Goodbye Gym

This week I am due to pay my monthly gym membership fee but I’m passing up on it. I have been thinking about discontinuing my payment since October but the main reason that would make me finally cease from taking that 10-minute walk from home has not happened even until now. This time, however, I have decided to save my P500 whether I like it or not.

It is true that going to the gym is addictive, I can attest to that. Like any other gym rats, I discovered that sense of pride and the accompanying high I get, thanks to endorphins, even just after an hour of intense workout. To conquer that next dumbbell in the row is always rewarding and it progresses to the start of a new goal–heavier weight, you’re next.

Going to the gym was never a thing for me. I hate competing with anyone else, more so tolerate the thought of having to deal with, and the sight of, people who loiter and spend time doing anything but workout–like those excessively staring in the mirror and taking selfies all day. Thankfully, a change in mindset made me overcome this pet peeve. The gym I realized is where my focus is tested, where I compete with myself rather than against the others. But could I still workout if I stop going to the gym?

The only gym pic I ever had.

Questions I have in mind about other options in staying physically fit sans the machines were answered by one of the few books I purchased on Amazon using my almost maxed out credit card.

Strength Rules by Danny Kavadlo provides fresh insights on plain body weight training. It opens new potentials of what anyone could achieve without using any complicated equipment and costly gym membership. Dan’s only requirements are the following: something to step up on, something to hang from, and one that’s readily available, something heavy, which, if you still don’t recognize yet, is our own body.

Danny Kavadlo reminds us that our body is a workout equipment if we know how to use it and how to keep it running. He stresses the importance of natural food over artificial supplements that one I have eliminated sooner (whey protein) and the other I have never bought (creatine). I used to take whey protein regularly but budget and having egg and chicken breast fillet as alternatives—not to mention good sources of natural protein—made me stop buying another 2.2 lbs more of my then favorite workout shake. As Danny says, “Eat muscle to build muscle.” That’s chicken and beef meat. Plain and simple.

There are more things to like about Strength Rules. Danny Kavadlo does not have sets of exercises that he wants to be followed by the number. In fact, he encourages his readers to perform whatever is possible at the moment. He does not believe that a strict routine should be adhered to for one to attain his or her personal fitness goals.

This book is also ideal for those who are tired of fad diets that were neither sustainable nor practical for most.  His take on this? ”Should you have three big meals a day or six small ones? Who cares? Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Don’t overthink.” Again, natural foods such as apples and banana only please, so forget about that tempting granola or protein bar as these are not only expensive but full of sugar as well that could negate all the efforts we make to trim down and stay healthy.

Strength Rules is available on Amazon and costs about P400 which I consider a worthy expense. The book has 2100 plus locations with pictures and illustrations that improve comprehension of the variety of exercises that revolve around the basic squat, push, and pull.

Until when I would have my layoff from the gym workout I really can’t tell. Whether it will be temporary or not, remains to be seen as I am looking forward to test myself against plain body weight training. My routine in the next months would change but the main goal why I wake up to go to the gym stays the same: be fit for Marcus, be the muscle for him. Wish me luck.

He wants to see the gym so we dropped by right after his class. Taken a month before he finally said he can’t go to school anymore.

 

***

The gym will be one of the very few places I will miss in Dasma.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (We’ll have Marcus visit a manghihilot later.)

Our Healthy Christmas Tree

I like Christmas but I have been anti-Christmas tree. This year I survived another begging from wifey to buy one as, to reiterate same statement I say every year, I find it a waste of money and that I would feel guilty staring at a new Christmas tree when I could have used it  for charity or something more important.

I am no Grinch, however. (This is where I expect to see people, including wifey, raise their eyebrows.) I don’t sneak into Christmas trees and secretly breaks it. I am a kid at heart whenever I see the sight of Christmas trees at the malls and someone other houses. I am just not ready, nor could afford, to buy our own.

It does not mean though that I couldn’t or wouldn’t build one. In fact, wifey and I made one again. Thanks to the stash of empty Berocca–more than a year’s worth–canisters I kept up the ceiling a new Christmas tree is born. The past years we built one made of badminton shuttlecocks which we used for more than three Decembers.

I love Berocca that I find it hard to throw even the empty canisters.

We must always remember that Christmas will always be Christmas with or without a Christmas tree. There are always ways to feel the spirit of the yuletide season and the more we understand that it should come from within and shared with the others the better it will be.

Merry Christmas everyone!

It takes a glue stick, some creativity and a patient wifey.

