Sunday, January 01, 2023

Why Are So Many Fit People Dying?

 The obvious culprit is “cardio exercise.” The heart doesn’t need to work any harder. It always is the hardest working and most reliable muscle of the human body. It is the other skeletal muscles that frequently languish — and they play the most significant role in optimizing health, functioning, and continued well-being. There is even the legend of “John Henry,” who was a hard-working man who thought he could outwork a steam engine — and of course, his heart exploded with that effort.

Similarly, a lot of the “World’s Strongest Man” competitors suffer from and even died of the great exertions required by their event. Additionally, it is a well-recognized fact that many of the top competitors in the Mr. Olympia and other bodybuilding contests experience heart as well as all other kinds of vital organ failures — thinking that it is enough just to push their bodies and organs to their limits for the body to adapt to those demands — rather than attaining critical failures — as with most things in real life.

Brute force is not going to make one invulnerable — especially from self-inflicted abuses — whether from exercise or from illicit drugs, and in many cases, both. So these untimely ends are not entirely unexpected and unprecedented, but are well-proven, and despite that, many go into denial about these obvious realities.

I’ve long pointed out that the heart has little effect on enhancing the circulation in the body — because it is the CONSTANT and not the VARIABLE — and in every experiment and experience, it is the variable that accounts for any significant difference and not the constant which is immutable. That is to say, that the heart is what it is, and nothing will change that, but the action of the rest of the muscles in the body, is what greatly impacts the effectiveness of circulation — particularly to those axes (joints) actually moved.

Otherwise, the heart has no idea where to prioritize that flow of blood and nutrients — but more importantly, it is those contractions of the skeletal muscles — that account for the propulsion of the blood and other fluids (inflammation, edema, lymphedema, lipedema, etc) back towards the heart — while creating space for the new to enter by virtue of the always working heart.

But for grossly misinformed people to think that all one is trying to accomplish in exercise is to work the heart infinitely harder, is the reason they are more likely to cause the heart to fail completely, rather than achieve the much more intelligent objective of using the entire musculature of the body to optimize the flow — and not just require the heart to work infinitely harder as the prescription for a longer and healthy life.

That is particularly the problem of the dementias — that the heart and lungs continue to function for many years after the circulation to the brain, hands and feet have ceased to remain vital functioning parts. It is a seriously flawed understanding that does not bode well for prolonged lives in continued good health and functioning — and therefore, all is lost.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

It Doesn't Take Much

 Because the biggest difference is between zero and one, the minimal regularity is once a week for at least an hour -- and if one can maintain that indefinitely and until the end of life, that is good enough.  Being able to do that one hour of exercise, is fitness -- and not some theoretical workload that one abandons as soon as possible.  

So when I see people exercise intermittently -- on any regularity, that is good enough -- because such people can ramp it up if they need to, or take a break -- and come back.  The people who are in real danger, are those who never come back.  It is just a matter of time, before they are gone entirely -- and expectedly.  One needs no excuses or reason for not doing anything obsessively and without fail, to believe they are doing "enough."  Compulsive and obsessive exercise and activity, conveys little survival benefit -- over the one who does what is absolutely necessary, when they absolutely have to.

All that seems to be lost in discussions on "fitness." What truly makes one fit, is being able to rise to the occasion, only as frequently as one needs to -- and then go on and do other things in a well-balanced existence.  Lots of people can only do one thing -- and if they have to do any other thing, are completely lost -- and that is not fitness.  Fitness is means rising to the challenge of the present moment -- and not compulsively doing their one thing regardless of whether it is appropriate or not.  It may even in fact be entirely inappropriate and make the situation and their chances for survival much worse -- as it is for those who think their fitness is manifested in taking ever-greater risks, until one day, they tempt fate too far.

Fitness is ultimately about survival -- and not simply dying doing what one loved, and did excessively.  So finding out what that right level is for optimizing one's health and survival is the bigger picture beyond rolling the dice and dying prematurely at a young age by taking risks that more intelligent people would not dare to take.  Such people perish prematurely -- or worse, live out the remainder of their days as paraplegics -- or some variation on that theme.  At any rate, it is not a full and well-developed life.

As such, many should question whether benching, squatting, or deadlifting to their breaking point is a wise thing to do -- because then it nullifies their original intent of becoming as able as possible, rather than disabled prematurely.  That is the fine line that everybody walks throughout life -- and is the difference between living and dying -- and exercise is dying a little, so one might live a greater life -- and not extinguishing oneself entirely. 

Thus what one is doing in exercise, is fully learning all the movements the body is designed and capable of -- and maintaining those movements and capabilities at least minimally -- rather than losing them by never feeling the need to express and articulate them.  The obvious choice then, is to practice different and varying movements --rather than doing a singular one thing -- thinking that is enough to make one at least minimally competent at the many movements possible.  Not doing those other things, will cause one to atrophy in those capacities unexercised.  Often, it is because one is not even conscious or aware of them.

The most common and frequent of these is the lack of head movement in contemporary modern man -- because that is no longer required for information and awareness of their environment.  Instead, they stare motionless at a screen all day that does all the moving for them.  And without that movement, the circulation to the extremity of the head and those critically important organs -- especially the brain -- are not optimized to their maximal capacities, and so the atrophying, deterioration, and dysfunction of those organs, is to be expected, rather than unsuspected.  And further evidence of that atrophy, is the deterioration of the neck muscles as well as the lack of head movement relative to the torso.

