Pumping Irony

Craig Cox, EL’s managing editor and resident geezer, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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Experience Life Magazine

Strong Medicine for the Aging Muscle

I’ve been preaching for a few years now that the best way to avoid decrepitude in your twilight years is to begin a regular strength training regimen by the time you hit middle age. That might mean cranking out a few pushups and planks every morning before breakfast or swinging a kettlebell around three or four times a week while you’re watching the evening news or actually making the gym a regular destination and hoisting some serious iron. The important thing is to make your aging muscles plead for mercy a few times a week.

It’s way more valuable than steady-state cardio. In fact, an intense weight-lifting session will hike your heart rate into the stratosphere and throw your metabolism into overdrive. It can even help you lose weight! And if you make it a regular habit, you may find when you reach retirement age that you’ve retained a surprising level of agility, endurance, and power. Maybe enough to keep you living independently long after friends and colleagues are confined to walkers and wheel chairs.

And your muscles will love it, even when they’re pleading for mercy.

When you tax your muscles beyond their normal capacity, you cause microscopic tears in the tissue that cause the muscles, once they’ve recovered, to enlarge — and gradually increase their capacity. This process, called hypertrophy, is facilitated by “satellite” stem cells in your muscle fibers that spring into action whenever you’ve pushed them beyond their normal limits.

Here’s the rub: The older you get, the less active these satellite cells become. That’s why, according to new research from Massachusetts General Hospital and King’s College London, your muscles tend to turn to mush once you start cashing those Social Security checks. “Just as it is important for athletes to build recovery time into their training schedules, stem cells also needs time to recuperate, but we found the aged stem cells recuperate less often,” Andrew Brack, PhD, the lead author of the study, explained in a statement released by the hospital.

The primary culprit in this drama is a developmental protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2), which tends to become more prevalent in aging muscles and causes a gradual decline in satellite cells. So Brack and his colleagues are predictably looking for substances they can pump into your body to block that annoying FGF2, so geezers like me can stay strong with no more effort than it takes to drive to the local pharmacy.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m going to keep punishing my muscles the way they were meant to be punished. Innumerable studies have suggested that strength training, even when begun at an advanced age, can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life. I figure I’ve got a pretty good head start, so why show those muscles any mercy now?

Experience Life Magazine

The Elixer of Youth

For several years now, scientists have been extolling the anti-aging virtues of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes. It’s been shown in various studies to reduce inflammation and cholesterol, thus lowering a geezer’s risk of heart disease and cancer. I like to celebrate these studies with a glass of wine — my preferred resveratrol delivery system.

This research has played a major role in creating the notion that red wine is good for you. It wasn’t until recently that scientists began to note that you’d have to drink a whole lot of wine every day in order to deliver enough resveratrol into your system to notice any anti-aging effects.

But that doesn’t stop resveratrol boosters from continuing to churn out new research to solidify the healthy reputation of this “miracle molecule.” Just last month, a team of researchers from Duquesne University presented a paper at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society suggesting that resveratrol could help older folks improve their mobility and prevent falls.

“Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population,” lead researcher Jane E. Cavanaugh, PhD, said in a statement. “And that would, therefore, increase an aging person’s quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls.”

The research team fed old and young laboratory mice a diet containing resveratrol and observed the older mice gradually improve their balance and mobility until, after just four weeks, they were as adept as the younger mice. Apparently, resveratrol helped the older mice fight off the effects of free radicals in brain cells and vastly improve their motor function.

Of course, that assumes you’re not delivering that resveratrol via a bottle of Pinot Noir. Cavanaugh estimated that a person would have to drink about 700 4-ounce glasses of wine each day to absorb enough resveratrol to see any improvement in balance and agility. It’s an intriguing concept, but probably not one you’d want to test at your local wine bar.

Experience Life Magazine

A Birthday Practice

People tend to see birthdays as milestones, markers that indicate something more significant than the arithmetic of aging. I have occasionally fallen victim to that temptation, but I’m not leaning in that direction this week, as I prepare to enter my seventh decade. Birthday number 61 feels like nothing more than another Thursday.

Which is to say, a little zazen and a workout before breakfast, a bike ride across the river and up the hill to the office, some afternoon yoga, a visit with my acupuncturist, and dinner with My Lovely Wife. Just another day. I think it’s important as we age that we don’t make too much of the accumulating numbers or too little of the moments that combine to create those numbers.

