Tag Archive: “power flow”

Day 17 – working through tired

So the plan was to do chest and triceps in the morning, then work, then do some Forrest yoga at night.

Then I decided to stay up to watch Sons of Anarchy, haha.  Then I slept in the next morning.

So now the plan was to do yoga after work, then do some late night lifting.

All day at work, I felt a creeping fatigue setting in in my legs.  Looks like the workout yesterday might pay off some microtrauma dividends after all.  But it also sapped my energy further, and I never felt like I got that full night’s sleep.

Work went over by about 15 minutes, so I was rushing out the door and onto the bus to make it to the 5:30 class with Lisa.  I decided that since for weeks now I had been doing the 90 min Forrest class at 7:30, why not this week do a 75 min power flow class at 5:30?  You have to mix it up, can’t let myself get too comfortable.  Plus, I thought an earlier class afforded me the best shot to do some lifting later.

Class was pretty packed.  I settled in between two guys – one of which just placed his mat wherever he felt and not within the handy tape markings, and another guy who got all offended when I squeezed in between them.  Maybe he assumed he would be getting more personal space in a November hot yoga class?  Suck it up, buttercup!

Anyways, offended guy squeezed to the right so now his mat was out of whack.  Even before the class, I noticed that both of them had very aggressive breathing.  They were NOT relaxed.  I wondered if either they were both genuinely stressed out, or both just being affected greatly by the heat.  They both looked to be in decent shape, so why so serious?  I decided that this class I would make an extra effort to make it look effortless, I would be a calm moment of zen in this heavy breathing corner of the hot room.  If I felt I was getting sloppy and panting, I would back off, even if that means I wouldn’t look like an athlete.

As the class got underway, we were doing a series of planks, and I felt a pinch in my wrist.  So I backed off for a few minutes and did some wrist-stretching exercises on my own.  I missed a few side planks in the process, but oh well.  After that, my wrist felt better for the rest of class, so I was glad I did it 🙂

Even with the occasional break, the class was hard.  It was hot, sweaty, taxing.  Very quickly into class I realized that my energy levels were not very high, and I also guessed that if this class drains my battery any further, I would be headed to the gym to lift while I was totally worn out.  I don’t want that, I want to lift while my energy is high, I want to overload the muscle, not just go through the motions and burn calories.  So by about 40 min in to class, I resolved this would be my only workout for the day and chest gets pushed to Thursday.  so make the most out of this hot yoga class!

And the class was pretty challenging.  I rather enjoyed though when we were told to flip our dogs, which means you gotta step onto someone else’s mat… normally I don’t do it if the person beside me doesn’t do it, I don’t want to get all up in their bubble.  But then Lisa said, “maybe just do it tonight and introduce yourself to your neighbour”, or words to that effect.  I had a twinge of caprice, and decided that NOW was the perfect time to get into the space of huffy guy who got offended before class; so even though he wasn’t flipping his dog, I flipped over like a crab, planting one foot on his mat, arching my back and stretching my hand out.  hahaha, consider his world ROCKED.  I’m such a rebel 🙂

(I am probably imagining it, he is probably very nice and I am inventing drama, don’t take me seriously)

As the class wore on, and I was getting my butt kicked, I wondered, “wow this grind is getting to me.  I can’t remember the last time I came to a yoga class and just rocked it out, like it was no big deal.  every class feels greater than me.  my energy never feels like it has time to recover.  I haven’t been a yoga superstar in maybe over a week.  I am sitting out of stuff way too much, these moves are just wearing me down.  this 30 day challenge is just pulverizing me.”

And the class kept going, more cues, more poses, more stuff.  And then a funny thing happened, I started to just let it go.  I started to shed my attachment to looking pro, or sticking crow, or a perfect vinyasa flow.  I just did every pose I could because I just liked doing them.  And I started to feel really HAPPY.  It almost became joyous.  I was sweating my guts out, but enjoying the moment.  For the next half hour or so of class that was left, I just enjoyed the moment, like there was nowhere else to be.  I had finally worn out my stubbornness and ego through hard grinding practice, and suddenly felt REALLY GOOD about myself.

I think this 30 day challenge might be starting to work its magic on me!

After class I grabbed a quick shot of Lisa, and thanked her for the great class.  Lisa gave me a great shot, she tried to recreate her Lululemon poster, haha!

pretty close Lisa!

My tank was still pretty depleted, so I left the chest and triceps for another day, and came home to just relax, eat some good food, listen to music, type up this blog, and get to bed as early as I could!  I was dead tired today, but worked through it, and found some joy in the process.  Great Day 17!  See you tomorrow!

Strawberry Moment

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. His arms started to tremble, he could not hold on much longer. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.  It was the sweetest strawberry he had ever tasted…

What does this mean?  This parable can mean anything you want – it is one of those stories you think about for a while, pack it away, come back to it a few years later with fresh eyes.  For me, it reminds me to live in the moment, but even moreso, how SWEET that moment is.  It’s not just that you live in the moment so that you forget about the dangers around you, but you savour what life has to offer, sometimes its fleeting nature makes it even more precious.  A cool breeze on a hot day working outside, a beautiful dream seconds before you wake up. a child smiling at you on the bus ride to work.  These little moments must be appreciated for all their richness and splendour.

