Ow.

Sep. 4th, 2017 01:07 pm
bjarvis: (Default)
My latest obsession, karate, is progressing nicely. As much as one can progress with only three lessons under one's (white) belt.

I'm very conscious that my hamstrings are much too tight and I lack the flexibility to do this as well as I'd like. (And you are hereby invited to get your minds out of the gutter, thankyouverymuch.) A front kick, side kick or round kick can be very effective against an opponent at thigh level, gut level or head/neck level, but my best attempts could only threaten a small child. I can hit high enough to kick an adult in the abdomen, but it's going to take a lot more practice and stretching to reach their chest, not to mention their head. On the good side, two weeks ago, I was only a threat to their kneecaps, so progress is being made.

Another aspect of an effective kick is the non-kicking foot, the one on which one is actively standing. And it is an active stand, not a passive act: that standing foot has to turn so that one's pelvis can pivot to deliver more energy into the kick. Ideally, one's toes should pointed be 180 degrees away from the target, but anything more than 90 degrees is acceptable.

Once again, my flexibility and stretch, not to mention my balance, is insufficient to the task. I could get close to 90 degrees, but only this week after much stretching & practice can I get closer to 180. My balance for the kick has also improved, although I'm uncertain if that is because of repeated practice, the improved positioning of the standing leg, or both.

There is one other aspect I need to work on before I can make any major breakthroughs: I have to get more comfortable with sweating heavily. From prior experience, I know that if I overheat severely, very, very bad things happen so I'm very wary of my internal temperature. I'm used to sweating lightly at the gym, but it isn't very comfortable, or sweating a lot on the treadmill which is pure misery. The formal classes have made me sweat profusely, but I muscle through (a) because of peer pressure in a class setting, and (b) because I know the class is time-limited so I know how long I have to hold myself together. I'm more lenient on myself when I'm practicing solo at home, and that might be a bad thing.

One good fix will come along on its own: winter is coming. The basement where I've been practicing is cooler than the rest of the house but will get downright cold in a few months. This is a perfect situation for me. My other proposed fix is to set small milestones before a rest break is permitted: perhaps 15 minutes of concentrated work, or perhaps 25 consecutive kicks on each side. With a task list in hand, I can force myself to work through the discomfort.

In the interim, extra stretching and Alleve by the handful are getting me through. By Thanksgiving, I hope to be able to kick any of you in the head.
bjarvis: (Default)
OMG, I hurt. Like, I'm going to swallow an entire bottle of Alleve with a vodka chaser kind of hurt. But it was fun!

I had my second karate class tonight. As before, it began with a lot of stretching to warm up. And then it really got into leg stretching, the kind I haven't been able to do in 45 years or so. My upper body is very flexible, but the kind of lifts & extensions required of my lower half far exceeds my current abilities. But damn it, I'm going to try!

We also did some non-contact sparring, a lot of punches, a front kick, a side kick and an arching back kick. Extensively. This part wasn't painful except to my ego: my balance isn't great and I need more careful deliberate practice to get the precise form internalized.

There were some nice compliments about how I was keeping up, and some surprise it was only my second class. I'm sure they're being kind, but in some ways I am doing better than others. My weightlifting has trained me to ensure I have a very solid footing and maintain a low center of gravity. My upper body strength can generate a damn wicked punch. Lifting and cardio have given me good endurance.

All that said, my ass was solidly kicked (metaphorically) tonight. I was sweating profusely, overheating and nearly gasping for oxygen by the end. Of course, that's what a good workout is suppose to do, so victory is mine!

My self-assigned homework is to keep stretching so I can lift my knees higher, aim my side & rear kicks higher and bend my upper body lower. I will also need to rehearse each of the kicks we covered to improve my form.

OCD superpowers, activate!
bjarvis: (Default)
Tonight, I had my first ever karate class. It was a sampler for beginner adults at a new dojo which has opened in our neighbourhood.


I've been thinking about this for a long time. Mostly, my goals are easy: more cardio, flexibility, reflexes & balance in a structured program. Long time friends Beth Fournier and Stephan Mueller (now both of Seattle) have been blackbelts for the past couple of decades: it was their example which set my mind in motion on this years ago, but I never felt I had the time or opportunity until recently.

The class tonight was heavy on kicks and punches, as one might expect. What I didn't expect was how physically demanding it would be in a one hour session: I was sweating heavily in the last 20 minutes.

