Hubris and Pain

So full disclosure, I took some Aleve before my final kettlebell class Friday both to recover from the prior day and as a prophylactic.  Then some again the next two days (which involved a bunch of walking).

Today my back is in agony.  An old injury flared up.  I shouldn’t have taken the pills, should have listened to my body instead.  Couldn’t make it to karate.  Barely made it out of bed.

Saw a photo of myself from three months ago today.  It wasn’t bad exactly. Just didn’t look like how I think of myself.  Took a second to recognize the person in the picture.

For two and a half years, I wasn’t really living my life.  I was passing time and heading down a bad road.  Now I am ready and every part of me wants to pick up where I left off, but it doesn’t work like that, and dealing with that fact remains my biggest obstacle.  Staying the course, knowing that physically and professionally, rebuilding takes time.

I just have to keep wanting it, and keep working for it- to the best of my ability, but no more.  Apparently right now that also includes getting more up-to-date headshots.

Karate Wednesday.  I plan to go even if I’m sore, just let the instructor know.  I’ve also put together a little bodyweight training routine and will be making some TRX style straps to tide over strength/conditioning until I get into the big box gym with the kettlebells.

I recently came across this Steve Maxwell blog post about kettlebells, and while the guy obviously has a serious sour grapes situation with regard to StrongFirst and DragonDoor, he makes some good points about a truly full-body routine.  I have zero intention of going back to the mixing-it-up-every-five-minutes burpees and novelty postures model of the kettlebell gym, but some basic chins, dips and presses on off days certainly can’t hurt.



Final kettlebell class tonight. Simple and Sinister program, and kind of what I thought the whole experience would be- the core exercises plus some variation.  Swings, TGU’s, double swings, a “double TGU” where you hold two bells lying flat, sit up, swing legs under, stand.

The essential training exercise I think was the “bottoms up TGU” (and snatch, and squat-from-rack).  Key quote was: “bottoms-up exercises are self-correcting.”  The bottoms-up TGU’s were really hard, and a couple of times my grip strength came close to failure and I had to let it slide down.

I like about kettlebells generally that they are not only, in this instance, self-correcting, but they are also a great self-assessment tool.  You find out fast what is weak and where your imbalances are.  This work out would be great just for that purpose- to figure out what needs to be brought up to level.

Of course, in my case the answer is “pretty much everything.”

She also offered some more technical TGU instruction, which was helpful and worth noting here.  On the first motion, setting arm and hand to 45 degrees, the hand stays in a fist.  Coming up to the elbow, twist your chest away, and swivel the hand out slightly while shifting weight up and onto it.  On the return, the hand comes out further from the body, and weight is transferred there before swinging leg under (rather than collapsing down).  Maintain eyes on bell throughout.

It’s a funny thing about personal milestones.  Today was just the end of a GroupOn 8-pack, objectively not significant to any other person.  So it wasn’t a big deal when at the end of class the instructor just wandered off with her phone and I put on my sweatshirt and walked away without saying goodbye.  It’s kind of the same feeling as having a birthday as an adult.  Only with more pain in the quads..

Very sore, looking forward to healing up and training on my own.  Trying to program:

Karate Tuesday/Thurs (Sometimes Sat)

Kettlebells & Kata: Mon/Wed/Fri

Heavy bag…? at lunchtime.  Want to see how I feel.   Self-assessment bodyweight exercises 1x/week?

Muscle Confusion

Around 20 distinct exercises in 60 minutes at kettlebell class today.  Personally that’s too many.  Maybe it’s the karateka in me but I’d rather do one movement with perfect form than twenty bonkers drills just to keep things “interesting.”  Most interesting workouts I have outside of the dojo are getting into a groove while listening to a great podcast.

I think small group gyms have a real challenge- they need to keep regulars engaged, but also support newcomers.  My particular gym finds that balance by assigning crazy complicated workout programs but then offering a lot of direct, personal feedback.  It’s the best possible option, I guess, but I guess I have the criticism lots of folks have of CrossFit- for me personally, “master of none” doesn’t boost my confidence or give me metrics to mark my improvement.

I’ve come to understand there really is a whole other world of fitness out there- people who work out regularly, stay in good shape, and want to mix things up while staying within their schedule and the comfort of the gym.  I get that.  And I get that those folks mark their improvement in different ways.  Personally I mix things up by putting in hours in the garden or on the trail, or training more karate.  To me it’s a means to other ends.

Last class tomorrow.  Officially a “Simple and Sinister” class though they throw in another half dozen or so movements.  Looking forward to it, and looking forward to being done.

Training note: pay attention to how hard it was to do those situps today.  It shouldn’t be that hard to do that number of situps.   Excited to start S&S but think it would be smart to assess against basic situps/chins/pushups/etc from time to time.


Mostly white belts in class today.  I caught myself criticizing myself for beginner mistakes, and setting it aside because I am a beginner, after all.

I’m struggling with a common kumite move, a defensive “sidestep” with the trailing leg angling back.  Attacker punches straight, step in and punch to throat or kick groin while angling to end up perpendicular to their center line.  Need to practice this.

Apparently I have also been turning my fist over wrong my entire life.  Elbow isn’t supposed to flare out to the side but stay on a plane while only wrist turns.  This feels weird and I’m not sure about it.

