Thursday, February 26, 2009

Training on an ellipsis

I am making great strides in my physical fitness. I have to focus on my abdominal exercises. With the standard goals I have developed in my physical development . I never had any wild, or expansive visions for myself in health, but now, I find myself propelled into this world of exercise again. It is humbling, and it is exciting.

Maybe it seems a little strange, but the positive effects I have experienced in just a short ten workouts- approximately an additional fifteen hours of workout in the past six weeks- have resulted in big changes in the way my body functions. Many people have noted that I am walking better. I am walking with more energy, and greater balance.

I am sure if I was paying more attention to my body, I would have seen that the reduction in activity was reducing stress, it was also furthering my difficulties. I am thrilled that I am choosing to use my cane less. I am thrilled that I am getting more work done. I see how this very basic circuit training is not static. I have an instructor that works with me, sees what my difficulties are, and addressses my own specific physical needs.

I have not spoken to many folk with neurological problems, but in my class, I am introduced to many people. I see the accident survivors, the stroke survivors, people with other problems related to neuro-muscular conditions. Now, I understand how much of my improvement is reliant upon me. I have lost some weight, gained some muscle, and am seeing the whole world with new eyes. Still, the goal for me is to retrain my nervous system as best I can. I saw the most annoying machine in our little gym at school.

The machine is called an elliptical cross-trainer. It wants to train my whole body on an ellipsis. I have used these machines before. Back in the mid 1990's these machines seemed pretty new, and were the rage. I used them. I learned how to secure a book to it, and read while cross training myself to better living. This post for me is about my coordination. I have my Adidas athletic pants, my Adidas athletic shorts, and my Adidas hat worn with the bill in back. I am starting my way to coordination.

But now, I have viewed this machine as the key to my training. I will have doctors prodding and probing me. They will shoot electricity to check my nerve function. I will have enormous magnets working to scan every cell in my body. I will be tested for anything and everything that could grant clarity for the true nature of this situation. But, regardless their findings, I am faced with the fact my healing and increased productivity rest on me alone.

I now know better than ever how training the muscle groups in my body work together towards a unified fitness. Now I can see how the principles of neuro plasticity apply to even me. The principles of neuro-plasticity suggest that neurons are flexible. These flexible neurons can be trained to do different things. It is this point upon I rest my success.

I have worked on the treadmill. I have ridden the bicycle, and I have worked on the elliptical cross trainer. The cross trainer challenges me in that I see how moving all four of my limbs at one time requires thought. Thought? To work on a machine that supposedly matches the fluidity of the human body? Yes. And yes, I do manufacture dialogs when no one else engages me.

My instructor says I need to train on this machine. This ellipsis. This machine which keeps my whole body moving in a fluid motion while regularly beeping and pausing, because I do not ride it at the basic minimum speed.By using this machine I can train my body and brain to work together. By watching myself in the mirror, I noted that I could coordinate myself better. I was able to keep the machine moving better without falling off it. I think this is amazing

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On the issue of My Coordination (coordination on discount!)


To get my coordination going well, I decided to take advantage of the gym facilities at my college. Twice a week I go to an adaptive physical education class where I follow a predetermined exercise program. I am not an overly prideful man. It is amazing how when I walked into the gym, I looked at the man with a clipboard, and told him I was looking for a gym class. He looked at me, saw my cane, and said, “She can help you right there.”

I walked over to this woman, surrounded by cubbyholes, and several college students working out. She looked at me, and told me to fill out a paper, and handed me a slip to take to the administration building. This statrted my journey. I learned I am now locked in. I have committed myself to this program. Still, I am asking myself what I expect. I do not know what I wanted from this, except perhaps a greater grasp on reality.

Stepping in the gym that first day I met many people in this class. I was bothered by one thing. This class had one model. I was told that I would follow this course of exercise and abide by the dictates of whatever person was picked to follow me around with a clipboard. My file folder tracks every exercise I do for ninety minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program makes me follow over twelve exercises dealing with various muscle groups in the body.

The beginning sets were so light, and hobbling around to the machines was irritating when I felt like they were doing nothing for me. In already had my ideas on what I could do, and no thought to what I cannot do. The lady following me around smiled, and agreed that maybe I can accept more weights on the leg curls. She added one plate on, and I quickly told her to go ahead and put it back to the lower weight. What am I to do? I decided to accept these pathetically light workouts, and came back. With circuit training there seems to be a wisdom in this.

I am rickety. I did not start this off with the muscle mass I had a year ago. I am not the dynamic powerhouse I envision. So, I come back. The exercises become more extreme. I seee how exercising different muscle groups are starting to make my functioning better. So, the issue is one of coordination. I have said my balance walking was a problem.

So, I am now reaping the rewards. My strength already is improving. My walking is getting better. My balance is improving, and already I am walking more without the aid of my cane. I am very excited about this. My life is getting so much better.

About the coordination, though. I went shopping at Shopko days ago. I went in to by things I needed to improve my rider home. With the rain, I decided to buy a hat and gloves. I also was feeling a tiny bit lazy, and did not want to do laundry. I bought a pair of gym shorts. I would be able to attend the class, and would be wearing clean clothes. Splendid!