My form, needless to say, sucks. Our sensei and teaching assistant have been doing this for years so naturally they have better balance and joint flexibility than I do. But for a complete novice, I think I acquitted myself well. I did not embarrass my ancestors, although some might have been giggling at my expense. Given that it was only an hour --and they doubtlessly didn't want to scare off a newbie before he was fully hooked-- we didn't delve into things I know are critical for karate: foot positioning, balance, breathing, etc.. But I can practice that on my own so my next appearance won't be quite so pathetic.

In theory, I should be attending classes Mondays & Thursdays, but I've already warned them that I have a series of booking for the next while so I won't have regular attendance until we get past Labour Day. But I will make the effort. And being more than a little obsessive, I'll get through the initial stages with determination.

Their program could theoretically raise one to black belt level in three years. I suppose that is possible if one has great attendance and above average tenacity --and I usually have both. But rising through the ranks isn't really my goal. If graduation to a new belt happens, I'll take it, but it's just icing on the cake. Of course I say that now, but when my competitiveness and OCD kicks in...

Gym Update

May. 25th, 2017 11:07 am
bjarvis: (Default)
As somewhat expected, the renovations at my regular LA Fitness in downtown Silver Spring are taking longer than they had planned. Instead of being shut down for three weeks ending May 22, they will be offline for five weeks in total, to June 5.

Since my membership expires today (May 25), I renewed yesterday at the Dulles Town Center location, after my regular workout and before heading to work at the data center. I've re-upped for one year at $179. While I'd rather renew for 3 years at a time to save money, I don't want to make a longer term commitment until I know the renovated Silver Spring location is worth my money: I definitely know the Wheaton location is not. I haven't yet checked out the Aspen Hill facility but may do so next week when life is calmer.

bjarvis: (Default)
I've noticed for some time that my local LA Fitness gym isn't exactly top shelf. It's OK: it has space, a broad range of equipment, a nice yoga room and a cycle room, a large basketball court, and an intermediate-sized swimming pool. Not bad, but not great.

Over the years, the carpeting has started to show its age. The lockers in the change room are in need of repair. The shower heads and fawcets in the showers are well past their prime. It's not a horrible gym, but it's far below the level of the LA Fitness near my data center, a shiny & gleaming new facility which sets a high bar.

Sadly, the only other LA Fitness convenient to home or work is the one in Wheaton, MD. It's the same distance from home as the downtown Silver Spring one I frequent, but if my preferred gym is ghetto, Wheaton is an outright slum and/or shanty town. It is a sad & miserable place, suffering from extreme mismanagement and neglected maintenance.

My local gym has been announcing renovations "any day now" for a while, but they've finally marked a date in the calendar. As of February 20, we will lose the change rooms and showers: there will be some sort of toilets made available, but I dread to think what form that might take. The gym will close completely for March 6-20 for complete renovations.

I can deal with the lack of change rooms & showers: I'll simply dress for the gym at home and have my shower when I get back to the house. The two week closer is a bit more serious: I don't want to be out of circulation that long so it seems I'll either have to find excuses to head to the data center more frequently so I can use the shiny Sterling location, or hold my nose to head to the Wheaton gym. Both options are less than ideal, but it's only for two weeks. My latest membership contract is up in May so at least I'll have a couple of months with the newly renovation version before deciding on committing for another contract.
bjarvis: (Default)
OK, I'm now fifty years old. A half-century. Five decades. 18,262 days (remembering that 2000 wasn't a leap year). About 60% of my lifespan.

Surprisingly, fifty feels pretty good.

With age comes experience, and I'm better equipped mentally & emotionally to handle life now that at any point prior in my life. By gradual accumulation, I have financial & professional stability I would have envied when I was in my twenties. I am surrounded by a crowd of friends & family, including to my enormous surprise children & grandchildren (via marriage, but that's not significant). I'm also healthier & stronger than I've ever been, despite last year's knee surgery and minor issues from time to time. On the whole, I'm at the peak and it's all downhill from here.

The oddest sensation is that a huge burden of imposter syndrome has lifted away. I no longer feel like I'm faking being an adult: I am finally an adult now, in my internalized self-image.

I think I've been going through the motions of being a responsible adult since I was ten. I could do the work, I could keep up with the crowd, and I could handle the responsibility, but I wasn't physically the right age. Even if one is considered an adult at age 18, it's not quite true: proper maturity takes several more years. Biologically, our brains aren't even finished baking until the mid-twenties. In my thirties & forties, I still felt like I was the child being permitted at the grown-ups table, acceptable but not really accepted.

