Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I got my butt to the doctor after really avoiding a proper checkup for several years.

Blood pressure at the lower end of normal.

Resting heart rate, same.

Standard middle-aged stuff all dandy... except...

Fasting blood sugar a bit elevated. Not meeting the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, thank goodness, but I can't be having with that. Ketogenic diet and weight loss it is (dammit).

I feel like in a way I have a doctor's note to blow off other things in my life in favor of swimming, so I can't say this is all bad.  Nope, sorry.  Can't clean the house, gotta go swim!  It's for my health,  and the doctor said I had to, buh-bye!

For the most part, a ketogenic diet ain't no thang for me, other than making it a pain in the ass to socialize. However, I like my bourbon from time to time. And after one blood sugar test after a drink, that's a big ole nope.

So, another thing about me.  I have like... zero chill. I am so not a mellow person. Do I ever take a stiff drink to calm down? Yeah.

I started looking for another way to try to stop spazzing (no just swimming isn't enough, even if I am mellow as hell after a nice workout) and figured, what the heck, meditating with mala beads is worth a try.  Yes, this has something to do with swimming. Just wait a sec.

I'm one of the least woo-woo people you'll ever meet, but 20 minutes focusing on just your breath does give your mind a break from whatever you're stressing or spazzing about. I've had some instruction in mindfulness meditation and can sometimes get to the point where I'm just in a zone where I'm not thinking anything and can totally concentrate on my breath. 


I also have some training as a martial artist.  One of the concepts that is a biggie as you progress is Mushin.  It means "No Mind."  It's when you're in this state where you are simply acting.  Your total focus is in the present (mindfulness again) and you're not thinking about anything.  You're just doing. Any athlete, of course, tries to get to this point -- not as a spiritual exercise, but more that you've trained your mind to focus completely on your activity. 

As I've mentioned in my previous blogs, my biggest obstacle to reaching many of my swimming goals is my brain.  I'll think about a shark video I've seen, or ruminate on an interpersonal problem, or fantasize about the snarky comeback I wish I could bring myself to say to nitwits in the locker room who think that weight loss is the best topic of conversation for the fat lady getting out of her bathing suit... you know, anything negative.  It's a superpower, what can I say?  The snark has its good points, but it sometimes isn't so nice.

So, I'd made this goal for myself this year only to think "Good thoughts" in the water.

It's fine, as far as it goes.

But I experienced something better in my swim today.  Because I'd been meditating, apparently not only had I been working on training my mind to clear itself at certain intervals, I'd been training my mind to clear itself when engaging in controlled and rhythmic breath.  I had a really good, productive workout and felt great afterward.

If you'd told me that meditation would help me get over my negative thinking in the water, I would have... Well, I wouldn't have laughed in your face, but I'd've gone home and grumbled about crunchy-granola peabrains who need to get a grip.

However, it can, and it does.

Mushin for the win.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Hiatus and 2018 Swimming Goal

I notice I haven't posted anything about swimming in about a year and a half.

This is mostly because I haven't done any serious swimming for about that period of time.

First was the San Francisco Sharkfest Failure of 2016.  I went all the way across the country....

... and totally bailed on a swim.  I may analyze that here, later.   It does drive this year's goal, though.  I need only to think positive thoughts in the water.  Screw speed. Forget anything else, but showing up consistently, and only thinking good thoughts when in the water.

See, I'm prone to thinking black thoughts when there is nothing to distract me.  Bad enough, so why did I take a year to try to work on it?  I could have worked on it in 2017, couldn't I?

I lost my infant granddaughter (she just stopped breathing during a nap) in February.  I could not face that blue line with nothing but my own brain.  I couldn't force my thoughts away from... well, anyway, I'm not going into horrific details.  I even bought a treadmill because I had a hard time leaving the house and the only exercise I could force myself to do was walking (running is evil) on that damn thing while listening to audiobooks.

At least I didn't sit for a year, I guess. 10,000 steps is good for something, anyway.

So this year, my real goal is that if I'm in the water, I'm only allowed positive thoughts.  It might seem like a weird goal, but it does seem that the thing that holds me back worst as a swimmer is my own damn brain.

Today's workout was a good baseline for where I am as a swimmer now. Clumsy, certainly, as I've been out of practice.  Slow, absolutely, for the same reason.  It took me forever to warm up properly, but when I did...

...It was awesome and it felt great.  You know how when you're working out and the adrenaline kicks in and it's all WOAH POWER! That was nice.

Thinking about this video was a nice way to have a good tempo, too. (Yes, I know.  Emotionally I'm still about twelve)