Saturday, March 16, 2013
So I like to work out. Since 2007, when I stopped smoking and decided to get up off the couch, I have found immense pleasure in moving, running, cycling, lifting, pushing, pulling....almost everything except jumping.
Being a bit of a data hound, I measure everything; max heart rate, resting heart rate, BMI, bodyfat percentages, hip/waist ratios, one rep max deadlifts, squats, etc, and even some old-fashioned measures of success, like can I fit in to those old pair of 33 inch jeans (YES I CAN!)
I've been very happy to find that on almost all of my ST measures for various types of lifts, I am firmly in the INTERMEDIATE range for my age and weight (here's a link to some pretty cool charts)
I try to lift 3x/week, alternating between heavy and medium weight days, working out everything from legs, to back, to chest, to shoulders. I also try to get in 3 days of cardio, anything from biking, to spinning, to ellipticals, and rowing machines. Overall about 5-6 days a week.
One of the oddest mental shifts I've made is that in the past I would look for reasons NOT to workout.....today I look for reasons TO workout....motivational posters like these now make perfect sense to me;
Having said all that, one of the great (and hard won) lessons I have learned is the need for proper rest. This is a tough concept to get right.
Used wisely, rest allows your body to heal up and build strength & muscle through a program of periodization, the idea that you cycle through periods of putting stress on the body to progressively improve, while building in time for rest and recovery before putting it under more and increased stress.
Used un-wisely, rest can lead to inaction and longer and longer times between workouts, until, one day, you realize it's been months since you've hit the gym and you need to start breaking out the sweatpants because nothing else fits!
Like I said, I've been averaging 5-6 workouts a week for the last 2-3 months. This week, even though I did very good in the ST and cardio department, I noticed I was mentally dragging quite a bit. Nothing specific, just a slight sense of fatigue. 2 weeks ago I pulled a hamstring. Thursday, my calf tightened up on me during a spin class.
So I decided to listen to the signs, heed the voice of trainers and authors who emphasize rest and recovery as part of a total program of health & wellness.
This weekend, I shall do nothing!
Well, not exactly....just no working out. Today we've got family pictures planned, so I actually have to bathe and shave. Tonight, I'm escorting #2 son and his date to go see "Oz, the Great and Powerful" and we're going to take them to Golden Corral for dinner before the movie (teens can eat like crazy and not gain a pound!)
Tomorrow is #2 son's birthday (Yes, he's a St Patty's Day baby!) A friend of ours is a restaurant owner in town and is throwing a corned beef and cabbage charity event for lunch, so we're going there at noon. Then, for his birthday, #2 son wants to have what we call "breakfast dinner" in our household....mom scrambles up eggs, fries some bacon, browns up some potatoes, and even makes pancakes for dinner.
So yeah, the do nothing weekend coincides with a high potential for high eats as well. This might just be a weekend to write off on all SP measures of success.....but I'm surprisingly OK with that. One of the great benefits of finding discipline about food and exercise through SP is that these INFREQUENT detours are OK. This'll be a lazy, eat without remorse weekend....then right back into it on Monday. As another kitschy motivational poster says;
Have a great weekend Spark friends!
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
So one of the great thing about being 53, as opposed to being 23, is that I have a much better appreciation for what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, what is important and what is not important.
At 23, I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound. I could drink like a fish and wake up fine the next morning. I could party like a rockstar all night and not miss a beat the next day. I could workout hard ignoring all sorts of aches and pains.
Not any more!
I can't eat a tenth of what I consumed in college; I don't drink any more; a hard night of partying now means watching the fireworks on New Years Eve and going to bed at 12:01
And now I pay attention to aches and pains.
Some of my long time Spark buds know my story. The Reader's Digest version is that I joined SP in Jan 2001, 2 weeks after I had Hip "Re-surfacing" surgery (instead of a replacement, the doc went in and installed a modified ball & socket joint in my left hip). It really was a miracle....I woke up after the surgery, pain-free in my left hip for the first time in years!
My path to getting there was long and tedious, but it mostly consisted of ignoring a lot of minor aches & pains, toughing out things I should have been smarter about, telling the docs much earlier than I did.
Anyway, post-surgery the ortho doc said, "Enough of the high impact running, you're done. You need to start cycling, working out on rowing machines, ellipticals, etc. And you probably need to drop 20 lbs"
So I revamped my whole approach to exercise and fitness. I hired a trainer to start working on getting me stronger again (hence my SP name) and the first thing I told him was, "First, do no harm!"
I wanted to exercise right, I wanted my form to be perfect, I wanted all around total body improvement, I wanted to gradually build muscle & lose fat....I wanted to be the poster boy for recovery to the ortho doc who did my hip re-surfacing surgery.