Today, there are no further doubts. There is something about that magic (and admittedly arbitrary) number of fifty in which all parts of me are finally in congruence. If there's any misalignment left, it's my mental image of me with brown hair rather than full grey, but that's all.

So this is what internal peace feels like. I kinda like it.

Now why hasn't AARP called yet?
bjarvis: (Default)
Work at the gym continues. I'm enjoying the ride --for the most part. The delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) still kicks my ass from time to time, but that's the price one pays for progress.

A level of pain will come up next May when my gym membership expires: LA Fitness no longer does annual one-time payment memberships with discounts for multiple years, but instead offer only monthly subscriptions. The same tier as I currently have (multi-club access except for the Signature gyms, unlimited usage) will cost $30/month. My existing membership was about $750 for three years, or about $21/month, so the new monthly subscription will represent a 43% increase. This doesn't make me happy. Come May, I'll have to dig a bit to see how much wiggle room LA Fitness can offer me, or I could downgrade to the $25/month single-gym option. Or I go looking for another gym.

In my physical pain, injuries come and go. In early 2015, I overworked my right medial deltoid, causing me some discomfort for a long time. I could push & pull directly in front of me for, say, low rows or light bench presses, but could not lift my arm over my head to steady the bar for squats or inclined shoulder presses. Medical exams showed it would heal on its own and it finally did: I've only recently reincorporated some of my original above-shoulder exercises into my regular routine.

Other injuries are more embarrassing. I have a wound still healing on my right shin from accidentally walking into the jutting end of an unused barbell. That one joins two other scars on the same shin for the same reason. *sigh*

And this week, I lost a postage stamp-sized piece of scalp & hair while bench pressing. I just finished a set at 160lbs when I sat up for a minute rest; I misjudged the space between my head and the barbell, scraping the top of my head against the roughed handgrip portion of the metal bar which --because it had 160lbs on it-- didn't budge an inch. It's just a minor skin scrape but damn, it hurt. And bled. And was embarrassing.

In my own defence, I have yet to have to be rescued from equipment because I trapped myself under weight I couldn't handle. I haven't dropped any heavy equipment on my toes. I haven't fallen down stairs. No ambulance has been called for me. But then again, there are many years left ahead so who knows what the future might bring?
bjarvis: (Default)
The tissue removed from my scalp has been officially declared an inflamed keratosis by the lab techs who work with my dermatologist. It is utterly uninteresting medically, and no follow-up is required.

The wound where the tissue was removed still has some healing to go, but there is no sign of any infection or complications of any kind.
bjarvis: (Default)
At this moment, I literally do have a hole in my head. My mother was right, finally & briefly, after all these years.

For as long as I can remember, I've had a relatively small soft bump just behind & above my right ear. Imagine having 2-3 toonies embedded in your scalp: it felt fluid-filled and slid easily against with the scalp against the skull so I knew it wasn't attached to or protruding from my skull. Since it was hidden by my hair, wasn't painful in the slightess and was otherwise irrelevant, I never worried about it.

About 3-4 weeks ago, it began growing. It's diameter grew another 50% or so, and it thickened to the point where it was a visible bump despite my hair. Indeed, after my last haircut, it was so visible and apparently disturbing that one person asked me if I needed help because I had been clearly beat up. Soon, it also began scaling over and began sporadic bleeding.

In the three days before my regular doctor could fit me in, the swelling reduced dramatically. In the end, it was about the size & thickness of a quarter, rough to the touch but still painless.

My regular doctor said it looked like a common wart, but referred me to a dermatologist for a proper exam and possible remediation. Monday, I visited Dr Stolar who repeated Dr Ward's wart theory, adding it could also be a keratosis. In any case, we agreed to remove it.

Within ten minutes, the area of my scalp had been anaesthetized, the wart/keratosis had been surgically removed, the area cauterized, some antibiotic ointment was applied to the wound and I was on my way home while the excised tissue was on its way to the pathology lab. Dr Stolar took a look at a few other skin irregularities across my forehead as a precautionary measure but said there was nothing of concern; being fair-skinned, he recommended either the SPF 2 billion or wearing a burqua when out in the sun, but otherwise carry on my life per usual.

At this moment, the area is still pain-free and I can feel the wound has scabbed over. I can wash my hair without concern. The healing process will take another week or so, but it feels odd not having a bump in that area any longer.
bjarvis: (Default)
I've been wearing the same frames for about eight years now, I think. For many years, my eyes had the same prescription but about two years ago, I had to go to multifocal lenses. Not finding any frames I liked at that time, I simply had the lenses replaced in my old frames. Those frames are showing their wear & tear however and I'm unsure how long they will last.

