Friday, January 22, 2010
Yup, love dogs too -- particularly my own golden retriever, Charlie, whose call name is "Heart of Gold". Prophetic, that was. Best dog ever.
But I also love other people's dogs whether they have hearts of gold or not. And once in a while those other dogs -- even if I've never seen them before and am unlikely ever to see them again -- will look at me as if they realize just that.
So here's a silly story with no particular significance which has stuck in my mind since last September.
I was driving south to work in the curb lane and was passed by a pickup truck with a most raffish looking dog in the passenger seat. The dog's head and shoulders were right out the window and he had a big goofy grin on his face. Truck Dog seemed to be of diverse origins, a houndish rust/white/black tri-colour but close to Great Dane in proportion. One of his ears stuck up and one flopped down. The big fella was thoroughly enjoying the sunny day and the breeze with all of its enticing scents.
For about three miles the truck kept pace with me. Kids were walking to school, some with parents and dogs accompanying them. Other dogs were out for walks with older owners. Truck Dog looked over at me and for several seconds gazed directly into my eyes. He grinned joyously. I smiled back. His message seemed pretty explicit. "Hey, this is gonna be sumpin'! Just watch me!"
We went past a medium-size sheltie mincing daintily like a model on a catwalk. "Good one!", Truck Dog signalled. And "WOOF WOOOF WOOOOOF!!!" he uttered with vocal ferocity completely belied by the entirely amiable expression on his face. But the sheltie missed the humour entirely. Flinching at the volume, she lost her elegant cadence and her owner snapped her head around indignantly. "Yup, it's working!!" The Dan-ish grinned at me conspiratorially.
His next target came into view about half a mile later. It was a reasonably large boxer but with a worried forehead and timidity in its round shoulders. Instantly, even noisier and even more aggressive barks emanated from the pick up truck -- and the boxer leaped sideways, looking fearfully over his shoulder. This time the Great One swelled his chest with pride and opened his mouth wide. "Almost too easy", he smiled across at me knowing full well I thought it was funny too.
Long before I could see it and way down the road my temporary travel buddy had identified one more victim. He looked over as if to say, "This is gonna be the best yet!!" A ludicrous mini dachshund puppy probably only a few months old -- little more than a caterpillar wearing a bright green furry dog sweater -- was waiting at the bus stop with its owner.
Loudest, most aggressive barks possible. No quarter given for youth, size, inexperience -- just merciless "leader of the pack" stuff. Imminent attack. Or that was what it sounded like. The tiny pup leaped vertically four feet, trying to bury itself in its owner's arms. Missing completely, it somersaulted spectacularly end-over-end backwards in the air. The owner stooped and snatched it up instantly, the poor little pup unhurt of course but paralytic with fear.
As he sped past the bus stop Truck Dog swivelled to settle his haunches on the dashboard, turning back to watch as long as he could. Tongue lolling, he was practically falling out of his window with hysterical laughter. I got one more complicit glance ("I told you it was gonna be funny, right??") and then Truck Dog's owner was abruptly switching lanes to cut me off and turn right.
They barrelled west down the country road in a cloud of dust. For a few more seconds I could just see my friend's tail wagging ecstatically through the rear truck window. And they were gone.
Friday, January 15, 2010
I've been thinking recently about how much I enjoy birds -- probably because of all the birds we have had at our feeders over the past couple of weeks. It's been great to see the gold finches in winter plumage at the window finch feeder; the woodpeckers and nuthatches and chickadees on the suet block; and the cardinals and jays at the big feeder. I can watch them for hours. According to family stories I've had a particular affinity to birds ever since I was a very small child. There are lots of interesting birds here in Ontario, summer and winter, but I do also love the egrets and roseate spoonbills on Sanibel Island, and I'm hoping to get there again for a few days in March.
So here's a bird story which is almost incredible -- but really did happen.
