Monday, January 06, 2014
Well it isn't often that I get my A$$ kicked at the gym, but today....
.....I had my A$$ handed to me at the gym!!
It was all because of a guy named Jacob.
It sure as hell didn't look like my much when I first spied it with my little eye. During the XMAS/New Year's break, my gym did a little re-organizing and apparently, Santa dropped this little beast off to help us prepare for Christmas Yet to Come.
I've been wanting to shake up my cardio a bit, I've been feeling a little stagnant on the Concept 2 Rower and the Spin Bikes (don't get me wrong, these are great cardio, I just needed a little variety and the elliptical wasn't hacking it either)
I looked it up and down and read the directions. Apparently you have to strap on a belt thingy that pulls on a tension line as you mount this animal. The tension determines how fast it moves underneath you.
So far, so good.
I think to myself, "Self, how hard can this be? Crouch on this ladder-thingy and start walking on hands and feet as it travels underneath you. Maybe it'll help loosen up my back too!"
I checked all the settings, the tension in the belt, gave it a pedal or 2 to make sure I understood how to distribute my weight (the cardio room was filled to the brim with about 60 New Year's Resolution dieters....the last thing I wanted to do was to have to do a double gaynor dismount in front of the whole crowd
Up I went, and.....
HOLY COW!!! Feel the burn!!!
After 90 seconds, my heart rate was up over 80%!!
I basically started doing intervals after that; 90 seconds on, 30 seconds off. I did this about 5 times and I was done!
All I wanted to do was to warm up to do my Overhead Presses today....sheesh!!
Well I gotta tell you, I'm hooked now! After torching my shoulders with Overhead Presses (I started month 5 of my 5/3/1 plan....it's a great Strength Training program), I decided to get in some more cardio to end today's workout.
All I could eke out were 3 more 90-second cycles on Mr. Jacob and I was done!
So I don't know if your gym has these or not....but if they do, you just have to try it out. In addition to getting in some Hi Intensity Cardio, I liked how the crawling movement works out your WHOLE BODY.....I felt nice and loose all over when it was done (not to mention quite thankful).
Looks like Jacob and I are going to have a very fun 2014!!! Check out these Youtube videos....I don't feel nearly so bad about my time after watching them;
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Sooooo.....what have I been up to since my last blog on 2 Nov 2013?
Sort of busy, sort of goofing off, working out, settling in to the new house, settling in to the new job, getting ready for the holidays, yadda-yadda-yadda.
I've also gained some weight....about 15 lbs. I can't tell if that's good or bad though.
Here's the deal....since we left Florida and moved to Northern Virginia, I've increased my weight training goals and workouts. (See my 2 blogs;
I'm working out 5-6 days a week, mixing up strength training with cardio. I've gotten much stronger, so I know a lot of the gain has been muscle. And tons of folks have told me how great I look, so it's not like it all went to my belly. While my clothes fit tighter, it's mostly in my chest & shoulders, and not so much in the waist.
But still, there is some tightness in the waist (it's all the squats and deadlifts!)....so my vanity and ego have been taking some hits.
You see I want to be strong. I want strong arms, legs, chest, back, & shoulders. I want vascular forearms and a V-shaped torso.
I want to lift 1000 lbs between deadlift, squats, and bench press.
I also want a 32 inch waist and 15% body fat.
I want, I want, I want!!!
Trade-offs…compromise…..I’m not very good at that.
The conventional wisdom is that it is very hard to simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat (esp in the winter....and it doesn't help that after 3 years of living in Florida, we are now experiencing freezing northern winters!) Bodybuilders pack on muscle & fat, then shred off the fat with intense cardio to get that ripped, 6-pack look for photoshoots
I however, am not a bodybuilder and don’t plan to get on the cover of any magazine....the most I plan on doing is the occasional post-workout selfie;
Still, 15 lbs is 15 lbs.....even though I carry it well enough, I'd like to get rid of some fat, without losing muscle.
There's got to be a way!