After making my appointment this morning, I looked at some of the frames on offer, quickly narrowing the selection down to about three. For laughs, I took pics of myself wearing each, as well as one with my current glasses. Combining those into a single photo, I posted it to FaceBook and Instagram to get feedback & reactions.

My favourite of the new frames received favourable reactions but to my surprise, my existing frames were the runaway favourite. Possible reasons:
  1. My friends are accustomed to seeing my existing glasses and are therefore unconsciously biased to the familiar;
  2. My current glasses are already an excellent choice for my face, my complexion, and facial hair colour, so the other candidates have a high bar to reach;
  3. My friends have the same taste, good or bad, as I do.


In any case, my eye exam is tomorrow morning. If my prescription hasn't changed, I may skip new glasses entirely. If it has changed and new glasses are warranted, I may defer the purchase for a couple of weeks to consider other frames.
bjarvis: (Default)
I try to be non-judgmental at the gym, but some days my resolve is weaker than circumstances require.

I've been going to the same LA Fitness for over three years, more than long enough to know the regulars and spot the newbies. I hardly notice the muscle-bound guys: I'm focused on my routines, they're focused entirely on theirs, and outside of a greeting glance or patiently waiting for equipment to be available, there's no interaction.

The newbies are easy to spot: they're unsure which equipment they should use next, how precisely to use something new, where to set the seat height, how much weight to configure, etc., not to mention the unspoken etiquette of the gym. They usually watch intently from the sides to see how a regular is using the equpiment then make their way over when the machine is free. I feel for them: it's a daunting environment but I'm so glad they found the courage to at least try. I sometimes offer to help, but I'm also sometimes wary that I might easily scare off the timid. And what they really need is a full workout plan in advance so they can use time on the floor to actually work out rather than mull over the finer points.

Every day, there are people with obvious weight issues feebly lifting weights lighter than my gym bag. My five-year-old self makes ugly jokes, but my mature self recognizes these are people who are working to improve their health and they are to be supported & helped, even if that support just means letting them alone to do their thing. When I started, I couldn't lift heavy either (some would say I still can't... it's relative). Everyone starts somewhere, and some have a longer road to walk than others. I respect their efforts, give them their space and, if we're working similar routines, ensure they get first right of refusal on any equipment I might want to use. And say hi should we make eye contact.

There are the fashion queens & failures. There are a handful with the latest day-glo branded fashions for the gym, always freshly pressed and fitted. There are also a bunch with either no sense of appropriate clothing for the gym or simply don't own any. Here's a hint: jeans and a polo shirt aren't good clothes to select for your workout.

There are the ultra shy folks. I can understand some people are so uptight about nudity (esp their own) that they want to change as quickly as possible and escape the locker room, but it's frankly wierd that anyone would go into the showers fully dressed, doubly so for going into the steam room. Who taught them to be so ashamed of their own body? It's time to unlearn that, whatever kind of body one has.

And then there are some particular characters at my gym...

There are the Smash Brothers. They either use equipment as props while they chat for hours or use the equipment so hard it breaks. These are the guys who load up a machine to a massive weight, push to their extreme, then simply drop the weight at peak, letting the weights fall to the floor or to the machine's rest state. "We're working to failure," they claim. Wrong: working to failure means to exert to the point where one can no longer complete a rep *with good form*. It does not mean complete loss of control. A loud clang or thud should only be heard in cases of medical emergency, not as part of one's regular workout. I ascribe much of the floor damage and out-of-order equpiment to these guys or people like them. They're the reason our gym fees go up.

There's Potion Guy. He brings a duffle bag of his personal workout equipment and a second duffle bag of various protein powders & supplements. He also maintains three lockers in the men's locker room, stuffed with equipment & supplies. He typically takes more than an hour and all counter space in the locker room to mix all of his supplements, drinks, slurries, cleanses and lord knows what else. In all these years, I've never actually seen him on the gym floor working out, just mixing in the locker room. I suspect that if I ever wanted some illicit performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals, he'd be the go-to guy. Now that I think of it, he's pretty chummy with the more muscular regulars...

And there's Kitten. I don't know his real name but he's mid-thirties, 5'4", nice build and totally adorable. I want to adopt him, he's just so precious!

