Tag: Fitness

Whiteout Conditions

I went skiing the other day with some friends. A typical day, although a bit foggy when we rolled into the parking lot. We pulled on our gear and trudged across the icy parking lot to the lifts. I stretched a bit and tried to loosen up before our first run. As we clicked into our ski bindings, the fog suddenly went from 4/10 visibility to 0/10 visibility. As in, we could barely see the lift ten feet away. No matter, we are hearty soldiers and got on the chairlift anyway.

As the lift climbed the mountain, visibility remained poor. But we held out hope – it’s not uncommon in our area to have the fog/cloud layer dissipate at the summit. Alas, it was not to be. The summit was socked in with thick pea soup fog. We slowly made our way to the first run we could find, just to get down the mountain. Skiing in zero visibility is weird. It’s not uncommon to get a bit of vertigo, as your brain wrestles with slopes and angles without any visual clues.

We stopped about halfway down the run and just looked at each other. One of the guys proclaimed, “This sucks. I’m going to the lodge and getting a beer.” So down we went, carefully picking our way through moguls we couldn’t see. At the bottom, the pessimist headed straight for the lodge. The other optimist and I debated and decided to do one more run before calling it a day. As the chairlift carried us up, the fog started getting thinner and thinner. We looked at each other and laughed – wouldn’t it be funny if the cloud layer burned off and the pessimist missed out?

Sure enough as we neared the top the fog dissipated, and it was nothing but bright blue skies. Beautiful! We headed down a run, whooping the whole way. We stopped several times and texted and called the pessimist, telling him to get back out here. At the bottom we zoomed right back to the chairlift so we could head back up. More texts and voicemails telling our lodge-bound friend to dump the beer and join us. No word from him, so we went back up into the sun and bombed down another run.

Once at the bottom, we ran into the lodge and convinced the pessimist to abandon the beer that had just been delivered and come back out with us. He reluctantly gave up the tasty beverage and trudged outside to put skis on again and make his way with us back to the chairlift. He was quiet on the ride up. And disturbingly, the fog seemed to be thicker than the last two trips up. Visibility dropped the further up the mountain we went. And sure enough, we reached the summit and… whiteout conditions again. Zero visibility. Mr. pessimist just looked at us without saying much. There wasn’t much we could say other than, “honest it was blue ski fifteen minutes ago.” Down we went into the soup.

Back at the bottom, tail between our legs we all went into the lodge for some adult beverages. We spent some time enjoying the warmth of the bar and mostly ignoring the elephant in the room. As everyone was finishing, I looked out the window and it appeared as though the fog was lifting a bit. I got smart this time and used my phone to bring up the live summit webcam. Sure enough, bright blue skies! I excitedly showed the video to my friends and suggested we hurry up and get at least one more run in while the sun was out. I was met with very skeptical looks. I kept pointing to the video – it’s a live look and I see sun! Let’s go!

Skis back on, hop on the chairlift, and back up we go. Do I even need to say what happened?

I have officially been fired as a weather and conditions prognosticator.

P.S. A bad day skiing is still better than being at work. Just saying…

Let’s Go To The Numbers

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Somehow this blog turned into nothing but writing about my (lack of) health and fitness. I don’t know how that happened and it wasn’t my intention. But for some reason, 90% of my few followers have some connection to the health/nutrition/fitness industry. I don’t get it. Write about some current event or a political issue, and crickets. Write about how many cookies I ate last week, and I get new followers. I find it bizarre. Anyway, clearly you asked for it, so let’s go into excruciating detail about my numbers.

As part of this years revolution (not resolution), I’ll be tracking my weight daily. I want to see how things fluctuate with food and exercise. I use an impedance scale (this one if interested) which provides a number of stats. First off, yes I know they are not a precise tool. The non-weight numbers tend to fluctuate quite a bit from day to day. But as a way to watch trends over time, I think it’s a fine tool.

A side note on interesting observations… I’ve been using the scale on and off for a number of years. Out of curiosity I went back to when I was at my leanest and most cardio-fit (was doing tons of mountain trail running). At that point my body fat was 17.5% and lean muscle mass was 132 lbs. I wasn’t exactly Viking warrior material – more like Chris Froome cyclist physique.

