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Exercise and me

I’m not what you would call an ideal candidate to appear on a TV show, if there actually is one, called ‘The World’s Greatest Exercise Role Model’. When you think of such a show you would imagine it featuring perfectly toned people with fantastic bodies, clothes, hair and smiles, together with a collection of ‘before’ photos.

I have plenty of ‘before’ photos. I think some of my recent photos are now ‘before’ photos too. In fact, every photo is a before photo if it makes you want to change something about yourself.

My body is constantly changing. I’m constantly changing for that matter. Every day is a new day, and I think I’d get pretty bored trying to keep myself in the WGERM body state to ensure that I stay on the show. And to be honest, I couldn’t do it. I may have the body of a Greek God, but my hair has a mind all of it’s own, and it decides on how good it wants me to look.

And some days, I don’t have the body of a Greek God.

Being part of the super-hero community, you’d think that a toned, muscular physique with a rippling six-pack and bulging sinews would be easy to maintain, but believe you me, it is hard work. As I’m not of the exercising mind-set, it is very easy to notice the odd stone or two creep on you when you least expect it. And once the extra weight is on, it takes a while to lose it without exercise.

I may not be of the exercising mind-set, but, when needs must, I have to do it. I visualise my body looking better for the exercise I am doing. I imagine my clothes fitting as they should, and not looking as though everything has shrunk in the wash. And I see people in my mind’s eye congratulating me on how great I look once I have lost that couple of pounds (…).

However, me and exercise are like arch-enemies. I try not to ‘do’ arch-enemies, and I try not to do exercise either. So already I’m competing with myself before I even begin. Do I want to stay the same, or do I want to look good?

After this tennis match has gone on for a while, I win and start exercising. I lose the weight. I look good. I get congratulated. My clothes fit perfectly. My hair behaves (it always does when you know you look good). And my muscles do their muscly thing.

It can be done if you put in the work; however this post isn’t about the exercises needed to look good, it is about the downfalls to avoid when exercising. They don’t tell you about these things when you see that ‘must buy’ product on the shopping channels to help you lose pounds in five days, or whatever. Oh no. And I’ve tried a few things over the years.

I don’t know if these items are still available, but they probably are. I call them ‘electrocution pads’ and that really is what they are. Little pads that you strap on to certain parts of your body, and you then run an electrical current through them. This current stimulates the muscles in your stomach, chest, arms, legs or wherever else you use them, so that they contract and relax. It feels as though they are doing something, especially if you have the power on too strong, but be careful using them. I had placed them too close together on my stomach and the contracting muscles caused my skin to pinch, and I was in agony. Also, I think the pads burned me because the power was too high. And I fell asleep wearing them. Needless to say I could hardly move the next day. Luckily they come with an automatic switch off after an hour or so, otherwise I don’t know how I’d have looked the next day. Use them if you must, but be warned… I don’t think I lost weight using these. The only pounds I lost were of the spending kind.

I bought myself one of those high-tension bending bars to build up my arms, shoulders and chest, because I thought that if they looked bigger, my stomach and waist would look smaller. No, that isn’t true. I thought that I would look like the man in the shorts in the photos on the poorly translated A4 exercise manual that came with the bendy bar. I followed the instructions to the letter. I was determined that by bending this bar, my waist size would be reduced by half of it’s size by the following week (Well, I’m a dreamer!). I finished work at 2.30 in the morning, dashed home, and started a-bending. Everyone else in the house were asleep, so I had to keep all of my breathing and grunting to an absolute minimum. I also had to stifle my scream as the bar slipped out of my left hand, whacked me under the chin as it careered across the room and smashed into my wardrobe. In my numbed state, I fell backwards, and knocked my TV set off it’s stand – but luckily, I managed to catch it before it fell – just as the bendy bar came back at me like a boomerang and clobbered me in the leg. Nobody heard a thing. I never used the bendy bar again afterwards. Well, never without wearing a pair of woollen gloves… nobody was ever going to see me doing that particular exercise.

I went to a gym a few times. I couldn’t use the equipment properly as I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but tried my best. I went to this gym with my cousin, so we could encourage each other along. Usually we just laughed at each other. You pull some funny faces when weight training! One day, I was using a device for strengthening the legs. I knew the position I had to get into for this exercise. I lay on my back, and brought my feet up onto a bar above me. I had to hold the weight with my feet, and then push the weight upwards again, and repeat for three lots of twenty pushes. I couldn’t do one push. The weight was too heavy, which resulted in my knees resting on either side of my head. Luckily, the weight machine was supported, so it wouldn’t have come completely down on me, but I was still stuck. Eventually I was helped out of the machine. I used it without weights after that. Well, once more anyway…

I joined a boxing gym as well when I was younger. I was too old to actually start boxing, but the exercise is good to help with losing weight. Only I was a bit overweight for the circuit training that was involved. And being in a hot, steamy gym with a whole host of boxers all running around the place, I was soon out of breath. I couldn’t keep up. In order to continue with that exercise, I needed to lose weight before I actually began! Still, I persevered, and felt some benefits.

