Friday, December 14, 2012
Given the responses to my feed, I'm realizing I was less than clear what I'm looking for and why it is frustrating me.
(My status was: BLUE42DOWN is getting a little frustrated looking at workout routines -- most focus either heavily on "bodybuilding" or "fat burning", and I just want "overall body fitness / strength".)
I probably should have specified weight training routine vs. simply workout routine. I'm not looking for stuff like P90X or Insanity or videos. I'm looking for combinations of weight machines and free weights and body weight exercises to change up my strength training and refine it.
An aside on the whole "bulking" thing
I am not concerned in the slightest with the idea of bulking up. I love NATURAL muscles. I love the way my calves look already. I love how my quads flex when I'm doing squats. I love how my guns are developing, not to mention how my shoulders and back are starting to look. I love how my glutes are shaping up. (Seriously ... when DDa tells me she is jealous of my legs and butt when I wear jeans, I know they're in nice shape.)
THIS is the point I consider grotesque (from http://repetrope.com/):
I wouldn't look like that without going to absurd extremes. For me there is ZERO back-off from lifting based on a fear of "bulking up" because the level I consider gross just isn't possible without supplementation, extreme nutrition rules, making the workouts a higher priority in my life, and potentially using hormones or steroids.
When I say "bodybuilder" or "bodybuilding", I mean it to refer to someone who has made that the focus and goal. Muscle development becomes the reason for the workout rather than the natural outcome of. I also think of that as including the whole nine yards - usually "clean" eating, tight scheduling of supplementation (whole articles discuss when to take creatine, for example).
That isn't me. I love lifting, but it's a balanced part of becoming and staying fit, getting stronger and staying strong. Fitness and strength are the goal, not getting my bicep to grow 0.25" or to make my Traps prominent. (Traps = Trapezius, the muscle that runs from about the nape of the neck down along the spine in the upper back and along the shoulder area.) I love eating my way and refuse to get into supplementation.
Anyway, my current weight routine is a mish-mash that has just slowly developed as I add something here and there, drop something, swap to a different machine or exercise. I do full-body strength training on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Each time I mostly do the same exercises in the same general sequence.
There was a method to my madness when starting out. I needed to strengthen the ligaments and tendons connecting the muscles to the bones, for one thing. I needed to learn proper form. I learned that proper form is ABSURDLY hard when there isn't enough basic strength. The body adapts to try to "get the job done".
One big example I ran into is the Captain's chair.
The first couple times I tried that, I didn't have the upper body strength to keep myself in position to even do the leg raises and focus on contracting the abs. I wound up sore for nearly a week in the whole shoulder and neck area and had trouble even with triceps exercises.
I had to start with baby steps. Simple ab crunch machine, lowest weight. Lat machines, bicep curls and tricep extensions with minimal weight, until I actually had enough ability to do those to start adding more weight. Only in the last few months have Leg Raises on the Captain's Chair become a regular part of my routine - and I actually can do them well, slow and smooth lift, no curling the back or hips at all.
There was also my complete noobishness (noob = new person). I needed to do the same or very equivalent exercises or I couldn't really measure my progress. Even between two models of machine, lifting the same weight can feel immensely different. There are three bicep curl / preacher curl machines and every one of them I lift a different amount. It's hard to graph progress when the numbers aren't comparable.
Which brings me to now. There are a couple of things I know I need to do to keep progressing well.
One is break up my weight days differently so I'm only working one or two major groups, not all of them, during any one workout. Another is reduce my reps from 12 (for most everything using weights) to 8 - 10, which will mean adjusting the weight up to push for the exhaustion by the last couple reps. Another is change up what exercises and machines I'm using to get more variety and challenge the muscles differently.
That last is what sent me out exploring "workout routines". I currently use JEFit Pro (an app on my phone) to track my workouts. I have an account on BodyBuilding.com because I buy my protein powder there. So I've been hunting on both sites -- and that's where the mild frustration is coming from.
