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Stasi guy lives on!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

So I've been at my new workout routine for about 4 weeks now. This, after about a 6-7 week break from my hardcore routine during our move from Florida to Virginia.

To recap, here's my new schedule;

Monday - Back (Deadlifts, seated rows, pull-ups, chin-ups)
Tuesday - Chest (Bench press, incline press, flyes)
Wed - Shoulders (Overhead press, lateral raises, shrugs, rear delt rows)
Thurs - Legs (Squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, thigh adductor & abductors)
Friday - Arms (Dips, triceps ext, triceps pushdown, bicep curls, hammer curls, reverse curls)

Basically, every day has one major compound lift, followed by assistance moves. Plan is to do one week with 3-5 sets of heavy weights at low reps (5-8), then the following week, de-load to 70-80% of that weight and shoot for 12-15 reps. I try to get in 15-20 minutes of fairly intense cardio each day as well (I've gravitated to the Concept 2 Rower as my preferred cardio....or I jump in and do 20 or so minutes of a spin class, then bolt for the weight room). Workout takes about an hour and a few minutes.

Today I can say I'm pretty much about where I was at the end of June when I had my last workout with Stasi guy. I'm at pretty much 90-95% of the weights we were doing on both heavy & medium days.

But today was the true with the iron....doing what I dread the most...

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I started out with about 10 minutes on the rowing machine (I am really starting to dig the Concept 2....wasn't too enthused about them before, but it gets me warmed up in no time), then made a bee-line for the squat rack.

This gym at work is pretty cool....4 squat racks.....all in front of a mirror....tons of benches, lots of plates, and plenty of bars....I've rarely ever had to wait.

I did 7 sets of squats.....4 warmups and 3 work sets....15 reps at 180 lbs....God I hate hi-rep squat days!!

But, in the midst of my angst, when all I wanted to do was to rack the bar, fall to the floor, and curl up into a ball....I imagined.....

Stasi guy! There he was, my arch nemesis, the brute of the Ukraine (or Chechnya, or Serbia, or Russia....I was never really sure of his nationality...he was a chameleon) sitting idly by, forearms on his knees, silently judging, and egging me on towards more and more pain.

So there I was, on the 7th rep of my 2d work set, with 8 more squats to do and 180 lbs on my back....and I wanted to stop....I just wanted it all to stop....the pain in my legs, the heavy breathing, the soreness in my back....all of it.

And then I heard a voice....a grating, guttural, slavic screech that grated on my every nerve;

"Vut iz ta mader? Ar u kiddink me? Juzd zeven skvotz dooday?" (What is the matter? Are you kidding me? Just seven squats today?)

So I went back to my old skills....just do one more, then do another....don't think about the next 8 squats, just the next one....get to the top, breathe, breathe again, then go back down.

My heart rate was way up there. Each set took less than 90 seconds....but in my brain, the sun had revolved once around the whole galaxy!

In the end, I keep having to remind myself that the amount of weight lifted is not the important part (although I am very much a numbers and stats guy), that the level of exertion for each workout is the most important part.....the pain is always the same.....we can do more because we just get strongrrr!

Have a great night Spark friends!

PS - old time Spark friends may have noticed that, after 3 years, I finally changed my avatar....I gave my bike away when we moved....I may have to buy a mountain bike in the future....but that's another blog!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    You should find a new trainer that will live up to your old guy's ways. Kudos for keeping it up on your own!

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HANSBRINK 9/6/2013 12:29PM

  Toward the middle of this post, some pics about leg day.

Saw the pics and they reminded me of your comments about leg day.

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WOUBBIE 9/6/2013 12:12PM

    Stasi guy - gone but certainly not forgotten.

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PROT358 9/5/2013 8:58PM

    I love that trainer's voice in your head. It must be pretty compelling, because I can tune my inner voice out and talk myself out of it! Congrats on a great workout!

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    Lust for the EFFORT!!! Amen brother! You are doing awesome. I do that same mental game.. don't think of it all.. just the next ONE!!!

So glad things are going so well...