The importance of movement, is that it increases the circulation to those areas exercised, and not simply that the heart will provide that circulation equally to those organs and areas exercised or not -- to achieve that effect.  That is accomplished by the alternation of the muscular state from fullest contraction to fullest relaxation -- just as the heart beats in providing that flow from the heart out to the extremities.  But that flow will tend to go in those areas in which the blood has been expelled by the vigorous contractions of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles, and is why those areas tend to be developed more than unmoved and unexercised muscles in that same way.

And so if I were to design an optimal exercise program, one would begin with the most critical parts of the human body to maintain -- at the head, hands and feet -- rather than the biceps and the abdominals.  Not to do so, is the reason those people are inordinately predisposed to deprivation of health in those areas.  That is obvious when one is young, but becomes increasingly important with age -- and its well known by now, deteriorative patterns. That is infamously the look of the "talking heads" -- with their atrophying neck muscles, while their faces are heavily made-up to give them life-like expressions.

And as one goes to these dependent care centers, one notices that pattern of non-movement of the head particularly, as well as at the hands and feet -- and the rest is incidental at best.  Because it is at those extremities, that manifest and articulate the liveliness of that person -- even more than their vital signs or memories. In fact, the importance of memory is less important in an age in which virtual memory devices are plentiful -- and even excessive.  This is the age and times in which we live, and those challenges and needs change -- which is what is deemed important.

So whether one has to lift 500 lbs. is less important and useful, than if they can simply turn their head 360 degrees and achieve the greatest awareness of where they are and what they are doing -- most appropriately.  Far too many misguided individuals think it is enough just to smash as many storefront windows as they can -- as an expression of their value and fitness to society as well as themselves.  Far more valued would be knowing how to better keep everything intact and well maintained.  These latter, are far more likely to be deemed "fit," -- over those destroying as much as they can as an exhibition of their power.  That says that if they can't have it, then nobody else can either -- whether that be people, places or things.  Such people can be very destructive -- and not people you want to be around when they completely lose control of all their senses and faculties.  At that point, they become unrecognizable as human beings -- and are more like alien beings of which one is at a loss as to how to comprehend and deal with them.  This is very real life for increasingly many.

So true fitness is increasingly about understanding this much larger picture of life -- and not merely one person in competition with all the others for scarce prizes.  In fact, the more fit person, is likely to be the one who can transform scarcity into abundance, ie., the productive individual.  Those people make the biggest difference in any culture and society.  To some extent, it is exhibited in one's physical presence and prowess, but even beyond that, is characterized by great balance in all that they are and do.  Even among the competitive bodybuilders, that egregious imbalance, is disturbing to see.  The ideal of all those ancient statuaries, was in capturing the balanced physique in sculpture and paintings.

That is the standard most appealing to the healthy and intelligent.  One marvels at that design -- and function.  That is what Nature intended -- that we grow to be our best selves.  Then with that proper orientation, we do not lose our way and become directionless the older we get.  That is the challenge in living in an age of affluence -- and no longer an age of scarcity.  The challenges are very different, and so should our abilities and fitness to meet them.  That is how fitness becomes meaningful, and not just mindlessly spinning our wheels because we cannot think of a better use for our time on earth.

So instead of doing everything in as hard and difficult a way as possible, the total fitness challenge should be to optimize a life of our most intelligent design.  That obviously, is the next level.  That is what I hope to see more in the future -- of people exercising their intelligence in coordination with mastery of their movements and muscles.  Only in that way will we overcome the ravages of incomplete and unbalanced development -- which eventually incapacitates the whole operation.  More often than not, that is how we fail and die now.  Few are lost early in life, but most are later in life -- and that is how life has always worked.  Only now, we make a specialty out of dying.

In this, everyone wants to be in-charge -- with who lives, and who dies.  That is what personal coaches seem to be about.  People who do the thinking for you -- and there are a few out there -- particularly in the manipulative sciences.  Their job is to convince us of what is not true.  That is their "talent."  In some places, it is highly valued -- but is very stressful to be around, especially constantly as many allow themselves to be.  Some would say, that is the role of the "smartphone."  It does most of our thinking for us -- including exercise instruction.  That leaves out the essential part of learning on our own -- the major benefit of doing anything.  

Instead, all of what we know, is what somebody else told us is the truth -- and so we never bother to find out for ourselves whether that is actually true of not.  We just never question it.  And so we end up mindlessly doing anything -- rather than thinking our way through to the very end -- and finding out for ourselves what is true in our own lives.  We know what the "averages" say, but not any particular specific.  That is a distortion of reality.  That is the individual, and most important thing to know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Creating Your Own Yoga

Most yoga instructors are very dogmatic about how exercises are to be performed -- even if their instructions are largely arbitrary and counterproductive -- rather than individualized for optimal performance and functioning.  In many cases, the limitations on the movement are imposed by the adamant instructions rather than achieving the maximum range of movement -- which should be the objective in all movement exercises.  It is not to make it more difficult and problematical until the novice gives up -- never to return.

