Thoughts On Fitness and Fatness

Well, I am fat. Fatty fatty fat fat fat. And I do not like it. Too little exercise, too much junk. I am not going to go on and on about how all bodies are beautiful, because frankly that is not true.

I don’t have a problem with stairs, but sometimes I am out of breath after checking the mail. The weight is starting to hurt my back.

Recently I went to Walmart, parked in the rear of the parking lot, walked into the store, walked to the other end of the store, then back out and back to my car. I was out of breath. I realized, “I am one of them. I am one of the People of Walmart.” Go to that site and weep for the huge manatee.

I starting spending time with a Daoist group in Austin, and they do some guided meditations. One of them is supposed to improve your health and extend your life. The instructor said there was a student who drank lots of soda. One day after doing this meditation for years, when he took a drink of soda, he vomitted it out, and had not touched soda since. I decided I would do this meditation on a regular basis, and in the meantime gorge on junk until my body rejects it. I found out this prior student had been doing this meditation for several years before the incident related above, far longer than I have been doing it. And my stomach is getting bigger and bigger, and so far my body shows no signs of rejecting junk.

In regular Daoist meditation, you are not supposed to control the breath. Just breathe naturally, and let the breath get longer and longer. But when you get fatter and fatter, your breath gets shorter. My stomach is already out as far as it can go, and I guess there is a lot of padding inside preventing it from going in too far. So my breaths are very short.

I have not been tested, but I wonder if I came down with a mild case of COVID. Shortness of breath is a symptom, and it has long-term affects on peoples’ lungs. So I am having trouble exercising and meditating, and I was hoping those would reinforce each other.

I have heard of a few neigong instructors who might be able to help me with my breath, so I will look into this further. I have also started doing some breathing exercises in the morning (in for 7 seconds, hold for 2, out for 14, hold for 2) for five minutes. I think this can help improve lung capacity.

It might be time to give up junk food. Easier said than done. Maybe I am still clinging to the old definition and use of the word “diet”.

I am still exercising, just not as much as I should. Part of the issue is my sleep schedule. Most nights I get really tired around 7 to 8 PM, which is the best time for me to exercise.

I did make some progress on squat thrusts. I was running out of breath, but I got better at coordinating my breathing. I exhale before I start a set. So I am inhaling on the way down, and exhaling as I am standing up. I think for a while I was unconsciously holding my breath and generally not paying attention.

I have also been working with where to place my fists. I think it can affect which part of my legs experience muscle growth. Too much adductor growth crowds the boys out. Putting my fists about a foot in front of my feet helps, but it is murder on my back. I have started putting them next to my feet (or using boards next to my feet) and that seems to help. I am also working on flexibility.

A week ago I worked out in an unused section of my complex’s parking lot, and included a set of shuttle runs. I first did them a few years ago. They are really hard, but are really good. I started them up again at a gym just before Coronavirus. Hopefully I will be able to include them some more in the future.

Squat thrusts and shuttle runs both seem to push my body more than anything. If I want to have the body of an Adonis that will drive the ladies wild, I will have to keep doing them. Every time I resume them, I can only do sets of 5 every minute, and I have to work up to doing sets of 10 a minute. Sometimes I can get to sets of 12 a minute. (I do exercises in super-sets of 5 minutes.) Ideally I would like to be able to do sets of 20 a minute for 30 minutes. I think if I could do that, I would be an unstoppable superman.

In addition to sets of squat thrusts and the occasional shuttle run, I also do sets of kicks. I realized today that I might be getting larger inner thighs because of the kicks. I might just do lots and lots of squat thrusts for a while to see what happens.

Big Jim doesn’t like his own body when it’s flabby, so don’t expect him to like yours when it’s flabby either. BTW: his stomach is not the reason he’s called “Big Jim”.

Adam and Eve (1907) by Julius Paulsen (1860-1940) assumed allowed under Public Domain.

Getting Back Into A Routine

Over the past year and a half I have fallen off the wagon (for lack of a better phrase) with regards to fitness, meditation, discipline and general self-improvement.

