Sunday, July 28, 2013

Variations Of Ideal

The Washington Institute of Sports Medicine in Kirkland, WA offers a DXA Body Scan that will measure a person's body composition of fat, lean muscle and bone.  I recently underwent the scan, and given I wasn't sure what to expect I've been surprised to realize some of my expectations!

They promise the results of the scan will determine your ideal body weight.  Going in I expected a single ideal body weight would exist for every person of my height, gender and build.  That expectation cracks me up now that I think about how different each person is in their body preferences, activities and lifestyle.  I think of athletes that are performing at the peak of their field and how different their bodies are.  Even with comparable height, body fat percentage, and activity level, a runner and a gymnast have very different body types!  One isn't necessarily better than the other, and each athlete would not be able to perform as well in the other athlete's field.  Each athlete just prefers to practice a different sport.

What may be obvious to others was a revelation to me.  My ideal is different than anyone else's, and my ideal will change throughout my life given what I want to be able to do, what I'm willing to do, and how I want to feel.

I subsequently found a posting online by  that displays the body fat ranges using the research of Jackson and Pollock (1985).

I fall smack dab in the middle of average. Not bad, but I'd prefer to be in the ideal range IF it doesn't require a two-a-day exercise regimen, compromise other aspects of my health or demand other drastic changes to my lifestyle.  I still have to work full time, and I want to enjoy myself!

The technician's assessment of my scan results and the ideal weight I provided on my intake form was that ideal for me would be to essentially reduce my body fat by three pounds and increase my lean muscle by the same amount.  Her recommendation was (verbatim and I'm not making this up) "keep doing what you're doing and add 20-30 minutes of strength training per week."  I'm relieved that her suggestion is doable for me!

So I'm committing to adding dedicated strength training to my existing activities and will see in six months or so how my body composition, physique and overall health has changed.  I'll share my results then!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Don't Have To Do The Really Big Waves: Being Active With MS

As I mountain biked down Phil's Trails yesterday, I thought about not pushing to ride faster or harder, but relaxing into the ride, letting my full body lean into the turns, and appreciating the experience. Instead of fighting my body or stressing it, I relished my body's strength, balance and adaptability.

I think of the documentary, "Surfing For Life," about men and women in their 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's who surf every day. I saw it years ago, and it was an attitude and life altering moment. At one point in the film, 88 year old Woody talks about how he took a tumble while surfing and broke his eardrum.  He described conversations with friends, family and his doctor suggesting he was too old to surf anymore. He understood they wanted him to be safe, and he agreed it was probably time to give up surfing.  And then he thought, "I don't have to do the really big waves."

I loved it.  His approach resonated with me. I realized I can do any sport I enjoy to the level I'm able.  I loved doing gymnastics as a kid and thought I was too old to do it anymore. I found a gym an hour's drive from my house that allowed adults to learn and practice gymnastics at open gym. Their definition of adult is teen and up - funny given most of the attendees were in junior high or high school! It was the only gym I could find that allowed people over the age of 21 to participate. I started going to open gym Thursday evenings from 8-10 pm.

I had a blast learning to do tricks I hadn't been able to do when I was young. It took a year of daily backbend practice and falling to learn to do a back walkover again. I inspired and was inspired by teenage girls. They couldn't believe someone in her late 30's was doing gymnastics with them. After doing a round off back flip one night, a girl said to me, "I hope I can do that when I'm your age!"  I loved that those girls wouldn't grow up believing as I had that we outgrow activities we love.

This week I'm vacationing in Bend, Oregon mountain biking with friends. I enjoy riding last in the group down the single track paths. With less experience and practice than the rest and my own body's limitations, I ride at my own pace and like not feeling like I'm holding up a rider behind me. I figure they wouldn't keep inviting me to ride with them if they minded waiting for me.  And they keep inviting me!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Flying With Room To Fall: Being Active With MS

First swing
Split - Final Position
I’m lifting myself higher and higher, literally and figuratively.  I’m living on the premise that the higher we go, the more room we have to fall.  So if I work toward excellent health, mobility, and balance, I’ll have a longer fall before I’m not in good health, mobile, or able to keep my balance.  With Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the assumption is that some amount of cognition, mobility and function will be lost over time.  The disease modifying drugs will slow damage from the disease, but they won’t stop or reverse damage.  Much like sunscreen will allow you to stay in the sun longer before sunburn, disease modifying drugs will reduce the frequency of exacerbations so that damage will hopefully take longer and better health can last longer.

Waiting to hear "Hup!"
Ready for the catch...
...And caught!
Surprisingly, I’m having a blast lifting myself up!  I’ve always been active, but now I choose activities that bring me joy.  I’m having so much fun that I don’t have enough time or energy to do everything I like.  Gone are the days where I would rise at 4:30 am and hit the treadmill before work or bust my rump to a workout video.  I loved the results and felt good exercising, but it was always a feeling of, “I need to work out.”  Now I enjoy activities with the feeling of, “I GET to do this!” 

It was during an exacerbation when I saw a Groupon for a trapeze class.  Knowing I would feel better at some point, I bought the Groupon without hesitation.  My rationale was if I don’t do it now, I likely never will!  And they’re willing to let me trapeze without years of training or joining the circus! (Seriously, the requirements are that you're over the age of six, under 250 pounds, and not drunk!)

I’ve been four times so far with friends and family, and I have seven more classes paid for and ready to use.  I’m ready!