Tag Archives: kicking ass

A Journally Thing: Of Clean Houses and Sore Backs

So, things are in new places and places are in new things. Whoa. Feeling a little Seuss-y there for a moment.

Mornin’, kids.

I had me a long weekend, and it was good. I’ve had so many weekends of trying to get somewhere new around my home, and it’s never really worked, despite getting the place reasonably organized. Every week, boom, another cleaning disaster unfolds.

Recently, I’d written about cleaning a cupboard with an approach of “from where does the mess begin?” Then I wondered, why can’t I do that with my home?

So, on a complete whim, Saturday, I got up, moved a couple things, and then I had reoriented my whole living room, with greater space for workout and a cleaner path through my place, with less clutter.

I sat down with my wine Saturday night and kept looking around the apartment, all “Oooh.” I still wasn’t done and I made some changes Sunday, but my space feels lighter to me now.

My continuing progression of self is going well this fall.

Massive edit here. I wrote about 5 paragraphs explaining how I was an emotional Ugly Cry Mess for a week last week, partly due to PMS, but mostly, I think, due to a rib being out of place in my back. The same spot is considered by Chinese medicine to be a meridian for our Chi, which is life energy, and the flipside, over the heart area, is considered an acupressure/acupuncture point for happiness. I had the rib fixed by my chiro Friday, right after getting my “more happier button” reset, as my acupuncture doctor says, and I haven’t come close to being emotional or sad since.

It’s funny how the body works.

So, when we’re “out of alignment,” we really are.

It’s been months that I’ve been recuperating from this stupid injury, so I wonder what that does to the headspace.

Well, my mood’s been fucking great since Friday.

I’ve been keeping to myself, doing the things I’ve longed to do, and finally have gotten my space up to speed. I like what I’ve done this weekend. On top of that, I’ve had 8-10 hours a night of sleep for three nights — which is on par with being a religious experience after the restless September I had and the months of sporadic sleep preceding that.

Friday was sort of my hitting-bottom of my back injury. No, the back’s not BAD these days, but it’s not what I’d hoped it’d be. Hell, I thought I’d be over this shit by June, but it’s turning into 2/3rds of a year in a couple weeks. That’s a long time for things to be awry.

The trouble with an injury like the back is not just that it puts you in severe pain for weeks on end — about seven excruciating weeks for me, and three months of low-grade pain after that — but how much it incapacitates you in the long run.

I’ve been running at 50-75% capacity for months now. I have to STOP when I hear things in my body saying “this is too much.” Whether I’m cleaning, out with friends, whatever. When your back says stop, you better fucking listen.

These days, though, it says stop less frequently. By making the choice to spend most weekends at home slowly getting my life back on track, and recuperating as needed, I’ve done exactly what I’d hoped to do.

I’m also starting with a new physiotherapist this week.

People don’t get how much of a financial burden it is to get injured. If you can’t work 100%, and you’re constantly putting out money on care, and you’re occasionally taking the easy route with takeout or delivery because SOMETHING has to give, well, it’s a pretty draining existence financially. I’ve been in that boat immediately after about seven months of unemployment. It’s like that Simply Red song, Money’s Too Tight To Mention. Every back appointment is another $50-100. And you wonder why I have no life.

So, my money goes out on my back, constantly. Literally a few thousand this year. So, finally there’s room for a new physiotherapy routine, which will be wonderful. That starts this Friday. I’m very excited. If it doesn’t work, there’s another I want to try.

It’s that I’m finally able to work a little more that I can do a little more for myself. So, it’s a good thing.

I wish I’d journalled on the pain throughout my injury, though. There were some dark, dark days from March to May this year.

It’s amazing how resilient we can be. Sometimes no one else really knows. But we do. I’m trying to remember now those black fucking days, so I can contrast this casual feeling of liking my living room as my coffee cup hits bottom and buttery sunlight streams through the curtain cracks.

THIS moment, this, right here — this is something I’ve not enjoyed often in the last year… simple contentment within a moment. Not stressed, scared, or panicked. Just… casual.

They call back injuries “invisible” because no one really sees it. They think you’re moody or depressed because there’s a weary look in the eye, bags under them, and a constantly strained face. What they don’t know is that it’s because you can’t sleep more than two or three hours at a time, if that, and you’re never comfortable enough for that edginess to soften.

Back injuries aren’t an inconvenience — they become a way of life.

So, my way of life is still compromised, but it’s improving to the point where I have actual moments of feeling human again. That’s nice.

Everything solved? No. Over the money struggles? Nah. Smooth sailing ahead? Likely not.

