Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Alright, so I didn't make my planned gym time today.....I got sucked into the vortex at work and didn't get home till almost 8:00 PM. As I get ready to change jobs and we get ready to move to Virginia, this could become more frequent.
But I have a back-up plan....flexibility!
One thing I don't do enough of is stretching. I do pretty good for a week or 2, then let it slide.
This past weekend, my shoulders ached something fierce from a good ST session Friday night. I did my standard cardio Saturday thinking this would shake it off. I was still sore into Sunday.
Finally, before going to bed, I got out many of my various stretching assistance tools and took about 20-30 minutes of moving my spine & shoulders to work out the kinks.
I slept like a baby that night!
My current favorites are the so-called "Miracle Balls"
I laid down with one centered on my spine, right between the shoulder blades, and pushed my shoulders down to the ground. Then I rotated my arms above my head in slow circles and just felt every tendon and muscle in the shoulder joint just loosen up and lengthen.
Did I mention I slept like a baby that night!
So, if I can't get in any cardio or, God forbid, can't make an ST session, I'll use my time to stretch and lengthen everything out. That's the plan for tonight as soon as I post this blog.
On another front, I am becoming increasingly intrigued (SWMBO says it's more like I'm becoming obsessed) with kettlebells. I got into a big debate with my East German, ex-Stasi agent trainer last night on how I like the idea developing power (as opposed to just strength) by moving heavy weights fast. I asked him to get me up to speed on doing some power cleans.
He must have had some traumatic experience as a young Communist Party apparatchik. He kept telling me to steer clear of doing cleans, snatches, and jerks. "Deese vill only hurch you (These will only hurt you)". I told him how I enjoyed doing kettlebell swings and he gave a grudging acknowledgement that they might be OK....probably because they're a Soviet invention and he likely had to kowtow to the local Russian Commissar back in his village east of the Rhine.
So as I lay out my plans for a home gym in our new house, I find myself researching how to do all sorts of cool new exercises, from kettlebell swings to Turkish get-ups....hopefully without damaging the floors or walls in our new place!
Have a great night spark friends....I'm off to stretch!
Friday, May 31, 2013
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my proposed solution to a nagging problem I have had for years....late night snacking. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I tend to get up at night and snack on my arch-nemesis.....Peanut Butter.
Even though I've evolved from Jif & Peter Pan to Smucker's all-natural, even going so far as to substitute Almond Butter, it still bugs me to log in an extra 300-400 calories every day due to 3-4 spoonfuls of nut butter washed down with a nice cold glass of milk.
So around the beginning of May, I concocted a whey protein shake mixed up with water and a spoonful of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder.
I shake it all up in my trusty blender bottle....
....and stick it in the fridge after dinner. A few hours later, it is an ice cold, chocolaty milk-shake tasting treat that has about 130 calories, 25 gms of protein, 6 gms of carbs, and no fat!
So far it has been working like a champ! It tastes pretty darn good, I feel nicely full, and I get some high quality, valuable protein.
On top of that, my weight has been a rock steady 182 lbs for about 3 months now, but I've leaned up some this last month, and I think it's due to this dietary change. Since I lift a lot, I haven't noticed much weight change, but I've been losing inches & gaining muscle in areas I like
Wednesday night I went to a dinner event on the other side of town. Dress was Florida casual/Hawaiian shirts. I broke out a shirt and some khakis I hadn't worn in a while. I comfortably cinched my belt in an extra notch, and SWMBO noted how much more vascular my arms had gotten.
I'll take a Non-Scale Victory any day!
Wednesday was also a heavy leg day in the gym....just the kind of thing I needed before going out for dinner. On the menu at the gym were heavy squats & heavy deadlifts....
....and on the menu at dinner was the most excellent BBQ beef brisket I have had in a long time!
So I like this new found late-night snack substitute. I use what's called Cassein Whey Protein which is slower absorbing. This helps at night time since it's a long term source of protein instead of regular whey protein which your body either uses or flushes right out.
In other news, our lives are about to get real busy. This is likely the last calm weekend we have until the end of July. We're getting ready to pack up our house and move to Virginia. I have movers scheduled to pack us up on the 27th of June. Before that, we're going to "thin out" all our belongings.....getting rid of clothes we haven't worn in years, books I read long ago and don't intend to read again, dishes we never use, etc. It should be cathartic, but it could also be traumatic for SWMBO and #2 son!
On top of that, the next 3 weekends are full of inviting various friends over for good-bye dinners....and oh by the way, I'll be working my ass off till the day we actually drive north.
In the meantime, I fully intend to keep working out with my Stasi trainer and get into some awesome shape before he and I have our last session around the 4th of July!
Have a great night spark friends!
Sunday, May 26, 2013
So I don't consider myself a gym snob at all.....au contraire, I have the greatest respect for people of all abilities in the gym. Anyone that's out there working out hard is a winner in my book.
Let's just say I'm somewhat conservative in my views on what is appropriate in the gym. If I ever give a sideways glance, it's to the posturing he-man who does bicep curls in the squat rack, or to the gaggle of high school kids who talk and text while occupying the bench press....and for the longest time, those legions of Crossfitters who do weird things like medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings in the weight room.
