My Supple Bod (and other thoughts)

OK, Where’s Wetzler blog post, take two. The first take did not feel good. I haven’t been super confident in my writing lately, but I also haven’t cared that much, either. As long as the goal is MOSTLY to have fun writing, and only secondarily to make it good, this blog is sustainable. But if the goal is ANYTHING ELSE — readership, views, to write “effective” articles — then I can’t do it for very long. I burn out. Let’s face it: I’m going to blog from now until the end of time. Even if I’m never “successful.” I’ve accepted this. Blogging for me is like going on your morning run is for you, or doing your morning yoga, or whatever the hell it is you sickos do in the morning.

That out of the way, I’d like to talk about a few things today, in no particular order (though in this exact order): my body, climbing shoes, my sesh yesterday, the possible sesh tomorrow, and whatever else comes to mind.

First things first: my sweet, supple, 38 year old bod. This is, contrary to popular belief, the only body I got, and probably the only body I’ll ever have. For most of my life I haven’t really focused on “treating my body right,” whatever that entails. Ironically (or perhaps just logically), you don’t really think about treating your body right until things start to go wrong. And boy, have things started to go wrong lately. Basically since I started bouldering things have started to go wrong. Right now the following body parts hurt: my wrist (particularly frustrating since I can’t pinpoint the cause), my fingers (especially my right middle), and my back (Oxford comma woo woo). My back I think I’ve got figured out: I’ve been doing yoga every day lately, and the up dog followed by falling from great heights to my feet at the bouldering gym (coupled with old back ailments, of course) is I think what’s caused it. The finger is pretty easy: I first hurt it pulling as hard as I could laying back on either Mr Smooth V7 or River Slab V3 at the Index River Boulders where I felt a sort of “giving” sensation. Ever since then I haven’t been able to close it all the way and it’s just felt kinda gnarly. But as long as I don’t push it too hard it doesn’t really give me too many problems. Lastly, there’s my wrist. It’s hurt for a few days now. Certain movements and rotations are particularly dastardly. And I have no idea what caused it. Could it have been the golf from the other day? Possibly. Is it getting better? Doesn’t seeem to be. Frowny face.

Luckily, I have some strategies for getting my sensuous, nearly-middle-aged-man-bod back on track:

  1. Diet

That whole attitude I had in Europe like, “Oh, I can eat whatever I want and it actually doesn’t make that big a difference”? Yeah, that was wrong. Turns out it makes a MASSIVE difference, it just took a while for the bad diet to catch up with me. After a month I felt like garbage. Now I still try to listen to what my body wants, but I nudge it in a healthier direction. I try to cut down on wheat and grains in general, since that seems to help. I try to do a little bit of intermittent fasting.

2. Yoga

I think the yoga is a good thing. Just have to take it easy on the back and in general. But yeah, I think it’s a good thing.

3. Climb less

This is a tough one, but instead of going one day on one day off I think I might need to mostly go one day on two days off, with the OCCASIONAL one day one day off. This translates to climbing about 3 times a week, which honestly is kind of a bummer. But I want to be able to try hard. And after going balls to the formica the other day at Index, for example, sending my third ever V4, I was barely able to climb yesterday after one day of rest. So yeah, might neeed to rethink the strategy. Especially since that’s what Ashima Shiraishi does.

OK, now let’s talk about climbing shoes. Last post I talked about how I went to REI to try on climbing shoes since A) La Sportiva shoes are 25% off there and B) my Miuras are just about done. I REALLY want the Solutions to be the right shoe for me, mostly so I can be like Nalle Hukkataival and possibly speak Finnish, but I just don’t think they are. But I’ve also never really thought the Miuras were, even though they were a great second shoe. After more puzzling and more research, I’ve decided I’m going to go BACK to REI today to try on the Theories and the Otakis. And let me just say the following: I think the Otakis are going to be it. Why? well, they basically have the same heel as the Solutions, but apparently they don’t ride up as high and ravage the achilles tendon. This is critical. Also, apparently they edge like a slightly damp dream, which is good for me since most of the stuff I climb is vertical. As much as I would LOVE to be a Solutions guy, I don’t know if I can hack the heel. So maybe I’ll be an Otaki guy. Hopefully today I find out.

