Saturday, December 29, 2018

Squinting into the Distance

Three months ago, I took a pretty complete set of measurements: chest, arms, shoulders, thighs, calves, with the intention of repeating the measurements quarterly: I was setting out to build muscle, working out four or five times per week, and I wanted to be able to measure my progress. Yesterday I did it again, and found that all the measurements were -- exactly the same, except a quarter-inch smaller around the chest and around the thigh. So that was disappointing.

Well, except. I weigh myself and measure my waist and hips every morning, so I know those measurements quite precisely. Three months ago I weighed three pounds less, and my waist was 3/4" larger, and my hips were .5" smaller. When I actually put all these facts together, I realized that there's really no other way to interpret them. My volume is staying the same while my weight is increasing: that can only mean that I am becoming denser. That three pounds can't be fat, given that the waist was shrinking. It has to be new muscle, and I have to have been becoming leaner. In fact the numbers meant I was doing exactly what I set out to do, and in fact going at twice the pace I had hoped. I've been building a pound of muscle per month. So that's cheering.

The point of this is not to brag, although of course I'm doing that too: the point is that it's easy to mistake and misinterpret what numbers mean if you don't have enough context. My initial and quite erroneous response was, "I haven't built any muscle, I've failed!" I might have taken that to heart and given up the project.


Ultima Thule. It hadn't even been discovered when New Horizons launched, and now we're going to get a look at it. Four billion miles is a long, long way from home.


"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand," said Thomas Carlyle. 

You have to do some of both, of course, but my life has skewed toward squinting into the distance. It's surprisingly refreshing to spend most of my energy on what's clear and close at hand: cooking my food, doing my exercise, tending my finances, doing my work at the foundation. I am distinctly happier.


Peter said...

I'm still skewed toward squinting, at least in my spare time, since squinting is a respite from teaching, which is always at hand. But Victoria and I took a rare walk today, and we talked, as people do, of making it a habit. As an encouragement, we discovered near our condo a new building and an abandoned park. As your cooking and exercise remind me, doing what's close at hand can lead to its own discoveries.

Rouchswalwe said...

Numbers and context ... ja! Thank you for this important reminder, dear Dale! And congrats!

I just learned of Ultima Thule yesterday and am very excited. I'm wondering if 'NASA's Eyes' will be live??

Prost and a happy sparkling slide into the new year (as they say in Germany)!!