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The Importance of Strength Training

Yesterday, the pain in my left knee had me limping along at a snail’s pace, hardly able to accomplish anything. It wasn’t because of a particular recent injury, or anything I did. It was because of what I haven’t been doing so much lately, and got back to doing today; strength training.

Things have changed since my youth. In my youth, my attitude was that pain was merely an obstacle, and that if I put in enough effort and gumption I could accomplish anything. When I played sports, I didn’t play well – but I did play hard. I threw myself around recklessly, without regard for my body or anyone else’s.

That style of ‘play’ did take its toll on my body in the long run, and a few years ago while digging window wells for our house I got to that ‘last straw’ and hurt my back.

For a while there, my back and my knees were so stiff and sore and weak that it slowed me down a lot. Only 1 thing has gotten me moving again, albeit in a somewhat unorthodox manner; strength training.

Check out this article; . Everything it says is true.

Starting last March, I began strapping on ankle weights and put additional weights in a backpack (wrapped in towels & taped up to avoid bruising my back) while I walked the dog. Over time, I added more weights, additionally putting on wrist weights and eventually strapping a set of ankle weights to my arms as well (the wrist weights that are available are very light). It was like a personal renaissance. I got stronger, and the walk meant a kind of cardio workout for me as well. Granted, it exposed my quirkiness to my neighbourhood, but the benefits to my overall fitness and even clarity of thought outweighed any concerns I might have had about public perception. Additionally, as I got stronger, the pain in my joints diminished. My theory had been, in line with what a physiotherapist once told me, that building up muscle around my joints would hold them in tension and therefore ultimately put less strain/rubbing on the joints, so that my now basically non-existent cartilage didn’t have to be there. It seemed to be working. And as the pain in my joints diminished, I was able to do every task more quickly, having greater flexibility. I could run with my boys a bit, throw a ball around, without difficulty.

In the last few weeks, however, the weather got really cold around here. The ground froze and got slippery. I strapped on the weights on fewer and fewer days, even taking the dog on fewer walks, since the weather added to the difficulty of getting my workout while getting out dog treats for necessary training and while picking up after the dog.

And now, my knee hurts again, a lot. I guess I’ll have to work out separately from walking the dog, and it will take time. But really, I don’t have a choice. It has to be done. In the short term, while I exercise, my knee will still hurt – but it won’t get better unless I work out. (*This is true for my situation; please consult with a doctor regarding your own physical ailments). I either sit around in pain, or I take a bit more time to be healthy and accomplish more in the end.

Numerous studies have recently linked regular exercise to a reduction in the risks for, and enhanced recovery from, symptoms and diseases as varied as stroke, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s (seriously – google it). Regular exercise also helps reduce the negative effects associated with ADD and other nervous system anomalies. It has been said that exercise is “the closest thing to a superdrug available to us today.”

So based on my past year’s experience, if I am going to make any resolutions for the upcoming new year, they will have to include integrating an appropriate level of exercise into my life. I can’t do my work any better, or support my family’s needs better, if I am unable to move at an optimal level of performance – so regardless of the endeavor, it will all have to start with exercise.

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Parody – What Not To Do At A Company Christmas Party

I saw this headline on my twitter feed, and I thought – wow, think of all the possibilities! But they didn’t. They only thought of things that ordinary people might actually do at a company Christmas party, which might be kind of inappropriate.

Since I dislike such limitations, I decided to come up with my own list, as follows;

1) Do not clip your toenails. Not even if you move the trash can over so that they don’t litter the rug (not that it matters. They pay people to clean up, right?!?)

Look, I know life gets busy, and some important but less top-of-mind tasks get left undone. There’s value in multi-tasking. But it turns out that some things, like clipping toenails in public in front of coworkers and management during events intended for relaxation, provoke disgust and might even be career-limiting. So however tempting it may be, don’t clip your toenails at the company Christmas party. Especially if you haven’t washed your feet for a while due to all that overtime and those tasks you were given just before the unrealistic and unnecessary deadlines.

2) Sometimes the Christmas season is tricky. Your budget has its limits, but you feel the social pressure to give gifts. You want to economize, make use of what you have at hand, show that you are part of the team and want to be an active participant.

Despite all that, though, it turns out that the company Christmas party may actually not require the giving of gifts. And definitely, don’t bring along clippers, don’t prune the artificial trees in the rented banquet hall, and don’t redistribute the artificial fronds to every plate at every table. The effort you went to, I can guarantee, would not be appreciated (although it would be remembered).

3) You want to spread the joy of the season, right? Hey, up here in the Great White North, we have to make the most of the fact that we have seasons, and a little positive attitude can go a long way. Still, bringing wheelbarrows full of snow into the area where you are having your company Christmas party and shoveling it all around the tables is going a bit far. And you might hurt your back, which I’m not sure would be covered by the company health insurance plan in this case. You could look into that.

4) Everyone gets caught up in the festive mood from time to time. Running on stage when the microphone is empty and loudly singing all the seasonal songs you know, unaccompanied by instruments, and doing frequent mid-song key changes, well… the question is, have you ever seen anyone else do that? If so, have you heard applause and appreciative comments from those gathered? If no, maybe resist. Innovation in celebration has its place, but the company Christmas party might not be the place. Maybe when the boss has accepted at least 5 of your other suggestions, you could try this idea.

5) I hope I haven’t discouraged you by this talk of all the restrictions and limitations on company Christmas party behavior. You might be tempted to just keep to yourself, go into your shell. But you feel that your presence is expected, so you feel maybe that you want to create your own bubble, enjoy the party in your own way. That’s not an excuse to bring a large screen and set up a wireless connection so you can watch the hockey, American football, and/or basketball game(s) that you are missing. Turns out that people do want some sort of personal interaction, and chances are the space won’t be set up so that everyone else who is jealous can also watch. Could lead to trouble.

6) Bills stack up around the Christmas season, and you might want to get ahold of some extra money somehow. But the way to do it is not to get a job moonlighting as serving staff for the caterers who are taking care of food for the company Christmas party. Especially if you have a bad cold. Plus, people will approach you with any of their concerns, and try to get the inside scoop on the best piece of dessert, so there would be a chance of perceived favoritism. And do you really want the hassle of all those folks clambering to get you to be the server at their table? I didn’t think so.

So to sum up;
1) No clipping toenails.
2) Don’t snip fronds off the artificial plants and redistribute them as gifts to each place setting.
3) Avoid bringing wheelbarrows full of snow into the banquet hall.
4) Don’t run on stage uninvited and loudly sing all the Christmas songs you know, off key.
5) Bringing a big screen along and watching sports during the party is right out.
6) Don’t moonlight as the catering staff. It might be the only job you have, after the party.

You’re welcome.

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