Slash my wrist is hurting just typing this please God help me.

Um, what else were we going to talk about. Oh yeah: sesh yesterday: terrible. I got shut down by a purple. I felt weak.

Sesh tomorrow: might go rope climbing with my friend Wyatt. Basically, lead some easy stuff and maybe just learn the — not even gonna say it — better.

Lastly, whatever else comes to mind. I’ve just had two matcha lattes. My back hurts. It’s cold in the apartment where I am. I think I might just go to REI right this minute instead of waiting around any longer. And oh yeah! The USMNT plays El Salvador tonight in the first World Cup 2022 qualifier. Are you going to watch? Because you’re not a real American if you don’t.

Hope you all have a wonderful day and send something beautiful.

Sincerely,

Mark Thomas Wetzler

Toe Hooks and Happiness

I’m sitting on the  boat drinking a FocusAid. I just got back from Whole Foods Greenlake where I got a hop tea, eggs and sausage, and then after sitting in my car chatting with a friend on WhatsApp went BACK into Whole Foods and got the FocusAid and an Urbn Remedy matcha bar. Why all the decadence? Well, when you don’t drink you can justify just about any amount of dietary decadence. And today marks two weeks of my newfound sobriety. I fell off the wagon a bit there in July. I don’t regret it. It was a good run. It was fun to experiment with alcohol again and have some drinks with friends, but it also served to remind me why I don’t drink. Getting back on the wagon felt like returning to an old friend. I value my health and my body and I want to be my best self. For the forseeable future, alcohol has no place in my life.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

How’s everyone feeling today?

I climbed at SBP Poplar yesterday with the crew, and it was wonderful. My body is completely wrecked. By the end of the session I was bleeding from my hand, my knee, my left ankle, and had bashed my right hip against a volume on my way down from a slab. Wonderful. When I got back to the boat I was talking to a friend about the sesh and said, almost without thinking about it, “I’m so happy.”

Which got me thinking: How often when we’re happy do we actually know we’re happy? So many times in my life I haven’t realized I was happy until I look back on the given time period and think, “Wow, that was so great.” Take when I worked in Alaska as a housekeeper, for example. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. But I didn’t think every day, “Wow, I’m so happy.” I was too busy laughing and playing ping pong. Only when the summer was over did I look back and think, “Holy shit, that was pretty much perfect.”

Hindsight also has the strange (but welcome) effect of diminishing the bad times. It’s not like every moment of that summer was perfect. But I also don’t think happiness consists of every moment being perfect. In fact, I think a lot of happiness has to do with Type 2 Fun (the kind of fun that’s only really fun retrospect).  The other time I worked in Alaska (as a lodge helper/fishing guide) also perfectly illustrated this. I spent half of those three weeks wanting to quit. It was hard work. Our boss was a despot. But now I look back on it almost as a formative experience. It was like being in the military. Getting up early, getting yelled at a lot, and from time to time handling firearms. I wouldn’t trade those three weeks for anything in the world.

Anyway, back to the SBP sesh. It started off real slow. Since I’d climbed the day before, my arm and finger strength felt low. The motivation was there — at the beginning I was basically prancing around and yelling — but my body was not quite on the same level as my psych. After really warming up, though, I started to climb a bit better. I sent one new black, which is always a plus in a session. Sent some oranges. Some purples. Didn’t really try any blues. There was a black that had a TOE HOOK to start out, and I desperately wanted to crank on it, but toe hooking requires a bit of hip flexoring, and my hip flexor still isn’t 100%.

Today I’m going to go to REI and look at climbing shoes cuz I noticed yesterday that the Miuras got their first microscopic hole in the toe. This hole will grow until they’re unclimbable. I estimate they have two to three more sessions left in them. Which sucks since they were just starting to get really worn it. Maybe I should’ve had them resoled. Where do you resole shoes in Seattle? The top shoes I’m looking at right now are the La Sportiva Solutions, Evolv Shamans, Scarpa Instincts, and the TC Pros for slab climbing. Or maybe just the TC Pros for all-around climbing? Or maybe just say screw it and get the 5.10 Moccasins and never look back?

