Archive for September, 2012


No Spin Zone

Hi!

 

It has been a while since I have last posted.  Some days it does not feel like there is much to talk about.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone who also has their own blog, and she described her blog as a “no bullshit zone”.  I did not know how to respond to that, so I said, “… mine is pretty upbeat…”

Jeez Jeremy, that’s like suggesting yours might, in fact, be full of shit.

Then I thought about it more.  Is my blog “keepin it real”?  I don’t know if bullshit is the right term, really, since that suggests I am filling my blog up with bad or untrue material, which I am not.  But you guys aren’t always getting the full story.  I pick and choose what to focus on.  But something has been bugging me a lot for the last few weeks.  So in honour of keepin it real, I am calling it a “no spin zone”, since you are getting what has been weighing most on my mind, without the picking and choosing.

When I got measured by my trainer-to-be a few weeks back, I was faced with the awful truth that I had been avoiding for months.  I was backsliding.  Meaning I have been putting on weight.  I am not back where I started, but I have lost about half of my sizeable progress.  Compared to when I started, I still feel worlds better, and have a slightly better shape, but compared to the start of 2012, I feel a lot worse.  This has depressed the shit out of me.

 

It’s hard to say where it started.  After I lost a bunch of weight, I thought “ok good, I know what I am doing now.  I can eat what I want and exercise when I want, and I will maintain, and if I feel ready to lose hardcore, I will tighten up.”  So yes I would make a diet plan for myself, but I would stick with it for about 2 or 3 weeks then fall off the diet again.  I was working out all the time, but then I hurt my shoulder from overtraining.  So then I was working out very little, and still eating like a pig.  Day by day it all added up.

When I hurt myself and went to the gym a lot less, it really hurt my motivation, it dampened my passion.  I started to think it wasn’t what the world wanted me to do, and my focus suffered.  My shoulder had recovered, but I had started dodging the gym and dodging yoga now.  And day by day it added back up.

On some level, dimly, I recognized I had a problem, and by putting myself in the room with a personal trainer, all the dirty laundry was thrust into the spotlight.  And now here I am, feeling low about myself, overweight, feeling crappy.  2011 I lost a bunch of weight; so far 2012 I have only gained weight.

But I remember how it felt to start.  When I was ready to make a change, I had a burning desire to vent all my frustration and anger out in the gym.  I was tired of people looking at me and summing me up by my weight.  I wanted to reclaim my home, and I would beat and thrash against the walls of my own reality to get to where I wanted to go.  I am down, yes, but I have lots more tools in my toolbelt than I did in 2010.

I want that passion back.  I am going to work with my new trainer, and give it my all.  My goal at the end of October is yes to lose weight first and foremost, but I also want to rekindle the passion I have been missing all year.  The first few weeks I am likely to be exhausted and beat up, as I reaccomodate to the tempo.  But I need this.  I know I am about to step out of my comfort zone, and get pushed into exercises I hate, the circuit training, the lunges, endless stairs.  But the place I fear and hate the most is the place I need to be, in order to burn it down.

Rocktober is about to start, and I am very hopeful 🙂

Day 20 – Microtrauma

They say love hurts.

 

I woke up this morning, and my legs were really tired.  My quads felt sluggish.  I knew what this meant… DOMS, incoming.

 

Ok, I am no expert, but from my limited understanding, when you push a muscle past what it can handle, you “overload” it, you work it harder than it was ready for, you cause little tears in the muscle fiber… microtears.  In other words, you have experienced “microtrauma”.  See the little pic from Wikipedia?

1. Bone 2. Perimysium 3. Blood Vessel 4. Muscle Fiber 5. Fascicle 6. Endomysium                   7. Epimysium 8. Tendon

 

As you can see, the the epimysium connects the muscle to the tendon.  Within that epimysium are the fascicle bundles, sheathed in perimysium, and containing bundles of muscle fibres, themselves individually sheathed in endomysium.  Put another way, these bundles of bundles of bundles are each wrapped in their own successive layers of protein, helping them to resist passive stretching, to distribute force evenly, to protect from friction, to carry nerve signals and fresh blood throughout.

 

OK!  Back to the trauma.  You have caused tiny tears or stresses, it could be to the muscle fibres, to the protein coverings, to the tendons, or even to the bones.  It all depends on what you are doing.  The body goes to work, trying to repair this damage.  As a defensive measure, the body seeks to add tissue to the damaged area, to protect it from further damage.  The area gets bigger.  This can result in a few different things:  thicker bones, longer tendons, fluid buildup in the muscle fibres (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, aka bigger muscles), or an increase in the proteins that make up the muscle fibres (myofibrillar hypertrophy, aka stronger muscles).

 

Of course, these things all often happen together.  Your mileage may vary, and bodybuilders all over the world work with ways to isolate these types of trauma through changing the way they overload their body with resistance.

The reason this trauma is good is because your body rebuilds you BETTER than before.  Every time you workout, your personal construction crew goes to work like a team of scientists with a 6 million dollar budget!

