Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Exercise: Out of My Head

It was a bit of a shock when my doctor told me that my cholesterol and triglycerides were high. I’m not as slender (read: scrawny) as I was once upon a time, but neither am I overweight.

Dr. H. said that I needed to change my diet and get some exercise. “Yeah, yeah,” I thought. “Don’t you guys always say that? Hey, I sit and type for a living. Maybe I could just wheel my chair with a bit more vigor between desk and worktable … yeah, that might do it.”

But then he said that he would give me six months to turn things around. Then, if my blood results showed no improvement, I’d have to start taking [dum dum da dummm!] “cholesterol medicine.” If I didn’t, the message was, I could look forward to seeing my doctor or one of the friendly ER doctors in about 10 years when I had a heart attack, stroke, or other, equally nasty health problem.

Uh oh.

I thought for weeks about what kind of exercise I could do that I wouldn’t absolutely hate. I thought about walking our two dogs around the block (one at a time – they’re both pretty big and enthusiastic on the leash). That didn’t work. It seems that there are too many doggy mailboxes along our route, and they needed to run from one to the next, with long pauses at each one so that they could “read the mail.”

Hmm. Well, I had been taking our two boys to karate class twice a week for about 18 months. And, hey!, there was an adult beginner class at the same time as the boys’ class. So, after hemming and hawing and, frankly, whining, about it for several weeks, I signed myself up.

Now I’ve never been what you’d call a girly girl. My tomboy childhood and natural feistiness made froofery impossible. Still, I was a little nervous about my first two lessons, which were to be one-on-one. I shouldn’t have worried. Sure, I was a little unsure and pretty imprecise with my kicks and punches. On the other hand, I was told that I had fairly good form and was delivering with quite a bit of power.

My biggest challenge has been to get out of my own head. I have the tendency to over-think things, and my brain can really get in the way of my body. I’ve been to a dozen classes now, and with each class I’m able to perform a little better. Instead of thinking about what I’m doing, I’m working on concentrating on the point on the bag where I want my kicks to land or where on my reflection on the mirrored wall I want my punches to land. I’m slowly learning how to do, not think and do.

So with every class I’m improving in form and accuracy. I’m sweating like a steelworker. I’m working like I haven’t done in years (and years). And I’m learning how to get out of my head and into my body, which is where I need to go to get things on track.

The American Karate Studios Student Creed

I will develop myself in a positive manner
and avoid anything that would reduce my
mental growth or my physical health.

I will develop self-discipline in order
to bring out the best in myself and others.

I will use what I learn in class
constructively and defensively,
to help myself and my fellow man,
and never be abusive or offensive.

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