MusclePuppy is also adorable. Again, about 5'4", tiny waist but broad shoulders giving him that classic V torso we'd all strive for if genetics allowed. MP is extremely sociable and says hi to everyone in the gym everytime he works out. He's also very, very christian so he tosses in a few blessings in his rounds. He does seem to be a geniunely nice guy and is easy on the eyes so I chat with him periodically because, yes, I'm that shallow.

And SuperModel. He's about 6'3", slim build, perhaps 5% body fat, thick black wavy hair always perfectly styled. If he doesn't work as a model, he should. SM has his particular supersets and well-defined routines, a mix of cardio and weight lifting. While I'm frequently frustrated by equipment left helter-skelter around the gym, I've come to recognize which are random distributions and which are merely waiting for SuperModel to make a return trip in the next part of his workout cycle. At least he does put his equipment back when he's done and doesn't get territorial about others using those pieces while he's in other parts of his superset.

There are many other special characters, more than I could write here. I'm glad though they're no wierder than they are.
bjarvis: (Default)
The surgery was two weeks ago and recovery is going very well. About midway through last week, I realized I was walking without any pain or irritation, perhaps for the first time in 2016. I could still feel some discomfort climbing stairs, and a lot going down stairs at that time. As of today, going up is now perfectly pain-free and going downstairs is a minor irritation.

The sutures were removed today, and I was glad of it. It was very uncomfortable to look at my own body and see bits of foreign material sticking out of my skin. The skin still needs more time to fully heal but another week should do it.

The surgeon's follow-up appointment today indicated I have excellent cartilage in that knee and am recovering at an obscene rate. He offered rehab physiotherapy but I turned it down with his agreement: I'm getting back full function quickly enough on my own, and I don't need external reinforcement or encouragement.

The doctor did suggest when I return to the gym that I spend some time on the ellipticals or stationary bikes to keep working the knee. I expect I will return to doing regular leg days (with reduced weight, of course) in another week or two.

Per his instructions, I've booked a follow-up appointment eight weeks from now, but the doctor told me I should feel free to cancel it as we approach the date if I feel it's unnecessary.

In all, it's a good report and I'm looking forward to formally closing this chapter.
bjarvis: (Default)
On Tuesday, May 24, I went into a surgical center in Bethesda for an outpatient procedure, the repair of my left knee's torn meniscus. Now a week later, I can confirm my knee is improved.

It was hard to tell at first. My last memory before the anaesthetic whisked me away to HappyLand was laying in a hospital bed wearing a hospital gown with Michael sitting on my right side. When I woke up, I was in the same bed, in the same position, in the same clothes, in the same room with Michael at my right side. Outside of my knee being thoroughly bandaged, I could not tell I had been moved or had surgery.

I used crutches to get to the car after the procedure. Once home, I popped to Oxycodone to "keep ahead of the pain" as I had been warned to do by friends and my surgeon, then rested in bed with my leg elevated somewhat to assist with circulation. Ice packs were frequently applied.

On Wednesday, I was able to walk without crutches: I could put full weight onto my left leg although my knee's mobility was limited by the swelling and the tightly wrapped bandages. More resting, more leg elevation, more ice packs. However, I did not take any pain medication as none was necessary: my knee was irritated but not painful.

On Thursday, I went to the gym. My knee may have been out of commission, but the rest of me could still do a full workout. Since I wasn't to remove the wrappings until Friday at the earliest, I didn't shower at the gym: when I arrived home, I fashioned a cover over the bandages with a plastic garbage bag and gaffers tape, then awkwardly showered in our own bathroom. More resting & elevation, but no ice packs and no meds.

Friday was a regular work day for me. Work was light as it was the day before the Memorial Day weekend in the US, but I still caught up on emails, worked on some tickets, and generally looked into the backlog of things in my queue. I removed the bandages and was finally able to confirm to myself that, yes, I did indeed have some medical procedure: I could see bruising and sutures in two spots, as well as general skin irritation from the bandages. Swelling was still an issue so walking had an inelegant limp, and stair climbing was problematic, especially going down stairs. No pain or infection, just general irritation.

I placed waterproof bandages over the sutured areas but otherwise left the knee unwrapped. I still needed to elevate the leg periodically to ease the swelling and aid circulation, and I was tiring frequently from my awkward gait, compensating for a less-than-functional limb, but each day showed further improvement.

Since then, I've been to the gym on Saturday, Monday and this morning (Tuesday) without issue. As the swelling recedes and I stretch my leg carefully each morning, I get back more mobility. Now a week after the surgery, my walking gait is nearly normal and stairs, while a bit awkward yet, are no obstacle.