The best exercise I find that helps me to lose weight is swimming. I love swimming, I love water. The weight literally drops off me as I really push myself when I go. I think that if you really enjoy doing something it isn’t a chore, and you can do it all the more.

It’s a pity that I don’t find losing weight as enjoyable during the process. The end result is fantastic. The compliments are a great boost to the ego. And the money you have to spend on thin clothes isn’t going to be mentioned. Not in this post anyway. But feeling good after it all is well worth it.

However, I’d really like to try to avoid the bruises and things… should I ever do it again, that is…

Nothing to share

I stand up here and sit down there,
I close my eyes, I do despair,
A topic I want, a post to share,
My mind is blank – there’s nothing there!
I look to the walls, and sit and stare,
I check the mirror, I check my hair,
(It’s looking good! I do declare,
The back is dark, the front is fair)
But my mind is blank, there’s nothing there
A topic I want, a post to share…
Please forgive me if I swear
Although I won’t, I’ll take great care,
I’ll pluck a subject from thin air
As my mind is blank, and nothing’s there
And I want a topic for a post to share.
It’s not the time to mention Molière,
And 1642, when he was there,
Or my friend Michelle, who was an au pair,
Nor Ramsey, my imaginary koala bear,
Or even the rising cost of any bus fare
…I don’t know why I put that there…
I need a subject, a topic to share
My mind is blank, there’s nothing there
This isn’t nice, it isn’t fair!
The post’s nearly done, and where oh where
Is the subject, the thread, of this castle in the air
Of a post written totally unaware
Without direction, or time to prepare
As my mind is blank, there’s nothing there…
I need to type a post to share
My thoughts, which could be anywhere
They’re not with me, upon this chair
I close my eyes, I do despair,
But, I’m sorry if you’ve read this far
My mind is blank, there’s nothing there
No post to share
I’m sorry. Please take care…
I’ll blame it on that solar flare,
Or the Census Questionnaire –
Which I’ve remembered is on a stair
And should be here, not over there…

Recurring dreams, random interpretation

I dream a lot.

I dream about flying, a very large house, and jogging very often. My other dreams are random, usually ‘one offs’, but occasionally I may have a similar dream at another time. The first three I listed are the main recurring dreams I have, and as I dream about them often I tend to remember them more.

I enjoy my flying dreams immensely. The freedom I feel, the views I can see, the crispness of the air that I feel when I fly are all very refreshing. These dreams are vivid, as flying isn’t a thing I can do naturally, but when I dream of flying it’s as though it is something I have always been able to do. Although, I do experience some rather embarrassing moments in my flying dreams from time to time.

The most embarrassing dream of flying I had was when I couldn’t get any height in my flight. Oh, I was flying – I knew that, but only about half a centimetre off the ground! My clothes were touching the ground I was that low, but I was off the ground. The height itself wasn’t as embarrassing as the speed. I was moving forwards at an exceptionally slow speed, far slower than walking. As I was outside, on a busy street, people had to walk around me. I could wave and speak to people who I knew, but they thought I was lying in the road. I was flying! If they’d have stopped and looked, they’d have seen that I was moving, but they had to go to wherever they were going to, and didn’t notice.

Writing about this dream has highlighted to me that it looks as though I was trying to bring attention to other people something I could do, but I wasn’t fast enough; or needed to aim higher to get people to see this thing that I could do. People were passing me by as I wasn’t allowing myself to be seen more. If only I could remember what I was doing in my real world when I had the dream, I could possibly act on it. Unless it was a prophetic dream, highlighting something that I need to do at some point in my future… I was moving forwards in my dream – it could indicate forward thinking… hmmm…

Another recurring flying dream I had is kind of the opposite to my low flying adventure. I’m flying high in the sky. Landing on rooftops. Performing somersaults in the clouds. Looking at my home town from completely different angles. I could fly at speed or slowly – I could even hover in the air, no movement at all. But I had a problem with landing. For some reason, I couldn’t land on the ground. I had to try to land on a wall or a fence and then jump off to the ground. Yes, it’s a little odd, I know… but it’s a dream – it’s not as though I’ve made it up! I’d come in to land perfectly. I’d have the wall in my sights, overshoot it, and land in a crumpled mess on the ground. I would get down to the ground, but not in the elegant way that someone who can perform somersaults in the clouds should do so.