Fast forward to today. Body fat is, well… an embarrassing 26.8% I know, I know, we’re working on it. But here’s the interesting number. I’ve been lifting weights seriously for about four months now. Muscle mass today is at 147.8 lbs. A 15.8 lb gain in lean muscle mass! Now I don’t think that’s a super accurate number, but it has been steadily increasing over the last few months. Given my age and the back issues I’ve had recently, I’ll take muscle mass and core strength improvements over body fat%.

But we’re all vain creatures (if we’re honest) and I’m tired of struggling to button my jeans, so the body fat number is important. The official weigh in was Jan 2. Here’s what the numbers show:

Jan 2 food/exercise: several eggs + bacon; string cheese, grapes, a few pretzels; tri-tip, salad; a big piece of cake; went downhill skiing for the day.

Jan 3 weight increased .2 lbs, no change in body fat%.

Jan 3 food/exercise: stuffed bell pepper + cheese/sour cream; plate of Chinese food; big handful of chips; another plate of Chinese food; 1 small piece of chocolate; Split and carried wood up a flight of stairs for 40 minutes, went cross country skiing.

Jan 4 weight increased 2.4 lbs and body fat increased .4%

What the hell? So frustrating. Zero alcohol, nothing crazy calorie-wise (well, cake), was pretty active, and I gain 2+ pounds. This is why people get so frustrated dieting.

Here’s my guess – Because I cut out alcohol, I’ve been pounding fluids. Water, coffee, and 3-4 “vitamin waters”. It doesn’t seem like I’ve voided commensurate with overall fluid intake and I’m sure the Chinese food had tons of sodium. My theory is that most of that weight gain is fluid retention. Maybe? Unfortunately, the scale says my water percentage has actually gone down, so I don’t know what to think.

Obviously, the answer is to go back to tracking calories (I use this app) and map that to the scales data and watch the trend. Once I see a clear trend with calories to weight loss, I can create a bunch of known calorie meals and plan for the week. Remember – revolution, not resolution. Systems, not goals.

Sigh… why is this so hard? I want to go back to my twenties and the steady diet of burgers and nachos just to keep weight on.

It’s So Small

I should probably start keeping a spreadsheet of all the fitness fads I’ve signed on to. You name it, I’ve probably done it. Except the Suzanne Somers Thigh Master. Never had one of those. This time around it’s the most ancient of all mankind’s tools – a club. In my relentless search to find a way to fix my back for good, I’ve decided to start waving a heavy club around at pedestrians in the street. Ok, maybe not exactly that.

I’ve been following a “fitness influencer” for quite a while who advocates for mastering some basic core, functional fitness movements BEFORE trying things like deadlifts and heavy squats. I’d forgotten I followed him until one of his videos popped up on YouTube while searching for back pain exercises. In a nutshell, he advocates a volume cycle of single arm movements with kettlebells and clubs, plus some presses and bodyweight squats as a starting point. Until you have proper hip rotation, foot alignment, and adequate core strength, you’re asking to get hurt trying more complex movements.

He had an interesting observation about ancient physiques vs today. The Greeks and Romans had relatively smaller shoulders, biceps, and chests. They had massive back muscles, forearms, abdominals, glutes and thighs. The exact opposite of what we think of today as the ideal physical form (massive chests and biceps, with tiny waists). I have neither form, so I’m nicely poised to go either direction.

Anyway, so I watched approximately 18 hours of heavy club swinging videos and got all excited. I just know this is the ticket to fix my back and bad shoulder. The club he likes is adjustable from ten pounds to something I wouldn’t even be able to lift. The problem is that it was a couple hundred dollars. Not sure I wanted to commit that much to something I wasn’t sure I’d like doing, I jumped on Amazon to look for an alternative. Sure enough I found some Chinese company selling a whole size range of clubs, starting at $19. Bingo. I ordered the smallest weight one, so I could get the form and movements right.

We were going to be out of town for a number of days, so I arranged for the package to be delivered to a UPS store. I was so excited about my new club I didn’t want any chance of someone stealing it off my porch. Mrs. Troutdog got home before me, so I had her go pick it up so I wouldn’t miss a moment of my new club training routine.