And it has worked!
And so one of the good things about being 53 is an enhanced ability to recognize the difference between good pain and bad pain.
Even with all the care and attention in the world, even doing everything exactly right, even with having a professional trainer watch and assist when things get tough, sometimes weird muscles can tighten up, seize up, do whatever the hell they want, and cause a sharp, sharp pain.
At 23 I ignored them.....at 53 I pay attention and honor them! I know what good pain is and I know what bad pain is.
The burn of doing 15 squats with 170 lbs on my back.....good pain
The strain of deadlifting 300 lbs off the floor....good pain
The white hot fire in my legs at 110 RPM on the spin bike....good pain
A sharp tug in the hamstring doing hamstring curls....bad pain
So Monday night, I'm working legs out pretty hard and my hamstring seizes up on me....not too bad, but I feel something there that's not quite the burn of a good pain....but I decide to do one more curl.
Bad move....bad pain....bad, sharp pain....bad, stop all movement pain!
Too late, I felt a big fat knot, smack in the belly of the muscle, just radiating soreness, refusing to be ignored.
I told Stasi trainer guy, "we're done with legs today, let's finish up doing back and arms"
Monday night was not fun. I kept waking up every time I rolled over in bed. The next day I was walking around work trying my best to disguise a slight limp. Needless to say, I decided against a spin class Tuesday.
But today I woke up and most of the pain was gone. Even so, I focused on upper body only at the gym tonight, wanting to give whatever demons that still reside in my hamstring no reason to stay there any longer.
So, again, the good thing about being 53 is to not be the fool I was at 23 (even the fool I was at 33 and 43!) I may have done one too many hamstring curls that aggravated something deep inside there that seized up....but right as that kicked in, I knew it was time to stop and to give whatever was in there the time to heal back up.
And it's gotten better...2 to 3 days to recover and I can get back into it without major damage.
Patience, attention, awareness, maturity....yeah, growing old may not be for sissies, but there sure are a lot of advantages to knowing when to push hard and when to ease up!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Yes, it's a sad insight into the human condition to witness how material things can bring us such pleasure......BUT I AM REALLY DIGGING MY IPHONE 5 AND ALL ITS GEEKY APPS!!!!!
Some of you remember my existential angst from last week when I witnessed how totally inadequate my stone-age iPhone 4 was in the spin class I took where a guy was sporting an iPhone 5 on the bike next to me ( www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
So this past weekend I upgraded my phone (and for anyone considering this, I also sold my iPhone 4 on line for $225 which more than made up for the upgrade....I used Glyde.com glyde.com/ and had it sold in less than 24 hours!) I also ordered up a nifty new Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon, the Polar H7
Then I downloaded the Digifit App on to my phone ( www.digifit.com/ ) and voilà, today I took them all for a test drive during spin class....I was in Geek Heaven!
No more puny, single digit readout of just your heart rate! No more squinting down at a watch display to see what zone I'm in! Today I had bright, technicolor charts painting the total picture at a pedal-by-pedal glance!
I don't know how I ever forced myself to exercise before under such barbaric conditions! How in this techno-logic age could I suffer from such a dearth of instantaneous information, at a glance, at my fingertips!
Needless to say I am shamelessly impressed by all this. It appeals to me in a Rainman-esque infatuation with numbers, data, and tabulated information.....instead of collecting notebooks full of Judge Wopner's decisions, I love compiling charts and files with heart rates, miles, pace, cadence, weights lifted, etc, etc, etc.
I think this phone, blutooth HRM, and Digifit app combo has a lot more capability under its hood too. There are some pretty cool fitness test assessments it can run, there are map overlays for taking it out during runs or bike rides, even some pretty cool custom routines you can build.
So, more to follow....this isn't the last you'll hear me speak of this...but for now, this geek has to go get his steampunk goggles ready for his ultimate cosplay role during next week's DungeonCon....does anyone have some Vulcan ears I can borrow (PS, I can say that in Klingon AND Elvish!)
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
So even though I'm taking this week off, I've still got a few events I need to go into the office for. Today I had a meeting that couldn't get re-scheduled, and tomorrow, my boss has a VTC that's "muy importante", so I'll need to be there for a few hours.
But, the good news is that I'm getting tons of SWMBO's honey-do list items done. Just need to knock out our taxes, get the cars registered, and clean the BBQ grill. Yesterday, we had a great morning & afternoon getting massages.....and I even got a manicure...yes, further proof that I am secure in my manhood!
