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Mens sana in corpore sano

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature’s gifts
that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

-Juvenal, Satire X

After moving to Texas, I landed a wonderful job that allows me some time to write, minimal dress code, and sitting all day in air conditioning in Texas summers, and heating in Texas winter. Sounds wonderful, right?

Except that after many months of sitting all shift long, my knees (not great to start with) had degenerated to the point that by LibertyCon my cane became a full-time necessity. Which sucked. A lot. And as my knees got worse, so did my balance, which led to falling on the kitchen floor and months of physical therapy.

So Peter and I committed to something we’d been kicking around: weightlifting and strength coaching, at a Starting Strength gym.

Deadlifts really suck. Well, to be fair, they’re sucking far less as muscle memory is starting to sink in and figure out that this body part does this while that does that, and hips here and breathe there, and yeargh. Except that our starting strength coach is determined to keep adding weight as we get better (thereby driving the adaptation and muscle growth that makes us continue getting better), so deadlifts will continue to suck for the foreseeable future. yay.

On the other hand, the sheer amazement of being able to lift a fourty-five-pound barbell in an overhead press when just a few months before I was working really hard in physical therapy to be able to raise that arm higher than my shoulder… this is pretty cool. And my knees hurt less, and I’m not limping at all unless the weather changes rapidly!

The first couple weeks were a blur of “just take me out behind the barn and shoot me” feeling on the lifting days (much less when working a shift after lifting weights in the morning. Whose stupid idea was that? Oh. Mine. Carry on!) But since then, I’ve started to find that I’m sucking down less caffeine, and skipping the painkillers I needed before to make it through each day… My concentration is improved, as is my ability to squeeze extra tasks into the day. Peter’s starting to find that he’s not feeling as mentally exhausted in the evenings, and is able to get extra hours of writing time in! (His take on it is here:

There really is something to this “sound mind in a sound body” thing.

To those of you who can become or stay active, look at me as a warning, and stay strong and healthy! (Try to avoid falling on wet tile, too. No good comes of bodyslamming the earth!) What do you do to stay fit?

And if you want to read about a couple active youngsters on a colony world, and the trouble they get into when they discover ruins that neither the humans nor the local natives knew about, check out Alma Boykin’s Shikari!

Adventure, daring-do, and dogs! ..and homework. Lost cities, alien politics! …and an older sister who knows just what Rigi “ought” to wear. Best friends, awesome uncle, and alien allies! …and stupid bully at school. Shikari!

Excerpt Here:
Buy it here!

  1. Draven #

    we’ll see whats in the gym at the fancy new apartment complex

    September 24, 2017
  2. I took up archery a couple of years ago and it has done wonders for my upper body strength, and maintaining a general level of fitness.

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Rock on! …Bet you have distinct opinions about archery in movies, too. 🙂 I’ve been around fencers vigourously, ah, discussing the fight scenes in a movie they were supposed to be watching (lo, did the popcorn fly at the screen.) Are archers much the same?

      September 24, 2017
    • Mike Houst #

      The one problem I have with archery, and many other sports for that matter, is that we usually dominate with one hand / one side which leads to asymmetrical development, which has its own set of ills. You can see evidence of it in the skeletons of medieval archers.

      I took up fencing a few years ago and see it in that sport. so much so that I’ve come across a number of orthopedist and therapy articles about fencers who don’t work both sides. Yeah, the word awkward was invented for me trying to do a lunge left-handed. But I can feel the serious burn in unused muscles when I do; which drives me even more to equalize them.

      Limb loss, paralysis, debilitating injuries and illnesses make exercising at all, much less regularly, even harder than it is for those of us more abled. But we all need it, and more of it, with maybe the exception of those star athletes 20 to 30 years older than me who are leaving me in the dust.

      September 25, 2017
  3. paladin3001 #

    I’ve been slacking for the past couple of years. Used to walk a lot and bike even more. I still walk as much as I can not near as much as I should. Thinking about a proper gym membership when I can afford it money and time wise.
    I miss cycling actually.

    September 24, 2017
  4. Something else to keep in mind is your writing posture. No, not the philosophy behind your work, but is your back straight, with shoulders back and head up, or do you tend to slouch and slump? I am currently doing a lot of low back and supporting core work [blegh! :P] to combat a combination of genetics and too many years of slumping, slouching, and looking like a laundry sack stuffed into a chair. I need to make a little stand for my laptop to perch on (or stack more books under it) so I’m less tempted to look down when I type.

