So by way of full disclosure: I am a monk.
OK, technically not. I think in English we are called "Lay Monks"?
This is a relatively boring storing involving How I First Met Patrick, so sit back and enjoy:
About a decade ago I went on a 3-day Buddhist Zen retreat in the tea-covered hills outside of Japan.
Patrick was there. He sat peacefully and at ease, a picture of stoic relaxation.
I. Fucking. Hated. It.
Misery. Utter agony. To the Point that Patrick's first words to me were "Are you ok man?"
No, I was not ok. I literally could not sit still for more than five minutes.
The entire weekend was agony.
I came back again the year after. And the year after that.
For several years I had a love/hate relationship with my meditation practice; sometimes sitting daily for weeks on end. And then stopping for weeks or months.
Somewhere in there, about 2008 or so, I took "Jukai"; a traditional ceremony in which I committed to the precepts and noble truths and blah blah blah and got "named" Renkoku Doei.
This is the first step towards Full Transmission, whereby one is deemed worthy of the robes and get "ordained" as a "priest" (something I have not done and will likely never do.)
I have a friend who runs a newly founded monastery in the US midwest, and he issued a challenge at the beginning of the year to sit 20 minutes every day for an entire year: Challenge 365.
I have performed on this challenge anywhere between mediocre and laughable, but here we are in November and I am still nominally making the effort.
So, I am not "new" to meditation, but I still suck hard at it.
Hoping this program can help me get my head around some of this stuff, on a practical level. I mean, it really is JUST sitting. But also, it's not.
And of course, the opportunity to claim I am "on program" whilst actually not banging out jumps or smacking myself with my bands. BRILLIANT.
Is the English name of butakusa, the autumn pollinator that gives me runny nose watery eyes pounding headache joys. Combined with the seasonal dryness and my sore throat turns into a hacking cough. Good times.
My solution? HEAVY CHIN-UPS.
Squats and deadlifts and benches and presses and weighted chin ups. Carefully, starting with low weights, adding a little every time, keeping good form and engaging the hamstrings and interspersed with rehab leg work. Progress!
My twins turned 2 this weekend. They FINALLY added “papa” to their vocabulary. Also added “Jiji” and “Baba” (grandpa and grandma) and doubled down on “NO!”
They use “please” a lot more though; signing it with a hand on the chest. But it is usually followed by a grab for whatever it is they want. Which is usually a wooden toy train held by the other twin.
Also met up for some yummy fish and food with fellow Kenzalizers. The meal was as compliant as it needed to be without cramping our hard party style. Life for Kenzai or Kenzai for life?!
Three day weekend so I hit the gym hard on Monday, rededicating myself to some basic iron work for three months: squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench, weighted chin-ups. The goal is upper body strength and not being bored. Also rehab on the wonky left hip. Also to lol hotness during the winter; something I never do.
Luckily the new job demands early morning discipline so as the weather gets colder and the mornings darker, hopefully I can stay motivated.
Food wise, busted out the monstrosity that is my Mom’s famous carbonara recipe. Eat. All. The. Carbs. My twins inhaled it and all my kids generally enjoy it. Had to warn my daughter off eating all the bacon and leaving her brother (coming home later from swim practice) with a bowl of baconless carbonara. Reckon she imagined the physical pain he would inflict on her and she stopped bacon sniping.
Managing to keep the gut in check and slowly pushing the weight on the bar higher each time. Up to 50k on the press, and 11.25k on the chin-ups. Working on chins not pull-ups for a while since chins use more arm, allowing me to pull heavier and put on some good muscle mass. Also I hate arm work so it’s a freebie bicep workout.
And of course I met this crazy dude in the gym abusing kettle bells and everyone says we look alike. Here’s a photo to prove it.
Bootiful GRADUATION POST
we might want to rename Sculpt to “Calves” because Lordy they are on fire. Last workout was brutal. Started ok, but then just kept grinding along until I could barely lift my heels. Good times!
This program was well timed with my much-needed hip rehab; the barre work went well with my rehab exercises to the point that it almost felt on purpose. Rehab coach said I showed great improvement in 3 weeks; the last 3 weeks of the program so that was proof right there it’s working.
