H. L. Mencken
A slight bit of a departure here for me today, as this post is not about striving for that n=1-defined pinnacle of expressed Physical Culture. No, this is simply about grasping hold of, and maintaining, a decent (deckplate level?) quality of life — this is about simple, day-in-and-day-out, vibrant health. So here’s the thing: we all know that the current American system of heathcare delivery cannot be sustained. We, as a nation, cannot continue to live as if cheap medicine and a ready flow of inexpensive pharmaceuticals will scrub clean our individual and collective lifestyles’ dirty laundry. Governments can’t (or won’t), or are otherwise too hamstrung by special interests to institute any meaningful change for the better, making them increasingly ever irrelevant as a positive force for change in our lives — not only in the healthcare arena, but in an ever-increasing number of policy issues. But before you get the idea that I’m on some kind of back-to-the-stone-age, Libertarian/Luddite rant, let me say this: the advances of western medicine (including the contributions of the pharmaceutical industry, of which I was once a part), over that last half-century have been nothing short of phenomenal — and, too, they’ve been an absolute Godsend for humanity (apart, of course, from the economics of the delivery of said care). The problem, as I see it, is this: that explosion in advanced medical technique and know-how has been potentiated by an ever-growing, critical mass of of increasingly sick individuals. Simply put, this exposition in technology is the result of your basic supply and demand theory, and it’s quite the Faustian bargain. Want to push the limits of your skills as a mechanic or bodywork man? Try keeping that demolition derby entry on the racetrack. There’s a reason why the old “Maytag repairman” ads were so popular — there was an underpinning of truthfulness present; a well built machine, properly cared for, needs very little intervention:
Not to beat a half-decent metaphor to friggin’ death, but try to operate that well-built machine as if it were a cement mixer and, well…you get the idea.
And while our government(s) may be hamstrung in promoting lifestyle interventions that will result, ultimately, in less collective reliance upon the medical establishment (tell me again why HSA money cannot be used for personal training and/or gym memberships?), we, as individuals, are certainly still free (and even more empowered now than ever before) to pursue our own, intelligently-driven, n=1 path. As I’ve said previously, no system can be created that will not ultimately implode under the weight of a diseased citizenry. And, ultimately, healthcare has to come down to n=1 lifestyle decisions; we can afford nothing less personally, or collectively. I am encouraged, though, by the fresh, entrepreneurial spirit being brought to the healthcare debate, and I feel that this new philosophical approach to that ever-vexing (and divisive) “insurance/coverage” problem, coupled with even a wee bit of personal responsibility cost-averaged over the nation’s populace, will ultimately constitute “the answer”.
So, both collectively, and in an n=1 sense, we have to begin to re-integrate the intelligence that is carried within each of us when it come to regaining/maintaining health. Some of us know intuitively of the body’s ability to heal and right-orient itself — others need a little more help in coming to that realization. I am encouraged with the direction (though maybe not the pace) of progress on this front when I see/hear this kind of disclosure and talk in mainstream media health programming. That proper, intense exercise (as opposed to mere physical activity) is being promoted by distinguished sectors of the healthcare mainstream as the palliative that those of us immersed in the Physical Culture scene have long known it to be, is — well…refreshing, to say the least. And that people are now beginning to question the medical community, instead of regarding them as “all-knowing” is refreshing as well. Medical professionals are educated, yes — but not infallible. Question “authority”, folks — relentlessly.
Changing subjects just a bit, I ran across an excellent epigenetics primer clip this week. This particular clip happens to focus on some of the possible epigenetic “whys” behind sexual preference, but in reality, the focus could have just as easily been on the overall body composition of twins, each having been trained in a dissimilar manner. Genes are, of course, the hand that cocks the hammer of phenotypical pistol; the finger that pulls the trigger, though, is epigenetics. You have more control of your phenotypical expression than you realize. The tricky part is living as if you do.
Workouts? Yeah, I blew through a couple over the course of the week; here’s the run-down:
Tuesday, 12/14 –
(A1) high-catch power cleans: 135 x 7; 155 x 5; 175 x 5; 185 x 3; 195 x 2; 205 x 1, 1, 1
(B1) low pulls from the floor: 235 x 5; 255 x 5, 5, 5, 5
Wednesday, 12/15 –
(A1) Nautilus pec dec: 110 x 12, 7, 7 (5010 tempo)
(A2) Xccentric flat press: (0 counter, no added weight) x 15, 7, 7 (5010 tempo)
Thursday 12/16 –
(A1) single-arm snatch (Oly bar): 95 x 5; 105 x 5 sets of 2 (each arm)
(A2) *roll-under pull ups: bodyweight x 5 each of the six rounds
*semi-supinated grip pull-up to the top position, then tuck and roll so that you’re in a suspended, semi-fetal position with the back parallel to the ground (body maintained as close as possible to the bar). Lower slowly from this position to full arm extension…kinda like a negative bent-over row…then “un-roll” back into a normal pull-up start position.
Thanks for this bit of optimism! I think we are at a crossroads in the history of healthcare. This post makes me a little more cheerful about where we are headed.
And yes: always question authority!
I’m optimistic too, Eric; it’s just going to be a long, rather bumpy road 🙂
Not to sound like a fawning fan, but I’m kinda sorta in awe of that!
^^ That refers to the one-arm barbell snatch.
It’s a great exercise! Strength, explosion, balance…everything!
Reminds me of the Asclepian and Hygeian approaches to health (each named after a different Greek god).
I think most people today (myself included, until recently) believe that the human body is inherently flawed, coming from the factory as a faulty mess, and requiring lots of intervention, medication, and operations if it’s going to thrive.
Under this paradigm, the body must be fought at every turn, since illness, injury, and getting fat are all inevitable.
This, of course, is BS.
The human body is the sum product and survivor of eons of evolution. The key is to work with your body rather than against it, and take proactive measures to improve your health rather than reactive ones.