There’s an old saying that “Life is short,” but in fact life is really quite long. Just sit very still in a quiet room for five minutes listening to your breath. It’s interminable. It can feel like the earth has stopped spinning. Most of us seldom notice this space in time; life is just too hectic. But when you do, the results can be transformative. Aging literally stops. The moment — and each successive moment — becomes infinite, yet no time passes.

“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh in Peace Is Every Step. “We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.”

When you look at aging this way, the numbers really melt away. It doesn’t matter if you’re entering your seventh decade or departing your first. Each moment is meaningful, self-contained, distinct. Nothing in the past pertains; nothing in the future matters. Your life is defined each time you take a breath.

It’s not easy to live this way. That’s why Buddhists call this a “practice.” But I’ve found it to be the only way to face the inevitable piling on of years we must all confront. So, when Thursday arrives — like every Thursday inevitably arrives — I’m going to try my best to greet it by being completely present. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate number 61.

Experience Life Magazine

Who Stole My Testosterone?

An interesting — I’m going to call it a benefit — of aging is how your body’s production of testosterone tends to decline, a phenomenon that tends to allow you just a bit more . . . how shall I say it . . . rationality when dealing with certain aspects of your primary intimate relationship.

Or at least that’s what I thought was the case, until I discovered a new study from Australia that suggests rather strongly that age has nothing to do with it. The study, led by Gary Wittert, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide, tracked nearly 1,400 men over five years and concluded that it was changes in health status (especially the onset of obesity and depression) rather than age that caused men to gradually obsess over something other than certain bedroom-centered activities.

“Declining testosterone levels are not an inevitable part of the aging process, as many people think,” Wittert said in a statement released by the university on Saturday. “Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior [guys who quit smoking apparently stopped thinking about sex as a result] and changes in health status, particularly obesity and depression.”

The average age of the study participants was 54, and if I could remember where my testosterone levels were way back then I guess the study would have a bit more relevance, but I have to admit that I don’t think my health status has much changed a whole lot in the past six or seven years. I quit smoking when I was 22, my weight is actually a bit lower than what it was back then, and I sure don’t feel depressed (even when I wonder where all my testosterone went). So I have to say this latest research doesn’t align with my current reality.

But that’s OK. That’s a powerful hormone, one that governs a whole range of behaviors that don’t’ always reflect positively on their owner. No matter what causes our body to ratchet it back a notch or two is all right with me.

Experience Life Magazine

March Madness?

We’re having an unseasonably warm spell here in the Northland, and it’s really cutting into my TV viewing. Those of you who are basketball fans are no doubt aware that it’s tournament time. The top college teams are vying for a slot among the so-called Final Four, so there has basically been non-stop basketball on the tube for the past couple of weeks. This is like hoops nirvana for a guy like me, but I haven’t seen a single game.

Instead, I’ve been taking the dog for long walks, going on bike rides with My Lovely Wife and puttering around the yard like it’s the middle of June or something. I just can’t persuade myself to burrow into the TV room downstairs and ignore the most beautiful March of all time.

I feel like this is some weird anomaly (I love watching basketball) — and it probably is — but it’s also made me a little nostalgic for the March Madness of my youth. Back in the early ’60s, the NCAA tournament was small potatoes. It competed with the National Invitational Tournament for the top teams and got about as much coverage as the college World Series does today. Much more exciting for Minnesota basketball fans was the mid-March state high school basketball tournament. Back then, there were only eight teams — from large schools and small — and they played to full houses at Williams Arena for three days straight. The games were even televised!

My brother Gary used to take me to watch his high school team play (not out of any fondness for my company; a little grade-school kid attracted a lot of attention from the girls), and these players became my idols. Because I had actually seen them in action, I could mimic their play all winter in our basement, where I had nailed cardboard boxes on opposing walls for a full-court game. I eventually outgrew the low ceiling in the basement, though, and had to take my game outside — which was not always easy in March. One year, we shoveled a path out to the clothesline pole in the back yard, on which we had attached a makeshift backboard and hoop. We cleared the snow away and laid down a few large pieces of plywood and played until the air in the ball condensed from the cold and wouldn’t bounce any more. Another March, we put a hoop up on the inside of the garage. We had to shoot around the metal track that held the garage door mechanism, but at least there wasn’t any snow. We had to play.