Now keep in mind the videos I’ve been watching featured a muscular guy swinging a giant, heavy three-foot club around like an ancient Viking crushing the skulls of his enemies. Imagine my face when I opened the box and saw my new club. It’s tiny. A foot long and 5 pounds. It looks like a child’s toy. Mrs. Troutdog looked at it with a puzzled face and asked, “what is this?” My aspirations of Viking-like strength dimmed a bit.

I’m not one to give up easily, so I’ve been doing my mini-club routine (near) daily. Here’s what I’ve discovered. I struggle to keep my feet aligned. I have very poor rotational mechanics. My shoulder mobility is very limited. I don’t know how to maintain a good pattern of exhale/inhale when doing movements. And standing fully upright while bracing my core and engaging the glutes leaves me sore for the rest of the day. All with a little 5-pound club.

Now I’m not saying swinging a club around is the end-all-be-all. But it’s working. It’s exposing flaws. So I’m going to keep up with it. Soon, I should be able to graduate to a heavier club. Viking-like abs may not ever be in my future but being able to get out of a chair without assistance, or to carry all the groceries in one pass will be.

I wonder what my next fitness fad will be?

It’s All About The Butt, Baby

I just got back from the gym. Spent a bunch of time with the strength coach trying to figure out how to fix my back issue. After a lot of pain, tests, and movement analysis the verdict is in. My problem is that I don’t have a butt. None. Zero. My legs just end at my hips.

More specifically, a major part of my problem is that I never engage my glutes when moving. Like, at all. Rotation, lifting, bending, walking, running… my back is doing all the work. And because I have a weak core, it was only a matter of time before something gave out. This also explains why I can’t dance.

The good news is that it’s fixable (maybe not the dancing). The bad news is that it’s going to hurt and it’s not going to suddenly get better overnight. Why-oh-why didn’t I figure this out thirty years ago?

Back in the stone age when I was in high school, there should have been an “adulthood 101” class. The value of compound interest. Investing. Changing a tire. What to make for dinner for the next 50 years. The importance of an actual, daily, fitness regime. Instead, we learned the quadratic equation on the off chance we might someday work with gravitational physics. Oh, and dodgeball.

So here we are. An aging adult who now has to learn how to engage a major muscle group and build up some significant strength – or face daily pain and physical limitations for the next twenty years. Yeah, that’s not intimidating at all.

I was watching show last night that described the decline in physical fitness in the US since the ’60s. The difference in where we are today vs back then is shocking. How in the world did we let that happen as a society? It’s really criminal. The scary part? I don’t think it’s reversible. Excluding some sort of apocalyptic survival of the fittest event… you’re not going to convince 300 million people to suddenly get off the couch every day. Back then President JFK actually said, “…there is nothing “more unfortunate than to have soft, chubby, fat-looking children.” Today, any politician that dared to suggest such a thing for our schoolkids would be instantly shouted down and cancelled. It’s discriminatory. We don’t have the funding. It shames kids who aren’t athletic. It’s racist. We can’t hurt their self-esteem. Besides, it’s really hard to have a proper PE class over Zoom.

I’m now faced with a hard decision. I either find a way to push through pain, change my daily routine, and learn a new athletic skill at my age… or I move to the couch, seek out a Norco or Oxy prescription, and accept that my ability to ski, play golf, ride the mountain bike, run, and hike is fading.

I don’t like either choice. I want to go back to the days when I could just do stuff and not worry about injury or pain. I don’t like strength training, never have. I get zero enjoyment from going to the gym. But I don’t like pills and I don’t want to give up my activities. It’s a quandry.

I’m not a quitter. Hopefully, this is the catalyst to make those necessary health changes I’ve been meaning to get around to. Because as a very wise man once said, “I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.”

The Dude abides. Now excuse me, I’m headed to the gym.

The Beatings Will Continue…

The beatings will continue until moral improves

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Ok now I’m really mad. No, not mad – pissed. And frustrated. And depressed. And defeated. And I don’t know what to do.