It’s strange to understand what you want to do and wait for your muscle memory to acclimate.  Similarly frustrating that I need to follow along with most of the Heian kata at least once before I can do them without watching someone else (though after once or twice, I’m good).

Heavy bag training will help with both of these.

Strangest of all tonight was that I didn’t sweat hard, and left feeling like class was a little too light.  Not so long ago I couldn’t make it through a class at all, even one of S’ beginner classes.

It’s a strange thing to see how far I’ve come and how far yet to go all at once.  Kettlebells tomorrow and Friday should replace all that thinking with muscle pain. After that home training until March, which I’m looking forward to.

Snow Day for Fatty

Skipped karate tonight.  Snow was coming down, I’m still super-sore from kettlebells, and honestly I just didn’t want to go.  No pontificating, or beating myself up about it, or rationalizing.  I’m not sure I was ready for four hard workouts a week.  Last kettlebell class is Friday, at which point I’m joining the big box gym and doing Simple & Sinister program at my own pace.  Feel fine about all of this.

Honestly the bigger realization is that if I could just cut out, or better plan/control evening snacking, I could easily hit my goal weight in 2019.  It kind of feels like when I realized in 2002-ish that at the time 1/3 of my calories were coming from juice, tea and soda.

I don’t want to give up post-dinner food, and I don’t want my whole life to revolve around plans and control.  But I do need to find a framework within I can manage it.

Probably bananas.   Lots of bananas.  But we’ll see.

Outside, the snow has been whirling, and the world has that peculiar hush.  Volume turned down on the world.  I missed winter.  On Facebook today there was a conversation about snowboarding- something I did every winter as a teen and then gave up without a second thought when I moved south for school.

I realized that in a way, snowboarding is a goal of this lifestyle change- or more accurately, to have the physicality to say, “what the hell, let’s go do that this weekend” about anything- snowboarding, roller skating, maybe taking out a Sunfish, if those still exist- without having to work my way up to it, embarrass myself, or feel like my strength, endurance or weight are even considerations.

I was once invited on a friend’s racing boat, and while I did OK during my turn on the ropes, apparently my real value, as he explained and his partner quickly tried to spin, was being heavy enough to be placed around the deck as a counterweight.  I’d really been looking forward to that trip, and it felt worse than I would have expected. Then the wind died and it turned out there was no gas in the tank, so it took six hours on the coldest day of the year to get to shore.  I don’t really talk to that guy anymore.

Even when I was wearing size Medium, I had moments like this.  I did some work at a rock climbing gym in exchange for a lot of free passes, but I couldn’t support my own body weight.  I rented kayaks a few times but they only had one that could fit me (though in retrospect that was more an issue with their selection).

Anyway, on the right path.  Karate Wednesday, Kettlebells Thursday & Friday.


Cleaning and Pressing

K’bell strength class tonight felt the most like a “regular” workout since I was lifting free weights regularly.  Cleans, presses, deadlifts and a horrible weighted arm-outstretched situp thing that I suspect I will feel tomorrow.  Also some one-legged deadlifts which I now understand are mostly about developing hinge technique.  The key is to hinge down and bend legs slightly, which they say is like sitting on a chair but is IMO is more just about keeping weight over heels.  I think this is probably a good warm-up exercise.

It’s weird how fast things change, and how mutable reactions are.  I am learning that a lot of what I struggle with mentally and emotionally boils down to a need to cultivate temperance without just putting blinders on.

Couple of classes ago I was demoralized at how slowly I was progressing.  Tonight I saw how far I’ve come.  I chose easier weights than I knew I could handle because I wanted to focus on form, and ended up feeling good-sore.  Realized I’m not going to have a problem transitioning to the Simple & Sinister program.

While I haven’t lost much weight on the scale, I’m down a belt size and had to put on a belt for some pants that just fit not too long ago.  If I went into hardcore diet mode I think a lot of pounds would melt off quickly, but this time around I’m in it for the long haul.  Incremental changes.  Plan is to keep things slow and steady to ~23% body fat, see whether I’m in a good groove with karate and weights, and then evaluate.

This is partly just a more complicated topic- I eat reasonably well through 6PM, then whatever my spouse prepares for dinner and, if I’m still hungry, end up binging late night.  But I can only address so many adverse behaviors at once, particularly when they’re all also stress coping mechanisms.  The idea is to swap them out one at a time.

Half my dojo is at Special Training this weekend.  I am glad they are doing it but definitely wasn’t ready.  Look forward to next year.

Playing Hookey

Skipped class tonight.  No regrets.  Been feeling ground down, spouse is away, I can just take the evening to myself, rest and enjoy.

If this is going to be my lifestyle for the next couple of decades I need to be able to take breaks when they are necessary, but also when I just feel really good about that. This was also going to be the last class before Special Training and I don’t know if that means they are going extra hard or extra easy, but either way I’d rather be here.

Going to turn the heat up, eat a nice meal, watch a movie, and get a good night’s sleep.

I feel weirdly apologetic, secret diary, like somehow I’ve let you down.  But blogs are dead, I have no readers, and wouldn’t have owed them anything anyway.  This is entirely a tool for progress tracking and reflection.  So that apology feeling is a type of internal negativity I can just release.

Goodbye, negativity.  I assume I’ll see you again at k’bell class on Friday.