I don’t feel the same urgency these days — whether it comes to watching the games or getting out on the court. I enjoy my Monday night games at Anderson gym (when my Achilles tendons aren’t killing me), but I’m just not as susceptible to March Madness as I was as a youth. Back then, I could dream of heroics on the court, play out those last-second buzzer-beaters all day long. Now I know my limitations. And I understand how fleeting a 70-degree day in March can be.

Still, as I was putting away some gardening tools yesterday, I happened to notice how my driveway and the alley combined to form a pretty nice space for a half-court game. All I would need is to attach a backboard and a hoop onto the garage and I could be out there working on my jump shot any time I felt the urge. Maybe coerce my son into a little one-on-one during one of his weekend visits, or reunite some of my old hoops buddies for a two-on-two tournament this summer.

Madness? I know. But it is March.

Experience Life Magazine

How to Grow Old

I’m not the kind of guy who regularly visits the doctor, but if I were and if I lived in Chapel Hill, N.C., I’d look up Nortin Hadler, MD. Hadler is a professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an attending rheumatologist at UNC Hospitals. He’s also the author, most recently, of Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society (UNC Press, 2011), and one of the most provocative thinkers on the subject of aging and healthcare I’ve come across in a long time.

In Rethinking Aging, Hadler argues that the healthcare industry is essentially abusing aging Americans by medicalizing everyday ailments and forcing them into unnecessary procedures, ranging from mammograms and stents to statins and prostate screenings. “Aging, dying, and death are not diseases,” he writes. “Yet they are targets for the most egregious marketing, disease mongering, medicalization, and overtreatment.”

At the foundation of Hadler’s argument is his view that longevity is seldom enhanced by medical procedures. Take Crestor, for instance. The major clinical trial that AstraZeneca funded to prove the effectiveness of its popular statin drug showed that those who took the drug for a year reduced their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by less than 1 percent.

Hadler cites similar study results that argue against cardiovascular stents, oral hypoglycemics (to lower blood sugar), and hypertension treatments — three large and lucrative segments of the healthcare industry. And don’t even get him started on prostate and other screenings: “One never wants to be screened for anything unless the test is accurate, the disease is important, and we can do something of substance for you if you screen positive,” he writes.

There’s a big difference, Hadler notes, between screening and diagnostics. Screening is something doctors do despite the lack of symptoms; diagnostics occurs when you go to your doctor with some specific issues — like a bloody stool. A diagnostic test, in this and other cases, is much more likely to yield useful information. “The degree to which the screening misses the disease you care about and finds a disease you could care less about is the degree to which the screening is useless — or worse than useless if it requires further testing (like biopsies) to validate the result.”

Hadler says that screening is driven by the same “lottery mindset” that causes rational healthcare consumers to tell their doctors to “go for it” when the chances of some life-saving treatment succeeding is so slim as to be nonexistent. And he puts forth some hypothetical questions to help us make more rational decisions. Here’s how it goes:

• If a screening program has been shown to spare one person out of 2,000 from death from a type of cancer, would you do it?

• If it was painless and shown to have no negative side effects, would you do it?

• If the screening mistakenly led to treating five people who would not have died from that cancer, would you do it?

Put me in that position and my response would be: no, no, and no.

In the case of mammograms, Hadler cites a study that suggests that for every woman whose mammogram prevented her death from breast cancer as many as 10 others will be treated needlessly. In the case of prostate cancer screening, a randomized clinical trial involving 75,000 men showed a “relative risk reduction of 20 percent.” In other words, Hadler says, “if you screen 1,400 men for nine years, screening would cause you to treat 48 additional men for cancer but avert death from prostate cancer in only one of them.” In fact, Hadler notes, almost every man in his 60s already has prostate cancer, but in most cases it’s so slow to develop that it will never be the cause of his death.

