Friday, June 17, 2016

Stress Test

The Sporting Life

“Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety.”
Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear (Golf Great)

My Racquet: I have had this Wilson tennis racquet for 20 years, and it still looks in good shape. I play with an L4 (4½) grip size.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016


I haven’t picked up my tennis racquet in five years, but I recently decided to play an old high school friend in a few weeks who has always been competitive, which is fine by me: the date of our match is July 4th, Independence Day. The significance of the date is not lost on me, since playing a game, or even hitting some balls, and running around the court for an hour, would be an accomplishment for me.

Post-cancer, I might still have much against me: neuropathy on my hands and feet, which limit my full function of these limbs; limited stamina and endurance; and a body and mind that has not played any sports for years. Yet, I am in fairly good shape, according to my family doctor and the blood tests. Also according to the numbers, for someone my age (58). My weight of 75 kg (165 lb) is within normal and healthy range for my height of 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in). My BMI is less than 25 (i.e., 23.7), but my waist in the last few years has ballooned to 38 inches, a result I think comes from a combination of surgery to remove a malignant tumor and steroids given during chemotherapy.

Before cancer and chemo, I used to have no mid-section bulge. None; in fact, I was on the lean side, with a 34 inch waist and a BMI closer to 20. I would like to get rid of this unshapely bulge. This is not me, and I don’t easily accept its presence in my life. I have been working out faithfully at the gym since December to deal with it. I have reduced my waistline by only an inch.

If I am making a big deal about  my health, about my body image and about getting on the court, it is because it is a big deal for me. I have become more self-conscious, when before I was oblivious to my body. It is not narcissism or excessive vanity that is driving me, but falls within the norms of conventional vanity: wanting to look good. Your. Best. Possible, Self.

More to the point, I have a sense that I need to do this in order to show/prove that I can, that my health challenges have not defeated me—at least not completely. On the sporting level, I don’t expect to hit the ball with the same velocity and depth I did when I was much younger, but it would be nice if I get in a few good well-placed shots inches from the baseline. More important, it would be good if I can last on the court for at least 45 minutes.

These small accomplishments are important for me well-being, not only physically, but mentally. Yes, I am stressed about this; and yes I am nervous about how well I can play on July 4th, whether my desires exceed my abilities. This is one of those cases where I won’t know till I try. I have to put myself out there. Talking about it is also important, if only to put it out there to get any good advice.

So, if anyone has any tips on how to reduce my waistline, or on good work-out regimes, and on how to get in proper shape for tennis (at my age), please let me know. I am open to suggestions and advice.