    And many thanks for the promo! The Shikari series is what happens when a writer grows up reading too much Kipling and H. Rider Haggard, among other things.

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      The deadlifting and squatting (and bench press) has actually done wonders for posture! Not just correct posture during the exercise, but Peter’s geek hunch with that hump at the base of the neck has been straightening out and disappearing into standing-straight-up and sitting-without-hunching in the last two months!

      September 24, 2017
      • I’ve seen articles with pictures of little old ladies with hunches straightening up through proper exercise. Makes sense to me.

        September 26, 2017
  5. Surprised a fellow just last night. Something fairly helfty but not outrageously so needed moving. He was about to help when by the time he got around things to me, I was done moving it. I missed the opportunity to explain, “Minotaur power.” }:o) Yeah, yeah, ox slow, I know.

    However you take that, one advantage of physical work is… that it IS physical work. I might go through more soap washing up before AND after work, but soap is cheaper than medical procedures, etc.

    September 24, 2017
    • Luke #

      Did that on Friday with a couch. My response was “it’s all about the leverage”, followed by a pointed note that I would be going faster if people would stay out of my way.

      I actually don’t mind hard manual labor. (Most of the time.)
      But the thought of putting forth the all effort in a gym and not actually accomplishing anything annoys the hell out of me.

      September 24, 2017
      • Dorothy Grant #

        I have to say, that’s what I like about the starting strength progression: almost every session, I’m adding weight, so I can see progress. And after the first few weeks, I can see the accomplishments outside the gym, too, in the amount of work I can do, the ease of doing things that used to be hard, and the lack of tums and painkillers I’m taking.

        Having just spent several months in physical therapy and still not gotten back to where I was before the header in the kitchen, this is far, far less aggravating than gym with nothing accomplished.

        September 24, 2017
    • Mike Houst #

      I build dry laid fieldstone walls by hand as a hobby. First of all, I have 20 acres of wonderful New Hampshire forest and field with many, Many, MANY tons and cubic yards of glacially deposited rocks from about 15,000 years ago. Second, well-built stone walls look cool (yeah!), and increase the value of the property (“Yeah!” when I sell, “Boo!” when I pay taxes.) Third, I have to get them out of the way when they squirm to the surface on my driveway and in my garden every year.

      * I will admit to using the bucket on the tractor to lift and move boulders weighing more than I do, and I’m no lightweight. *

      September 25, 2017
      • Draven #

        There were glaciers in New Hampshire 15,000 years ago

        now there aren’t

        Global warming proved!


        September 25, 2017
  6. But try not to overwhelm your social media bragging about how well you are doing. My sister posts multiple times a day about Beachbody, Shakeology, pictures of her healthy meals, etc. Makes me more inclined to grab a frappe.

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Yeah, you know what’s not up on this post? Anything about diet. Because I’m not losing weight. Peter is, the lucky man, but I refuse to be all “best thing since sliced bread!” unless I can prove it’s sustainable on me, and healthy, and useful to others. *sinal salute*

      *wry smile* That’s why I didn’t post this until 2 months after we started – because I wanted to see what sort of benefit we’d really get. Because two older folks on canes who’ve never lifted weights before are not exactly, ah, expecting to become ripped muscle-bound beach body anything… I mean, “My writer’s hunch disappeared and I can put glasses away in the cupboard!” isn’t exactly worth flaunting!

      I’ll see your frappe and raise you a mocha… there are days I need that as a reward for getting to the gym.

      September 24, 2017
      • Robin Munn #

        Just keep in mind that a lot of people who start strength training in earnest end up gaining weight at the same time as they’re becoming healthier. Because if you burn off one pound of fat over the course of, say, two weeks of weightlifting, but at the same time you end up adding a pound of muscle and bone mass because you’re getting stronger, your scale will tell you you still weigh the same as when you started. And apparently people usually shed fat slower than they gain muscle when they’re first starting out, so by the time you’ve lost that pound of fat you’ve actually gained two pounds of muscle and your scale tells you that you’re heavier.