 

The theory as I understand it is, when it is repairing this trauma, there is a swell in the surrounding tissue, causing pressure, maybe some mild inflammation.  This results in soreness.  Ever notice the day after an awesome workout, you are SO sore?  Sure, we all know that.  That is likely your body repairing damage.

Please do not confuse this with the soreness you feel RIGHT after an exercise.  That is simply fatigue, your body burns through the fuel available, ATP, creatine, glycogen, then lactic acid is produced as a byproduct, etc.  No, this muscle soreness takes place a day or two after.  So they call it DOMS:  Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

 

All this is the scientific side.  The part where it enters my life though?  All day today my legs became progressively more sore.  I blame Leslie!  Curse those lunges!  I already have thighs larger than a skinny person’s waist, I don’t need bigger legs, lol.  Leg DOMS are usually regarded as the worst… why?  Because you still need to walk, haha.  After a strenuous leg day, most DOMS sufferers wobble around like aggressive chickens, coordination is WAY off.

So!  Anyways.  My legs hurt a lot as the day wore on.  How do I deal with DOMS?  Honestly, your best option is sleep.  Your body is repairing itself.  Let it do its job in peace.  Beyond that?  I like a little whey protein here and there, I like to take amino acid supplements (I personally use Dymatize Elite Recoup) both during and right after the workout, and I like to take a mild anti-inflammatory after the workout.  These all seem to lessen the soreness for me, personally.

Did I mention I sort of missed the Recoup after the Leslie workout?  I maybe brought this one on myself.

 

Anyhoo, after work I decided to tempt fate and I headed to the gym for a spin class, then maybe yoga?  I did a spin class with Crystallina, see?

Spin class was good, but it felt tough!  My legs were groaning at me.  I figured some cardio would help flush them out, bring lots of new blood to the repair crews so they can stay oxygenated.  Good in theory, in practice it meant my butt was dragging ALL OVER that stationary bike, haha.  We did LONG stretches of standing climbs, we did high intensity intervals (20 seconds of all out high tension climbs followed by 10 seconds of ride easy, multiply that pattern as many times as it takes to make the class bitter and exhausted, haha), we did a little speedwork, we did some jumping tracks (up down up down).  At the end of the hour, it was announced the yoga class would be power!  Oh joy!

I took my picture with Crystallina, talked to her for a sec, then before I knew it the yoga class had already started!  Oh darn.  Well not really, my legs wanted to crawl into bed and cry for a while.  I missed yoga, but I don’t know if chicken strut legs would have appreciated warrior poses and runners lunge after the spin class during a DOMS outbreak.

 

So I came home!

 

And how was your day?  haha

 

Day 19 – Workout with Leslie

I was asked by work to show up an hour early for a presentation across town.  So I woke up an hour early.  It SUCKED.  The day wore on me hard.  And after work I rushed home, chilled out for maybe 15 min, then had to head back out for my first session with Leslie, my physical trainer!  Leslie is also doing the 30 day challenge with me, and I decided it was time for me to try having a physical trainer again, at least for a while.

I have come to the point where I feel like I am at a plateau in my weight loss, meaning more than 6 months.  At this point, my enthusiasm for charting my own course is waning.  There are other areas over 2012 that I am proud of, strength gains, flexibility gains, but weight loss?  Not so much.  Maybe with a trainer, I can shake things up a bit.

I showed up 30 min early, and caught Leslie totally by surprise!  check this entirely spontaneous and not-manufactured picture of me surprising her at the computer!

That’s just how I roll – stealth.  Ask people who have worked with me, I move like the wind.  Also how I roll – greedy.  I demanded we start early and still go until 7 pm!  Oh yes, there will be sweat.

This session Leslie wanted to run me through a few different exercises, just to see my range of motion, my general form, my fortitudes and faiblesses.  I didn’t bother taking notes since there weren’t any PR’s on the line, but maybe next time!  For you, my loyal readers 🙂

I noticed she wanted to abuse my legs a lot this session.  I am fine with that, but on the down side I am used to splits now, so I walked away from a fullbody session of sorts with maybe a 3/4 weighting to legs feeling like my upperbody, arms especially weren’t abused nearly enough!  My quads though felt tired on the walk back home, more on that later.

Warmup 5 min.  We did some squats, some bodyweight full range squats (ATG).  soon after, some squats with dumbbells, touch bench and back up type.  Then we grabbed a 35 pound plate, that made it like a goblet squat.  I like to keep my hands in front of me normally for squats, to help keep me balanced so I don’t rock backwards, so goblet squats feel SUPER comfortable actually, much more so than the dumbbells.

but with a plate

Then some dumbbell presses, then some pushups from my knees, then some regular pushups, (they were more like half pushups, truth be told).