Case in point is the manner of instructions for the reverse tabletop -- and how a seemingly minor deviation from the manner directed, can result in a difficult and nonproductive exercise becoming a highly productive one.  That would simply be in allowing the fingers to point in the direction away from the feet -- rather than demand that the fingers point in the direction of the feet -- no exceptions, no deviations, no explanations of why that should be so.  The rationale if given, is that it forces the shoulders to have to work harder to maintain that position -- but also makes it more restrictive on the hip and back movement because maintaining that fingers toward the feet locks the shoulders so that full range of movement is impossible for any other structure of the body.

That is particularly the case if one is doing this movement for the purpose of relieving back pain because it restricts the hips from moving upwards -- which the positioning of the fingers in the direction away from the feet unlocks and does not limit the hips from rising in achieving a back arch.  And that back arch is what is lacking in most movements and postures -- because it is the backward movement of the femur that activates the powerful muscles of the gluteus and lower back that cannot be achieved in any other manner easily and conveniently -- especially for one experiencing back pain.

For this reason, the inventor of the Nautilus Machines, Arthur Jones, created the Hip and Back machine as what he originally thought was the only other machine he needed to work out the major structures of the major girdles of the human body -- the shoulders and the hips.  At those points, most of the major (largest) muscles of the body were integrally linked -- and his original purpose was to achieve maximum efficiency for bodybuilding purposes.  He added more machines on the insistence and observation that he could sell more machines if he had more different machines to sell -- which was not his original intention -- which was to involve all the muscles in as few movements as possible.

Today, that is usually referred to as "compound movements" -- arguing for that superiority over any machine limiting a movement to largely just one axis of rotation -- at the aforementioned shoulders and hips.  However, meaningful movement is never expressed and articulated at those junctures, but are expressed at the fine movements and musculature at the extremities -- as the ultimate expression and articulation.

That accounts for one to throw or hit a baseball, play a musical instrument, and write or speak.  Those are the ultimate expressions and articulations that give meaning to all human movement -- of which the girdle provides the major support function.  In that way, it is similar to the heart in being the ultimate supportive organ.  One does not get one's heart beat as high as possible to hit a homerun, but rather, it is hitting the homerun that may raise the heart beat momentarily to a higher level.  But all that is done automatically and autonomically -- rather than deliberately, which has little bearing on one's achievement.  One's focus is entirely at the action at the axis at the extremity -- and that is what produces the homerun -- whether the batter or tennis player, can turn their wrists to result in a precise result.

Thus one is looking at the proper grip and hand position that results in that fine motor control -- and not simply overwhelming brute force using the hands and feet as clubs in every case and application.  Even in the application of force, it is likely to require some, or even a high degree of precision -- as in sharpshooting.  It is not simply a matter of who can squeeze the trigger or click the camera as hard as possible that invariably produces the best results.  A high degree of fine motor skills are required to acheive the desirable results.  Likewise, the one who pounds the keyboard as hard as possible until all the keys fly off, is not necessarily the best writer -- and in fact, is more likely to indicate a person who does not know what they are doing, and acts out that frustration.

One often sees that frustration acted out in competitive environments -- athletic or otherwise.  That is also the demeanor of a champion -- that they don't fly into a rage and off the handle when posed with any challenge.  They accept that as part of the game that they have to rise to the challenge of -- and test their inventory of responsiveness.  That is the true measure of their "fitness," and not simply doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result.

So the better their understanding of what they are doing -- as well as the awareness of what the other "players" are doing, the greater chances they have of success.  These things don't just happen despite what one is doing -- but invariably, is caused by what they are doing -- that makes a difference.  In the case of our specific example of the reverse tabletop position, with finders facing in the direction of the feet, the shoulders are locked so that the hips cannot rise and therefore assume a back arch that allows the femur to move backwards and thus engage the gluteus and back muscles -- and so has limited, or no use, as a back strengthening exercise -- as most exercises and postures also fail to do.  As such, most people experience back pain as their leading cause of weakness and discomfort.

Thus Jones created the Hip and Back machine -- unlike any movement done before -- so much so that it was difficult to get most trainees to do the movement correctly because it just was not ordinarily done -- and the yoga manner prescribed, made it prohibitive -- because it locked the shoulders so that hips could not rise in the manner that would fully contract the gluteus as well as the spinal erectors.  It is movement, and particularly range of movement that accounts for muscle contraction and relaxation -- and not resistance!  As a muscle contracts, it brings one bone as close as possible to another -- and as it relaxes (elongates), allows the bone to move as far as possible from the anchoring joint.  That contraction must occur regardless of whether there is resistance to such a movement because then, the contraction itself, is the resistance -- to further contraction.  That is, it cannot contract to zero -- but volume is inversely related to pressure, so as the volume contracts (becomes smaller), the pressure increases -- and that pressure has to go somewhere.

In the case of a muscle contraction, the pressure (fluids) have to move back towards the heart -- while the lack of movement, will cause the fluids to remain where they are -- and results in the problems of edema, lymphedema, and lipodema -- particularly as one gets older, and the valves in the veins become insufficient to this task.  The most obvious of these indications are seen as varicose veins -- but also the swelling of the ankles, feet, hands, and wrists -- that are often thought to be the natural products of aging.  Overlooked is the fact that there is this contractile insufficiency of the muscles that compound this effect.

