Tag: Health

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.

Resolution Or Revolution?

It’s time for the annual beginning of the year resolutions. I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions. Mostly because I rarely keep them for more than a week. Also, because at my age do I really need to be resolving to eat more tofu to save the planet? No. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. Besides, making resolutions like that are just virtue signaling. Nobody cares.

But every few years I do try to set goals. Take last year. I was bored leading up to the new year and binge watched a bunch of minimalist and productivity YouTube videos. I went on a two-day productivity frenzy getting ready for the new year. I re-re-re-started a bullet journal. I put schedules and workout plans together. I mapped out all the motorcycle and camping trips I wanted to do. I even put a 2022 Goals page together with tracking metrics that I was going to use to measure progress.

I had a lot of fitness goals, some fly-fishing things I wanted to do, motorcycle camping trips, and a bunch of river rafting day trips I planned on doing. You can see that my goals are not terribly intellectual, spiritual, or altruistic. I never claimed to be the sharpest crayon in the box. Anyway, so how many did I accomplish? Zero. Zip. None. Nadda. Whoo hoo! Underachievers of the world, unite!

Interestingly, I’d completely forgotten I’d even set those goals. I stumbled upon them yesterday while I was looking for something else. Clearly, they weren’t terribly memorable or important to me if I didn’t even remember them. It made me think about what I wanted out of this current new year. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there wasn’t any single thing I could come up with. I literally couldn’t come up with a single, burning desire that I wanted to accomplish this year. Not one thing. My god, how uninteresting and shallow of a person does that make me?

Have I turned into one of those boring country rubes with no life desires other than to sit on the porch and watch the traffic go by? Don’t get me wrong, there are things I want to do – ride the motorcycle, get back to making YouTube content, lose weight, work on the house, etc… but I don’t have a driving passion to make them happen. If they happen, great. If not, oh well.

After writing and re-reading that last paragraph, I don’t like what it says about my state of mind. My god, that’s a recipe for complacency and a ticket straight to sitting on the couch, watching ESPN reruns and eating bon-bons. So now what?

I thought about writing down goals again, but I’d just be making stuff up and would be ignoring them in a few weeks as per usual. I really thought about this for some time, and then accidentally stumbled upon one of the definitions of “revolution”.

a forcible overthrow of a social order, in favor of a new system

It reminded me of something cartoonist and writer Scott Adams says, “for success, create systems instead of goals”. For example, wanting to lose ten pounds is a goal. Learning to eat right is a system that substitutes knowledge for willpower.

So that’s it. It’s time for a Revolution. We’re throwing out my old social order and creating a new one. The plan for 2023 is to create systems instead of goals. Routines that make it easier to succeed at the day-to-day. Routines that lead to better habits around health. Routines that make it more likely to plan trips, house tasks, and creative projects. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

The problem with many revolutions is that once you’ve fired up the population and stormed the gates, you hit a “now what?” moment. Do I go throw everything out of the pantry? Mount a huge chalkboard for meal planning in the kitchen? Start blocking out days on the calendar to force myself to plan things? Re-re-re-re-start the bullet journal?

Hmmm… Analysis paralysis. Ok, maybe I don’t know what this is going to look like yet, but I promise change is happening. Stay tuned.

Viva la revoluciĆ³n!

I Have To Take A Test?

Humans, by nature, are procrastinators. We generally don’t have a good grasp on large-scale time, so it’s easy to put things off. I’ll start my diet on Monday. Yeah, I know I should probably start tracking my blood pressure. I haven’t gone to a doctor in a long time, but I’m just so busy right now. We all do it. Things that aren’t an immediate concern are easy to put off. Next thing you know, months (or years) have gone by. You just don’t think about it, until something bad happens.

Someone we know recently had a family member whose husband suffered a massive heart attack right in front of her. It must have been an awful experience. He was only a few years older than me. I’ll be honest, it sort of freaked me out. To be what I consider still relatively young and have something like that happen. How did he not know he was at risk? The answer is that most of us don’t. My floor at the hospital was neuroscience. A large portion of our patients were stroke victims. And a very large portion of those patients either had no idea they were at risk, or probably knew and chose not to take corrective action. I get it – we’re procrastinators. We can always start tomorrow. I’ve got plenty of time.

There’s a screening test I’d been planning on taking for a while but kept putting off. It’s the coronary artery calcium scan. It shows how much plaque buildup you have in your arteries. The score you get gives you an idea of where you risk factor falls as a percentile based upon your age. Typical numbers range from zero to 400, although it’s not uncommon to see numbers in the 1,000’s. With your score you can make decisions with your doctor about risk factors and medication and lifestyle changes needed to best manage your lifelong risk. This is a pretty good video to describe the test a bit more.

Anyway, I’d been planning on getting the test and actually had a referral set up from my doctor and then virus which shall not be named hit and everything shut down. And I promptly forgot about the test. That is, until I heard about the guy having the heart attack last week. Convinced my arteries were already completely occluded, I called my doctor and got the referral right away.