Man, should have written this down!  Can’t remember any more… ugh, old age…

We did some rows with the cable machine, we did some horizontal rows (for fatties who can’t do pullups, natch), some kettlebell swings, forward folds to test my flexibility.  Did I mention that when I don’t get much sleep, my poor lower back gets cranky on me?  It was at this point that my lower back started giving me grief, so I had to sit down between exercises.

also known as an Australian pull up. Doesn’t sound like a compliment to the Australians!

me doing swings. wth is wrong with my eyes? I think I saw aliens on the horizon…

MOAR legs.  Lunges, walking lunges.  My form was getting a little spotty during the walking lunges, BAH, give me a leg press machine or quad extensions any day of the week, to hell with such practical and natural exercises as lunges, LOL.

We did some twists with a stretchy rope, did some leg raises, some upper ab stuff, did a plank.  I know most people hate planks, but they get rubbed in our faces every hot yoga class, so they don’t scare me any more.  Planks, extended planks, side planks, walking planks, dolphin dives, whatever.  Do your worst planks!  I am not scared to hang out there and tremble, focus matters a lot for planks.  If you keep your focus tight, you can tough it out.  Or fall out of it, that happens too 🙂

if this is meant to show muscle tension, why give her boobs? ROFL, ridiculous

Unfortunately, at this point the aliens attacked, and I had to run for my life! Sadly, my legs were weakened by all the exercise, and they caught me.

me running from the aliens

me getting sucked up by the aliens into their spaceship

Luckily, all the aliens needed was help getting home.  Once they drained my sweaty shirt to power their engines, they let me go.

After, I posed for a pic with Leslie!

I stumbled home, tired legs but lots of upperbody juice left.  I enjoyed the session quite a bit.  I haven’t had a trainer in years, and was curious to know how it would be.  My last trainer, I lost focus and became too social, I became too chatty, I lost my focus off the exercise, where it belongs.  That is the strength of working out alone to me, I am free to be all about the next set, no down time, I am either pushing weight or watching the second hand tick down on the clock between sets.  Also a beautiful thing about hot yoga, just a dark hot silent room, left to marinate in your own thoughts.

Even with Leslie, I started to catch myself getting too chatty.  Definitely not her fault, I just was being chatty.  Of course, if she reads this, she can just as easily become a hardass if I think I can’t function any other way (hi leslie!), but I feel there HAS to be a happy medium, where I can stay focused, keep the intensity there, and yet have someone nearby to encourage me on, to keep my form, and yes also to keep me upbeat and not dragging my feet.  Even with my chattiness, it really HELPED having her talk to me during walking lunges, one of my more HATED exercises, lol.

I don’t know, no easy answer, I long to find the best of both worlds, the social-bility (word?) and the laser beam focus.

I am sleepy, long day it was!  Good night!

Day 18 – prelude to a workout

I woke up this morning, fully and completely rested.  I almost forgot how nice it feels when you wake having FULLY slept.  You almost spring out of bed!  As opposed to when you get not enough sleep, when you have to pull yourself out of bed, with your feet dragging and your eyes hurting, until you can get a drink of water in you, or a coffee or whatever.

So I knew today I had the rest I needed, and could pick whatever I wanted to do.  Good start!  I cooked some food for the next couple of days, then headed to work.  In my downtime at work, I took a look at the schedules, and did some planning.  I have been very… “conscious” let’s say, about my first meetup with my new physical trainer tomorrow.  I wanted to do SOMETHING today, but I didn’t want to be all sore and stiff for my appt tomorrow.  Heck, my hips were still a little tender from the double class on Sunday!  I was rusty, so if I had a good resistance workout today, there would be DOMS tomorrow… painful merciless DOMS…

at least it’s not in his legs, those are the worst!

 

OK then, so cardio or yoga?  Maybe both?  I looked at the studio schedule for tonight.  There was a yin!  Awesome!  But it was a little too late for me, I wanted to have one foot in bed by 10 pm, so I could be super rested for tomorrow.  I noticed my local goodlife has a stretching class at 5:30!  Perfect!  I would dash out of work, do some cardio, do the class, do mOAR cardio, go home, rest up.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the yoga shorts with me.  I had some athletic shorts.  Oh well.  It wasn’t hot yoga, so as long as I don’t rip my seat doing pigeon I should be ok.

10 minutes on the arc trainer, running out of time!

Then I head into the yoga room, get comfy.  Lots of older people in this class!  No thoughts on that, just an observation 🙂  The teacher’s name is Lara (hope I spelled that right!), she asks what we would like to do.  Younger woman from the back of the room yells out “hamstrings!”, all the older people at the front groan out in unison, “back!”

So we go through some forward folds, then sit down, do some saddles, some seated forward folds (where was cobbler??  I love cobblers pose), some twists.  Some savasana.  At this point, savasana exists in another time and space for me, I lose all track of time in savasana, my brain enters a fugue state.  So when she said the 60 min class was over, I was like huh??  already?  Wow.  For me it I guess it was a lot of hamstring and groin stretching, and a good chunk of meditation.

It was probably what I needed, for my hips and for my nerves.

After class, a pic for posterity of me and Lara!

