Archive for January, 2013


Push and Road Drills

I didn’t do TRX this morning! Surprise mofos!

 

I got out of work slightly late, and had a quick coffee with a friend, then headed to the gym to see what kind of trouble I could get into.

 

There was a spin class starting at 6, and I had about 45 min to do some weights.  I chose chest and triceps.  SURPRISE!!

Chest & Tri (60 sec rest between all sets)

dumbbell flat press:  160 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

2 handed tricep extension:  70 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 7

notes:  this took about 30 min, including making sure I got my name on the list for spin class.  Admittedly, the weights to reps ratios were not that hard for the prime muscle, but my shoulder was sore the night before, and I wanted to test it out.  Shoulder felt good, weight felt fine, could go heavier next time.  Since I was done on the last set of the tricep extensions, I figured I would do as many as I felt like.  Turns out I only felt like 7, haha.

 

had 15 min before spin, but I saw people were already picking out their bikes.  WTH!!??!  Come on people – this is why we have sign up lists, so we don’t have to fight for a space at the trough.  So yeah, I grabbed a bike and just spun my wheels for 15 minutes.

It was a “road drills” class, meaning the teacher picks their own tunes and routine (I normally do RPM, which has a certain schedule and structure).  Courtney was teaching this one, I had only had 1 class with her before.

Turns out Courtney is pretty good!  the music was really good, lots of heavy beats and long stretches of rhythm.  Dancy stuff, no need for silly lyrics.  The class itself was all heavy climbs… scary!  Only one real racing song, mostly 6 or 7 minute climb drills.  We started with a drill of 15 sec of standing climbs followed by 45 sec of seated climbs, as heavy as you could make it without losing the beat.  I thought THAT was grimy enough, turns out it was just the start.  We also had a 5 or 6 min steady seated climb, turning up the resistance every 30 seconds with no break.  Then we had 15 second standing climbs followed by 90 second seated climbs, did that for 6 or 7 minutes, awesome.  Then we had our straight race, 40 sec race followed by variable length ride-easys, did that for a while.

The whole class was only 60 min, but everyone was dripping sweat by the end.  I think someone mentioned the gym was extra warm today, that might have added to it.

 

Did I mention my legs were still sore from yesterday?  So this was a real good flush for me.  All those heavy pedal strokes were good for me, I noticed calf stiffness in both legs about 2/3 of the way through the class.  I take this to mean I am pointing my toes too much, so I focused on dropping the heel harder and that seemed to alleviate it a bit.

 

It was one dirty grimy spin class, and I loved it!  It really hit the spot.

 

And that was my workout today!

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I woke up Tuesday still slightly out of sorts about missing my Spin work, and thinking about my diet, which I have been struggling with.  Cutting out all bread, rice and pasta has been difficult.  The jury is still out on whether this is even a strategy that is right FOR ME, or if it is just a gamble based on what works for other people.  At any rate, my malnutrition is making me depressed.  It’s a sad day in Hell when I would step over the steak just to get to the breadstick, haha.

So I did a leg routine on the TRX in the morning.

TRX Leg: (workout routine came with the kit)

A.  Hip Press (aka butt lift) x 10, rest 15 sec

B.  Hamstring Curl x 10, rest 15 sec

REPEAT A-B, 2 more times

C.  Lunge x 15 (each leg), rest 15 sec

REPEAT C, 2 more times

D.  single leg squat x 10 (each leg), rest 15 sec

REPEAT D once more

E.  bodyweight atg squats (brief pause-rest at each comma) 25, 15, 10, 10

notes:  this one was the hardest yet!  Leg workouts are the most tiring of all workouts, this is why most gym noobs have bird legs.    Butt lifts and ham curls with the TRX were kicking my butt right out of the gate, either I have weak glutes and hams, or just weak for my relative size.

But the punishment wasn’t over.  If you do the math, I did about 90 lunges.  And if you spend time with me, you know I hate lunges, haha.  By the end I was half naked and sweating like crazy.  For the first time this winter, I wanted to sit under the floor fan and suck wind.  Lunges don’t bother my quads, they bother my hams again.  I did a basic type, a stepback lunge while holding onto the TRX so I could make the balancing easier and keep the speed up.

