No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success


Posted by Ben on Thursday, September 11, 2008

Before I get into the (admittedly lean) meat of the matter, today is, of course, September 11, which means different things to different people, many of whom still deal with lingering after-effects. I had no direct involvement or know anyone who did, but as I noted in a post (old blog) last year, it was certainly one of those “where were you” moments:

Something I noticed up in Hampton Roads and later down in Jacksonville, as well as a few other places, was all the American flags flying at half-staff, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were like that. Just goes to show you how out-of-touch I was with the rest of the world beyond losing track of time. It was, of course, September 11, the six-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A friend of mine blogged while I was away about her lingering reaction to the events that day and how she’s still affected on several levels. Me, I can’t sit and watch TV shows and specials on the event. It was certainly one of those “where were you” days in my lifetime. I distinctly remember that I was still living just above Richmond and doing tech work for Paramount. With Labor Day behind us and school back in session (I think), we’d been prepping the theme park for Halloween. I showed up at work semi-early that morning, just like any other day that fall, and walked in to desertion. Not a single person was to be found despite the employee gates being open and the usual keys and radios gone from the office that told me other people had already showed up. I didn’t bother calling anyone, opting instead to make the five-minute walk down to our main theater house to see if anyone was there. There was, about a dozen people, crammed into the costume shop huddled around a tiny black-and-white TV that still sported rabbit ears. I got a couple glances as I walked in, but that was it, so I sat down where I could and turned my attention to the screen. Through the static, I finally saw what they’d already seen. The only thing I remember from that day other than going home because management closed the park at lunchtime was calling Brooke (waking her up, in fact, given her own work schedule) and telling her to turn on the TV. Any station. Just turn it on. And I hung up. At the time, I thought closing the park was a bit pointless, but as the months and years have passed, the events of that day have hit me harder than I thought, just like a couple other past events in my life that I don’t feel compelled to discuss at this point.

I felt a little embarrassed at this realization coming so late in the ride, especially after having ridden past two of the most prominent military installations in our nation. However, I happened to read in another article in that same issue of HogTails about a biker tradition honoring riders fallen or gone: ride with your rear pegs down and perhaps strap a helmet to the back seat. If I’m riding solo next September 11, you can be sure that my rear pegs will be down.

Unfortunately, it’s raining like a sonuvabitch here today, so a ride is highly unlikely.

That being said, the whole 9/11 thing has been politicized beyond recognition to the point that a lot of people still don’t know who exactly was behind the attacks in the first place. While I could go on a completely non-fitness rant on that sentiment, I’ll instead relate it to something more relevant to this blog. I’m sure you noticed the title, which is appropriate both for the 9/11 mentality and the past week of health- and fitness-related stories I’ve seen, but I really just couldn’t think of a better word for the staggering quantity and quality of conflicting messages. High-fructose corn syrup (it’s “natural” and therefore good for you according to the commercials—congrats to Kevin on the first video FitCast), genetics (it’s not your fault if you don’t exercise), magic “Gandhi” pills (read: moral performance enhancers), take your Blackberry into the free-weight area (don’t get me started—ever heard of pen and paper?), you really don’t know what 400 pounds is, treadmills for kids, four-year-old McDonald’s hamburgers (worse than bubble/chewing gum), America runs on Dunkin (or just sits and gets fat(ter)), and (I shit you not) Krispy Kreme cheddar bacon cheeseburgers. Oh wait, there’s more: someone ate—and is heralded for eating—23,000 Big Macs. We need to “get in shape,” yet we figured out how to cheat Wii Fit. WII-FREAKING-FIT!!! Seriously?!?! Get. Off. Your. Ass. You lazy $#!@#!

I really didn’t want this to turn into a rant because, quite frankly, I try not to rant here. For one, it’s stressful, which I’m finding to be a truly viable reason to NOT do certain things as I continue reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (no, exercise isn’t one of them). For two, it’s pointless since you can’t fix stupid, which is basically what is going on here. For three, as pessimistic and cynical a person as I am, I try to keep that to a minimum here (others just let it fly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) since I want to keep this blog readable, informative, and at least mildly entertaining. My restraint is a tad schizo itself since, by nature, I can occasionally be just a tad opinionated and maybe a smidge sarcastic, but hey, I’m trying. I’ve been working on getting more qigong into my life, which is slowly improving. In fact, part of why I write, here or elsewhere, is to relieve some of that stress. If you happened to click on the above link where I related my reaction to 9/11 last year, you might’ve noticed that post is part of a series about a vacation I took last year. I can honestly say that, during that week, I was more relaxed and care-free than at any other time in my life. I was a little afraid to take that ride in the first place since it was my first real, actual vacation, and I had a feeling that I was going to experience something that would continue to tug at me long after the week was over (it has/does/will), but at least I now know that I CAN relax. Actually doing it is another matter, but I’ve been there, done that, and want it back, somewhat permanently. Anyway, speaking of schizo

