No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Where’s your head at?

Posted by Ben on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

With apologies to Basement Jaxx, I saw this article in Wired the other day. Someone somewhere somehow decided to turn a car into a gym of sorts. Okay, sure, maybe it’s something to do when you’re parked on the highway during rush hour, but my questions are:

—How long before someone develops or worsens muscular imbalances (notice the seated position for EVERYthing)?
—How long before someone (a) forgets to disengage the driving components before trying to get in a few reps or (b) attempts to “workout” while doing 80mph?
—How long before and how much for the first negligence lawsuit?

I’m sure the idea was well-intentioned—after all, our reliance on cars is making us fat, right? Aside from the erroneous correlation-equals-causation nature of that article, don’t you think people have enough distractions while driving? I work in traffic reporting most of the time, I’ve seen/heard it all (I hope), and I have to unconditionally say “yes.” C’mon, when someone can roll a car at an intersection where both streets are tagged for 25mph? How about when someone can take out a fifty-foot section of concrete barrier wall on an absolutely straight stretch of road with no entrances or exits for three miles in either direction? Instead of trying to cram more crap into an already-hectic lifestyle, maybe the lifestyle should be re-evaluated, priorities re-ordered, and long-term goals and benefits re-examined; otherwise, your head might end up through a windshield, literally and/or figuratively.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve personally suspended all training for the time being. It’s certainly not that I don’t have time or opportunity to continue, but a combination of a worsening imbalance (shoulder impingement), residual tweaks (left ITB/TFL and both knees), haphazard sleep patterns (pups are almost three months old and hinting at adopting a normal sleep schedule), and mental fatigue (I never quite got back the fire I had before vacation a month ago) has prompted me to step back and just stop everything for a bit. While it likely won’t be more than two weeks—I know I’ll be getting antsy by that point—it’s giving me time to focus on putting together a truly personalized training setup, one that will be rigid enough to produce measurable progress in some aspect (strength, speed, stability, etc) but flexible enough that my daily physical and mental states can vary wildly (as in awareness, not psychosis :P), and I will still have a workout of some sort I can pull from a rotation and do without fear of overdoing something. I caught myself a few times over the past couple weeks going through the motions of a ballistic workout (note: that’s not a good mindset when loads are flying around), and it became common enough that I wrapped up my latest month-long mesocycle a little early and brought everything to a halt so I could re-evaluate what I need to be doing without causing further injury. In the meantime, I have more time to play with the dogs, ride my new bicycle (going to take a bit to get my cycling legs under me), and catch up on some housework and hopefully some reading.

What does that have to do with my head? I mentioned a couple reasons for backing off, but one in particular struck me a couple weeks ago: coffee. No, really, trust me, I know it’s a g–d—ed Greek tragedy, but in all seriousness, I found that I would wake up in an okay frame of body and mind, have my usual three cups, and subsequently feel like poo, quite the opposite of what it usually did, so I went cold turkey for a couple days. Sure, I wasn’t “on” like I usually am, but I wasn’t “off,” either, just perfectly middle-of-the-road. I did a cup of half-caf one morning, which was okay, and now I’m doing a single cup in the morning only if I really feel like it. So far, so good, no withdrawal or anything. The problem for me is that I LOVE the smell and taste of coffee, so I’ll be hunting down (here and especially here) a good decaf over the next few days—yes, I know good decaf is more expensive than regular, but I’m willing to pay a premium for what I know I want, especially for those times when I crave a cup later in the day but don’t want the caffeine. Santa may be bringing me a French press and electric kettle, but if not, I’ll be hitting an after-Christmas sale to pick them up. My snobbery for good coffee has moved past my snobbery for good barbecue and just behind my snobbery for good beer (Mad River Steelhead Extra Stout FTW!).

As an aside, note that this is just caffeine for me. Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance yet remains legal and wholly unregulated (another rant for another time). Can you imagine someone taking who-knows-what pill(s) doing the same thing? “Hey, I’ve noticed I feel WORSE after taking this rather than better. Maybe I should just stop.” Unlikely. More likely would be to take MORE since, well, they must be getting used to the drug. Mark takes a swipe at Big Pharma here, and I’ve increasingly found myself aware of—and highly annoyed at—TV commercials touting this drug or that pill. All I can think about is how so much crap is shoved in our faces, in whatever form, under the guise of “health,” and when that doesn’t work (or causes other supposedly unintended things to happen), these same companies just happen to have a cure-all for that as well. I hold a baseball a lot of times to have something to occupy my hands, but I should probably put it away if I’m in front of the TV.

Body bits: live by your lats, squat on “don’t squat,” a look at rep speed, rotation work is *gasp* healthy (trunk flexion is not), a book on kettlebell sport, genetic link to obesity still no excuse for victimization, the importance of your pinkie, burn more calories by snoring (I’m kidding—the health risks of snoring far outweigh any metabolic benefits).

Edibles: some skinny on spirits, a nanobite spoon scale, holidays in the office, making worthless nutritional data confess.

Mind matters: being the fat one in the relationship, beware triggers to old/bad habits, a crisis of confidence, the frontiers of happiness.

Kiddie corner: immersive education, for kids about to rock, WTF – a $700 stroller (hint: make the kids learn to walk), weight linked to injury severity, sport-specific training for kids = BS.

Fiscal fitness: maybe this tough economy thing isn’t ALL bad, Carolinas natural gas users’ relief (for now).

General health: healthcare recovery key to economic recovery, oil sickness (it’s not just from your corn), living with in-laws may put heart at risk, colonoscopies may miss a lot, zero-gravity bacteria experiments promising, Scotland works on white coat syndrome, romantic comedies hamper love lives.

Geek-out:
—Transportation: BMW’s BlueZero, Detroit bailout would ground corporate jets, air travelers may be at risk from lightning storm gamma rays.
—Tech stuff: Chu and Jackson confirmed, CDs bow to Beethoven, ten video games NOT to buy (I have to agree with them), liquid-suspended gaming PC *drool*, making money with free wifi, more trouble for IE, a marketplace for crowdsourced knowledge, JC Penney goes viral, netbooks more like cell phones, Yahoo! tries out Facebook.
—Nature: holey ecofont, hackers plundering Brazilian rain forests, obesity in captive animals, dinos likely done in by volcanoes, atmospheric “breathing,” blame it on the moon (my dogs were a little weirder than usual), first photo of extraterrestrial liquid.
—Miscellaneous: remodeling economic theory, monumental upkeep (like Pisa), a case for more torture in video games, the Library of Human Imagination, interactive art.

Git r dun:
—Work on your weaknesses.
—Difficulty or unwillingness?
Catharsis.

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