That can be proven when one suffers an acute injury that produces swelling (inflammation), and the difference seen when one wraps that area -- or not.  That area will usually swell to monstrous proportions if not wrapped -- whereas it will actually shrink because of compression caused by the wrapping.  Muscles also act in that same manner --of forcing the swelling (fluids) out of that localized area -- back towards the purifying and recycling organs next to the heart -- by virtue of the fact that all the muscle structures are rooted next to the heart.  How clever of Nature to do so.  But that's millions of years of evolution to perfect that design and function -- and will not be overridden just because somebody wants to sell every person in the world a heart monitor to keep track of that given. 

In like manner, one can devise all kinds of movements to restrict and inhibit movement -- that allowed to give full play to their actual limitations -- would be health-sustaining rather than prohibiting that possibility -- merely because somebody thought it should be so.  Thus, many people think that developing the hip and back structures are impossible because it is difficult to design and build a machine specifically for that purpose and function -- because that movement is prohibited to them by edict of their instructors. 

Instead, one can design and build a machine with unlimited capacity to load resistance -- but not do anything productive -- which is largely the case when it is assumed that simply "using" as much weight as possible automatically equates to favorable results.  Or getting a meter to measure as high as possible -- even to the detriment or expense of what one is actually trying to accomplish.  We see such misguided thinking in many examples of daily life -- when people think that the singular object in life is to go as fast as possible, or burn as many calories as possible -- rather than being properly focused on the healthiest and safest way to achieve their objectives.

One can load up a bar to 500 lbs on the squat rack and destroy one's knees trying to resist it from falling straight down -- or articulating the movement not possible using any resistance but the insight that it is the backward movement of the femur that contracts the gluteus and spinal erectors.  That's just how the body works -- and is especially important if one wants to keep their bodies working throughout all the years of their lives.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Yoga, Isometrics, Dynamic Tension, Posturing

Getting big and lifting heavy is what a lot of people think is desirable and necessary to optimize their health -- especially in the gyms where they think they are doing it for other people's benefit and validation.  But far more valuable are the exercises one can do when obvious movement in the conventional ways are not desirable, or even possible.  That of course is when one is restricted from doing so by pain and other injuries -- when it hurts to move anything.  What most never learn or realize is that the far more important aspect of exercise is what goes on inside the muscles (body) and not from the obvious measures of "work," which requires movement to measure.  

However, the beneficial aspect of exercise is that it causes movement of blood and other fluids with the tissues -- and that movement is what causes the optimal functioning which is health, strength, and balance -- or the total package one is aiming to achieve -- and not merely one measure while sacrificing all the others.  Not only would that be pointless but it often results in destructiveness and self-inflicted injuries.

So it is important to learn while doing all one's activities, that proper balance that results in harmony and well-being -- rather than simply cultivating an endless need for more of one thing while undermining and destroying every other thing -- and that wholeness (completeness) is the objective -- and not any one thing to the detriment of all the others.  Thus even exercise, nutrition, "rightness," can be overdone and undone -- as happens when one is merely focused on one thing despite the destruction of all the others.

The wisest people know this -- and that is what makes them wise -- this understanding of the big picture, and not just one cog in the great wheel of life.  Unfortunately, in a world of increasingly narrow and bureaucratic specialization, most are not taught the importance of the big picture upfront, but are merely instructed on the minute and even petty, and so never get to the next level -- and the next -- because they are fixated on what doesn't matter -- thinking it is the only thing that matters.  One hears it especially in sports and athletic competitions -- that winning is the only thing that matters -- and not how one gets there.  Thus, many are ruthless and cheat at getting there, and think that is all that matters -- and then learn later in life when their health and good relations are spent, that they've moved permanently to the back of the line, and now have no idea how to reverse those alarming trends.

Those are the lessons one hopes to learn along the way in getting there -- and not simply burning all the bridges as soon as one has crossed them so no other (competitor) can get there.  That's why sportsmanship is also prized -- and may be the greater distinction among the truly knowing.  How many others has one helped to get there?  That's when the competitor becomes the master (teacher) and transcends that activity.  And that transcendence is what one is working to achieve -- and not merely being one more cog in the great wheel of life, signifying very little of real importance.

Those are the prizes nobody gives to any other -- but the greatest reward each give to themselves -- when they feel truly worthy of that accomplishment.  And that is also what one hopes to achieve from their activity -- this greater sense of doing all the right things, living the right life, and being right with the world.  The psychologists describe it as the "peak experience" -- and if one is not working to achieve that, their activities and exercise will seem pointless, and they will fall out of it at the first possible excuse and opportunity -- rather than cultivate a personal tradition of betterment in everything they do.  

So this one thing transfers to all the other things one does -- and become one's personal compass -- particularly during the worst of times when all the others have become unreliable measures of which way the winds are blowing.  But one should know at least, which way the winds are blowing -- and all the other forces one has to account for, or one will find themselves far off course -- and even without a paddle, and other necessary equipment to get back in the game.

Even many formerly great athletes find themselves there -- especially as time and age become a greater factor in their lives, and what they thought they knew about getting to the top, no longer works -- and increasingly despair that anything does anymore.  That is merely an obvious signal that one has to shift gears -- and emphasize different aspects to get going again.  Then one discovers that there are many ways, and not just the one way they thought would see them through life totally unscathed, and remain perpetually at the top of their game.

