Tuesday, May 07, 2013
So I had an EXCELLENT spin class this afternoon. They're usually always pretty good...curvilicious instructor gal puts together a great routine, with awesome music, a good mix of hill climbs and flats, and the energy in the room is always high.
As many of you know, I'm a bit of a geek about getting instrumented up with Heart Rate Monitors, GPS, Bodymedia Armbands, etc. I like to collect up the data and see how my workouts compare, see how I'm progressing in both ST and cardio. One thing I've seen a trend on is that my spin workouts are much more intense in a group setting than when I spin or ride my bike alone.
Here's my HR during a 50 minute spin session I did on my own last weekend;
Here it is during a 50 minute spin session from today with curvilicious instructor gal;
It's about a 10-20% improvement by being in a group setting. I can get a bit competitive, so probably push harder and keep a more sustained level of intensity in a group session, whereas on my own I see that I ease up more in between intervals. The interesting part from the charts is how my pulse rate starts going down immediately.....within a minute or 2 it plummets down from 90% of max to 50-60%....I guess that's a good sign of cardiovascular health.
On another front, it looks like we'll be moving further north this summer. I got a job up in the north part of Virginia. We lived there many years ago and enjoyed it, and this is a good professional opportunity. I'm flying up there next week to do some house-hunting, and hopefully can sign a lease or find something worth buying.
It's going to be hard to give up this backyard view of the Santa Rosa Sound every day though!
But you know what's even cooler than all that!?!?! I think I finally found the ultimate late night snack....Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder! Work with me on this one people....
So I admit to having a certain weakness for late night snacking. It's pretty much been peanut butter....and a glass of cold milk. I don't go too overboard with it....but it's annoying and can add 300-400 calories as well as a few dozen grams of carbs to my daily total. I've been trying to find a way to temper this habit.
Enter whey protein!
I lift a lot and so I make a whey protein shake or 2 during the day to increase my protein intake....it's a good filler between lunch and dinner as well as a good post workout supplement. The taste though is nothing to brag about.
Enter the Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder!
Take a look at the nutrition label;
Am I missing something here or is this stuff almost biologically inert?!?!?
So for the past few days, I've been mixing a scoop of whey protein powder (24 gms protein, 5 gms carbs, 130 calories) with 1 tablespoon of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder shaking it all up and chilling it in the fridge. By late evening, it is icy cold and is better than having a chocolate milk shake for dessert!
Am I crazy here?!?!?! Can there really be a free lunch here? Can I actually have something healthy that tastes freaking awesome?!?!? I don't know, but I'm going to keep experimenting with it to see. Maybe this weekend I'll see if I can get a spoonful of this stuff dissolved in just water to see what it tastes like (it does take a while to dissolve, hence I make it early in the evening and shake it up when I remember)
Anyway, that's my latest obsession....have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, April 29, 2013
So I've been pretty good at eating clean for almost a year now. Every now and then, I'll make an exception and have some cakes, cookies, & ice cream, because, well hey, I'm not a Monk!
One of the great things I've noticed since eating clean and not partaking in junk carbs especially, is how my appetite has stabilized....I pretty much eat only when I'm hungry and stop eating when I'm not hungry....what a concept.
I also know that with certain foods (for me it's carbs) I don't stop eating them...even when I "feel" full. When I eat veggies & proteins, something kicks in to my brain that says, "Stop, you're full"
But when I start eating bread (fresh, hot out of the oven bread, with some butter melting into all the crevices....Ahhhhh heaven), or brownies (worse than potato chips, can't eat just one!), or soft, chewy cookies, generously overflowing with chocolate chips (big hunks of dark chocolate), well I'm all in.
So I do best by just saying "NO"....and it's usually been pretty easy, especially once I got over the daily overload I had been so used to for years.
Today, my secretary, a wonderful woman, worth her weight in gold, who saves my bacon on a daily basis, brings in a batch of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies...soft baked cookies with a mini peanut butter cup baked right into them....still warm in their Tupperware container.
Apparently today was the last day of a 20-something front office intern/assistant and so she thought it would be nice to bring in some snacks....4 big fat Tupperware containers filled with these evil cookies.
Throughout the year, I've survived her Christmas holiday baking (chocolate peppermint snaps, Heath bar crunch brownies, chocolate almond brittle), her Thanksgiving desserts (Pecan Pie and Red Velvet Cakes), even her occasional "I just felt like baking this weekend" Monday surprise....each time I would just walk to the coffee bar, fill my mug with Joe, give a disapproving glance at her latest offering of baked goods, and walk back into my office chiding her for once again giving in to her evil desires to bake, bake, bake, and bake!