Also, THE CANADIAN BORDER OFFICIALLY OPENS TONIGHT AT 12:01AM. Holy shit. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada. I want to live in BC. I want to live in BC and stroll the waterfront in Vancouver and go to the beaches and make little trips up to Squamish and Whistler and, hell, maybe even boulder in the Kootenays. However, I can’t pull the trigger on going up to Canada quite yet, because I might have dogsitting obligations down here first. And I’m not sure whether I’d drive or take my boat up there. Either way, I’m stoked.

And now it’s time to enjoy the sun.

 

 

The Journey || Road to V∞

I am continuing to recover from my hip injury, which was probably an injury in some capacity to my rectus femoris tendon. It’s very tender at the spot where it inserts into the anterior inferior iliac spine.

The injuries as of late have encouraged me to take a closer look at what I want out of bouldering. Not that you have to have an answer for this question, but in my case I think it will help me move forward in a way that minimizes injury and maximizes physical and spiritual enjoyment. Because that’s what bouldering is for me at its zenith: spiritual. My ascent a couple weeks ago of Dirty Dancing V4 certainly felt spiritual, being alone at the boulders, on a cold, windy Monday morning at 7:30am, warming up on a reachy V2, saying to myself, “I’m just going to see if I can pull on,” and then moving up, up, up on the thin edges of Dirty Dancing, finally grabbing the big jugs about halfway up, hauling myself into the scoop. It felt spiritual as I sat there on top of the boulder, in somewhat of a fetal position, listening to the wind. And of course it felt spiritual while climbing the boulder problem itself, as if with each raising of the foot the ground disappeared beneath me.

The injuries have pushed me to explore the spiritual side of bouldering and also to lessen my focus on grades. Read almost ANY article on “Bouldering for Beginners” or “How to Get Started in Bouldering” and you’ll find an author almost yelling at you to “not focus on grades.” I’d read this over and over but never really been convinced. If I want to focus on grades, I thought, I’m going to focus on grades. I’m not going to listen to some jackass who writes climbing articles for Gripped. It’s not like I climb for him, anyway. I climb for me.

But did I really climb for me?

This is where things get tricky with grades.

I’d argue that most of the time when you’re climbing for a certain grade, or at least a decent amount of the time, you’re not climbing for yourself. You’re climbing because of how you look in other people’s eyes, so you can tell people you climbed V5, so you can tell yourself you climbed V5, so you can look at other people who are only climbing V4 and think, Fuck yeah, I used to be one of them. Now I climb V5.

Just to be clear, I don’t see a huge problem with this. There are worse things in the world. There are greater injustices. But FOR ME PERSONALLY, this approach has led to dissatisfaction and, more importantly, injury.

You could climb V10 tomorrow, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your experience will be impactful. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll grow (spiritually, emotionally) because of the experience. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you climbed “well.” As I progress on my climbing journey, I’m becoming more interested in climbing “well.” This means having good technique, this means that it feels good to climb, like I’m moving efficiently, like I’m in harmony with the holds and the rock. It’s more of a yin approach to bouldering, instead of the yang approach that is sometimes adopted. You’re letting the rock and the conditions and everything else dictate how you climb, and you’re responding to that and using it to your best possible advantage (which might mean on a given day that you may touch the starting holds of a climb and not even pull on at all). This is in contrast to the yang approach, where you’re trying to dominate the rock, wrestle it into submission. It is possible to do this. It’s possible to even derive pleasure from this. But for me, it’s not a sustainable approach, since granite is generally harder than soft tissue, and after several attempts at trying to dominate a V5 dyno, when your body is whispering to stop, take it easy, we’re done, and the universe is telling you to stop, put it on hold, come back another time, you strain your rectus femorus.

And then you can’t really climb for a month, at which point: Why not focus on technique? Why not focus on moving well? Why not see if you can derive just as much satisfaction from a V1 as you can from a V3 or a V4? Or even climbing your first V5?

