This blog provides encouragement to people who are recovering from injury and working towards fitness.

Reducing anxiety with exercise

I've always been a nervous, anxious person. I point to that as part of the reason for my success as a Graphic Designer. I worry. When I did a lot of Graphic Design, years ago, that anxious, worrying personality made me extremely accurate. I made deadlines, I worked with lightning speed and astonishing accuracy because, well, all successful Graphic Designers do. People who take a more casual and relaxed attitude towards it fail as Graphic Designers. I succeeded.

Unfortunately, that advantage in my career has come at a very high cost personally. I don't sleep well, I often feel anxious as if I'm forgetting something. I look at my watch even if there's nothing scheduled for the day, then I look at the calendar. Again and again. I fret. And that has cost me physical pain - a knotted stomach, nausea, and quite often very dark circles under my eyes. So a few years ago I decided to see what I could do to relieve my anxiety.

Now waitaminute, I'm not telling you what to do here, I'm telling you what works for me, and what didn't work. And drugs were not the answer for me, even alcohol. This has nothing to do with morality, it just has to do with how much my body immediately starts fighting these drugs. Either they put me to sleep, or I go into immediate fight mode. I wish I could turn it off, but it's an automatic response, like a reflex. People have suggested all kinds of drugs to me, both legal and illegal, and if I try to explain, it makes no sense to them. So I've stopped trying.

Luckily, there is a solution for me, and actually I learned it back in my college days - movement. At that time my little brain was so anxious that I was grinding my teeth at night. This led to some severe pain, and the solution for it was just to relax, which I couldn't do. My brain would go right on buzzing on things long after it didn't need to be concerned about them. The prescription that I got from the doctor I went to on campus was: tennis.

That year I played tennis with ferocity. I had fortunately had a friend who wanted to learn to play tennis, and he had been a handball player, so it started out with me having an advantage, then we quickly evened out, and soon after that he got way to good to play me. In the meantime I discovered the miracle of what I call mentally "changing gears".

I had forgotten about that until just a few years ago. I don't play tennis anymore, but I can still "change gears". I also call it going into the "alpha state", but it doesn't matter what you call it - it's getting action. I can do it pedaling, I can do it at the Fitness Center, I can do it at home with my exercise equipment at home. My prescription to myself is for it to be taken daily for about 45 minutes, and it's the only medicine that works for me.

Helping people with poor comprehension

As someone who recovered from brain injury, and has direct experience with excellent comprehension, and then very poor comprehension, and then back up, I have a unique understanding of this, and I know how to help people like that. If you want to help someone with poor comprehension, I can help you to do it. You may not like what I have to say, but here goes.

The first step to helping someone with poor comprehension is realizing that they have poor comprehension. That is, they have difficulty "getting it". And this is a matter of a decision on your part, and you can just dismiss these people, or you can find ways to help.

There are a lot of reasons for poor comprehension, and I've found that the major reason is embarrassment. People who have difficulty understanding, and learning, and applying that knowledge usually have a history of being beat up. Most of these people have learned to try to fake understanding, to nod their heads, and say, "yes, I got it" for fear of being beat up. And I can see the scars of people who have lived through this. They are very anxious to assure everyone around them that they understand. A typical example would be explain how to get somewhere, and afterwards having no idea how to do it. So these people are very clever about hiding their poor comprehension. If I said for someone to go west, and they immediately started going east, I would be able to catch them in that mistake. Clever hiders of poor comprehension will say that they will do it later, or some other excuse, just so that they won't get caught getting it wrong.

As a teacher, the best thing that I could do for people with poor comprehension was to calmly repeat. And I mean not in other words, not in an impatient way, not with a sigh, I would simply repeat as if I were saying it for the first time. I learned to smile gently and repeat with just about the exact same words. I taught myself to do this. This is brutally hard to do, and most people will never even try to do this. I saw people who were worth my trouble, and I did it. After my brain injury, I had people around me who would repeat things patiently, and to me they were angels - I could see the halos.

I want to be one of those people again, and I'm getting there. I don't immediately label people as idiots if they don't get it right away, I don't label them as lazy. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I will answer questions, and I'll also give a reading assignment. The people will poor comprehension will take longer, but if they care, and know that you do, too, they will get there.

How to add resistance training to your weight loss program

If you're beginning a journey to lose weight, you would be wise to add resistance training to the program. Please let me explain what I mean by resistance.

Resistance training is kind of like weight-lifting, except that you really don't need to lift weights. Of course weight-lifting is one type of resistance training, as you're resisting gravity. But resisting any force or object is resistance training. Swimming is resistance training - you're resisting drowning by pushing against water. You can use those stretchy bands for resistance training - you're resisting the pull of the elastic. You can simply use gravity and your own body weight for resistance training. If you're new to this, I would recommend a resistance band with a fairly light amount of resistance. You can get them at any sporting goods store, or your local Walmart. Yes, you can watch TV while you're using a resistance band, and I often do.

There are a couple of reasons why resistance training is a great addition to your weight loss program. First and foremost is that it's enjoyable. Speaking for myself, I'm not much for endless hours on a treadmill, but if you give me an interesting exercise to do, I'll do it, actually quite a lot of it. I'm always discovering new exercises, and since I get bored easily, it's something that I stay with, because it's never the same twice. The other reason is the wonderful effect of building muscle, being more flexible, that sort of thing. Even if you can't see those "six-pack abs" in the mirror yet, you can feel them working, you can feel them getting stronger and more flexible. It feels good.

So there you go. Those two reasons are why I do resistance training, and I love it. I have dumbbells and resistance bands here at home. Unfortunately I don't have access to a swimming pool, but if you do, go get in it. You don't have to do Olympic laps, just move your body against the water. If you're feeling any type of resistance, however slight, that counts. The wonderful thing about water is that all you have to do to increase the resistance is to try to move faster.

This is what I do. If people ask me "do you even lift, bro?" I can honestly say no, I resist. This is what I recommend for you.