***

Early this year I stopped using Berocca to try out two products being endorsed, forced may be appropriate, by wifey. Berocca was something hard to let go as I personally find it an effective supplement so I had hesitations welcoming Royale’s Spirulina and Performax into my routine. We even had to compare side by side the content of Berocca versus Spirulina and based on supplement facts Berocca wins. Anyway, to cut the story short, I gave Spirulina plus Performax a try and surprisingly I adapted to it. I use Performax when I go to the gym and I can attest to its potency. On top of my other routines I can now do two sets each of 50-lbs dumbbell flat and incline press. Placebo? Who cares.

 ***

It’s eight more days before our diet will be tested and fifteen more days before we realize our resolution to lose weight has failed.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (The gym has not replied, looks like they’re closed when signal # 2 typhoon strikes.)

Yin and Yang

There is always yin and yang, there is–or should be–always balance. This is the message that I realized from just two simple stickers.

On Sunday I got a break from the weather and was able to finally give the car a wash and wax session. And with glasses all cleaned of bugs and sap and dust and bird droppings I was able to place the sticker that will soon make our vehicle, hoping that considerate people still outnumber those who aren’t, to be a legit occupant of that PWD (People with Disabilities) parking slot. (It should be noted that this sticker is meant to complement the government-issued card we got recently.)

PWD sticker, wheelchair, disabled parking

His sticker.

Unexpectedly, after I was done with my workout this morning the attendant gave me their gym sticker. This surely will cause some raised eyebrows at the parking area but I’m sticking it anyway.

Gym sticker, gym membership

My sticker.

So yes, simple things could remind us that there is yin and yang. Life is balanced. Life has opposites. Sadness and happiness. Sickness and health. Father and son. Life and death. Oppss. My avid readers–all five of them–said that my recent posts have been dark and sad so I’m striking out the last juxtaposition. Cheers.

***

Discovered today that I can run on the treadmill and read an ebook at the same time. Had an interesting 5K, thanks to Angela Marson’s Silent Scream. Yes, been a fan lately of discounted Kindle books.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (What do ‘ber’  months has in store for us?)

We got new wheels

The information is overwhelming and the more we learn about muscle dystrophy the more we begin to embrace the challenges that need to be dealt with. Besides the anxiety that we feel every single day when we send Marcus to school, thinking what if he falls in the class, in the playground, what if he gets pushed around and so on, we also have to start recognizing the behaviors that are associated with people with DMD.

Tell-tale signs that we once dismissed as just part of a growing up kid’s life are now becoming to make sense. These signs we realized just now are psychosocial issues commonly exhibited by people with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD.  According to www.parentprojectmd.org, there are things to watch out for:

  • He has delays in language development or problems with communication.
  • He has difficulty interacting with others and/or making friends.
  • He is often angry, argues a lot, or is very inflexible about what he wants to happen.
  • He is forgetful or absent-minded, or has difficulty paying attention.
  • He is very quiet and withdrawn, and prefers to be by himself.
  • He is very fearful or anxious.
  • He often has a negative/pessimistic attitude or says bad things about himself.
  • He has difficulty learning new academic skills or earns poor grades.
  • He has rituals or routines that have to be followed in a particular way.
  • He has difficulty sitting still, is impulsive, or very impatient.

(See article here.)

All these are behaviors that we have observed from Marcus even before we learned he has DMD (likely). There are two traits, however, that are just starting to come out: difficulty starting to learn new academic skills and saying bad things about himself.

His first wheelchair. Picture taken inside a Healthy Options store where we bought CoQ 10.

While there were some challenges in school, so typical of a preschooler, grades weren’t among our problems. In fact, Marcus finished his three years in preschool being on top of his class, albeit a small one. The possible reason he is now beginning to fall back is because we have stopped putting some pressure on him to excel in school. We learned that writing alone could stress out the muscles of those with DMD which perfectly explains why Marcus complains getting tired after writing for a couple of minutes.

Our trip to the doctor just this last Thursday also confirmed that Marcus would soon find writing using a pen or pencil a hard task to accomplish. She cites one patient that have to eventually ask to be permitted to write on a tablet instead on paper while in school. She said that dropping out of school due to difficulty in catching up with the other kids is a possible scenario.

On this same visit we finally had all the recent tests interpreted. The one that struck us the most is the CPK result. Marcus’ blood test was off the chart. According to the doctor, there is so much dystrophin wasted by Marcus’ system as seen from his CK reading—his was around 15,000 when a normal range should be around 150 units per liter. It was that bad. For now, the doctor prescribed a couple of supplements that should help somehow balance our kid’s system. He is to start taking Coenzyme Q10 for his heart and Diamaxin for his muscles. In 3-6 months, we will see if these drugs will improve something.

