Monday, August 5, 2013

Man Mode-11, or “How I felt like I could take on the whole Empire”

We all remember Dak, Luke’s loyal and steadfast gunner during the battle of Hoth. When the Rogue Leader asked him how he was doing that day Dak replied “I feel like I could take on the whole Empire”, 30 minutes later Dak was dead, only to have his corpse crushed into the snow by an AT-AT. We can learn from Dak’s unseemly death, we all have a Dak in our life and sometimes we “pull a Dak” ourselves. Around my group of friends we call “pulling a Dak” going to “Man Mode-11”. 

(Wo)Man Mode is a 1-10 scale. When you need to do something very macho, like ride on a Tauntaun to rescue your friend as the sun is setting, that is Man Mode-10. When you cry to your girlfriend that your mentor is holding you back after she tells you how much you have grown up, that is Man Mode-1. On your quest to troop you are going to generally be in the 7-10 range.
Just like the lead guitarist of Spinal Tap, Dak tried to “turn it up to 11” and got taken out. A lot of fitness blogs will tell you to “know your limits” and “be safe”. While safety is a major concern, and should always come first, we both know that statistically speaking you will eventually pull a Dak. Sooner or later you will think you can take on the whole Empire, and then get hurt. It’s inevitable, we are driven individuals pushing our bodies, and the trick is having the presence of mind to call it a day when you do get hurt.

Pulled muscles, minor strains, tweaked ankles, these are all minor injuries that can be exacerbated by not staying home and catching up on episodes of the Clone Wars when you get hurt. It will be hard to tell when your body is about to sustain these minor injuries, especially if you are competitive or making a push for a fitness goal. While a Jedi should quiet their mind, and listen to the Force, Luke and Anakin notoriously got up when they should have stayed down on more than a few occasions; I am willing to bet you will do the same, I know I did. When you tweak something, don’t be afraid to call it a night, or switch exercises. There is no shame in making a smart decision to take care of your body. 

I recently twisted my ankle playing racquetball. Before the game I had done some running and I sustained that injury because my body was tired, it was getting sloppy. I hadn’t listened to my body’s early warning signs because I wanted to win, and I am willing to bet I’m not the first person to do that and won’t be the last. When I twisted my ankle, I called it a night, went home, and over the following days I worked on upper body cardio while my ankle healed.
If I had tried to “turn it up to 11” and keep playing, my ankle only would have gotten worse. A twist would have turned into a sprain, a sprain would have turned into a more serious injury, and I would have been unable to work out for weeks. Not only would being bedridden be a setback for my weight loss, but it would also be a total downer for the people I was playing against.
My ankle only took a few days to heal, which means I was back on the court and in the gym sooner rather than later. I didn't have to spend whole week of sitting on my couch, eating, and storing calories. Limping off the field honorably is a way better alternative to ruining the evening for your friends and gym neighbors by needing an ambulance.  When you cross into Man Mode-11, you’re going to get hurt. Don’t try to “man up” and ignore the minor injuries your body doles out when it is tired. While I encourage everyone to turn it up to (Wo)Man Mode-10, stay away from 11; that’s an order trooper.


  1. I pulled a Dak the other day in jujitsu, intentionally cranking my knee at a horribly awkward angle in a vain attempt to unnecessarily get in a stronger position. It popped, rather painfully I might add, and has had me sidelined for two weeks now. It sucks but I'll be rolling again on Thurs (back to the beat down).

    Keep up the posts Ben, I'll keep reading 'em.

  2. Ouch Josh, wishing you a quick recovery.

    Are you doing any upper body exercises while you heal up? I got to try that hand crank exercise while I was healing the ankle. I got to hang out with a pretty ripped old guy who was cranking like he had somewhere to be!

    Good luck at the bruise factory!