Sunday, May 19, 2013
Well my whirl wind house-hunting trip to Virginia is over. I think I covered over 1000 miles in 4 days criss-crossing the area looking for something decent. I found us a real nice house in a great neighborhood....and with enough spare room in the basement where I just might be able to build me a home gym.....it'll depend on a bunch of different factors when we get there....good gyms in the community, near work, etc. For now, it's still a possibility!
We really like that part of the country (Northern VA, near DC). My brother lives up there and so it'll be nice to be near him for a while. He just turned 50 and he's got 2 girls ages 7 and 3....so his life is all about Disney princess movies, iCarly, and Scooby Doo!
I also had a chance to see some other friends that worked there....and that's what bummed me out.
I planned a dinner with a a good colleague of mine, a guy I've worked with on and off in different parts of our business these past 25 years. We started out together and our career paths have intersected many times. He was in DC on business, so we made arrangements to meet and grab some chow. I had already been driving like crazy, so I told him I'd pick him up at his hotel. He said great, I'll be waiting for you out front.
I braved the late afternoon DC traffic and pulled up by his hotel right at 6:00 o'clock on the dot, looked around, but couldn't spot him. Then I hear someone call my name, turn around...and there's a fat old guy walking towards me.
What the hell! He was always a thin, 32 inch waist kind of guy. Now he had a jiggly paunch protruding out over his belt and waddled as he walked! We gave eachother a quick man hug and he looks over, smiling, "Dude, look at you! You're all fit and trim! Look at me, I got fat!"
"Yeah, what the hell!??! What, are you doing the beer and potatoes diet or something?"
"Mostly beer," he says, smiling. "How'd you lose your gut?"
"I stopped eating sh*t and started working out!"
"Yeah, I can tell....I haven't gone running in over a year" (He used to rack up 20-30 miles a week)
"How's that been working out for you?"
Well we're good enough friends that we can give each other a hard time and move on.....but I gotta tell you, I'm still in shock. It's nice to have someone you know well tell you that you're looking fit and trim (we haven't seen each other in about 3 years, back when I was somewhat "paunchy" myself), but I didn't expect there to be a total role reversal here.
Another reminder that we can take nothing for granted....that it's all too easy, especially as we get older, to fall in to bad habits that can quickly take their toll on us....much quicker than the time it takes to recover, drop the weight and effects of poor nutrition and exercise.
I've always liked the story of how Roman Generals were reminded of the impermanence of success.
"For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. But a slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: All glory is fleeting."
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
Have a great day Spark friends - take nothing for granted!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Man what a day! I drove about 200 miles all over northern Virginia looking at all sorts of houses. It really is amazing to see the differences between what people advertise and what their homes really look like...even when they post pictures!
But I've got a couple of good prospects and a bunch more to see Thursday & Friday, so I'm pretty sure I'll have a lease signed before flying back home on Saturday.
It really is a nice part of the country though! There's tons of civilization! The Florida Emerald Coast is beautiful, with white, sugary sand and emerald green water....but beyond that, it's a little sleepy.
Three blocks from my hotel is a Wegman's grocery....it makes Whole Foods look like K-Mart!
I went there for lunch AND dinner in between house hunting. It was amazing! First of all it was great to have a whole bunch of nice fresh salad fixins, to include roasted broccoli (it was seriously amazing!), a nice pico de gallo to put on the salad with some olive oil (who needs dressing!), and a hot bar with some choice selections of tandoori chicken, masala tilapia (say that 3 times fast!), and assorted other ethnic cuisines....double yum!
So I was glad I could at least eat right on the road.
The hotel I'm staying at has the standard cruddy fitness center with a squeaky elliptical and a geriatric stair-climber. Luckily they also have an arrangement with a gym half a mile down the road for free visits, so I went there early in the morning for some cardio, then went back around 8:00 PM to lift.
It was packed both times! I am used to my gym thinning out around 6:00 PM, hence my surprise (remember what I said about it being sleepy hollow in Florida though). Apparently, with civilization comes over-population as well.
I figured since we're moving, I might as well see how I can lift heavy on my own without Stasi the trainer guy. It actually went pretty well. Once I got to the heavy sets, I knew enough to eye-ball the few who knew what they were doing and asked them to spot me so I wouldn't crush myself doing bench presses...it's always awkward to be the new guy at the gym who has the bar fall on him during his first visit!
It all went well. I didn't set any records, but I basically repeated my last few heavy workouts within a rep or 2 each set. But man it seemed like there were people stacked left and right waiting for squat racks & benches.
Which makes me wonder if I just need to find a house with a large basement or a large open area so I can finally build my own home gym.....hmmmm, this could be a good move after all!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Well once again, today was a high rep leg day....this is where I squat about 70% of my max weight for 15 reps, then deadlift about 80% of my max weight for 15 reps. These are the days that try men's souls. The summer gym rat and the sunshine lifter will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their bodies; but they that stand by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
The only reason I so poorly paraphrase Thomas Paine is that today, I worked out with my trainer. Yes, those of you who follow my travails with this East German Stasi agent, should know that today he decided to work in with me. That in and of itself deserves a re-reading of our Revolutionary War documents!