And that’s okay. Because at least there’s the possibility of awesome.

Enter Villain: Nemesis, AKA The Stairs

Today I conquered that which I’ve avoided since June: My Nemesis, The Stairs.

I did 21 floors, with 22 steps each, in under 20 minutes. It’s a great start back! Remember: Pneumonia recovery — my first full week with actual cardio!

While not a specifically-prescribed exercise in my new fitness routine, the stairs are a necessary evil, and will likely figure prominently for me in the coming months. The stairs do some amazing things for my body, but it’s imperative that I use exact technique, or Bad Things can happen — and fast!

But good things can happen, and fast, too!

For example, I’ve noticed a terrific change in my body already, from less than a week with my trainer, Nik from Le Physique, in that my legs are already balancing their strength out. By that I mean how my outer thighs are ridiculously developed from cycling so much, so long, and they get so tight it screws up my lower back and right hip.

Knowing this about me, Nik’s assigned two particular exercises that are crazy-good to do for my knees, glutes, and thighs, now I’m already seeing new tone on my inner thighs, and feeling less pressure on my tailbone! It’s been five days! (The exercises: Ball-leg curls with a balance ball, and wall-sits.)

I’ve been foolishly stubborn and proud of having achieved so much fitness-wise since 2007 on my own, without training and guidance, but I’m realizing how much my body needs the minor corrections in technique and new routines targeting specific muscles.

Fact is, every time I become competent in one muscle group, my body overcompensates in another, in a bad way. Aches, pains, et cetera, it seems might be more avoidable than I realized.

Another thing that’s quickly resonated with me is the food/activity journal that Nik assigned me.

I’ve tracked calories before, but never the emotional fallout of my choices and actions/lack of action, and it’s illuminating.

I thought I’d be more wowed by how certain dietary choices physically felt in my body, but instead I’m noticing all the emotional comments. The biggest one: Shame.

Every time I don’t do what I know I can, or know I should, I find myself recording feedback laced with guilt and shame.

I’m a recovering Catholic, of course I feel shame for everything — but the question is, why keep doing the behaviour that creates the guilt and shame in the first place? Why perpetuate the cycle?

I know, it’s not rocket science that I should feel badly after eating badly, but there’s something about seeing it on paper —  CAUSE = EFFECT — when it comes to recording three glasses of wine or my choice to eat slider burgers with a fried egg for breakfast.

It’s that original “WTF” moment where you just can’t fathom the logic behind those choices. Why? Why? Why?

Somehow “but it tastes good” isn’t swallowed so easily when one realizes the rest of the day is spent with a faint whiff of failure lingering around.

Fortunately, this is part of the process. It’s part of the accountability factor that leads to success. Obviously the accountability isn’t there at the beginning; that’s why change is happening in the first place, right?

I know, in a couple weeks, I’m gonna love the way the new strength is feeling, I’ll love the power I feel I have, and I’ll have something I didn’t have two weeks ago — the pride of really accomplishing life change through serious, deliberate effort.

Then, the price becomes too high to screw my accomplishment up with wrong choices or not accommodating those choices through additional workouts or juggling my day’s food.

Then, the body becomes its own reminder that eating well is imperative — how you feel already is the motivation for keeping the feeling alive. It’s a self-sustaining experience, if you’re doing fitness right, I’ve found.

The process has begun. It’s kind of awesome.

Tomorrow, I get a day pass to get the hell out of the city and rediscover nature in the Valley. I’m really glad I’m feeling healthier already, because I’ve earned the day away.

On tap? Hiking. More fitness, but also more reward for me, on every level.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Everybody Has Reversals

One of my favourite movies is the little-known David Mamet skewering of Hollywood, the filmmaking parody called State and Main.

In it, supposed screenwriter Phillip Seymour Hoffman laments being kicked off his first movie.

The bookstore owner, played by Rebecca Pidgeon, says to him, “Well…  Everybody has reversals. If you were never down, how would you know when you were up?”

It’s a pretty universally held-belief espoused by everyone from Rumi and Kahlil Gibran to my neighbour Bob down the street.

Graffiti I love from Vancouver's Granville Island. Unfinished on purpose or interrupted? No idea. Love it.

I think we get it, right? Gotta be sad to know happy, poor to know rich, fat to know thin.

I’m identifying with the latter as I acknowledge I’ve been backpedalling against my own reversals of late.

I had set myself a weight goal in May and I’ve moved the opposite direction. I’ve been kind of mentally lost at sea as I’ve been screwing up the courage to make the journey to where I need to go: self-employment, et cetera.