I track workouts and meditation on a spreadsheet that I started back in September of 2009. Throughout 2017 there are a lot of red boxes in the column for exercise. For some reason I cut back, but not intentionally. Around late October 2017 I also cut back on meditation. I was working through Claudia’s book on becoming an idea machine, and I stopped that too.

I don’t know why I started exercising less, but for meditation I tried using sound as an anchor. It went okay, but for some reason I stopped.

I did not get much done in December because I moved to another apartment in the complex. There was a leaky pipe they could not fix in my old apartment; other than that I was happy with things, so I asked them if there were any alternatives. Now I am on the second floor.

I started to get back into working out by doing squat thrusts on my balcony. I could not do as many, and I think my balcony is crooked. I do not have the luxury of doing it late at night on my balcony. I had toyed with the idea of finding an unused section of the parking lot early in the morning and working out there. But that would involve waking up a lot earlier, so that is not practical for me. Plus it would probably be really hard on my joints. There is a small gym here; frankly it’s not very good, but there is enough room to do some squat thrusts. I used it a couple of times.

The final time I tried it, I go in and turn on the lights. I heard music, which is odd because there is no sound system in there. I walk towards one of the cardio machines, and I see a small radio. Then I turned around, and there was a guy who was sitting next to the door. He asked me if I needed the lights on. I said I did if he was going to be in there. I tried a couple of times to ask him how long he was going to be (thinking I could just come back when he was done). I rephrased it, but I could not get a straight answer either time. I decided it was time to look into a gym.

I liked Lifetime Fitness, and I really liked the saleswoman from Sweden. She did not have much of an accent at all, but she pronounced the “R” sound in “Saturday” oddly, so I asked her where she was from. That club was $90/month. Planet Fitness did not have much to offer. 24 Hour Fitness was a decent price. The one closest to me has a pool, and when you walk in you get hit with a nasty chlorine smell. Other than that it is not too bad.

I got a free session with a trainer. At first I was not intending to buy the package, but towards the end he had me do some HIIT/functional fitness stuff. I thought to myself, “Why not see what he has to offer?” I can get myself back into a routine if I am not interested in what he shows me, and maybe he will show me something that I want to continue.

Well, it turns out, the only thing that interested me really is HIIT. Lifting is a bit boring to me (which I know sounds odd since I think nothing of doing sets of squat thrusts for 30 minutes). For a lot of the lifts, he wanted me to do a fast concentric contraction and a slow eccentric contraction.

Looking into HIIT brought me to the Jump Rope Dudes. My favorite video is the one with the woman from Australia, yeah. Frankly I wish all women spoke with Australian accents. In all seriousness, if a genie gave me three wishes, that would be one of them. It is taking longer than I thought for my body to adjust. I have found I can actually last longer when I count jumps than when I just try to last a set amount of time (generally 30 seconds; usually me feet need a rest at 20 when I go for time). I am also looking at squat jumps, or jump squats. I did some jumping lunges. They seems to exacerbate my inner thigh issues.

I have also used some kettlebells. Tim Ferriss put the kettlebell swing on the map  According to this page, “most women should start with a 35lb (16kg) or 44lb (20kg) kettlebell and most men should start with 44lb (20kg) or 53lb (24kg) kettlebell.” The gym I go to has some with standard freedom measurements, and some with communist metric measurements. Make up your mind kettlebell makers! Are you with us, or against us?

The gym closest to me has a track. I was thinking of trying sprinting. My last six months in Chicago, I lived in a house with a driveway out back. I did some sets of shuttle sprints up and down the driveway, and I liked how it affected me. I did not like doing it. Getting up to my top speed was harder than I thought. I have done shuttle runs a few times in the studio at the gym. I was hoping to do some sprinting on the indoor track, but just jogging on the track is hard on my knees. I thought the cushioning would help, but it does not. The odd thing is that shuttle runs in the studio are not a problem. Someone at work suggested I try Dr. Scholl’s inserts. He said they helped him.