I could always tweak the diet some. I could add a little more cardio. I could add a little bit more activity to my day......I can maybe forgo the occasional bacon-candy treat!
(There's a woman, Paige E., whose board I follow on Pinterest.....it's called meats, bison, pork, & sausage.....I want to hire her as my personal chef!)
So, I've got a goal in mind, but in reality I have many goals in mind, not just losing weight.....I also really like lifting heavy weights....truth be told, if I need to be 196 in order to lift 1000 lbs, then I'm OK with it. When I look in the mirror these days, there's not much jiggle.
In any case, I've reset the tracker to 196 lbs and gone hardcore on food tracking once again.....just as I did when I started SP 3 years ago this month.
For me, this is yet another adventure.....how do I build on progress and make things better.....there never really is just one goal in life anyway, is there!
Have a great night spark friends!
Saturday, November 02, 2013
So how do you handle defeat? What do you say to yourself when you don't measure up to your own expectations?
I've got a million examples! Hell when I think back on these past few years on SP, I see tons of examples where my eating, my working out, even my job performance didn't measure up to my expectations. And anyone who's never had to handle defeat has missed out.
The key is in how you handle it. If you're not careful, that feeling of failure can spiral into a whirlpool of self-fulfilling thoughts and actions that can be incredibly hard to climb out of. Like any good habit, the ability to pull out of that death spiral gets stronger the more often you practice it.
Which is why I like weight lifting! More than any other kind of exercise I've tried, lifting heavy weights pushes me physically, mentally, and spiritually to my limits.
And sometimes I fail.
It's not just a physical failure, though. If I don't make my goal for the day, it feels like a mental failure as well, a character flaw where I think, "I should have pushed harder" or, "I gave up too early" or "I'll never get this" or, "Man, I suck!"
Here's what happened to me yesterday;
I was on my third week of this weight lifting program called 5/3/1 (it's a great Strength Training program....details are in my old blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
This third week in each cycle requires you to do multiple repetitions at 95% of your maximum lift. My handy iPhone app (Big Lifts) does all the calculations for me, so yesterday it told me I had to squat 275 lbs for 7 reps.....Giddy-up!
After all my warmups, I got my mind straight, called over a young hulk to spot me, told him I was shooting for 7 reps at 275, and proceeded to squat.
I only got 4
What the hell! I looked over at my spotter and said, "Man, that's all I had in me today."
I immediately felt defeated, wondering what I had done wrong, why couldn't I achieve my goal.
I walked around the squat rack a few times, going over and over in my mind what just happened. Did I not sleep well last night, did I give up too easy, I should have pushed harder, maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff.....all those crazy, crazy thoughts that can race through your mind when failure rears its ugly head.
But SWMBO often reminds me, "You don't have any control over the first thought in your head, but you do have control over the second" and so I started to self-talk my way off the ledge. "OK, not so bad....still better than I did only a few months ago" and "Alright, you knew this wasn't going to be a linear progression every single week", "Got it, focus on form, keep at it" and, "Look in the mirror Dude, you still look freaking awesome....remember, 3 weeks ago, you lifted 915 lbs!"
So I resolved internally that this wasn't a failure, just a data point on a lifelong journey to living healthy....I accepted it for what it was, my best effort for today, a reflection of my abilities, not my inabilities.
As I proceeded to take the weights off the bar, something didn't jive in my head. I looked at my iPhone app....sure as hell, it said my goal for today was 7 reps at 275 lbs. That meant, two 45 lb plates and a 25 lb plate on each end.
I had two 45 lb plates and a 35 lb plate on each end....what the hell?!?!!?
I had just lifted 295 lbs.....20 more lbs than I was supposed to do for today.....no wonder I only got 4!!!
I crunched the numbers into my iPhone....lo and behold, lifting 295 lbs for 4 reps was actually better than lifting 275 lbs for 7 reps.....it required more strength.....Wahoo! Somehow I wasn't paying attention when I loaded the bar (or maybe adult-onset dyslexia set in) and I put myself in a tough situation.