I have other little personal "rules" going on that affect what exercises are an option.
One is that I work out alone. I am not going to delay things to get someone random to spot me. That's actually reason #1 I don't do as many free weight exercises as I could. (Hehe, maybe I should get a workout partner solely for spotting. Pity the cute bus driver works out in the afternoons. )
Another is that I don't really want goofy mixed exercises, no matter who touts them as better. I'm not standing on one leg doing squats while doing dumbbell flies just because someone figured 3 for 1 is awesome.
I'm in no hurry. I don't need "big results in 12 weeks". If it takes me a decade to get back to 350 leg press squats, or I never can do that again, I'm cool. I don't ~WANT~ a routine that promises me I'll have trouble walking afterward because my calves will be so sore. "No pain, No gain" is NOT my motto.
Lastly, I'm not young and free of injury. It's 99.9% better, but my left foot plantar fascia can still be touchy if I'm not careful. Tendons don't always slide smoothly, so I'll hear and feel snapping and popping. And I have something wrong in my left arm. I don't have coverage to find out what or get it fixed, so I have to work it very carefully.
(( It is most noticeable with exercises such as a wide-grip lat pulldown. At a wild guess, it is somewhere in where the deltoid connects near the bicep/tricep - well below the shoulder joint. I actually remember it originally hurting well over a decade ago, such that I quit doing a machine called something like pec deck flys. When I say work it carefully, I don't baby it. Sprained ankles taught me that limping hurts me worse than taking slow cautious steps in which I make sure it is stable. I simply stay very aware of it and make sure slow and steady lifts are even between left and right. ))
Bodybuilding.Com has a whole slew of plans and start off saying "Give us a bit of info, and our experts will give you a full transformation plan built specifically for your fitness goals!" Don't I wish. But their two goals to choose from are fat loss and muscle building. So I pick muscle building because fat loss is a default result of more muscle and eating reasonably - not something I'm working out to achieve. Top result? A "3-phase body-sculpting, fat-burning workout routine". Wait ... I didn't pick fat loss, did I? Next result? A "LeanBody" program in which the intro video blasts the message that you'd darned well better agree to do it all, including eating and supplementing or not expect results. *Sigh* Next! Oh, it's an "at-home fitness solution" ... they never asked where I plan to work out.
Yes, as someone mentioned, a lot of it is marketing babble. (And I have an aversion to marketing babble and hype. It's horrific in the video game industry and more likely to make me NOT want to try a new game than make me eager to rush out and pre-order when someone gushes about ground-breaking new physics engine and world-class graphics.)
So I start checking the more generic workout routines - what other members have uploaded on both sites. Unfortunately, that's like trying to find a few needles in a haystack and the search engine isn't designed like a magnet.
Honestly, I think I'm going to end up with my fallback plan - pay for a couple of Personal Trainer sessions, have the first be a review of my current routine and where I'm at and what I want, then the second be my benchmark tests I still want to do plus building a new routine with some variations for the future.
Alternatively, I may just keep doing what I have been doing - looking up exercises for certain muscle groups and swapping out current ones for new ones. Now that I've got nearly a consistent year at the gym, I'm not as lost about doing 20 lbs here and only 12 there and being unable to see progress.
So, there you have it. Blue's excessive overthinking of her workout routine.
(Just call it my mental exercise. I'm lifting weights up there.)
Monday, December 10, 2012
Here in San Jose, CA, we have an annual Christmas in the Park event as well as an outdoor ice skating rink called Downtown Ice that runs from around Thanksgiving until New Years (or something like that).
I walked down there tonight, meandered around taking pictures, and was amazed by just how many people were there. It is a couple blocks from the gym I go to, and there's even a kettle korn place that is part of it in the walkway in front of the gym, so I've seen a lot of people walking to and from ... but didn't quite envision this many people.
Most of the pictures don't include people, so I'll start with a distance shot of Downtown Ice:
Yes, those are palm trees with Christmas lights. Welcome to California winter.