Quite a number of years ago when my own kids were very little, my husband and I took them for a week to a cottage resort near Haliburton in northern Ontario. We hadn't been there before. The minute we got out of our car, a female chipping sparrow came right over to me and "told" me unmistakeably and urgently to follow her to the water's edge. Fluttering expressively, she led me directly to her nest in a small bush overhanging the lake. One of her fledglings had fallen in and was spluttering, close to drowning: it must have happened just minutes before. The mother bird was asking for my help and she was touchingly confident I would understand her and would deliver. I lifted her baby out of the water and back into the nest. That mother chipping sparrow greeted me loudly and effusively every time I came out of the cottage for the entire week we were there. I told her it was ok: that we mothers had to stick together.
The following summer we took our kids to a different cottage resort miles and miles away in another area of northern Ontario. We had just unloaded the car, and I was stocking the fridge with our groceries. I looked up and there was a small bird -- perhaps a summer warbler -- fluttering at the kitchen window and trying very urgently to communicate to me. Immediately I ran out of the cottage, following the bird. This time it was my four year old son who was in imminent danger of drowning. He must have been so hot from the long car ride and so excited to be on vacation that he had gone into the lake without adult supervision. Wading out into the unfamiliar lake, he had not expected that the bottom would drop off so suddenly and he was submerging --quietly slipping under the water. I was just in time. This mother bird had alerted me to the danger for my "fledgling". She flew about our heads, celebrating his rescue with exultant warblings and swoopings.
So strange but so true.
My son is 22 now. And you'll understand: last weekend when I poured niger seed into the finch feeder, put a fresh block of suet into the nuthatch feeder, and set out the chopped peanut and sunflower seed for the blue jays, I was just making an instalment on an old and continuing debt!
Friday, January 08, 2010
Completed my three sessions for week one this morning -- and realized that I've got a bit of twinge developing in my right knee. Not at all alarming -- but noticed it.
And so I focused during my weights session on lower body -- keeping the hip flexors, hamstrings and quads strong will help stabilize both the knee and hip joints.
And in addition, worked on abs: strong core is important too.
Next week I'm going to take Podrunner to the track rather than the treadmill so I can concentrate more on the mid foot landing and short stride -- once set to a certain speed, the treadmill almost compels a heel landing, I think, because the conveyor belt is moving. I've got to learn to use the POSE short stride to move myself forward rather than "keeping up with the conveyor belt": which is not the same thing at all.
Really really enjoying working on this project! And looking forward to Week Two.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
It's my belief that because I know I have no will power, all I can do is structure my life in such a way as to avoid temptation. Me and Oscar Wilde. If I buy potato chips or bake a lemon pie (yup, that was a big mistake: but delicious!!) then I've already decided to eat 'em. And I will.
So you can imagine that I was chuffed to read in the Toronto Globe today that a recent study in a reputable journal says I'm right: there is nothing noble in setting myself up to resist temptation, because temptation just makes it more likely I'll fail. The attitude to cultivate, apparently, is a humble awareness of human weakness!! Which takes the inevitability of submission to temptation very very seriously. And focuses on elimination of temptation rather than testing will power.
Here's the article, then:
Think you have self-control to keep resolutions? Then you won't
TORONTO — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Jan. 05, 2010 12:00AM EST
Did you confidently pledge to quit smoking when the New Year's ball dropped? Did you vow to keep your fingers out of the cookie jar? Or promise to refrain from binge drinking?
The key to sticking with that resolution is simple: Don't overestimate your own self-control.
A recent study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that those with an inflated sense of impulse control are more likely to expose themselves to their temptations and ultimately fall into the trap of giving in to those temptations. In other words, it's not a good idea to keep that pack of cigarettes in the house if your plan is to quit, or to leave those chocolates on the top shelf, supposedly out of reach, if your resolution is to lose weight.
"Basically we walk around believing that we have more control than we in fact have, and the consequence of that is we don't take sufficient precautions," said Loran Nordgren, co-author of the study and a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois.