Within a matter of minutes, my feelings of failure turned into feelings of elation, pride, and accomplishment....what a roller-coaster!
It seemed as though once I resolved myself to reality, to accepting life on its own terms, a pathway out of despair appeared. When we were kids, our Mom used to tell us, "Be careful what you say and think, the angels are always listening"
The universe reminded me once again that our thoughts are powerful, that HOW we handle and face life is much more important than WHAT actually happens to us, that the real keys to success are about acceptance of ourselves for where we are right now and to keep moving up from there.
Have a great day Spark friends!
Monday, October 28, 2013
There is so much wrong with this picture on so many levels:
Seriously though....it's one of my favorite motivational pictures! It reminds me how easy it is to forget about my reasons for exercising.
What exactly are those reasons, you may so rightly ask? Well, thereby hangs a tale....
Over the last 10 years, I have evolved from a pack-a-day couch potato, lazing around wondering why I kept getting fatter and "unfitter", to becoming a non-smoking outdoor tomato. But my path to fitness enthusiast zigged and zagged through a whole slew of different emotions and motivations.
At first, I hated even the idea of exercising.....it was no fun. I was out of shape, I was ill equipped, my confidence was low.....and it always seemed to hurt while I was doing it!
But I am stubborn. I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to stop smoking, and I wanted to not feel like the best years of my life were behind me. So I started running....a quarter mile at a time....some days just a 100 yds at a time, sweating like a dog in the August heat and hating every minute of it.
So my first motivation was to simply lose weight
I ran 4-5 days a week and it took me till December to even get a glimmer of enjoyment during a run.
But it came....and sometime that December I set a goal of running a marathon within 6 months. Pretty freaking crazy, but it worked for me. To make sure I didn't back out, I plunked down the $100 entry fee and promptly told all my family and friends that I planned to run a marathon......at that point there was no backing down!
By then, my motivation had changed to racking up miles and minutes, following a program to conquer an objective that just a short while ago, I thought only applied to crazy, weird running people....and now I was becoming one of them!
One of my most vivid running memories is during a 6 mile run along Boston's Charles River. It was in the high 30s, lots of melting snow, clear blue sky with a bright winter sun melting the ice on the Charles ("Love that Dirty Water!")....and I was running.....elated and free.....an incredibly steady 10 min/mile clip, I finished the run in almost exactly one hour and I was joyously happy every second of those 60 minutes!
I was a runner!
I still ate like a madman though. Like the most fanatical religious converts, I thought my faith in running and exercise meant I could eat with abandon.....I'll just burn it off on my long run, right?!?!
Not so, fatso! I lost maybe 10 lbs my first year running. Granted, my body shape changed some as I added muscle for fat in some areas, but not a big loss by any means. And any time I took a lull in my running, I put on weight.
After an injury in 2010, I had surgery that put a stop to my running. As I sat around recovering, I knew that if I couldn't run, I would pork up fast, so I did a bunch of web searches and found Sparkpeople.
And here I learned that you can't work off a bad diet.....that weight loss is 80% about eating right and 20% about exercise.
Damn the luck!
So I started tracking my food and found other exercise outlets. I bought a bike and zoomed around the Florida Panhandle (we lived in Destin, FL at the time). I signed up with a trainer and learned to lift weights....real heavy weights.
But fitness still centered around logging minutes & miles or putting more weight on the bar....and it was almost always something I did outside my "normal life." As I slimmed up and toned up, I still looked for parking spaces close to store entrances. I took escalators at the mall and elevators at hotels....even if I stayed on the 2d floor!
When we moved to Virginia, my new job was on the 5th floor of our office building. I made a commitment to never use an elevator or an escalator (see my blog
Yesterday, on my way to the gym, I saw a guy with a gym bag waiting to take the elevator down 5 flights. I shook my head and said, "Dude, really? The elevator to the gym?" The absurdity of it hit me hard, "why do we exercise, but we don't use that new found strength for even these simple things?"