All the old folks took off like a shot, we were alone in the room; feels so odd to me, at the studio, people always hang out after and socialize!  That’s part of yoga to me, the community… to skip that is to miss out!  On another note, why is it so hard for me to smile during self-shots?  lol, I am having a good time, I promise!

the community!

 

So I left class, got back on the arc trainer.  I think aggressive hamstring stretching wasn’t a good idea before more cardio, my legs felt like rubber, LOL.  So 25 min of that, probably around 70% heart rate, then I called it a night, and came home.  But for good measure, I WALKED home.  In the soft rain, lol.  Did I mention it’s been raining all day?  I kind of like rain sometimes, a cool soft rain at the end of a hot summer.  So I walked in the rain, maybe a 35 min walk, made it home.  Looking forward to a long sleep, and then tomorrow… I will be ready for a killer workout (stay tuned!)

Day 17 – Setting Goals

I wanted to sleep in quite bad this morning.  I figured it was a holdover from the double hot yoga class yesterday, so I indulged it.  Decided I would get all my exercise in after work.  While at work, I was chugging back the water, I just felt constantly thirsty for some odd reason.  I was mostly in meetings, listening to people talk.  During my lunch hour, I even wrote up a quick chest and tricep workout for myself, so I could do weights tonight if I wanted.

Bu the time I was to leave work and head home, I realized I wasn’t thirsty, my throat was becoming sore all day… Sore throat is usually my first stop before becoming sore.  What the hell man?!  I was JUST sick last week.  What is wrong with me?

By the time I get home, I have rationalized it out.  There is some bug in me, when I do a lot of physical activity, I don’t have the juice to fight off the bug and I become sick.  This is weird to me, since I take Glutamine for this very purpose!  Glutamine is supposed to give me an abundance of fuel to both work out and fight off bugs.  Not the same as raw energy per se… it’s just a common fuel between exercise and your immune system.  But nevertheless, there it is.  Sore throat is a minor thing, I could just keep going and wait until I actually fall hard sick again.  BUT – I have an appt with the physical trainer on Wednesday, and I need my energy for that.  So tonight I rest, I guess.

If this is what being old is like, it isn’t pleasant, let me tell you.

So tonight I did some breathing exercises, I meditated for about 7 minutes (stuffed up nose kept distracting me), and I did some surfing.  Came upon this from Scooby’s Workshop:

Perfect!  Something motivational to perk me up.  There was nothing new in there to amaze me, but it is just as valuable as that, it REMINDS me of what matters.  This is something I need to be effective as I try to get in better shape, I NEED to surround myself with fitness-minded people, it is like the air I breathe now.  When I don’t go to the gym or the yoga studio, not only do I miss out on the workout, I miss out on the sheer presence of all those awesome people!  It makes you feel a little lonely, like missing home.

Anyways, I totally agree with Scooby.  You beed to decide what matters in your life.  This is tough for me because I love video games, I love tv.  And if I am not careful, and tv or video games start to eat into my sleep time, then my sleep time throws off my workout time, then I feel out of character, and restless.  Then when I feel restless I end up medicating with food.  And it is a vicious cycle, do you see?

It all starts with prioritizing.

This entry is going to be short because I am forcing myself to go to bed SUPER early.  So I can get up early and rested and healthy.  So I can get back to the gym, and work on what my real priorities are 🙂

see you tomorrow!

Day 16 – Double Down

When I say Double Down, I am NOT referring to cheese and bacon stuck between 2 pieces of fried chicken.

doesn’t that look appetizing?

Whatever happened to food that actually LOOKS like food?  And when was the last time KFC DIDN’T give me diarrhea??

Sorry, where was I?  Oh yes, when I say double down, I am referring to that moment in a workout when you have had SUCH a good time and enjoyed the experience so much you decide to go right back in and do it again immediately!  You are gambling against the law of diminishing returns, that if spin class was SO awesome, then 2 spin classes will be twice as awesome, right?

I should note:  I do NOT double down on resistance training.  When I lift weights, I am quite certain that the benefits go south quick after the one hour mark.  One full session is it for me.  But for spin, for yoga, sometimes I decide to go back to the well for more awesome.

I have talked about spinoga in the past.  But lately I have been really sick, and I was lucky to get in a single workout, much less two.  Well today, Sunday, I felt free and clear of the flu.  So I thought to myself, “hmmm, maybe when I go to hot yoga today, if I am feeling good, why not do 2 classes?”  I used to do 2 classes in a row quite often.  However, usually those 2 classes would be a flow then a yin, which has been a very natural-feeling combo for me.  Rarely do I do 2 “yang” type classes in a row, multiple flows or power classes sounds like murder!  Well, one time I did 3 non-yin hot yoga classes in a row, but that might have been temporary insanity on my part 🙂

getting fitted for the newest yoga gear!

Today I noticed a combo that might be a nice transition for me though.  The studio was hosting an “intro” class followed by a regular flow class.  Perfect!  I could do a class where we do one pose at a time in relative isolation, perhaps followed by a few minutes of Q&A, I stand a good chance of not being obliterated after my long absence from the hot room, then if I am feeling squirrelly still, I could do the reg flow right after!