I know it’s cliche and I know it’s hard advice to follow, but if you focus on moving well, on process goals, on feeling good climbing, grades will probably come. I don’t want to say they WILL come, because they kind of promise can never be made, and also because if you’re only trying to move well or focus on process goals to get a certain grade then you’re kind of missing the point. The ultimate goal for bouldering for me is for it to be a sort of moving meditation. This is bouldering at its most wonderful for me. When I approach the rock and all else disappears. When I am suddenly seared into the present moment, and things slow down. I notice the way the sun hits a particular part of the rock, or the way a leaf quivers in the breeze, or the way a cloud looks in the sky. And then when I’m on the rock my body is moving in harmony with it. Yes, great physical exertion may occur, but only where necessary. There is an element of play involved. And in fact this is something I should’ve mentioned much earlier in this post. Play is so important in bouldering, and in life in general. It feels good to play with the movement, and that’s how you really learn. You tinker. What would happen if I put my right foot up really high? What would happen if I engaged my thumb more? What would happen if I took off my shirt and screamed during the crux?

And so I try to focus on these things, the things I can still focus on regardless of injury. And I find that by focusing on these things my experience of bouldering becomes enriched, and I become a better climber. I’ll probably climb harder grades, but that won’t be the point. Or at least I hope it won’t. These things are never completely cut and dry, and there’s always some wavering back and forth. Which is fine. All part of the journey.

 

Kind of Hungry, All of the Time

I think I’ve figured out the perfect diet: You just wanna be kind of hungry — all of the time. At least during the day. You definitely want to be kind of hungry during the day. Because here’s what most people do: They eat a big, carb heavy lunch, and then they spend the rest of the day chasing the dragon like a goddamn drug addict. Caffeine. More carbs. Sugar. Anything to get them back to normal! This was me, my friends. I was this person. I would eat a big lunch, maybe a Chipotle burrito, maybe a Chipotle burrito bowl, maybe a sandwich, maybe some sushi, thinking I was “healthy,” and I kind of WAS healthy, but then I’d spend the rest of the day fighting a losing battle.

Solution: Just be kind of hungry, all of the time.

How do you do that?

Don’t eat too many carbs.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not even the kind of science you’d use to make one of those baking soda and vinegar volacanoes. It’s just: How do I feel when I eat this? OK, now how do I feel when I eat that? Yesterday was a perfect example. Yesterday, despite my best intentions, turned into a “carb loading day.” I did not plan for this to happen. I was just listening to my body, and my body was saying: Put some fucking rocket fuel in me, Mark, I’m trying to blast off. So I had some veggie crisps with guacamole dip, and about 30 minutes later the tiredness set in. I spent the rest of the day chasing the dragon, its tail always just in front of me. I went to Cafe Fiore at about 4pm and I got a fucking ALMOND MILK LATTE. That’s how desperate I was. And it sort of worked, if it weren’t for the near emotional breakdown it caused about two hours later (I have a rule: Never buy airline tickets when I’m super caffeinated. So I didn’t buy airline tickets yesterday, but I did schedule a COVID vaccine. I had to do SOMETHING).

Fast forward to today, when I’ve been more vigilant about my midday carb intake. A little bit of coconut cream in the morning with my tea (trying to get away from dairy): 1 gram net carbs. An Urban Remedy matcha bar and a hop tea before physical therapy: 6g net carbs. Then, after physical therapy, “splurging,” a FocusAid by LifeAid, 9g of carbs but so much other bomb shit in it, like Alpha GPC and a slew of other nootropics guaranteed to make my spirits high and my neurons sizzle. Then, back at home, a tin of tuna mixed with harissa sauce, celery and onion. Maybe like 2-4 g carbs (I’ll have to look up the onion). So so far today I’ve had about 20g of net carbs, it’s 2pm, and I feel great. I don’t feel tired. I don’t feel sluggish. I don’t feel like the only thing I want to do is lie down. In fact, the only thing I want to do right now is drink another cup of tea and take my sister’s dog — aka the love of my life — for a walk. And then maybe come back and eat some more tuna.

Just be kind of hungry, all of the time.

Why do you think dogs have so much energy all the time? Because dogs aren’t kind of hungry, all the time — dogs are super hungry, all the time. My sister’s dog just ate and already she’s looking at me like, “You are a terrible owner. You are starving me. This is abuse.”

