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White, Sandy Beaches.....sore shoulders....and leg presses!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

So this was an interesting week.

I took Thursday & Friday off. Thursday, since #2 son is out of school already, we went out to Gulf Islands National Park and had a photographer friend shoot some family photos. They're getting developed now, but here's what this area I call my backyard looks like;

It really is a national treasure. If you've never been to the Florida Panhandle before, put it down on your bucket list

Friday, I took my car to the shop to get the brakes fixed, tires rotated, etc. Lo and behold, they needed to keep it overnight, so I got a lift back home and tackled the never-ending chore of getting rid of crap.

I went through 2 closets and my man-cave, getting rid of junk. Old college notebooks (I graduated in 1981), photocopied articles I knew I'd never get around to reading ("The New Technology of Compact Discs" from Scientific American, 1982), consolidated tons of wires & cables spread out over multiple backpacks (Gentlemen, how many of us DON'T have a stash of assorted coaxial cables, telephone wires, USB connectors, extension cords, audio jacks, etc. all jammed into a bag or box somewhere). Today, after picking up my car (and very likely taking #2 son and his girlfriend to see Man of Steel), I'll tackle....the clothes closets.

Yes, it might just be time to chuck out some old clothes, both those that are now too big (I'm down to wearing size 33 & 34 jeans.....yeah baby!), as well as getting rid of those old clothes that may now fit....but look too cheesy (seriously, I've had a pair of size 34 green corduroys in my closet for about 25 that I can wear them, I don't want to!)

The upshot of not having my car yesterday, meant that I had to get my ass over to the gym on my own (SWMBO needed her car to take #2 son to work). It's about 2 miles from my house to the gym, so I decided to the 90 degree, 95% humidity Florida heat.

The good news is that I found my old Camelback backpack in one of the closets, filled it up with 100 oz of cold water, plugged in some good walking tunes and out I went. Thirty sweaty minutes later I got to the gym all warmed up and ready for medium weight/hi rep legs & back day.

For a little over a week now, my right shoulder has been aching like crazy. Not sure how it happened, but it's caused me to modify some exercises....even squats. Holding the bar on my back puts the shoulder in just the right position to tweak it badly.

So Stasi guy says, "Den vee vill do leg prezzez (then we will do leg presses)"

Hmmm, I didn't like NOT doing squats, but they weren't happening yesterday. But leg You might as well have asked me to sign up for a Zumba class

But I got on there....and let me tell was a whole different range of motion from squats

"You vill notiz it more in your beck und buttox (You will notice it more in your back and buttocks)", grinned Stasi guy. "It iz different, no? You leck flegsibility (you figure out what he said)"

In the end I kind of liked them. I certainly feel it today, so it must have activated a whole set of muscles I hadn't fully engaged before....and it was an excellent stretching maneuver too.....360 lbs pushing against your legs has to stretch out something.

Luckily, my shoulder didn't affect my deadlifts. I got in 2 sets of 15 and one set of 12 at 265 lbs....exhausting, but no shoulder pain.

Afterwards, I donned my Camelback, plugged in the tunes, and walked the 2 miles back home, feeling totally energized and surprisingly loose (even my shoulder....but I still popped a couple of Motrin when I got home)

Hope you're all having a great day.....and happy Father's day for everyone tomorrow!

Have a great day Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 6/19/2013 8:01AM

    I have a box full of cables, man!
But got rid of the journal already! :-)

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CONFIDENTLY_FIT 6/17/2013 12:24PM

    Love the family photo idea!

Sounds like a fab workout:) KUDDOS on walking to the gym in the heat!

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DDOORN 6/17/2013 9:51AM

    Beautiful beach territory! I fondly remember spending a lot of time during my childhood on the shores of Lake Michigan with similar terrain.


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BILL60 6/17/2013 7:18AM

    Way to go!!

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 6/17/2013 6:34AM

    'nother great blog!

Smiled a whole bunch at the green corduroys! Yes, my DH has several boxes of assorted cables and various tech bric brac that I furrow my brow at occasionally as I pass it them the basement.

Love the subtitles.

Have a great day and keep ...

)) -::-
. .))
((. .. Spreading the Spark!-::-
-::- ((.

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STRONG_SARAH 6/16/2013 1:31AM

    Beautiful! And good for you trying something new, leg press machine sounds good!