For the record, I think intro classes are a good idea once in a while regardless.  People hear “beginner” or “intro” and they assume it will be of no value.  This is the wrong way to think of it.  Call it a “fundamentals” class instead.  So often in the vinyasa classes we move from one pose to another, maybe you get an adjustment, maybe you don’t.  Maybe over the months you build up some bad habits that noone notices.  In your head, you are imitating the person next to to you, and it has become comfortable through repetition.

So with a fundamentals class, you can spend some time honing and polishing the mainstays of your asana practice:  Warrior 1 and 2, chaturanga, runners lunge, forward folds, maybe some triangle, maybe even the transitions between those poses!  For most of the casual yoga attendees, transition is a race to the next pose.  They might be clear on the poses, more or less, but the transitions are often any which way you can get there.  A fundamental class can help you with the moves you do in between your moves.

So I like to do an intro class once every couple of months, as long as it doesn’t break the bank to do so.

I showed up at the studio, ready for the intro class with Tiffani.

tree with flair, sort of a flamenco dancer tree. Ole!

The class actually had a lot of men in it, which was good for me to see.  A lot of guys feel intimidated to try yoga, despite all the good things they hear about it.  Guys don’t like looking like bumbling fools in a female-heavy environment, haha.

We practiced Warrior 1 and 2, we did a few sun salutations, some cobra practice, some triangle, some reverse warrior.  It felt good!

reverse warrior

Went to the changeroom, realized I wanted MORE.  Unfortunately, not being a genius, I had not packed any extra clothes!  So I would be wandering into a brand new class in my sweaty gear from last class.  Oh well.  A wise yoga teacher once tried to drill this into my head, “Jeremy, bring extra shirts.”  Looks like I still have a lot to learn…

Took some pixx with Tiffani who taught my class 1 and Megan who is teaching my class 2!  worlds collide!

yoga sandwich!

This was a “karma flow” class for Megan, where she waives her teaching fee, and all attendance is by donation, and all donations go direct to working with local orgs in India fighting sex trafficking.  Megan is about $12,000 of the way towards her $20,000 goal, and she works darn hard for it!  I only wish there were more people in the class, a great class for a great price and the $ is going to a great cause!

This flow, it sort of felt like Warrior 2 was our “home base”.  Most of our routines had Warrior 2 as the common point.

lots of tensing and strength flowing through this “still” pose

Warrior 2 is also a nice challenge for my sore shoulder.  Kind of sad saying holding my arm out in front of me is a challenge, but look around during the avg hot yoga class.  After a few planks, a few pushups, someone in Warrior 2 is always dropping their arms and fighting to bring it back to parallel.  It is always a sobering realization to know that yoga is helping you to do something as simple as holding your arms out stright in front of you, or straight up beside your head, or whatever.

Warrior 2 also reminds you the importance of putting your shoulders “down and back”.  Also known as “shoulder packing”.  I think shoulder packing is a huge point for life in the Modern World.  We spend so much time hunched over our computer, shoulders rounded, back curved, core not engaged.  We practice this poor posture sometimes for hours every day!  So when it comes time to do yoga, or lift weight, we have weak cores, weak back muscles, poor posture, and rounded shoulders.

Practicing putting your shoulders “down and back”, puts your shoulders in a more natural position, it corrects your posture, it helps you lift more weight, it helps you hold Warrior 2 longer, it is just better all around!

down and back

So once we made it through the karma flow, I walked out of the change room to a nice surprise, someone had made healthy brownies!

I had eaten 2 pieces already before I realized they were healthy!  Hey!  It’s the golden hour after a workout, I eat guilt-free 🙂  But these brownies were made out of zucchini?  I didn’t taste any zucchini… sneaky zucchini!  The brownies were made by fellow 30 day challenger Manon, who it just SO happens, has her own awesome blog!  Check it out!

http://theblissprojectblog.wordpress.com/

 

Double classes always leave me thirsty and sleepy, so I came home and drank about 3 litres, haha.  Going to get a good sleep tonight.  See you tomorrow!

Day 14 – self-image

Today was actually better, relatively speaking, I felt overheated in the morning, but pretty minor compared to the rest of this week.  I think I might be through the worst of it.

Feeling confident, I headed back to the gym after work for another 60 min spin.  Spin instructor tonight was Mike.  He was deep in conversation with another student right after, and I didn’t get a picture, oh well.

The class itself went well, relatively easy actually.  I don’t credit myself for that, I think we just had a lot of new people in class, and Mike was taking it easy.  This is fine with me.  I know there were new people because when Mike asked at the start if anyone had any questions, these two girls put up their hands and asked “how do you… make it go slower?”  I thought that was cute 🙂

So, a lot of speedwork, a lot of racing, not a lot of climbs.  It was fine with me, I just flushed my system out and relaxed.

A workout with no fever built up my confidence some more, so when I went home I went to the convenience store, to say hi, buy some lemon juice, etc.  As I walked in, all happy, the woman behind the counter looks at me and says, “Jeremy you look so happy.  You must be putting on weight.”

