We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, July 20. 2017
What most people want from fitness, probably only second to looking good/feeling good, is Stamina.
I like that word better than "endurance" which sounds painful and tedious, while "stamina" connotes an energetic or even joyful get-up-and-go attitude while including the ability to keep going when the going gets tough, pushing the point of fatigue further out while taking some pleasure or satisfaction in a strenuous or stressful life.
The older we get, or the heavier we get, the more difficult it becomes to maintain or build physical stamina. Unfortunately, it requires psychological stamina (ie, the talent to seek or invent, engage, and push through difficult challenges and opportunities. The most common adaptation for those lacking that talent is old-fashioned self-discipline) to build or maintain physical stamina. As the experts say, the day you "don't feel like" exercising is the day your body and mind need it most.
"I don't feel like it ..." is one of the most insidious, anti-life, anti-energy phrases ever invented. Why not try "I wish I hadn't been born on this planet with this annoying gravity and all these interesting and difficult things to do"? Unless they are clinically depressed, there is no cure for low-energy or relaxation-oriented people for whom inactivity or passive activity is the default setting or the desired state. Indolent is just the way they are made. Some people are naturally vigorous, some indolent, and most somewhere in-between. It's a Bell Curve of a partly-genetic and partly-cultural personality trait and it is quite obvious in what people do when given the choice.
I am on board with the Maggie's Fitness Doctrine that strength is foundational, but that strength is just a tool for building functional physical conditioning to apply to the average active and athletic American life. (Average Americans, unlike Europeans, are prone to engage in sports and/or challenging exercise.) Decent strength makes general conditioning exercises - cardio and calisthenics - more possible, more forceful, more energetic, and more enjoyable. Strength itself is great for schlepping stuff, but the general conditioning reward of strength is to be able to be more fully-engaged in all the cool things life offers - including physical chores, adventures, sex, and sports.
This is why I believe that a couple of half-hours of cardio HIIT, and a couple of hours of intense calis, are the best plan for building stamina for life for ordinary people. For beginners, get those muscles woken up with weight-training, hard and and grooving, and then move on to the challenging moving that really applies to living this brief and precious life to the fullest.
My personal test to assess people, including myself, on the Vigor-Indolence Scale is below the fold -
Give the person in question a 4 hour respite from life, with no responsibilities or worries, and nothing that has to be done now.
Rank what they do with that time on a low-energy to high-energy scale. Put napping, eating, video games, drinking, drug use, TV, shopping, golf, and internet surfing on the left end, and going for a run up a mountain or starting a new business on the right end.
I come out in the middle or somewhat upper-middle on my scale. A passing grade but not an A. C+ or, generously, a B-minus. I would pray for as long as it took, go to the gym for an hour, read for an hour or so or do some online medical CME or bang out a Maggie's post, take the dogs in the woods, shape up a garden for a while, and write some email letters to friends and family to catch up, or maybe pointlessly check out my investments for a few minutes. With a little advance notice, I might call a friend for some tennis instead of some of the above. If hubbie were free and had game, I'd re-write this and not say.
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I always love your stuff, Doc. This post reminds me of those lines from Kipling:
"If you can force your heart and mind and sinew
To serve their turn long after they are gone,
And thus, hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will, which says to them, 'Hold on...'"
(Please excuse any errors. I'm to lazy to look it up). I try to keep in shape because I'm an old (er) volunteer fire fighter, but boy, "I don't feel like it" is a powerful nostrum.
I just bicycle everywhere instead of driving, all year around.
Also, in season, scythe the acre of lawn. I hate walking behind mowers, power or push.
Scything you can do in bits during breaks from computing, over days. There's no hateful three hours of back and forth back and forth.
As I ride my bike at the gym, I hit a goal (let's say it's 30 minutes) and I decide "this isn't so bad, let's push for 40." So I push through and get to 50 or even 75 minutes.
But when I set a longer goal (80 minutes) I invariably reach 30 and start to wonder "what the hell am I thinking of?" Invariably, getting past 40 is almost impossible.
Usually I'll set 80 as the upper limit because I want to burn 1,000 calories. I can definitely do this in 80 minutes, but on a good day it takes 74. It's all a question of how I position it to myself.
You don;t need to burn calories. You are a fully-fit guy - I know you!
I do the same sometimes on the damn stair machine. Once you get to your goal, you realize you can do more and need to do more. It is a mind-body adventure, same as hiking up a mountain.
HA! Thank you!
But my weight needs to be maintained below 190 lbs or:
1. my back gets really bad
2. I get acid reflux
3. I become very lethargic
Right now I'm at 192 because of a few injuries that kept me from the gym for a while. Try as I might to keep my calorie count below 1500 a day, I simply can't. I have a sweet tooth.
Wisdom from genius Trainer: The most difficult thing in fitness is getting yourself to the gym. Everybody except the toughest have excuses and rationalizations.
It is Darwinian.
Stamina is probably different for different people. When I hike/hunt or do extended physical activity I find that my first day usually tires me and the second day brings greater stamina and after the third day it is no big deal to hike all day or work all day). I am active daily and have always been active. I think this is the traditional norm for human activity. We were intended to work from sunup to sundown.
Where the "difference" seems to come in for different individuals is if you are not a physically active person then the first day tires you and the second day is worse and the third day you are done.
I'm not saying there is a "fault" to assess for this lack of physical strength, but just that some people either because of their job or social choices don't do physical work/exercise daily or ever and for them building stamina is a process often a long process. But for those who have worked/exercised all their life the stamina is just 'there' and all you have to do is take on the challenge and your body is up to it.
I've noticed that when the weather is bad there is a drop off in attendance at the gym and even those who show up are a bit off their game. Peoples faces show hey are just not into it and somewhat, to different degrees, going through the motions.
There is "A Little Old Lady" using this gym. She was a little girl in Berlin in WWII. She remembers with joy the Berlin Airlift because it was bringing food, and sometimes fuel to burn that might warm he mother's apartment and even, sometimes, candy. She's a wonderful woman.
One day of miserable weather I was noticing all the long faces going through the motions. And there was Little Old Woman From Berlin looking as tough and determined as ever, riding the exercise bike.
So I asked her how she stayed so sprightly on days where everyone else was dragging tail. She just said, "I'm stubborn!"
I endeavor to be stubborn. But she is. Good Lord bless her. What a force of nature.
The 75 year-old gal on our hebrides hiking vacation was the toughest. Tougher than me by a long shot. Could not keep up with her.
Inspiring. Humbling. All good.
Cut and hand split your own wood year around,for heating the house.Saves some bucks also.And don't let your meat loaf!
Kinda bout the same thing>
My personal test to assess people, including myself, blah, blah...
Wow. You don't get this much arbitrary virtue from MF-ers even on any given Sunday...
I loved your definitions for endurance and stamina.
Stamina sounds positive and energetic. Endurance connotes a long, probably miserable slog.