Anyway, I have gotten pretty fat. Hopefully I will be able to do longer, more intense sets on the jump rope and become a stud that women desire. I will be in Florida in a few weeks for my nephew’s birthday, so unfortunately the next round of family pictures will feture me as a landwhale.

Why I stopped with the Idea Machine I am not too clear. Claudia Azula (James’ second ex-wife) did not handle their divorce as well as he did. She blogged that she was diagnosed as bi-polar and at least once thought of killing herself. Can a stressful life event like divorce trigger an underlying problem? Or is it all genetic? Anyway, lately she has been tweeting about ping-pong in New York City. What could be a clearer sign of contentment than making jokes about smacking people’s balls? I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was terrible.

I cannot articulate exactly why, but for some reason the fact that she had a hard time getting on with her life makes me doubt James’ methods. She followed the advice in his article. And he seems to have a lot of wack jobs on his podcast, like Dr Oz and Jordan Peterson, and he sends a lot of shady emails about getting rich trading penny stocks and Bitcoin. Now it seems like he is on a cannabis kick.

Still, I think there is something to the idea machine. In my other idea machine posts I linked to testimonials. I keep reading that mindset is more important than technical skills. Some people even push learning the humanities and Great Books to stay ahead of the curve. I like the idea of my mind being more agile. Plus, I realized I do not have to agree with everything he says or does. I don’t agree with my own family all the time. Take what you want and leave the rest.

If I try, I might start with making lists of 5 ideas. I know James says to go for ten, but since this is a new habit I would be trying to do two things at once. Developing consistency is important.

Back in January, I was a new meetup group, and the whole time was brainstorming about topics. I realized it might be a good idea to due “field reports” on idea lists in the wild. I could make idea lists about problems or issues, either in my life or in society in general. For the general problems, I could make two lists: Things I can do (if any), and things society can do. I think James sent an idea list to Amazon, and they flew him out there to speak. I could make lists about my ideal job, ideal house, ideal mate. Perhaps the ideal lists could be periodically repeated to see if there are any changes.

At one point, James suggested that you could list chapters in a potential book, or lists of things about or that have happened to a character in a possible novel. I have thought about a potential “Star Trek” show (not that I think it would ever get made). That could give some ideas.

Getting back into meditation has been a bit more difficult.

I started using sound as an anchor by listening to some videos on YouTube on a channel called Meditative Mind and a few other channels. Some worked out better than others, but the general result is that for some reason things got derailed. I kept having trouble staying awake and then my frequency dropped.

I started getting back into it after I was done moving. I tried going back to sitting on the floor, but I think it hurt my knees. At first I thought that increasing my exercise frequency was hurting my knees, so I rotating different exercises out, but nothing seemed to help. Then I realized that it might be my meditation posture, so I went back to the chair. Since then, my knees have been fine. I am still stretching so hopefully one day I can go back to sitting on the floor again.

One issue is that I kept trying to control my breathing. I think that I might have this preconception that I should do “Taoist” breathing while meditating (in through the nose, expanding the abdomen, long deep breaths, ideally 15 seconds or more). Now I do some deep, qigong breaths for a few minutes before I start and it seems to be helping.

Big Jim still likes the Swedish ladies.

 “Mount Sinai” by El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614), housed at The Historical Museum of Crete, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On Squat Thrusts

I am starting to have a bit of a fitness crisis. I have not been working out much lately.

For the past few years, I have mostly been doing squat thrusts for fitness. I do between 10 to 20 sets every minute for about 30 minutes. And the issue is that it is making my legs get bigger and making me worried I might become some sort of quad monster.

I know that squatting a lot can make your legs bigger, especially the thighs. It can make the front of your legs bigger. Or the back. Or the outside. For me, sometimes it feels like all the growth is on the inside, particularly near the top. It is starting to crowd my boys out. I sometimes worry that I will have a hard time fitting into a seat on airplanes. Or I will have to spend the rest of my life walking like I have to go number two all the time. Like I have to ride the fudge dragon. Sign the paperwork. Serve an ace. Plus I just don’t like feeling my legs touching.