This stopped me in my tracks, like someone knocked the needle off the record.  Do people even know record players any more?  haha.  I gave her back a thin smile and said, “is that a compliment in your country?  it isn’t a compliment here.”

She said, “no, no, it isn’t – I just mean you look so happy and carefree, you must be putting on weight”

Are you trying to get me to buy lots of junk food from your store?  I gotta tell you… it’s working!”

So now that I am back home, I am looking in the mirror and am like, maybe I DID put on some weight this week from being sick??  I don’t know, I can’t honestly tell… what kind of a backhanded compliment mindf*@# was that?  LOL  Just a random trolling from the 7/11 family, I don’t know what to say… Mac store caught me slippin!  Gotta go back to the gym!!  I have barely been to the gym for weeks, can’t really dismiss what she said so lightly.

How we see ourselves is a big part of your first year or two in the gym, and really sets the tone.  The experts often ask you to visualize what you WANT to look like, and you can pick a role model, Arnold or an olympic athlete or a supermodel or whatever.  That’s all well and good.  But once you start seeing early results from the gym, once you START to sculpt the David out of the block of marble, you get your first glimpse into what the fit version of you might ACTUALLY look like.  Once you see those results, you have a better palette to paint your self-image out with.  Once you start to see toned arms or lose the love handles, it gets inspiring.

There has been a lot of attention brought to bear on how women have a lot of image pressure placed on them by the media.  I can easily see how warped the system is, we all can.  But men are hit by it too.  Most of the toys little boys play with, the cartoons they watch, the comics they read, the male heroes tend to be pretty built, all muscle, maybe some abs.  But boys are also taught to reject criticism from their peers, “can’t let someone mess with you”, or whatever.  So a lot of guys flex their negative self-image issues in private.  If men didn’t have self-image issues, there wouldn’t be genital enhancement spam in your inbox, steroids in the gyms and hair transplants.

It’s the reason why the average guy lifting weights spends a disproportionate amount of time on biceps and chest.  All they care about is the aesthetics, not the function.

I was reminded of all this this week because a man just made the guiness book of world records for largest biceps.  This is the man, Moustafa Ismail.

They are calling him a “real-life popeye”, which is ridiculous!  Popeye had big forearms!!  Not biceps!  I do not mention that point as a trivial one.  If this guy was working out his biceps all the time, doing everything humanly possible to cause hypertrophy, his forearms would also be BIGGER.  But his forearms are much smaller.  Forearms are what establishes your grip.  Popeye was a sailor, he was hauling around heavy ropes all day, he had forearms from pulling with his grip and his arms all day, that’s the origin of that cartoon.  If this guy’s muscles were legitimately that big (which they are not), any weight heavy enough for him to curl to overload his biceps would be TOTALLY too heavy for his normal looking forearms to grip!  So from a functional standpoint, obviously fake.  No giant biceps and triceps without monster forearms.

so what are his arms really?  He injects some foreign substance into his arms, something so artificial, his body can’t flush it out and it stays there.  Think of it like injecting Crisco into your arm, you are just pumping it up with oil.  I guess the popular chemical for that these days is called Synthol.  Wikipedia says Synthol is 85% oil, 7.5% lidocaine, and 7.5% alcohol.

I remember years back there was a documentary on a guy called Greg Valentino, the doc was called “The Man Whose Arms Exploded”

Greg being dragged away by the Sheriff’s Dept

Greg also pumped oil into his arms.  Unfortunately, he developed scars, cysts, tumors, SOMETHING, his arms became infected, junk leaked out, it caused scars in his arms, which led to giant DIVOTS in his manscaped biceps.  It was gross.

So why do some guys do this?  Image issues.  The same reasoning that leads women to get comically oversized breast implants.

Notice this woman is holding a Guiness plaque as well.  I guess the record books don’t care HOW they got big, biggest is biggest is biggest.

What makes me laugh about Moustafa this week though, is how smug he is, he is actually GIVING ADVICE on how to build your arms up!  check this vid:

“good genes”?  LOL

3000 grams of protein a day?????   ROFLLLL  By my calculations that’s 12,000 calories a day… ummmm, NO, just stop talking

The ultimate irony is, I remember when watching the Valentino biopic, it would show him working out, groaning like he was being ripped to shreds just trying to curl 75 pounds.  If those are his straight working sets, that is NOTHING for a guy with really big arms.

son, I am disappoint

So the guy with the biggest arms in the world probably also has some really weak arms, crushing your muscles under the constant pressure of all that trash.

I don’t know what to say, men and women alike need to wake up, stop focusing on the aesthetics and start focusing on the functionality.  So you have the biggest arms in the world, but can barely lift anything?  You bench press like crazy, but are scared to take a yoga class?  Trouble lifting your arms straight over your head?  Trouble balancing yourself on one foot?

Some food for thought.

See you tomorrow!

Day 13 – working sick

I put on my hat and went to work today.

