Monday, March 26, 2012

Health Update Part 1 -- The Geek Stuff

The good news is that my knee joint is fine. It's the ligaments that are damaged, apparently from picking up a screaming toddler and carrying him away from something he shouldn't have been on. Since the ligaments heal slowly, I simply have to avoid picking up toddlers or walking up long staircases for about six months and I'll be fine.

Right. Like I can avoid picking up Owl for as long as sixty minutes. I heard James Levine speak about the importance of non-exercise activities the other day. If he's right I already have the greatest exercise machine known to man -- a three year old. I don't know if I've lost any weight pulling him out of trouble, but I can do a full pushup for the first time in my life.

And about that weight, apparently I've lost quite a bit of it in the past six months. I've always refused to own a weight scale on principal. (I'll break that principal for the Wii only for the exercise games.) However, the scales I have been on show that I'm within 10-20 pounds of where I was a few years ago when I exercised every day. Back when I exercised every day for two years I lost two inches off my hips but I didn't lose an ounce of my weight -- the fat converted to muscle which weighs more. So, you know what I'm going to call that weight my baseline weight and not worry about dropping below it, and I don't care if BMI calls it "obese" because they're too inaccurate to be trusted. I'm just going to be concerned about getting back to it.

I'm continuing with my fitness program, although not today. A long staircase sidelined me and gave me the time to write this post. Being a geek I'll start a post about jock things by talking about -- books.

BTW, is it just me or are books written by fitness experts terribly flighty? The ones I've read tend to be poorly organized, and not just because they're "how-to" books. I own over a thousand "how-to" books and none of them are as bad as the average fitness book. I have to sit down with a notebook and annotate them so I can find the information I need, just like I was taking a class.

Let's start with my baseline book, Geralyn Coopersmith's Fit and Female: The Perfect Fitness and Nutrition Game Plan for Your Unique Body Type. It's a good starter book with plenty of entry-level information, well collated if not well organized. As is common with fitness books for women, it begins in a "confessional" style designed to do three things:

1) convince the reader that the writer is a "real girl",

2) convince the reader it's not her fault, it's society's fault for having unrealistic expectations of women, and

3) convince the reader that her genes will set hard limits on the amount of weight she can lose safely.

It's 2012, are there still women who don't know these things? Don't answer that.

I must give the writer credit for acknowledging that different women's bodies have different needs, and for devising different diet and exercise plans for those different women. Her plan for my body type (endo-pear) appears good so far, although her weight training exercises are pretty wimpy. She's got some youtube videos (apparently an exercise DVD is coming) but I haven't watched them all yet.

Fortunately for the strength training I've got Karen Andes trilogy, A Woman's Book of Strength, A Woman's Book of Power, and A Woman's Book of Balance. Andes has written 5 very good books and made two dozen exercise DVDs, the ones that I've seen have been good quality with an emphasis on fun and many have won awards. It's a pity Andes has no respect for her own work or for her fans. Once she finishes something, she shrugs, says "I'm done with that", and moves on. There's no compilation of her work and no consideration for a young woman who might need the information she's "done with" and "moved on" from, she makes no effort to keep anything in print, won't even keep a list of her prior works on a website so we can look for them, and on top of all that changed her professional name after 20 years in business to "Aruna"(!)


I love the writer's work, but there's simply no excuse for that level of managerial sloppiness. The underlying assumption I'm getting is that she assumes no one respects her enough to want to follow her career, and that she has a similar lack of respect for her audience. The former is not true. I don't know about the latter.

Meta-rants aside, she's got some very good and very fun strength training exercises, which I have to annotate before I can thoroughly use so I'm not having to stop in mid-session to look up something that might be in one of three books.

But this is fitness, you don't want to know what I'm reading but what I'm doing. That will be in the next part.

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