No, this is not a cry for help or any bullshit drama like that so don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I hurt my back – again. Actually, it’s more than that. I think I’ve hit my physical low point. I’ve clearly got some sort of chronic back issue now. I have some new stomach issues that I’ll spare you the details of. And I’m fat. There’s no point in tip toeing around it – there’s way too much jiggle wiggle when I walk. We’re rapidly approaching sports bra territory (don’t be offended, I’m not misgendering anyone with 13 pronouns in their bio – it’s simply beer and nacho man-boobs) All in all, I just don’t feel good. Haven’t for a while.

I don’t understand how this happened. Well, I do – bad diet, too many calories, inactivity, poor posture, zero mobility training, and lack of strength training. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, everything is great! The part I don’t understand is why I can’t snap out of it. Why can’t my brain finally say, “ok you’ve had some fun, now it’s time to get back to work”?

This is approximately the 1,023 time I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and declared, now I’m really serious. Like the old saying about smoking – Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it hundreds of times. The irony is that every one of my most liked posts on this blog are related to resolutions and health. I’m going Keto! I’m exercising! Look at my new diet! I did a sit-up! The problem is that my follow up on all those resolutions lasts about three days. It often pains me to think about this blog. For reasons I don’t understand, almost all my followers are health and fitness related folks. And I am not healthy or fit. When someone likes a health-related post or HealthyFitMotivations1443 starts following me, it’s a painful reminder that I’m not actually doing what I write about.

I’m angry at myself and concerned. I’m worried about my ability to reverse this trend. If I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like in 10 years? That scares me. I don’t know what to do about it. Well, I do know what I need to do… I just don’t know how to keep doing it.

At the end of the day, what I need is motivation, routine, and habit. How do I get my ass to walk into my garage gym every damn morning and do the work I need to be doing? It needs to become a non-negotiable part of my daily life. I don’t know how to make that happen.

If anyone has any magic secrets to building motivation and discipline, can you help a brother out? Otherwise, I may have to resort to posting shame pictures of me in a speedo all over the house as a reminder to go to the gym and to stop me from opening the fridge (again). And nobody wants that. An image you can’t unsee.

Hmmm, I think I just found my next business venture. A service you sign up for in which I call you twice a day and demand proof you worked out and ate well. Otherwise, I’ll berate you mercilessly and yell at you that you’re worthless and weak. The next day you’ll get three calls and ten nagging text messages. The abuse will continue until discipline improves.

That could work. I’d sign up for it. Meanwhile, I need to walk down to the gym. Wish me luck.

A Life Altering Change

There are a few big moments in everyone’s life that are remembered. Graduation. First “real” job. Getting married. First kid. Events that will always stay in your mind. I had one of those events happen this week. You’re never really ready for the impact these life changes will have. I will remember this first week of September for many years to come. It was the week I switched to flat pedals and added a dropper post to the mountain bike.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Dude, the change to flat pedals has been around for years now – you’re just now switching? I know, I know. I’m a little slow to adapt the latest and greatest in tech. I’m old fashioned and, honestly, don’t like spending money. My clip-in pedals from the 90’s have been working just fine. Why spend money on new pedals and shoes just because it’s what all the kids are doing now? Besides, the duct tape holding my shoe together is working just fine.

So what was the catalyst that spawned this momentous change? I went for a ride on a trail I hadn’t ridden since last summer that’s pretty technical, rocky, and had a rather steep drop-off on one side. I was riding and had a wobble over a loose rock, couldn’t get my foot out of the clip-in pedal and nearly tumbled down the steep edge. That’s really never happened to me before. This summer, for the first time, I can tell my balance isn’t what it used to be. Age is starting to kick in and my reflexes are just not as cat-like as they once were. I accept it and I’m actively working on improving it. But the reality is that I’m a long way from twenty and I can no longer just assume balance and coordination will save my bacon every time.

So I bit the bullet and took my bike into the shop. New pedals, shoes, and a seat post I can drop when going downhill at ludicrous speed. I immediately went back to that same rocky trail to see if the changes made a difference. It was night and day. Like riding a completely different bike. Why I didn’t do this five years ago is beyond me. I had more confidence in the technical stuff and was able to finally get my butt back and over the rear wheel properly. Wow.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson when I finally upgraded to modern skis several years ago and realized that there was no comparison between old school and modern technology. Apparently being an old-school traditionalist (i.e. cheap) doesn’t ever go away.