"The people who are most self-confident also, as a result, expose themselves to more temptation than others, which also makes them the most likely to fail."
The authors conducted four studies examining how beliefs on impulse control affected a person's ability to overcome temptation.
In one study, smokers were divided into two groups and told they either had superior self-control over their cravings or little impulse control. The overly confident group were more willing to keep a cigarette in their hands while they watched the 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. As a result, they exposed themselves to more temptation than they could handle and were more likely to smoke the cigarette.
The authors also found that smokers who were trying to quit and who felt they had more self-control were less likely to have abstained four months later, because they were not diligent enough in avoiding temptation.
"What we found is that people have chronically underestimated the power of impulse," Prof. Nordgren said. "People think they have a greater capacity for self-control than they in fact have and that misperception, what I have been calling the restraint bias, leads them into temptation."
Prof. Nordgren said people need to appreciate the destructiveness of addictions and take a humble view. That requires avoiding temptations instead of having unrealistic perceptions of control.
He said that some addiction programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, have realized the danger of inflated impulse control beliefs. One of the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous is that an alcoholic should admit powerlessness over alcohol.
While the purpose of Prof. Nordgren's study is to improve on addiction programs, it is also easily applied to New Year's resolutions.
"My recommendation to people making health resolutions is to be very specific on what those goals are, and those goals should absolutely be focused on ways to avoid the temptation," he said.
So now that I know -- on good authority -- that I'm right, there is no excuse for self delusion. I HAVE no will power. So: I've gotta continue avoiding temptation!
Monday, January 04, 2010
Thanks to Rookie Running Group for providing the link to the Podrunner intervals programme to get me started on my return to running.
And: to JOPAPGH for recommending that I check out POSE and Chi running techniques!
Day one of week one is a 30 minute walk/jog interval routine -- and certainly not a strain for me from a cardio perspective -- but I was really concentrating on the form: erect posture, landing mid-foot, pulling up on the knees and keeping the stride short with bent arms close to the body. The podrunner programme (free download) signals the change from walk to jog so I don't have to time the intervals and can focus on the form; very very convenient! I am finding that I really need to think about it.
I'm going to work on this Mon/Wed/Fri plus weights and do alternative cardio at least 2 other days (elliptical, likely). Plus abs/stretch of course: the strong core is important to the POSE running technique too.
It's exciting after a 16 year gap from running to get back into it. Back then I was running 10 km pretty consistently 5 days a week -- too much -- and was probably 20-25 pounds heavier then -- and running with a heel-toe roll long stride which was kinda "state of the art". Quite a bit of splat splat splat: it was noisy running!!! And I was not keeping up the abs and weights either, just running with a bit of stretching afterwards. Eventually, my hips and knees rebelled. Now it's fun to check out POSE and chi to see how much running technique has changed -- a bit like the vast change in golf clubs with the giant drivers . . .
Love to run -- makes me feel quite euphoric -- particularly now that I've got my energy back. I'll do some of the podrunner programme on the treadmill and some on the track until it's possible to get back outside running in the spring: by then I'll be back to 5 km again for sure. I'm also looking at Spark Your Way and C25k materials, but for now while I'm really thinking about technique the podrunner is probably the most helpful . . .
My goal here is to take it slowly and AVOID INJURIES. I emphatically do not want to do myself a damage so that I can't exercise at all. Must say when I look at runners' blogs I do see quite a bit of indication that there are a lot of injuries out there.
Old attitude, when I was running before, was: with all of this exercise I don't have to worry about my weight, I can eat pretty much what I want. (I was wrong about that.)
New attitude this time around will be: I love to run so I'm going to stay as light as possible and focus on technique to avoid injury so that I CAN continue to run. And: I'm going to run moderately -- not every day, not 10 km every time, no matter how addictive it is. Because if I do experience injury I will back right off immediately, return to elliptical or swimming. This is about optimal fitness and fun -- especially fun.
Get An Email Alert Each Time WATERMELLEN Posts