        What that means, of course, is that the scale isn’t the best way to measure your progress. Instead, you need to either measure it by what you can do now that you couldn’t before (subjective, but very encouraging when you realize that you can reach the topmost shelf without assistance)… or else find a way to measure your body fat rather than your weight. A pair of body-fat calipers shouldn’t cost more than $10, and should be able to give you a pretty good measurement of how much body fat you have in various places of your body. (Different people store body fat in different places: for me, it’s waist fat that’s most obvious, but your body might tend to store fat in your thighs or your arms. Measure it in the place that makes the most sense for your body type). In addition to measuring your body fat in a few different places, you should also get a standard body-measurement tape (the kind you’d use to get your waist size for clothing) and keep track of your waist size from week to week. If the scale says you’re gaining weight, but the body-fat calipers and waist tape say that you’re losing body fat, great! You’re going in absolutely the right direction, and should keep up whatever it is you’re doing with exercise and diet.

        Note: I haven’t yet actually done this myself. (I know I should, I just haven’t.) So I can’t actually tell you how to use the body-fat calipers, or recommend any particular brand. But you would probably want to do your own research anyway.

        September 25, 2017
        • Mike Houst #

          While reductions in weight is the most common measure, and probably how much weight and reps you can do is the other, they’re not the only ones. Another excellent means of measuring progress is whether you went down a waist size for everyone (and maybe up a chest size for men.) Checking your resting and working heart and breath rates is another good measure. Checking VO Max usually requires a breath meter, which is getting a bit more high tech; but increased lung volume is almost always a better thing. Finally, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol rates may also improve with sustainable eating and exercise programs.

          September 25, 2017
  7. One day at a time forever.

    The orthopedic specialist looks at my x-rays and says, “How are you walking? From what I see here you shouldn’t be able to walk.”

    I looked him in the eyes and said, “Years of practice. “

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Hah! Yes, indeed! Long may you continue to walk, too. Not being able to walk is truly annoying, in ten thousand little ways.

      September 24, 2017
    • Variant of a Rodney Dangerfield bit, it sounds.

      After the exam…
      Dangerfield: Well, Doc, how do I stand?
      Doctor: That’s what puzzles me.

      September 25, 2017
  8. I hear you 🙂 Is this where I say “yes, dear.” 🙂

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Nah. This is where you tell me I’m nagging, if I mention it in your direction. 😛

      September 24, 2017
  9. Y’all did GREAT! For me, it took an encounter with God. I gave up my cane on January 29, and bought a fitbit, and started walking. My body is all smashed to pieces, too, and repetitive motion rips into my joints. I tried doing curls with 10 pound weights, but my elbows caught on fire and scared the cat, so I gave that up. BUT! I walk the kids to the bus stop in the morning. At first, that was all I could do. Gradually, I built up to where I was getting in a solid 45 minute walk every morning.
    Then along came summer, and with it, the kids didn’t have to go to the bus in the morning.
    And then my body exploded.
    And now I am almost surely without excuse! I am SO encouraged to read about your experiences, I’m gonna walk again, starting tomorrow morning!
    Just you SEE if I don’t!

    September 24, 2017
    • Dorothy Grant #

      We ended up at weightlifting because Peter can’t walk very far due to nerve damage – and I wasn’t doing too great either. Aerobics of the sweating to the oldies were right out, and the physical therapy discharge exercises weren’t cutting it, nor was the walking treadmill desk. This whole weightlifting thing is basically only doing three to five at a time before resting a few minutes, so the joints that start screaming at repetitive movement don’t have time to get too irritated.

      If you can walk, that’s awesome! Whatever you can do – find what’s best for you!

      September 24, 2017
    • So did you?

      September 25, 2017
      • Pat Patterson #

        YES! My gift-from-God happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock GA and I took the kids to the bus, then did the half-neighborhood walk, during which I managed to make her giggle seven times and hit me twice, and say “Don’t say that sort of thing where people can hear you!” Just checked, and I’ve walked 5600 steps, 2.7 miles, and still cranking!

        September 25, 2017
  10. Mary #

    Standing desks.

    Doesn’t built much muscle, doesn’t burn many more calories, and you do have to work up to it — but costs ZERO time.

    September 24, 2017
    • Draven #

      Those and dead lifts are things i really can’t do

      September 24, 2017
    • I’ve not gone that far, and yet have gone farther in a way. There is a monitor, keyboard, and trackball set up in front of/on a treadmill. I’ve found the web is generally a better (more engaging) distraction from “just walking” (or more) than TV is or was.