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Day #2 new workout schedule - Chest Day!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 2 in the new job....and it's going great! It's a totally different pace than my last job. And, while I'm not necessarily "in charge" like I was in Florida, it's a whole different level of responsibility.

And I get to be pretty I logged over 10K steps! So far the job's required a lot of reading to get up to speed on the ins and outs what our division does...but I long ago kept up my college speed reading skills, so I've been able to zip through the tomes nice and quick.....and so I've had time to hit the company gym!

It's a magnificent beast! Lots of free weights, tons of cardio, tons of benches, 3 squat racks, spin classes, and a decent locker room with plenty of showers...and it's clean! So today was chest day. I was all ready to go, ducked out of the ofice and speed walked over to the gym to maximize my time there....then realized I had left my sneakers in the office!!!
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Speed walk back across the building, trot up the 5 sets of stairs, grab sneakers, down the stairs, and back across the building.....that added 25 minutes to my clock!!

Today was heavy chest day; bench press, incline press, and flyes. I had gotten in 3 sets of 4 at 225 lbs with Stasi guy last time we worked chest....but how the hell was I supposed to do this on my own without crushing my guts out if the bar fell?!?!?!

Well one thing being 53-years old does for you is to remove most any inhibitions or shyness. I eyeballed the biggest dude I saw within 10 feet who looked like he knew what he was doing and said, "Hey, can you spot me for a minute....I'm shooting for 4 reps"

"Sure, no problem!"


First set was tough....rep #4 was shakey. On the second set, I could only knock out 3. My spotter looked down at me and said, "You could have knocked out a 4th rep you had it in you"

OUCH! That hurt! "Okay, I'll shoot for 4 on the next set, thanks"

So I got in 4 on the last set....but it wasn't easy. He spotted me and provided the barest minimum of assistance as I pushed upwards with all I had on those last 2 reps.

I think he's related to Stasi guy!

Actually, I think that's the weight training culture....success is measured by effort, not by the weight on the bar. The goal of each workout is to push the muscles to fatigue and failure. The challenge is to work through the fatigue, to keep pushing till the muscle really does fail. The trick is in recognizing the not stop just because you're tired & "fatigued"

And having a spotter does help.

Hmmmm....maybe I need to find me a workout buddy. I'm kind of a lone wolf....I like doing my own thing.....but I might need to explore the idea of lifting with someone who can push me past what i can do on my own.....that's what I liked about Stasi guy....he was a sadistic bastard, but he knew my limits better than I did.

More to follow

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRIANGLE-WOMAN 8/19/2013 7:24AM

    Yeah, I can push and torment myself at the gym at time...but at others it is nice to have someone else be responsible for kicking my a$$.

Workout buddies and sadistic trainers are nice for that reason.

☆) .☆)
(☆ (.♥`..☆
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
┊┊┊ Keep Spreading the Spark

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FANGFACEKITTY 8/16/2013 7:41AM

    Nice! Next year when the new HQ opens up we will have a fitness center in the building; I can hardly wait!

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HANSBRINK 8/14/2013 12:21PM

  Actually, you're probably related to the Stasi guy too.

Nothing like having a good workout buddy to push the limits. Not exactly being complacent without one; but having one sure make me push my limits.

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PLMITCH 8/14/2013 9:58AM

    That is GREAT that your new work has a gym -- and you have gotten right into it!


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IRISHBEANERGAL 8/13/2013 11:50PM

    LOVE that you have a great gym - and people who are willing to step in.

Hope you can find a workout partner - at least for once in awhile? Or a new trainer (hopefully related to Stasi guy)


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JIACOLO 8/13/2013 9:04PM

    I do like having a workout partner to help me stay on task and not let me give up when I would normally by myself. Good luck!

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No Elevators! No Escalators! Stairs Only From Now On!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I have to admit, I much prefer having a predictable routine for working out than having to "wing it" all the time.

Our lives have been in constant churn since the end of June when we packed up our house and moved to Virginia. Today was the start of my first full week in the new job....and I love it!

It's very different than the job I had in's in a very large office building and the key to getting stuff done is to walk around a I do!

