Always a wrestler….

I was out running with my dog today and I couldn’t help but think “The human body is amazing.”  I ran roughly 7.2 miles today with my dog which was twice as far as her previous long run with me (we’ve had the dog for less than two weeks).  While she was significantly stronger this go round then our 3.5 mile run (it was a lot cooler today) she was still definitely dragging a little by the end.  I look at my stocky, wrestler-pretending-to-be-an-endurance-athlete body and then my dog and think, how’s it even possible that I can out run her?  Our physiology is amazing and I got to remembering about how humans can outrun horses in distance races.  Say What!?!?  No really, take a minute (after my blog) to go read this:

All Men Can’t Jump

But I was also thinking this week (thanks to a question by Tim Sinnett) about my habitus.  I was a pretty scrawny, short kid with a reasonable amount of innate talent in running, but where I grew up outside Chicago during the peak of the Jordan years there was only one sport- basketball. That wasn’t the best for me given that only one girl was shorter than me in my 8th grade class.  When I moved to Washington I joined cross country.  I ran too much too fast, suffered through shin splints, didn’t know how to suffer athletically and really didn’t like the coach. I never went back which was probably a mistake in the grand scheme of things, by the end of high school I posted a few *almost* collegiate level running times in local races and ran a marathon a few days before my 18th birthday.  BUT I never did really run again for a team other than my wrestling team. Wrestling was fundamental to my development as me.  I’ve discuss this before, but it also probably changed the way I looked.  I wrestled 101 pounds my freshman year, really weighed 99 and didn’t need to worry about making weight ever.  By my senior year I was about 150-155 pounds (wrestled at 135) and could bench over double my body weight 315lb one rep max on bench, I did 405lb x 3 in back squats AND ran a marathon a few months after my senior wrestling season.  I was a machine.  I was a terrible wrestler but great at training for wrestling.     My sophomore year at 115 varsity I was 5-15 and my senior year I was something like 13-13 for the season.  I was probably at to low of a weight class but I would have been JV behind our very good 141 wrestler but that’s a different story.

The summer after high school (before heading off to college) I basically worked out all day.  I rode my bike to Godfather’s Pizza (my only fast food job ever) and on break had all-you-can-eat pizza buffet every day.  After work I rode my bike to Gold’s gym and worked out hard (including long runs).  I did this until around the start of August when I got sick.  In retrospect I realize it was mono, but all I knew then was I was to sick, tired to workout.  In-fact I think I couldn’t even ride my bike to work for that next month.  I remember being all but couch bound from exercise.  Then I went off to college, lifted weights, ate to much, partied to much and shortly after college I was 205 pounds (at 5’6″).  I certainly didn’t look super fat or anything, I have some unflattering pictures of me with a bit of a gut but I still basically looked like a muscly wrestler.  I got into medical school (accepted spring 2001) and knew that I needed to return to cardiovascular fitness. That led me to a several year path of pursuing greater and greater levels of fitness and eventually hitting ~155 pounds again during winter of 2006 while training for bike racing. That next year I had my early season crash, hurt my AC joint and never really had a great season (though I did race all year) and the next year we moved to Jerome and I basically stayed around 168-170 average until early this year.

During all of that though I’ve always looked more like a wrestler faking it in endurance sports.  During medical school my VO2 max was tested somewhere around the mid to high 50’s ml/kg/min, which is pretty good by today’s standards though certainly not elite athlete levels.  Average males today are under 40.  They have detailed information from ancient Rome on soldier’s gear, height, weight and march times, etc and have calculated that the average Roman legionaire was over 40  (here’s the article I remember though they don’t mention what the average must have been in that) and I recall reading in one place that the average was probably closer to 55 for the legionarres. So I wouldn’t have made the height cut off, but I maybe could have hung in a forced march with them.  Even at my skinniest post-college fitness my back and legs in particular looked like a scrapper not a bike racer.  It’s pretty clear in my post crash photos (here) what I mean (especially my back).  I was right at my current weight (~160) in that picture though from several years of bike racing my habitus was a little different in that today I have bigger arms by a long shot, so it’s a little unclear where all that extra weight was in that crash picture, legs maybe?

So to sort-of go somewhere with all this discussion about my body habitus: do I look like a wrestler because I was a wrestler or if I had run all along would I have eventually looked like this?  I have no idea.  I certainly have a significant tendency toward muscle development, I’ve never been worried about my testosterone levels, but I really prefer endurance sports.  Right now I really don’t care very much because I really do enjoy lifting weights also.  I’m not really willing to only run and shrink down that muscle mass that I continue to carry.    I’ve also become convinced that muscle is super important for long term health.  There’s several controversial population studies that suggest being in the overweight range of BMI (25-29.9) is associated with lower mortality then normal (even when corrected for smoking).  This could be from it being bad for your health to be “frail” as an elderly person?   Mortality rate after a hip fracture is 25% that first year.

