Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Grok Walkin'

In light of the confession I made in my last post, I bring to you evidence that I have begun to try and approach physical activity and fitness with a different, more open mindset.

P-dazzle and I often frequent Mark's Daily Apple, a blog devoted to the idea of a "Primal Lifestyle"--essentially, an approach to fitness that revolves around the idea that our bodies have evolved a certain way and that the most efficient way to use our bodies are to use them the way "Grok", that general primal ancestor on whom the Primal Community base their own fitness/nutritional/lifestyle behavior, did. At least, that's my take on it.

I'm including this brief overview because I find useful and reasonable the idea of using "primal living" as a template for how to act and live today. To be clear, I find this only useful as a template and not as an end-all, be-all guide to living life. Obviously "Grok" did not drive a car or even ride a bike, and he never got a taste of a delicious bagel slathered in cream cheese--sometimes you just gotta seize the day, even if it goes straight to your hips.

Anyway. My point is that the Primal Lifestyle, to me, carries with it some common-sense wisdom that speaks to me and makes sense to me in a way that a lot of other nutrition/fitness philosophies don't. I tend to be a moderate in almost everything, including this, so I am happy to pick and choose what I find gels with my own beliefs and ideas.

So, to return to the start of my post: P-dazzle and I find Mark's Daily Apple to be full of interesting, thought-provoking, and simply cool things, and we came across a workout dubbed the "Grok Walk." I don't suppose you'd be able to use the word "workout" in the narrow sense (much like I, in my lazy ignorance, tended to think of it), but it does involve activity, and lots of it. The idea, though, is doing a lot of low-intensity activity and making it something fun, something you could do any time, thusly integrating it into your life as something that you do--not because it's a workout to be parceled out at a certain point in your day, but activity as something that is simply a part of one's life.

So, the "workout" is prescribed as such:

"Complete, throughout the course of an hour-long walk:

30 Pullups
50 Squats
40 Pushups
20 Handstand Pushups
Climb Something, Twice
5 Short (30-ish meter) Sprints
Find Something Heavy to Carry for Seven Minutes"

P-dazzle and I set out to do precisely that. We climbed things (trees, walls, playground equipment) more than twice, did a sprint or two, some pushups, and I think I did about 10 squats. In our quest to complete the workout (though we weren't all that concerned about it--I'm nowhere near capable of doing a handstand, let alone 20 handstand pushups), we were sidetracked by a satisfyingly profound discussion that delved into issues that had been on our minds: questions and thoughts about religion, philosophy, the nature of Truth, the origins of Life and the Universe--you know, all the basic stuff. (I'm not trying to make us sound extra-intellectual or anything, it just happened to be a very philosophical discussion.)

We spent a good chunk of time arguing about extremists of all sorts at a park (gathering looks, I'm sure, from the few families who had brought their kids to play) as we climbed over the equipment, and found ourselves back home with only fragments of the workout done, but that didn't matter to me because what's been on my mind is the question of how to balance these things: cultivating an intellectual life, a spiritual life, and a physically fit life--and here it happened that I spent an entire afternoon doing all three!

(I've decided that to sign off this thing I'll say "good-bye" or "so long" or some such variation in a different language--but I won't look it up--I'll have to have learned it from a non-Google/search engine source. Intellectual life, there ya go.)

Adios, amigos.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Forgive me, Father Fitness, for I have sinned.

The primary function of starting this blog was to use it as a log for my training as a runner. But simply entering workouts and times/distances seems dry, even for the person writing it, so I've been doing a lot of thinking about the other purposes for which this blog could be used. It seems like most people use their blogs to explore/talk about/think about things in their lives that interest them, and lately for me that issue has centered around figuring out how to balance a life of physical, mental, and spiritual activity. So, in this blog, you're going to get three for one! Lucky ducks.

Anyway, just so it's clear: this will continue to be a blog about improving as an athlete, but it is also inevitably about improving as a human. After all, isn't that what most of us are trying to do?

So, to get this going in the right direction, I think it might be good to do the confessional thing and explain how I approached fitness/health/nutrition/physical activity for most of my life, up until about three months ago.

Part One: Joy is Lazy
I have to say, first, that I've never been much of a fan of being physically active. Or, to put it bluntly, I have spent most of my life being lazy. It's the danger of having a good life, I suppose. No need to be active when everything's provided for you, right? Instead the bulk of my value judgement has always been on intellect and book smarts. If you can't beat the athletes, play a different game. I've played the nerd-game and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it.
Eventually, though, not being active led to issues with body image, which don't go away, no matter how good of a writer you are or how high your ACT score is. (FALLACY OF THINKING ACTIVE/MENTAL LIFE ARE SEPARATE) (It's complicated)

Part Two: Joy becomes an athlete...sort of.
At the end of high school it was pretty obvious to me that losing weight and being healthy were really only attainable by being more active. I started running, which was hard (I've always kind of hated running), but I felt pretty darn good about pushing myself, and I figured that running for half an hour and eating a semi-nutritious diet would eventually lead to perfection.

Anyway, I got better at running, fluctuated a lot, got bored with it, but still did it because I knew it was what I was supposed to do. But it was never for the fun of it, never really because I wanted to do it. It was something that I had to structure into my schedule, making sure to not leave any loopholes, lest I decide to spend the time doing something else (out of laziness). I was doing the duty but honestly, with resentment and reluctance. It was a chore and, even now, I sometimes would much prefer to sit and read a book or spend endless hours dorking around on the internet--oh, hey, blogger--than spending time outside, moving around--even just being on my feet rather than on my butt.

Part Three: Revelation
Essentially, my problem has been for a very long time that I view physical activity/fitness as something outside of my "real" life, something that I should do as maintenance, kind of like taking the car into the shop every 6 months.

But, the thing about that metaphor is that when the car's not at the shop being maintained, it's still running. All the time. And now it seems clear to me that bodies are meant for motion--in fact, everything we know about our bodies (and essentially, who we are) is that they perform best, last longer, and are generally better when they are frequently in motion. Brains too.

...Guess who wasn't so smart after all?

Luckily, I have been blessed (even though I don't always see it that way) to have P-dazzle enter my life with all his high-flown notions of activity, fitness, and nutrition. Bah. Now I have to get smart. I'll never admit it to his face but he's usually right. Especially about this.

All right, that's enough confessional writing for now. Next post (I PROMISE there'll be less time between this post and the next) I'll get down to business (to defeat the Huns. Or whatever invading army might be around...).

I still don't know how to sign off of this without sounding like a doofus.