I logged 15,000 steps on my trusted Bodymedia CORE armband today. And I made a resolution; I will not use elevators or escalators while in this job.....stairs only for me people! My office is on the 5th floor, so it's totally doable. There's a gym in the basement, on the exact opposite of the building from my office, so even more opportunity for walking.

I did my new ST routine today (see blog
). I was in a little bit of a rush, so I focused exclusively on deadlifts. I did 10 sets, slowly increasing the weight till I couldn't go any higher. Then I did a quick (10 minute) Hi Intensity Interval session on a spin bike, then showered, and got back to the office in a little over an hour.

My routine still needs a lot of refining, but I think I can make it work with just a few tweaks. So far so good.

And I like having predictable meals, Being on the road these past 2 months, then being up at my mom's, I've made too many exceptions to eating clean, and so I'm up about 6 lbs. Back to packing my own lunches (salad & chicken breasts). SWMBO is glad to have the kitchen all set up in our new place too. It's nice and big...but it does get warmer when she's cooking than our place in Florida did....go figure. In any case she's whipping up some good meals for all of us....she even concocted this weird looking, yet wonderful tasting, mash of cauliflower, spinach, lemon juice, a little garlic and voila! A very cool little side dish that makes everything from chicken to pork to veggies taste incredible!

We went through 3 heads of cauliflower over the weekend!

And I'm back to tracking my food in the tracker again as well. I made the excuse that it had become tedious and superfluous while we were traveling. Tedious, maybe, superfluous, quite possibly true....but I have empirically proven, time and time again, that when I stop tracking food, I start to gain back to tracking we go!

It's nice to be back in my Spark routine!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRACEOMALLEY 8/13/2013 1:38PM

    So glad to hear from you! Sounds like you had a bit of transitional confusion that is resolving. The job sound great, your plans sound fabulous and thins appear to be movig smoothly for you. REAT! Keep up the good work!

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LJCANNON 8/13/2013 1:20PM

    emoticon I do enjoy Routine! Makes Life a bit easier, I think!
LOVE your Resolution to get in the Steps at Work!!

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HANSBRINK 8/13/2013 12:36PM

  A lot to be said about routines and being able to eat healthy!

Sounds like the ST is settling back in. Congrats.

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BEATLETOT 8/13/2013 12:28PM

    Sounds wonderful! I'm glad you're enjoying your new job! Congrats on all the walking!

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FANGFACEKITTY 8/13/2013 6:54AM

    I like routines, and rules. Or, at least I like knowing what they are so I can choose to break them. Enjoy the stairs! 5 flights is perfect,just enough to feel some work,not enough to tire out your legs.

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GREENGENES 8/13/2013 12:28AM

    Great start!

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    Welcome back to the routine of a healthy life... (sounds so much better that way, doesn't it?)

Glad you are finding your rhythm...


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WOUBBIE 8/12/2013 7:33PM

    Ah, routine! The best way to get from Point A to Point Beautiful!

Recipe, please!

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UMUCGRAD 8/12/2013 7:32PM

    Welcome back. So glad you're loving your new job.

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Getting back in the groove!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Well I've been on a good vacation workout streak. I lifted 5 days last week and did cardio every day, including Saturday. Took Sunday off, then back in for ST and a spin class today....I've got to do something to counteract Mom's home cooking!
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(Actually, SWMBO has kind of commandeered the kitchen....making lots of veggies and thinning down the starches & carbs my mom so loves to make!)

I gave my new 5-day/week lifting routine a good run last week and will get in at least 2 days this week. We go back to Virginia on Wednesday and I'll try to check out some gyms near our new house on Thurs & between the continuous unpacking process.

In the meantime, I'm refining my new routine. I focus on a different body part each day, only doing 3 sets of 3-4 lifts, then jump in to some cardio.

Since I'm on vacation, have more time, and really need to get back in to my routine, I've been doing 5 sets of each exercise, focusing on really good form as I build back up to my pre-move weights. The ST sessions have been taking about an hour, then I jump in to a spin class, or, something new to me at this gym, a Bodypump class...basically a cardio session with a light barbell...pretty cool actually

Overall though, this has been a great vacation. The weather in Boston continues to amaze me...after 3 years in the Florida panhandle, anything less than 95% humidity feels dry. It was 67 degrees when we woke up this morning and temps never passed 80....I love it!

