“I would love it if the worst headache of my life lasted only 45 minutes. Or the best headache for that matter.” Starting on Monday, I’ve been working through some terrible headaches, ranging from the left side of my head, then a little on the right, pressure all around, with some spinal and neck aches all around. Saturday night’s headache was overwhelming and nearly unbearable. It’s not that this was sudden, I just wasn’t observant enough.
I wonder if I became so overweight because of the amount of food I ate? I don’t think my weight loss was entirely due to my fitness. It helps. There’s a sense of self-control that comes from remembering you’re going to be exercising later, and after you’ve exercised, my body instinctively wants better foods. The problem might have been consuming too much food because even eating too much good food can be bad for you.
The anxiety shot through my back and up the left side of my neck like I’d tweaked a vital vertebra. My heart rate increased. Thoughts narrowed. Not this again! Why? It’s a feeling you never want, but once you’ve experienced it, it’s easy to reign the control back. That near-panic attack is just like overexerting yourself in rigorous physical fitness: the more you push yourself through your hardships, the more you can handle other hardships.
It’s taken 520 days now of constantly applied effort to start seeing my fitness goals realized. Would it feel as rewarding if that were significantly easier? If so, I’d probably take my fitness, physique, and general health for granted! Since I fought so fiercely to burn off 35 pounds so far, I can cherish the little results, like tightened ab muscles. Without that or the positive reinforcement, I can easily return to obesity in few than 520 days.
“If your limit is 10 push-ups, then do 3 or 5 push-ups throughout the day… You can also [practice by doing push-ups] at an angle against tables.” I never learned to do push-ups growing up. Anything related to fitness was a terrible experience rather than a tool that could enable me to experience reality more fully, so I was confused why my shoulders hurt one morning. It wasn’t poor form. I’d just never used those muscles before. Oops…
How do you keep your head above water? When you’re shoulder-deep in the stresses of life, do you just paddle along and hope to reach shore? Do you reach out to the first available source of help? Rarely are we just suddenly thrown into the murky stress waters that can consume us. We can usually see it coming. The sooner we identify that we’re about to hit those waters, the faster we can get out.
Meal portions are too large. It takes a certain discipline to have a meal, like this 5-star chicken alfredo, decide to only eat half, and commit to that. Especially when the second half won’t be as good: the chicken too cold, the spaghetti too burned, the atmosphere too dull. Yet, practicing the discipline to say, “no, I’m good” to overindulgence is probably the third greatest feeling in life. This delaying gratification becomes easier with practice.
I operate with a hot/cold approach to doing work. While I’m overheating my brain by writing, my body should be cooling itself off in a relaxed state. When I’ve completed my writing for that part of the day, my mind is thoroughly emptied, so then I can dispell some of that physical energy into a rowing set or doing some other physically laborious activity. When I’m both mentally and physically tired, I sleep almost instantaneously!
“Rowers always have strong arms!” My boss’s boss then grabbed my wimpy bicep, covered the awkwardness with a quick platitude, and we changed topics during our lunch meeting last year. Only last week did that sink in: I have weak arms. My leg-focused rowing form made my leg muscles solid, especially my calves, it’s just I’ve been under-utilizing my arms. I’m seeing an increase in my meter counts now that I’m building my arm muscles.
I face my fears during every rowing set. Sometimes, it’s nothing dramatic; just investing time into moving my limbs around. Usually, I’ll focus subconsciously on some internal turmoil along with routes through that. If it was one awkward conversation, I might ruminate about how much I care about future similar awkwardnesses. If it’s addressing some lingering stress, I’ll gather up the courage to face it down. We should often practice these sorts of fear staredowns.