my glove and duct taped quad peg

It’s been several months since my post about my exercise routine and so I thought I’d fill you in on how things have been going since then. Great, is the best way to put it. I’m pushing anywhere from a mile to a mile and a half every other day (weather permitting. It may be California, but it’s Northern Cal and it’s winter). On the days that I’m not pushing I’m lifting weights. Pretty hardcore.

Burn baby burn

The distance I push isn’t so much a concern for me anymore, as I’ve discovered that if I have the time I can go the distance. 10 miles really wouldn’t be out of the question which is crazy considering where I was about six months ago. Speed and technique are more where I’m at now. The faster I go, the more winded I get and that seems to get the burn going in my arms. It’s that burn I’m looking for.

As for the weights; thanks to a Christmas present from my friend T I’m now lifting twice the weight I was before. These are free weight exercises and I’m doing multiple reps focusing on two different muscle groups. The first is on muscles that are unaffected by my level of injury; and the second, on muscles that are — the biceps and triceps respectively. The increased weight and adjusted repetitions should help with definition.

When I’m in my electric chair and don’t have anybody around to help me with the free weights, I’m able to use an exercise machine called The Uppertone which was designed by a quadriplegic for quadriplegics. The freedom this machine provides has allowed me to get a little extra workout in before or after my graphic design/web work.

Detouring the rationalization

To say I feel great would be an understatement. I haven’t felt this great in many years. In the “red shoe diary” post when I wrote about my workouts, I talked about my impatience and how I was looking for some very specific things. Well, those things have certainly come to fruition, but I’ve also seen some other interesting benefits as well.

For starters, I’m sleeping better, which isn’t a big surprise, but it’s certainly a pretty cool byproduct. What’s really great, however, is the benefit it’s having on my circulation. I’d read about this happening, but wasn’t sure what kind of results I’d see for myself. And while it’s difficult to quantify, I’d say I’m seeing anywhere between 15 to 20% more uptime and that’s nothing to complain about. Like an ex girlfriend of mine used to say, “a little better is better than a little worse”. Amen to that.

Still, it’s a shame it took all this time and this trip to motivate me to do what I should’ve been doing all along. But, hey, I’m doing it now and that’s all that matters.

For me, it was looking at my reasons for not doing it — no time — and coming to terms with what they actually were — excuses. I had plenty of time, but it was simply a matter of using it wisely and prioritizing. The fact is, it’s in our nature to avoid what’s difficult and to rationalize it in a way that makes us feel comfortable with living up to less than our fullest potential. Maybe exercise isn’t your bag — though I’d encourage you to do it anyway — but you should check yourself from time to time anyway to see what you’re avoiding out of discomfort alone. What you see may just surprise you.

Quien es mas macho?

If after reading all this you’re still doubting how hard-core I truly am, let me share with you a final anecdote and then tell me what you think.

Alright, so I just finished coming around on my last lap of a mile and a half push and I’m not quite feeling the burn yet so I decide to go around one more time. I look down at my right hand to see how the hole in my glove is doing (hard-core = holes in gloves) and I see that, not only has the hole gotten bigger, but my pinky has been worn raw and is now bleeding. At this point, I could’ve (should’ve) stopped — and certainly some of the less hard-core of my brethren would’ve — but one of the advantages (if you can call it an advantage) of being paralyzed from the neck down is a lack of sensation. Or more optimistically put, a built-in anesthetic. Sure, my finger is bleeding, but I can’t feel it so let’s go one more time around.

While I’m not going to argue there may be a fine line between hard-core and stupid, I believe the above anecdote illustrates — not my stupidity (though I can see where one might mistakenly draw that conclusion), but rather my commitment to my cause and my ability to go that extra proverbial mile.

Eye of the tiger, baby, eye of the tiger.

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