For the one leg squats I did the same basic version, hold my off leg behind me as I squatted halfway or lower.  I would like to hold my off leg out in front of me (pistol squat style), but I just can’t get the balancing down on that one yet.  Maybe next time I will try hanging my off foot in a TRX sling and holding the other sling and work on the pistol that way.

The TRX flashcard suggested I do split jumps next, but I told TRX to go fuck itself, lol.  I went straight to regular squats.  But to try and keep it difficult, I stopped using the TRX and just did it myself, my own bodyweight, butt all the way down to the ground.  I took a 5-10 sec pause when I had to, as I worked my way up to 60 reps.  I used to be able to do 30 without a pause, so I would like to work back up to that again (although to be fair my legs were not exactly fresh).

Then I went to work.  All through work I tried to keep my diet tight, also avoided coffee!  So by the end of the day I felt drained, no carbs, no coffee; all work and no quick energy makes Jack a dull boy.  I kept dozing off in the last 40 minutes of my day, so when it was time to go home, I gave up on any afternoon gym plans and went straight home to have a snack and a nap.

When I woke up from the nap I had a little more energy, so I decided to see how my shoulder was feeling with some light “sort of” pushups.  Not full ones, but sort of pushups… I did about 20 in the TRX sling, and about 50 pushups from my knees (not in a row, small pauses when needed).  My chest felt fine, but my shoulder was grumbling, so I called it a day.

And that was my day!

Nice Try

Cold, snowy day in Ottawa.  Wet flakes of snow kept falling all day, blotting out the sun and blocking the traffic.  Buses run slower, people walk slower.

I woke up, and felt like a morning pick-me-up.  TRX at 5 am, yesssss

TRX Basic Arms & Shoulders routine

A.  Biceps Curl x 10, rest 15 sec

B.  Triceps Press x 10, rest 15 sec

C.  Y Fly x 15, rest 15 sec

REPEAT A-C, 2 more times

D.  Clutch Curl x 10, rest 15 sec

E.  Reverse Grip Triceps Press x 10, rest 15 sec

F.  W Fly x 15, rest 15 sec

REPEAT D-F, 2 more times

notes:  I sipped on protein powder and water while I did this, since I normally wake up as hungry as a bear (waking up starving is my best trick to getting me up at 5 am, or else I just roll over and go back to sleep, haha).  By the time I was done this routine (roughly 20 min), my oatmeal was done cooking!

Doing biceps with the TRX is ok, but I don’t know if it was quite hard enough to really push me.  My problem is that I don’t think I have the setup quite right, if I lean on it with all my weight, the straps slip out a little (I have them on the shortest length and they lengthen on me) and my barefeet kinda slip on the carpet haha.  I need to tinker with it a bit and see how I can keep the straps snug and tight.  It was hard though, I was grunting the whole time, for what it’s worth.

Nothing beats a good old-fashioned dumbbell curl though 😛

Reverse grip triceps press felt good once I got the form down.

OK! The plan after work was I rush to my backup gym and try to make the Spin class.  Tonight they were running 3 classes in a row!  Score! This would be great for my spinathon prep, 3 hours of Spin.

I told Leslie on sunday that I needed to cancel the Monday session so I could do a triple Spin.  She looked at me dubiously.  I think she was worried it was a ruse for me to skip out on exercise altogether.  I can’t get too mad at her, that does actually sound like me… skip my gym session so I can do spin, then not do spin.  Oh well, that’s ok, I don’t need the support.  Sometimes you have to stand on your own.

So I slip and slide my way from work to the bus stop, squeeze into a crowded and shitty bus, get to the gym with half an hour to spare… then they tell me that the classes were ALL booked since Noon.  I guess at this gym they let you book cardio classes by phone starting the day before.  I had never done a class at this backup gym of mine before, only weights.  Yeah me.

So even when I try to do the right thing, it looks like I am still trying to weasel my way out of it.  Pissed and a little downcast, I went home to the apt building to do some rowing in my apt building basement, where I could be alone and grumpy.  When I got home I noticed I had left the stove burner on all day!  From the oatmeal.  What a lovely day!

So I cancelled my PT appointment and screwed up the spin classes.  I got in a TRX workout and 45 min of rowing.  Nice try, but no cigar.