The test is an easy and non-invasive CT scan (a fancy Xray). 15 minutes. If insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s not expensive – $150 to $300. The odd thing is that very few general practitioners will prescribe it as a general screening tool unless you’re already in a high-risk category. You almost always have to ask for it. It makes no sense. We have a cheap, non-invasive screening tool available, why not use it? I suppose just prescribing statins to everyone based upon cholesterol ratios is easier. Whatever.

Anyway, I got my test done. And by that afternoon I had the results. Perfect. A score of zero. No evidence of plaque buildup. Whew! I can continue to eat bacon. Because I’m older and not exactly a life-long marathon runner, I was convinced for some reason that my results were going to come back and show significant blockage. I don’t know why I was so sure of it. It must be the realization that I am aging. I’m drifting towards that age when bad things start happening to people. Very morbid, I know.

But all is good. I’ve been working hard in the gym and seeing improvement. Ski season started and my fitness is better at this early stage than it’s been in a while. I’m pleased. Except the diet. I just can’t seem to bust through that mental blockage. I blame it on hockey. Our local ECHL team has a deal where if they score 4 goals everyone in the stadium gets a coupon for a free Jumbo Jack. This season we’ve been winning a lot, and by large margins. Let’s just say I have more free Jumbo Jack coupons than I need. And the last thing I need to do is be eating Jumbo Jacks. The struggle is real, people.

It Just Hurts

When I first started out as an RN, I’ll admit I got a bit judgmental sometimes towards certain patients. It was the folks who were fairly obese, in their late 60’s or early 70’s, and lacked the strength to get off the toilet or out of a chair. As two and sometimes three of us struggled to get them standing so they could shuffle back to bed, I’d say to myself “how could anyone let themselves get to that point?” They’d reject the physical therapists who came to work with them, saying they were too tired or hurt too much to do anything today. I’d do my best to encourage them, often admonishing them that if they didn’t start moving things were only going to get worse.

I just couldn’t fathom wanting to spend your remaining years in that condition. Why didn’t they take better care of themselves? One of the more common problems we’d see with this patient population was toenails. Nasty curled and twisted daggers that hadn’t been cut in god knows how long. Often they couldn’t wear socks anymore because you couldn’t pull them on without snagging on the nails. They’d just resort to wearing sandals or slippers all the time. Why? Because they’d become so deconditioned, they couldn’t bend over enough to clip their own toenails. It just seemed so crazy to me. And when they wouldn’t work with therapy and rejected most advice to do something, anything, to help themselves… I’ll admit I developed a certain lack of sympathy.

Fast forward to today. I hurt. Everywhere. I can barely lift my arms over my head. I look like an 80-year-old walking down the stairs. The moaning and groaning when I attempt to get down on the ground is ridiculous. Why am I in this state? Well… my back injury scared me enough that I’m going full speed, hard core, with my workouts. Every day has been at least an hour in the gym. Stretching, mobility work, kettle bells, club bells, lunges, squats, medicine balls… every exercise I can find on YouTube. Plus another hour and a half of hiking hills with the dog.

The end result is that I’m sore. Everywhere. There isn’t a body part that doesn’t hurt right now. Yes, I realize that I’m probably overtraining a bit. But I’m scared. The back strain was a brief window into a potential future if I don’t fix things. And I don’t like the future I saw.

Reality, as they say, came up and bitch slapped me in the face. I was forced to admit to myself the true, current state of all things physical. I’ve never been very physically strong, so I tended to avoid gym work. I was pretty good with endurance stuff, so that’s what I did. I mountain biked, skied, and ran. And I told myself I was in decent shape. Yes, cardiovascular-wise I was. But year after year my muscles were atrophying. Now, years of ignoring strength conditioning have caught up to me. I strained my back badly while sweeping leaves. Yes, really.

Muscle atrophy and weight gain are insidious creatures. They sneak up on you. Every year a little weaker, a little heavier. As it creeps up on you, your motivation to do something about it gets less and less. Sure, you try here and there to diet or start working out again, but it’s hard. The weight doesn’t come off and you end up hungry and frustrated. Your attempts to work out leave you sore and unable to walk. It’s really hard to keep getting after it when you feel like that. Pretty quickly you abandon the diet and give up the workouts. And the atrophy keeps setting in.

And that’s where I had a very real insight into how those patients let themselves go. And I feel bad for not having more empathy for them all those years ago. It would be so easy to do. I hurt, I’m sore, I’m tired. At my age, do I really need to be trying to lift weights? Let’s just stop. A heating pad and some pain pills will make me comfortable. Blink my eyes and I’ll be that old guy struggling to get off the toilet.

No. I’m not going to do that. I refuse to give up. I know that if I just keep pushing, eventually the soreness goes away. Muscles and tendons will become more supple. The aches and pains get better. Mobility and balance improve. I will not let atrophy win.