So the lesson is, if your stuff is more than five years old – do yourself a favor and investigate what the latest and greatest is. Technology is moving at a rapid rate. If something makes life easier, you’ll be more likely to go out and do the thing. And that’s good. Oh, and work on your balance. Today. Everyday. It’s a perishable commodity. Use it or lose it as they say.

Injury Update And Big Boy Pants

It’s been just about a month since I injured my back. Today, I deadlifted at the gym. Not much weight, but a full deadlift. Zero pain. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. I’ve been super lucky through life and have had very few injuries. This was the first time I had to make a conscious effort to figure out pain management, and what to do to fix the problem. I honestly think this could have been one of those things that at my age, had I not been aggressive about PT/rehab, could have drifted into a chronic issue that limited my activities for a very long time.

But it didn’t. Because I put my big boy pants on and refused to give in. I continued to work hard with a good strength and conditioning trainer. I did mobility work on my own. I aggressively used heat and a TENS unit to stimulate the muscles. I think most importantly – I just kept moving. Hiking, walking, riding the motorcycle. With lots of warm-up, I did some mountain biking. Last week I was able to do some (slow) trail running again. I massively upped my protein intake. Continued movement, targeted strength work, and holistic pain management techniques and we’re back in the game. Four weeks of work and I think I’m at least back to where I was pre-injury.

I left the gym today with a pretty good endorphin high. I was just super pumped to be able to do a deadlift pain-free. It gave me all kinds of motivation. I came home and pulled out and dusted off the daily vitamin regime. Drank a crapload of water. What I realized driving home from the gym is that in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take very long to make a change. Four weeks and I was able to rehab an injury and probably come out the other side stronger than I was before. That wasn’t much time.

If I put my mind to it, what else can I accomplish in the next four weeks? Last night I was listing to a Navy Seal talking about the initial six months of training. He laughed and said all that crap you seen on TV – BUDS, Hell Week, etc… are actually the easiest part of the overall training. He said that really all they’re looking for are people who can shut everything else out and just focus on the immediate task. The next ten feet. The next 5 minutes. People who can’t stop thinking about how much further or longer they have to go, fail. That’s it. It’s that simple.

It’s true. We step on the scale obsessively. The idea of going for a run every day seems impossible. I have so much else to do today, there’s no time to get a workout in. I have so much weight to lose, I don’t see myself every reaching my goal. I can’t run 3 miles without walking, how am I ever going to get back to what I used to be able to do? Too much focus on the macro picture, and you’ll fail.

So, what’s the lesson? I’m going to stop thinking about the weight loss number or running mileage. Instead, I’m just going to try to win every hour. Today I went to the gym early. I organized and took my daily supplements. I ate well. Now what? I’m just going to focus on what’s in front of me each hour. Water instead of soda. Intentional calories instead of snacking. Find 20 minutes this afternoon to do some mobility work. I don’t need a beer (or two) tonight. Water instead. Go to bed early. Rinse, repeat. My only goal for the next month is to keep focus on the task at hand. Hour by hour. We’ll see where that gets us in the next four weeks.

I put on my big boy pants, stepped up and paid the man this last month. Now, let’s pay him again tomorrow.

Why Is Diet So Confusing?

I will confess that I have been known to get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid from time to time. Beliefs, approaches, or fads that I was convinced was the one true path. I talked ’em up and spoke with authority about them. I even had a bit of condescension towards people who didn’t know, understand, or believe in the new great thing. Fools who still bought into the old school set of beliefs. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve thought were the end-all-be-all in the past. I’m not suggesting any of them are bad – just that as thinking evolves, they’re not the magic bullets I once believed them to be at the time.