Sometimes I also feel like I am encouraging uneven leg growth by all my workouts these days. Sometimes I do kicks and punches, and the kicks seem to work the inside more that the rest of my leg.

It’s not that I did not think my legs would get bigger. I wasn’t expecting them to get bigger quite that way and cause problems.

I started this about eight years ago. I read an article on the New York Times about workouts people were doing outside of gyms. I read the comments on the story (which are not a cesspool like Breitbart). A lot of people talked about their no-gym workouts. One commenter said they did the “prison workout”. I search for that term, and I found a few pages that used that term for different sequences of burpees. I guess they are easy to do in prison yards or cells. Some people did nothing but burpees for their workouts.

I found out later that some people use the term “prison workout” to refer to workouts using different calisthenic exercises, because those are also easy to do in your cell.

One common sequence was to do countdown sets: A set of 20, then a set of 19, a set of 18, etc down to 0. I thought, “How hard can it be?” So I decided to try it out.

I went down to the small, not very good fitness room in my apartment building. I decided not to jump since I have had knee problems in the past. But I still did the pushup. I think I got down to 16, but I think I did three sets of 16 before I realized that I was losing count. I only lasted ten minutes. How hard can it be? I found out it can be pretty hard.

The next day my arms were tired. But I decided to persevere. So I started doing workouts in my apartment. Eventually I started adding some kicks and punches, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and a few other exercies, but squat thrusts were the basis. I think the squatting helped my knees. I was a bit worried then about my inner thighs getting bigger. But it was not too bad then.

I was unemployed when I started this. I started working out on my own to save some money. I quit the gym not just to save money, but also because I never really talked to anyone when I was there.

After doing this for a year, and after I had another job, I thought about going to a gym again. There was a boxing gym near my apartment. I thought about going in to ask about rates and schedules. But before I ever did, I saw a class through the front window, and the class was doing squat thrusts. I thought to myself, why should I pay money so some doofus who barely made it out of high school can yell at me to do something that I am doing on my own anyway.

My first few years in Austin I did not do too many squat thrusts. I was living on the second floor and I was worried about disturbing the people below me. The complex had a nice gym, but I got tired of people knocking on the door like I was some damn doorman. It only happened a few times, but it should not happen at all. Now I am on the first floor in an apartment with a wooden floor.

And now my legs are really starting to get big. To the point where sometimes getting in and out of my car is difficult. And now I have to keep pulling my sweatpants up every few sets. I don’t have the thigh gap the ladies love.

I like squat thrusts because I feel like I am preparing myself for anything. I feel like I can push myself harder than with other workouts. Plus I don’t need to go to the gym. And the squats help my knees.

I don’t have great range of motion, but a bit better than the Crossfit Efficiency burpees. Burpees and squat thrusts have the fundamental motions of the human body. Another issue with the way I do them is that my spine is neutral, and not much arm/shoulder action. But it is my one stop fitness shop.

I found out about this guy named Funk Roberts who really pushes burpees. Funk Roberts said to have feet wide and put your hands in between, but that really hit my inner thighs. Having my hands about shoulder width with feet a few inches behind and pointed out was okay.

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao (1760) by unknown artist, available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Language: The word “diet”

I want to look at how people use the word “diet”.

When I was younger, people would use the word “diet” to refer to something temporary. The word was mostly used as a noun. They would “go on a diet”, usually before some event, such as a wedding or a reunion. The main idea was to reduce the amount they ate, or to radically change what they ate. This would be done temporarily. After the big event and they impressed their old friends, people would go back to their old patterns of eating behavior.

Today we call this behavior a “fad diet”: A short-term change or reduction. This is why some people say “diets don’t work; you just go back to your old way of doing things.” Many of the screenshots on the fatlogic subreddit are from people in the fat acceptance/health at every size movements who use the word “diet” in this way.

