Day 101: Yoga and VFF Classics… Not So Much

You read it right: I’ve completed my third yoga practice since last week, and I’m here to tell you it’s the hardest physical exercise I’ve ever encountered. I was fairly confident that my FiveFingers Classics would excel in yoga forms and stretches, but not so. No matter how I tightened my VFFs, my heels kept popping up out the back. That only really happened maybe four times.

I don’t feel free to express all my impressions and feelings about yoga at this time. A deep internal work is going on, and I don’t want to spoil it. I WILL say that each of the three sessions I’ve attended are taught by different people, so I’ve experienced three very different approaches and speeds.

The first practice last Thursday was slow and meditative. The woman leading spoke very gently and calmly. She explained every single move, and I was amazed by the experience.

The second practice was late Saturday afternoon involved some pop music and we changed forms three times faster. I lasted 35 minutes and lay exhausted on the mat for the remaining 20.

The third practice on Tuesday night involved more music and was led by a young woman who is no doubt attempting to take over the world. We changed forms at such a terrific pace that I basically only performed every fourth form. It was probably three times faster than Saturday’s practice. There were very few pauses or reflection. It was much more aerobic.

Needless to say, I have many obstacles in my path, the first being my weight. The “resting” positions which are meant to allow you to completely rest for a moment are extremely difficult for me because of my belly. It’s in the way of everything. Some of the basic holds involve shifting most of your weight onto the shoulders and palms. At my current weight, my wrists and shoulders were hurting more than is healthy. It doesn’t help that I’ve gone from complete couch-potato-desk-job-man to pretzel-gumby-man.

I am currently one of the LEAST flexible people I know. My muscles are WEAK from a lack of consistent exercise. This is difficult for me in just about every way. To give you a mental image, picture everyone else in a resting pose, breathing calmly. Now picture me panting like a dog and turning red because I can’t reach the resting position and my belly is shoving my organs into my spine. Yes. There you go. Feel my pain.

Did I mention that only women lead my practices and they have no “parts” in the way when demanding we stand with feet together and thighs squeezed together. It’s just not that simple, ladies.

That’s it for now. I have excluded most of the profound parts because for now, at least, these are all mine and not for sharing.


Day 78: Wearing Regular (GASP) Shoes Today

Last night was a crazy severe thunderstorm in my neck of the metroplex. Rather than face the world with soggy feet and a bitter heart (the inevitable result of cold, soggy feet), I chose to rebel! That’s right, I wore REGULAR shoes!

Wow. How exciting. I’m a regular extreme sports spontaneous kind of guy. Who doesn’t like to get his feet wet.

That’s right. Both pairs of my Vibram FiveFingers are porous just above the hard rubber sole and let all kinds of water in. And once the water is in, there’s no having dry shoes for the rest of the work day. So I abandoned my VFFs and picked up a pair of tube socks (GASP) and my trusty old Diesels.

For this one day, no one will stare at my feet or ask me where I got my shoes. Sigh. Normalcy is so boring.

Day 50: Daniel Versus the Rocky Beach

We drove down to Key West yesterday to see what we could see. As expected, parking was a bit of a beast. Eventually we got some sound advice from a information service worker who directed us to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach.

It cost somewhere around $10 for three adults and a toddler to enter. The beach was as attractive (if not more so) as any we’d seen. But we’d been warned: it’s a bit rocky from the soft sand to the swimable water.

I made the mistake of assuming I could handle it barefooted. I took my baby girl down to the water to swim only to experience the pain of rocks underfoot.

I was already halfway out into the water, so I gritted my teeth and pushed my way through to the surf. Katie had a blast out there. She loves it when her daddy kicks her feet for her as she floats on her arm floaties.

The pain was infinitely worse on the way OUT of the water. I remember specifically wondering if this level of pain would equal at least intro-level torture elsewhere. I’m not a small boy. That was my 280 pounds PLUS my daughters 30 or so pounds pressing my soft as silk baby feet into the rocks.

I hung with Katie at a picnic table in the shade while Heather and Gigi snorkeled out by the rocks. I learned my lesson. The next time out, I wore my FiveFingers Sprints and the difference was noticeable. I still felt all the rocks and could have bruised the bottom of my foot, but the Sprints sole kept the sharp edges from feeling like they were piercing my skin.

It was a great swim overall. The deciding factor on this trip has been the presence or lack of seaweed. Some of the beaches we hit were chock full of sea vegetation and there’s something just a little ominous and creepy about swimming over a solid black surface. My mind starts asking “What could be lurking down there?” and I can’t relax as deeply as when I can see the sand beneath me.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: wear your VFFs to the beach and in the water. They’re worth their weight in gold.

Day 36: Going Sockless

sockless-fivefingersI didn’t want to, but laundry schedules conflicted with work. I had to wear my black Classics without socks. It was more than a little embarrassing. Probably no other style or color faces this issue, but my black Classics with jeans look like toed ballet slippers. I’m just not okay with that.