Increasingly, that would indicate looking inward rather than outward -- in the world of exercise to gentler forms, rather than thinking it is enough to still be running a marathon at age 100, or deadlifting their bodyweight, as the only way they know how.  Often, those things are no longer possible, but is that the end-all, be-all of meaningful and productive activities -- or is there vastly more beyond, and better?

At this point, exercise as well as any other practice, becomes a transcendental experience -- taking them to a higher level.  But that does not mean that is the unmeasurable and unfathomable.  It is just more subtle, requiring a higher understanding to perceive.  It is the contraction of the muscle that causes a weight to move -- and not the movement of the weight that causes the contraction -- which is obvious to reflect upon, but many do not understand which is the cause and which is the effect -- and think they are merely coincidental.  Thus they arrive at the "victory" party not understanding they have to first play the game -- or do the work.  Correlation is not causation -- and one must understand that, yet this is the most misunderstood aspect of doing anything -- including and especially athletic activities, which one would think is the most obvious and self-evident.

Yoga, isometrics, dynamic tension, and merely posturing, are examples that one is achieving something impressive without requiring movement and the conventional metrics of work -- and so is difficult to distinguish a person doing nothing, from one who is achieving a high level of proficiency -- until one tries it themselves.  "Isometric" means no or little visible movement, and so many will question how that can be exercise -- if they have been conditioned to believe it is the greatest expenditure of calories, effort and pain that produces a virtuous and desirable result.  But on closer examination, does the lifting of the weight account for most of their movement, or is the movement produced by the falling of the weight -- until rebounded off the body or floor -- or the extent of one's ligament and tendon integrity?

In fact, such a performance style has even been elevated to the highest form of "resistance" training -- that is resisting a weight for up to 90% of the time, and so actually very little of the time is spent actually "lifting" a weight or in a contracting position, but most of the time effort is expended preventing the weight from falling to the ground unimpeded.  That manner of performance is exonerated as the "eccentric" muscle contraction -- over the "concentric" which is the weight being lifted by a muscle contraction.  The problem with this is that there is no need to exercise the relaxation phase over the contractile phase -- because that is the muscular state that one will invariably default to -- just as the effort should be expended on the exhalation of the breath (residual air) rather than the inhalation into an already full or even partially full lung -- because of the peculiar and distinctive structure of lung tissue -- which means branching into smaller and smaller vessels to optimize the surface contact -- as also happens in the blood vessels.

That is not well understood by most practitioners -- or they would be a lot more successful at achieving their objectives of becoming stronger, healthier, and obviously looking so.  In fact, this latter trait is often dismissed as merely cosmetic when actually, it implies all the rest.  The most robust and dominant looking individual in that collective, is obviously the most fit in that group -- as can first be observed in their posture, or body language.  It's not the juveniles constantly engaged in fights to prove their place in the pecking order.  Even the casual observer or newcomer, can observe that difference.  Another term for that heightened condition is "muscle tone," which all exercisers do not exhibit equally -- for the obvious reason that despite their activity, indicates little mastery of this voluntary muscle control -- that enables its greatest practitioners to transform themselves instantly from one state of total muscular relaxation to total muscular contraction -- as they desire or is needed.

That would be a true measure of fitness -- adapting fully to the conditions and challenges of the present moment -- and not simply being an inappropriate caricature of one who never changes and adapts to those requirements no matter what -- as one conditioned only to resist change, but never to initiate it even in the smallest ways -- that over time and persistence, change the world.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Why People Don't Change (Get Results)

 Most people are incredulous when you tell them that they should get immediate results (feedback) from what they are doing -- so used to having other people (usually self-professed experts) telling them what to do -- as if they knew any better.  Usually, they are merely repeating what everybody else is saying -- regardless if it works or not, and often preferring that it not work so they can have a lifetime of providing advice that doesn't work.  Surely if their advice did work, there would no longer be a problem guaranteeing lifetime job security by creating ever worsening problems and conditions.

So one has to ask from the very beginning -- whether that product or service ensures a lifetime dependency to that other, or is that piece of wisdom allowing them to go on without the baggage of a coterie of lifetime assistants and associates?  Of course the worst of these are the professional advisers to be found in publications and media ostensibly offering their advice for "free" -- guaranteeing their readers a lifetime of problems.  Along with that advice is the commandment to listen to no one else, and no different perspective that offers escape from that lifetime dependency and dysfunction.

Thus the greatest wisdom, is to discover the truth of any matter for oneself as much as possible, and then to distinguish which sources of other information is reliable and trustworthy -- from those who merely wish to exploit them for as long as they can.  That's one way of doing business and conducting all one's human affairs -- but is obviously a Zero-sum game in which in order to win, everybody else must lose -- and not that everybody can truly win, and move on to permanently higher levels of functioning and being. with 

Fortunately, that is just the beginning lessons one must learn in anything, and not the final straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back at which the house of cards all come tumbling down -- and one finds themselves with absolutely nothing and starting over -- at an advanced age in life with diminishing resilience and capacity to recover.  That is everyone's worst nightmare -- that at that critical stage of life, one is totally at the mercy of others and everything, with no power of their own.  So wisely, one is developing those formidable capabilities all one's life -- so that with advancing age, one is more capable, and not totally incapacitated.