Either way what I can say is that “you can take the wrestler off the mat, but you can’t take the wrestler out of the man.”

Published in: on August 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Round #2

5 days of life.

I’m a pretty outspoken non-lover of the early months of a babies life.  Seriously is there any reasonable answer to the question “How’s your baby doing?”  Um….she cries, interrupts my sleep, and needs a diaper change a lot of the time.  She doesn’t roughhouse or draw or talk or ….do much of anything fun.  Someone taught me the response “Pretty helpless still” I think I might adopt that.

Well that’s not totally true she’s a month now and has really started smiling, that’s pretty cute.  Despite all my ranting…I definitely love this little girl sooner than my first.  It’s not just that she cries less than our first did, it’s not that she sleeps a little better than the first did, it’s not that she actually likes the car seat.  Because those things are all true and really, really nice.  It’s more that I know what to look forward to.  I love my oldest so much it’s actually crazy sometimes.  We were wrestling on the carpet yesterday and her giggles filled our house with joy beyond description.  Dorothy was feeding the youngest in the rocking chair and Ruthie was playing her double knee drop on daddies genitals game.  High comedy.  Don’t worry- hands for protection and it’s actually pretty hilarious.  I’m sometimes amazed at the fact that I haven’t really ever injured or hurt her because she really plays very aggressively and I’m 8x her mass.

Knowing that down the road I’ll have a similar experience with this new Baby Amy makes me more relaxed about the whole thing.  Some if it may simply it being “round 2” and being a more experienced father, but I don’t think so.  Ruthie smiled at me when she was 1 month old but it still took until this post when Ruthie was almost 4 months old to really “fall in love with her”.  I really know what’s in store and I have stronger feelings about this second baby at a younger age than with the first.

I might even consider doing this again, even though I suspect I’m destined to have 3 girls….

About to start crying actually.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 4:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Do we love our bodies?

The Bible is a living document in part because our understanding of the text changes as we change. One can read a passage multiple times and read it a certain way and then read it from a different perspective and have a significant epiphany. This happened to me with a passage I have probably read 20+ times. Ephesians is one of my favorite epistles and I’ve read it many, many times in part because of the passages on marriage. It also contains the longest passage that I have memorized. I’ve been reading it for the last few weeks and read this passage again with a completely different insight then I have ever had:

Ephesians 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

It’s a beautiful call to husbands to love wives as much as they love themselves. Coming from a Reformed and relatively Calvanistic background it’s been assumed that husbands love themselves. In-fact here’s part of what Calvin says about this passage:

“An argument is now drawn from nature itself, to prove that men ought to love their wives. Every man, by his very nature, loves himself. But no man can love himself without loving his wife. Therefore, the man who does not love his wife is a monster.”

Almost every sermon or commentary I’ve heard/read take it for granted that we (as husbands) love ourselves, tend to be self centered and selfish and we are to love our wives in the way that we already love ourselves. I agree with that sentiment but….I realized this week that it actually says something a little more than that. Here I’ll include the next verse:

Ephesians 5:28-29 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their
own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

The passage is not really telling us to love our wives as we love “ourselves” meaning the “our personalities” or “our Ego” (in the Freudian sense). It’s literally saying love our wives as we love our “physical bodies”. It’s not implicit, it’s actually explicit when taken with verse 29. Calvin seems to take it for granted that this would be true, but he’s never met an American. It’s clear that most of us hate our bodies! We don’t get the rest, exercise or fuel that our bodies need. We choose TV and facebook over sleep. We choose convenient frankenfoods (“because they taste better”- what a crock) over healthful homecooked meals. We say “when I get home from a long day of work I’m too tired to exercise” though what we really mean is “I want to watch TV when I get home even though a walk would actually make me feel better while the TV makes me feel even less energetic.”

Anyone who has been cornered by me recently knows that I’ve been pouring an incredible amount of energy into thinking about the root of the American obesity epidemic, while also getting back into “fighting shape” myself. Dorothy and I hit a low of fitness about March 2011. It had gotten pretty bad. After Ruthie was born June 2010 we really let our exercise go. We were tired, I was still figuring out how to juggle my schedule here, and by the time Ruthie started to sleep it was the brutal Jerome winter. Starting around April 2011 when I started doing Kung-fu and Dorothy started going to the YMCA to work-out. After a series of energy sucking meetings that ended in spring 2012 I upticked even more in my exercise and have really basically gotten back into what I would consider very good condition again. In many ways I would consider this my “normal” as I spent many years through the end of medical school and residency in this kind of shape when I was racing triathalon or bikes. I’ve also got my diet and appetite more in line with good health simply by not eating so much dang dessert (our diet was pretty clean all along). It turns out from review of my old exercise journals that I spent a long time around this weight also (averaging about 162 right now).