Note, he didn't ask if he could work in with me....he declared, in the way that only a Communist peasant can declare to a landowner that the family farm now belongs to the state.
"Today, I vill verk in vit you" (Today, I will work in with you)
"What is this the gym equivalent of a Proletariat Revolution? This is America you Commie bastard. I'm paying YOU to train ME!"
"I vill also do legs today" (I will also do legs today)....he gave me that stubborn Eastern European look (he could be Russian, Ukrainian, or any number of ethnic blends) that signified he'd just wait me out till I came around to doing it his way.
"OK, you're on dude....3 sets of 15 reps, mano-a-mano. And don't start talking any Bolshevik in between sets!"
So off we went. I slapped 185 lbs on the bar for squats and counted, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.....then repeated. The only way I get through these is to just think of doing 3 sets of 5. By the time I was done, my heart rate was up to 90% of max.
I won't even say what Stasi-boy put on the bar, but it was impressive. As were his squats....deep, knees BELOW parallel, slow and controlled. I hate him.
Then I went again. Second set tougher than the first, but 15 solid squats later, I was done.
Stasi boy got under the bar....and eked his out as well....but I detected a slight vibrato in his voice at the end of the set....he was feeling the pain.
YES, finally, a chink in the armor. Screw you and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat....I'm squatting for Democracy, Truth, Justice, and the American Way!
I slapped that bar on my back and squatted for all we hold dear people! Quotes by Thomas Paine floated in my head, "....the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value!"
Fifteen long squats later, I got out from under the bar, looked into his Slavic eyes and thought, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country. but just smiled and said, "All yours, Comrade!"
He worked his Teutonic butt off for that last set....it didn't come easy....even he was heaving by the end of it. Did I feel sympathy, did I feel any remorse, regret, compassion?
Not even a flicker!
"Let's go Tovarich, deadlifts next!"
I pulled 255 lbs, 15 times for those 3 sets. My heart rate was up, my breathing was up, I was sweating like a race horse....but for me, this was the final showdown, this was Rocky 4 all over again, no way in hell was I going to not get that bar up every time! In your face Mother Russia!
Have I mentioned, I'm a little competitive?
So it was quite possibly the best hi-rep day I have had in a very, very long time. Not only did I knock out major PRs on squats and deadlifts, but I actually felt nice and strong doing them. There might be hell to pay tomorrow on my legs as I sit in a plane for hours on end, but that's the price we pay for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Many of you know about the ruthless ex-Stasi agent I call my personal trainer (although he could be Russian Spetsnaz, Croatian Ustachi, or a Chechen Rebel.... he's basically a Communist, a chameleon...he is evil, he has no soul....but he is a damn good trainer....I hate him, but we work out together 3x/week no matter what!)
Well today was my favorite of all our lift days....heavy legs! We do it about every 10-12 days, because I need that much time in between to recover. I focus on the complex moves...squats and deadlifts, then add in some assistance exercises like leg extensions and hamstring curls. Then I work on back by doing pullups (overhand grip on the bar), chinups (underhand grip on the bar), rows, etc.
I went on a business trip last week and only did cardio and some basic ST with some cruddy dumbbells in the hotel gym. Anyway, my excuse for today is that I got out of my rhythm of lifting for a few days.
So today we started off with squats and I got in 4 sets of 4 at 260 lbs, feeling pretty good, but I had to work for it. Trainer guy gave me an assist on the 4th squat of sets 3 & 4. Nonetheless, it was a PR, but we'll stay there for a few weeks until I can smoothly get 4 sets of 5.
Then I tackled the deadlift, determined to get 4 sets of 5....but I only got 3 sets of 4 and once again really worked for them. But I also had my first failure.
On my second set, I pulled the bar off the ground about 2 inches....then dropped it right back on the floor.
My first deadlift failure! What to do!
Trainer guy looks up me with this sh*t-eating grin, "Yor furst vailure!" (Your first failure!)
"What, are you happy I failed you miserable Commie?"
"Ve all doo eet...dis is just yor furst" (We all do it....this is just your first)
Or did he say worst?
Then he comes at me with, "Dry again (Try again). Vit so much vate (with so much weight), only tink about da vurst pool (only think about the first pull). Get eet oaf da grount, (get it off the ground), don't tink about da tird or vort reps (don't think about the 3rd or 4th reps)"
"Or we can lighten da load some?"
What, did I hear him right, did he say "we can lighten the load some"....who the hell are you and what did you do with my trainer.
I look him in the eye, "What, so all of a sudden you're Maximus the Merciful....I suppose if you lighten it up, I'll just have to do 10-15 reps right?"
"Uv gors!" (Of course!)
So I went back, got my mind straight, thought about nothing but lifting that bar off the ground just one time.....and up it went, smooth and by the numbers. I did a second rep....wobbled through a third rep....pulled with everything I had for a 4th....then set the bar down.
A third set was a repeat of the second, 4 reps and back on the ground went the bar.
But I felt good....yeah, I had my first failure...and it was humbling....but it wasn't the end...it was more a mental battle than a physical battle...it took getting mind and body to work together, taking nothing for granted.
In the end, did I feel like Gladiator?
Hmmm....actually a lot more like Braveheart!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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!
Get An Email Alert Each Time GETSTRONGRRR Posts