I have a follow-up appointment on June 6 to remove the sutures and generally confirm all is good. I expect to have all general mobility back by then, and experimenting with square dancing again later that week. I'm going to give myself two weeks after my first successful dance evening before I try a leg day at the gym --and, of course, go slow at that for a few weeks to get back my strength.
bjarvis: (Default)
I had a follow-up appointment with my urologist this morning.

Two years ago, I had a kidney stone episode while at the trailer in West Virginia; fortunately, the tiny rural hospital in no-where West Virginia had a CAT scanner and a physician in Wheeling, WV, available via data link to do the analysis of the results. At that time, there were two small stones in my right kidney visible, but neither large enough to warrant extra action to address: they could pass on their own with minimal discomfort to me.

Today's follow-up was an ultrasound scan of the bladder and both kidneys. The two stones in the right kidney are still there: they haven't moved but they also haven't grown measurably. In all, Dr Goldman told me to get to an ER if I need to in future, but otherwise we'll meet up in two years for a new ultrasound to see if anything has changed.

This afternoon, I had my last chiropractic visit for the issue in my right shoulder blade. It's still healing and I won't stress it at the gym for a while longer, but my chiropractor & I have agreed that it doesn't need his help. Since my health insurance company only gives me 15 chiropractic visits per year, I like the idea of keeping a few future visits in the bank, just in case there's a flare-up or a new injury.

On May 2, I get blood work done in preparation for my knee surgery on May 24. Since I was not laid off this week, I will have employer-provided health insurance beyond April 30 --and Michael too since he's on my insurance as my domestic partner. COBRA could have preserved my health care plan if I was laid off, allowing me to keep my existing appointments and service providers, but I'm glad I don't need to spend the big bucks on that.
bjarvis: (Default)
I had the follow-up visit with my orthopedist about my knee MRI, and the news is good & bad: my left knee has a torn meniscus and will need surgery to repair.

On the good side, it's a textbook example of a tear, the procedure is routine & performed as an out-patient procedure, and being relatively young & active, my recovery should be rapid. I will need crutches for at least a week which will make a visit to the trailer at Roseland Resort a bit of a challenge but we'll wing it. Pumping the clutch on the Cobalt will also be problematic. Dancing may be an issue for a while too.

Surgery is set for May 24, about 1pm. It will be performed under a general anaesthetic so I will have one of the guys standing by to haul my drugged & gimpy ass home following. I already have a prescription for painkiller meds to have on hand for the days following, although I still need to contact my regular physician for a full array of blood tests in the 30 days prior to the surgery.

In the interim, I can't run or jog, and there are no leg days at the gym for me. Still, I can walk, square dance and take the stairs with only moderate irritating pain. Calls such as wheel around, courtesy turn & chain the square are severely problematic for my square dancing, but I'm learning some quick step workarounds to make them less challenging.

By the time of the Toronto IAGSDC in late June, I should be good as new.
bjarvis: (Default)
I've had a handful of physical ailments lately. I don't mean just the run-of-the-mill hay fever of spring or the occasional cold, but physical injuries.

For the past several months, I was aware that the muscles of the inside ofmy right shoulder blade, about midway down my back, was hurting rather severely. It wasn't incapacitating and it would be fine if I could stretch my right arm out to the side regularly. Being compressed in, say, an airline or car seat really brought home the agony.

I'm fairly sure it was triggered by overdoing dumbbell rows (50 lbs) at the gym back in January. And I thought it was healing overall, but perhaps that was just wishful thinking on my part. The flight to & from Florida in March however made it clear that I needed to seek some professional attention.

I've been visiting a chiropractor who is conveniently located around the corner from my gym: I can have my regular workout, then scoot next door for some physiotherapy.
I'm a mess of scans this year. My chiropractor wanted an x-ray of my right shoulder & spine to confirm we were working on a soft tissue problem rather than some odd skeletal problem. All is good, and my shoulder is vastly better these days. #health

From examination and x-rays, we've confirmed that whatever was going on inside my shoulder is soft tissue rather than skeletal damage. A routine of electro-stimulation, heat pads and massage has helped push along the healing process and I'm happy to report that my shoulder is largely better. There's still some distance to go as shoulders heal slowly; it will be another month or so before I'm brave enough to resume some back & shoulder workouts at the gym.

