Sunday, March 31, 2013
So I freely admit, I enjoy working out. It wasn't always so, but it is today. I enjoy both cardio and strength training. I like pushing my limits on both, whether it means getting my heart rate up doing interval training for cardio, or adding more weight on the bar for squats, deadlifts, presses etc.....I even (though not as enthusiastically) like combining the two, lifting mid-level weights for lots of reps in a short amount of time.
But there is a part of my fitness life where I have to admit to being a total slacker.
Yes, I'm not afraid to admit that I slack...it's the truth and there's no use hiding it....I'm a slacker.
I don't like stretching.
Actually, I kind of do like stretching....more like I enjoy the feeling after stretching.
You see, while working out, I enjoy the exertion, whether it's breathing hard as I peak during interval training, or pushing with all my might against the force of gravity with a heavy weight on my back....I'm OK with that.
But sitting on the floor, reaching for my ankles, trying to pull my back & hamstrings into extension is....not fun.
Maybe it's just that beginner's mentality thing....everything is hard when first starting out. And I've gone through bouts where I stretch regularly for a few days....then slack right back off.
I've even got all sorts of gadgets to make it easier and more fun. I do admit to liking this nifty little roller from Trigger Point;
It's an evil little device (as are most foam rollers) but I have to admit, when I'm done rolling it over my back, hams, quads, you name it, I feel like I've had a high end sports massage.
I also like it's evil side-kick, the Trigger Point Massage Ball. This little thing beats the pants off of tennis balls for finding those little spots in between the muscles; it forces them to separate and release. He hurts like a 'mo, but I can't deny his effectiveness.
I've found these little bad boys to be quite less painful, but they took a lot of getting used to....mainly because they weren't so painful (Why do I always go back to thinking that stretching has to be painful?)
They're kind of cool (SWMBO likes them too)...they just don't work fast. You basically relax into them as you place one or both on your lower back and gently press and relax into it. As you do so, you're supposed to breathe into it and let your lower back stretch, while keeping your abs somewhat tight. Not bad....I just have to get my Type A personality to accept them.
The last tool I have is a Stretch-Out Strap;
It looks dangerous, but it actually works pretty well for a not-so-loose guy like me, allowing me to hook hands & feet at various tension levels and just relax into them.
A few years ago, SWMBO and I went to a couples yoga class....while it was a pretty good date night event, it was an unmitigated disaster for me....it was worse than being the kid who couldn't climb the rope.....I was the kid that couldn't hold the downward facing dog pose
Needless to say, what started this blog entry today was coming back home from an hour of cardio and 30 minutes of farmer's carries (see my blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5298569 ) and noticing I felt a little tight.
So after feasting on our Easter Ham (I make one hell of a good ham!), I got out a few of these torture devices and proceeded to stop, drop, and roll many of the various kinks out.
And, of course, I liked it....when I was done.
I make no promises....but maybe....just maybe....I'll find a way to work in this third leg of the fitness triad; cardio, strength,.....and flexibility!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Well today SWMBO and I threw #2 son's birthday party. We invited about 20 of his good pals to a bowling alley where we rented a couple of lanes and fed them pizza, cake, and soda for 3 hours....man am I glad that's over!
Last week was #2 son's actual birthday, but he had a Special Olympics event to go to so we held the party today. He's a special needs boy and we had a good mix of boys and girls from the specials class from both school and church in attendance. They all had a blast! SWMBO and I know pretty well how to deal with most of the kids that have more serious handicaps and/or emotional needs and we helped them along as best we could, making sure they partook and felt included. They're a great bunch of kids that do some pretty incredible things, struggling but never giving up. SWMBO is fond of saying that watching them makes you want to both sing with joy and cry in sorrow.
Hell I felt so motivated I even had pizza and soda with them!
But to gear up for this event, I needed to get to the gym early and knock out some serious cardio intervals....and to try out a new exercise that has intrigued me for a few weeks now....Farmer's Carries!
I hit the bike hard for about 45 minutes, doing some pretty hardcore intervals that got me up to 90-95% of my max heart rate a few times, bringing it down to a more sustainable 70-80% in between. I had a chance to try out a new playlist and that really helped, especially with the peaks.