 

Wednesday night I kept feeling hot and cold, but I also was crawling up the walls, it had been 4 or 5 days since I had gone to the gym, and it was boring.  Even worse, I was worried it would STOP being boring, and I would lose my motivation.

So today at work, as I battled hot flashes and the sweats, I thought about going after work.

 

There are some important things to keep in mind when you are debating internally about working out sick.  First of all, LISTEN TO YOURSELF.  Be well on your way to being in touch with how you feel and why you feel it, for everything in your life, everyday.  Be master of your own house.  As for me, I rested for 4 days, and now I needed to do something.

Secondly, how are you sick?  Is it above your neck or below your neck?  For a few days I felt shaky and weak, thursday (today) I just felt stuffed up, and a few brief fevers.  I felt my body was ok, except for the sweating, so I thought it was worth a test run.  If the symptoms are above your neck, it might be worth the attempt to exercise at a highly reduced intensity.  If the symptoms are below your neck, probably better to rest some more.  Don’t go for a run if you want to puke or have diarrhea or can’t feel your feet.

YES, I am aware a fever is felt below the neck as well.  Most doctors don’t recommend exercising with a fever, and don’t tell them I told you to… because I did not.  I made the executive decision to exercise with a fever.  Go back a few paragraphs and read again, I needed to try something different.

As well, how are you eating?  When sick, I tend to go more carb heavy, like most people do.  The trick is I still try not to overdo the calories.  Calories are still higher than normal, but I don’t gorge myself (unless I screw up, haha).  My point is normally I try for 20-30% carbs in my diet, 50% protein.  When sick it is more like 50-60% carbs, 20% protein.  I am feeding my body more immediate energy so I can carry out my day while still fighting off the bug.  Clean carbs, more fruit and bread than usual, not chocolate bars.

So towards the end of work I had an apple and some of my N0 Extreme, and walked down to the gym.  I felt good, although rather sweaty by the time I got to the gym.  Some days you just need to sweat it out, maybe today was my day.

There was a spin class starting in 15 minutes.  I wasn’t fully prepared, I only had some spare shorts, not the snug kind, just general loose athletic shorts.  That means I would have to be careful not to crush my nuts while hopping up and down on my stationary bike, and hoping the teacher doesn’t get a good view up my shorts.  But I thought it would be easier to hide my pale, sweaty, slightly stinky nature in the middle of an intense spin class than over on the treadmill with the riffraff.

 

I honestly can’t remember how class went, I spaced out a few times.  I followed the directions, I doubt the intensity was there if you were to look at me, but oddly, my face was rolling with sweat and there was spatter pattern all around my bike like Dexter examining a crime scene.

When the class was over, yoga was about to start, but a quick look in the mirror showed me looking pretty pale, so I chose to shower up, grab a booster juice as a reward/indulgence (odd since I have every single one of those ingredients at home, but decided to pay good $ to have one made for me 15 min earlier than home, lol) and then limped home.

At home now, I feel a little drained, but oddly satisfied.  Hope I wake up feeling ok tomorrow! *cross fingers*

I just can’t shake this bug!  It’s brutal.

I went to work, people were falling sick left and right.  I made it until about noon, during which time I had a fever and sweated through one of my shirts and had to put on my backup shirt I keep handy for just such occasions.  Came home early, all night I was hot, cold, hot, cold.  And the worst part was even through it all, I still felt like climbing the walls in boredom because it has been too many days since I went to the gym.  I need to get better soon, I am going stir crazy.

Day 11 – The Issue is Choice

I woke up this morning, still feeling foggy in my head, but I made the CHOICE to go to work.

the problem is choice

OK, I apologize for referencing The Matrix when trying to make a point.  Please don’t hold that against me 🙂

I went to work, with half-vague notions of rallying and going to the gym after work.  As the day went on, my head got foggier, so I took some Dayquil.  Then felt better, then it wore off, and I already had about 6 swigs from it, so I let my day play out (I had to stay late to catch up), then went home.

Do I feel bad about missing another day of the physical side of the 30 day challenge?  On some level yes, it sucks that the cards were stacked against me.  I could wheeze my way through a practice, I could hack my way through a public class and probably infect other people, but I chose to rest more.  But I also feel like writing, so here we are.

Choice is a powerful revelation when trying to get in shape.  It doesn’t just magically end with “choosing” to “start” getting into shape.  As most of you know by now, you have to wrestle with that choice over and over again, every single day.  They say 80% of the work is done when you just SHOW UP to the gym.  Every day you wrestle with your own innate ability to wriggle out of hard, stressful work.

But it goes even further than that.  Some days, you legitimately realize going to the gym is a bad idea.  You sprained your shoulder, you have the flu, whatever.  Some days you realize you have been eating healthy for so long that you feel like you are crawling the walls begging for a cheeseburger and a milkshake.  You think that if you slack off, you are screwing the whole thing up, you are falling off the wagon.  May as well just start eating nothing but junk food again!