And then there’s my old bugaboo: colorectal cancer. As I think I’ve mentioned in these pages before, I’m constantly being badgered by my brothers (and sometimes by my friends) about getting to the doctor to have a colonoscopy, because both of my parents had colon cancer. It’s a lovely sentiment, the way these folks care about my health, but this sort of screening is not as clean-cut as you might think. For one thing, the relative skillfulness of your endoscopist is important, and whether they locate polyps on the left or right side of the colon is similarly vital (those on the left are much more likely to be dangerous). Overall, however, studies have shown that colonoscopies are of less value than we’ve been told. “Any advantage to screening is likely to be quite small,” Hadler says. “Screening for colorectal cancer is running into the same block that stumbled mammography and PSA [prostate screening]. For the person at ‘average risk,’ these are very blunt screening instruments. They are very likely to find disease in people for whom the finding is irrelevant and not particularly good at finding the disease that threatens the individual’s life expectancy before it is too late.”

Hadler’s larger point is that most Americans can expect to live into their 80s, and there’s not much the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry can do to extend that — though that industry would very much prefer you to think so. And once in your 80s, you shouldn’t spend too much time or energy worrying about which of the many diseases occupying your body will ultimately do you in. (By 60, he notes, everyone has “significant atherosclerosis” and are harboring various cancers.) “It makes no sense to cure the diseases one will die with in the ninth decade,” he writes, “and little sense to cure the disease that one will die from in the ninth decade if another is to take its place in short order.”

At that point, he notes, it’s the quality of living and the quality of dying that should become paramount.

This all may seem quite a distance away for some of you at this point, but to my way of thinking this sort of approach to healthcare should inform everyone’s decisions — regardless of their age.

Experience Life Magazine

You’re Not Getting Older, You’re Getting Stronger . . .

My daughter, The Boss Mare, called me from Michigan this morning to report that she’d had a flat tire on her way to some horse-related function an hour-and-a-half away from her college apartment. It’s not that she needed advice on how to change a tire (I just assume she orders the tire to change itself); she just needed some dough, as usual. The call interrupted my zazen session, from which I normally segue into my workout, and it woke My Lovely Wife, who requested information. Bottom line: no workout.

It reminded me how easy it is to avoid exercising — especially for older persons like myself. I mean, let’s face it: Spending hours hoisting serious iron or logging miles on the dreadmill isn’t going to radically transform those parts of our anatomy that have succumbed to gravity over the years. And, really, when you get to a certain age you’re not in the habit of taking your shirt off in front of strangers, anyway. It’s not about building a beach-ready body.

In fact, it’s kind of hard to know what benefits all the sweat and soreness actually deliver. Conventional wisdom tells us that when you get old it’s simply inevitable that your body is going to break down, so what’s the point in fighting it?

Well, new research from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a regular fitness regimen does make a difference. Indeed, those who maintain a regular fitness regimen into their 60, 70s, and beyond can enjoy the kind of strength, energy and vitality of people 20 years their junior.

It’s long been thought that aging brought an inexorable loss of muscle mass and an inevitable infiltration of fat, but this latest study found that, with a regular exercise program, participants as old as 81 could retain the same level of muscle mass as folks in their 60s. “We think these are very encouraging results, lead researcher Vonda Wright, MD, told The New York Times. “They suggest strongly that people don’t have to lose muscle mass and function as they grow older. The changes that we’ve assumed were due to aging and therefore were unstoppable seem actually to be caused by inactivity. And that can be changed.”

While the participants in the University of Pittsburgh study were competitive athletes with intense training regimens, Wright noted that there’s no reason to believe that a more moderate program wouldn’t have similar effects. The key is simply to get up and move your body everyday in whatever way is most satisfying and sustainable. You may find that once you overcome your inertia, exercise will get easier and more enjoyable.

And by maintaining muscle mass you’ll be more mobile and, thus independent, well into your 80s. Because you never know when somebody might need help changing their tire.

Experience Life Magazine

Living Longer — the Old-Fashioned Way

Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, right? So doesn’t it just make sense to develop a drug that eliminates the cells in your body that contribute to aging?

That’s what researchers at the Mayo Clinic seem to be suggesting by their work on so-called “deadbeat” cells. Their findings were reported in Wednesday’s edition of the journal Nature.

It’s a simple concept really: When aging body cells gradually stop dividing and settle into a sort of couch-potato stage called cellular senescence, they can begin to damage adjacent cells and cause tissue inflammation. A healthy immune system can evict these senescent cells for a while, but eventually they start to pile up like empty beer bottles before recycling day and pretty soon you’re sliding down that slippery slope toward an early date with the local mortician.

