Use it or lose it!

Tuesday gray rainy day.
A gray rainy, stormy Tuesday.

I tried my first exercise class in years at the YMCA Monday. It was an hour-long class called “Barre Above.”

From the “Barre Above” website it says:

What is “barre”?

While many interpret barre workouts differently, most barre workouts are a fusion of yoga, Pilates, strength training, and ballet. Barre classes incorporate specific sequencing patterns and isometric movements that target specific muscle groups. This pattern of exercise helps to improve strength, balance, flexibility and posture.

https://www.barreabove.com/

I loved it. I caught myself smiling in the mirror even though getting through the class was a struggle. I took ballet as an adult from my 20s into my 50s. I stopped because the dance studio closed and the instructor moved. I didn’t find another studio that fit my schedule.

I love ballet. I began as a child and would never have stopped but my mom quit taking me. My ballet studio was close to an hour away from our small town. As I grew older, class went from once a week to two, then three and four. My mom stopped when I got my first pointe shoes and needed to be at rehearsal daily for a recital. One of my ballet slippers fell out of my ballet bag — and my mom grew impatient as I searched for it.

“You’re obviously not interested anymore,” Mom said. And that was that.

I don’t think parents in the 1970s were as obsessed with getting their kids to activities like many of us were in the 2000s and 2010s.

When I was a freshman at the University of Washington, I signed up for ballet my first quarter and fell in love with ballet again.

Back to Monday. I loved the class. I didn’t think I’d survive, but I made the entire hour. Then Tuesday morning hit. Yikes!

My husband gave me a hug as I struggled to get my legs underneath me. My shoulders were stuck around my ears. He heated up the lavendar-weighted shoulder wrap and I eventually got out of bed.

Tuesday, I had reserved a lane at the Y. Rain and thunder and lightening raged all night and morning. Then right before my lane time, the sun broke out. I checked my iphone and I had one hour until rain and thunder was supposed to return.

The sun hovered over the pool, while dark clouds circled like sharks. I had a “shake out” relaxing swim where my sore muscle pain eased. I got out early before the storm hit feeling quite proud of myself.

Since joining the YMCA, I learned that I am terribly out of shape. It’s time for me to use it or lose it!

The rain arrived after my sunny swim at the YMCA.

What sports or activities did you enjoy as a child that you continued into adulthood? Which ones did you stop? Did you take your kids to athletics or other activities while they were growing up? What was their favorite activity?

What’s the antithesis of placebo?

swimming pool in Palm Springs
Palm Springs pool where I thought I needed a fitbit to keep track of my laps. Reality check — I can count higher than the number of laps I can swim.

My fitbit died a sudden death in Sept. 2021. From tracking my every step and swim stroke it went dark. My first instinct was to order another one online and strap it back into my life ASAP. Then an idea hit me. I decided to try an experiment. I’d go one week without it.

I wrote about the first week HERE.

My daughter sent me an article this morning called “Beware That Nocebo Strapped to Your Wrist” by Tim Culpan from Bloomberg.com. It’s premise is this: “Fitness gadgets are supposed to improve your health, but often end up making you feel worse.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people are familiar with the concept of a placebo, where merely providing positive information can improve perception of well-being. Yet the opposite also occurs, with negative data making people feel worse about their own health.

That’s a nocebo — Latin for “I shall harm” as opposed to “I shall please” for placebo. And there’s a good chance you have a nocebo strapped to your wrist.

A wave of health-tech gadgets — from fitness trackers to Apple Inc.’s Watch — means hundreds of millions of people are hooked up to real-time feedback devices. They’re designed to measure your steps, encourage you to exercise more, and give daily updates on your mental and physical health. Apple wants you to “close your rings” — the three colorful circles the Watch uses to monitor your progress — and Garmin Ltd. helpfully tells you when your health is “excellent.”

They make for popular gifts and are bound to be stocking-stuffers this year. Various models of the Apple Watch occupied four of the top 10 most popular items in November’s Black Friday sales, according to Business Insider.

But there’s also good reason to think twice about whether you, or a loved one, will truly benefit from 24-7 monitoring, arbitrary goals served up by an algorithm, and regular notifications telling you that you’re stressed, tired, fit, or simply “unproductive.” 

In fact, research on the nocebo effect — first conceptualized in 1961 — has shown that perceptions of pain can increase with shifts in information and detail. Patients with suspected concussions have shown poorer neurocognitive performance when their history of traumatic injury is called to attention. Concentration falters when unpleasant data is provided. Sometimes, even a change in the color of a specific signal associated with health can trigger discomfort.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-15/wrist-size-fitness-gadgets-make-for-great-gifts-but-beware-of-the-nocebo-effect

It’s been a little less than four months since the nocebo left my wrist. I no longer wake up to immediately check my fitbit. I’d check to see if I had a good night’s sleep or not. If it told me I had a bad night’s sleep, it changed my outlook for the entire day. I felt tired, cranky, and I didn’t know how I’d get through the day. Say good-bye to getting into my creative space. I was becoming a slave to the nocebo.

I haven’t replaced it. I don’t need it. I know if I’ve gotten enough steps from years of walking 10,000 steps or more each day. I know if I had a good night’s sleep or not. AND as for swimming laps, I count higher than the number of laps I can swim. It’s not too much to keep track of laps in my head. Maybe even good for the old brain power.

What type of device do use to keep track of your health, steps and sleep? Or do you use one at all? I hear people say the Apple Watch has all sorts of other benefits, but I can’t figure out if I need another device to alert me about calls, texts, and emails with a laptop and cellphone at my side? What are your thoughts? What are the benefits that you like the most?