And how was your day?

 

Lowest Common Denominator

Smells are not my friend lately.

That doesn’t sound good, but I will elaborate.   I have become more conscious of the smell of delicious foods as I go through my day.  Show up to the gym at 6 am?  The restaurant next to it is baking fresh bread with rosemary.  YUM!/sigh  Show up back home after a Friday night kettlebell/TRX workout?  Somebody in my building ordered pizza.  I can even smell the ingredients – oh hey, mushroom and green pepper and… ham.  Halfway through my spin session this morning, I smelled baked pasta and hot tomato sauce clearly.

My only saving grace in the past few weeks is that I have rediscovered my love for lemon juice.  Drinking water gets boring.  Sad but true.  But I bought a big bottle of lemon juice and squirt a few into my tall glass of water and it makes it delicious, refreshing and guilt free!  Water with lemon juice tastes better than fruit juice or soft drinks, no really.  So I count my blessings I feel this way, because drinking your calories is a quick path to weight gain.

I have been feeling a lot of pressure lately.  I am struggling with the numbers.  I took very quickly to lifting, to the MENTALITY that numbers need to go up.  Eat, lift, sleep.  More sets, more reps, higher weight.  But there is another mentality I haven’t put much thought into – the science of lower numbers.  Lower weight, lower bf%.  So I was getting stronger, but my weight loss had stalled.

Unfortunately, you reach a point where the high numbers get held back by the low numbers.  You are only as strong as your weakest link.  For example, my chest was stronger, but my shoulders couldn’t handle all the work.  I was doing too much chest and arm, and was also neglecting my back, it was going to build a slight imbalance.  And I also realized that despite getting stronger, I was doing poorly as ever on the bodyweight exercises.  I realized that for me to get stronger, I had to catch up with what was lagging.  My shoulders needed to be built up so my chest could keep working.  And I needed to lose weight before I could keep pushing the strength.  Otherwise I would lose my balance, and the gains would no longer be functional.

Unfortunately, the weight loss is slow and painful and tenuous.  One bad day and I see ZERO progress on the scale that week.  This was nothing like strength work, you don’t piss away your one rep max if you have a bad day (unless you injure yourself, I guess).

The weight loss is stressing me out, and it threatens to eclipse the rest of my goals just because it isn’t catching up with my strong points.  I am ruled by the lowest common denominator.  I feel stronger, fitter, clothes fit better, feel better, more energy, confident.  But the numbers don’t show any of this.  As far as the scale is concerned, I have not made any progress.

I try and be patient, but that is fading.  My only other strategy is to throw myself into cardio – I have a spin bike marathon coming up in one month (!), and I need to prep for that ANYWAYS, so I am going to load up on spin sessions as my schedule permits, and see if I lose some pounds in the process.  Aim for another goal, and hope the rest of my body gets the message.

 

So I did 2 spin classes back to back today, they went ok.  I was grumpy in general, forgot my towel (yuck), the pedals were set badly so the straps kept catching against the arm of the pedal and that was distracting.  I was also surrounded by people, most of the class was empty, but a bunch of ladies set up shop in a cluster around me, and it felt claustrophobic.  I needed more space.

But I got through it, there were a few good songs in those 2 hours, some Guns n Roses, some catchy dance songs, etc.  I got my work in!

 

And that was Sunday!  See you later!

Breaking in the TRX home Kit

It was cold today, but luckily, I wanted to test out the home TRX kit anyways! Well, it was kind of a test of how strong my doors and doorframes are, and where will give me the most free space to flail around with my arms, haha.

 

I tried out the chest and back routine that is included with the basic home kit

Chest & Back:

A.  chest press x 5, rest 15 sec

B.  one arm chest press x 5 (each side), rest 15 sec

clock press, AKA one arm pushup

C.  flyes x 15, rest 15 sec

D.  low rows x 5, rest 15

E.  mid row x 10, rest 15

F.  high rows x 15, rest 15

Repeat A-F, 2 more times

 

I got the whole thing done while dinner was cooking on the stove, yay!  I figured the rests were optional, so I didn’t rest in between the chest sets or the back sets first time through the circuit, I just went A-C and D-F no rest.  But by the 3rd set I took a brief rest in between each exercise, so I figured that was fatigue, good!