So I don't know why today, of all these times of just saying no, I just said, "sure, what the hell", grabbed 2 and chomped them down....then grabbed 2 more and took them back to my office....then 10 minutes later, on the pretense of sending a report back to her for corrections, I grabbed 2 more.
I was hooked...I am hooked....I'm a junkie and I know it....I'm not like normal people, I can't have just one and be done with it....carbs breed the desire for more carbs in my brain and in my body.
Thankfully I broke the cycle by breaking open my lunch bag and eating the grilled chicken breasts SWMBO made this weekend. (OK, so later in the afternoon I had 2 more of the peanut butter cup beasts.....the last two I must say and that put an end to the frenzy.) Finally, I drank my protein shake, then went to the gym to lift (heavy chest & shoulders today....I needed that after the extra 800 calories of frenzied snacking)
As always, it's a good reminder for me...I know my triggers, I know my habits, I know that the best path for me is to not cross the bridge that has dragons on the other side....I only get burned when I do!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Friday, April 26, 2013
"The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds." - Henry Rollins
So in keeping with my "Embrace the suck - fear no workout" attitude adjustment, I made a concerted effort to go into the gym this afternoon, knowing that Stasi trainer guy had some evil, evil plans to push it up a notch today. I'll admit, fleeting thoughts and excuses came into my brain late in the afternoon, especially when a mild crisis erupted around 4:00 PM (why don't crises at work erupt on Tuesday mornings....they ALWAYS seem to happen late on Friday). But we got it worked out and I was able to make my appointed time in the squat rack.
The Squat Rack...the Iron Tower of Justice....the metal cage where you come face to face with yourself....and iron plates that do not lie....if you've prepared and you are ready for them, they'll go up and down....if you're not ready, they'll tell you so and patiently stay in place, waiting for you next time.
But today went well....it went very well, with some very smooth squats that went real deep and a straight up and down motion with no wavering. 4 sets of 5 at 255 lbs....5 more lbs than my last heavy day 2 weeks ago and the last set was almost.....almost to failure
(Note, this obviously isn't me, but she exemplifies a good squat!)
Deadlifts were much the same....hard, but smooth, with good form that didn't break and didn't waiver. Another PR over last session, but instead of additional weight I did an extra set....4 sets of 5 at 315 lbs....progress is not always measured with additional weights (so says this East German Communist I call a trainer)
(Again, this is not me....but man, it's a goal to shoot for!)
All of these took a good 45 minutes, but it was time well spent....I'm not hardcore about timing the seconds between sets....I'm hardcore about doing them right and improving every session. We spent the remaining time on smaller muscle groups and support movements.
But it was my going in mental attitude that made all of that happen....progress is slow....my gains and increases are slow and incremental, real progress is measured in weeks not days....every session is hard....so knowing that going in, makes it a little easier to mentally prepare and push
Because the truth is, you're ready or you're not...the Iron Never Lies!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, April 22, 2013
So I had an interesting day today....actually my life is a string of interesting days, but today had some more than usual interesting points.
I had the opportunity to speak to a crowd of 60 to 70 up and coming 20-something professionals about leadership development, job prospects, managerial expectations, getting ahead, yadda-yadda-yadda. I can be somewhat motivating and get asked to do this on occasion and I enjoy it.
I usually talk for about 10-15 minutes, then take their questions about anything and everything that's on their minds. When there's a lull, I start asking them questions, and, just like any good law professor, start grilling them on their answers.
Today, just for the hell of it, I asked, "Who here thinks they're in the best shape of their life?" Maybe 5-7 hands went up, 2-3 of them were pretty tentative.
I held my hand up and told them I'm 53.
Then I went hunting.
"So those of you who didn't raise your hands, you're telling me you've peaked? Are you telling me that your best days were in college or maybe even high school?"
A few uncomfortable chuckles.
"Who thinks they're going to get in shape in the next 6 months?" A few hands. "How about in the next year" A bunch more hands.
"OK, that's promising.....How many of you think you're going to get less busy as you move up the corporate ladder?"
Everyone looked at their shoes.
"Who here is married, or thinking about getting married? Who has kids, or is going to have kids?" A few hands....some of the same ones who said they'd be getting in better shape this next year.
"So if I understand this right, you've been too busy these last few years to stay in shape, WHILE YOU'RE IN YOUR 20s" I shouted, "and, since you're in this leadership class, you expect to be moving up in responsibilities, and by the way, you're about to start families, but you figure you're OK putting off getting in shape till next year some time, because then there will be more time"
"I think you guys need to start hitting the gym tomorrow!"