Now, then. If the other dream was highlighting the fact that I need to aim higher, this one could be indicating that I need to remain grounded. I can do all of the flashy stuff if I want to do that, but remember to keep myself firmly on the ground. Don’t try to over-reach things, or I will be in a mess… hmmm again…

I very often dream of living in a very large house, or visiting a very large house, that has many rooms, or I have dreams that feature a particular room. I wrote once about a dream I had where I won £100,000.00 by managing to get into a room. I’ve had dreams where I’ve found a hidden staircase inside a built in cupboard, or behind a curtain, which led up to a completely new floor I had never seen before. The floor isn’t visible from outside the house(s) until after I’ve discovered it. And I’ve dreamt of staying in a house with lots of different levels on each floor. The corridors seem to meander their way around the house, and various rooms are off this corridor, either above or below floor level. Stairways and steps feature heavily in these dreams, as do doors.

Doors can indicate opportunities – I’m using the same kind of thinking that I used with the flying dreams now – and the rooms, especially the hidden rooms, could indicate new discoveries, or finding something really old. The stairs could indicate steps needed to find them – either the opportunities or the discoveries: to find either I always have to ‘take the first step’. Hmmm… once more.

And the dreams about jogging. Me jogging. Ha ha ha! That is more unbelievable than the flying dreams I have, yet they feel perfectly natural when I’m dreaming of jogging. I’m never out of breath, always look the part, and feel good when I’m completing my run. The jogging part itself could be my subconscious telling me that there are some things that I can do, even though I say to myself I can’t. And if I was to go for a jog, I would certainly feel very good with myself if I completed the whole circuit. Then again, the jogging could be an indicator to get a move on. Once I start what I want to do, I’ll feel good about that too. Plus I’ll feel even better when I can see that coming to completion. Hmmm… are there any other sounds to indicate thinking?

So, in conclusion, one interpretation of my dreams is that I need to reach higher. Perform well, and highlight what I can do really well. Don’t let opportunities pass me by, but also remember to keep myself grounded. I have to make the first step to get started, I will feel really good while I’m doing it, and look forward to the outcome. I only need to know what it is that I want to do and I’m away.

If my dreams are anything to go by, and my interpretation is right, I really could be flying very soon indeed. And I find that very exciting!

Localised icy patches

Mondays can be strange days. Some can be great and some can be odd.

I think today would have to fall into the odd category.

I was up and ready bright and early this morning. I looked out of the window and saw that the weather was clear. No fog, snow, rain, wind, and only a few clouds in the sky. Everywhere looked calm and still.

I walked to my car, as I do every morning. Other cars were parked around and were free from frost. Mine wasn’t. Mine was frosted over. It was only a thin film of frost on my car, but it was visible. The other cars were frost free… I had to double check. ‘That’s very odd’, I thought to myself. Luckily, I didn’t need to use my scraper to clear the windows, the windscreen wipers took care of that, but I had a strip of ice all the way down  the right hand side of my front windscreen, and the left hand side of my rear window.

I drove around a couple of streets where there were other cars parked along the sides of the road, and not one of these cars were covered in frost either. I parked up briefly to call into a shop, and then returned to my car. As I drove away, another car pulled up behind me. This car too had a strip of ice down the right hand side of the windscreen.

At least I had some confirmation that there was some very localised icy patches. You normally think of towns or regions when the weather forecasters refer to localised patches, not cars. Still, it’s a new experience I suppose! I didn’t see any further cars with ice on them on the rest of the journey to work.

In work, the day didn’t go particularly quickly. The minutes seemed like hours, and the hours seemed like days. Plenty of time then to get things done, if I had something to do. The day actually started with me having something to do, but due to the time I had available to me, it was all done very quickly. I still had about seven hours to work, so found myself going over the same thing again and again.

I found myself starting to feel very, very sleepy. My eyelids were heavy, and I found myself listening to the hum of the computers, the clicks of the keyboards from my colleagues behind me, and the strange hissing sound that the air conditioning in the office makes. It is more like a mixture of a hiss and a buzz and a hum. Outside of my office building is a road to a huge building which I think is a distribution centre for something. Large lorries use this road, and have to manoeuvre quite sharp corners, in reverse gear, so their trailers can be loaded. So, on top of all the humming, buzzing, hissing, clicking, was a rumbling and a bleeping.