Dogs don’t count carbs. We count their carbs for them (unless you’re one of those asshole owners who overfeeds and never exercises your dog and your dog is obese, but I’m not really talking about you. You’re bound for hell, anyway.)

I’m not going to be one of those assholes who says to NEVER eat carbs, all I’m saying is that you’re probably eating too much of them. I challenge you, for one day, to keep track of your net carbs. Not even to limit them! Just to keep track of them. And then keep in mind according to some people the sweet spot for weight maintenance is between 100-150g a day (depending on body type, activity level, the strength of the kroner, etc). I would be surprised if you’re not surprised with the number you come up with at the end of the day. Write it down. “XXX” grams net carbs. Now stare at the number for a moment. Don’t be afraid of it. And then, “How could I have cut down those carbs a bit?” Maybe substitute the tortilla chips for some celery sticks. Maybe substitute the apple with peanut butter for celery with peanut butter. Maybe just substitute everything you eat for celery sticks, since celery has about 0g net carbs (celery has just as much fiber as it does carbs).

In conclusion, I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, I’m just another dude like you who wants to feel good. And my experiments lately with trying to eat about 100g of net carbs today have led me to these findings. Maybe they’ll work for you, maybe they won’t. Except they probably will. They’ll especially work when you stop eating hamburgers and start eating more celery sticks. And when you’re just kind of hungry, all of the time.

Not Forcing Anymore

I have great news: I’ve decided not to force myself to blog anymore. I’m no longer a “blogger.” I’m just a guy who writes sometimes on the internet. This is wonderful, wonderful news.

And now please allow me to repeat all the wonderful news from yesterday.

Yesterday woke up and immediately surveyed the hand situation. Wrote in my journal, “Fuck my fucking right hand is fucked up,” which, looking back, is an impressive use of the word “fuck” in such a short sentence.

Oh, real quick, what does “not forcing myself to blog anymore” mean?

It means that if I don’t want to write I don’t. Like, if I don’t want to write for the next fucking month, or the next year, or ever again, I don’t. I only write when I want to. So I give up on the dream of being a “blogger” and what I really need to do is give up on the dream of being a “writer” and what I really need to do is just give up on dreams all together. OK, well, maybe not that. I like to dream. Dreaming is actually one of my favorite things to do. Dreaming connects me with my inner child.

Anyway.

Yesterday.

Yesterday I went to physical therapy at 9am. Blair, the main physical therapist, did an assessment on me as soon as I arrived. She tested my leg strength and also laxity. She said, “[The left leg] might be a little more lax, but I’m also just really sensitive to this stuff since I do it a lot.”

Then Brandon and I went to work. We added some new exercises, i.e. hopping up and down on one foot (like jump roping but without the rope), and then we did that thing where you have half a ball on the ground and you jump sideways onto it and land with one foot and kind of bounce off it and land on your other foot. I’m terrible at explaining shit. Basically when Blair did my assessment she said, “At three months the ligament is pretty much healed. So one of the biggest obstacles now is psychological.” And then, turning to her team, “We can get him jumping around and doing more lateral movement.”

More lateral movement.

I’m healing.

I felt pretty elated after physical therapy. I went to Whole Foods on 65th and got a matcha bar by Urban Remedy and also a Hop Tea. Then I went back to the boat, and then after chilling a little more I went to go walk around Interlaken but got distracted on the way by getting a coffee at Cafe Appassionato. This was mostly hopefully for digestive help. I think all the collagen I’ve been taking has made things a bit clogged up. So I had the coffee, which sort of worked, and then went to Interlaken via Montlake. In Montlake I ran stairs for awhile and then I hiked through Interlaken and then back to my car in Montlake. Drove to Chipotle in U Village. Walked up to UW to see the cherry blossoms, which were gorgeous. And then finally went back to the boat yet again.

I didn’t hang out with anyone yesterday. Well, that’s not completely true. I helped my friend H lower a table from his old balcony using rope because he couldn’t get the legs off the table to fit it through the door. But we didn’t really hang out.

Today I’m ostensibly fasting. Till 6pm. We’ll see if this actually happens. Lately I’ve been a terrible faster. I have the willpower of a golden retriever. I’m not climbing today, though I might climb on Sunday. We’ll just see how the hand is.