All throughout the park are decorated Christmas trees. The main one is there year-round, but the lights are hung each year:
That's a standard ferris wheel behind it to the right, which is on the next block over (maybe a couple hundred yards away?)
Near the tree is a Community Stage on which various groups perform - dances, gymnastics, singing, etc. It's pretty blurry, because I had to shoot fast, but these are 4th graders if I heard right:
Back to the Christmas trees. Many of them are decorated by schools or groups. This one happens to be the High School my DS and DDa went to:
Here's a couple more shots to give a better idea of just how many trees there are in some places:
And finally, in no particular order, the true highlight of the event are these animated displays:
Building a snowman
Scrooge & Marley
Mary and her Lamp outside the schoolhouse and the inside of the schoolhouse
Ironworks & Foundry
Candy Cane processing and shipping
Each of these are cars in a train.
Playing in a Winter Wonderland
Foxes and ?Otters? Band
Countdown to Christmas
Rooftop troubles (he's hard to see, but Santa is stuck in the chimney, feet sticking up)
Pipe organ and choir (silent, but in past years they've had carols playing)
And, last but not least:
Hope you enjoyed the walk as much as I did.
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Back before BLC#20 started, we had some training weekends to give us an idea how the challenges would work. Included in one of those was taking some before pictures, measurements and setting some goals.
Now that BLC#20 is over, it's time to take a look back and see how I did on those.
Front view. Start image for comparison.
Side view (with start image for comparison).
Back view. (Taken with camera phone reversed to the lens on the face, so poorer quality.) Start image for comparison.
Neck: 13.75" (DOWN from 14")
Shoulders: 43.75" (DOWN from 44")
Arm: 13.25" ( DOWN* from 13.5")
Forearm: 10.5" (no change from 10.5")
Waist: 33" (DOWN from 34.5")
Hips: 41.5" (DOWN from 41.5")
Thigh: 23.75" (DOWN from 24")
Calves: 15" (DOWN from 16")
* Footnote: I don't remember if I measured at bicep point (12.75" now) or up near armpit (13.25" now).
1) Lose 1 pound per week average, for a total of 12 pounds in 12 weeks.
-- Not quite. I did make my original 10 to 15 pounds by exactly hitting 10 pounds down from my BLC#20 Start weight.
2) Be there for my Team (once assigned), Teammates, and all participants in the BLC with cheer and encouragement, from beginning to end. Do this with SparkGoodie Gifts, comments on blogs and forum posts - aiming for at least one a day.
-- Definitely did this.
Some other goals:
3) Accept the challenges laid forth by my Team, finding ways to include them together with what I already do, and rise to them.
-- The only couple challenges I didn't completely rise to, I still wouldn't. I don't buy into "clean eating" obsessions, so I didn't even try and upfront said I wouldn't.
4) Upgrade my wardrobe, particularly shirts, by the end of the challenge - this time going into winter wear in L sizes. My XL tops are definitely too big (pretty formless along the waist). I'd like this to include at least one cute fitted sweater, turtlenecks, and some nice boots (suede, thicker heel, calf- or knee-high is the plan).
-- Doing very good on this one - and got fitting underthingies too. Now just need some new workout leggings that fit right.
5) If I actually lose at least 12 pounds, I'll be ending very close to my original goal of 160. Think as much with how I'll transition to maintenance as with losing, considering how my typical meals and snacks will be adjusted, how or whether my workouts will change, and decide if I want to drop to a half-pound loss per week which means taking a little longer but smoothing the adjustment.
-- I'm on the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team, and reading articles on Maintenance. I decided to leave my SP goal set to 1 pound per week simply because that sets my "reach goal" date a week or two before my birthday which would be kinda cool.
