Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Friends With Lifeboats

So I'm told that depression is a pretty common stroke—or major illness in general—aftereffect, I accept this. However, this only started I'd say three months after? If anything for the first three months after the stroke, I was euphoric. So I've been thinking, why was I happy then and why am I not happy now? (Actually I'm feeling better, you can tell because I'm moving my lips—or what serves as lips on the internet, fingers.)

By the way I figured out how I can cobble the SuperBetter site into my self-help cobbler, one of the things that was stressing me out about SuperBetter was the thought of having to keep up with three power ups, three quests, and one battle every day. But, it's not like that. I think it's more like you do one set of those at a time; so basically whenever you log in, it shows you wherever you are with the current set and it doesn't scold you. I like the quests. Not all of them, I throw out the ones I don't like. Though in my experience the ones that I instantly think aren't applicable to me or that I instantly take a dislike to are the ones that I need to work on the most, so I give everything a little try. If I'm still not feeling it, I trust my judgment and toss. So I think what I'll do is dip into SuperBetter for quests now and again.

One of the first things that SuperBetter encourages you to do is find allies, I'm down with that. I want my own friends as allies though, and in our own space. You know how I work for a Chicago office and a Boston office? I finally figured out what the Boston office does, they consult on platforms. Facebook is a platform. A big thing for platforms is ignition, when the platform takes off. Like how Ello isn't taking off, womp womp. Ignition is tricky. I wouldn't say that the platform itself is not important, because the damn thing has to work the way you want. But really platforms are about the people on the platform, or the platform and the people together.

Which brings us to lifeboats. I have a couple friends who are absolutely brilliant at lifeboats. Problem's pushup challenge that I did in May and June: brilliant lifeboat. Her pushup challenge was essentially a mini-platform that achieved ignition. First of all, she built it on an existing platform, Facebook, which was a) very serviceable from a technical standpoint, and b) already populated, but most importantly c) with Problem and her friends. Problem is, in tipping point terms, a connector, which not everybody is. I am not a connector. I am a maven. Then also the "platform" of the challenge itself was perfectly designed. The task: five pushups a day, not too hard and not too easy, and who cares if it's too easy, an easy five pushups a day never hurt anybody. If you did the task, you got an instant reward: you could see your video, visual evidence that you did the task that could be seen by you and by others. I actually learned how to shoot and post video for this challenge, so that was an extra achievement unlocked for me, and let me tell you, as a trainer, video is the achievement that keeps on giving.

If you're interested, here was my progress with the pushups. I really started with pushups way back in the day of this blog, when Busty and I were doing the tiny tricep pushups. Then Travis and I did a pushup competition, in which I did some stupid number of not very good pushups and actually hurt myself. I wasn't hopeless at pushups when Problem's challenge started, but I'd been doing them pretty half-assed up to that point:

go home pushups, you're drunk

Go home pushups, you're drunk.

What's going on here is I have no sense of solid plank form, which pushups depend on. What it feels like to me is that I don't have sufficient arm strength, but no amount of crappy repetitions is going to solve this problem. Well, I take that back a little bit—no exercise is wasted, I very well may gain arm strength. But if I keep practicing crappy pushups, I will always do crappy pushups.



This is actually a pretty bright idea, even though it's coming from the wrong place (still thinking the problem is arm strength). My only issue with bodyweight exercises is people tend to think their bodyweight is their minimum starting point. There's no moral imperative to start at your body weight! It's okay to ask for help, in this case from a rubberbanditz band. The band takes up a little of your weight so that you can work up to it, which you totally would do with any other weights.

eta: oic


Then the sweetie man helps me out with my plank form by holding a PVC pipe to my back and I finally get like Helen Keller what a proper plank feels like. This video is not the Helen Kelen moment, this is Teacher patiently pumping water over my hand.

even better

Even better.

Here's an alternate way to do assisted pushups that I adapted from Kelly Starret's Supple Leopard. I like them both ways, but this way you don't need a pullup bar. Also the way the band is, you have no choice but to keep your elbows in.

i got no strings

I got no strings!

And finally, unassisted. There's still a little curl to my plank, but I fixed that by the end.

Then even more rewards, I don't think Problem ever failed to like a video that was uploaded. So you got a thumbs up from Problem, minimum, and then more thumbs up and words of encouragement from other people in the challenge and even other friends who were not in the challenge. So much validation from one little task! So much connection. So much dopamine or serotonin or whatever. All of which breeds the ability to do more tasks--more pushups, and more tasks that are not pushups. Hinc illa euphoria--plus doing my ProSource quizzes, another excellent setup.

This blog post is in fact edited from an email that I wrote to Problem, who suggested that perhaps I could captain my own lifeboat. Which I'm trying to balance between being confident in how well I know myself and being open-minded about how that's working out for me and maybe thinking a little different. My experience, though, is that it doesn't tend to work out when I'm at the helm of such endeavors. Ugh, remember 60 Small Ways? Or recently, the indie film club? I don't want to analyze right now why those flopped. Because it's okay that they flopped. It's okay if that's not my thing, I'm not unaware that I'm awesome at other things. And because I have friends who are really awesome at this, which is really awesome for me. It's kind of awesome of me to have friends like I do.

Which brings us to Juanna, the mother of lifeboats. Like you know that really giant lifeboat, the SS Windy City Rollers. Juanna has just launched a Power 30 lifeboat that I'm going to help row for now. Maybe I'll see how I feel about launching my own boat 30 days from now.