That means I delved into emotional eating while I’d been on edge and in fear.

Failure is something I’m really scared of. So scared, in fact, I’d rather not try at all and have the excuse that I’ve yet to get around to it, than to do it and face-plant.

I’m getting past that in my (cough) old age now, and starting to have the “feel the fear and do it anyways” ’90s mantra pumping through my head, but it’s been taking a while.

I know what I want now, and that means the emotional eating has begun to become more obvious to me — I’m realizing what I’ve been doing, I’m conscious of the shame that has come with it, and the depression that comes with realizing I’ve been failing myself for a while now.

I’ve been trying to hide it.

But there’s only so much you can hide when you’re carrying around the evidence on your ass.

Seriously, right? That’s what it boils down to: Who the fuck do you think you’re kidding, there, tubbo?

Granted, I’ve only gained 2 pounds more than I started the summer with, but I’m still pissed off about it, because I know HOW to defeat it, and because I’ve fucking cycled more than 1,100 kilometres this summer — all for naught! All that sweat and pain and endurance so I could barely maintain my weight? Fuck!

This week some things are coming into play — I’ll be talking to a professional trainer to see what we can maybe do for each other. I finally made a connection last week with someone and we’ll see if it’s a promising venture toward the weekend. Here’s hoping.

As a result of getting a “yeah, let’s talk!” from the trainer, I realized “Well, I’d love to get the help, but you know what? I’ve done this all by myself before — I cut out butter, I ate better, I worked out 6-8 hours a week… I didn’t need a trainer then, and I don’t need one now.”

So, I decided I’d get real. I celebrated with a cheeseburger, but then I knuckled down and chucked out the butter, made some mental commitments as to what I’m willing to do, where I’m willing to go, and grocery-shopped accordingly.

I also decided that I don’t need a trainer, no, but I want one.

Sooner or later we all have to realize that we can only get ourselves so far on our own. There’s only so much we can consider inside our little brains and only so many experiences we can have first-hand. There’s only so much we can excel at in life without others’ help.

Eventually, help really is something we all need to accept.

I honestly believe the last five years of my life have been specifically about teaching me that it’s okay to ask for help and that it’s okay to turn to others. You can’t possibly know how far I’ve come, but I still have far to go.

Times like these are when I’m proud to say at least I’ve learned how to make the first move.

It’s been a very difficult lesson, gaining the humility that is needed to admit help is required.

The two lessons I’m most proud I’ve taken from the last 10 years are: 1) That I know I’m strong enough to overcome everything that gets put in my path, and on my own, and 2) That I’m finally comfortable asking others for help and admitting that I just can’t do everything, and that it’s given me a tremendous amount in life.

Where I’ve gotten myself is this:

  • I’m more than half-way to the body and the health that I’ve wanted all my life.
  • I’ve overcome most of my injuries to the point where my days seldom get clouded with the thoughts of pain and discomfort that used to swirl like blackness around me.
  • I no longer feel my goals are hopeless but instead feel anger that I’ve been letting them slip by because I know in my heart I should be all over ’em like Oprah on a ham.
  • I’m ready.

Yes, I said the big word: Anger.

I’m fucking pissed, buddy. I’m mad. I’m bitter. I’m choked. I’m gonna kick some ass. MINE.

It’s all MY fault. It ain’t about the media or the government, life beating up on me or any of that shit. This weight I’ve regained is ALL MY FAULT and I FUCKING KNOW IT.

Oh, sure, you want to do the “Hey, love yourself” or “Embrace yourself and be gentle” la-la-love-in bullshit? KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. Ain’t my cuppa, honey.

It was THIS MOOD that launched me on the path that saw me losing 70 pounds, saying NO MORE, and going hard after what I wanted. It was THIS MOOD that said I’m entitled to better but only if I earn it first.

I’m not being mean to myself, I’m saying I’m better than this. I’m saying I know I can do this. I’m saying I have this in me. That’s love, man. I know I’m built for this. That’s love.

I don’t need to light candles, run a bath, and sing “Kumbaya” to myself, okay?

I need to put the fucking butter down, pay attention to when my belly is full, stop living the college dorm “HEY, LET’S GET BEER” life of excess that my summer has been. That’s love, man.

Am I pissed off at myself? Sure.

Am I gonna hold a grudge about it? Fuck, no.

By this time next week, I want my attitude to be “Hey, I’ve done well this past week. Let’s go windsurfing!” ‘Cause that’s scheduled for then, you know. That’s how we say “ENOUGH” in my world.

Kumbaya, motherfucker. Reverse this!