The word “diet” was used to refer to the short-term change. But the normal, regular eating habits and patterns were never given a label.

If you talk to a biologist who studies another species, they will talk about the diet of that species. The biologist uses it to mean that species’ patterns of eating behavior: what they eat, when they eay, in some cases where and/or how they eat. They do not use the word “diet” to refer to a temporary change or restriction.

Over the past decade, people’s use of the word has been changing. More and more people are starting to use it in the second sense of the word. People talk about “low carb diets”, or “the paleo diet”, or the “Mediterranean diet”. I read and hear people talk about changing their diet, not “going on a diet”.

Now, people use the word “diet” to refer to their normal, common, consistent eating behaviors.

This is a good change. The fact is, everybody is always “on a diet”. Even Elvis was on a diet. It seemed to be fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, with lots and lots of pills. It was a terrible diet, but it was still a diet.

Maybe this is why many of the people in the screenshots on fatlogic can’t lost weight, and why they think “diets don’t work.” They are using the word to refer to something temporary, something that will get them towards some distant goal, and once they reach that goal, they will go of the “diet”. Stop using the definite and indefinite articles when using the word “diet”. Use pronouns. Do not go on “a diet”. Think about “your diet”.

As I get older, I am finding out that intense exercise is not as helpful to keeping in good shape and preventing myself from getting fat as it used to be. Now I need to pay attention to my diet.

I don’t need to go on a diet. But I do need to change my diet.

Image from My World, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Language: Big Words

As someone with a degree in exercise physiology, spends more time than I should in the bowels of Reddit and Craig’s Lust, and a guy who tries in general to pay attention, I have noticed a few things about the use of language by some of the larger members of our society.

It is interesting that a lot of fat people like to say they have “a lot of meat on my bones”. You might have some meat, but frankly you also have a lot of fat on your bones, and that’s the turn-off.

Fit women never call themselves “curvy”, yet they themselves are not rectangular.

A lot of fat women describe themselves as “sassy”, and say they are a “queen” or a “goddess”. I don’t hear these words from fit women.

Fat people think they are “normal”, and everybody smaller than they are is “skinny”, as if being “skinny” is some sort of condition. Thin people seem to describe themselves as “thin”. As far as fat people calling themselves “normal”, it implies that fit people are abnormal. Then again, maybe few fat people have friends that exercise.

Usually when a woman calls herself or another woman “a real woman”, it is someone who is fat. Has any women pointed to a women who runs marathons and called those women “real women”?

Another observation: How can you tell if you are fat? Here is a little test. If you have no problems saying you would not date a fat person, but you get upset if you hear a fit person say they would not date a fat person, then you are fat.

Image from University Of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Lot More Difficult

I used to be able to work out more than I can now. Part of it is due to scheduling, part of it is due to age.

I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted as long as I exercised. But now, sometimes even if I do exercise regularly, it is not enough. I am reaching a point where I may have to make some serious changes to my diet. Like giving up chocolate. Cutting out junk food will require some serious mental discipline.

I used to work out to make my whole body bigger. Now I work out to make my stomach smaller, and that is a lot more difficult.

Perhaps there is a limit to what exercise can do. Working out more as I get older is not as hard as I thought it would be. Eating less, on the other hand, is proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use

Tumblr Ladies

I will start a list of Tumblr sites with pix of fit ladies.

More sites to look at:

Tumblr sites: – not many pix – plays a song – good stuff – good stuff – possible defunct, has some good stuff – good stuff – possibly defunct – good stuff – good stuff – possibly defunct – up through Oct 2011


Added stuff on 2014-01-21_00.16.01

Image from Google Search, assumed allowed under Fair Use

Fitness and Emergencies

The big news tonight is the explosions (probably bombs) that went off at the Boston Marathon this afternoon. I saw it on TV at work. There were a lot of responders running around, bystanders all over, it looked pretty chaotic.