That's what "fitness" is -- at any age and stage of life -- and not having spent it all in youth to end up an empty shell of what they formerly were -- as though that is going to do them any good.  No, life marches on, and all one can do at any age and stage of life, is prepare oneself to make the best of whatever life throws at them -- and surely life will.  That is the nature of life -- and living, but more importantly, what each makes of it -- individually.  That is the major differentiator above all else -- distinguishing the winners from the losers, the survivors from the extinct.

In most cases, life is fairly obvious -- if not overwhelmingly so.  Doing the right things are immediately apparent, just as doing the wrong things are equally manifest.  But if one is in the habit of depending on others (demagogues) to determine those things for them regardless of what are senses and better judgment tell us, then one moves further and further away from the truth of their own being and doing, and more into the sway of those who determine the truth of everything for them.  That is not a good way to be -- and that is what the collective wisdom of humanity tells us is worth knowing and pursuing.

The rest of life tells us if we are right or wrong -- and it is not for us to determine that unilaterally despite what results tell us.  By far, the people in the worst shape and condition, are people who are most certain that they know everything they need to know -- but are not doing it.  Most probably, it is because it doesn't make any sense or they would be doing it -- and wouldn't be doing whatever they are doing that is spectacularly not working.  That should be obvious -- to anyone who knows anything at all.  You don't put your hand on a hot stove because you know better -- and don't require years of experience before one finally realizes that.  It is instantaneous -- as with most things in life -- but we can be convinced otherwise by those who claim to know better.  But usually, what they know, is all they know -- and is not better.

Let's see what the actuality tells us.  If it worked 50 years ago, but no longer works now -- it is not that it is because of our age -- but that it didn't work before, if ever, and there might have been some other reason they experienced the results they got.  But often, we don't understand the real reasons something worked 50 years ago -- but not now, when we most need it to work.  That is not good enough. The truth of the matter is discovered in every present moment -- and is not just the accumulation of past knowledge, no matter how voluminous it is.  It must stand the challenge of the present moment -- which then becomes the foundation for all the future moments.  It is not lost and wasted -- although many people think that way -- or convince themselves that that is so.

That world view is expressed in the thinking that the sole objective of every human activity is to burn and waste as many calories (resources) as possible -- as an end in itself -- rather than doing something productive and beneficial.  That is like the person who thinks that the objective of their job is merely to perpetuate their job -- rather than to achieve something more beneficial that enables them to take on an even higher and nobler task -- because they ave laid down the foundation for that ascent to the next level.  For such people, life and all its activities are not just about endless repetition and never evolving to the next level because of that change.

Instead, everything merely gets worse -- starting from 50 years ago, or whatever milestone they use to denote their own peak -- if ever.  A few will even claim a downhill slide from the moment of their conception -- and then life never gets better -- and then they just die a miserable death.  Thus, they proclaim knowingly, there is no hope for humankind -- and we must depopulate the planet in favor of some lower species.  And then things will be better.  Until then, all human efforts are futile -- and especially theirs, so why bother?

Of course, that is the portrait of despair -- which many express to varying degrees and extents.  That is the belief that they cannot make any difference -- because nothing they do ever shows immediate, direct results -- when in truth, everything does.  That is the infallible guide.  It's not about needing unlimited funding dollars conducted with thousands of people over ten years -- to know anything definitively.  Instead, it is more like a game --  in which one either scores a goal or one doesn't -- and one shouldn't give up trying if they don't have the ball.  One has to be prepared and ready for their moment and opportunity.

When most people get favorable results but they never do, it's not that they have a rare condition that makes that unattainable for them only but maybe what they think they are doing, is not what every other successful individual is doing.  So one should be paying attention to not what everybody is doing, but only what the successful individuals are doing -- that make them so, and that is a continuing refining process and not just learned once and then one never needs to learned anything ever again.  All in life is not that way.  What one learns at 20, is not what one needs to know at 40, 60, 80 -- especially if it is not working anymore.  One needs to meet the challenges of the present moment -- in order to remain viable at any age and stage of life.

That means  continuing learning -- largely on one's own, and never that they learned everything they need to know 50 years ago, and everybody else needs to learn what they know -- and that is all they need to know.  If it is working, then that is what others should know about, but if it is no longer working and maybe never did, one needs to know what does work -- even if they have to discover that for the rest of the world to know.  Hopefully, that is the work that everybody is doing -- and making a difference -- and not merely parading around as though they know better, while their civilization is declining in all measurable aspects and qualities.  They are not the bastions of enlightenment they tout themselves to be -- for all the world to emulate.  That is merely hubris -- pride and arrogance with no good reason for being so.  That changes nothing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Head, Hands and Feet

It should come as no secret that the parts of the human body that are markers of aging (deterioration), can be seen most obviously at the head, hands and feet -- rather than whether they have a "six-pack" or not.  Not only is that the least visible, but the least obvious of indicators -- until one is far gone -- at which point they become overwhelmingly obvious.  Most people don't necessarily get to that stage -- and can exhibit dysfunction at the cognitive organs of the extremities, despite seeming to be "fit" otherwise.  That is when it is most disheartening, as one also seems to be doing everything possible to prevent that slide into oblivion.