Did I like it??  Well, TRX has its place.  It is SUPER convenient, I can bust out all kinds of exercises while in the middle of my chores, I can see myself dragging it around when I travel… it takes up no space at all!  I am not slagging how hard it is, I can easily make it as hard as I can handle, or as easy as I need.  and yet… I feel really good when I am pumping iron.  It is a different vibe.  Something is very satisfying about iron in a way that bodyweight exercises are not; and even fancy suspension bodyweight exercises like these don’t give that same thrill.

 

So, yes.  I like TRX.  I think it will be JUST what I need first thing in the morning when I need a pick-me-up, or in the afternoon on a weekend when I am being lazy and this way I can get some resistance training in without locking down my whole afternoon.  But it won’t replace the gym, not by a longshot 🙂

I asked Leslie to spend a session with me just leading me through all the basic TRX exercises – showing me the ropes, as it were.  This way I can feel confident using it at home for whatever I need at the time. (We weren’t using a TRX at the studio, that is a brand name, but same thing basically.)

This workout is a little different, we just tried out all the movements we could, some of them were easier than others.  I figured we could take pictures, I have visual aids on hand when I want to see how it should look when I am at home; Les could check my form, give me pointers.  Win win.

We did:

Chest Press (a pushup)

Clock Press (a one arm pushup, free arm sticks straight out to the side)

clock press

clock press

Flyes

IMG_1805

Low Rows (arms by waist)

High Rows (arms by shoulders, 90 degrees)

Biceps Curl (lean back, curl yourself forward)

Triceps Press  (lean forward, elbows by temples, press back up)

Y Fly (reverse fly with arms in Y shape)

Y Fly

Y Fly

Clutch Curl (pull with your biceps like you are hugging something)

Triceps Press with a reverse grip (palms facing in, much harder)

W Fly (reverse fly, arms bent)

W Fly

W Fly

Hip press (lie on back, push butt straight up, this is hard!)

Hamstring Curl (lie down, bring knees to chest)

Lunge

Squat

Single Leg Squat

Torso Rotation (hold with one hand, lean back, curl other side of body up, wasn’t a big hit with me)

Core Work

Core Work

Crunch (plank position, bring in knees)

Side Plank (hard!)

Pike (uh… gettin rather hard for me, Leslie you do it!)

Pike

Pike

Mountain Climber (alternate bringing knees in, optional hip thrust up if you wish)

Supermans (lean forward, arms straight over head, like how Superman flies)

Chest Stretch

Hip Openers

Quad stretches (I liked these)

 

One thing to remember when using the TRX, keep your core hard and your arms flexed, or else you fall forward and strangle yourself with your own bodyweight…

IMG_1866

 

OK! Now, as I promised to discuss the other day, how long should you workout? Super fit people often do HIIT (high intensity intervals), AKA XX seconds going all out, then xx seconds resting. You can get your total workout done in 15 min! Everyone should do it right?

NO. HIIT is not for everyone. People just starting out, morbidly obese people, older people, people with bad joints, out of shape people… HIIT is unnecessarily tough on you. Maybe you get through the 15 min of craziness not injuring yourself, but you wipe yourself out so hard you go home and sleep for the rest of the day! How many calories do you burn lying in a broken heap? Don’t slaughter yourself in the gym then lay comatose in your house, surrounded by junk food and burning little to no calories.

Super fit people can do HIIT, then go lead an active or at least normal day. But the unfit or the newbies can reap much greater benefit out of LISS (low intensity steady state), AKA go for a walk for a couple of hours or a bike ride for an hour or something similar. You won’t blow out your knees, and you will still be able to act normal and do normal things for the rest of your day.

Daily caloric burn is also a function of your life, not just your gym time. Look at it this way. Let’s say you are 40 years old, super heavy, let’s say 350 pounds, out of shape, bad joints. Not horrible joints, but not strong joints. Underdeveloped muscles, not able to handle a ton of exercise. You burn about 2,500 calories a day just living your life, doing your job, maintaining your house, breathing, whatever. You have 2 options:

Option A – HIIT, do some tabata interval training for 15 min

Option B – LISS – go for a walk for an hour

Option A – you do some crazy tabata, 85% max heart rate, using the formula from calories-calculator.net, in 15 min you burn … 318 calories! 15 min work, 318 calories! score! You don’t hurt yourself, but you are badly winded, your lungs burn. You go home, take a nap. You end up lazing around for the rest of the day because you have a crackle in your lungs when you inhale, your daily burn of living your life is only let’s say 2000 calories instead, you are pretty close to immobile most of the day, laying on the couch for 7 or 8 hours. Total burn for the day: 2,318 calories!