Then I grabbed a pair of 50 lb dumbbells.....and walked.....and walked.....and walked.
I gotta tell you, it was pretty energizing! It's quite a different thing to just hold on tight to some mildly heavy weights and walk. I felt it right where I wanted to....right in my forearms....pretty much everything below the elbow....I felt like Popeye after a can of spinach
And that is exactly why I wanted to do them. I think it's a very functional exercise, learning to walk and maneuver while carrying some heavy weights (I did a circular loop in and out of the weight room down the connecting hallway). By the third set, my forearms were radiating fire, so I re-racked the weights and went to my car.
Then #1 son called. He's our 25 year old who lives in North Carolina.....and a true gym rat. I gave him the blow-by-blow of my workout and then he asked, "Sounds good dad....did you leave it all at the gym?"
"Yeah, I had a good workout, I feel pretty good"
"I know dad.....but did you leave it all in the gym or did you have any left in you?"
I'm thinking, "who the hell raised this little son-of-a-bitch" but I knew the answer so I just answered, "I might have another rep or 2 in me, so what?"
"If you're still in the gym, you should leave it all there"
At this point, I've already walked out the door, my car is 20 yards in front of me....but the front door is 5 yards behind me.
"Seriously, you're challenging me? You're playing the guilt card on me? This from the kid who routinely complained about being too tired to take out the trash or empty the dishwasher?"
"You're call dad, I know I left it all at the gym today"
"OK, you're on! Don't forget to call your brother at the party today or I'll take these Popeye forearms of mine and crush you like an empty soda can"
"That's cute dad, considering I did my warm-ups today with your max effort!"
Children truly are a blessing!
So I went back. This time I picked up a pair of 55 lb dumbbells, cranked up the volume on my new favorite motivational song (Nickelback - "If Today Was Your Last Day")....and walked until I had absolutely nothing left and the weights were slipping through my jelly-like fingers.
Needless to say, I truly sucked at bowling....even the kiddie weight balls were tough on my grip. But my horrendous bowling brought squeals of delight to all the kids, so I didn't really care!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
So I'm very pleased to report that rest days have their payoff (see my last blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I felt totally refreshed and raring to go for a heavy legs ST session last night. I freely admit, these are tough days where I push my max loads for squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc. doing anywhere from 5-10 reps depending on the specific exercise. Luckily I only do these heavy days about every 2 weeks to build in enough time to recover.
Well yesterday I rocked the house! I felt nice and rested with 2 days totally off from working out over the weekend. I set PRs on squats (4 sets of 6 with 240 lbs) and deadlifts (3 sets of 5 with 305 lbs) my absolute favorite lifts.
But man was I sore today! I slept like a rock for almost 9 straight hours and must confess, I was a little slow this morning (I run our staff meetings on Tuesday mornings.....I was uncharacteristically quiet!)
By lunchtime, I knew I needed to do something, so I ducked out for a Spin Class, quite possibly my smartest call of the day. Curvalicious instructor gal worked us hard!
When I got back to the office I was in noticeably better spirits and not nearly as stiff.
This week I'm going to focus pretty closely on diet. I've been stuck in the low 180s for a while. I have no idea what my goal weight should be, but something tells me I'm within 10 lbs of it.....I'd like to stay between 170-175. So I'm going to pay a little closer attention to calories. Since going low carb, I've not worried much about total calories, just trying to keep carbs below 50 gms/day. It's worked great, but I think I'm up for a change.
So I'm going to track and maintain within my ranges for a while and see what happens.
On a totally unrelated note, someone at work mentioned (with quite disturbing glee) their utter joy at the following news release;
"Twinkies are Back!"
So the North Koreans are bonkers with nukes, Syria is imploding, our federal budget is on par with Cyprus, yet the resurrection of Twinkies as a food source is grabbing the headlines.
Must be the same folks that came up with the 90-day "Think About It" exercise weight loss challenge
Try to have a good night Spark friends!
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!
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