Major and Marginal Meliorations in My March Machinations

After bad ass and boss blogger Sorryless said he was starting his New Years resolutions on February 1, and with the spring equinox approaching, I decided to renew my vows so to speak and add more to some of my many healthy habits. I’m pleased to report, for those who care to read about and take whatever inspiration they may from them, that I succeeded by accomplishing all four objectives. That’s what’s up with what one person said was a lifestyle blog. Who me? An influencer? I hardly know her! (Ha! That’s an old Vaudevillian comedy trope.) Let’s get right to the details of what I did and some tips on how you too can add some healthy habits, if that’s your jam. Or preserves. Or other type of tasty fruity spread. Anyway, yeah, I did some stuff and it wasn’t that hard, either. Kind of like how George Costanza on Seinfeld claimed he was the architect who designed the addition to Guggenheim. Yes, exactly like that.

Photo by Charles Parker on

First up is flute tootin’. Although you might not consider making music to really be exercise, it does involve breathing hard, using muscles, coordination, and brain power. I wonder how many calories it burns? I’m not tracking it as an activity on my Garmin vivoactive 3 watch, but maybe I should. Anyway, I began the year planning to practice 30 minutes several times a week. In January I did well, but with a sore wrist in February and the cold that seeps into this old rented house, especially during the Texas Snowmaggedon aka Winter Storm Uri, I just wasn’t into it. So for March, I decided I would toot tout le jours, i.e., every day, for 15 minutes. From a sports psychology approach, half an hour is a good chunk of time. A quarter of an hour is enough to feel like I’m doing something but goes by quickly and painlessly.

That’s what I did, and usually I would go longer. I’ve been working through my collection of assorted pieces and mostly two books of etudes (studies) that I’ve held onto since I had a private instructor in high school. I am still pretty bad, especially with my tone being very breathy. That is because loose lips sink ships but also make for a crummy sound. The embouchure, or way you position your mouth, does involve muscles. Maybe mine will come back. Ever since I got rid of my good silver instrument to help pay for college, I have a very old student horn. C’est la vie; a good flute costs a lot of loot, so is not in the starving artist budget for now. Howevver, I am progressing in being able to sight read pieces I never played, or haven’t played in decades. Mostly, it’s fun, so I intend to keep at it while I’m jobless and don’t have roommates.

How This Might Help You: Making a habit fun (or choosing a fun habit) is a key to making it stick. Obvious, but easy to forget.

Next is foam rolling. It hurt like hell for the first week, but eventually my legs started loosening up. It still smarts, but not quite as much, and I’ve figured out ways to manage the pressure. They main one is having built up the arm strength to hold my torso up as I go back and forth on my legs. Or working one leg at a time, on and angle, or just going easier without the body weight. It is working, but until it’s safe to go back to a massage clinic, and I have the funds to hire (or the dream, maybe a sponsor?) to pay for a masseuse, I’ll be rolling up a fatty… piece of foam on my body. To quote John Cougar Mellencamp, “It hurts so good!”

HTMHY: When something isn’t fun, stick with it long enough to see results, and you’ll want to keep going.

The month of March saw me in my salad days… all 31 of them, to be exact! A phrase that means young and inexperienced, it seems to apply when it comes to bowls of cold raw plants. I would hear this voice (not literally!), like my conscience or health coach, say, “Hey, dude, would it kill you to eat a g*& d@#& salad once in a while?” No, but I just seldom seemed to make them. So I figured I’d try to do it for 31 days, and at the end I could always quit. As it turns out, not only did I not get bored, sick, or tired of salads, I actually enjoyed them. Of course knowing they’re healthy was the motivation, but choosing good ingredients and keeping it simple really helped.

Photo by Jill Wellington on

It took some doing, however. I got a big container of prepared organic mixed lettuce (instead of a head which would take more time to prepare), splurged on organic cucumbers which I love since I can eat the skin, a few other easy to add ingredients, and a tasty dressing of which I only used a tablespoon and added some apple cider vinegar (which may help decrease appetite). Sure, sometimes I add meat, cheese, or avocado. Also, you can put in seasonings! I like black pepper and dill. Fresh is even better. Plus, it’s not a huge salad. (That’s for George Costanza on Seinfeld.) Occasionally I might even microwave it for 30 seconds. I don’t know what healthy effects it’s had, but it probably makes the, er, morning download easier. And surely (who’s Shirley?) it has helped me get more vitamins and minerals into the old dude bod.

HTMHY: Set yourself up for success with planning and preparation. Remember the health benefits you will get by making this change and emphasize what you like.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Of all these habits I completed for 31 days in a row, I’m most proud of strength training. I used resistance bands to start the year, because as a cyclist, my upper body strength pretty much sucks. And since I have been riding a bit less than A Devil of a Year: 6,666.66 Miles Bicycled in 2020, I have more time. Someday it will be safe to go back into the water at a swimming pool somewhere, and I’d like to be ready for that. Last year I joined a gym six weeks before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic lockdown began here in Austin, Texas. I worked up to a mile, but I still needed more arm and shoulder workouts.

Instead of 30 minutes a few days a week, for March, I decided to alternate upper and lower body workouts, but doing 15 minutes a day. Again I used the resistance bands at home. I looked up some YouTube videos for different exercises, and then did my own thing. The great thing about the rubber bands is that you control the weight, not like throwing iron at the gym. If it gets to hard, you ease up. If you want it harder, you choke up on them. After 31 days, it’s a bit easier to do, and I’m feeling stronger. Since late February, I have gained 1.9 pounds. Although I eat and burn plenty of calories, I’d like to think that’s muscle, since muscle weighs more than fat. Plus, my pants are fitting looser, so I know that the salads and the bands are working overall.

HTMHY: Be clear about your motivation, make it a short period of time on your calendar, and focus on the process, not the results. This can bypass your inner child that says “I don’t wanna!”

Well, those are my gains, big and small, for last month. This month, I plan to focus on improving my sleep. More about that and my other daily activities (bicycling, calorie tracking, walking, reading, writing, and yoga) in a future post. Tune in three times a week — usually Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays — for more A Dude Abikes as he tries to kick his own ass into slightly better health! Now, let me get back to these potato chips with dips, dark chocolate covered raspberry sorbet Dove bar, and the latest episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Hey, I’m human, don’t get all judgy on me, now.

HTMHY: Life is short, and even when it’s not a pandemic, it’s okay to treat yo’self!”

—-> If you missed my previous blog, MEDIA ALERT: Introducing Strava S.L.O.W., I think it’s a pretty clever one. Please check it out!

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