Friday, June 5, 2009

Recalling Physics & Geometry (or Not. . . )

I am happy to report that Hubby & I have walked every morning this week. It's not actually like walking together; with Puppy Yeats, it's more like walking with an attention-demanding, long finger nailed 2-year old. Hubby stops to reign in the baby and I keep walking, circling back sometimes for extra steps. Or sometimes we are just so far apart, we can't even see each other.

Where the Physics Comes In
This morning, as I was walking completely alone because they'd rushed out before me and were already back up the hill (I think Yeats is a bit more cooperative for Hubby when I'm not in sight, so I can't blame him really.), I was thinking about how much resistance I feel every day and how it like pushing dead weight to get myself moving. How I am conscious of every step and muscle climbing the hill. Feel the pull in my paunchy haunches. . .

I started thinking about how my college physics professor explained inertia, his words were not unlike this dictionary definition:

  1. The tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest . . . unless acted on by an outside force.

  2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change

His actions were to place a metal square weight on the desk that was in the center of the stage in our classroom auditorium--our desks were bolted down in stepped tiers above him. He walked around the desk with the weight on the left edge and repeated the definition as he move from one side to the other, to prove that indeed it wouldn't move. It seemed ridiculously overdone for such a simple concept.

But then the weight did move! We all gasped and rose from our seats. Our professor had tied fishing line to it that we couldn't see from our purview and he had given it a yank.

The point is, I'm like a blob of weight stricken by inertia. Each move seems to require a lot of initial push and a lot of reconvincing and perhaps a little "magical" pull.

I still need some time before dragging out of bed (but my mind is saying, "yes"). Doing the weights after the walk is harder to push on (I'm hot by then and sweating and it involves climbing the stairs as well. . .); we did arms on Tues as I said and legs on Weds. and skipped Thursday because we had cleaners coming to the house at 8 and skipped today because it was so easy to after yesterday.

And it's not just about moving and exercise. It's also about eating and positive thinking. All day I am noticing thoughts and pushing them away. . . no, eat your fruit; drink some water; drink hot tea; it's not time to eat yet, you probably aren't really hungry, you don't want to have to post about eating that.

And I still have times when like a big lump I find myself eating something not on the plan--esp as soon as I get home right before dinner (I haven't been following through on eating an afternoon snack before I leave work.)

I find myself moving and blowing puffs of air out--not like a sigh, but not unlike the initial push and waxing sustained snort of a whale letting air out of her blowhole. (I am pleased to announce that the only baby whale I seem to weigh more than is a beluga! Whew! The photo above is from wunderground and taken by a photographer listed as jhfelder.)

Increased Body Awareness
I do feel better, even from these few moves. I feel a bit taller and lighter--nice to know that happens from just a little start. I feel more hopeful.

I've been stopping during the walk to hoist my foot up on the lower level of a wooden fence to stretch my legs, the tightness and little pull from pointing my toes out and then toward my shins feels good. And sometimes I stop and stretch my back by bending over.

Still, after being seated for awhile I work, I stand up and my feet are tight and sore (not in the arch like plantar fasciitis, more in the pad under my big toes). It makes me want to hunch over and walk like a granny, but I try to walk as upright as I can.

I've been reading this book that has nothing to do with any of this--Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson--but like a believer looking for Jesus in the mashed potatoes, I'm looking for messages and hope and insights everywhere.

This little scene from the book struck me as I read it and stuck with me. . .it's after the kid has dropped from a tree onto the back of a horse, crushed his balls, and then been thrown off, then meets up with hi friend Jon:

'Can you walk?' he said.

'I think so,' I said. I pushed my feet into the shoes without tying the knots, so as to avoid bending down, and then we walked on into the forest. Jon first with me at his heels with a tender crouch, my back stiff, one leg dragging slightly and one arm held firmly against my body, still further in among the trees, and I thought perhaps I might not manage to walk all the way back when the time came. And then I thought of my father's asking me to cut the grass behind the cabin a week ago. The grass had grown much too tall and would soon just bend down and stiffen to a withered mat nothing could grow up through.

