Jun 6, 2008

In Just Seven Days I Can Make You A Man

And I’m not talking about anyone named “Rocky” in gold speedo trunks.

Like most of my fellow Americans, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my personal fitness. I’ve never been a gym rat, and have never gone way out of my way to eat well. Oh, I’ve made efforts and concessions in the “eat better” realm. I don’t eat McFood and try to avoid anything sold in a gas station and/or anything deep fat fried. I’ve cut way back on my salt intake and don’t drink sodas anymore. I don’t work out in the typical 'go to the gym three times a week' sense, as I always assumed that riding around the yard on my lawn tractor for four hours a weekend was enough physical exertion for any one man, and that all the muscle workout I needed would be received by turning the steering wheel, working the brake pedal occasionally, and by extended exposure to the sun.

I was surprised on my last doctor visit to find that my blood work reported that I was, except for a few extra pounds, remarkably healthy. Everything was within acceptable range; my heart rate and blood pressure, my LDL and HDL, all the counts of those little floating wobbly bits in me, it was all normal. I was so shocked all the blood drained out of my head and I had to be admitted to the ICU for a serious head trauma from bouncing off the concrete floor.

When I worked at Orifice Depot I was fairly healthy, physically speaking. I spent five years working in the furniture department, which meant I also got to be the Receiving/Warehouse Bitch. This meant that I was the rube roped and belted into the OSHA-approved torture rack on front of the forklift and was forced to shove around flat-packed RTA (ready-to-assemble) furniture very high up in steel racking. The lightest particle-board computer desk started at about 60 pounds and went well up from there: the average allowable weight in a flat-pack is 250 pounds and I sold a lot of desks that had to be packed in two separate boxes.

Needless to say I was pretty proud of my musculature.

Well, that all exercise sans warmups or any sort of balanced regime came at a price. Two bulging discs in my back, a torn rotator cuff, a pair of bad knees made worse and a lot of general owies. And then I got a desk job and lost all that tone. Sadly enough, the aches and pains stayed with me.

No fair!

When I started looking at the KCS jobs I realised that I'd have to get my back into some sort of shape, which meant strengthening it. Bulging discs simply ARE, there's no real repairing them but you can minimize further damage by having healthy musculature, so I turned to the wonders of the Internet Tubes. Found a workout that didn't seem to be TOO difficult nor did it cost anything, so I printed out the twenty or so exercises with their attendant instructions and went to it. This was last month.

Oddly enough, I'm still doing those exercises. It's been an interesting month, I have to say. I've gone from having almost zero tone in my abdominal and lower back muscles to having...well, I have muscles now. I know I have them because they're often sore and always complaining. But, I can do thirty situps now with a minimum of anguished groaning and can manage to do twenty pushups in a row without having to lie on the carpet for a while panting and praying that I don't have an aneurism. Progress!

I guess it was inevitable. Too many years have gone by since I could run anywhere, and I fully remember a childhood spent running everywhere. Even bicycling makes me winded, and I know for a fact that I rode the tires off more than a few bikes as a kid. So, I'm starting small. My back regime takes half an hour to perform from beginning to end, including all the yoga-like stretching and such, and I do it every other day. A month in I don't see chiseled results like you supposedly get just from posing around a BowFlex machine but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

Me, I'm just hoping for a little less Roman rotunda and a little more Tower of Pisa. Lean optional.

If you're curious, here's the link to the program I'm using. It's very low impact and very gentle, and I can honestly say I've felt a lot more flexibility in all of my back, more than I've had in a long time.


meno said...

Ah, the gentle slipping away of youth. I know it well. Now it work to keep in shape. Damn!

Gordo said...

I feel your pain, Irr. Bad knee from learning to ski in high school, rotten back accelerated by years of schlepping a huge camera bag and the aches and pains are threatening to take over my life.

Thank you for the workout. I'm going to give it a try. I also bought myself my first-ever brand-new bike about six weeks ago and I'm going to use it to work on legs and overall aerobic strength.

Any day now. ;-)

Mother of Invention said...

Wow! Kudos to you for bravery and accomplishment in a short time! Looks like a pretty thorough regime. (My husband's a chiropractor so I kinda know a lot of this but some I can't do because I have such bad patellar tendonitis now I can't be on my knes) I love the repetitive italics after each exercise, "Do Not Cause Pain"!!!

You're lucky to be so healthy...keep it up..it can slip away very quickly, especially during those years from 35-45! I'm 54 but in the mornings I feel 84!

Thanks for the visit!

Irrelephant said...

meno, what's sad is that when I HAD my youth I didn't know what to do with it except fill it with sleeping late and eating crapppy food.

Gordo, that's the main reason I started this whole thing--pain. Not constant but insistent and the realisation that while I can't stop it I can certainly stave it off for a little longer. I've seen a LOT of improvement in doing that half-hour regime three times a week in just the past month or so, and it really isn't that bad. Go figure!

MoI, I MAKE it tough, by extending the time and the repetitions, but lord it pays dividends! And yes, I noted those italics too, and that gave me hope! No more of that "no pain no gain" mentality for me, thanx. I've had pain for too long now to want to be adding to it.

mickelodeon said...

That's really great! Go you! I'm proud of you and will use your example to get my own ass into gear. I'm walking more, but no push-ups (I was up to fifty at one time, little girly-girl ones, but I could hold my weight!).

Scott from Oregon said...

Bulging disc take the joy right out of sneezing...

Having been "in shape" most of my life, letting it slip is real eye opener.

"Out of breath" sex was supposed to be an exaggeration...

Irrelephant said...

Micks, if I could do 50 'girly' pushups I'd feel like the King of the World! Ten 'girly' and ten regular leave me purple.

Scott, it's sad how fast that stuff sneaks up on us, isn't it? My gawd we wear out fast. Well, okay, "my gawd the abuse we give ourselves as kids pays dividends fast."