But what if you could drive over to your local pharmacy and get a bottle of pills that, once ingested, would send some hard-to-pronounce chemical on a search-and-destroy mission to just zap those bothersome cells into oblivion? According to Jan van Deursen, a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist and senior author of the study, eliminating these cells in genetically engineered mice delayed the onset of many age-related disorders, including muscle loss. “Therapeutic interventions to get rid of senescent cells or block their effects may represent an avenue to make us feel more vital, healthier, and allow us to stay independent for a much longer time,” he said in a statement released by Mayo.

I suspect we’re a ways away from such a drug hitting the market (“Ask your doctor if Cellatak is right for you.”), so in the meantime, you might try a simpler — and less expensive — approach to maintaining your vitality as you glide into your golden years. Study after study over the past several years have shown that exercising regularly can keep you feeling fit and spry no matter how many years you’ve got under your belt. A 2001 study at the University of Texas, for instance, found that men in their early 50s could regain the cardiovascular capacity they had in their 20s after only six months of modest exercise — less than five hours a week.

“People forget that exercise is medicine,” says Ralph Brovard, a sports medicine specialist at St. Paul’s Regions Hospital in this 2004 Experience Life story. “Daily exercise is perhaps the most powerful tool you can prescribe for yourself; a variety of regular activity helps prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and just about every other affliction that strikes us as we age.”

I know that it’s comforting to imagine a future where we can switch on our good cells and discard our bad ones by simply ingesting a pharmaceutical. It would make getting and staying healthy so easy and painless. No sweat required.

But I’m not going to wait around for those TV commercials for Cellatak. I’m going to get up in the morning tomorrow and wake up my senescent cells the old-fashioned way — with a bunch of pushups and some quality time with my kettlebell.

Experience Life Magazine

Mission Accomplished

My 44-day fitness challenge ended this week with kind of a whimper. I didn’t do any running or play three sets of tennis or enter a triathlon. But I still feel like I learned a few things about myself: Like, it’s the things I do as a matter of course (meditation, morning kettlebells, bicycling to work, weekly yoga) that have the biggest impact on my health. And that getting to bed early gives me the best chance to make the day a success. And that all the work I’m doing on the house and yard has a serious fitness component. And that, yes, sometimes reality intervenes — and that’s OK. I didn’t do as much running as I hoped I would, and I didn’t give up sugar altogether, but I have to say I feel at least as good as I did 44 days ago, and that should count for something.

Day 40, Monday, 10/17
Well, my 44-day fitness challenge is winding down, so instead of ramping up my workouts to gain momentum, today I didn’t exert myself at all beyond my 2-mile bicycle commute. I should, however, mention my efforts at cutting back on processed sugar. As you may recall, my glucose level was slightly elevated, and I’ve known for some time that I need to be more mindful about my sugar intake. But I’m not ready to dive into the kind of detox diet that various doctors and nutritionists are preaching. I can’t imagine spending two or three weeks drinking nothing but green tea and eating some tasteless broth.

I have in the past week moderated my wine consumption quite nicely, enjoying a single glass with dinner rather than lingering at the table with a refill (or two). This doesn’t qualify as processed sugar, really, but it is a certain habit I’d like to moderate. I’ve also reduced my tea drinking to three or four cups a week. I want to watch the amount of caffeine I’m consuming, and because I like a teaspoon of honey with my chai, that is reducing my sugar intake as well. I long ago gave up on donuts and other pastries — although MLW and I will share a dessert when we’re dining out. And then, of course, there’s dark chocolate. But everyone knows that’s medicinal. On the unprocessed sugar side, I’m still enjoying fresh fruit as often as possible (bananas and raspberries or blueberries in my breakfast yogurt, a mid-afternoon apple), and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Everything in moderation, MLW says. Even moderation.

Day 41, Tuesday, 10/18
Fitness isn’t just about building rippling abs and buns of steel. It also means keeping your brain in shape. So Tuesday nights this fall, MLW and I have been taking a French class through our local community education program. Sitting in a high school classroom brings back all sorts of bad memories of my teen years, and revisiting verb conjugation can be awfully humbling for a guy who’s supposed to know something about grammar, but it’s actually been a pretty gratifying experience so far. And, before the recent cold snap hit, we had been riding our bikes a couple of miles to and from the school, so it has involved real exercise, as well. Drove the car tonight, though. C’est que c’est.