The owner of our agency (he is also my boss) has been fairly open minded up to this point. He’s a vegetarian and quasi health conscious individual. When he saw my feet in the breakroom, he told me they really looked like socks. He did NOT like the appearance of my foot’s skin showing. Understandable. Honestly, as long as they don’t look like ballet slippers, he can dislike them all he wants.

By the end of the day, my feet felt pretty sweaty. I like the moisture absorption I get with Injinji toed socks. Even if my feet sweat, I don’t feel that slightly squishy feeling down in each toe chamber like I did yesterday.

That’s my two cents. Sorry I haven’t updated each day. I run several blogs (including one on the Dallas Cowboys) and it’s easy to get sidetracked.

Day 35: TOMS to the Rescue

toms_logoIt took my Classics the better part of a day to dry after washing, so I made Sunday a TOMS day. My wife bought me my first pair of TOMS shoes in early August for my birthday. I wore them exclusively for a couple weeks before my feet started to ache a little bit. TOMS are, by necessity, very thin shoes. The soles are thin and the fabric is thin.

But unlike the Vibram FiveFingers line, TOMS aren’t anything like barefoot. They’re still a hard, cardboard-like sole. The only appeal to wearing TOMS is the charitable side of the company. For every pair of shoes purchases, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need. What a perfect way to appeal to consumers: “Help others by shopping for yourself.”

I find myself enamored with companies who think outside the box of typical American capitalism. The age-old standard leads to toxic dumping and polluting the planet. I like companies who combine business with charitable giving, or who insist on manufacturing their products in a environmentally friendly way. Every step helps.

That’s why I read sites like Treehugger and Jetson Green. I like to see people make creative and innovative decisions in the formation of their businesses. They provide products and services I can feel good about using.

I don’t know where Vibram stands on environmentally friendly, and I’d like to find out, but they fall into a separate category of health benefits. If a company meets one of these criteria, I will consider using their products:

1. Significantly more efficient use of natural resources

2. Charitable giving I can actually see

3. Improve my personal health

4. Completely or almost completely non-toxic

Vibram meets #3 for sure. My posture and back strength has improved. I literally feel more “grounded”. No pun intended there. The materials may or may not be the most ecologically sound. But the product is making a difference in MY life.

Day 33: VFF Friday – Wash That Stank


It’s Friday and I’m exhausted. I madethe mistake of staying up late to watch Gamer online (yes, I know it’s still in theaters). After 30 minutes of gruesome bloodshed, Megavideo shut me down, offering up the usual time limit exceeded excuse.

Point being, I woke up at 6:30 this morning to find that I feel like total @$$. okay, not total… just semi. while Heather got an extra hour of sleep, I played with Katie and got our morning tea ready.

Right now, we’re sitting at the chiropractor, waiting for him to squeeze us in. How did we get our wires crossed? they’re telling us that we’re scheduled for 10am, not 8. Oops. well, I’m not coming back at 10, so its now or never.

We just left Jim Bob’s office (yes, my chiro’s name is Jim Bob), and i’m hopeful that this lasering thing will be the answer to my foot pain. I’m comitted to two months of lasering my foot befor I evaluate progress. if there’s a significant decrease in pain, it will be a success.

Stay tuned.

Day 2: Vibram Five Fingers

I noticed last night that my back was significantly achy all over. The kind of feeling you might have if you helped a neighbor move all their furniture into and out of a Uhaul truck. Today is no different. I ache. I’ve been leaning back all day long in my chair, but the ache is just enough to be distracting and frustrating. The ache is mostly around my shoulder blades and lower, just to the left of my spine.

My hope is that my body is adapting to the 5Fs (Five Fingers). Oddly enough, my feet didn’t hurt this morning, even though I walked in my 5Fs all day long. According to Vibram, “Stimulating the muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception.”

It makes total sense, as I’ve mentioned before and will mention again. A cushioned shoe keeps many nerves in the foot from sensing and adapting to the changes in topography. The stimulus that comes from walking barefoot sends all kinds of signals to the brain which help the body know where all its limbs are in space at a given moment without having to visually focus on them (proprioception). It’s how you shoot a basketball without staring at your arms and hands the whole time to make sure they’re in the right place.

Anyhow, it’s 2:22pm my time. The work day is winding down. I have a men’s group meeting tonight.

At times today, my feet have been uncomfortable enough to warrant taking the 5Fs off, but I’ve waited to take them off until after work because I knew I would sit so long today that my feet would get plenty of rest.

I’ve been told it will take several weeks for my feet and body to adjust to the lack of shock absorption shoes typically provide. My back is, I think, conclusive evidence of this fact. I’m sore like I’ve been working manual labor, despite the fact I’m sitting at my computer for most of the day.

As for the back and side pain I’m experiencing, my wife just told me she has it too, so it may be due to the beet kvass detox drink we both had yesterday.

Don’t forget: Love yourself. Love your feet.