• Jeremy Likness

Facing the Flywheel

The "ROM quick gym" is an elaborate contraption that looks like an overgrown stationary bicycle. It features a massive flywheel that is attached through various gears to pedals and moveable handlebars. As you pedal, push and row, the flywheel spins faster and generates more resistance. The manufacturers claim this resistance ensures you get a maximum efficiency workout in just 4 minutes per day. The best part is that it can all be yours for the low price of just under $10,000 US dollars.


I prefer flywheels designed for efficiency, not resistance. I believe that a healthy lifestyle is like a flywheel in many ways. If we invert the ROM, we end up with a contraption that provides incredible resistance at the beginning but as you continue to apply force will pick up momentum that makes the resistance go away. Many people give up during the initial period of high resistance and never make it to the point where it's "dialed in." Right now, I'm not dialed in.


I'm happy that I'm at a point in my life when missing exercise is frustrating. I'm happy because I used to be ambivalent and didn't care, and that took a toll of my health. Now more than ever I know and understand the importance of exercise. The stakes have been raised. Every workout I miss gives Parkinson's Disease the opportunity to steal away my life one cell at a time. I can't reverse it, so it's paramount that I slow it down as much as possible to maintain my quality of life as long as I can.


I threw up my hands this week and didn't exercise at all. I won't make excuses but it's therapeutic to list the reasons. I have a hard time motivating me to exercise early in the morning, so I decided to exercise in the afternoon. Of course, that means I'm coming off a mentally draining day at work and just want to unwind. Timing is problematic because I want to eat dinner with my wife, but that means I need to wait until later in the evening to train. The puppy takes a lot of evening time so I end up just wanting to unwind. Then I get caught up in my hobby of taking and processing astrophotography pictures and stay up too late and miss out on sleep.


Of course, the solution is right there. I've done this enough to know what needs to be done. I don't have a time issue, I have a priority issue. I'm not prioritizing things the right way. My mental health is important but my physical health is now survival. I'm sharing this to be honest about my vulnerabilities and to hold myself accountable. The bottom line is I need to train first thing in the morning. That eliminates any excuses that can come up during the day and frees up my evenings for my wife and Pepper. It also means prioritizing sleep. This is the hardest for me. I am stubborn and want to get things done so I just stay up to do them.


Taking Action


For our fundraising efforts in 2021 (ours means you, Doreen and me, because I couldn't have done it without our supporters) I was awarded MVP status along with 201 other fundraisers who collectively contributed over $8 million dollars to research a cure. I was surprised by how the awards ceremony impacted me. It's hard to describe, but it suddenly felt very real and the weight of the diagnosis hit me all at once. The highlighted stories were incredibly inspirational, but I also couldn't help but feel like I am not doing enough. Of course, before I can do more for others and the disease in general, I need to be doing more for me.


So, I'm taking action. One of the steps I've already taken is committing to the Beat Your Symptoms Challenge.

Beat Your Symptoms Challenge

The goal is to run 3 miles in 30 minutes (keep in mind I haven't run in a year, so a 10-minute mile is definitely a target), do 200 push-ups in 30 minutes, and a 2-minute plank hold. I may get more aggressive with these goals, but they felt good for now. If you are are in the greater Seattle area and interested in the challenge, visit the Seattle Young Onset Parkinson's Disease support group's event page and scroll down!


To achieve my goals will require a few commitments. I must push on the flywheel and press through resistance. I must consistent and dedicated. I must choose to make this happen and own my fitness. I must remember that I can't quit because Parkinson's Disease won't quit. So, moving forward will mean moving daily. I'm re-focusing to:


  • Consistently Jangle every morning. I feel so much better and have less stiffness and fewer symptoms when I start the day with this light set of movements and stretches.

  • Train my current workout plan at least five days per week, with a minimum 30-minutes of VR exercise for my cardio days. I'm also toying with the idea of running again.

  • Perform at least 30 minutes of some activity on the weekends, whether it is walking or hiking or another workout.

To do this, I will train in the morning on work days to eliminate excuses. Lately I've just not been "feeling it" in the morning, so this will require me committing to do it regardless of how I feel and just get it done. It's my future that I hold in my hands.


After I get my own affairs in order, I commit to doing more for Parkinson's Disease beyond my blog fundraiser. I'm not quite sure what that looks like. Obviously, our podcast You, Me, and PD is a step in that direction, but I want to do more. Maybe mentor or pair up with someone newly diagnosed. Maybe organize and event. Time will tell, but I will move forward and do more for the millions who suffer from PD.


Symptoms Update


The reality of this disease has been very present the last month. My left hand tremor is fairly constant now. Both of my hands are now very stiff in the morning and I fear I'm starting to show symptoms on the right side. With PD it's always tough to know whether a symptom is related or not. Is it arthritis? Repetitive use syndrome? Repetitive use syndrome? (Hah!) Or is it a sign of the disease's progression? Tough to tell.


I had a new twitch on my face a few months ago, and that has thankfully gone away. What replaced it is random waves of nausea, the return of dystonia in my left foot (painful cramping I can't control), and a new tremor. I've had a few incidents now of my left leg tremoring while I lay in bed. All of these new symptoms just strengthen my resolve to do more.


Don't get me wrong: I'm still very grateful and happy with my life. I have many things to celebrate. So, let's celebrate!


Celebrations


I have two pepper updates. Our German Shepherd puppy, Pepper, has been doing great. She is in training to be a service dog. She is incredibly smart and focused. Here is she during her first beach visit focused on Doreen's guidance.

Doreen and Pepper at the beach
"Yes, Mom?"

It's not all work and no play. She certainly has her Pepper puppy moments.

Pepper laying down.
"I'm Tuckered."

As I'm writing this, we're on a mini weekend vacation in Gig Harbor to see how well she travels. The verdict is already in: she does a fantastic job! Quiet in the hotel, non-reactive and friendly to two-legged and four-legged strangers. Good job, Pepper!


Speaking of pepper, we just set up our planters for the new season. One of them has very happy strawberries. The other? Four pepper plants: bell pepper, habanero, jalapeño and serrano.

Planters
Planters

We're not just growing food in our backyard. The patio is setup to chill for the summer. We recently picked up two beer barrels and are having custom table tops made for them. In the meantime, a drill and an umbrella make a great spot to chill.

A barrel with an umbrella
"Under my umbrella" 🎶🎵

The day use of our backyard is fun. At night, I bring out the telescope and image deep sky objects. Here are some of the recent observations I made:


Clockwise from upper left are: M81 Bode's Galaxy and M82 The Cigar Galaxy in the same frame, M97 The Owl Nebula, a closeup of M81 Bode's Galaxy, and M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy. I also just ordered and received my first official print: M42 The Orion Nebula printed on metal.

The Orion Nebula
My first observation and first print

Wow. I truly live a blessed life. Now it's up to me to play the hand I've been dealt. I'm going all-in. Thanks for listening and for your support. I'll check-in regularly via Instagram and Twitter to share my progress!


Regards,


Jeremy Likness

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