Day 42, Wednesday, 10/19
Up late last night and, of course, that required that I sleep too late for a morning workout. (So much of my day depends on when I get to bed the night before.) A brisk bike ride up the hill, though, always gets my heart rate up.

Day 43, Thursday, 10/20
An abbreviated workout (30 pushups) this morning, then yoga in the afternoon. Five miles on the bike also counts for something, right?

Day 44, Friday, 10/21
I figured since it’s the final day of this fitness challenge, it would only be fitting to actually work out this morning. So I ran through my full 3X kettlebell circuit before breakfast. You know it’s a good workout when you really wish it were over, and I really wished it was over about halfway through. (Goblet squats are just brutal!) Worked up quite a lather. Always feels great when you’re done, though. Later, I had a nice chat with my wellness coach, who said I was doing really well. And she didn’t add, “for an old guy.”

Experience Life Magazine

Exercising Without Exercising

I didn’t do much that would count as actual gym-type exercise this week, but I’m going to say it was pretty productive anyway. An interesting age-related (I think) conundrum surfaced, and I finally made some real progress toward finishing the basement.

Day 33, Monday, 10/10
Don’t let anyone tell you that yard work doesn’t qualify as exercise. Yesterday’s digging and hauling left me feeling like I’d been hit with a wheelbarrow full of concrete this morning. My back, my legs, my arms — even my hands — hurt. Had a heckuva time dragging myself out of bed. Still sore at the end of the day. Maybe some stretching tomorrow.

Day 34, Tuesday, 10/11
(Warning: The following item discusses bodily functions that some readers may feel are inappropriate to mention in polite company.) Aging delivers lots of minor annoyances, but none more interesting to me than the connection between my adrenaline levels and my urinary tract. It seems that whenever I find myself in a situation that elicits a major rush of adrenaline, my heart starts beating faster (which is expected) and my poor bladder suddenly shrinks to the size of a tea bag (which is annoying). This can be slightly inconvenient if, for example, you’re sitting in the chair at your dentist, as I was this morning. I don’t really mind going to the dentist, but I think it’s fairly typical for patients to feel slightly on edge when even the most highly skilled technician is scraping and probing around in your mouth. Anyway, I’m reclining there making small talk with the hygienist and listening to my heart thumping in my chest and gradually experiencing that unmistakable urge to visit the men’s room. Is there some dentist office etiquette reserved for these occasions, I wonder? And what exactly is it about adrenaline that would trigger such a reaction? It wasn’t like I’d been quaffing coffee all morning prior to my appointment. Anyway, I was able to excuse myself during a break in the action, and my hygienist didn’t seem at all fazed. Pretty annoying, though.

Day 35, Wednesday, 10/12
I was thinking about yesterday’s adrenaline altercation and made a point today to slow way down and breathe and try to be completely present in everything I do. That means actually paying attention to the computer keys under my fingers and noticing the feel of the pen on paper. This is often a great way to tamp down those nasty stress hormones that can do serious harm to your body. I felt like I was pretty successful until about mid afternoon, when I found myself sliding back into multi-task mode. Interesting experiment.

Day 36, Thursday, 10/13
Did three rounds of my favorite kettlebell circuit this morning before work and made it back to yoga this afternoon after a two-week hiatus. JS, our yogi, is usually pretty easy on us, but today she had us trying to do the bridge pose. I was able to get my butt off the mat without much difficulty, but then she said I needed to lift my head off the ground with my arms arched behind my shoulders. After some rearranging of the concept in my brain, and much grunting and groaning, I was able to get my head off the mat for a couple of seconds. Have I mentioned that yoga is hard?

Day 37, Friday, 10/14
Breakfast meeting made any morning workout impractical, so I’m calling this a recovery day.

Day 38, Saturday, 10/15
Spent the better part of the day putting up insulation and drywall in the basement. Mr. Parkour stopped by to help in the afternoon. Pretty beat by 7 p.m.

Day 39, Sunday, 10/16
A little stiff from yesterday’s labor, but I managed to convince myself that a half-hour kettlebell workout this morning before breakfast would be just the thing. And I was right. Felt great afterwards, and headed back downstairs around noon to finish the work I started yesterday. Finished up around 10 and soaked in a hot bath for a while, hoping that would take the edge off my sore muscles tomorrow.

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