It is a weird place we find ourselves in when we start to think of fitness like this tightrope, and if we fall off the path we have to reset the clock back to zero.

This is silly for SO many reasons.  All the work you have done doesn’t go away after spending 3 days lying in bed sick, it doesn’t go away if your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you and you eat a litre of Oreo ice cream.  It doesn’t HELP, but whether you were perfect all day, or screwed up today or got screwed by the world today, tomorrow you STILL have to wake up and start it ALL OVER AGAIN.  Fitness is a lifestyle, a rest of your life style.

So I am not beating myself up that I aggravated my shoulder and caught the flu during a “30 day challenge”.  You have to play the hand you have been dealt.  I got dealt a crappy hand this round, but I am going to play it out.  That is where real freedom lies in your life.  You make the choice, even when the odds are stacked against you, even when you fail, you continue to make that choice.

I think this is one of the reasons villains are so popular in stories and media.  Here you have these born losers, living by some code, and failing over and over again.  But they CHOOSE to keep chasing their dreams, even if the dreams are horrible.  Let’s be honest, a great hero is really boring.  A hero who fails and then wins is exciting, and a villain who fails over and over again and still puts on their hat and goes to work the next day is exciting too!

Not all villains are to be rooted for.  A villain who wins all the time is boring, and is probably a really repulsive story.  A villain with no code, aka a legitimate psychopath, is hard to feel sympathy for.  But all the popular villains of our myths have codes, even if the codes are alien to us.  Wile E Coyote must use gadgets to catch something inhumanly faster than him.  Jason is only interested in stopping promiscuous sex in and around Crystal Lake.  Freddy comes at us through our dreams, and needs us to fear him.

We sense the power in choosing to play the hand you are dealt, even if it is a losing hand.  We know Freddy is going to get put down at the end, but we like to see his plan play itself out all the same.

That is what Friedrich Nietzsche (a fav amongst all disgruntled young uni students) had in mind when he wrote about the Eternal Recurrence.  To be so “life-affirming”, that you would choose to live this life and take the exact same heavy lumps OVER AND OVER again.  Nietzsche of course never hooked up with the love of his life, never achieved the success he had hoped for, caught syphillis from a hooker, went crazy, and died.  So he had PLENTY of regrets.  But to choose to live that crappy life over and over again is where the real power lies., the power to master yourself even though you can’t control your circumstances.

Captain N

This mastery of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as you grow up.  I remember, years ago, I was doing volunteer work in West Africa.  I had a roommate from that country, he took me to see his uncle in the big city.  His uncle was a priest, a type of priest that blended together Christianity and some regional mysticism.  He was standing in the streets, barefoot, cars flying by, wearing robes.  I was introduced to him, and I was gracious, and apologized for being a little sick (I had just flown in to this country a few days earlier, and was feeling under the weather).  He looked at me, and (in French) asked me, “what was God’s name when He spoke to Moses?”  I looked at him with my jaw hanging open, and said, “… whut?”  My roommate apologized on my behalf, said I was a foreigner (obviously), and that I was not a native French speaker either.  So the priest began to speak to his nephew instead.

“His name was I AM.  These words are powerful, for they are the name of God.  So when you say I am sick, you are sick.  When you say I am healthy, you are healthy.  These words can shape your reality.”

He then took us for a walk through the slums of the city.  Cars stopped for him, people moved out of the way.  It was such an odd experience, I held onto it to this day.  The priest was right of course, your intentions shape your reality.  I can’t choose my own circumstances, but I can still define myself on my own terms.  I chose to go to work, I chose not to go to yoga tonight, I am still taking care of myself.

But even as I sit here, the lessons of yoga are still very much on my mind.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna stood out over the field of battle, overlooking the scene unfolding before him, and cried out in despair to Krishna:

Krishna:  Whence this lifeless dejection, Arjuna, in this hour, the hour of trial?  Strong men know not despiar, Arjuna, for this wins neither heaven nor earth.

Fall not into degrading weakness, for this becomes not a man who is a man.  Throw off this ignoble discouragement, and arise like a fire that burns all before it.

Arjuna:  In the dark night of my soul I feel desolation,  In my self-pity I see not the way of righteousness.  I am thy disciple, come to thee in supplication:  be a light unto me on the path of my duty.

For neither the kingdom of the earth, nor the kingdom of the gods in heaven, could give me peace from the fire of sorrow which thus burns my life.

Krishna:  In death thy glory in heaven, in victory thy glory on earth.  Arise therefore, Arjuna, with thy soul ready to fight.

Prepare for war with peace in thy soul.  Be in peace in pleasure and pain, in gain and in loss, in victory or in the loss of a battle.  In this peace there is no sin.

(from Chapter 2 of the BG, translation by Juan Mascaro)

Krishna speaking to Arjuna

I think there is an important lesson here for me, as I reconcile with the realization that I won’t have a spotless attendance record at the hot yoga studio.  The lesson is to be at peace with myself.  And I choose.

thanks for indulging my ramblings after 3 days of being a sick hermit!

see you tomorrow!