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SKINNYINMYHEAD 6/15/2013 11:36PM

    Soooo beautiful... lucky you!... and as usual, you crack me up... green corduroys (snicker)... nice job on not using the "No ride" as an excuse not to workout.. interesting that's not something you struggle with - excuses that is... cool...

Good luck on the purging!

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PROT0530 6/15/2013 10:51PM

  First off, those pictures are so beautiful! I'm not even much of a beach person, but that is now on the bucket list!

I love your trainer! And I will vouch that zumba and dance works the legs differently ... and it would make great cross-training. If you don't want to commit to a class and risk being one of the only dudes, you could get the same benefits (minus the class energy) from a zumba DVD or video game. Or I've noticed JustDance for wii is very similar. And if you don't own any of those, there are a lot of JustDance or zumba videos available on YouTube. It's a lot of fun!

Have a great weekend, and happy Father's Day!

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DOUGDC 6/15/2013 10:33PM

    Great day, and Great back yard!

Happy Father's Day!

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BERGBA7 6/15/2013 4:55PM

    Wohoo... 4 miles of walking through the hear and a good training at the gym! Congrats. oh yes... Florida wonderfull
emoticon emoticon

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WOUBBIE 6/15/2013 1:45PM

    I'm smiling the whole time I'm reading this! From the green corduroys (why do we keep these things?!?!) to the muscles you have just been introduced to (oh hai, transversus abdominis, nice to meet you). Make sure you send Stasi boy a thank you from all of us who have enjoyed vicariously his training sessions with you!

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BILLETWIFE 6/15/2013 1:33PM

    While your Zumba pictures were the highlight, I want to get some completely not health related info from you.

We are coming to your area for a vacation in August........we will be in Gulf Shores with two kids and my in-laws. Are you willing to give tips what to do and what we just can't miss??


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SUNSHINE99999 6/15/2013 12:26PM

  very nice. My wife and I are enjoying some sandy beaches this week as we start day 2 of our vacation. Enjoy! emoticon

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Frenzy time is about to start.....and a PR in the gym!

Monday, June 10, 2013

So life is picking up speed these days. We're in the 30 day window where we're getting ready to pack up our home and move to Virginia. The current plan is to start packing up the house on Jun 28, 29, & 30, put it all on a truck on July 1st, then we leave here about July 10 to start driving north.

Between now and then, I've got a ton to do at work, to include a trip out to Las Vegas on Jun 23d to finish up things with my current boss.

This weekend, we invited some close friends over for a Garden Party/dinner. We had a blast. SWMBO and I went a little crazy. We tried to keep things low-carb, so we had nuts & cheese, along with mozzarella & roma tomatoes drizzled with olive oil for appetizers, baked grouper with an avocado/jalapeno topping, brussel sprouts sauteed with mushrooms and zucchinis for dinner, followed by our island favorite dessert, pineapple sorbet in a frozen pineapple seed;

What we forgot about was that all our friends brought food gifts as well. One couple brought a huge homemade blueberry cake, another brought some key lime pie, and the third couple brought cheesecake....I forgot we live in the deep south!

So I said to hell with it for a penny, in for a was too good a day to worry about a few extra grams of carbs!

I didn't feel too much the worse for wear today....and maybe the carbo-loading did me good, because I had a friggin' awesome day doing heavy legs and back tonight.

Unfortunately, all the squat racks were taken (my timing sucked today...we have 3 racks and each one was occupied by a pair of 20-somethings who just started), so Stasi boy says, "Ve'll just zdart out vit beck (We'll just start out with back)"

Well I wasn't too shot in the ass about that. I had been gearing up mentally to do some heavy lifting with legs, but OK, there wasn't really a good alternative.

Surprisingly, back went very well. I normally do pullups, chinups, seated rows, pullovers, etc after legs, when I'm usually pretty well spent. Doing them first while I was fresh felt nice....I wasn't struggling and cursing....but it did occur to me that doing legs after this would come at a cost.

"Ve'll zee...don't tink aboud dem now (We'll see, don't think about them now)" counseled my ever enigmatic communist trainer.

So going into squats, I spent a lot of time building up to 265 lbs. I start out with just the bar (45 lbs) for 10 reps, then go to 95 lbs for 10, then 135 for 10....185 for 10....225 for 6....then 265...for 5 reps. It wasn't too comfortable, but I knocked out 3 sets of 5 at 265. Got a little help on reps 4 & 5 of the last 2 sets, but that's why Stasi boy is there.