He can still dance but just briefly. (Photo taken inside SM South Mall after a trip to the nearby UPHMC.)

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 Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Off to Batangas, first time to check the lot up close.)

Are Tablets Good for Children?

April 23, Thursday. We were in a developmental pediatrician’s clinic. Our main purpose that day was to have Marcus checked for his unexplained frailty–he falls, he trips for no apparent reason. And among the factors we believed that contribute to his abnormal condition is just his lack of physical activities compared with other children of his age.

Immediately after being checked by the doctor, Marcus went to his cousin who is seated just across the doctor’s desk. Jed was occupied with Minecraft (they have been playing this game most of the time since day one of Jed’s one-week vacation) on our PLDT Telpad. They were quiet–as I have advised them–but the gadget captured the doctor’s attention. We didn’t expect what she said next.

“Were you ever aware about the effect of that gadget to your kid?” the doctor asked. “We’ll I’ve read about it,” I replied defensively. Obviously, she has a lot more to say about it, she went on with her lecture.

According to her, these gadgets impact our children big time. Kids nowadays who start to learn, some as young as six months old, how to use smartphones and tablets exhibit at least one of the following characteristics: impatience, short attention span, excessively possessive, and snaps easily. She added that electronic gadgets have been observed to cause ADHD and even trigger autism. While she was spot on regarding the characteristics–it was everything we have observed from Marcus, I was skeptic about ADHD and autism.

Nevertheless I swear that day that there will be lesser gadget time for Marcus. I felt more convinced that he needs to get more physical activity. I thought it was time to pump his green bike back to life. But it was a plan that would change quickly the following day.

Are smartphones and tablets good for children then? Given the effects of these gadgets, would we want to keep our kids away from them? Of course, this where parenting comes in. The key here is appropriate control as well as being good role models. Parents must also have the awareness that different kids have different needs which for my wife and I right now is the most important thing.

After April 23 we are back to allowing Marcus to have more gadget time. My wife and I have agreed that we will not force him anymore to get engaged in physical activities. We will let him play Minecraft more where he can build his own world and move around any terrain without falling down, without getting hurt. The doctor won’t probably understand but hopefully someday she will.

***

Mood: 7/10 Honks! (This toothache is killing me.)

Why I am For Embryo Editing

There are things happening around us that we tend to ignore and it is perfectly normal. We only care if something affects us–the economy, gadgets, car models, fashion, entertainment, career, etc. In our health-conscious world, we also would talk about fitness in general. Everyone considers activities like going to the gym, start running, and acquiring that first bike. The concerns of the average Joes, at the very least.

If you belong to this crowd, then you are lucky. It means that you are gifted with a sound mind and body that allows you to be involved in normal physical activities.

But not everyone can be physically active,  let alone do simple tasks. For some people, simply standing up or talking small steps are challenging enough. Like children with muscular dystrophy, specifically Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD.

Children with DMD are innocent victims of a genetic disorder. According to online resources, DMD is caused by a damaged or mutated dystrophin gene on the X chromosomes resulting to the muscles not to develop properly and, worse, to degrade over time. DMD will cripple anyone at a very young age.

So what if science can correct this problem? What if there is a way to edit the genetic code so that a normal baby comes out. Would you approve? Do you think God will approve?

Yes, there will always be questions regarding the ethics of tweaking the genes. Lots of it actually. The fear of having only perfect babies will always linger. The thought about something similar to the Nazi’s genocide happening all over again or even imagine the fictional movie Gattaca becoming real would surface. Will this breakthrough eventually result to inhumane elimination of the weak and anyone with inferior genes? What a scary thought, right?

There are chances though that some are willing to take. These are the people who are in this situation. Those who are, and their loved ones, inflicted with a disorder that science currently have not resolved. They are people who are the intended beneficiaries of the cure that are still in the works.  They are the ones who, while scientists experiment with animals and while lawmakers debate on ethics, continue to suffer and with time working against them.

It won’t be a big surprise though to learn that not everyone will agree to embryo editing. For one, this may contradict religious beliefs as it could be seen as playing God. There will always be people who would not want to oppose the will of God. There are people who believe in nothing but divine miracles. But what if embryo editing is the miracle that we have been waiting for?

