Friday, August 25, 2023

My Good Enough, Better Than Nothing Workout

Just before the pandemic, in January 2020, I decided to start working out again. I've been at it ever since. The peak of my workout period was probably summer 2021. By that time I had lost over 45 pounds from where I was 18 months prior and I was exercising up to about an hour a day. I was also eating a pretty strict keto diet and not going out to eat or getting takeaway hardly at all. 

More recently I've not been quite as diligent, but I have found a routine that I call my "good enough, better than nothing" workout. I still workout 6, if not 7 days a week, but not quite as intensely as I was doing.  I've also been eating vegan for about the last year which has contributed to about 15 pounds of weight gain (more carbs). Now it's more about maintenance and long-term goals. I want to work out today in such a way that I can do so again tomorrow.

Something I started incorporating in 2023 is yoga. It's a practice that I hope to develop as the years go on. I typically do yoga first thing in the morning, and only for about 15 to 20 minutes, but I try and do it every day. Right now I'm using a couple different apps and attending an in-person class a couple times a month. I hope to get comfortable enough and familiar enough with it that I can improvise or plan my my own yoga sequence without having to rely on an app.

Once a sufficient yoga session is complete, depending on the day of the week or what I did the day before, I'll do either some strength training/conditioning or some type of aerobic/cardio activity. Minimum of ten minutes, but quite often longer. 

I got rid of a lot of the equipment I had accumulated over the last three years, but for strength training I still use either Y-Bells, a steel mace, a shena pushup board, Lebert fitness bars, a kettlebell, a Bala beam, a Bala ring, or dumbbells. One thing that's different from before is I've lightened the weight. For example, I'm no longer using a heavy kettlebell or a heavy steel mace or clunky clubs or meels. I'm down to just one steel mace (at eleven pounds), and the kettlebell I sometimes use is a lighter one at just 18 pounds. 

For aerobic/cardio when outside I either run (new in the last year), bicycle, or walk. Nothing crazy...I run for like two miles (20+ minutes), or bicycle for 6 to 7 miles (30+ minutes), or walk for 2 to 3 miles (40+ minutes). Better than nothing. Sometimes I walk/run. For indoors I have a slide board, a rebounder trampoline, a cheapo but effective row n' ride thing, and a ropeless jumprope. These activities are good for getting the heart rate up.

I don't always count yoga at its full time. For example, if I do 25 minutes of yoga I might count it as 10 to 15 minutes of workout time depending on how intense it was. So with 25 minutes of yoga (counted as 15 minutes of workout), I'll try to do another 15 minutes of something else to get to 30 minutes. Good enough. 

Consistency is key. Now that I've eliminated alcohol from my life I am more able to keep this on a consistent routine that I can approach with the same mindset and focus each time I do it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The Search for a Short Sleeve Button-up Shirt

I would like to get a short sleeve button-up shirt with the following characteristics:

Not a button-down collar and not a camp collar. I'm not sure what it's called when it's not a button-down (spread or straight?) but definitely not a button-down collar. 

A rounded "shirt-tail" hem rather than a straight hem, but not a round hem that's so long or so rounded that it hangs way too low. I plan on wearing it casually, untucked with shorts so let's be reasonable.

More of a dress shirt look than outdoorsy. I don't want it to look too much like a fishing shirt or a hiking shirt. Also, regular buttons and not snaps in place of buttons.

Something with a light-ish color and with a mild pattern like a vertical stripe or unobtrusive dots or design. But not a completely plain colored shirt, and also not a plaid/checkerboard color or loud design.

A cotton/poly blend fabric or similar. A lot of shirts are 100% cotton nowadays, and that's not really what I'm looking for. I want something that won't shrink or be wrinkly all the time. Linen is definitely off the table. If not a cotton/poly blend, then something that's a quick-dry fabric that I can hand wash in the sink and have it dry overnight.

Room in the shoulders and the underarms. I don't want to swim in a shirt that's too way big, but I also don't want to be constricted in any way. Sometimes modern shirts are too tight in the underarms or shoulders. A "stretch" fabric is not a must, but a slight stretch couldn't hurt.

No logo. I really don't want to have a prominent logo on the shirt, so that rules out a lot of the options from outdoorsy name brands.

Pocket or no pocket. I'd be OK with one pocket (on the left side like normal) as long as it doesn't have a button or zipper or flap. I wouldn't want two pockets and really I don't need a pocket at all. So no pocket is OK too.

Cost. I'd like to keep the cost under $50. 

I'm still looking!

Friday, August 4, 2023

A John Prine Playlist for the 301 Route to Philadelphia

For the drive to see Phish at The Mann in Philly last month I mapped out a route that avoids I-95 and DC via the 301 bridge from Virginia to Maryland and the Bay Bridge from Annapolis to Queenstown. To accompany this five-hour drive, I put together a John Prine playlist, selecting songs from each of the singer-songwriter's studio albums. There wasn't much curation involved as I tend to like most John Prine songs. 

Altogether it was about 115 songs totaling 6 and a half hours of music. It played the whole ride through and I never fast forwarded through any tracks and never changed it to something else. I managed to hold back the tears while quietly singing along to 99% of the words. There are not many artists or bands for whom I could assemble a playlist with over 100 songs of this caliber. 

So what do you notice after a five hour saturation of John Prine songs? Well on the obvious side he recycles melodies and themes. Days of the week come up a lot. I've been listening to John Prine for over 30 years so I knew what I was in for. Crooked Piece of Time was well placed in the mix as I desperately searched for a post 10pm parking spot in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philly. Good luck with that!

And the ride back? Well that was all Phish! Duh. Needless to say, it was a Loooooong Monday.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Books Read July 2023

Riding the Nightmare by Lisa Tuttle (7/5)

Like Love by Ed McBain (7/7)

Edison’s Ghosts - the Untold Weirdness of History’s Greatest Geniuses by Katie Spalding (7/16)

A Spaceship Built of Stone and other stories by Lisa Tuttle (7/17)

One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith from the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke (7/22)

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession (7/25)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (7/30)