Ever since 9/11/2001, there has been a lot of talk about disaster preparedness. I think that fitness is a big part of this. If something bad happens, you need to get away from it. I know this sounds obvious, but I think a lot of people forget about it.

In the 2000s, I was working for a large corporation in downtown Chicago. We were on the 18th floor. There were a few large people who complained about potential drills (which I don’t remember ever doing; guess who was in charge of coordinating the drills). They whined about having to go down 18 flights of stairs. Not whining about going up stairs against gravity. But whining about going down.

Going down is the easy way. If you cannot go down stairs without hurting yourself, you are in serious trouble.

In December, 2004 there was a fire in the LaSalle Bank Building in the Loop. I was still at work in the next building when that happened. It was all over the news. I thought one person died, but according to articles I found on the web, there were no deaths. But there could have been. A disaster can happen any time. I heard a lot of stories of people who were out of shape in the World Trade Center in NYC who thought they would not be able to make it.

Granted, if you are right in front of a bomb that goes off then you are hosed, even if you are a world-class decathlete. But being fit will help you recover from injury, and also help you stay calm while you get to safety. It could lessen your chance of injury so the responders could spend time on people who are more seriously injured. It will not make you invulnerable, but it will reduce your risk.

I know this is a bit rambling and incoherent. I have been planning for some time to write about this, but I felt that perhaps it was time to state this idea now. I may revisit it later.

Mas Oyama and Meditation

I found a site recently called Badass of the Week. One of the featured badasses was Mas Oyama. After WWII, he spent months in the mountains and trained intensely the entire time.

For a time in my life, that was what I wanted to do: go off into the middle of nowhere and practice martial arts all the time. And meditation. Lately I have felt that I have been getting lazy and lacking focus. I am trying to meditate more often.

I used to meditate frequently. I stopped several years ago. Looking back, I was less unhappy then. (I don’t know if I can ever say that I was happy.)

My watch beeps every hour on the hour. So now I start about half an hour before and wait until the beep. When I start timing, I keep looking at the watch to see if I have gone 20 minutes.

I am not too sure if I want to do martial arts anymore. Hitting people was nice, but people hitting me is not so nice.

The Petraeus Scandal Has Arms

Much has been written about the Petraeus scandal.

Much will be revealed.

Much will be revealed more than it already has. Like the fact that Petraeus is a Dominionist.  Many in the military think that his reputation was inflated, that he was better at PR than waging wars. He trumpeted the surge, and said little about paying off Sunni warlords. Remember the MoveOn brouhaha? Perhaps now people will look at it differently.

Many things are mysteries. Who are these twins that have driven a general and an FBI agent batty? Is Paula Broadwell the incarnation of a James Bond femme fatale? Is Holly Petraeus really Holly Petraeus, or Phil Hartman in the Witness Protection Program?

So much for “Duty, Honor, Country.” A lot of conservatives think if you just repeat some ideal that means you are living it. I heard that slogan (DHC) all the time growing up. It did not prevent my dad from treating my mom like crap. I never bought into the military worship we see today.

But let’s take another look at Paula Broadwell. A lot of people have commented on her arms. Yowza. What amazing arms she has. The whole body is amazing. People have also commented on Michelle Obama’s arms.

Paula Broadwell is a triathelete. I don’t know if that was enough to get her arms that way, or if she did some weight training as well.

I think that arms are a good measure of a woman’s fitness. Nobody ever compliments obese women on their arms. And there are a lot of fit women who do not have great arms. Jill Biden runs, but does not get compliments for her arms. I just did a bit of Googling, and her arms look good, but not as striking as Michelle Obama’s or Paula Broadwell’s.

A lot of men will work on their arms to the exclusion of everything else. You still see guys who have large arms, and legs that could be used to mix drinks. Any boxer or martial artist will tell you that big arms are nice, but to generate real power you need to use your legs.

Women, on the other hand, seem to leave the arms for last. Which in a way might be better than doing arms first. I think that if a woman has great looking arms, that is a sign that she is really really fit.