One outcome from this has been a noticeable increase in my libido and more specifically finding my wife much more attractive and desirable than I had while my fitness had been less. Not to say I didn’t find her attractive before (seriously she’s hot) but I found myself wanting to spend more time and physical energy on her as my fitness improved. I’m using the multiple definitions of attractive here, not just in the sexual/physical way. I’ve also find myself wanting to support her return to fitness. We likely have many, many years of marriage ahead of us and it would nice to enjoy them with energy and without the disease of poor health that I see plaguing Americans wholesale. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, poor balance, nursing homes….these are the realities of retirement in America. I never hear those that maintained good health and fitness say “the Golden years aren’t so Golden” it’s usually former smokers or the obese who can’t figure out how they got to this place of debilitation.

So men: this passage is first an explicit call to “love your body”. Not self worship, not narcissism but getting it the rest, exercise and fuel it needs. CHOOSE health. From there we are to love our wives as we love our bodies. If you are married, make the changes needed because I can tell you from personal experience it becomes easier to love your wife better. If you are unmarried make the changes ahead of time, health probably won’t hurt in helping you find a wife.

Women: I’d guess that if men are called to love their bodies….the same is true for ya’ll. Likewise if (which is usually true even in two income homes) you do all the shopping or cooking you can do your part by making better choices about what fuels are even available in the house. Take control: a household that contains no soda, cookies, or frankenfoods makes it much easier for everyone living there to make good diet choices.

Perfect hair night for delivery. My gorgeous wife.

Published in: on August 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Girls



Amy Elizabeth is born!  Technically it’s been almost a month, but I haven’t blogged in a bit, so better late than never. She was born July 9th 7lbs 5.5 oz 20 inches.  So here’s some background on that night and my feelings so far.

Sunday July 8th was starting to feel like do or die time.  My schedule was essentially changed to take that next week off.  Dorothy’s mom had been here for 10 days already and in her own words “Family is a little like fish, after too many days they both start to stink.”  We were past her due date and Ruth was born on the due date so we had been expecting a little before her due date. That and her very, very dilated cervix.  Dorothy had been having contractions for weeks, but nothing to “write home about”.  So Sunday we decided to try to help things along a little.  Prayer at church, check.  Nipple stim- check. I even ran out to the store and got real Raspberry Leaf Tea.  She had few cups of that.  Then in the evening after dinner we went for a short walk down our lane, Ruthie in the carrier on my back.

Our “neighbors”…

[..side note that we took to calling them our “neighbors” because originally we were calling them “the Mexicans” and we decided that it just seemed too racist for some reason.  I mean they are all latinos in the little run down house that’s the only house on our road, we have yet (see below) to have any of them speak English to us.  It’s a little unclear how many live there actually, but they have always been friendly in the form of waves….]

…were outside cooking food which smelled great. We all waved at each other.  I’d say there were 7-8 men, which is more than is typical.  We walked about .5 mile up the road and came back, waving again.  As we got about halfway from our neighbors house to our house a car pulled up next to us.  The driver said “Here’s some carne asada.  When we see a pregnant woman walk past we give her carne asada.”  He hands us a plate with two pounds of meat covered by a paper towel.  The smell was amazing. We had already eaten dinner but ate half the plate on the walk home.  

So..walk- check, .carne asada- check.  We went to bed really hoping to have the baby the next day so I didn’t have to go to work  on Tuesday.  We went to bed about 10:30.  About 1:05 AM Dorothy wakes me and says “Josh, I think we need to go to the hospital.”  I’m like “Ok, how many contractions have you had?”  “Four”.  

“Four?!?!?”  “No I’m serious these are really strong.”  She had one at 12:30, one at 12:45, one at 12:55 and one at 1 AM and felt it was time.  I was skeptical. Then she started having them every two minutes and needing to kneel on the ground with them, then she says “I think I need to poop.”  to which I responded “Get in the car”.  The drive to the hospital was punctuated by rupture of membranes and by a brief pause for her to try to puke out of the open passenger side door. 

We got to the hospital about 1:40 AM and had Amy at 2:12 AM.  I actually called the OB nurse cell phone on the way because of that body language that anyone that does OB knows as “this lady is going to have a baby soon.”  

So first labor with Ruthie started at 11 PM and ended at 7:30 AM with two hours of pushing and was 6 pounds. Amy was 1:40 from first hard contraction to delivery with about 3 pushes at 7lbs 5.5 oz.  What a difference!  It’s interesting that the fast labor was sort of making Dorothy freak out about having to push. She didn’t have time emotionally to get ready for that last pain.  Right before pushing she was saying “I’m freaking out, I can’t do this, I’m not ready.”  Of course it was coming so fast it was pretty well out of her hands.  

My feelings toward baby #2 are very different also, I’ll plan on posting those thoughts soon.  

Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm  Comments (4)