So if one were to rethink beneficial "exercise" entirely for such essential functioning and beyond, they would not focus on six-packs, biceps or even "glutes," but would directly address exercise that specifically and physically increase the benefits to the head, hands and feet -- that are famously failing despite all the cardio (heart) and "core" one can do futilely -- as a well-proven failure already, and refocus the optimalization of the exercise benefits specifically and directly to those areas well-known to fail first -- despite all one's efforts in the conventional/traditional emphasis of exercise.

That is obviously not working, and as a genius once said, "Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result,"  Anybody who has worked with all the different populations from the very well to the very disabled, would note that the characteristic (and striking) lack of movement and functioning is at the head, hands and feet -- so much so that these groups often sit (or lie) motionless all day, for the remainder of their days -- while the heart continues to beat unfailingly.  So that is not most people's problem -- but the lack of voluntary (skeletal) movement and functioning -- that one can do something about.  

You fix what is broken, and not what continues to work well -- which paradoxically, may have gotten them into the condition they are in.  If one exercises (prioritizes the blood flow) to those body parts that are functioning well as the automatic (autonomic) -- at the expense of the voluntary, including the head, scarce resources are being diverted away from where it needs to go.  While one is young and seems to have boundless energy and resources to burn foolishly, as they get older, that abundance and limitlessness becomes more problematical -- and the astute among them realize that they have to expend those resources more judiciously, and in doing so, become older and wiser rather than the misguided notion of remaining a 20 year old forever.  That plan is not going to work.

And now it has become an endemic problem and the challenge of this age -- that needn't be, unless one stubbornly insists on it being so -- by continuing to do all the things that needn't be done, while ignoring the obvious lack of what would benefit immensely by the benefit of actual movement at these axes of rotation (movement).  That is to say quite simply and in order to increase the beneficial flow of blood and nutrients to a particular area -- requires movement and muscle contraction specifically at that axis of rotation (and movement) to optimize the flow there -- just as in developing the bicep.  Otherwise, the heart alone will not determine that flow -- but in coordination with the voluntary muscles dictating that flow there with its contraction.  

Muscle contraction is essential to that circuit because the heart alone cannot overcome the resistance into an area that has no blood flowing out of that space -- first!  That is the magic of contraction -- which is also compression -- which means to decrease the volume, and doing so, increases the motive pressure back to the heart via the venous system.  The blood coming from the heart is being pushed there by the alternating contraction/relaxation of the heart -- which is the pumping effect.  However, the vessels on the way back, have tiny valves that close to prevent a backflow -- except in the common case of older, inactive people who never contract the muscles at the extremities resulting in the loss of grip strength in the hands, lack of balance in the feet, and diminishing cognitive functioning of the brain and head organs because the normal head movements of the body have been negated by the lack of head movement -- exacerbated by staring at screens.

One of the habits of people who hear well, is that they turn their heads in the direction of the person speaking, or the approaching traffic -- rather than not looking around.  And in fact, that is how the eyes can see what is going on around them -- rather than merely relying on their brain to know what is happening -- without such movement.  Many cardio exercisers are not aware of their surroundings because they are exclusively focused on the screen in front of them.  In fact, it may even be considered "bad form" to be looking around at what is going on around them -- when in fact, that may be the most important part of any exercise and movement.

Awareness of what is going on, leads to the proper response to that environment and realities, and not just simply doing their own program -- no matter what.  And conditioning in that manner over the years, cultivates that kind of tunnel vision, and finally an increasing lack of awareness of what is going on -- and how to respond appropriately.  There is an actual physical component to reality and responsiveness -- and not simply acting from one's own thoughts of how things are -- and must be, regardless of the constant changes.

Hopefully, one is conditioning oneself to function more successfully in the world they live in -- and not simply to have one's heart continue to beat while they can no longer do anything they can for themselves anymore -- because their grip strength is gone, their foot balance is gone, their head no longer pivots to see what is going on around them anymore.  They all sit like motionless statues throughout the remainder of their days -- which can be as long as medical science can provide them in that manner.  But is that the best that can be hoped for -- or is another actuality possible?  The obvious.

The curious thing is that when one strengthens the extremities as one's priorities, it implies the rest -- but not vice-versa.  The part can not be the whole, but the whole, will easily include the part.  That requires a break from the recent trend of specialization thinking it can result in the whole, in favor of the realization that it makes much more sense to begin with the whole -- and that will include the parts, and not that one has to reinvent the wheel whenever one does something differently.

It's well known that young people operating with the heart first approach overwork the heart and die prematurely, while older champion bodybuilders preponderately die of dementias -- even while maintaining their good condition otherwise everywhere else -- but where it is vitally important to maintain that viability.  That deterioration is obvious at the axes of the head, hands and feet that no longer move -- but is prone to the swelling and dysfunction at the extremities.  Many people recognize this truth in wearing compression garments and getting massage -- because like exercise -- they produce the compressive effect that helps weak veins make up that insufficiency.

There is no reason we cannot resort to all the advances that modern civilization has afforded us -- in unrelated bits and pieces.  But it is better when we have the whole picture, and understand why things are happening because of what we are doing -- rather than in spite of all that we are doing to undermine our continued optimal functioning -- at every age and stage of life.  There's a reason things happen.

It's not crossword puzzles.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Time Under Tension

Is lifting weights enough to build muscle?