Diet was meh, as always. At this point I’m so subconsciously dialed into the Kenzai Way I don’t think about it much. I think day by day I’m not so strict but over a week or two it all generally evens out. Photos show that I lost a bit of fluff around the tummy and definitely put on some leg definition. The strict requirements to take me to even lower body fat levels aren’t really my focus; wanted to get strong and heal.
And going forwards as we head into winter I’m going to focus on hitting the iron and building up my strength whilst keeping joint flexibility.
Thanks to my booty partners and I really wish everyone would join me in ranger panty photos!
Apparently the level of awesome in my gym has just approached infinity.
Sculpt, aka Calves On Fire.
Not a bad plié, from first position, methinks to meself.
Ego immediately smashed on the rocky shores of pulsed everything else. By the time I got to arabesques I was basically cooked. Good times.
As promised here is my rehab modified fire hydrant: 3 second hold up, side, down. Not sure which hurts more, the leg in the air or the supporting leg?
Sorry about the delay, photo up finally. Not noticing much change on the gluteus but definitely in calves and thighs. Expect ridiculously Ranger Panty final photos. You. Have. Been. Warned.
Ah the joy of the 3-day weekend, confounded by the joy of Gardening Leave, aka I got 99 Problems But a Job Ain't one of Them!
First of all, thank you to all them fools who spend time collating songs into such great Spotify collections. "Low Frequency" and "Weightlifting Workout" searches have resulted in some seriously magical finds, heavy on the TuPac and Eminem, crossed with 80s Big Hair Metal and the occasional 90s grunge throwback. I like music enough to listen to it but not enough to make the effort to actually make my own playlists, so: eternally grateful. Y'all da real pimps.
Now then, rehab works continues to melt bones and wring tears. I am definitely feeling improvement in my hip flexibility and strength. One more appointment later this week and then hopefully I am bloody done with the giggling tortures of Furuya-sensei. Will end nicely with Sculpt and then as I start the New Job Oct 1 I will slowly work my way back into Iron 3x / week (M, W, F) with swimming lessons Tu and Th and probably some lovely stretching and continued rehab on those days, too. As we slide in autumn and eventually winter I refocus on purely indoor exercise; don't like me the cold.
Gotta dial in the diet this last week, perk that butt right up!
Let's do this, kids!
Furuya-sensei, aka She Who Revels In My Agony, saw me doing my rehab exercises and noted a vast improvement on Wednesday. So she cranked it up a notch. Sweat and tears. For real: I was legit crying.
Some highlights -- pretzel kick twist which works the abs as well as the hip joints. And the side opener of doom. Seriously who can DO that? It's clear what I am supposed to be doing and also clear how impossible it is.
Comment from sensei: "Well you can squat 130k and deadlift 145. But your psoasis and glutimas minor can't keep up with your quads or lats or anything else."
I got an abdominal cramp again, this time just doing a forward hang bend. What I don't have: relaxed balance.
So then we try some Barre work. Whole bunch of nope. Legit couldn't finish all the sets of plie. Legs was jelly and it wasn't happening.
We're now to the point where the sculpt workouts are too much for my rehabilitating hips. I do what I can and that's all I can do.
I dare say my already meaty calves are getting bigger. Exactly how big they gonna get?!
I slack on weekends. There, I said it. Open kimono full disclosure. Weekends are a challenge; I switch majorly into dad-mode, compounded by the fact that I’m not really working these couple weeks, and so I sleep in, miss fruit snacks, get lazy.
Three-day weekend in Japan, daughter (11) off at a friend’s so got three boys. We have a lazy brunch and an I have an even lazier post-brunch workout as son (9) hits the “library” (which means wifi on the iPad with YouTube) and mom takes the twins for a walk nap.
Endless. Lunge. Steps.
OMFG stop already.
I did the workout, subbing kettle bells for resistance bands because IRON BEATS RUBBER and then I did my rehab exercises and all the ouchies.
Though to be fair, I do feel like my hips are getting more flexible and stronger. Also paying way more attention to anterior tilted hip bad posture. Especially when I sit my regular 20 minutes of zazen; making a real effort to keep my assbones straight down into the cushion and not over pronate.
Wait, wrong word. Not over...anterior tilt? I think the word I’m looking for is “extension”?
Extension is the opposite of flexion, describing a straightening movement that increases the angle between body parts. When a joint can move forward and backward, such as the neck and trunk, extension refers to movement in the posterior direction.