  • Barefoot shoes and running.
  • Crossfit.
  • Keto.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Primal/caveman
  • Body For Life
  • Zone diet
  • 5/6 small meals per day
  • Foam rolling
  • Apple cider vinegar (I have no idea why I thought this was a magical thing)

And on, and on, and on. Even though I think I’m being a rebel and cutting edge, I realize I’m just as much of a lemming as anyone else following the latest fitness and diet fad. Meanwhile, I was happily making fun of people eating the cabbage soup diet, doing juice cleanses, or the Whole 30 diet. Why is it so damn hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing to lose or maintain weight?

Meanwhile, my trainer wants me eating more calories because my BMR is too low, and I need a massive increase in the amount of protein I consume. Zone 2 is best for aerobic improvements, and carbohydrates are now good.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think anymore. My body fat percentage is getting worse, but my muscle mass is the best it’s been in a very long time. I feel stronger and better balanced now, but I can’t button the waistband on most of my pants. Why is this so hard? I just want someone to give me a weekly menu with exact portion sizes that’s easy to make/prepare. And yes, I’ve Googled that exact thing. A billion results come up, all with conflicting information, or promise to be the perfect diet plan… for $29.99 a month.

Why is diet so difficult? Why can’t I find a way of eating that gives me enough of a routine to keep calories in control, yet lets me eat out from time to time? I clearly don’t have the discipline to eat “strict” all the time or count calories daily. So, does that mean my only choice is to constantly keep up a crazy amount of workout/cardio activity to balance it? At my age, I don’t know that I have that in me anymore.

Our grandparents did not calculate out their daily macros, walk around all day with giant BPA free water flasks, or worry about zone 2 training. Yet on whole, their generation did not have the obesity problem we have today. Maybe that’s the book I should write – “The WWII Generations Guide to Diet and Exercise”. I’ll make a fortune!

But then again, my grandfather’s favorite exercise machine was a vibrating belt you’d put around your waist. I have no idea what its actual purpose was. To jiggle the fat away? To be fair, we have kinesio tape today. Maybe we haven’t evolved as far as we think?

Wins And Losses

It’s been an interesting week. One filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, good and bad. I’m going to steal the slogan from Lance Armstrong’s new group, WEDU and their podcast The Forward – “Always forward, never straight”. Life would be boring if it always went in a straight line. This week definitely had a few turns.

Fitness took a (mental) turn this week for sure in a couple of categories. I felt like I was making some progress and then my trainer introduced some new movements. I’m now so sore I can barely walk. That’s good in the sense that I’m clearly pushing hard. But it’s a bit discouraging because I thought I was past the crippling DOMS stage of working out. Clearly my improving strength isn’t as well-balanced as I thought.

And then there’s the issue of weight. I’ve been avoiding the scale because I know how I feel and what I look like. My diet’s been… well, not good and I know it. At the beginning of the week the trainer asked if I was finally going to be serious and track my intake. Ok, ok, ok, stop yelling at me. I was diligent and tracked everything all week. I bravely stepped on the scale this morning. And now I’m super confused.

Per the app, I’m way under on the number of calories I should be consuming. But per the scale, I’ve gained 2+ pounds. My muscle mass increased, but so did body fat and visceral fat percentages. Something’s not adding up. I know that my calorie intake has to be much higher than I’m tracking. Realistically the app doesn’t account for all the sauces, etc… because the physics doesn’t lie. You can’t be significantly under in calories and gain weight. Regardless, it was enough of a motivational spark to keep me tracking my intake and to start getting my diet in order. I don’t know what that diet will be yet, but I can’t go back to keto. I just can’t.

On the positive side of the ledger, a couple of good things happened. One of them was an unexpected surprise. I have a little YouTube channel that I post to from time to time. Almost no subscribers, and my silly little videos only get a handful of views. That’s ok because I enjoy making them and it’s mostly a learning experience at this point. But as I’ve mentioned before, there’s still a nagging feeling in the back of your head – why am I doing this if nobody watches? Well, out of the blue one of the older videos hit 10,000 views in just a few days. Very strange. That’s miniscule traffic in YouTube terms, massive for me. I’ll admit it’s nice to feel like someone is watching/reading what you create. It’s enough of a spark to motivate you to keep on being creative.

So that’s it. A real mixed bag of events for the week. The weather continues to be crap. I can’t get my sprinklers to work. Diet continues to be off the rails. But some exciting personal stuff happened and then I got a little creator spark/validation.

