Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Achilles' heel...

No, no, I mean it: my Achilles's tendon was feeling it last night as I tried to get to sleep. And why did I have so much time to notice my Achilles' heel last night while trying to sleep? I got duped once again by the wonderful drink industry here.

I have taken to drinking wheat germ and milk here, when I want a small meal between meals, as part of my fitness regimen. Yesterday, not being a full-on gym day, was also a lower calorie day. I figured a cup of wheat germ milk and a few shishkabobs (chicken hearts and bacon-wrapped scallions!) would be a nice, light, protein-rich semi-meal an hour or two before bed. It only dawned on me this morning that the reason I couldn't sleep till maybe 2AM was because I had ordered a wheat germ milk tea, not simply a wheat germ milk drink. Tea drinks tend to have tea in them, as you might know, and caffeinated tea tends to have caffeine in it, so I tended to get a fresh blast of caffeine in me at almost 10PM last night. The "health nut" impulse in me fixated on the wheat germ and milk and just took the "tea" in the name to be a social custom. "Rice" is the catch-all word for "food" in Chinese and I often treat "tea" that way as well. Sitting to "drink tea" doesn't strictly mean you sit and imbibe tea; it just means you sit with someone in tea-imbibing-like setting, and may drink juice or coffee or not much at all. When I'm on my guard, I will ask two or three times whether the drink I'm ordering has tea in it--does it have caffeine in it? Maybe I was too tired, or, then again, too optimistic about wheat germ, and I let my guard down. So I tossed and turned another night. No more caffeine after 4:30PM!

Much of the reason I was so tired, and my Achilles' tendon was so sensitive yesterday, is because I went for another jump rope session yesterday afternoon when I got an early afternoon off. I picked up a slightly longer jump rope yesterday for under US$6 (a JEX swivel-handle rope with a fiberglass core in the rope... I dunno, it says that on the box... so... it seems cool and durable), since my Bobby Hinds Lifeline rope seemed a bit small for me. Once I did some research I discovered the Lifeline rope is in fact not too short, but I am just too insecure and maladroit. Once I realized it's me and not the rope, I took it in stride and adapted to the Lifeline. Even so, it was nice to have a more cozy perimeter in which to build my skipping skills. And I am happy to report I saw marked improvement yesterday! My standard jump increased in speed and I was able to complete a few sets of 100 revolutions without as much trouble as just a day before. It helps me immensely to watch my feet in a mirror lying against a wall on the floor. I also figured out how to do the left-right-left jogging skip, which was a sweet victory. What worked for me is this: begin with one foot slightly forward against the other foot and then just do some skips in that position; then when you feel comfortable, switch the feet once and skip a few more times in that position. Practice this midair switch a few times, in fewer and fewer skips, and almost immediately you'll find yourself switching feet on every revolution. It was also nice to confirm I can do the slalom skip with little difficulty. They say that 10 minutes of skipping rope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging--a 'fact' my mom said she has heard, too--and I have no reason to doubt them. My pulse was easily 180 beats per minute while skipping and my calves and quads were feeling a nice little burn by the middle and end of my 30-minute workout. I warmed up well and threw in some jumping jacks and three minutes of isometric stone pinching for each hand (cf. video illustration of harder core gripping exercises), and then made sure to stretch the rest of the evening. And then the rest of the rest of the evening. And then the rest of the rest of the night.

Tonight I've got a quads and biceps workout after tutoring (sigh). In about 30 minutes I need to be referee for a kindergarten match between "Germany" and "Ghana." I have my yellow and red cards ready at hand, the children's stupefied tears be damned!

It dawned on me that you (and I?) can probably best make sense of my perhaps weird combination of intellectual and athletic fervor by seeing me as Zorbatic--a tough little Greek, after all--albeit Zorbatic in a relatively more chaste and measured way. You might even say I fancy myself a Zorba of the inner world. But that seems like a topic for another post....

By the way, please pray for my dear little nephew. He got a little contusion on the head and went to the hospital for extended observation. It looks like he'll be fine--tough little Greek!--but it's still a good time to pray for his health and his parents' flourishing, both physical and spiritual.

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