Some time in February, I became increasingly aware of pain in my left knee. It was most acute when I first stand or stretch, but would become less irritating after a few seconds of walking. Oddly, it wasn't inside the knee join or under the kneecap per se, but the inner side of the leg.

I've visited with an orthopedist in downtown DC who ran a set of x-rays in his office. He's noted that my bone density & health is excellent, indistinguishable from that of a 20 year old's knees. The downside is that whatever is causing me discomfort isn't obvious or visible in the x-rays so I needed to go for an MRI so we could determine what is happening.

And yesterday, I had my MRI:
I had an MRI on my left knee this morning to see what is causing me pain. Now that I have the images in hand, I will be making an appointment with my orthopedist for interpretation and remediation.


I can't make heads nor tails out of my MRI sets, but the ortho's office called me this morning to schedule an appointment for next Monday so we can peruse the results and make recommendations. In general, my knee is feeling better than it has in a while but I still can't jog, run or do a decent leg day at the gym; square dancing is problematic. Ideally, I'd like to hear that I should just keep a reduced level of activity for a while and let the healing happen on its own rather than add any sort of medical intervention.

At least my teeth are good, my prior carpal tunnel issues aren't active, I haven't passed a kidney stone in nearly a year, and my eyes haven't gotten any worse since the trauma of getting progressive lenses about two years ago. Despite the minor aches & pains, life is still overwhelmingly good.

Gym Sunday

Jan. 3rd, 2016 10:27 am
bjarvis: (Default)
Today was arms & chest day with the new routine. So far, so good.

There wasn't much cleanup today... apparently the Saturday night gym folks are neater than the Friday night folks. And that's a good thing as it allowed me to get into my workout a little sooner. The flat benches and cable crossover machines are always in high demand so I like to get those portions of my workout done as quickly and as early as possible to avoid waiting for equipment to come free.

Yesterday, I noticed the crowds starting to swarm in around 10am or so. I didn't recognize many so I'm guessing the new years resolutioners are making their move. As much as I (and other regulars) like to pick on the newbies who come to the gym religiously for 2-3 weeks in early January then vanish for the rest of the year, I'm very grateful to them. They're at least attempting to look after their health so I'm happy to be supportive, but more than that, their purchase of memberships without consistent & frequent attendance effectively subsidizes my membership which I use 3-4 times per week. The resolutions are paying for the wear & tear inflicted on equipment & facilities by the regulars like me.

Today, there weren't so many. I've noticed that raid but not snow will keep gym regulars away. Sunday mornings aren't as popular as Saturdays generally, but especially so for those with weak commitment or unformed habits.
bjarvis: (Default)
On weekends and holidays, I tend to be at the gym for 8am opening. I like to get my workout done so I can move on with the rest of the day, the boys may not be active at that hour so I get more waking time with them later in the day, and I can beat most of the crowds to the weight floor and not have to interrupt my routine for equipment to be available.

The downside of being there very early is that you are faced with the mess from the night before:
I seem to spend the first 10-15 minutes of my workout each morning cleaning up the mess left from the night before. Put away your toys, people! #gym #gymlife #gymtime

Dumbbells everywhere, not to mention discarded water bottles, tissues, hand towels, etc.. And because it is my role & purpose in life to bring order to a chaotic universe, I put everything back where it should be.

Part of it is to resist the forces of chaos, part of it is for my own safety so I don't trip over someone else's unracked weights. A huge part though is empathy for other gym users: there's nothing more frustrating than knowing there should be plenty of 15lb or 20lb dumbbells around but none of them are in the racks or in obvious use by anyone else. A general walk around the entire floor will find the missing pieces laying about in odd corners of the weight floor, the yoga studio, the spin class, the basketball court, the strairwell, the fire escapes and, interstingly, the elevator. I collect them all and bring them back to the racks where they belong.

The staff are no doubt underpaid --even the trainers are paid a pittance-- but I would think the night crew should be walking through the gym to remove forgotten items from the equipment and clean up the obvious garbage. I don't expect them to heft around 125 lb dumbbells, but there's no excuse for not at least moving the 5 lb ones.
bjarvis: (Default)
The best advice I received when I started my body improvement/gym adventures began was to take photos at intervals. I keep a spreadsheet of lifting and body measurements stats so I can see my own numeric progress, but photos give me a better sense of what's working and what isn't.

My primary objective at the time was to build up some overall body strenth, not only to help heft 40lb servers over my head for racking as needed for work, but also to reduce my periodic back pains, build up some endurance and, hopefully, stave off the ravages of old age just a few years longer. I was 46 and my natural youthful indestructibility was clearly fading off rapidly. And hey, if I could get some bigger arms & chest for purely cosmetic feel-good reasons, why not? Vanity isn't a bad thing if it simultaneously fuels health goals.