The noises were kind of hypnotic. They all blended together and became a very relaxing rhythm. As I was feeling sleepy, my breathing was deeper and slower. I had to do something to keep myself awake. Falling asleep while at work is not generally promoted. I had to open the window. I needed air. I needed oxygen!

The office I work in is strange. The thermostat that regulates the temperature for the room is hidden behind a very hot computer monitor, so it thinks that the room is warmer than it is and tries to compensate by keeping the room cold. This system doesn’t work very well when the windows are open, but sometimes they need to be opened so the room can warm up a little. The only problem with opening the windows is that the thermostat gets very confused, and the room has pockets of warm air and pockets of cold air.

And, as my car was first thing this morning, I was now sat in a pocket of icy cold air. The area around the thermostat was a lot warmer, but the room wasn’t in balance. I had a choice to make: To freeze, to breath or to sleep. I couldn’t sleep, and need to breath so I had to freeze. I managed for about half an hour and then closed the window.

Luckily, the freezing, and subsequent sudden movements to close the window kept me awake, and brought lunchtime. When I returned to work after lunch, the temperature in the office was a little more pleasant. The time was still moving along at a very slow pace, but the tiredness I had experienced in the morning had gone. Well, gone from me and into two of my colleagues at the other end of the office.

Like I said. A strange Monday. Hopefully Tuesday will be a little busier, and livelier. With fewer localised icy patches. We’ll see…

Bad hair day

Usually my hair looks good. Usually, I look at myself in the mirror and think ‘Your hair is looking very good today, Tom.’ I always talk to myself as though I am someone else when looking in the mirror. When I’m generally thinking about things, without looking in a mirror at the same time, I think ‘me’, but when I’m thinking about things whilst looking in a mirror, I think ‘you’. I don’t know if this is strange or not, but that is what I do. I suppose that adds my reflection to the multitude of other personalities I have within me, only this personality is outside of me. Kind of. I’m still doing the thinking.

Anyway. Hair. Today wasn’t usual. My hair still needs cutting, so it does have a tendency to do what it likes at the moment. I was due to have a haircut last weekend, but couldn’t go because of that sore throat I had. I was going to go this weekend, but had to postpone it again due to the cough I have that reminds me of the sore throat I had last week. Maybe next week. I looked in the mirror this morning, and thought, ‘Tom, you really need a haircut. That looks terrible.’

Now, imagine looking at someone’s hair on a windy day. The way how it blows out and away from the head, but usually looks OK and natural. My hair did not look like this. Well, the hair behind my left ear did in parts, as it flicked dramatically outwards. I don’t know how I slept last night, but I must have permanently been on that side of my head. The hair behind the side of my right ear didn’t look as bad, but the back of my head felt lop sided. The hair on the left felt really heavy. I had to wet the hair to flatten it, but it was too strong. The flick returned.

The front of my hair just looked wrong. Long and wrong. So, I had strong, long and wrong hair.

And I had to go shopping.

And the shop was busy.

And I had the trolley with the wonky wheel. For dramatic effect.

And I could read all of the other shopper’s minds when they looked at me when we walked passed each other. I could see their eyes look at my hair, first at the front, and then at the back. The left back. The severe flick. Which by now had grown about fifty inches in length, and kind of looped around to resemble a big arrow pointing back onto itself. Well, in my mind it did, with all of these people looking at it. They were thinking ‘Look at his hair. Wouldn’t you think he’d get it cut? It is far too strong to be that long. It looks wrong.’ Lots of people were thinking this. Luckily for me, they had waited until I had gone into the next aisle before they started laughing.

One thing I had noticed was that everyone had short hair. It was like a conspiracy to highlight my flick. All of those shoppers had decided to go and get their hair cut so they were ready for this moment.

To highlight my flick.

After filling my shopping trolley, I paid for my things at the checkout. The guy on the till had short hair. Cropped hair. He pretended not to notice my flick, which by now was that long it was still in the aisles of the supermarket, trying to catch me up. I could see it snaking it’s way around all of the aisles I had been in. And it was now really heavy. Even heavier than before.

The guy on the till was ever so professional. He didn’t comment on the shampoo I was buying. He could have done. He didn’t comment on the styling gum I was buying. He could have done then too. But I knew he was thinking about my flick. It was on his mind. When I paid for my goods, he handed me my receipt, and said “Hair’s your change.”

I hurried out of the shop. Well, hurried in a way with a great weight pulling you back, whilst pushing a full shopping trolley with a wonky wheel.

Apart from that, I’ve had a quiet, relaxing day today. I like quiet Sundays. Even with bad hair. The bad hair makes the good hair even better, so I can’t complain.