Many people believe that simply loading up the resistance is enough to guarantee that muscle will grow -- no matter what they do with it thereafter.  It's as though they believe that muscle growth occurs because they load plates onto a bar, and it doesn't matter what they do with it -- rather than the more accurate picture that what they do, is far more important than how much they've loaded onto the bar.  

This is particularly true when trainees are older -- and don't get the fabulous results of younger trainees.  But is the difference because they are older -- and not as it is more likely to be, that they perform their movements in a perfunctory manner -- because they are old, and so is excusable in that way?  That they can still move at all, is considered perfectly acceptable and admirable, and not that they need to pay even more attention to rigor in the performance of everything -- and that is the reason people grow old prematurely -- when they adamantly stop caring, and think there is no difference.  At that stage of life, they are entirely accountable to themselves -- and nobody is going to grade and correct them on their performance, and so they give up caring -- and if nobody else is going to care, why should they themselves -- because they are only in it for the praise and rewards.

If nobody else is going to reward them for being in peak performance, why should they care?  That is also true of many of the talented performers who are past their peak popularity, or when they simply cannot delude themselves that they are up and coming prospects any longer.  That great motivation to fulfill their "unlimited" potential has passed, and they are faced with the lifelong grind into obsolescence and obscurity.

Of course the great champions of every sport and activity face this fall off even more agonizingly than the many who never were.  Many get lost in life once they are no longer at the top -- and then even act in ways to speed their own self-destruction and immolation.  Life for them is unbearable and insufferable without the constant attention and adulation -- and without it, they implode in a vacuum of meaninglessness and lack of purpose.  If they don't reinvent those motives for themselves, they face a life of torment and addiction -- to obtain that same high, but that doesn't lead to some higher meaning and purpose -- but only a path to a certain end -- with no escape or turnaround.  It is a one way street to oblivion -- and they no longer care.

We are all like that -- to a certain extent -- and becomes more obvious as the years go by.  Maybe the philosophers and psychologists talk a good game -- until in the end, they too give up.  So how to be an ever renewing fountain of hope and aspiration is the quest even the best have to confront eventually.  Some people just hope to be so busy and distracted they have no time for such thoughts -- and so when such moments of truth confront them full on, they have no answer for themselves.  Life is just one more distraction and entertainment -- they hope never ends.

But surely and certainly, it does end -- and never on their terms.  The best they can hope for, is to be blindsided -- and go as they lived, clueless and uncaring to the end.  Such lives are the opposite of what we hope ours might be -- intentional and deliberate -- and so there is a reason why things happen, and not just a blur of one thing from every other.  That is the clarity we hope to see in life -- to see things clearly, for once in our lives.  And once we have a glimpse of that, and know what it is, we can move towards the light, and not plunge further into the darkness and abyss.

So all we know is that the light and clarity is good -- and strive to move into it as completely as possible.  In the other possibilities, nothing ever makes sense -- even when the words may sound plausible for a while.  But then one wants something more than just nice-sounding words that mean nothing -- like Plato's shadows on the wall.  They are not reality -- although they sound a lot like it.

The productive part of exercise is not how much weight one places on the bar prior to performing a movement with it -- but the movement itself -- regardless of the weight, or apparatus employed.  The key concept is "time under tension" -- which again sounds nice, but few have thought to consider what it actually means.  Time under tension only begins where most people are already quitting -- or think no further movement is possible.  It is in extending the range of movement at that point that causes the most severe muscular contraction possible -- which is exactly where most people never go, and actually condition themselves not to.  That would be in straightening the arms and continuing to push beyond that resting point (bone on bone lockout) -- that most regard as the furthest extent of that movement, at which point they immediately lower their arms rather continuing to push further in the direction of the fullest contraction.

That contraction, is also compression -- contraction meaning to make a volume smaller, and by that, forcing as much as the residual fluids to move back towards the renewing organs of the heart, liver, kidneys etc.  Otherwise, the fluids remain in the tissues at the extremities, where the deterioration of the head, hands and feet are noticed by most as the aging phenomena.  The fluids have to carry the waste products back to the purification organs, or the toxicity builds up, destroying the nerves and capillaries in the characteristic manner in which modern, and particularly sedentary people age -- because they produce very few contractions that a hard-working person would normally -- since the particular work of humans, is done with movements at the head, hands and feet.

That is where human evolution is designed and optimized for movement (work).  Lacking that need for actual physical work, the next best thing is exercise designed with such movement (activation) uppermost in mind -- specifically and deliberately to produce contractions from the furthest muscular insertions at the extremities of the most articulate organs.  Otherwise, the result is the familiar edema, lymphedema, lipedema of a rapidly failing (aging) body -- which is the retention of fluids and waste products in the tissues, with no way of being deliberately, intentionally and systematically eliminated -- as Nature intended.

In light of this reality, no amount of drugs and medical appliances are going to be able to substitute for this deficit -- that Nature has provided so well for.  Nor the wrong kinds of exercise -- that do not address this critical part of the circulatory effect, but instead, is misguidedly focused on making the heart work exclusively harder -- until it ultimately has to prematurely fail -- as many top exercisers (proponents) have manifested.

The heart works perfectly -- with no need for intervention; it is all the other muscles of the body that are doing nothing to contribute to the health-maintaining critical function of optimizing the circulation.  That is the need for exercise -- and how to go about it productively.