Figuring a few things out

I’m finally getting some fitness back! My right arm is still half useless for chores, but otherwise my legs and lungs are getting much better as I can run and bike ride again. In recent history, every time I tried to attack a hill on my bike, I felt like I was about to have my heart burst out of my chest while all my muscles threatened to seize and leave me no more than a heaving puddle of goo stuck in the fetal position along a rode somewhere.  Rather than that pleasant mental picture, I’ve been experiencing the thrill of steady flowing endorphins and literally feeling the power that I can produce to propel myself; its very nice to get be getting that back to say the least.

As my quick previous post mentioned, rather than being a superman and getting everything figured out from the get go, I got a few punches thrown back at me. Well, its not how many times you get knocked down; its what you do after you get knocked down that matters. (Or which ever version of the cliche you prefer) The real question is, have I learned anything?  Thankfully, yes. Three things are abundantly clear – sleep, diet, and mental state matter more than any other part of training etc. (yes, the basics are the key – go figure)

To elaborate – when I don’t get enough sleep, I tend to eat more and with less respect for the quality of the food that I eat. When tired, especially when exhausted; its all about simple carbohydrates and caffeine; quick easy food that in all reality does nothing more than to further reinforce the physical and mental predicament that I am in at that time (bouncing energy levels, and the accompanying bouncing moods, even if only slight). By taking time to recognize that that is the state I am in; I can eat better food and get some real energy and allow my body to actually nurture itself and provide me with some mental clarity. There is also the more obvious part of lack of sleep – the body isn’t repairing itself, so it takes longer to recover from an injury or sickness (or process any other issue – even mental.)

Diet – well, this should be obvious, but many times it is not. When I don’t eat well, I don’t exercise well, I don’t sleep well, I don’t think well, and my body just doesn’t function the way it should. Yes, I can live and survive while eating poorly – I just can’t live at optimum levels. What does eating well to me mean? It means less sugar and junk that is marketed as food but comes in a wrapper or box with more ingredients that I can barely pronounce than ingredients I can grow and or recognize at a farm. It means drinking water rather than the thousands of products that are marketed to us as better than water – the vast majority of which are really just water with a lot of useless calories added to them. Calories, that when added up are more than a healthy 30 or so year old male should consume in an entire day. If I am going to get really down to brass tacks – when I feel that I am eating my best is when everything that I am putting in my mouth is no more than two steps from being alive. Cooking, grinding, blending are all steps. A salmon steak is usually 1-2 steps (after being caught it is then cooked or frozen and cooked). Veggies and fruit are rarely more than one step – pull from ground, vine, etc and then eat or cook and eat; sometimes there is a blend and cook option (I’ve had some killer cauliflower soup lately!). When chemicals are added to the mix, that is generally when it starts to deviate from being good food for me. Yes, I realize nearly everything that we put in our mouths could be considered chemicals as they have a chemical make up – that is not what I am referring to. I’m referring to substances may have once been a recognizable food source to a Neanderthal, but have then gone through a process to dilute, concentrate, separate etc the once whole food into very distinct parts that are then even further altered sometimes; something like bleach, or one of the multitudes of things that are passed off as food but could not be created outside of a laboratory.  On a more basic level – wheat, good (somewhat); bleached wheat, not so good. Sugar cane, ok (in moderation); bleached, pulverized, boiled down and concentrated sugar – not so good.

Enough with the food for now – on to the third part; mental state. This could be made into many books, and has been by thousands of people. For me lately, this has been a matter of being realistic with myself.  Accepting when I am tired and shouldn’t push on. Accepting that it is ok to be depressed at times. Accepting that I won’t always make the right choice and forgiving myself when I screw up. Letting go of the notion that I can’t show weakness.  Letting go of the notion that to feel pain and loss that it has to be something dramatic and beyond what what I have lost – any yet to not dwell on it and do my best to let go of the load.  That last part is much harder to do than it is to write, at least it is for me, as that means actually dealing with it and not blatantly avoiding it.  This subject could go on forever, and I’ll probably come back to it a lot as this is a cornerstone subject.  I can’t say it is primary, as the three I have listed are so intertwined it is unbelievably frustrating, yet so simple; when one is off, all three are off.

One of the tenets that I’ve been working on lately is not looking for meaning externally; but to look inwardly, even if that means dealing with feelings etc that are much easier to avoid.  It’s weird being human sometimes – out of all the billions of people out there, sometimes the one we try to avoid the most is ourselves.

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