Then we went to the deadlifts. We were scheduled to go up on these....325 lbs.

"Vocus on dat virst pull...get eet off the grount....tink about getting tree reps efter det (Focus on that first pull...get it off the ground....think about getting three reps after that)"

"Ent keep your butt beck! (And keep your butt back!)"

Apparently, my butt comes a little forward, moving my center of gravity too far in front of me. His cue was to think of falling backwards when pulling the bar.

I gave him the hairy eyeball, "I really, really don't want to fall backward pulling this bar off the ground....too many people know me in this gym....I have a reputation to uphold"

He assured me that in the history of the world, that no one has ever fallen backwards from pulling on a deadlift.

Yeah and Karl Marx promised a worker's paradise after the Proletarian Revolution overthrew the landed gentry!

But I got my mind tight, focused everything on that first hard pull....and imagined sitting back on my butt as I pulled those 325 lbs off the ground.

And up they came! Four times in quick succession....but #4 was a little dicey, so I set the bar back down after 4 pulls.

Second and third sets were a little rougher....and the 4th pull on the 3rd set was about as ugly a deadlift as has ever been seen in the sport, so down the bar went after that.

But I actually got a fist bump from Stasi boy afterwards!

Maybe it was the carbo loading from Sunday.....maybe it was the mental prep and cueing ("keep your butt beck!")....or maybe I'm just getting stronger a little bit at a time....either way, I'll take it!

I'm going to take Thursday & Friday off to get some stuff organized around the house, getting both cars oil changed up, brakes checked, etc, and making sure all our valuables and documents are separated to take with us and not packed away, AND also sorting through things that we'll need as soon as we show up in Virginia before the moving truck gets there. Then we've got some other friends coming over the weekend after father's day, and oodles more before July 10th.

I intend to keep working out till the day we hit the road and Sparking as much as I can in between.....they're the only 2 things that keep me grounded in between all the frenzy!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 6/13/2013 3:29PM

    Exercise and SP - also two anchors for me!

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DDOORN 6/11/2013 8:09PM

    Moving is SUCH a challenge!

You are sounding more than up for it!


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HANSBRINK 6/11/2013 11:35AM

  Awesome! Both the story about the Garden Party/dinner and the story about the workout.
Hope you can duplicate the workout results in your next gym session.

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BILL60 6/11/2013 8:57AM

    I don't envy what you will be going through during the next 30 or so days. the best to you and your family.

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GIANTMICROBE 6/11/2013 7:41AM

    I love your trainer :)

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BERGBA7 6/11/2013 2:22AM

    Congrats on the new Record!
emoticon emoticon
What does the deep south in the US have to do with pies and food? I am intrigued...
Keep on exercising and enjoy your friends you might not see them for a while after moving!I know you can balance everything. You are the organization lion! Keep zen.

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    Sounds like quite a plan you have there! CONGRATS on the PR too!

Maybe Stasi has a recommendation for a trainer where you are headed?

Keep up the great work!


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WOUBBIE 6/10/2013 11:32PM

    Bet you're really gonna miss your commie buddy, no?

In honor of your move I've decided to keep de-cluttering, pretending that we're packing up and heading out! Gives me a great perspective on what to keep and what to get rid of!

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DOUGDC 6/10/2013 11:27PM

    Good moves. Easy to picture your session with the communist. Hope your move here to VA goes smoothly.

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PROT358 6/10/2013 11:19PM

    Oh, I am going to miss your Stasi trainer! We just moved last year, and it was a big haul. A big case of "too much stuff"! I wish the both of you well ... I am sure the next few weeks will be pretty stressful.

P.S. That fancy dessert in the picture looks delicious!

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SKINNYINMYHEAD 6/10/2013 11:12PM

    That is awesome!!

I also love that you said screw it and indulged... Life is too short not to have dessert on occasions! LOL.. and although this stuff we do for health is important.. balance is important too.. so good on you!


I will so miss your Stasi stories when you move.. .


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    There is something to be said about carb loading- it's produced amazing legs for me for my races!

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Flexibility's the key!

