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sunscreen by Vincent H. '23

physical health and stuff

at the ripe age of twenty-one i am beginning to feel my body weaken and crumble in ways that were not previously noticeable. for instance:

  • i notice myself feeling cold much more easily now. as a kid and teenager i could walk in shorts in 40 degree (fahrenheit) weather without any issue, whereas currently the weather in boston is around 50 degrees and i am already feeling the need to wear a jacket
  • my right eyelid has begun twitching when i don’t get enough sleep. this definitely wasn’t the case earlier – my sleep schedule is actually better than it was in years past, but the twitching only started this year
  • this summer, during periods of high anxiety, i could feel my heart occasionally flutter, creating an irregularity in my heartbeat. this was pretty scary at first, so i spent a while researching symptoms and trying to understand what was going on, but it turns out this is actually a normal response to stress that i simply hadn’t felt until june. (i hope i’m not worrying anyone who’s reading this post; this was a very minor symptom that i only felt once every week or so back when it was happening)

i’m also noticing how, when i use the wrong form to complete a physical task, the consequences can be more severe than they used to be. for instance, as a result of running improperly and not channeling ground collision forces through the correct part of my feet, i had several minor foot injuries during the past year. each one only lasted around a week, but foot injuries are particularly annoying because they are easily felt

i learned the hard way that, when you have a minor foot injury, the correct response is to pretend that nothing happened and to walk exactly the way you’re used to, even if doing so makes every step painful. because if you change the way you walk to reduce the pain that occurs when your foot comes in contact with the ground, you redirect large amounts of weight to parts of the foot which aren’t used to receiving weight, increasing risk of injury to those areas. the other problem with changing how you walk in response to an injury is that you can forget how to walk – the first time i injured my right foot, i took footsteps in a way that minimized pressure on my right foot, and after doing this for a few days i realized i didn’t really remember how to take regular right footsteps anymore. luckily my left foot was mostly unaffected, so i was able to relearn walking by paying careful attention to how my left foot moved and then training my right foot to move in the mirror image of my left foot

this anecdote isn’t just me being pedantic, by the way. it’s reasonably common for people to permanently change how they walk or run in response to injury, and the outcomes are often not good. eg. there are many stories of basketball players injuring themselves in one leg, subconsciously shifting more weight to the other leg, and then injuring the other leg as a result. the instinct of redistributing weight to reduce pain is extremely natural, and it takes conscious effort to oppose

anyway, in response to all this i am doing a few things differently to take better care of my body:

  • the first is drinking water more regularly. pretty self-explanatory
  • i am also doing more balanced workouts now. i pay more attention to leg strength, which i had been neglecting until recently because i thought running provided sufficient leg exercise (spoiler: it doesn’t). i also noticed my flexibility has decreased significantly in the past few years, so now i try to stretch more as well
  • speaking of workouts, i’ve begun a habit of working out at 2am on friday nights / saturday mornings. i don’t really have a great reason for doing this other than that i felt inspired by jimmy butler’s 3:30am workouts (my times for other days of the week are more reasonable). on the bright side, there are barely any people in the gym at that time, and doing this ensures a productive start to the weekend

one habit i’ve been trying to get into but have been inconsistent about so far is wearing sunscreen. it’s probably worthwhile to delay skin damage and eventual skin cancer, but i have an aversion to putting sunscreen on every day because it just feels very unpleasant in my opinion. this might be a sign that i should try different sunscreen options

this summer my phone broke down and became largely unusable, so i went to the t-mobile store to get a new phone (shoutout to jason and cj, who went with me). my old phone was a samsung phone, so i decided to buy a new samsung phone, and there was a convenient feature to transfer all your settings, apps, and data between samsung phones. i waited a few minutes for the transfer to complete, and then suddenly my new phone looked exactly like my old one – the same apps in the same locations, the same black background, the same camera roll (and i mean local camera roll, not the cloud-backed one)

the experience felt very bizarre at the time, but i couldn’t immediately verbalize what i found strange about it. it was only much later that i realized what i had witnessed – this wasn’t just a data transfer; it was immortality, specifically immortality via reincarnation. when a species has the ability to escape wear and tear by efficiently transferring knowledge from old bodies to new ones, that species has effectively attained immortality, and samsung phones have figured it out. i hope that one day humans will also be able to master this process, but until then i need to be taking much better care of my physical body than i have been so far