What's changed for me is that fitness is not just something I do for an hour or so to work up a sweat and say, "I'm done"....it's to be able to keep doing things that I see many of my peers stop doing; taking stairs, happily walking from a distant parking spot, running after my niece then throwing her 50 lb body in the air and catching her!
My motivation today is to enjoy the feeling of being fit and to put it to use whenever I can all day long, not just in those few minutes I'm "at the gym"
Yeah, I like irony in that picture of people taking the escalator to go workout!
What's your motivation to exercise? What keeps you going?
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
WAHOOOO Spark friends, give me a fist bump!
So a few weeks ago I set a goal of lifting 1000 lbs in a combination of squats, bench press, and deadlifts. I gave myself a year to do it. (see blog
Today I lifted 915 lbs!! It was pretty freakin'Amazing!!
The guys that run our gym sponsored a Lunchtime Powerlifting Competition, so I signed up and showed up. Last night, I went over all my numbers (remember, I'm a data hound, so I have all my numbers and stats going back years) and calculated what weights I would start at and the increments I would go up.
You see, apparently, there are rules to these competitions....so I had to get the gouge and plot a strategy. If you try to lift a weight, and can't get it, then you have to keep going at that weight....you can't take weight off and try again. You get 3 attempts at each lift, and can add weight as long as you make the previous lift. Then they score the best of each one to give you your total.
So for each lift, I started off with the most recent max weight where I could do 5 reps....then added weight in increments of 10-20 lbs, to shoot for what I thought would be a tough, yet achievable lift.
I planned to max out at 895 lbs....then made adjustments on the fly to add a little more on lifts where I felt strong.
It was a pretty exciting event. They had side-by-side squat racks & benches with women competing right next to the men. I had seen a bunch of the folks at the gym before, so we all spent a fair amount of time cheering each other on, pushing and pumping each other up.....lots of adrenaline, lots of energy...it was great!!
Yours truly was the oldest there at 53 (turning 54 in December). I buddied up with a 48 year old dude that had been doing this for a while (he lifted a combined 1205 lbs....but also suffered an injury....more on that below), and a 30-something cross-fit junkie that was actually quite a character.
Much as I would like to get in to the play-by-play of every lift, let me just get this over with and throw out my final numbers now, each one a new personal record;
Squat - 315 lbs
Bench Press - 245 lbs
Deadlift - 355 lbs
TOTAL = 915 lbs
I immediately texted an "in-your-face" message back to Stasi guy in Florida!
What I enjoyed more than anything else though was the excitement and energy that comes from a public competition.....it was the same feeling I'd get at the starting line of marathons and other races....that nervous energy as you line up and wonder, "Man, can I really do this or not", then plunge right in to see if all your training has paid off or not.
Well today it did!
Actually, one of my concerns was that I might be too timid and not add enough weight....I didn't want to think that I still had a lot of gas in the tank when I finished. But the 3d try on every lift was pretty tough....at best, I could have done maybe 5-10 more lbs on one or another lift, but not much more.
The women did great as well. 2 gals lifted a combined 750 lbs each and 2 others got over 500....only one of them weighed over 130lbs! For the guys, a 20-something hulk did 1400 lbs!
Unfortunately my 48 year-old buddy didn't finish. While he squatted an impressive 395 lbs on his first squat, he added 30 lbs in one big jump, went down fast....but never made it back up.
Then, on deadlifts, he pulled 405 lbs on his first try (quite impressively).....added 40 lbs.....and got the bar 2 inches off the ground before dropping it AND grabbing his bicep in pain.
SHEESH.....my fundamental rule of thumb in all of this is, "FIRST DO NO HARM!!" My second rule is plan, plan, plan, then plan some more.
All in all it was a great day and I felt great doing it.....even got a big old smooch from SWMBO when I got home!
Now to see if those knuckleheads will put up a new picture board for the 50+ lifters.....I'll have my very own spot of fame on the wall!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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