I could use the short scythe, he said, which was easier in the hand for an amateur. I fetched the scythe from the shed and set about it with all my strength, trying to move the way my father moved when I had seen him do what I was doing now, and I worked until I was suitably sweaty, and it really went pretty well even if the scythe was a tool completely new to me. But alongside the cabin wall there was a big patch of stinging nettles, growing tall and thick, and I worked my way around them in a wide arc, and then my father came round the house and stood looking at me. He held his head aslant and rubbed his chin, and I straightened up and waited to hear what he would say.

'Why not cut down the nettles?' he said.

I looked down at the short scythe handle across at the tall nettles.

'It will hurt,' I said. Then he looked at me with half a smile and a little shake of the head.

'You decide for yourself when it will hurt,' he said, suddenly getting serious. He walked over to the nettles and took hold of the smarting plants with his bare hands and began to pull them up with perfect calm, one after the other, throwing them in a heap, and he did not stop before he had pulled them all up. Nothing in his face indicated that it hurt, and I felt a bit ashamed as I walked along the path after Jon, and I straightened up and changed gait and walked as I normally would, and after only a few steps I could not think why I had not done so at once.

Where Geometry Comes In
Ruminating on this scene--especially the line about how you decide on when it will hurt and straightening up and walking normally despite pain--reminded me of my physical therapy after I broke my wrist. It hurt like hell, and my PT said, 'Is this the worst thing you've ever been through?" It was both demeaning and relieving to realize it was. It was the first time really for me that pain was required to improve and heal. The relationship between that and losing weight wasn't lost on me then either.

So on my walk, I started thinking about hypotenuses. The shortest distance between two points is the hypotenuse. And, a hypotenuse looks like an a steady uphill climb. And that means, it's likely to include some pain. . . pain I can use to stop me or learn from and move on. . .


  1. Wow, what a powerful post. I don't know where to begin...

    This is a hard journey, specifically because it's so time-consuming, and the rewards come infrequently and in small doses. What we're giving up... a great meal at our favorite restaurant, a sinfully delicious dessert, a comforting snack in front of the TV...those are all things that made an inprint on us. Too much of an imprint, I'd say.

    All I can tell you is that it's worth it... and that I do think it gets easier (at least it has for me). I realize that it may get harder again after it gets easier, but things than have true value have real costs, don't they?

    Enjoy the walks with your husband and that madcap pup.

  2. I'm in awe of your ability to relate and analyze. It's so hard to find the push at times. I'm happy that you have your husband to motivate you too.

  3. Oh, I so get what you mean! Great, thoughtful post - love your brain.

    It also reminded me of when at 6 years old, I learned how to race - that moment when I realised that I had to put a lot more effort in. It was a revelation that I remember to this day.

    We can do this thing, the human body is stronger than we realise.

    Soon we will be perpetual motion!

  4. That was THE most interesting post. I couldn't "put it down!" You succinctly outlined the struggles and travails of getting ourselves to move. It fights against our sense of what's right. Pain is bad, comfort is good. Huffing and puffing and pushing ourselves to the very brink feels physically annihilating and we have to hit our own "override" button. This was VERY helpful.

    Well done. :)

  5. Wonderful post and well done on your progress. Good on your husband for his support - having the pup to walk good too, I love the way you work things out. You are one very brainy lady. Thanks for sharing this. Ever in my prayers (((Hugs)))

  6. Just found your blog. It looks nice. I love the picture of the whale. I noticed on "Lucky me!! Claudia's take on life" blog that you asked what the answer is. There are many great programs out there. What worked for me is Herbalife, I still take the products religiously. I lost 10lbs in 21days on the 21 day cleanse and then 30lbs in 4 months. Email me at: if you are interested.
    I wish you luck on your success.


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