A Fight For Fitness

A week ago, I restarted my practice of martial arts – Kyokushin Karate. And of course, being winter and post-holiday season, I’ve gotta fight just to get fit…and be fit to fight.

So I’m still in the “realizing-how-out-of-shape-I-am-phase.” But at least I know what I need to work on: everything. And the older I get, the longer this phase seems. I’m a 40-something karate kid.

As for fighting, I’ve never been big on confrontation. I fear hurting others and being hurt myself. But what I’m really fighting against is being sedentary.

I have a desk job. I sit at a computer many hours every day. My body coagulates into the chair. My abs become slabs of flab. My strongest muscles are the ones in my right index-finger so I can double-click the mouse all day.

Some of that is fun hyperbole, but you get the point. I gotta fight for fitness.

To my rescue comes YouTube. There I find an endless supply of training videos: stretching, calisthenics, karate. I’ve got a lot to work on!

With so much training, and with my renewed fervor for the fight for fitness, I fear over-training, like killing my body before I really get going.

But it occurred to me yesterday that fitness should be a part of daily life. Growing up in school, we’re taught to stay physically active. We play outside. But as adults, we just work a lot. I think if my body feels it’s not able to exercise daily, that shows how out of shape I really am.

Everyday is not going to be a triathlon. But I can and should do some basic exercises daily for cardio and strength training. Not just for being capable of karate kicks, but to keep up with my 5 young sons who, I swear, have virtually unceasing stores of energy.

I need all the help I can get. My own energy isn’t like it was 20 years ago. So I’m trying supplements that target my needs while also eating more protein and being health conscious at meal times. And even if that just means one handful of Cheetos instead of two handfuls, that my friends is progress.

This is where I’m at. Working on getting into better shape to enjoy a happier healthier life. Sounds cliche. But true and vital just the same.

Taking a challenging martial arts class with others in a public space, the YMCA, is the motivation and accountability I need to help me push myself to be fit. I was out of the game for over a year. But I didn’t stay out. I got back in the fight.

What’s your favorite activity or fitness exercise? Sports? Yoga? Under-water basket weaving?

Karate And Mental Gymnastics

Something happened that I didn’t expect. Looks like for 2019, I’m taking karate again! It happens to be January, a new year, so it’s a good time to start a new thing. Or in this case, renew an old thing.

Last week, my youngest son had his birthday and became old enough to join karate with his 4 older brothers at our local YMCA. My wife is also in the adult class. So my entire family is doing this; I was the odd man out.

I attended last week to watch my boy in his first karate class. But it also meant seeing my old classmates too; and they have advanced!

Let me back up a bit. I joined this Kyokushin Karate class in 2016. I practiced for a year and ranked up a few belts.

But in 2017, stress and anxiety clobbered me. I got on some meds for it and felt my life severely thrown off by anxiety attacks. Homeostasis was not happening.

So I paused my karate attendance (and blogging) to just get myself started on back to ‘normal.’ Weeks turned into months, which rolled over to a year. After a while, I felt I just couldn’t go back to karate.

I improved greatly over time in having less stress and anxiety. But mentally, I was blocked from karate. Defeated by myself, my own mind prevented me from returning. Plus I still had uncertainty about being physically capable of the rigorous exercises with kicking and punching and sparring.

Watching my whole family and my old buddies practice karate last week naturally got me thinking about rejoining. My brain did a bunch of mental gymnastics and decided it was still not a good idea.

But suddenly yesterday, I found myself reconsidering. And I found a spark of interest, a small hidden flame of desire to complete my training (like Skywalker). I want the next belt color: blue!

So I decided to “try again.” Rejoin, I would. I need to stay in shape and be more physically fit. I could at least be another human punching bag for the others.

In the end, I quit the mental gymnastics to rejoin karate! I stopped letting my mind defeat myself. Fear, doubt, worry…these enemies blocked my path.

I think half the battle of practicing martial arts is simply just showing up to class. Just get myself there first. Then the rest should work out.

I’m excited and happy that I am recommitting to the discipline of karate practice. For me, it’s not so much dreaming I will be like Ip Man someday, or my childhood hero Daniel LaRusso.

It’s about sticking with something and finishing what I started no matter the difficult circumstances and imperfect details.

And in my case, the family that fights together, grows together. Let’s have some fun.

Blogs Back In Style

Being a blogger, I really like the open and independent web. So when I read a recent article that mentioned old-school blogs coming back in vogue, I was stoked!

Beyond that, though, we’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

Score another point for the indie web with a prominent site moving away from an aggregator!