"I don't think many of you are likely to get there 'next year sometime'. I think you may want to, but if you keep putting it off till next year, you may just find yourself 10-20 years from now, reasonably successful, but in fairly poor health. Unless you start now, it'll just get tougher and tougher, you'll get busier and busier with work, with life, and then......"
So I told them my story (you can read it on my SP page if you're not one of my SP buds; smoker, overweight, non-runner, turned into non-smoking marathon-man, then morphed into trim and strong adult-onset weight-lifting fanatic) and said that I can honestly say I feel in the best shape of my life, and I'm 10 times busier than any of them....but today I make the time to workout and treat it as importantly as any other meeting I go to and need to do it so that I can be a strong husband, father, and employee.....in that order"
I was one of them for a long time, working my ass off 60-80 hours a week to do well, but the wear and tear on my body, eating a diet of crappy food to "get some energy" during the day got me 30-40 lbs heavier, with a waist size 5-6 inches bigger than I have now, and no stamina for even climbing a flight of stairs or running after a bus.....yet, that was OK, because I was "successful"
I didn't want to go through life thinking that the healthiest time in my life was in my 20s.....and I didn't want these 20-something kids (Yeah, their kids dammit!) to go through the rest of their lives thinking they peaked in high school....and that it was just downhill from there.
Th rest of my day was a little less interesting....tons of meeting, had to get an estimate to get my car fixed ($2,000 freaking dollars!!! But I love this car!), and my always dreaded hi-rep leg day.
After talking smack like that I couldn't bag out of leg day. I got myself motivated for 3 sets of 15 reps of squats at 185 lbs (5 more lbs than last time....woohoo!) and 3 sets 15 reps of deadlifts at 250 lbs (another 5 lb increase!) and all I could think of was, "Why the hell did I say all that scheisse to those kids....now I can't quit no matter how much this hurts!"
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Well, for anyone who read my blog yesterday, you know that SWMBO and I did our part for God and Country by spending an un-Godly amount of money on cakes and desserts at a charity auction Friday night.
The monetary amount, however, was nothing compared to the physical toll that an overload of carbs (mostly sugar, but there were plenty of other culprits to spread the blame on to) took on my brain, my body, and yes....my very soul!
I think I am just beginning to come out of the haze....it really is an amazing revelation. It's taken 2 days of clean eating (meat, plants, and water...nothing processed...everything brought along the perimeter of the grocery store...nothing from the aisles!) and 2 hard workouts to where I can finally sit here and say, "OK, I feel normal now"
Last summer (2012) I made a conscious decision to start eating "clean"....cutting out most all processed food (anything with more than 3 ingredients on the label) and ditching most of the worthless carbs (sugar, pastas, breads, white potatoes, rice, etc).
I've never felt better!
My irrational food cravings have diminished to almost zero (there's still peanut butter!), my belly flattened out within months, and I feel in control of my diet like never before.
Oh, I've had some moments, but I planned for them; Pecan Pie at Thanksgiving, Key Lime Pie and Banana Bread at XMAS....but for whatever reason, Friday night's foray into Bacon Stout Chocolate Cheesecake and Italian Cream Cheese Cake land threw me a into a foggy loop.
I sweated off a bunch of it yesterday, but it wasn't until after today's HIIT session (and an exquisite round of Farmer's Carries....man I'm really digging those!) that the fog lifted....I feel clear of mind once again.
I've been eating tons of salads (spinach with either chicken or shrimp, some ginger dressing, & olive oil), eggs, and tonight we just sauteed up a bunch of napa cabbage, mini sweet-peppers, a little pork tenderloin, and cracked pepper.
I can only speak for myself on the effects of sugar overload and carbs in general, but I also slept like a rock these last 2 nights. Now some of that can be from the ST workouts, but SWMBO tells me I was out like a light and snoring enough to draw in a Zombie herd!
All this of course makes me wonder how I must have functioned in the past, when it was common for me to eat 200-300 gms/carbs a day. Hell I used to consciously "Carbo-load" when I trained for marathons, thinking nothing of having bowl upon bowl of rice or pasta....I was just going to burn it all of running right?
I'm fond of saying, "You can't work off a bad diet", but that is new thinking to me....as is "clean eating". It makes intuitive sense now, but for a long time, I believed I could just exercise more and lose weight.
It's a good reminder...food matters....it matters a lot, especially the right kinds of foods. I feel better and clearer headed today, but it took about 48 hours to feel "normal" again after indulging, and I'll admit, there was a lot of indulging going on, in cakes, sugars, carbs, and junk!
Back to eating clean!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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