My apologies for the pause in weekly content delivery. There is no shortage of topics to discuss — the go/stop/go nature of vaccine booster announcements is just one example — so besides being completely my fault, I attribute the delay to a combination of factors: restarting a physically demanding Brazilian jiu-jitsu practice, starting a study course on the Autoimmune Protocol diet, and wanting to provide you with primo health and wellness content. All positive things, but potentially instructive in how they can lead to a bobble in a steady routine.
If you’ve never pulled an all-nighter or turned in an assignment late…you may still find this post of interest. Punctuality is grand, but when you’re finding your way to something better, as I hope we all do periodically on our quests to better health…things…can happen.
#NoBrokenBits and #CoolShizzToTeach
You may have had a well-oiled routine (ha) go off the rails when trying something new, until everything accommodated the add-on. Restarting mat-based martial arts in my 6th decade is that physical something new for me, which I’ve been building up to for the past 6-12 months, with a return to actual classes for the past 4 weeks.
As I discussed in a previous post, this is a prime interest of mine both personally and professionally: being a helpful resource to others wanting to maintain or return to high-intensity activity after the 4th decade, which demands specific attention to avoid sidelining injuries. The past month has been the litmus test — have the previous months of specific prehab worked, or would I break something again within the first 2 weeks of regular classes?
Each class was roughly equivalent in energy output to a week’s worth of prehab work, so 2 classes plus a private lesson each week took the place of all the previous exercise sessions, and left me physically kablooeyed during the hours I would write. Thankfully, like the absence of OhMyDearSweetBabyJesus reactions to a vaccine by the 3rd or 5th millionth dose, no broken off bits by Week 4 has been a cause for cautious optimism. (I’ve written here and here about the prehab process and will be compiling ongoing learnings in the future if you’re interested in getting or staying highly active beyond the 4th decade.)
In the past 2 weeks, I also pulled the trigger on a formal course about the Autoimmune Protocol — a subset of the Paleo Diet — from one of its pre-eminent authorities, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. I’m very much looking forward to sharing my learnings with you over the next 6 weeks: the AIP can give you a surprisingly effective and low-risk tool to address issues of inflammation and autoimmunity, which underly a ton of common health conditions.
I never drop the balls I’m juggling…is that a good thing?
I suspect that we all operate at something like a delicate equilibrium state, where a significant jostle can discombobulate us. That can be a sign of a problem that needs addressing: if your peace of mind is so tenuous that a problem with your laptop has you screaming at your kids, I think you need to step slowly away from the knife edge that is your daily grind.
But having your eyeballs cross and your juggling balls go figuratively careening across the kitchen can be a good thing. If we’re so solid in our routines that we can take on a “significant” new thing with zero hiccup at all, then maybe we were playing it too safe, or the new add-on is minimally challenging. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
The key take-home is the return to a new equilibrium state.
If you “go off the rails” because you’ve added a new railcar to your train, do you “get back on track” with the longer train?
It may not matter why you went sideways. It may have been planned, like my return to BJJ, or serendipitous, like finding out about the AIP course and taking the opportunity.
Going sideways may mean a temporary break in the juggling rhythm, or a “Hey, dude, where did you go? We were all worried about you!”
I suspect none of those variations matter as much as supporting what’s important to you.
A challenge can return you to a base that you got distracted from, and put you back in touch with something you already know is important. Or it can show you a new direction that you hadn’t thought possible, that is better and truer than what you’ve been doing.
It can also lead you astray. “Not all those who wander are lost” to quote Tolkien, but lots of wanderers are.
If you take on a new challenge, do the juggling arcs eventually get tighter and prettier, or are they getting more wildly out of control?
Mission statements help, perfectionism not so much
It helps to have a statement, at least an idea of what’s centrally important to you. You may need to work on putting it into words, but after a few decades you should already have a sense of this — and putting it into words helps with translating your values into action items.
For me, extensions of my Grand Plan include channeling Indiana Jones and Lara Croft: be able to wrassle when the other kids aren’t nice to me or my family, to play with cool toys and throw pointy sticks over there, and to share learnings of wondrous things. Getting back on the mat in a thoughtful, planned way and learning about a key nutritional option that can benefit people suffering chronic conditions are direct expressions of this focus — and without clarity of focus, would likely not have occurred.
There’s a caveat here if one of your important things is being a communicator.
If conveying a message clearly and without misunderstanding is critical, then beware of “the great being the enemy of the good.”
You can polish and re-arrange your thoughts endlessly.
But except for those moments when a stadium goes silent for 2 seconds because everyone in the crowd stops talking at the same moment, there is no such thing as a perfect time or delivery. Real life is like those bar graphs on a soundboard: lots of frequencies all going at once, each with its own up and down level. Playing sound engineer, you can adjust settings to get most of the levels decent, but they’ll never all be perfect, and you have an album to produce.