Link to team for those who also may be interested:
No, you do NOT have to be at goal or even close. You can join the team when you are first starting out, before you even lose a single pound. Thinking ahead with Maintenance is truly about planning a lifestyle you can live with long-term - aka the rest of your life. It can be the best adjustment for your thinking to move away from the yo-yo diet / regain cycle.
I'm going to end with a picture that is a good reminder of how far I've come. This was taken (obviously) at my son's graduation. That would have been in 2009. I probably weighed almost my highest there as well. I'd gone up and down in the two years after that - mostly depending on whether I was deliberately overeating or not. (It actually took me effort to gain and keep the excess weight on. That's one reason I try to remind people not to make comparisons to others' - mine, in particular - weight loss journey.)
Yes, that's DDa and DS.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Finally I'm getting to this blog that has been percolating in my mind for over a week. It started when I read NUOVAELLE's blog called: "Dark days" in maintenance.
It is very worth a read no matter whether you're just starting out, getting close to your goal, a recent beginner at the maintenance thing, or have been at that maintenance thing a while. Go ahead. I'll wait while you go read it. And LIKE it, you know you want to.
So, in the way it so often happens in my head, I pull a key point out that isn't quite what the original blogger was looking at. I mentioned it briefly in my response to her blog.
Whether it's the pep talk we give ourselves in which we say "I'm doing everything right" (oh, really?) or the ability to eat half a dozen cookies yet complain that all we did was smell them and the fat leapt onto our hips, we humans have an absolutely INCREDIBLE ability to engage in self-deception.
I did just that on that very same day I read that blog with a simple jar of peanut butter. In fact, within a couple hours of responding to that blog. Which really really drove home the ease with which SELF-DECEPTION can occur.
I can look at a list of characteristics, something I was doing working on my mission statement, and see HONESTY. Am I an honest person? I'd like to think so. I tell others the truth as much as possible. I do withhold harmful truth, but don't feel that makes me dishonest. I firmly believe untruth comes back to harm us far worse than truth can.
Then I fib about what made me late to work while talking to coworkers. I tell a homeless person I don't carry cash while I have $40 in my pocket for the club I'm going to.
None of which is terrible, but all of which is practice in SELF-DECEPTION.
If I leave off that extra pudding I ate, but add 10 minutes of cardio that I also don't record, it balances out, right? If I'm eating twice as many almonds as I record, but am still losing weight at an acceptable pace, why should it matter if I look back and see lower calories in numbers?
If I want to be honest, I need to be just as honest if not more with myself as with others.
The very next day, LDRICHEL posted a blog called: Am I Authentic? Are You?
Another blog very well worth a read no matter where we are in life. The important quote is the question she was asked and is answering bit by bit to find where she wants to be:
** When you imagine living a life that is wholly authentic to you and who **
** you truly are as a person, what kinds of practical things do you see **
** yourself doing in that life? **
How do we end up living a life that is NOT authentic to us? The answer that came to mind, because I was already chewing on the concept, was ... through self-deception. We convince ourselves that we're happy enough with the way our life is. We make ourselves believe it is too hard to change things. We accept what others tell us we want and turn it into what we want.
I cannot be authentic if I am willing to lie to myself. I must break the stranglehold of self-deception.
So with that in mind, I kept thinking about the whole peanut butter situation.
At the beginning of the BLC#20, I set two big goals for myself. One was to be able to do a full military pushup. The other was to limit my consumption of peanut butter to planned and measured - on a sandwich or with celery.
Two days out of nearly twelve weeks I have utterly and completely flubbed that goal. Even saying it that way, that's somewhat dishonest. More than a few times I deliberately failed to measure knowing I was eating more than I tracked, but at least I was only eating it on a sandwich or with celery. I would be careful to measure the amounts when we had weekend challenges that included calorie tracking, but that usually left three days of very sloppy tracking.
This more recent time, I stopped with about an inch of peanut butter at the bottom of a jar that had been full and SELF-DECEPTION on my mind. I did have my 2 Tbsp (or more, since I was scooping it with the celery) just as I'd planned into the tracker. From there, however, the inner excuses and outright lies to self started.
