benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: LIFTING

FROM THE HIP

Rehabilitation on the back has been slow, but steady, and I have started to lift at what I consider to be my personal baseline numbers.

So I am more than irritated that my right hip decides to go out of alignment on Monday.

Everything is connected, and that hip was probably overcompensating more than it should have been while I focused on the first injury. 

My trainer advises me to get a massage because it’s an early catch; the muscles surrounding the hip can be encouraged to unknot before they permanently lock up.

I complain that I’ve been out of work for a week and now I have the added anxiety of not being able to perform comfortably, or for long periods of time, when I go back. 

She immediately tells me not to worry, and to be reminded that whatever has been rightfully given to me, no one can take away.

Perfect aim for shooting from the hip. 

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DOUBTING

“Why do you keep poking at your side,” my trainer asks, as I finger and prod the part of the back injury that we have been so carefully rehabilitating. 

I just can’t believe that it’s barely there any more. 

So I keep touching it, multiples times, checking to see that it’s really going away, as requirement of the physical proof needed to confirm my faith in the process of healing. 

NUTS

It is crazy how much effort it took to procure freshly ground almond butter this week. 

The machine at the regular store was out of order and no one knew when the replacement part was coming in.

The manger offered me a free jar of any of the shelf brands but I refused. 

Almond butter is the favorite part of my day. 

I eat a tablespoon of it every afternoon and I insist on the freshly ground variety. 

It just tastes so much better. 

So I called same store in a different neighborhood and was surprised to find out that they didn’t even have a grinder. 

And when I eventually did find a store that offered this luxury, I had to locate a grocery clerk to refill the grinder because it was out of almonds. 

Then I had to walk to the other end of the store to get the quart size container because apparently, at this store, people only buy pint sized servings. 

So, I finally have almond butter. 

But crazy as how much effort it took to procure it, even crazier is how little effort I put into other things that definitely matter more. 

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

I’ve been making these protein snack muffins for my last meal of the day.

 

So far, I’ve created four flavors: Meatloaf, Tuna Noodle, Chicken Rice and Sweet Potato Salmon.

 

I eat them on my first set break at work and the muffins are perfectly balanced with protein and carbs to fuel me through the night.

 

This week, I finally sat down, committed to writing down the recipes for the muffins, and emailed the instructions to my trainer and a few workout buddies who have been asking for this novelty food prep item.

 

I have a feeling that it’s not going to go well.

 

First of all, the portion size may not be correct for every individual, and if the ratio of protein to carbs shifts, the muffins may not hold together during baking.

 

Secondly, I don’t season this meal at all because I eat it during work. I don’t want to feel thirsty, I don’t want to be self-conscious that my breath smells like onion or garlic, and I certainly don’t to spend any time trying to pick out flecks of pepper or herbs from my teeth.

 

I warned them, saying that these recipes were developed specifically for my needs, that they might have to adjusted for each person’s needs, and to be fully aware that blindly following someone else’s instructions could turn out to be a recipe for disaster.

 

COMEBACK

My trainer tells me to be patient. 

Even though it is healing up, my back will need time to fully recover.

And it is a slow process. 

Meanwhile, when a grumpy old man comes up and tells me, in the middle of a Christmas song, that his son is a concert pianist and that I am just “making a bunch of annoyance inducing noise,” I immediately ask him with which orchestra his child is performing tonight. 

The man mutters something incoherent under his breath and walks away.

Some comebacks are a lot quicker. 

PAINS IN THE BACK

The quadratus lumborum is a deep muscle that attaches from the bottom of the twelfth rib all the way down to the iliac crest at the top rear pelvic bone.

 

It is considered an abdominal muscle and there are two of them, each running down either side of the spine on the back of the body.

 

The one on my left is in spasm.

 

My trainer and chiropractor aren’t too worried, and frankly, neither am I.

 

The only people that seem highly concerned are those who inconclusively think I’m doing something wrong.

 

But the truth is, I’m doing everything right.

 

I’ve been consistent about sleeping with a pillow between my knees, and stretching after every set at the piano, as well as part of my training program, which additionally places an absolute emphasis on form when I’m lifting.

 

Even when I tell those people that things like this do happen occasionally, they still don’t believe something bad could happen to anyone who is good about leading a healthy lifestyle.

 

However, this has nothing to do with bad things happening to good people, and everything to do with simply just being human.

 

I accept that it is normal for my body to occasionally fail.

 

I have the means, the experience and the wisdom to work through this patiently, and to overcome the pains in my back.

 

The real pains are those who keep offering me unsolicited advice that they have no business offering in the first place.

CLASS ACTION

I receive legal notice in the mail from a brand of protein shake that I used to drink. 

Apparently, the company is being sued for falsely advertising the amount of protein content in their product. 

For the settlement, those of us who have receipts can claim $1 per carton purchased, up to $40. 