But for some inexplicable reason, when my 20-something front office assistant asked me if I'd like to try a Crossfit workout with him last Thursday (he's been bugging me about this for months), I blurted out a quick "Sure!"
Don't ask me why I said yes; I still don't know. I told him that I'd hang with any exercise they threw my way except for plyometrics....I don't jump.
So bright and early Thursday AM we go into this ratty old warehouse they call "The Box" and I'm the oldest dude there by about 25 years....all good, I just looked around and sized everybody up ready to kick some a$$!
The Workout of the Day (The "WOD") was Tabatas.....hi-intensity drills of 20 sec all out effort, followed by 10 sec rest....repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, then on to the next exercise.
The exercises were;
- Kettlebell Swings - choose your own weight
- Russian Twists with a medicine ball
- Push-ups, except you release your hands at the bottom (weirdos!)
- Platform Jump-ups (I did step-ups....I'm pretty strict on doing only low impact stuff)
We were to do 4 minute Tabata's on each of these, then end with a Plank Challenge....we all gather around in a circle and hold a plank until there's just one person left holding it!
So as luck would have it, I started out with the Kettlebell swings. I have never done Kettlebell swings. I have always thought those who do Kettlebell swings were a bunch of fad-following fitness weirdos. I grabbed a 35 lb Kettlebell ("Ooohh, you grabbed a Pood for your first Kettlebell swing! Good luck!" exclaimed the chippy little 19-year old college girl to my right.....I just smiled and nodded like I knew what she was talking about)
I've done Tabata intervals before on a number of exercises....spin bike, rowing machines, overhead presses. Done right, you're supposed to go all out (a 9 to 10 on your Rate of Perceived Exertion - RPE). I went hard, but since this was my first time doing it, I focused on form, but wasn't quite sure what good form looked like. I noticed some folks hefting the kettlebell over their heads, some only chest high, some were squatting down way low, others were just bending at the waist thrusting the kettlebell far behind them, so I just did my own thing working up a good sweat.
And man did I work up a good sweat! This was hard work....I liked it!
Round and round we went, hitting each of the stations. Like any group event, once I'm in it, I'm all in. I cheer folks on, I get loud, I let out Victory yells when the strain kicks in.....I'm a motivator at heart!
Then we formed up in a circle for the plank challenge. I heard a couple of groans all around me. That's when I knew I had them....planks are my secret weapon.....I get in to my Ninja Zone and I can go on forever.
20-something instructor gal yells out "You should be able to hold this for a minute, if you can do 1 minute 15, then you're in good shape!" More groans.
Give me a freaking break! I'll go 2 minutes before I even start wondering about the time!
So there's 12 of us in the circle....I hear yelps of pain on either side of me....a few grunts then bodies crashing hard on the floor.
"90 seconds, how are we doing?" I hear from instructor gal. I look up....there's 4 of us left!
I smile and go back into Ninja mode. At 2 minutes I hear a loud "AARRRRGGHH" in front of me....3 of us left. Then, not 5 seconds later, I hear a "WHUMP" and another falls to the ground. Only two of us left now
At 2 minutes 10 sec, it's just me and 20-something instructor gal. My front office assistant looks over at me sheepishly, "Jeez boss you think you can hold out with your bum leg?"
"F* you dude, I've got paper clips and rubber bands holding this old body of mine together, but I'm thinking I've got 3 minutes in me.....how about you instructor girl, can you make it to 3?"
She's sweating big time, but gives me a nod
"OK, then let's go, hold on!" I let out a victory cry, "let's hold on for 3...somebody give us a countdown every 5 seconds!"
I let out my Braveheart yell and tell her to do the same.....she does and we alternate Belly Yells every few seconds till we get the 3 minute call.....then we both collapse to the ground.
Not too bad.....but I still think they're a bunch of weirdos....nonetheless, I felt good and I'm intrigued
Friday night I start researching Kettlebell Swings.....it figures they were invented in Soviet Russia.....I wonder if my Stasi trainer guy has a few stuffed in the back of his closet, along with a hammer and a sickle!
Done right, they appear to be pretty darn good ways to develop power through the hips & glutes, and can be a pretty effective aerobic workout. I looked up a couple of respectable videos on Youtube to get the form right and learned that the purpose is to drive with your hips, not to lift with arms & shoulders....interesting.
So I worked them in to my routine today. I did some intervals on the bike to get warmed up, then grabbed a 35 lb "Pood", set the timer on my workout app and did 10 sets of 30 second intervals. (Of course, I did these in the Aerobic Room and not in the Weight Room like those people who annoy me so much do!)
WOW! 3 hours later, I am still feeling it! I think these have some promise! It's a whole different kind of workout, using weights for speed and power, plus I felt an incredible stretch in my hamstrings the more I did....and I definitely need more stretching.
Here's a link to how it's supposed to be done:
I finished up with 6 rounds of Farmer's Carries using 55 lb dumbells! These are also one of my favorites. In the last 2 months of doing these, I can tell my grip and forearm strength has improved dramatically!
So the moral is, regardless of how weird you might think someone or something is in the workout world, it's always worth it to try something new.....you might just find something you actually enjoy!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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!
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