughts and actions. Trying to force your mind on others is no way to grow inner serenity.
 
serenity now
Seinfeld tried to address the pursuit of inner calm with Frank Costanza’s “serenity now!”  yell. It made me laugh but pointed out that just yelling the word was the exact opposite response required to achieve it. You can’t force serenity on yourself; you have to build it from the inside.

Thought Before Action

Real peace and inner calmness can only come from looking within. You have no control over anything outside of your thoughts and actions. Once you come to grips with that, you can focus on examing the things that cause you distress and change the way you respond to them. Take time to think about your responses before you decide on action. Thoughts affect no one but yourself, actions affect the world. Approach action with calmness and serenity, and you will rarely regret your choices.
You can grab a copy of this insightful little book from The Gutenberg Project for free. Read some of the Zen stories that inspired thinkers like James Allen.
Photo by Tony Rojas on Unsplash
As always, comments and critique are welcome!