And for people like me, who didn’t save those receipts, I get to claim 50 cents per carton purchased up to $20. 

I’m not terribly upset, having switched to a diet consisting of primarily whole food years ago; meaning the bulk of the nutrients I consume comes from food that is processed as minimally as possible, and contains no added preservatives or artificial substances. 

But as I’m standing in line waiting to pay for the freshly hand-ground almond butter that I now insist on eating daily, I see a woman using food stamps to get herself crab legs, shrimp and rib-eye, items not currently in my own budget, and I start to fume. 

I’m not saying that the underprivileged don’t deserve luxury foods, or that the social-economics of a system designed to offset the cost of food for certain income brackets isn’t without its flaws. 

All I want to do in this moment is to be smug in my own special class of entitlement and privilege, while buying my pint of almond butter with the free money I’m getting from another unscrupulous business, when really, the only action I should be practicing is gratitude.

 

POUND FOR POUND

I put on a pound of muscle according to my monthly weigh-in.

 

Pleased with this excellent progress, I go to work tonight in the best spirits, and immediately step into a scene, where the sommelier is explaining to a very drunk guest, why the piano is only to be played, by the pianist, whom restaurant has explicitly hired to do the job.

 

Silently, I take off my coat, scarf and hat, as the guest keeps insisting that he “knows how to play this thing, dude,” with each repeated claim more sloppy than the last.

 

So as a final line of reasoning, the sommelier declares, “Our resident pianist doesn’t let anyone he hasn’t personally auditioned play for the house.”

 

To which, the guest unwittingly slurs, “What is this guy, a big faggot or something?”

 

I don’t even have to respond.

 

The sommelier stands by me, puts his arms around my shoulders, and replies, “Yes, the biggest one I know.”

 

Red-faced, the guest promptly leaves.

 

And we all start the evening with a good laugh.

 

I know, that with all things being equal, they may not be exactly the same.

 

For example, even though a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, they both differ greatly in density, with muscle being about 18% more dense than fat.

 

Meaning, one pound of muscle occupies less space than one pound of fat, which clarifies the technically false misconception that “muscle weighs more than fat.”

 

However, love does truthfully weigh more than hate, because I just witnessed one ounce of courage and kindness pushing several pounds of discrimination and homophobia out the door.

LIKE MOTHS TO A FLAME

I love the clothes in my closet.

 

All the items are arranged by type, then by color, and then further sub-organized by size.

 

I don’t have very many expensive or designer pieces, but I do have clothes that have been carefully purchased and maintained, to make me look good for the range of casual to formal gigs I play, whether my body is in competition preparation mode, or in the bulking up stage.

 

It also gives me great joy to see my wardrobe uniformly hanging perfectly on all-white hangers, each spaced apart at exactly one finger width.

 

So when the first chill of the fall air hit this Sunday, I knew it was time to pull out my favorite charcoal v-neck woolen sweater, only to be shocked to tears when I discovered that it was completely ridden with holes.

 

This is my first experience with moths and I have learnt a lot since the weekend about how to eradicate them, and to how to prevent their future infestation.

 

It is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, to dry-clean, heat sanitize or freeze every piece of fabric in your home, thus ensuring all moth eggs are killed.

 

But this is a process that has to be endured, because one destroyed article of clothing can lead to an even bigger disaster, should the eggs quietly hatch, the larva silently consume the surface on which they emerge, discreetly reach maturity, become inconspicuous adult moths, and lay more harmful eggs in your closet or other parts of your home, all in stealthy unnoticeable shadowed cover.

 

As I pulled all the suitcases from the top shelf of my closet, I had to wonder what kind of baggage my friend had carried with him.

 

A few weeks ago, he had left a suicide note on his Facebook page, and then successfully completed the act.

 

We had worked together for seven years, from the very first day of the restaurant opened, and had always shared a camaraderie based on laughter and humor, each of us always trying to outdo the other with an instigating comment or witty remark.

 

He was fun to be around, truly, the ideal front-of-house personality.

 

Nobody, not one of us, could have ever suspected the secretly growing frays of his heart, kept in the dark for so long, finally exposed to light as decayed and fragile as the threads I am so diligently seeking to prevent the same fate from happening.

CARTS BEFORE HORSES

Due to a scheduling conflict, I rearranged my split (the division of muscle groups to be worked daily) so I would see my trainer for a chest/back day later on in the week.

 

And I proposed that would work shoulders on my own the day before.

 

Needless to say, I had a great shoulder day but a less than stellar chest/back day.

 

Knowing intellectually that stacking two consecutive days of upper body work would be foolhardy, I did it anyway, based merely on the ‘feeling’ that I could pull it off.

 

“Why did you let me?” I asked.

 

“I knew it wouldn’t kill you, and, you would learn a valuable lesson,” was the answer I received.