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 6/10/2013 1:18PM

    Stretching does a body good! :-)


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AUNTWILLIE 6/8/2013 11:00PM

    Wow! I'd forgotten about Miracle balls. I used to have some... have no idea where they've run off to. As I recall, they really worked!
Thanks for the reminder.

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BERGBA7 6/7/2013 2:50PM

    nice to read you are doing well and enjoying discovering new things!
Find time for your health and stay strong this month!

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PLMITCH 6/5/2013 9:48PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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LISAINMS 6/5/2013 4:55PM

    Flexibility is not my strength! And I have lost flexibility since I started cycling. My hamstrings are tighter. Going to yoga tonight.

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HANSBRINK 6/5/2013 12:17PM

  I've talked with other guys about developing power. Their caution is always to find a qualified trainer. Too easy to get hurt while working with someone who is "winging it."

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BILL60 6/5/2013 9:14AM

    One of these days I'm going to try the "Kettles".

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BEECHNUT13 6/5/2013 8:00AM

    Power is something I lack - I don't move fast. But I'll get there sooner.

When I see people doing crossfit, I wonder: why the hell are they doing deadlifts so fast? If they can move that quickly, there isn't enough weight on the bar! ;)

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FANGFACEKITTY 6/5/2013 12:27AM

    Stretching is always hard - I have little patience for it and I keep flashing back to how my leg seemed more flexible than normal during the warm-ups/stretches at the beginning of the class the day my ACL snapped like a dried out rubber band - but I have made it a daily goal recently and have been sticking to it for a few weeks now. Although my retro 90s running book warns against becoming "too flexible" because that is not good for runners.

Of course the book also says muscle weighs more than fat and we should wear sunglasses for the sole reason of preventing wrinkles so I suspect I won't be following its advice.

Kettlebellsdo sound intriguing. Although I would probably start by dropping it first on my foot and then chucking it through a wall. As long as squats or lunges or jumping are not involved I may give this a look.

How did Stasi guy take the news that you are defecting? Tougher work outs than normal in revenge ?

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DOUGDC 6/5/2013 12:00AM

    My flexibility is pretty limited, and I'm having some strange back, hip, leg pain that comes and goes. Have not figured out what makes it better or worse, but I've been prescribed some stretching routines that might help. Will have to give them a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

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    ohh.. I LOVE Turkish Get-ups. Trainer #8 turned me on to them. Haven't done them for awhile, either. Guessing I will need to get back into them. Would be fun :)

Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my kettle bells. I'm currently working on the *big* one - 24kg (about 52#). I can do the two armed swing with it, but not quite the one arm - YET!

I do, however, do goblet squats with the 24kg kettle bell. I also do one-arm power presses with the 16kg one.. I like the shape of kettle bells - they are easier for me to handle.

Keep up the good work!


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GOODGETNBETR 6/4/2013 11:17PM

    Thanks for the insights. Stretching is something I definitely need to do more of. Good luck with the new job and move.

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    I loooooove kettlebells.. here's my suggestion.. when you get settled in Virginia ... look up an RKC instructor in your area ( that's what I did.. there was one about an hour and a half from my house... I told him I wanted to be able to safely do kettlebells in my home... I ended up doing one lesson and then went back about a month later for a "check up".. it was totally worth it!!

As for the olympic lifting... so far so good.. and I adore it!

Nice backup for your flexibility plan!

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    The flexibility will help in all the other areas as well. Good filler activity!

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My new favorite night time snack!

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.

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HANSBRINK 6/4/2013 12:04PM

  Bet you'll miss The Stasi Trainer!

I've got to learn to be like HAKAPES, keep 1-2 things out of a 100. A tough decision for me about the 98 things to let go.

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HAKAPES 6/4/2013 2:46AM

    I love the term "thin out"! :-) I moved 13 times in the past ten years, and I notice that my "stuff" gets more and more lean and used. I still have too much books that I haven't touched for long, but I can't let go, but lots of other things got really out. Old clothes, gadgets, lots of paper got scanned, etc. Of course, there were some stuff that over time I regretted to let go of, but it's only 1-2 thing out of a 100, and I enjoy much more the free place of the 98 stuff that left my space, vs. the discomfort of the 2 missing.

Good for the night time snack!

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DDOORN 6/2/2013 12:33PM

    Oh man, I just GOTTA leave the peanut butter of my trigger foods I just keep far, far!


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    AWESOME!!!!! Keep the streak going!!!