Option B – you go walk the dog, then go for a brisk walk yourself, total walk time is an hour. Not strenuous but you huff and puff a little bit, maybe break a light sweat, 50% of your max heart rate. Using the calculator from above, you burned… 927 calories! You got a much better burn rate from Option A in a much shorter time, but after the walk you feel mildly energized, you do your chores, get your work done, you hit your “living your life” burn of 2,500 calories for the day. Total burn for the day: 3,427 calories!

You get my point? HIIT only works if it doesn’t burn you out. If you are quite out of shape, HIIT often does not make sense. Everyone is different and you have to find the routine that fits for YOU.

Next time I will discuss how much anaerobic work to do (aka how much to work your muscles).  See ya!

Damn, it got cold!  It isn’t the coldest day I have experienced this year (my family lives far up North), but it is the coldest day in Ottawa in 8 years!  Can’t wait for some water mains to burst so things can grind to a halt.

My TRX and my pushup grips arrived in the mail, hooray!

you’re doing it wrong

So I decided to do some morning stuff today.  I headed to the gym bright and early, took in a 6 am spin class.  The class was itself ok, not my favorite teacher though.  As a spin teacher, the guy is very boring and dull.  Dry like dry toast.  He doesn’t motivate me.  And yet, at 6 am, when I am half asleep, I kind of like dry and boring, haha!  I can cruise through it, following instructions, not exactly am I dialed all the way up to 10 but I am still sweating and still working hard, but also not have to have the teacher shouting in my ear because he is just too milquetoast.  Actually near the end he started shouting at us to work harder, and I wanted to tell him to shut up, just let me sleepwalk my way through a spin class, haha.

After class, I still wanted to do some lifting, so I dug into the bag of tricks for a “pull” routine – all pulling exercises.

60 sec rest between all sets and between exercises

Deadlift:  225 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

Concentration Curl:  50 x 3/3, 3/3, 3/3, 2/3, 2/3, 2/3, 2/3, 2/3

assisted widegrip pullups:  3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

stiff legged deadlifts:  130 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

prone straight leg lifts:  20, 13

 

notes:  As you can see, I wanted to work on form, lots of sets with low reps, relatively high weight (at least for me).  I didn’t necessarily find it hard to do the weight on these, next time I will go higher, this was mostly good practice for my form, 8 sets of 3.  The curls actually, my left bicep wore out halfway through, and I just could NOT get that third rep, much as I wanted to.  I am actually quite happy with my pullups.  Pullups are a notoriously horrible exercise for me, but these felt smooth and quite doable, so progress!!

Then I had to rush to work.

I don’t often train in the mornings any more, usually I go after work.  Why is that?  I used to think it was because I wanted to be lazy in the mornings and sleep in and lounge around.  This is partially true.  But I also realized I needed to factor in how much I kinda hate my job.  Lately it has been a big pain in my ass, and the thought of going to work fills me with dread.

This affects me two ways.  In the mornings I am milking out the “me time”, doing the things I love, listening to music, playing video games (even at 5 am!), AKA just delaying the going to work part and trying to become chill, attain zen.  Going to the gym brings me closer to work and I am trying to procrastinate the unpleasantness.

But on the other hand, I realize that when I walk out of work at the end of the day, stressed and drained, I am at my most tempted to go eat junk food, AKA to self-medicate with sugar and carbs.  So by scheduling my gym appt for after work, even if its just 30 min of cardio, it gives me something to DO, a plan that keeps me from having that dead air after work that makes it easy to pig out.  I cant go eat junk because I have to get my gym in.

So you see, even though I would rather work out in the morning because it might help me lose more weight to get my heart rate up first thing in the morning, your workout timing can involve other factors as well.

Do you want your workouts to be scheduled so that you lose the most weight?