Last year I wrote about celebrating the blog and hoping for a renaissance in blogging. In it, I provided several links to posts by others who also share hopes for blogging. So the new quote above is like adding fuel to glowing embers.

Maybe 2019 will be a year of further push-back against Facebook with a resurgence of bloggers, old and new, linking up a better, freer internet.

A Music Subscription Sounds Good

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind. Work has been busy and somewhat stressful. Outside that, my cognitive focus has been on designing a bedroom addition to our house. Plus my wife and I discovered the show Parks and Recreation and have been enjoying it nightly!

Meanwhile, something unexpected started. I have never been interested in subscribing to a streaming music service. I’ve never tried Pandora or Spotify.

But suddenly, I got really interested in joining Apple Music.

For years, I’ve been glued to getting my tunes the ‘old-fashioned’ way: a-la-carte. Buy one song at a time if I really like it.

For music discovery, I’ve just been using YouTube. But there’s drawbacks I may want to avoid. Like ads, Google tracking, and getting sucked into the video vortex.

Back when I was on Android and all the Google stuff, Google Play Music had good radio/music discovery. I miss that.

It looks like Apple Music has excellent playlists and other things for finding new songs, albums, and artists.

So I plan to start the 3 month free trial and see how it goes.

I’m kinda scratching my head over what made me start considering joining Apple Music in the first place. Maybe it was daydreaming about buying AirPods or finding an adapter to make my iPhone 7 work with my current headphones because the jack got jacked.

I used to think subscribing to a music service wasn’t worth $10/month. But now that I’ve actually looked closer at Apple Music, I see much to like. (No ads!)

What gets me is the fact that you can truly have all-the-songs! Every time I think of a song I like but don’t already own, or think of an artist or album I want to complete, it hits me: you can have all the albums. Every artist. Every song. Kinda blows my mind.

Every soundtrack for every movie?! Yes!

What do you use for music? Spotify? Vinyl albums? Mix tapes?

Tinnitus And Technology

For quite some time, I’ve had tinnitus. There are 3 or 4 different tones continuously ringing in my head between my ears. It’s constant, loud, and can be very bothersome at times, even anxiety inducing. So after trying some things on my own to no avail, I finally arranged a visit with my doctor to get my hearing checked out.

Earlier this week I got to visit an audiologist. After several hearing tests (man that room was quiet!), my tinnitus was confirmed. Thankfully, I do not have physical damage to my ear drum or any physical pain or discomfort.

Despite being undetected to the naked ear, my head-ringing is real. There were tones or sounds in the audio test that I missed. And unfortunately, I learned that I also have partial hearing loss.

I have the reverse slope loss, so sounds in the lower range around 500Hz are harder to hear, mostly in noisy places. The male voice is in this range, for example. So far my case is mild to moderate; nothing to get anxious about.

I also learned about some cool new tech! These days, hearing aids are impressive! And expensive; I thought a $160 pair of Apple AirPods cost a lot. Hearing aids are in the thousands of dollars!

But they can do some of what AirPods do and more! Some hearing aids have Bluetooth in them and pair with an app on your phone where you can custom tailor things like “white noise” if you want to drown out the head ringing tones.

Or you can stream music or phone calls through hearing aids. And of course they also help you hear in frequencies where you normally can’t. I don’t know how it all works, but I didn’t know they were so capable.

If you are interested, check out ReSound!

Please, Apple, you’ve got heart/pulse features in the Apple Watch. So could you also make some awesome HearPods!? AirPods that would double as hearing aids!

So while I could feel bummed about my incurable Tinnitus or worry about hearing loss getting worse, I’m kind of just glad to know that, if I need them, hearing aids will one day be pretty cool in a way.

I just hope it’s a long ways off; I’m only in my early forties!

When I consider the possibility of being deaf, I fear a few things. I think about all the great music that I won’t be able to listen to. For this, it helps me to realize that I can still “play songs in my head” from memory.

I would also miss the voices of my wife and kids! So, for that, I don’t let myself dwell on those thoughts.

There’s also the bad stuff I won’t have to listen to either! The alarm clock in the morning?! Nope. If I’m deaf, I won’t hear that thing! Maybe I’ll get to sleep in.

silver iphone x with airpods
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Pexels.com

Well, there’s life for ya. Hearing loss happens. But I believe that God has blessed me with more beautiful sounds than I could ever deserve. And I will cherish the good stuff I can still hear for as many years as God and time allow.

The Lord gives hearing. And if he takes it away – blessed be the name of the Lord all the same.

What are your favorite things to hear?