I typically run a three-part schedule: leg & core day, arms & chest day, back & shoulders day. I prefer free weights over machines wherever possible so the core typically gets a workout every time anyway. Leg day used to feel the most productive, but since my legs were already in pretty good shape anyway, it was an easy, low-set bar.

I haven't done bench presses. Since I go to the gym solo, I don't have a spotting partner so a bench press would have some risk should I need assistance. I'm not certain I would need a partner for encouragement anyway as my own determination is enough to get me to the gym three times per week as well as dig deep for the last couple of reps. Several friends have given me the support & encouragement in the longer run and reminding me of the larger goals.

Over time, I've found that the 8:30-10am window at my gym is ideal. The conventionally-employed folks have been & gone in the early morning and many of the classes haven't started yet so there's room in the locker rooms. I get to breeze in and rarely have to wait for my turn at the equipment, and never for the cardio workout following. I have gone in evenings periodically but try to go after 9pm, again to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Photos below the cut... )

The biggest revelation is that I don't so selfies worth a damn: angles, lighting, etc.. *sigh*

Hefting servers around the data center is so much easier than it used to be. I was seeking a chiropractor in late 2013 for some back issues but those pains have vanished completely. And as I said, I can follow the numbers to see I can squat, press & curl much higher weights than I could at any time earlier in my life.

Regrets? That I didn't start sooner --like when I was 20. That while LA Fitness is all over the greater DC area, there's not a single one in the SF Bay area so I have to pay extra for guest privileges at some other chain when I travel, and that hotel gyms aren't better equipped so I wouldn't have to pay at all.

Oddly, the gym schedule has affected my career activities a bit. I'm not actively job hunting, but if an opportunity arose, I would have to consider seriously how it would impact my gym schedule. Who knew that such a thing would ever be a consideration?
bjarvis: (Default)
The best advice I received when I started my body improvement/gym adventures began was to take photos at intervals. I keep a spreadsheet of lifting and body measurements stats so I can see my own numeric progress, but photos give me a better sense of what's working and what isn't.

My primary objective at the time was to build up some overall body strenth, not only to help heft 40lb servers over my head for racking as needed for work, but also to reduce my periodic back pains, build up some endurance and, hopefully, stave off the ravages of old age just a few years longer. I was 46 and my natural youthful indestructibility was clearly fading off rapidly. And hey, if I could get some bigger arms & chest for purely cosmetic feel-good reasons, why not? Vanity isn't a bad thing if it simultaneously fuels health goals.

I typically run a three-part schedule: leg & core day, arms & chest day, back & shoulders day. I prefer free weights over machines wherever possible so the core typically gets a workout every time anyway. Leg day used to feel the most productive, but since my legs were already in pretty good shape anyway, it was an easy, low-set bar.

I haven't done bench presses. Since I go to the gym solo, I don't have a spotting partner so a bench press would have some risk should I need assistance. I'm not certain I would need a partner for encouragement anyway as my own determination is enough to get me to the gym three times per week as well as dig deep for the last couple of reps. Several friends have given me the support & encouragement in the longer run and reminding me of the larger goals.

Over time, I've found that the 8:30-10am window at my gym is ideal. The conventionally-employed folks have been & gone in the early morning and many of the classes haven't started yet so there's room in the locker rooms. I get to breeze in and rarely have to wait for my turn at the equipment, and never for the cardio workout following. I have gone in evenings periodically but try to go after 9pm, again to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Photos below the cut... )

The biggest revelation is that I don't so selfies worth a damn: angles, lighting, etc.. *sigh*

Hefting servers around the data center is so much easier than it used to be. I was seeking a chiropractor in late 2013 for some back issues but those pains have vanished completely. And as I said, I can follow the numbers to see I can squat, press & curl much higher weights than I could at any time earlier in my life.

Regrets? That I didn't start sooner --like when I was 20. That while LA Fitness is all over the greater DC area, there's not a single one in the SF Bay area so I have to pay extra for guest privileges at some other chain when I travel, and that hotel gyms aren't better equipped so I wouldn't have to pay at all.

Oddly, the gym schedule has affected my career activities a bit. I'm not actively job hunting, but if an opportunity arose, I would have to consider seriously how it would impact my gym schedule. Who knew that such a thing would ever be a consideration?

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