      September 25, 2017
  11. QUICK, somebody with a memory help me out!
    Larry Correia posted about something on Facebook, prompting (as always) a million comments, and right in the middle, a gent named Christopher Lee Jarvis asks “How can I give you a great idea I had for a story while preserving both of our rights?”
    And I WANT to help the guy out, I really do. But I CAN’T FIND THE POST here where it is pointed out that ideas are a dime a dozen, it’s the execution of writing the book that generates the income.
    I thought it was in the post by Sarah on Feb 5, 2014 called “Where DO ideas come from?” and the correct response could be inferred from that, but there was (at least) one post that was more on target.
    Oh, please, please, won’t you help me provide valuable enlightenment for Christopher Lee Jarvis, a person previously unknown to me? He is clearly a good person, because he likes Larry.
    (ummm…do you think it might be in ATH instead of MGC?)

    September 24, 2017
    • What rights? You cannot copyright an idea, only an expression of an idea.

      Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “What Works Are Protected.”


      So if Mr. John Doe told two people about his idea for people that hunt down monsters for a bounty paid by the government, and one guy went and wrote a sort of blackwater for monsters, while another guy went and wrote about gay werewolves who were bounty hunters bringing skips to justice (the skips being vampires and fae and werewolves)… who’s violated John Doe’s right?


      If John Doe writes a screenplay about people that hunt down monsters for a bounty, and Joe Ripoff publishes a book that contains a female by-the-book FBI agent and the ex-con county hunter werewolf she’s partnered with just like John Doe’s, and contains the same plot, even the same paragraphs and dialogue, but the names are changed… Then that’s plagarism, a violation of copyright, and actionable. Because Joe Ripoff has copied the substantial expression of the idea – the screenplay.

      So, if you both want to keep it clean and neat, Mr. Jarvis is free to tell you about his nifty idea any time. But if you take it and make it your own, and put in the work to take it from an idea to a story, it’s not his, it’s yours. If Mr. Jarvis has already written his own story and wants you to write one, I suggest he not show you his own story until you’re finished with yours.


      September 24, 2017
      • Yeah, I got all that, but it was a column!(
        Pointing out that ideas are (almost) NOTHING, and writing is (practically) EVERYTHING. Someone (and I think it was Sarah, but only because all writers are Shakespeare) was talking about a person approaching them (at a con? In the grocery story? with Greebo on their head?) and saying,
        “Hey, you are a writer, right? Well, I’ve got this great idea for a story. Why don’t I tell it to you, and then you write it, and then we will split the money 50-50?”

        And then the column goes into detail, with all the things you said, but also addressing the fundamental truth that the sitting-at-the-keyboard part of writing a novel is WORK.
        It was a column, I’m pretty sure.
        And I’m pretty sure that I mentioned Larry Niven talking about the people who told him he should have sued Microsoft when the game HALO came out because they totally ripped-off Ringworld, and he pointed out that you can’t copyright a world.

        Does NOBODY remember that column?

        September 24, 2017
      • Mike Houst #

        I think I read a number of L. Sprauge de Camp novels that felt like Edgar Rice Burroughs clones. Same concepts, with barely enough variation of characters and situations to not be obvious plagiarisms.

        Phillip Jose Farmer had his Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban characters which were obviously take offs of Tarzan and Doc Savage, but were uniquely his. But he never had them doing any adventures that were the identical to the ERB stories.

        September 25, 2017
  12. For me, I had over a decade of karate and running. That morphed into yoga, less running, and kobudo. Now I’m doing weights, walking, and kobudo. The weights helped my back tremendously. I took a break from deadlifts, but the airplane ride to LibertyCon took my back out again. I’m back to deadlifts and am taking a break from yoga. I started the weight training about a year and a half ago and one of the bonuses to it was that it fixed my bad knee. I hadn’t been expecting that.

    From the writing perspective, it used to be that if I was stuck on a plot point I’d go for a run and know the answer by the end of it. It really does clear the brain or jump start it, I’m not sure which.

    September 25, 2017
  13. mrsizer #

    I recently finished a 3 month weightlifting program; it only took me 2 years (to be fair, I did restart three times). The results aren’t dramatic, but after 15 years of sitting in a chair doing nothing, I feel (and look) better.

    Found out last week that I shouldn’t do deadlifts and squats on the same day. My ankles were not pleased with me.

    Saw a guy doing impossible leg lifts (hang in a half-raised, underhand pull-up position then raise your straight legs as far as you can – repeat, lots) and thought I’d give that a whirl. I managed 3. Up to 11, now. Great bicep and ab workout that looks impressive.

    September 26, 2017

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