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WOUBBIE 6/1/2013 11:29AM

    Good luck with your moving plans! FlyLady would approve. She always suggests that you never move anything that you don't Need or Love.

Pictures soon? Preferably of you after one of your leg sessions, standing next to your Stasi trainer.


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BILL60 6/1/2013 9:02AM

    Don't envy the move. In 27 years, I moved 22 times. Also, don't envy the move to Virginia. The quality of life is just not very good. Nonetheless, I wish you the best.

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GIANTMICROBE 6/1/2013 8:04AM

    The Star Trek picture made me LOL. I might have to save that :)

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BERGBA7 6/1/2013 2:48AM

    Wohoo!! Congrats on establishing a new habit! You will need it once it gets really stressful. I do not like to move and get really emotional throwing out old stuff.... I guess, I am in your lady's corner... ugh. But it is good to let go of old things and start new once... it also helps in loosing weight! Make good plans for the busy times (as you told me) and your good habits will take you through the stressful time.
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    Yes- there is no excuse to let your workouts slide at this point in time- lots of time to go until the move! What a great plan for your evening snacking- and it's great because it works for you!

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PLMITCH 5/31/2013 10:51PM


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GRANDMABABA 5/31/2013 10:24PM

    Have a great move. While killing myself getting our house ready to sell the great by-product was increased strength and endurance. Best wishes for great success.

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SKINNYINMYHEAD 5/31/2013 10:00PM

    Well that is just a BRILLIANT solution to a frustrating problem! Just brilliant.. and still satisfying!

Okay.. so I'm figuring SWMBO is your wife.. but what does it stand for??

I bet Stasi is gonna miss you.. and I sure don't envy you EXCEPT I do love to clean out everything... I don't know why I wait until I move.. but I do..


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GYPSYROVER 5/31/2013 10:00PM

    emoticon Appreciate the tips! emoticon

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REBECCATKD 5/31/2013 9:59PM

    I might have to try your protein shake/dessert. Sounds like a decadent way to end an evening.

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DOUGDC 5/31/2013 9:54PM

    Sounds like a plan. I hope you enjoy Northern Virginia.

Maybe submit the protein shake as a Spark Recipe?

You're doing great. A lot on your plate and realistic plans.

Take care.

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JO88BAKO 5/31/2013 9:54PM

    That sounds really good and a great idea! Do you mix it with milk? Is the whey powder from a health food store? I've gotten some at Walmart before. Thanks for the info. I would like to try it.

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REALRADIANT1 5/31/2013 9:52PM

    Great blog. Love all the photos!

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RENATA144 5/31/2013 9:52PM

  Your nutrition plan looks like fun ! You have made healthy choices. emoticon emoticon

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Hmmm....I just might like Kettlebells....Crossfit too? Who knows!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So I don't consider myself a gym snob at 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 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 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 might just find something you actually enjoy!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOVELEMON1 5/30/2013 1:12PM

    Thanks for posting on my blog. Thought I'd post back. Enjoyed the tale about your workout. I have my own version of kettle bells... It's called "doing laundry in the basement"! :) The real kettlebells are fun for a change though. Been trying to get DH to try it.

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BEECHNUT13 5/30/2013 6:24AM

    That's a fantastic story. Seriously, you should write a column for fitness magazines. You have the best workout stories.

Oh yea! Wow... a THREE minute plank. That's impressive! I think NROL goes up to a 2 minute plank. If I can do 3 minutes, I had best be rewarded with a whittled middle. ;)

As for guys doing curls in the squat rack - WTF is that!? Or when they do shoulder shrugs. We only have ONE squat rack, and then a Smith machine (nooooooo!!!).

Yesterday I tried - for the first time - single-leg Romanian deadlifts. All the deadlifting progress I made before, and TODAY I am feeling it in my hamstrings. Running gave me an unfair hamstring advantage, even though I hadn't done it in like, months and months. Tomorrow I do regular Romanian deadlifts, with the barbell. I'll be interested to see how it goes.

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RACEWELLWON 5/28/2013 11:51AM

    Great Blog !! I have never tried the Kettle Balls - I have thought about , now that I see this blog I will try - For the older I get it seems harder to work the upper extremities and core- But must be done . So like yourself why am I afraid to try something new ?? Love you description of the circle - Rock on - Brave Heart !! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    I have two kettlebell workout DVD's and it's a GREAT workout! Not sure about Crossfit, though. Good for you for trying something new. :)

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HAKAPES 5/27/2013 3:00PM

    I see these kettle bells as so popular in the States. I've never seen them in Europe until recently. I like your experimenting-try-something-new attitude!

