Sunday, September 4, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Apparatus

183 lbs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. In vino veritas. Two Buck Chuck Merlot = truth serum. Feel yourself blessed that this is not the 9/11 pontification I’ve been mentally writing and mentally delivering to the UN.

I saw Dr. Best on Friday and he hit my knee with more ultra sound. The “aches likes there’s no tomorrow” period was a lot shorter than last week AND this week, he put me on the roller table to loosen up my back (should have just handed me some Two Buck Chuck, same effect). I want one. If I can’t have my own massage therapist on standby, this is a an elegant alternative. You can’t always get to Brookstone to test drive the massage chairs.

Advice I also got from Dr. Best when I told him that some days, I just feel crunchy (Seriously, not stiff, but muscles, etc. feel like they crunch as you move. Usually, I take that as an indicator I should go back to bed and sleep it off). “Drink more water,” he says. The sensation is an early indication that you’re not hydrated enough

The good news is that he checked my arms and the triceps are getting bigger, which means the wobbly arms are getting tighter. Yee Ha!

Yesterday, I got in upper body weight training (there was no way the knee was going to tolerate anything lower body. Billy Ray Cyrus has NOTHING on this achy break) and I’ll do so again tomorrow. Based on last week’s experience, I should be fine by then to add the lower body exercises (leg curls, extensions, presses, etc.) back in.

I’ve written a book (which has been enjoyed by the people who have read it. Nobody wants to pay for the privilege and/or I can’t seem to get it to the distribution point) in which one of the characters rows for pleasure/exercise and was damned good at it. What do I know about rowing? It can be summed up in one word: Winklevoss. Or Winklevi, for the plural. Look it up. And I wrote this book 3 years before ANYBODY invented Facebook, so those overprivilged Harvard pukes can keep their lawyers muzzled (although if Mark Zuckerberg wanted to kick a few bucks in my direction, I wouldn’t stop him) . Since I wanted to 1) get in some cardio, 2) not give my knee an excuse to keep hurting and 3) keep working he upper body. There are two rowing machines at the gym that seldom get used. After today, I’m beginning to understand why.

I will not be competing in Head of the Charles anytime soon. Nor will I be part of the social scene as, if I am to understand correctly, I’m about 20-25 years too old.

I was trying to find a rhythm (everything is easier once you find your rhythm. I am not saying this to be funny; think about ANY task or activity you undertake and see if you can’t identify a rhythm to how you do it, a preferred pattern, if you will) when the overly enthusiastic spinning instructor went by and gave me some pointers (For those stalkers out there saying, “But Sunday is Pilates day”, the gym cancelled Pilates today. Nobody can figure out why because they held the class that precedes it, go figure. Spinning, on the other hand, was on like Donkey Kong).  You know, sometimes when you send up a flare to the Universe for help, it arrives, even though it would rather be on a bike.

For starters, I would say that if you’re regular about cardio, it cannot hurt to break things up and work two or three different cardio methods into your regime (not to be confused with the regime of a dictator on the run. There’s a lot of that going on lately). Since it is likely that that rowing machines at your gym (should there be some) will have a good layer of dust on them and therefore easily available, why the hell not? There are no rules that say you need your legs engaged to get your heart rate up and pumping. Granted, they’re bigger than arm and back muscles, but you can still get the job done and give them a day off. Plus, springing a surprise like this on the muscles keeps them on their toes. Ruts benefit no one.

According to Biker Joe, the trick is to break the move down into 3 parts: pull out, down, then up (that’s that best description I can give it) rather than the jerking motion I was doing. Once I heeded his advice, it was much more enjoyable.

It’s hard work and there is some leg work (you’re sliding back and forth as you “row”), but you are not putting your weight on the legs and there is no impact to the joints. I had twinges going on, but the biggest problem was trying to figure out how to keep my boobs out of the way as I row (the bra cups are nowhere near full as they used to be, but I’m not a titless wonder, either).Wilma Rudolph, the Williams Sisters. Chris Evert; amazing athletes all, but they all had to solve the boob problem first. I did this yesterday for 10 minutes and could manage 25 today. It’s a challenge. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to strengthen the upper body. We’ll see if I can actually move tomorrow. It’s a fifty/fifty shot right now.

Friends have seen fit to remind me of one of the big principles in the Law of Attraction, particularly now when I’m getting frustrated with weight, life, etc.: you have to be happy where you are before you can move on. I like the fact that I am getting back to and maintaining an exercise regimen. I like the fact that, okay, so I’m not where I want to be on the scale, at least I’m still a comfortable distance from where I was when I started (we’ll think of this as stopping for a couple of days on a cross-country trip). And I definitely like the fact that I have far greater flexibility than I did when I started this gig.  I am happy with those things.

In the meantime,  I’ll just keep on keeping on.


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