I'm just smoothing out the top in the jar.
It won't hurt to clean up the sides of the jar.
One tablespoon more isn't much. I can walk that off.
One more, but we'll skip that other thing later today.
My weight has still been going down even doing this. I'm fine.
Oh shut up and enjoy the flavor.
Why am I even bothering to count tablespoons?
Okay, we're going to stop on this one.
And so on.
Intersting thing, though.
None of those were successful SELF-DECEPTION.
I knew quite well they weren't true. I knew as I thought them that each and every one of the little chatter were cow poopie. I went right ahead and scooped those extra spoonfuls, not because ~I~ believed the excuses but because I'd already decided I was going to do so.
The SELF-DECEPTION that was successful came much earlier in the sequence.
I prepare my celery in our office kitchen. I keep the peanut butter jar in the office kitchen. I only have my spoons in my desk drawer.
That's right. The peanut buttter jar and the spoons are not in the same room. When I failed to measure out the peanut butter in the kitchen, close the jar, and put it back on the shelf, I successfully lied to myself. I set up the expected scenario that would allow me to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter.
I can't even remember any thought going into that; I don't remember MAKING a decision to carry the jar to my desk or even coming up with a reason to do so. I pulled the wool over my own eyes so completely that even now looking for it, I can't find the moment that occurred.
How is it possible that I lied to myself so completely? Why did I not even think of that as a lie until the whole topic of self-deception crossed my mind?
We have an innate NEED to be right, to know, to believe that we can't lie to ourselves. Sometimes this can be seen in an exaggerated form when someone defends an opinion or action that any person in their right mind would know was wrong. If someone doesn't believe a storm will hit their house, they are willing to stay in that house to prove they are right. They won't say they are willing to die in that house, because they don't believe the storm will hit them - so they aren't going to die.
What I realized today while writing this, and I've been writing this far longer than planned (3 hours?), is that my SELF-DECEPTION goes further back than carrying the jar to my desk.
When I want to lie to myself, I have to inwardly revise my knowledge of things to fit the lie and reject or ignore evidence to the contrary. It took days of thinking about self-deception to make me notice the fact that even in the moment of BUYING the jar of peanut butter each week (a jar that should last nearly three weeks at a rate of 2T per workday usage) I was ignoring evidence that I was eating more than I let myself believe.
This past weekend while out at the grocery store I almost picked up another jar. Instead, I'm eating salad dressing with my celery and having my fruit preserves on toast with butter. My reason for that decision on Saturday was that I didn't want the temptation this last week of the challenge. I passed up other treats for the same reason.
But ... only NOW as I've been writing this did I I think about the fact one jar holds about THIRTEEN servings. I've read that on the jar more than once. I didn't have to go look it up. I ~KNEW~ that information.
I only use (or should), at most, one serving a day. I only have the jar at work, so in one week of work I would use a maximum of five servings.
One jar of peanut butter should last three weeks.
I was buying a jar a week.
Never once in all these weeks, nor in weeks before that, did I question why I was going through so much. I simply accepted that I was out of peanut butter and needed another jar.
I clearly wanted to accept the lie. To do so, I had to believe it to be truth. I had to reject my knowledge and awareness that it was a lie. I had to let myself ignore the evidence. Most important, I had to "erase" all the thought process that went into that so that it didn't even make a blip on my radar as "not true".
There's so much more that I could say on this. But it is 1:03 am my time and I must get it done quickly.
The one important thing I would emphasize is that SELF-DECEPTION isn't solely about eating food. It is in every possible area of our life.
Our relationships are often filled with SELF-DECEPTION. We have to believe ourselves more in the right for an argument or disagreement or drama to have a foothold.
Our finances can be colored by SELF-DECEPTION. I should know. I used to get cash back at the grocery store and call it part of my grocery budget.