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BERGBA7 5/27/2013 1:11PM

    Great you tried something new! I like the idea of your trainer hiding kettle bells secretly in his closet... It is a weapon to stop burglars too (lol)
Enjoy the new toy and keep pushing!
emoticon emoticon

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HANSBRINK 5/27/2013 11:38AM

  Read this last night. This morning when I did my workout I thought I'd like to see how long I could hold my plank. When I start something challenging I gear up mentally by repeating your "Leave it all in the gym" mantra. I lasted for about 2:15 minutes. A guess as I was counting. My "one mississippi, two mississippi" might have gotten to be like Tina Turner when she sings the last part of Proud Mary. Next time I'll be closer to the clock.

Thanks for the post.

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CONFIDENTLY_FIT 5/27/2013 7:25AM

When's your next class??

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PMRUNNER 5/27/2013 5:34AM

    Sounds fun!

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    I tried kettlebells twice, and I'm totally game to try em again- just have to fit them into my schedule! I pick form over quantity any day (says the chick who's hurt her back once too often). I would, however, love to try a crossfit class one day :)

Plyometrics are great! Good cardio there, for sure. Not for those with weak knees or ankles, for sure.

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HAWAIIANMAMMA 5/27/2013 1:20AM

    Oh this is totally my preferred training program! Glad you had some fun!

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    I am *SO* excited that you worked out with the weirdos!!! I love reading your blogs and laughed out loud several times during this one.. cuz, as you know, I'm a CrossFitter.. but I've never done CrossFit in a regular gym. I think you would TOTALLY fit in a "box".. cuz you've got that competitive thing going AND the cheerleader thing.. a great combination.. I find my box to be the kindest people.. don't get me wrong, they kick my po-po and there is NO slacking.. but they are also so encouraging to a beginner like me.. and I admit.. I "drank the coolaid". I just finished reading a very interesting book about CrossFit called "Inside the Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym and Rebuilt my Body" by TJ Murphy. It's a quick enjoyable read.

And guess what?

Kettlebells are my favorite! I usually swing a pood.. but have been building up to a pood and a half (about 53lbs) cuz that's RX for females and it's the ONE thing I feel strong at.. I love the snap of the hips and the feeling of power! Plus it makes my heart rate skyrocket.. well, skyrocket for me.. As for box jumps, I do step ups (one rupture achilles in my lifetime is enough thanks.).. and the pushups I do from my knees WITH the hand release.. LOL.. weirdos.. you so kill me..

As for your yelling.. would you mind filming or recording that?/ cuz I NEEEEED to hear it!

Congrats on showing them how planks are really done! SWEET... if I am EVER in your neck of the woods, I am soooooo meeting you at the local box because I have got to see you in action.. good thing laughing is a great ab workout!

Oh! And this weekend at my box we're doing a "hero" workout called Murph.. Hero WODs are named after servicemen or first responders (firemen/policemen) who died in the line of duty.. they're notriously HARD.. and every year on Memorial Day we do Murph.

Murph was a Navy Seal who died in Afghanistan who did a particular workout before missions... it's a 1 mile run, 300 squats, 200 pushups, 100 pullups and another 1 mile run.. uhhhh with a weight vest on.. yeah.. I'm doing a scaled version called "sMurphette" which is basically 1/4 of the workout.. but it will still be hard for me.

I hope you go back to CrossFit... I honestly think you'd really like it..


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DOUGDC 5/26/2013 7:53PM

    Man, you could almost encourage me to get into that kind of exercise. Was just reading about Tabata and am looking for a way to insert some of that into my other routines. Great that you were both the newbie and a leader, and for holding up the "50+ Male" reputation!



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WOUBBIE 5/26/2013 7:10PM

    LOL! Good to hear that you enjoyed it. I hear it's not for everyone.

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FLDEEZ 5/26/2013 6:05PM

    I don't even DREAM of doing CrossFit, but I know people who do ;) Thanks for a great and fun write-up on something I find so intimidating!

P.S. Great job!

Comment edited on: 5/26/2013 6:06:06 PM

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