Do you time your workouts to avoid temptation?

Do you time your workouts so that you aren’t distracted by friends or family?

 

In my case, I stopped feeling guilty about sleeping in, because I could use my workouts to avoid temptation.  No point having a heavy workout at 6 am, going to work and getting blitzed with stress, walking out the office door at 5 pm and heading to a McD’s.  The timing of your workout has to be right FOR YOU.  Everyone is different, so you have to find the setup that motivates you.  night owl gym time?  early bird?  nooner?  figure out what turns your crank.

Today, however, I had to run an errand after work anyways, I had to head to the store to pick up a new wireless router (my old one has had the bird), and pick up my trx at the post office.  So since I had something to distract me after work, I didn’t need to fill the void with the gym, and I could work out in the morning instead!  Make sense?

 

Next time I will discuss how long you should work out for.  See you then!

 

Dirty Acrobat Lovin

Livin the Dream…

 

Oh no, my cleanse pills are making me run to the bathroom anytime I try to do my core workout!  First-World problems, amirite?

I ordered a TRX kit and some “perfect pushup” grips, so I can do more crap at home.

YUP

The pushup grips are just for my wrists.  The TRX cable I mainly wanted so that I can work on my one-leg squats at home, plus I can do other stuff:  increasingly difficult Australian pullups, pushups in the air… whatever the hell that chick is doing in the bottom right.

Hmmm, wonder if I could use the straps for some dirty acrobat sex?  Yellow and black isn’t the most romantic color combo though… First-World problems, am I right?

 

After work I headed to the studio for a circuit session with Leslie.  I had wanted to do Spin in the morning, but I didn’t sleep well Sunday night so I couldn’t get up in time.

 

I did approx 30 min on the elliptical while I waited for our session.  Worked up a sweat.

First thing we did was renew our sessions, laid down our scheduling, paid some bills.

Circuit 1:  run twice

burpee to pushup to shoulder press of a BOSU x 10, 10

Renegade Rows 20lbs x 16, 12

Chest Press with Leg Raises 115 lbs x 10, 10

Side to Side on BOSU x 20, 20

Lunges with bicep curls 20lbs x12 (each leg), 12

Extended Plank 30 sec, 30 sec

notes:   AAAAND, during the first runthrough, during lunges, HAAAAAAD to run to the bathroom.  YUP.  That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.  Consider it an extra ab workout.

 

Circuit 2:  run through this twice

Step ups with Lateral Raises (Side/front) 10lbs x 12/12, 12/12

Sumo squat to upright row 25 lbs x 12, 12

Sideways over step and back x 20, 20

Side Lunge with 1 leg hold x12/leg, 12

Crunches x 12, 12

notes:  We were running short of time, from both doing business and doing my business.  So Leslie shorted the second circuit so we could run through it twice.

 

And that was the workout!  See you soon!

Cleansing Korean Kettlebells

All week I have been reeling from the cleanse kit.  It makes it hard to key up 2 hours of sitting in a forest of stationary bikes when you might need to sprint for the bathroom at any moment.  All week long.  The cramps have gone away, but I am a powderkeg.  Well, maybe a poo-derkeg!  See what I did there?

I wanted to cheer myself up, but didn’t know how to treat myself.  Then I noticed all the Korean restaurants close to my office building!  If you have never had Korean (it gets lost in the shuffle of exotic foods sometimes, living in the shadow of Chinese and Indian and sushi), you should try it!  I spent a few weeks in Seoul way back when I was travelling and needed somewhere to crash while I applied for a working visa to Japan, and was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the cuisine.

Korean food tends to very colorful, spicy, with a variety of foods in moderate amounts.  A traditional, formal dinner might consist of dozens of small dishes with multiple kinds of foods.  This tends to help with the portion control.  Meat isn’t the dominating feature of the meal, just another supporting piece.  Veggies tend to take center stage, even over the rice.  Cooking methods don’t involve a lot of frying in general.  Not a lot of heavy high-calorie sauces either.  Not that you can’t stuff yourself with fried foods, rice and beef if you really want to, but it doesn’t dominate the menu the way it does when you go for Chinese.  Although, to be fair, those Chinese menus got that way because they know that’s what us Westerners want.  Authentic Chinese food can be much more light.  Yet still, you don’t get as much pandering on a Korean menu – they stick to the rustic and traditional.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than by Korea’s national dish:  kimchi.  Fermented spicy cabbage, basically.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimchi

Low-fat, high-fibre, chock full of vitamins, probiotic, what’s not to admire about it?  People get scared by the description, but it really is a superfood.  Koreans love it to death, they don’t even mind eating it for breakfast (I told my hosts in Seoul I love kimchi, and I got a big bowl of it at 7 am the next day, haha)!  They even had a museum in the city devoted to its history and all of the seasonal varieties, free samples at the end of the tour.  To my limited understanding, they pack the veggies and spices in pots and bury them in the ground for a while.  tada, kimchi.  Whenever I go to a Koerean resto, I always order some extra on the side, it cleanses the palate nicely.

So I ordered some bibimbap on Friday, its like a stone bowl full of seasonal veggies and a scoop of rice, some pork, topped with an egg, laced with chili sauce, served sizzling hot like a plate of fajitas.  Some cold veggies on the side (and kimchi!), and a pair of solid steel chopsticks and a long handle spoon (some of the rice bakes to the side of the bowl).

my bibimbap

my bibimbap

I might have been tempting fate by eating spicy fermented cabbage while on a cleanse, but I figured my depleted tummy needed probiotic food more than ever.  We shall speak no more if it!

 

After work I headed to the studio for a kettlebell workout with Leslie.  I soon realized that putting your new gym shirt in the dryer is a bad idea!  So yeah, out of respect for everyone else in the gym, out of respect for you my dear readers, and in recognition of the shreds of my own self-respect, I threw another shirt on.

shameless plug!

shameless plug!

Looking at that pic, it is clear which shoulder was the one that had been sprained.

We cycled back and forth between 4 exercises, and finished it off with a suitcase carry.

IMG_1765

First circuit:

Kettlebell Swings 45×20 then 1 arm row 35×15 then Clean & Press 60×12, run through this circuit three times

rows done while in a lunge

rows done while in a lunge

the clean tends to bang up the back of your wrists

the clean tends to bang up the back of your wrists

Second circuit:  Goblet Squat to Press 40×15 then Pushups x10, run this circuit 3 times

pushups off the kettlebells

pushups off the kettlebells

notes:  by the second circuit I was feeling a little pooped, but hey.  Good times.

Finisher:  carry a 100 lb dumbbell in one hand while you walk for approx 30 seconds, 2 sets

Les trying to snap a pic without having to lift it off the rack, haha

Les trying to snap a pic without having to lift it off the rack, haha

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notes:  Les was going to get me to use a kettlebell, but they only went up to 50 lbs, so I rolled my eyes and said let’s use the 100 DBs instead.  This is to work your core – you try to walk normally, compensating for the weight without overcompensating and bending in the other direction.  I held it for about 30-35 seconds, at that point my grip was starting to go, so it obviously is a workout for your forearms too, as long as you keep trying to squeeze the handle instead of just using your hands as hooks.

 

And that was Friday!  Then I went home and crapped my pants.  Every story needs a good BUTTON to it.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Y’all come back now, y’hear?

 

I Choose

Lately, I have been having problems with my motivation.  I just don’t feel connected, mind to body.  When the mind and body are connected in your fitness goals, you feel “hungry” for success – you get excited at the thought of passing on that cookie, working out, pressing weight, making your heart beat faster.  Your mind tells your body what to do, your body does it, and your mind feels pleased.  Noone starts out with that connection, you have to force yourself to eat healthy and work out, and once you see the good results, you build that loop of events into your brain that makes you crave more success.  It is a way of staying focused.

I felt that connection, briefly, in November.  I was tired, doing the yoga challenge, pushing weight, but it MADE SENSE.  I could see the big picture.

Since coming back from Christmas, I have not felt that connection.  The new diet sucks, not enough carbs.  The work out is painful, ugh circuit training.  My energy has gone downhill most days at work.  I have felt less happy in general.  My sleep has started to suffer, I toss and turn a lot.  My appetite started to suffer, Leslie was looking at my food journal and saying I now eat less than her… a woman half my size in the middle of a cut for a fitness competition.  Food had been starting to lose its taste, between Thursday and Friday last week I had to throw out 4 meals halfway through because they didn’t TASTE like anything.  The diet feels like punishment, the workouts feel like punishment.  Am I depressed?