Procrastination is a constant act of SELF-DECEPTION, convincing ourselves that we will get this done ... later.
I'll end with this:
The man who says he never lies just lied to you.
The more vehemently we assert that we are absolutely and completely honest, the more likely it is that we have deceived ourselves and must defend the lies to keep them from having the light of truth shone upon them.
I have plenty of SELF-DECEPTION to root out. And when I think I have the last of it ... I'd better start digging deeper.
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Yep, ye olde goal review time.
== November goals ==
1) Stably below 170
-- Whoops! Well, I was. Then I went a little food crazed and bounced back up to 172.5. Today I'm back down to 170. While I can't cleanly call it met, I actually am right in that range so I can aim lower for next month.
2) First - 1:40:00 or better
-- Accomplished in 1:26:10, walking almost the whole way. (I did a small jog across the finish line and past.)
3) NaNoWriMo - 50,000 words
-- I did do this. I just didn't find enough minutes. Between going to bed super-early a couple nights, going to the movie, going to the club, and not thinking to carry my laptop to work every day to write during my commute, I didn't make the best time choices. End result? 41,695 words. Still not bad at all. I'm happy with it. It's probably 40,000 more words than I've ever written in a single story and I'm still writing.
4) Two more slow cooker meals
-- I've done this. I will say, however, that the interesting thing about being just one person and having normal-size recipes and crock pot, is that something like beef stew .... lasts. I can have it for dinner almost every night for two weeks.
5) Reorganize storage
-- WHOOPS! Haha, completely forgot about this one. Didn't even go over there. Then again, had I done so, it would have been more time taken from NaNoWriMo, so I'm not horribly disappointed. It's not going anywhere.
== by Winter ==
4) Social activity
-- The NaNoWriMo write-ins were great for this. I'm thinking about looking into other meetup style things. Going out dancing at the club may not count quite the same, as I dance more than I socialize, but I'm doing that too which is getting out of the room and around people.
-- Did this. I even went in with a paper on which I'd worked out every choice I was making on the Propositions, so no last minute attempts to figure out whether Yes or No was better.
Was happy with most of the results, even those that didn't match what I voted for.
All-in-all, not bad. Only one goal completely flubbed, a few not quite met but good progress, and those met done well. I'll take it.
Now to think about this last month to end the year 2012.
== December goals ==
1) See 165 on the at least once, maybe stably there. Hoping to be down to 168.5 or below by Wednesday, undoing my bounce, but as usual not focusing too much on weight as a measure.
2) Full military pushup. This is one of my big goals through the BLC#20 that I've been working on. I really really want to succeed this month.
3) At least another 20,000 words in my novel. NaNoWriMo ending is not a reason to stop writing now. I want to finish this first draft so I can go back and liven up my main character and make him someone people want to read about.
4) Keep treat snacks down to two a day or less. More working out meant more calories, and I was filling them with more treats. I'd rather fill it with a bit more lean protein at meals, some more veggies and fruit as snacks, and keep treats in the more "special" category.
5) Reorganize storage. Get rid of stuff I'm not ever going to need. This does still need to happen "someday", though a rainy day like today is not the day.
6) Have my Between Rounds challenge mostly plotted. (Need to find out who we coordinate with. Check with 3_GIANTS_4_ME as she was the one getting it filled. My weekend is 11 Jan to 14 Jan, but I want to have the core idea, points, and such plotted out before the end of December.)
Off and away goes December! I'm looking forward to 2013. I think it will be the first year in a long time that I can see magazines at the supermarket checkout with "get your swimsuit body ready" and "a swimsuit for your shape" and not turn up my nose knowing there's no way to be swimsuit ready in three months when you're 250 pounds and no swimsuit on this planet can hide 100 extra pounds of adipose tissue. Not that I actually need a swimsuit unless I move somewhere with a pool. But I'm hoping to fit hiking into 2013 - even if it takes 2 mile walks to get to the trails, and being in the condition to do so is exciting.
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