I’ll just have to wear hats for a while… my arms hurt too much to brush my hair.

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?

The Beatings Will Continue…

The beatings will continue until moral improves

Unknown

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.

I’m A Cheater

It’s not something you really want to admit. But confession is good for the soul, or something like that. So here goes… I’ve been cheating. Now in my defense, I didn’t realize I’d been cheating. Let me explain. If you haven’t been breathlessly following my every post, I’d recently written about a life altering change – I switched from clip-in pedals to flat pedals on the mountain bike.

TL;DR – I love them and don’t know why I didn’t switch earlier. But it has exposed one flaw. You have to constantly keep more pressure, or force, on the pedals otherwise your foot will slide off. So now I’m generally pushing a harder gear than I’m used to. What I’ve discovered is that with the clip-in pedals I was able to “relax” quite a bit when pedaling. While my legs were going around, I was essentially coasting far more than I realized. If I try that now, my feet come off the pedals.

So I was cheating at the effort I was putting in and didn’t know it. I could never figure out why my climbing speed never seemed to improve. Now that I have no choice but to push hard, presto, my speed and power output are much greater than before. Crazy how that works.

We all cheat, we just don’t like to admit it. I’ve never had much upper body strength, my shoulder is kinda jacked up, so I suck at things like push-ups. So what do I do? I ignore doing push-ups because I don’t like them and can’t do very many. Unfortunately, push-ups are exactly what I should be doing. How many of you are avoiding doing the things you know, deep down, you should be doing?

Confronting our flaws and weak points is hard. If it was easy, we’d already be doing them. But the older I get, the more I wish I’d been stronger about conquering my weaknesses when I was younger. But you’re never too old to start. Deep down, you know what your weak points are.

So pick one. Resolve today that you’re going to start working on it. You’ll thank yourself later. So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can do a push-up. Don’t laugh. I’m pretty sure this will look like the Bill Murry push-up scene from the movie Stripes. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

Do You Have Rhythm?

Rhythm noun
a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound
a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes

I’ve lost my rhythm. And no, I don’t mean the shake your booty and get funky on the dance floor kind of rhythm. Although to Mrs. Troutdog’s great disappointment, I’ve never had that kind of rhythm. What I’m talking about is a flow, a sense of order, a comfortable pattern to your days. Rhythm is different than a routine. A routine is simply repeated behavior. Waking up at the same time every day, eating oatmeal, and drinking exactly one cup of coffee is a routine. That’s a micro-view of your day. Rhythm is a macro-view of your time.

Rhythm is planning out workouts for the week. Rhythm is looking forward to and participating in an activity you enjoy on weekends. It’s a sense of order to your time. It doesn’t have to mean you eat pasta every Tuesday and meatloaf on Thursday. Instead, it’s a feeling of being intentional about your meal planning. It’s sense of enjoyment from exploring a new restaurant every Friday night. Rhythm is the collective whole of your day-to-day time. It’s having a sense of purpose to your weeks and months.

Up until this last year I feel like I had a comfortable rhythm. Work was a known entity. I made a point to get a run or a bike ride in most days. Mrs Troutdog and I had our individual activities, and we were good about making time for shared activities. Winter was a busy time full of skiing, wood chopping, and evenings by the fire. It was a good rhythm.

And then some pretty big disruptions happened. Nothing horrible, just life throwing a few curveballs. The end result was that we’ve been in random mode for quite some time. We went months without a kitchen, eating pizza and burger patties off paper plates in our laps while sitting in the backyard. Constantly changing plans to wait for contractors that never show up. Strange weather that went from rain and mud to 100 degrees seemingly overnight, straining my motivation to do outside activities. I missed much of the ski season due to construction woes. I had an odd back injury that slowed me down for a while.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s all first world problems so I can’t really complain. We’ve just about sorted through most of the things going on and life is slowly getting back to something more normal. But as we were going through this, I found myself more and more out of sorts. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why my mood was so off, so often. I finally realized it was that loss of rhythm. I’d lost that comfortable pattern to my days.

Everyone experiences randomness from time to time. Random can be exciting. Vacations and travel are random, that’s part of the fun. But it’s also exhausting after a while. Thats why you have that deep sigh of contentment when you get home. It’s that comfortable sliding back into your rhythm.

I now find myself in an interesting position. I get to create a brand-new rhythm. Sure, some of the old familiar patterns will return. But it’s time to move on to a new flow, a different set of patterns. All of us do it from time to time. Moving to a different city. Kids going off to college. Retiring. It’s part of life.

I need my rhythm back. But it doesn’t need to be the old rhythm. Finding a new rhythm is a good thing. It’s growth. It’s preventing stagnation. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like yet. There will be more exercise. More cooking. More music. More reading. More creativity. And nachos. Definitely more nachos.

Are you happy with your rhythm? Maybe it’s time for a change?

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.