Monday, November 22, 2010

When Working Out Isn't Working Out

Click on the book picture to go to the Google preview with links to Amazon and other sites with reviews.

It's Thanksgiving vacation!   CAVA K12 and Sean's high school both gave the kids the entire week off -- unprecedented, I wonder if it's to do with our budget crisis here in California?  and so we made a library run down to the foothills so the kids would have something to do besides ask to play video games. 

Outside it's bright, cold and snowy -- we are in between snow storms, expecting the third out of four tonight. 


This is another book that survived the first cut on my shelves. I got it from the library's dime rack.    It is written by a personal trainer who used to be a fat, out-of-shape middle schooler (he tells the story in the first part of the book).  The topic is what the book calls UFOs or "Unidentified Fitness Obstacles."    Each section describes a fitness obstacle that can prevent people from reaching their full level of fitness.  It gives a questionnaire to help you decide whether you have the problem or not and then gives advice about how to solve the problem. 

The first part is about mindfulness, spiritual conectedness and "exorcising your ego".     It talks about something called Psychological Reversal which can be tested by measuring muscle reactions to various statements.   This part I did not find particularly convincing, and the same is true of the section on "self-hypnosis".   There was also some talk about affirmations and trusting your heart that I tend to associate with California coast psychobabble.   In general, this section was a mixed bag -- some sensible truism mixed in with the more iffy stuff. 

Part II was about different kinds of Fitness "UFOs" -- psychological, biochemical, physical, nutritional.    I found this part sensible and detailed... the "core" of the book to me, and probably the reason why I kept it on the shelves.

Part III is about Exercise UFOs -- like cardiovascular problems, improper technique for workouts, and about personalizing your workout.   This part went a bit over my head because a lot of it is about serious-level weightlifting not the simple kind I do at home with 5-10 pound weights in order to forestall osteoporosis.

In general, the book is targeted at someone who is much more serious about reaching the full potential of his body than I would be.  However, the book is readable, using anecdotes from personal experience and stories from clients and friends of the author.   And it has a LOT of detail.   It's written in a friendly, conversational style but contains a fair amount of substance -- the guy did his homework.  

Another reason I think I kept it around was because I really like "trouble-shooting" books.  I like the idea of observing and examining to diagnose what is going wrong with a given goal, like exercising.    I think I hope that if I read enough books like that I will start to do it naturally.

Nowadays, I probably don't need to keep the book because I basically know what type of exercise works for me and I am not trying to push the frontiers of my ability or anything like that.... I'm just going for basic health and maintenance.  
I never noticed before, but pruning my bookshelves feels a bit like synaptic pruning.  I think a lot of the books I've kept on my shelves represent possibilities to me.  Like, suppose I really became an awesome parent someday, or started working out seriously, or started doing hands-on homeschooling?  But now I'm telling myself that if I DO undergo such changes someday I can easily acquire books to support them just like a teenager builds on the neural synapses left after the pruning.   In the meantime, I don't need to have shelf space for unexplored possibilities. 

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