Even though I had to go through a few hours of meetings at work, I made it to the gym (and my newly designed weight room at that....see blog; www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5260775 ) for my periodic "Heavy Legs Day"
Well, Mr. Gravity and I had some interesting conversations today. He fought me tooth and nail every time I tried to lift those heavy weights against his irresistible attracting force.
I started out with squats....4 sets of 5 reps @ 235 lbs. Then deadlifts...3 sets of 4 @ 300 lbs and on it went throughout the afternoon, ending up with 3 sets of 10 barbell curls @ 75 lbs....and final muscular exhaustion. I even got in a very solid 3 sets of 4 pullups….from a dead hang and full chin over the bar every time, followed up by 3 sets of 5 chinups in quick succession! Whether I was pushing or pulling, Mr. Gravity exerted himself, making his presence known, refusing to be ignored!
But I feel real good now (more so because SWMBO has got some freaking gigantic gulf shrimp, fresh off the Bubba Gump boat, boiling away in the kitchen!) These are some amazing workouts though. I think, after 3 years of serious weight lifting, I’m at the intermediate stage, reaching limits where progress is slower, gains are dependent on making sure I’ve got enough recovery time built in before the next heavy lifting session.
I checked my scores on some pretty cool charts that are age-adjusted for various types of lifts;
I'm smack in the intermediate range for just about everything for my age & weight. I've made a lot of gains, especially my first year getting serious about ST. As I do more research (and feel how Mr. Gravity resists those who fight against his pull) I'm finding I need to do some expectation management on myself. There's probably some genetic limit I'm bound to bump against at some point.
But until then, I'll keep pushing it, slowly adding one more rep each time until I can add another 5 lbs to the bar, then start over again. I'll alternate between heavy lifting days and medium weight days to build in time for recovery. And I'll keep doing cardio on days when I'm not lifting, burning it up in the spin class or my road bike as the weather warms up.
The good news is that Mr. Gravity is my best friend in the world when I crest a hill and start that downhill cycling run!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Saturday, February 23, 2013
So how cool is this....I just designed a professional gym's weight room!
For the last 6 weeks, the gym I go to has been remodeling. They added a floor to accommodate a whole bunch of new cardio equipment and built an addition for a new (and much larger) weight room, which is great, because the one I've worked out in these last 3 years has slowly gotten very tight and crowded.
Not exactly sure how it got started, but as Stasi-trained trainer guy and I got wind of the plan to expand, we'd start brainstorming on the best places to put the barbells, the squat rack, benches, etc, as well as how it would be great if we weren't constantly bumping in to equipment.
Well I have certain "well-developed people skills" (SWMBO says I'm just a manipulative bastard.....I disagree with her about the bastard part) so I started working on the gym manager a few weeks ago, getting details on his plans and timeline.
A long time ago, when I was just a young pup starting out in the workforce, a real senior guy in my organization told me, "Kid, the key to success is to get your boss to think your ideas are his ideas!"
This has served me well over the years.
Over the last few weeks, we've gone from shooting the breeze with the gym manager, to reviewing his equipment floor plans (complimenting him on his choices, "but have you thought about putting the squat rack in front of this mirror?"), to working our way in to actual move day, supervising the crews that were laying down the equipment.
So after Friday's workout (one of those hi-rep/medium weight leg workouts that are just excruciating), Stasi-trainer guy and I worked our way into the decision-making process that would affect our lives for months to come.
It was pretty darn cool. I'm a "roll-up your sleeves" kind of guy anyway, so I just jumped right in and started moving weights from one room to the other (after moving 10,000 lbs of weights, I decided this counted as a second workout for the day!), making sure I was around whenever the crews were making critical decisions on equipment placement.
Bottom line....I think I've got the kind of gym I've always wanted! And I'm humble enough to say that not all my ideas were right (what's the old saying, "I thought I was wrong once....but I was wrong"), the gym manager had some interesting insights about how placing the barbell racks perpendicular to the wall would open up a lot of space, "Brilliant! You're feng shui is very powerful!"
Needless to say, Stasi-trainer guy and I were very happy. This morning though, I am pretty darn tired. Oh it's a good soreness, but hefting 45 lb plates and 100 lb dumbbells for 3 hours after a workout last night makes today a rest day!
In retrospect, as I sit here sipping my morning coffee, I'm amazed at how far I have come in 5 years. In 2007, I was a pack-a-day smoker and 30-40 lbs overweight. Today, at 53, I feel like an athlete. I can workout hard, then I can move 10,000 lbs of weights, correctly, without hurting myself, and feel good about it.
Hmmmm, maybe a reward for that is to go get me a new iPhone 5 today!
Have a great day Spark friends!
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