SWMBO, #2 son, my mom and I have had a few good day trips out to Boston's North Shore, a zoo trip, and we went back to the town I grew up in (Winchester) to hang out at a few of my old really is a pleasant little town...with some awesome Italian delis, nice public parks, and it now even has a Whole Foods...where were you when I was growing up!!

Peppered in between our day trips and my gym trips, I've gotten in lot of reading on my beloved Kindle, and I've even found myself taking little power naps in the afternoons!!! After 6 weeks of frenzied moving activity, this has been a welcome break!

Now if I could just start logging all my food again....may have to wait till I get away from Mom!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRIANGLE-WOMAN 8/30/2013 8:59AM

    I am also getting back into the groove also after the summer doldrums.

Glad to I'm not the only person in the history of the world to have that problem Nice to have the kick in the pants about the tracker too. Need to get my focus back...

Thanks for...

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

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    Sounds like a great time!!!
I am sure Bodypump was a fun challenge for you:)

Gotta love those afternoon power naps!

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LISAINMS 8/6/2013 12:03PM

    Sounds like you are having a great time before you start the new job!

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    Sounds like a wonderful break, and yet you are still keeping your healthy habits involved!

Enjoy the time with family (Mom especially) and good luck with the return to Virginia!


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JONESINATOR 8/6/2013 8:06AM

    Virginia! Welcome to our grand, lovely state. We have both big box gyms and small gyms (like mine!). I hope you find your new home and area most enjoyable!

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GREENGENES 8/5/2013 10:50PM

    Sounds like a great vacation. We lived in NH for several years and I love going back to that area. Enjoy!

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    ahhhhh it sounds fabulous!! I do NOT want to lose strength while I'm vacation.. so I'll be visiting some CrossFit boxes while I'm there.. WOOT WOOT!

As for moms and food.. LORD.. it is no bueno! but ohhhhh so delicious!! Good for you that SWMBO has jumped in to help you out.. that's cool.. and cool that your mom lets her! I wnet to Highschool in Northboro a very long time ago.. love the area!


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PAMLICO-DAZE 8/5/2013 9:50PM

    Vacations and Mother's cooking can be challenging. emoticon

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The Iron Never Lies!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Well, well well.....'tis been a while since I've blogged!

Man have we had some major life changes....much too many to put into one here's a quick reader's digest of the last month;

We packed up our Florida household goods at the end of June and moved into a 2-bedroom place until I finished up work. We hit the road north on July 10, taking our time driving up I-95 to Virginia. On the way we stopped in North Carolina to spend a weekend with our older son (#1 son). He and I lifted in the gym where I promptly kicked his ass on deadlifts! (335 lbs....he got the bar 2 inches off the floor and dropped it....I got in 3 reps!)

We arrived in Virginia and took possession of our new home....SWMBO loved's 4500 ft2 on 3 floors and she has a jacuzzi tub with double sinks in a bathroom she can call her own! The packers arrived with our stuff on 18 July and they spent the next 3 days unloading, uncrating, and unboxing all our stuff....during the 3 hottest days of summer! I checked in to my new job in DC, then told them I needed a few weeks to settle in to the house and take some time off before starting up full time.

SWMBO, #2 son, and I got things as settled as we could at the new house....found all the stuff strewn across all the various rooms of the house (dining room dishes in the basement, bath towels in the living room, etc), then drove up to Boston to spend some time with my mom (she lives in Andover, a small 'burb on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border.)

Man it's beautiful up here! I grew up in Boston and love it every single time I make it back. The summer weather is incredible! SWMBO and I spent a day in Lexington and Concord and just about swooned at how pleasant it was.....70s, breezy, and dry!

We're here until Aug 7, then back to VA to finish up the house and I start work officially on 12 Aug.

On the fitness front...well my victory against #1 son has been short lived because....I must confess....

....I went 10 days without working out!!!
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New town, new job, no gym, lots to do.....blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!!!