Anyway looking at photos I’m thinking I’m getting fatter/thicker...and yet I’m down a couple kilos. So maybe sculpt is giving me that toned badonkadonk all the ladies crave!
More rehab today. Still hurts.
Also pretzels. Yup.
Indulgence scheduled for Wednesday next week: new job celebratory steak dinner with all the sautéed onions!
First world problems: Bluetooth headphones ran outta juice so I plugged in last night and forgot them. No tunes today except Greatest Hits of Your Least Favorite Year of Junior High in the Midwest playing on the gym radio.
For your viewing pleasure, a bunch of really good examples of really bad form. Starring mostly my feet.
Lucky for you, NOT featuring ranger panties; I want to avoid getting kicked out of my gym.
So Furuya-sensei tore me open and picked me apart with tweezers.
At least that is what it felt like.
After basically declaring that I need to stop lifting heavy and hurting myself because my hip flexors / psoas / gluteus minor / general hip-joint area has crap flexibility, she ran me through a bunch of painful torture through which she smiled encouragingly and giggled.
I have a pronounced anterior pelvic tilt of which she is not a fan. Also not thrilled with my left-right imbalance, specifically the tightness in my left hip and the resulting tightness in my left hamstring and right calf.
She had me sit on a balance ball and bounce around like an idiot, then squat deep and drop my knees one a time in stunning explosions on inflexibly pain, stand on one foot, flex my hips, and fall over attempting to straighten and lift my legs, and finished with some "hollow body" ab exercises that had me sitting up and lying down, legs in the air, groaning in agony.
Actually the BEST part was that within five minutes she managed to get me to cramp up my abdominal muscles. I can't even remember what I was doing; seemingly just standing with bad posture trying to lean over, and I felt my entire abdomen lock up in stunning pain. About this she was terribly amused, had me stand up, put up my arms and stretch and do some more leaning over, all the while nodding and smiling in encouragement.
The word of the day: "EGUI" which is most commonly translated as "harsh" but doesn't quite capture the full range of her smiling as she stands next to me demonstrating with perfect form and balance a seemingly simple leg lift that has me shaking, sweating, panting, and moaning in agony, and ends with her declaring "Yup, that is weak...we'll work on that muscle."
So on the menu for the next few weeks:
1. Sit flat on the floor legs straight out, upper body straight up, ass-bones straight down. Keeping the upper body as-is (LOL) bend one leg at the knee and place the foot next to the other knee, shin straight across. Now bend the other leg at the knee so that the foot is directly behind, both shins making a nice right angle. Remember: KEEPING THE UPPER BODY AS-IS. Riiiiiight.
Extend the legs again and do the other side. Repeat 10 times. Lie down and die. Do another set. Die again. Do another set.
This loosens and stretches all the bits and bobs in the hip joint. It also MOTHERFUCKING HURTS. ALOT.
2. Stand straight up with perfect posture. Stick out the buttocks, hinging at the hips, taking one foot off the floor. Hold up the body with the other foot still on the floor (duh!) not just with the heel but with the whole bottom of the foot. Now extend the raised leg STRAIGHT OUT to the side and lift it up until it is parallel to the floor.
Scream in agony, lose balance fall over.
Repeat 5 times.
Do both legs 5 times again. Then again.
At some point, once the tears have dried, the concussion has receded to a dull throbbing behind the forehead, and the legs are no longer covered in needles made of fire and spider poison, stand up and check perfect posture again.
The good news is all the barre stuff seems to not aggravate, and is actually quite helpful, so I will continue to do these on the non-barre days, as well as a bunch of other horrendous stretching to get the hips to be less tight and the minor muscles less weak.
Another appointment with Dr. Pain next week...hopefully I can survive...
So I "shadowed" my team for the Tokyo 9.11 Tough and Light GORUCK events this weekend.
Started at 9pm on Friday, finished with pizza in the park at 2:30pm on Saturday.
I walked along with the team for a total of about 20k over 18 hours. Battery died after the Tough so didn't record the Light: https://www.strava.com/activities/1826156511
They got to carry sandbags and do tons of miserable PT; I watched and took photos:
My leg was OK for most of it. Diet wasn't great -- munched on a clifbar, had some coffee and then several slices of pizza at the end. Net-net probably came out ahead.
Seeing Furuya-sensei today for a full assessment and I assume some rehab recommendations.