Part of me wonders if this is just a phase, like I need to adapt.  Part of me wonders if I am not maybe just reacting to life stress, and the fitness stuff is just an optional kick in the crotch while I am trying to find my balance.  I don’t feel BALANCED any more.  Am I depressed and my body is shutting down in response, or is my body shutting down and it’s making me depressed??

I have started to play around with my supplements.  I had been taking ZMA before bed, and I moved it to first thing in the morning.  Since I did that, I toss and turn less.  Can ZMA hurt your sleep?  It is supposed to HELP you sleep, and yet here I am, finding the opposite is the case.  But it feels better in the morning for me, so I switched.

Friday I did a kettlebell workout with Leslie.  Well, she saw how exhausted and strung out I was and instead she just had me try a variety of kettlebell exercises, so that she could string them together into a circuit for me.  It was like going through the motions.  I didn’t take pictures, I didn’t want to commemorate the moment.  And yet, by the end of the work, I actually felt more light-hearted, like for some reason swinging and pushing the kettlebells made me feel happy for a second.  Like the endorphin rush was a reward for me.

I thought about what was going on, all weekend.  I wanted to pick something I wanted to do, and then do it.  I wanted to reward myself and build that loop back in.

I had been thinking about signing up for the annual spinathon again.  Every year, the Goodlife gym chain here in town sponsors an 8 hour marathon of Spin classes back to back.  People come in and spin a ton, raise money for charity (Goodlife Kids Foundation) and have a good time.  I did it last March, I did 7 spin classes – spun for 7 hours, the whole routine over and over… races, intervals, mixed terrain, standing climbs, jumps.  I walked away from that feeling like I had blown myself away, like I did something I didn’t think I could do in my wildest dreams.  I decided to just keep going as long as I could and I had never spun for more than 2 hours and I did 7 and it blew me away!  That was the day I realized I had been selling myself short.

I wanted that feeling back.  So I have committed to doing the 2013 Spin4Kids Spinathon in March, and seeing if I can spin for 8 hours straight!!  I chose to do something about the funk I was in, and pick a challenge to serve as my compass point.

Sunday I headed out and did 2 spin classes in a row, the first time I had done that in probably 8 months.  My right ankle hurt a bit, but it felt REALLY GOOD.  I felt good about it.

I walked out of the gym on Sunday wondering if I needed to keep shaking the funk loose.  I went to the natural foods store and bought a 30 day cleanse kit.  Started taking it Sunday night.

Monday (today) the cleanse kit hit me harder on Day 1 than I ever thought possible.  I won’t get too graphic, but shit got downright APOCALYPTIC.  Signs and omens abounded.  My stomach was sore and cramping from the cleanse, but I still had a Monday workout with Leslie to go to!

I considered just going home after work and letting my guts settle.  Noone would blame me.  And yet.  I chose to go work out anyway, maybe not the wise choice, but it was MY choice.

Same workout as last Monday, lots of core – burpees and renegade rows and leg lifts and stepups and lunges.  My right ankle is still a little tender, and my stomach cramped the whole time.

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In the past few days, my sleep has improved, my appetite has improved (except for the cleanse), and I feel a bit better.  Why?  Because I CHOOSE to be better.  I made my mind go look for my body and help it out through this rough patch.  Some weeks it doesn’t come easy, no matter your best intentions.  Some weeks you have to force it to work.  But it’s better than letting it sit and fester.  You have to choose to push yourself, even if you can’t see the goal any more, even after the race is lost.

As you get older, you watch opportunities and potential slip away.  Injuries last longer, some dreams slip away.  You feel less powerful.  Eventually, you realize there is only one real power in this world.  The power to CHOOSE.  You choose what your goals are, and choose to go do them.  You don’t wait for everything to line up, you make your fortune yourself.  The only real power there is in this world is the power of choice.  You can choose to pursue your goals even when you don’t think you can win.  And this week I chose my path all over again.

 

http://rosiechee-terminator-fitnessjournal.blogspot.ca/2012/06/2012-day-158-behind-scenes-of-happiness.html