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Recovering onward

Last week I was considering the broad theme of working on recovery, and specifically trying to reduce the problems of painful cold in the extremities. To attack this latter, I starting having 4-minute cold showers, and I think this may have helped a bit. I don’t feel that intense exothermism which I enjoyed with regular sea-swimming (t-shirts in November!), but it hasn’t hurt. It’s a gradual four minutes, working up from the feet with the hand-held shower head, rather than suddenly switching on the overhead head, or plunging into a cold bath, but it’s a start. I still hold sea-swimming in May as a target.

Heart-rate elevating exercise was the other desideratum, and I’ve done reasonably well with hitting the gym for some weightlifting most days (this is still only the very beginning). I’m basing my workouts on the StrongLifts 5×5 program (and app), and taking inspiration from listening to the Starting Strength audio book while heading to the gym. But perhaps the piece of reading which has been most helpful has been this article, which talks about having cold extremities, the gains in energy & metabolism from weightlifting, and most of all the slightly guilty feeling of not necessarily working flat out all the time, and not feeling exhausted as you leave the gym, but rather just trusting in the steady application of the programme and the progressive increase of the weights. It feels more manageable than previous efforts I’ve made to pursue fitness, especially as the routine need take only 20–40 minutes and can be done at any time of the day (and there is a well-equipped FlyeFit gym within about 5 minutes’ walk of my house).

Sadly I feel that some of this newfound capacity to go to the gym, where previously I would have felt too busy, stems from an abatement of aspirations (and also anxiety). Part of the arc here has been to relinquish the idea of doing any music practice, and then getting reconciled to feeling overwhelmed at work, and finally coming to feel that even if progress has halted on my personal projects, my work responsibilities, or most importantly my engagement with the family (“quality time” with the kids, etc), I may as well trudge down to the gym as anything else; nothing will drastically disimprove, and weightlifting with an audiobook does at least give the mind a break. This whole perspective is part of the broader mental health picture, and there may be hope in it—certainly I would feel a lot better if I felt even a little better, so to speak, and to wake up refreshed would be a dream; to feel a little energy would be most energizing. Perhaps weightlifting, along with the occasional short run, will move this closer.

For now, I think it better not to burden the gym-going with futurity, and instead try to do it as a matter of routine, as far as possible. So the goal for the week is to dissociate from gym-going affectively, and to cultivate it as simply something that happens.

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