Tricep Dips. Oh, the Horror!

Sherry McGuinn

Because I don't want "bat wings," I can barely move.

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There have been many times in my life where common sense has completely eluded me. Like continuing to write and take it up the butt on this platform. Some of these situations, I’ve given voice to. Others, I prefer to let hunker down in the old memory hole. After all, you guys don’t want to know every dirty detail of every dirty deed, do you?

Hell yeah, you do. Proof positive that I should write about sex, more. Maybe I’d make a few bucks because the good news is, I can actually write.

In regard to a smattering of my behavioral patterns that probably weren’t the smartest choices, it’s not that I don’t know better. I do, but I can be incredibly stubborn because pushing myself to astoundingly stupid and unattainable heights is my jam. Being told, “You can’t” doesn’t sit well with me. It only makes me bear down even harder.

What can I say? I like jumping hurdles and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. Just call me “McGuinn the masochist.” I’m telling you this so you can learn from my mistakes.

Years ago, it was the stupid stuff that we do when we’re younger, like pounding down shots while simultaneously smoking a doobie. Followed by the “Two Ps.” Puking and passing out. Good times!

I no longer do that. Not the shots, anyway. These days I’m more prone to pushing my body in directions it doesn’t want to go. All in the name of “staying in shape.”

Fitness is important to me because as we age, our shit falls apart. There’s no denying this. One day, we look in the mirror and we see Nosferatu. And then it’s “who the hell is that?” time. Time to string garlic and cover those mirrors, that’s what time it is.

Nah. It doesn’t have to be that scary and here’s why: Exercise and a decent diet can go a long way in helping to maintain what’s left of what we got. You can trust what I’m telling you because this basic premise has worked for me. With that said, I’ve come to a juncture where I have to face a few unpleasant truths. Like taking one rest day won’t turn me into a sloth.

I recall telling my former doctor, a GP who is now retired, that I work out twice a day. He gave me an arch look and then said something to the effect of, “that’s a little much as you don’t need to be losing any more weight.”

As I’m nimble with a back-peddle, I replied that it’s actually one workout “broken up into two sessions.”

I don’t think he bought it.

That’s what happens when you have OCD. You latch onto something and you hold on for dear life. So, yes, the truth is I work out in the morning and the afternoon. But my morning routine isn’t too arduous. Five miles on the stationary bike, followed by twenty pushups (real ones) and thirty tricep dips.

Now, if you’ve ever done these dastardly dips, then you know how hard they can be as you’re holding your entire body up with your arms extended behind you. You can either do them on the floor or with your hands gripping the seat of a chair or bench. I do them on a chair with my knees slightly bent and my heels resting on the floor.

These suckers hurt like hell but they work. After several minutes of tricep dipping, those underarm jigglies are begging for mercy. I refer to them as “bat wings,” by the way due to their unfortunate resemblance to well…bat wings.

As I said, they do the job and my arms are nicely toned for a broad in her 60s.

The thing is, tricep dips shouldn’t be performed daily because as every thinking person knows, our muscles need time to repair themselves, or we’re at risk for serious injuries and a lot more couch-time. Like we need that. But do I listen to what my brain is telling me? Fuck no! Not only do I do the dip daily, but my triceps are dipped twice a day!

And, just as I did with my knees, when I tore my meniscus doing plyometric squats, meaning you jump up in the air like a dumb schmuck after squatting — as if regular squats aren’t tough enough — I sustained an “injury.”

Meniscus side note: No surgery for me, thank you very much. I managed to “heal” it on my own and then injured the little bastard again.

So, a few days ago, I’m doing my morning tricep dips, as usual, and I started to feel a tingling in the left side of my back, under my shoulder blade. This was not an unusual sensation as it came on a few days earlier, but, characteristically, I ignored it.

I finished up and then sat down with my first cup of coffee. I started to get up to replenish my java and then felt a pain so searing, so intense that I shrieked aloud. I had never experienced anything like it. The meniscus tear was close but nothing like this.

As the tears sprouted from my eyes, I realized that my back was spasming. Do you know how I knew that? Because I couldn’t move! The slightest attempt in any direction was agony.

For several minutes, I thought I was going to pass out. I tried to steady my breathing, but never having been successful at that, it didn’t help.

The pain radiated throughout my chest, as well, as if someone plunged a carving knife into my back and all the way through my sternum.

While I waited for my husband to get out of bed and minister to me, I was able to hobble, bent over in true geezer fashion, to the bathroom where, with shaking hands, I pried open the Ibuprofen bottle and tossed three down my throat.

I hobbled back into the family room where my husband did his best to help me by “rubbing it out.” (And not in the way you’re thinking.)

He massaged my back, which hurt like a mofo, and then slapped on some IcyHot.

After about twenty minutes, I was able to sit down at my computer where I Googled back spasms and how to stop them in their nefarious tracks. Of course, there was a ton of info, mostly about stretching and/or rolling on a foam roller, which feels like concrete, by the way, but the suggestion that appealed to me most was to just “walk it out.”

Walk that spasm right out.

So that’s what I did. My hubby helped me into my hoodie and still in a semi-crouch, I walked a mile, muttering and swearing the whole time. Cursing myself, mind you.

It’s three or four days later and I’m still sore. Sore enough that little things like “sneezing” are out of the question. I’m not experiencing any spasms but it’s obvious to me that I went overboard in my attempt to ward off the batwing thing.

As I said, I have a stubborn streak. So I’m not giving up on tricep dips, but I’m thinking that perhaps one session a day is sufficient. I have nothing against bats, per se, although they're incredibly creepy. Let’s just say I’m not ready to look like a Halloween getup.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL
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