So we get up to Boston to spend 2 weeks at my mom' Mediterranean immigrant mom, who loves nothing better than to cook for and feed people.....and I could see a looming disaster.

But thanks to the wonders of Google, Google maps, and a credit card, I found a very cool little gym JUST AROUND THE CORNER FROM HER HOUSE, and paid them $30 for a 2 week membership....unlimited visits, and unlimited classes!

So last Thursday I went in and faced the music. I did a light legs & back session that day and a light chest & shoulders on Friday. Hit a spin class on Saturday morning, then rested Sunday.

I was a little sore...and humbled. Nothing was easy....and I had to de-load about 10-20 lbs on most exercises. Then I planned out my new routine and am giving it a go this week. Stasi trainer guy and I developed a 5-day/week lifting regimen...something I can do in about 30 minutes then do some cardio as well. I think, with my new job, I'll be able to get in about an hour-long workout each day.

The new schedule will be;

Monday - Back (deadlifts, seated rows, pull-ups, chin-ups)
Tuesday - Chest (Bench press, incline press, flyes)
Wed - Shoulders (Overhead press, lateral raises, shrugs, rear delt rows)
Thurs - Legs (Squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, thigh adductor & abductors)
Friday - Arms (Dips, triceps ext, triceps pushdown, bicep curls, hammer curls, reverse curls)

Each of these ST session should take 30 minutes. After each ST session, 20-30 minutes of cardio intervals and hour!

Yesterday, I did deadlifts after a 2 week hiatus from kicking #1 son's ass....but I had to back the weight off to 315 lbs....and could only knock out 3 reps.

As Henry Rollins says, "The Iron Never Lies"

(Henry Rollins, for those of you old enough to remember, was the singer for the ultra-hardcore punk band, Black Flag, back in the 80s....he's mellowed out some now)

Yes, sometimes it feels like there is no can 2 short weeks cause such a setback....hell if I know. To kickstart my system, I did a spin class after lifting yesterday.....I was beat, but it was well worth it.

Today, we drove up to Boston's north shore (Gloucester, Salem, Rockport) for another gorgeous day watching the Atlantic, then I did the chest routine....and walked into a "Bodypump" class.

Bodypump was pretty's basically an aerobics class with barbells. I kept the weight low just in case (40 lbs) and was glad I did. We worked out the entire body in 45 minutes, moving the weights in all sorts of directions doing pretty much every lift I have planned for the whole week!

But it's helping me survive vacation here at my mom's.....physically and mentally. SWMBO gets up every morning at 5:00 AM and goes for a nice long walk.....and we keep each other from snacking on the myriad of crap my mom keeps pushing on us ("have another biscotti....they're so delicious!")

We go back to VA on Aug goal is to get in 1000+ fitness minutes for our time here and 500 fitness minutes for those first 6 days of Aug!

It's good to be back Spark friends....have a great night!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 8/1/2013 12:43PM

    Good deal on that gym! Looking forward to heading out Boston way mid-Sept. for a self-supported cycling tour out to Provincetown and back. Hello Cape Cod! :-)


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HEALTHIERKEN 8/1/2013 12:07PM

    ". . . ....I went 10 days without working out!!! "
Man-oh-man-oh-man, did I need to read this today! Gave me a whole new jolt of determination. I, too, have been off the Spark wagon for too long--longer than 10 days, I confess. But hey, if GETSTRONGRRR can slip for a bit, it's ok for a mere mortal such as I to do the same : )
My organized New Start Date will be August 4. I'll explain the significance in a blog later today.
Long and short of it: thanks, GETSTRONGRRR, for giving me that extra shot of determination by being vulnerable like me : )

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LJCANNON 8/1/2013 10:42AM

    emoticon Resisting your Mom's Treats is NOT An Option so it is GREAT that you found a near by Gym and you have a Live-In Accountability Partner!! I love hearing about your Workouts - Even though I am EXHAUSTED afterwards, LOL!! I am NOT Surprised that you OutLifted your Son!!
emoticon The new place sounds Great, here's hoping The Cat adjusts Quickly!