As I walked out of the store I was pleased everything I bought was on discount or clearance. I then noticed something else: everything I bought was from Adidas. I think it marginally scary to imagine the implications should I start showing up in gym with intentionally coordinated workout gear. I took some deep breaths, and continued to congratulate myself on the well orchestrated purchases.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Holiday Greeting


I have little regard for holidays in general. I have always felt that maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses maybe have something going on here. I am not making fun of them. I really wonder why we have special days of celebration. My teacher did note, however that it was the anniversary for Darwin's birthday. I told him that it was the two hundredth anniversary, specifically. My feelings on this does have little to do with religion, or lack of religious conviction. I do know that other people get excited about holidays, though.

Perhaps it comes from not having much money. Maybe it comes from years of working in the service sector. For decades, I found most Christmases, most Thanksgiving, most birthdays caused more headache than joy. When I worked in restaurants, hotels, and retail places, I came to accept most holidays were just extra days to serve consumers' needs. My girlfriend asked me once if I was going to be able to see my family on Christmas Day. I reiterated that I was visiting them on the week before. My family lives several hundred miles away from me, and I was confused why anyone would care what exact day I was visiting my family home.

So, outside the schedules of people I am seeing, I do not understand why anyone would care when I came to them. There are times when many people have their own plans. I know through my experiences that ill-planned trips have resulted in me not seeing people I want to see, and challenged my ability to do what I want to do.

I suppose that I write this to find out if anyone else out there shares in my indifference. I love that others remember me on the holidays that they celebrate.

Anyway, I remember one day, several years ago, that I decided to go to the movies. I decided that I like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, so went to the movie You've Got Mail. It is hardly an earth shattering, thought-provoking film. Still, I enjoyed the movie. I thought as a romantic comedy it left me feeling a little warmer, a little lighter than I was entering the theatre.

It was a twilight showing, and with the sun dropping down upon entering the theatre, the parking lot was dark. I watched the people leaving the film. I watched the couples crossing the parking lot after this film showing. Many of these people were holding each other, and I saw kissing, hand holding. I realized that I was exiting the theatre alone. This was not a big deal, except I had many choices of films to watch. I could have watched a violent film. I could have watched a thoughtful film. I could have watched some movie that could have emboldened, edified my manhood. There was a point where I saw how something that night something was frightfully wrong.

That day I stopped to reflect on the calendar. That day was February 14, 1999. My heart sank in my chest. Something sickening that I should randomly choose to watch a romantic comedy alone on Valentine's Day. I can only guess how I managed myself that night, but ten years later, I asm grateful to say I survived that day.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Down the River


“Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. died today at the age of ninety. The exact cause of death has not been determined.” --radio news broadcast, May 7, 2000


"The consequent improvement in health and increase of longevity is one of the most remarkable and admirable characteristics of our age. Even if science had done nothing else for human happiness, it would deserve our gratitude on this account.” --Bertrand Russell

I was just reading a blog post where the author wrote about the sensitivity people have to their aging. I remember two references I made in the past year to women who died in their thirty-ninth year of life. Perhaps this sensitivity is bizarre, especially at a time when octogenarians receive little note for their longevity. But, shouldn't someone die in their seventies, we still speak of their relatively long life. We do not wonder why they died.

Why do some people feel insecure when pondering their movement into their late twenties, their thirties, or their fortieth birthday? Why does a book about the last third of life shake up someone in their sixties? The presumption, if optimistic, is one that the receiver of the book will live to ninety. I think that is most ambitious, even if the recipient is forced, somehow to accept, or face his own mortality for the first time in a while.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”-- Woody Allen

I write this, maybe because at thirty-eight, I have many thoughts on this subject. I mean, after having all this time available, I tend to ask how I account for the last thirty-eight years. It is why I am back in school. It is why I am back with my doctors. It is why I am reading more about positive attitudes, and taking more positive actions. This is why I am learning how, through my inactivity alone, I have lost considerable muscle mass since this time, last year.

Reading that blog post challenged me. Do people feel insecure because they are sad about being older? Do they mourn the loss of physical agility, of physical beauty, of lost business opportunities, or is this about the reaper? I laugh when I hear stories of people's lives, and when interviewed, almost all of them answer the interviewer's stock question with an erroneous claim that could they go back in life and do something over they “would not change a thing.” Am I alone in thinking this is patent bullshit?

Maybe we are not creative. Maybe we are so lost in imagination, or so distrusting of our judgment, that we deny that maybe one or more of the disasters in our life would have been best left undone. Perhaps the idea -that we could avert, divert, or redirect our actions and make a better path for ourselves- is so threatening we dare not admit it to the man with the camera. To make such an admission could open a door where we would have to admit some mistake long forgotten, a mistake that caused more pain than it solved.

Of course, allowing myself the fancy of giving a positive answer to the question would show how honest I can be. This is a moment of truth. It is not like any man will catch me off guard. What would I say if I can say it? How much of my underbelly would I dare show?

Well, Barbara, I always thought not getting my teeth capped was a major mistake. It is hard to admit this in front of you. I believe that was the worst decision of my life.”