Stamina

September 25, 2017

The desert stretched in every direction, as far as the dewy-eyed heroine could see. Her guide led her across trackless wastes; by what unseen compass did he navigate? Somehow he led her unerringly across a wilderness, always finding at the last possible moment a rocky outcropping that hid in its depths both precious shade and a tepid swallow of brackish water.

She saw, with horror, that her camel’s broad foot landed very nearly on a domed skull, shining white in the glare, a pair of aviator sunglasses still wrapped atop flesh that had long since been melted by the abrading sand. Panicked, she looked to her guide and found him regarding her impassively.

“They gave up,” is all he said coldly. “Will you?”

This Saturday afternoon French Foreign Legion black-and-white adventure vignette brought to you by the fact that I have gained four pounds in the last two days. Do I have the stamina to keep going?

I’ll tell you what powers our heroine to persist in her quest. It’s not a “keep your eyes on the prize” motivation, for dear Papa is not locked in the mountain fortress by an evil warlord who must be overthrown. There is no GOAL here; there is only a journey.

(That is, I won’t ever reach some impossible number on the scale or blood test result that allows me at last to fall into the crystalline pool at the casbah and possibly into the arms of the dark-eyed guide, and give up my weary troubles. No; my quest for health is not a destination; there is no “finished!” until I go toe-up.)

Instead, what drives me today are two ill-defined sensations.

First, I can feel muscles over my low ribs. I don’t actually know where the intercostals are, but I have decided that the muscles I’m feeling must be the intercostals. They feel like a brand-new rubber band; taut and odd and pretty entertaining.

The second sensation comes from my sit-downery. Despite having an entirely broad posterior, it turns out (who knew?) that I never used my glutes; I did all my movement from my low back and the fronts of my thighs. Since that’s not the way the body was designed, I wore out quickly.

But now I’m using (and know the location of) my gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. I know that below that are the “go-gos” and the para-somethings. I know in what direction they stretch, and remarkably, I can feel them engaging. Those muscles are actually mildly sore most of the time; they’re big bastards and need to do a lot of stretching and muttering and getting coffee as they wake up.

So despite what the rudest measure of health (the scale) reports this morning, I shoulder my own rifle and glare arrogantly back at the clever, seasoned guide. (Yes, in this scenario, Barbara at Body Dynamics is my guide and that means I am destined to fall back into HER arms in the pool at the oasis, but blur your eyes and ignore this unconventional French Foreign Legion casting choice; she’s an awesome hero for my journey.) “Keep going,” I say. “I’m made of sterner stuff than THAT.”

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4 thoughts on “Stamina

  1. I recently discovered your blog and am so glad I did. Thank you so much for your candid and wide-ranging musings. Although I am an entirely different kind of exerciser than you, preferring individual pursuits–walking to the bus in the morning and hopping on my second-hand exercise bike every other day–I, too, am trying to remain focused on the journey rather than the goal, although I admit that I have too often allowed the scale to be a cruel master. You’re writing reminds me of my healthier resolves around fitness and food as fuel. Thanks!

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  2. Ah, you’ve discovered the cruel irony of fitness. As you burn fat (and lose weight) you also build muscle, and gain weight. You’ll keep adjusting the fulcrum on this teeter-totter, but for me the bottom line isn’t the number on the scale, it’s the way I feel, those new muscles, and that enhanced energy and stamina. The weight will continue to come off (unless you decide to go all Arnold Schwarzennegger on the weightlifting), as that muscle mass chews through more calories while you’re at rest. Patience, grasshopper, patience. Yeah–like either of us has a lot of that….

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