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    Is it wrong that I love it when you kick one of your boys - or for that matter any boys - @$$?? Cuz I like it! A lot. Glad you're back!!

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    Well, you know what they say...use it or lose it. Apparently it applies to more than just vacation time. Although I have never understood how people can choose not to take all their available vacation time each year. The French have a much more civilized attitude about vacations than Americans...they take them and there is rarely any working during them - no calls, no e-mails. Anyway, I digress.

Kudos for out lifting #1 son! It's a good thing to show the young whippersnappers we can still take them down if needed. In my case it is literally, when we were still in training together last year I got to spar with my kids. They don't like to admit it but I still beat just like Bill Cosby said...I brought you into this world, I can take you out. emoticon

Glad the move went well. How are SWMBO and #2 son (and the cat) adjusting to the new digs and everything?

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    Good to hear you are surviving! And I know you wouldn't be out of the gym for long emoticon

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WOUBBIE 7/31/2013 4:07PM

    Missed you! I break a sweat just READING your blogs!

Working out and missing workouts reminds me of something Vladimir Horowitz said about practicing piano: "If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it."

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CHEEKYGEEK 7/31/2013 3:47PM

    VA is gorgeous! And has real seasons! So jealous. LOL Glad the move went well, and offering my admiration for finding a gym while on vacation. Way to go!

Best wishes on the new job and house!

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LISAINMS 7/31/2013 3:21PM

    Ten WHOLE days?!? LOL. Enjoy your visit. Sounds like you have everything under control.

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HANSBRINK 7/31/2013 2:23PM

  Congrats on the move and getting settled (somewhat) in the new house.

Keep us posted on your workouts. I'm interested in knowing when you feel you're back to your pre-move workouts. GIANTMICROBE mentions coming back refreshed after a long break and being better/stronger. That has never happened to me and it takes me about 2 to 3 weeks to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes I feel like I'm just a wuss.


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RACEWELLWON 7/31/2013 10:02AM

    Congrats on your Move , Good luck in your New Home and position . Love the Boston Area used to live in Marblehead , I miss it - looks like you'll have great stories and new adventures to Blog about cannot wait to hear . LiL Racer emoticon

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GIANTMICROBE 7/31/2013 7:49AM

    Muscles are kinda like brains. You can lose things quickly, but RElearning is always much faster than learning. You will get back on track in no time- and who knows- maybe be even better. I was away from CrossFit for a week and when I came back, upped weights, added inches to my box jumps, could run faster, and even went up a band in pullups. All I'm saying is sometimes a long rest can be good, even if at first it doesn't feel that way.

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PMRUNNER 7/31/2013 5:56AM

    While you have been moving north, we were moving south (MA to NY). Transition was rough on my fitness, eating, and waistline, but now that we are resettled, we are re-establishing a proper routine. Hope you find a good gym in VA!

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CONFIDENTLY_FIT 7/31/2013 5:02AM

    Enjoy the time with your mom and the gym your are visiting! Your new routine will be here before you know it:)
Safe travels to you and your family!

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IRISHBEANERGAL 7/30/2013 11:05PM

    You've had a whirl wind of a summer!

yeah, it sucks when you take a break - you lose so much so quickly - BUT - you can get it back just as quickly because it's just muscles relearning, not the original LEARNING...

Congrats on kickin' your son's @ss... bet that felt good (insert evil laughter here)

Well done- and welcome back!


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REBECCATKD 7/30/2013 10:30PM

    Welcome back! You're so resourceful, making sure to find a gym for your vacation. Ten days without a workout must be a record for you, but don't forget all the stairs you climbed while moving into the new house.

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JSTETSER 7/30/2013 9:02PM

    Busy, busy...

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    I was wondering when you and your family would be arriving in VA.
I am amazed at how fast you are returning to your hard-core workouts, after your busy move.
Enjoy your vacation and visit with your mother. How does son #2 feel about starting in a new school?
I have a son and d-i-l working in DC, but living in MD. Unfortunately, I have to travel across country to visit them. My last trip was in May.
Good luck to you and your family. May you get settled soon. Wishing you the best in your new job.

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