Relevant stuff:
—Food: protein for breakfast means more energy AND greater satiety, proper diet is not temporary, BPAs are still a problem despite government reassurance (like the irradiation issue), cranberry juice and UTIs, limiting fructose intake may help weight loss, 15-minute meals from Mark *drool* (over the meals, not Mark), add some spices to your food, hand-cranked meat slicers rule, fish feeds the heart, first in a series on adaptive thermogenesis (metabolism), how flax oil affects the body (I long ago went to fish oil only), Pie Town opens in Charlotte, Leigh totally rips off Guiding Stars ;)
—Body: master your body before touching a weight, improvise away your excuses (missing knee ligaments won’t get you off the hook, either), overtraining is real (but you probably aren’t there, no offense), anything training-related and claiming to be “injury-free” is lying, roll away the pain (part 1) that is probably more internal than external in nature, squat like you mean it (it’s safe and natural despite what that brotard trainer tells you), consider skipping the skipping, real-world training, a visit from Pukey the Clown (originally here), anyone want to donate a tire to me?
—Kids: dirt isn’t all that bad, don’t be afraid to be one or at least play like one, early obesity could mean early disease/transplants.
—Sports: NFL (military aid, everything’s bigger in Texas), stay grounded, cancer can wait, funniest picture ever.
—Lifestyle: knowledge gaps, remembering is like reliving, going whole-hog primal, bootlegging your health, cancer may follow pathways instead of genes.
—Genetics: happy anniversary to DNA fingerprinting, DNA folding, genetics of learning further revealed, aging may be programmed rather than cumulative, tobacco gene therapy, stem cells combat muscular dystrophy, skipping stem cells, Stephen Colbert lives forever.

Not-so-relevant stuff:
—Transportation: a bus drives itself, Mazda takes on Chevy, Honda copies Toyota, a 62mpg VW, a 54mpg Volvo (that you can’t have), a 240hp X-bow, Viper raises the speed bar, Tesla gets a working gearbox, hot women dig hot cars, the best back-to-school cars, the fifty worst cars of all time, solar car carrier, a clean subway restroom, history chugs along on biodiesel, drive-in theaters, JetBlue auctions tickets amid gargantuan industry losses and safety issues, sports fans get security express lane, airport GPS, cutting weather-related flying delays, good reasons to explore space.
—Large Hadron Collider: yesterday the day (*pssst* we’re still here), Stephen Hawking isn’t scared, fun physics videos, soundtrack.
—Tech stuff: Facebook not as secure as you might think, building a free digital library for the world, a history of pictures on the Web, North Carolina city is first to go all-digital, open-source textbooks, video games promote scientific inquiry, smaller is not safer, Apple didn’t invent the iPod, could life evolve online?
—Miscellaneous: find/make a story in a picture, happy anniversary to Star Trek (I know, I know), political Wordle, some things are inevitable, survive a nuclear attack (2000s style), selling off the American infrastructure, litigation gone berserk.

—Dead-last-finish > did-not-finish > did-not-start.
—A 481-pound deadlift at age 73 (also congrats to Ross for training a big win in the ring).
—Find success through the grapevine.
Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

And finally, some food for thought from RobbyC, a blog titled “The Best Years of Your Life”:

When you hear the title sentence, what do you think of in terms of fitness? Do you look at the past? Or do you look at your current state? Lately I have been thinking about old friends and whatnot, and it dawned on me that all of the ’star athletes’ back in highschool hardly do fuck all in terms of fitness anymore. And that is truly a sad state of affairs.

Imagine being 25 years old and looking back at the time when you were 15-18 as the peak of your physical being. Although I am only 3-4 years removed from highschool I still hear people talk about it as if it were their glory days in terms of fitness. They use the term ‘I used to’ more than anything, as if that means something today.

‘I used to run track.’

‘I used to play varsity basketball.’

‘I used to, I used to, I used to.’

Well, I ‘CAN’ deadlift 350 pounds. I ‘CAN’ beat PR’s on a monthly basis. I ‘CAN’ wake up every day and know that I am stronger, faster and in better shape than the day before.

There is nothing more sad then people who refer to the best years of their lives as being during a time when they werent even legally allowed to drink or vote. A time when they worked at McDonalds.

The best years of my life have yet to happen, the best years of my life is 2009 and beyond. There is nothing more sad then someone speaking about what they ’used’ to be able to do…all that means is that they can no longer do it. So go out there and beat an old PR, lift more weight, run faster and jump higher.




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