Archive for June, 2013

Multi-Joint Movement

IMG_2143Thanks to the Supremes’ pro-homo decisions earlier this week, Georgians who want to get gay married now just have to ask the Georgia Legislature to allow a referendum vote to reverse the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

That’ll happen right around the time Paula Deen gets a clue. Which is, never.

Why? Because in the Georgia legislature, Republicans outnumber Democrats 2:1. That kind of numerical domination seems a little fishy, given there are roughly the same number of Democrat and Republican voters in this state. So how’d the white ultra-conservatives amass this kind of outsized political power? A hundred-plus years of poll taxes, gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, and other forms of voter suppression – the kinds of shenanigans that the Voting Rights Act was passed to defend against.

The same Voting Rights Act the Supremes gutted the day before they went all pro-homo? Indeed.

We here in Georgia shouldn’t be surprised. It was, after all, Georgia’s Republican Representatives who in 2006 led the ideological attack on the Voting Rights Act that ultimately resulted in its judicial gutting earlier this week.

We should be gathering our forces to pass an updated Voting Rights Act capable of ending the deceptive crap (what Justice Ginsberg kindly called “subtler second-generation barriers”) those in power use to create things like 2:1 dominance in the legislature. Instead, we’re celebrating a pair of Supreme Court rulings that, taken together, allow couples who are gay-married in progressive states like California, Massachusetts and New York to now file their federal taxes jointly. And, for those who are extraordinarily wealthy, to get as spectacular a tax break as extraordinarily wealthy straight people do when it comes to paying estate taxes.

I’m not mad at cheering. I think celebration is good, and that we should all engage in more celebratory dancing. It’s just that sometimes it seems our side is cheering ourselves for doing a nice set of bicep curls with lavender 8-pound weights while the conservative wing-nuts are out on the floor squatting 700 pounds for reps. We throw streamers and glitter after winning victories for the very few while they’re using the power they already have to Read more…

More Burpees, More Smarter

In a recent interview in CrossFit Journal, Dr. John Ratey had this to say about the very best way to train both your mind and body:

If you want to construct the ideal exercise, it’s this: something with someone else (a partner or small tribe) outside for up to 20 or 30 minutes. It’s fun, people are competing with one another and helping one another. That is what we know from the evidence.

Let’s see…exercising with others, outside, helping one another. That sounds awesome. But is that CrossFit? While CrossFit workouts have you doing something alongside someone else, you’re almost never doing something with someone else. And while CrossFitters certainly compete with one another, the workouts are not designed to have people helping one another during the workout. What’s more, with one or two great exceptions, CrossFit gyms are indoors.

What Dr. Ratey is putting forward as the “ideal exercise” in the CrossFit Journal is not CrossFit. It’s queerfit.

For his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey says that he read and digested 1000 scientific articles to figure out how physical activity can be used to boost learning and optimize your brain. To summarize his summary: exercise changes the physical structure of your brain. It makes you more smarter.

The parts of your brain that control motor function change, of course. Since the coordination required to do a beautiful burpee taps into the motor–sensory systems of the brain – your cerebellum, basal ganglia, etc. it’s not surprising that doing burpees pumps up your basal ganglia.

What is surprising, though, is that burpees also change the parts of your brain associated with higher cognitive function. The mighty hippocampus, for example, which has nothing to do with hippos and everything to do with memory and spatial navigation. Read more…

Tuesday in the rain, Thursday in the pool

Quick update on workouts this week: it may well rain tomorrow, so let’s meet up at 6:15 at our rain location (Lang-Carson Park in Reynoldstown, under the covered basketball court.  Lang-Carson Park’s street address is 100 Flat Shoals Ave., but the best way to get to the court is through the parking lot of the Free Gospel Interdenominational Church at 957 Wylie Street.)

Then on Thursday, we’ll try out a pool-based workout. Meet up at 6:15 at Grant Park Pool (625 Park Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312). Wear something you can both swim and do push-ups in. Yes, you can.

Make It So

IMG_2109You know who you are. You’ve made a commitment, drawn out a plan, and you’re almost ready to get started on Very Important Life Project X. All you have to do before getting started for real is sharpen your pencil. So you’ve been sharpening your pencil. For hours. Years, maybe.

In fact, you’ve been grinding your pencil in the sharpener so long you’re down to the nub. A very, very sharp nub.

If the Very Important Life Project is of the physical sort – to get strong like ox, say – you’re in good company. Getting fit is, far and away, this country’s most popular new year’s resolution. It’s also the resolution least likely to be carried out. For you, dear friend, Nike’s Just Do It just doesn’t do it. What will?

First, quit beating yourself up about not following through on your plan and instead, give yourself a hand for making a plan in the first place. Studies on the gap between intention and actuality have confirmed that not having a plan to exercise almost never results in exercise. Duh. But still, science put a number on it: if you don’t intend to exercise, there’s only a 2% chance you’ll just start hoisting dumbbells anyway.

By stating an intention to work out, there’s a 52% chance you’ll do it. That’s pretty good! Just by saying you want to do something, you’ve given yourself better than even odds. That’s because, in nerdball language, “intention is the proximal antecedent of behavioral enactment.” Now add a plan to that, and your chances bump up even higher.

But not up to 100%. Somehow, you’re still cruising through Facebook or watching Scandal rather than getting up and actually doing your plan. How to make the big leap from intention to physical activity?

Read more…