That’s what the guest on Radio Four said the other morning. She was talking about what she hopes her children will learn from her. (Or something like that. Not quite sure I caught the whole thing but that was the general idea.) Anyway, it’s a platitude, but one I can go along with. A laudable aim.
To savour every moment.
To cherish the now. All that sort of thing.
But at the particular moment she said it, I was scrubbing a frying pan from that morning’s breakfast.
And I found myself thinking, “every moment”? How do I savour this particular moment? It’s a mundane, not especially pleasant task, scrubbing this frying pan. It’d had bacon and eggs in it. They’d stuck a bit. It’s greasy. I can hear my son and his cousin having fun in the next room, and here am I stuck doing this. Dull. Boring. Ordinary.
But you know what, I thought about it and realised how much it meant, that fact that I was scrubbing that greasy pan.
And I was thankful. Scrubbing that pan meant I’d had a good breakfast. Bacon and eggs: my favourite. We can afford such luxury from time to time. What a privilege that is. I was washing the pan in hot water. Readily available hot water, straight from the tap. What a luxury. So many don’t have that. My son was having a great time, in the company of someone he loves and looks up to. He’s lucky. So am I.
So far so good. I’ve stuck with this chin-up thing for a whole two weeks. That’s not bad going for me. And how isit going? Yep, okay. I think.
I’m broadly following a routine I found online, but adapted to my level of ability. It suggests that most days you do multiple short workouts, never going to the point of failure. For my first week I knew I could do five chin-ups at a time, so that’s where I set my base point, and simply went back to the chin-up bar several times throughout each day to do my five. One day a week is “challenge day”, where you set a timer for five minutes and do as many chin-ups as you can manage. The next day is rest day, where you do none at all.
For challenge day at the end of week one, I managed 16 in the five minutes.
For week two I increased my standard session to six at a time, and also generally managed to do more sets most days.
For my second challenge day I managed 20. I’d call that progress.
The aim of the project is to increase the TOTAL number of chin-ups you do across the whole week, and as you can see I hugely increased from week one to two.
Look, I did a spreadsheet and everything!
You might also spot that I’ve started week three on sets of six again. That sixth one each time is still just a bit much at times and the plan I’m following suggests you work within you ability, not expecting to fail. I’m happy with that.
(Yes, I have taken new photographs at the end of each week but I’ll spare you those until I can see some progress.)
I’ve always been a bit of a skinny weakling. Somehow I’ve managed to get this far in life maintaining a reasonable level of fitness without doing all that much, but I’ve never had anything much in the way of strength.
And once in a blue moon I have a half-hearted attempt to do something about that. Heck, I even joined a gym once, back in my twenties. (Not forgetting that my twenties were quite some time ago now.) There have been more recent attempts: back in 2013 I wrote here about an attempt to start doing some press-ups. (That lasted about a week.) A couple of years later I wrote again, this time telling the world I was embarking on a regime of Planking. (That one lasted, I seem to recall, a couple of weeks.)
So what’s happening this time? Having seen them in lots of houses while I’m working, I’ve been thinking about getting a pull-up bar. Today I stopped thinking about it:
Actual exercise equipment. In my house.
And here’s where I’m happy to accept any advice that people would care to give. I can do a few chin-ups. Five, I’d say before it gets too much of a strain. But what’s the best way to go about this? How many repetitions? How often? If you know about muscles and training and stuff, I’d love to hear from you.
Since I put it up earlier today I’ve been past a few times and done a group of five each time. Maybe four or five times spread over the evening. But I need a plan.
Also not really sure how I’ll measure the effectiveness and success or otherwise of this little scheme, but for sake of completeness – and with apologies to anyone eating – this is the starting point:
I write something on here. And I enjoy it. And I think, “I really should do this more often.” And, occasionally, I’ll write two things in quick succession. But then a week or so goes past, and nothing appears. And then, increasingly often, months.
In my head, I’d not been too bad lately. But I see it’s been over three months. In fact, just five posts on here since last November.
I’ve bought a lot of things from IKEA over the years, and just a couple of times I’ve needed to return something for some reason or another. It can be a slow process if you catch them at a bad time, so when we had to return something last weekend we expected it to take a while.
This week, you see, I was building some big heavy mirrored sliding doors. You know the sort of thing; the IKEA PAX wardrobes are pretty ubiquitous these days, so you’ve almost certainly seen some somewhere.
A bit like this. Image from IKEA website.
Well, it was going okay until I heard a crack. Yes, I managed to break one of the mirror panels. A corner joint slightly out of alignment and disaster. And they come in packs of four, so I thought it was an expensive mistake.
But then I made a discovery. Something I didn’t know before. When we’d bought it we’d scanned our IKEA family card. It occasionally gets you special offers, but I’d never given it much thought. And what did learn? It also gives you free insurance for damage to products in transit or assembly!
Free insurance! Yes!
Mirrors promptly pack up and returned to the store with our receipt, and within ten minutes a new pack had been brought down to customer collections for us. Thanks IKEA, and IKEA family.
IKEA family card photograph from Little Ant on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.