For me, this is a miracle. It may be selfish for me to wish Marcus could have avoided DMD, as the doctor has recently diagnosed, had embryo editing been available before and to not think about the long-term impact of the technology in case some scientists dare to push the envelop. We are that desperate right now and our immediate concern is for a cure to ultimately produce healthy babies as well as cure those with genetic disorder so that they could be just like most of us, regular Joes.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (In Batangas, Marcus with his tablet.)

Sometimes Bad Dreams Are Better

That moment when you realize you did not have a bad dream but rather woke up to a bad reality.

When a Macklemore Song Becomes a Sad Song

…Can we go back, this is the moment

Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over

So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us

Like the ceiling can’t hold us…

These are a couple of lyrics from the Macklemore song Can’t Hold Us and it is one of Marcus’ favorite songs. It played when I was warming up in the gym yesterday. It was supposed to pump up my mind and body as it always does. It is just like its effect on Marcus every time he views this one YouTube montage of Halo. He goes crazy, he dances. Yes, it is a song that he introduced to me and I have come to loved as well.

Saturday’s gym session, however, was different.  I was pedaling while I was holding back from crying. I could have let go of my tears and made it mix with my own sweat which are starting to drip on the rubber floor but I couldn’t. I’m in a gym. Men do not cry inside the gym unless maybe they got hit by a dumbbell.

The song eventually ended and I was able to move on. It was so far the saddest stationary bike warm up I ever had but I know that I will have the same feeling again in the next days if I hear the same song again. It would make me imagine the Halo characters in that montage where all are mighty and brave, all are strong and muscular, everyone fast and invincible. Marcus likes them. Marcus wants to be one of them.

Last Friday we learned that this will not happen.

Our second visit to another doctor this week made us discover that Marcus all along has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This condition is a genetic problem that results to progressive muscular wasting that causes all the muscles—the heart included—to fail at some point. What got us so devastated was when the doctor confirmed what I have read from the article that wifey posted on my facebook private message—DMD does not have any cure for now.

Muscles of people with DMD weaken over time. We now understand why Marcus at age seven still cannot run just like the other kids. He cannot climb stairs. He cannot stand up on his own. He falls for no reason. And it is not his fault—never was. I now feel guilty expecting too much from him and forcing him to run just so he becomes the hero he wants to be. I have required him to run inside the house every time his Xbox timer expires. We once all thought that he just lacks exercise.

Our awareness to his condition hit us. Suddenly everything changed–our plans, our focus, our dreams, our faith. I know things will be different in the next days, in the next years. But DMD can’t hold us. Should not hold us.

…Return of the Mack, get up!

What it is, what it does, what it is, what it isn’t.

Looking for a better way to get up out of bed…

 

***

Lyrics from azlyrics.com

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Mood: 9/10 Honks! (Lord, make us strong.)

Slow Down and Stop

Most of us would agree that we hate being stopped. It is the reason we strain our necks to investigate what keeps traffic from moving, often times it is what causes us to blare our horns madly to coax that unsuspecting guy in front of us to step on it.

When sickness strikes, we desperately try to fight it off. We question the heavens why us, when will we recover. And we want that damn recovery fast.

At work, we get impatient when that dream job we have been applying for just doesn’t come so soon.

And in our family, our children or spouses bear the brunt whenever things don’t go our way.

Any sign of stopping we just immediately hate.  When something breaks our momentum and keeps us indefinitely stationary we become impatient, frustrated, and irrational.

But what we must realize is that there are always reasons, important ones, that we are stopped on our tracks. For one, it is the time we are given the opportunity to reflect, to analyze, and to reconsider. Being on the go makes us feel invincible, too proud, too detached from reality, and worse, from the very people who are supposed to be the main recipients of why we want to keep on moving.

On that note, this holy week, whether too pious or not, let us allow ourselves to slow down or come to a full halt and appreciate what we currently have, what we have achieved so far. Let us stop and remember to thank the divine power who in the first place has kept us going throughout the whole year.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (My last work day for this week.)

I Need Prayers…and Burgers

I just had an interesting exchange with someone:

Email message: I was about to ask you last Sunday na pumayat po kayo (you have lose weight)…Do you need prayers?

My reply: Yes, I need prayers…and burgers…

***

I don’t know how my other friends and immediate family will think once they see me because other than losing weight I am starting to sport a longer hair with the goal to get that ponytail back (I will try if I can find a pic) which I had when I got married and maintained until around 2004. Let’s see this Christmas vacation once I am home and and which is also when I’ll know if I can fend off food that will be abundant this time of the year. Few more days, time’s fast.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Dear God, Thanks for good health.)