The path we take wobbles all around and certainly isn’t straight. But all that matters is that the path keeps moving forward.

P.S. In a fit of desperation, I’ve thrown away all food in the pantry and fridge. I’m now staring at empty shelves and unsure of what I should do now. Perhaps I was a bit hasty…

What’s Your EDC? (everyday carry)

EDC. Everyday carry. I’m a sucker for clicking on EDC YouTube channels (yes, there are channels dedicated to just this). There’s just something about all the little gadgets and doodads I find fascinating. Mini flashlights, pocket knives, cool key holders, all-in-one mini tools, wallets, I absolutely love this stuff. I click on almost every link and wonder if I could use that gadget or not.

But I never buy any of them. For all of my obsession over the idea of cool EDC stuff… I absolutely hate carrying stuff in my pockets. Here’s what I carry every day: Three keys; a mini pocket knife; a tiny minimalist wallet; a phone; a handkerchief. That’s it. I’m astounded at the amount of crap the dudes on these EDC channels purport to carry in their pockets. They must jingle, rattle and sound like a old suit of armor walking down the street.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse at all times, my problem is more anatomical. I was born without a butt. Zero. None. It doesn’t exist. My legs just go straight up and suddenly you’re at my lower back. I’ve heard you can fix this issue by doing squats with heavy weights. I tried it once and it didn’t take. Implants may be my next best choice. Anyway, the end result of my curve challenged backside is that it’s an everyday struggle to keep my pants up. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I cinch down my belt, gravity wins out before too long. All day long I’m constantly hitching up my pants.

It’s manageable in my day-to-day life because I don’t carry anything. Work, however, is a different story. As an RN I have to carry a bunch of crap because you never know what you’re going to encounter in a patient’s room. My work EDC is as follows:

  • Penlight
  • Trauma shears
  • Hemostat
  • Multicolored pen
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Handful of 10 ml saline flushes
  • Bunch of alcohol wipes
  • Work badge/ID
  • Emergency SOS tracker
  • Med room keys
  • Locker key
  • Watch
  • Stethoscope
  • Coban wrap
  • Breath mints
  • Handkerchief
  • Personal phone
  • Work phone
  • N-95 mask
  • Safety goggles

In addition to all that stuff, I have a mini clipboard with my daily brain (notes and plans for each patient), phone numbers for all the departments, some frequently used reference material, and a few extra pieces of paper to scribble random to-do reminders on.

I’m quite a sight to see sprinting after a crazy naked patient as they try to make a break for the stairwell (happens way more often than you’d think). I leave a trail of stuff all the way down the hall as everything in the above list comes flying out of my pockets.

Everything on that list gets used every single shift. It’s taken years to pare down to what I currently carry. Every item goes in a specific pocket. I’m very functional. I see RN’s roll into the nurse’s station with giant backpacks, coffee mugs, water bottles, and lunch coolers. I don’t understand. What could you possibly need for a single work shift that requires a massive backpack?

Where was I going with this? Oh yes – gravity, pants, and EDC. At work I wear scrubs which only fasten with a drawstring. Even though I pull the drawstring tight enough to cut off circulation, my pants are halfway down my rear most of the day with all the crap I have in my pockets. The aforementioned running down the hall scenario carries the very real risk of my pants suddenly ending up around my ankles and me doing a sliding faceplant in front of all my coworkers. I’ve lain awake at night worrying about this.

Because of this nagging nightmare scene that never leaves the back of my brain, in my civilian life at home I want as little as possible in my pockets. At this point if my butt gets any flatter (and belly gets any bigger), I’m going to be forced to go the suspenders route. And that my friends, unless you’re a carpenter or firefighter, is the end. Complete surrender of fashion. You cannot make suspenders look good. Period. And because I’m all about fashion, I’ll stick with the belt and minimal EDC. Maybe try the heavy squats again.

Of course, I could go the route of the fanny pack or purse – ahem, murse. Hmmm, maybe that’s the ticket. I’ll dig out my old school messenger bag/briefcase and just carry that everywhere. Just think of all the cool stuff I could carry every day!

What’s in your EDC?