I have learned to apply them to my workouts.  30 seconds in between sets, 2 min in between exercises, 1 day off before I go back to the gym.  I watch the seconds tick down on the clock, and I know that during this rest, my body is gathering energy, its building me up.  I know that muscle gets built while you rest, I know that I have time to refocus and gather my strength.  Sometimes when I am wheezing and sweating after a rough set, Leslie will give me “10 more seconds” before the next set starts.  Those 10 seconds are a frozen moment in time when I can smile, and bask in the endorphins and the good vibes of a hard set.

I can lay on my mat after a grueling hot yoga session and lay in savasana, and let my body reap the rewards of all my hard work.  I can feel my breath, I can enjoy the moment.  I can surrender, and feel good.

On to today!  I knew I had both a training session w Leslie and a hot yoga class to accomplish.  I considered a morning yoga class, but I just HAD to watch Walking Dead and Dexter last night, so I slept in this morning 🙂

This meant I had to rush to work, and after work I had to rush to my PT session.  I could rush to hot yoga right after, but that means I wouldn’t eat for like 6 hours, which isn’t part of my fitness plan.  So the plan was to go to workout at 5:30, go home and eat, have a power nap, then go to a 9:30 pm 60 min hot yoga power flow class.  9 frickin 30 pm… who does power flow after 10 at night??  Good luck falling asleep after that, you will be all wound up!

Add to that, I have not done a really active hot yoga class since early September.  I felt very rusty, unsure of myself.  Add to that today with Leslie was leg day.  Last week leg day I walked into the changeroom ready to puke.  I was positive I was going to pulverized in the gym, then head to yoga and get pulverized even harder, maybe even embarass myself.  There was a tiger chasing me tonight.

Showed up to the gym.  Leg day:

10 min warmup on the elliptical

chatted w Leslie about our scheduling

squats:  135×15, box squats  135×12, x12

one legged bodyweight lunges with CX strap and a hand support (each leg) 10, 10, 10

not coordinated enough for free hands

leg extensions:  75×20, 110×15, 135×15

leg curl off exercise ball:  12, 12, 12

superset bodyweight bootstrap squats to standing calf raises 3 ways (pigeon toes, ballet toes, straight feet):  20/20/20/20 x 3

fat guys and their giant calves

bootstrap squat start

bootstrap squat finish

lazy V raises:  12, 12, 12

lazy because my back isn’t leaving the ground, haha

notes:  after a set of squats, Leslie noticed some rounding in my back, so we put a box under my butt to keep my spine stright.  You don’t sit down, you touch the box for a second then go back up.  It also helped with my timing, so it’s all good.

I am horribly uncoordinated with lunges, so having the pole for steadiness helped with the one legged lunges.

When we did leg extensions, we couldn’t adjust the pad, and it was too high, and put a ton of pressure on my shins (ok, maybe only 135 pounds of pressure, haha).  When I was done with my sets (which I can go heavier on), my shins were pushed in and slightly bleeding, lol!

Do the leg curls make sense?  You put your feet on the ball, and do a butt raise while rolling the ball under your elevated feet.

Do bootstrap squats make sense?  It’s like a bodyweight full squat but you keep your hands on the ground, ha.  Calf raises felt good, I am looking forward to doing more, I think my stubborn fatboy calves respond well to long sets of bodyweight work (60-100 reps per set); not weighted sets of 12, those don’t feel right.

I left leg day not wanting to puke!  Awesome!  My legs felt rubbery though.  I went home, ate some food, listened to music, got under a blanket and napped for 40 minutes.  And it was the sweetest strawberry ever…

Then I headed to hot yoga.

Katie was teaching!  Katie is great.  She knows about my shoulder issues, I think it’s always fair to let the instructor or guide know about your health issues.


Man my eyes look sleepy from the gym and the nap!  ha.

Power flow was interesting.  60 min of some sun salutes, then flows, then flowing through warrior 1s to chaturanga, some core work, 3 legged dog, 2 legged dog (!), hip-opening dog to side plank, crescent lunge to crescent lunge twist, crescent lunge to half moon to wide legged forward bend, reverse warrior to straight leg triangle. side crows, garland poses, crows. pigeons and boat poses and spine twists.  And did I mention lots of one leg chaturangas?  LOTS.

I sat out a bit of the shoulder work, lots of the one legged planks and 2 legged dogs.  I just wanted to take it easy on my shoulder.  The sweat was still flowing though, trust me!  I had to sit out of boat pose, my tailbone just can’t take it right now.  I can do low boats, just no high boats.  No crows for me either, sadly.  One highpoint for me though, half moon felt really good!  You have to stack your hips, and I could feel my hips stack perfectly, it was all balanced on a hand and a foot and the other side of my body extended up and out.  Considering how rusty I was, such a RIGHT feeling half moon on each side was very gratifying for me.

I wasn’t pulverized.  I survived.  I stumbled home, sweaty and happy.  And that was just Day 1 of the challenge!  29 more to go!

Introducing: Volume

Hello World!

I intend to use this blog to log my workouts and fitness efforts.

More about me:  I am 34, 6’4ish, about 285.  I live in Ottawa, single, no dependents, I have a desk job.  I worked really hard in 2011 to lose weight and get into shape – in that year alone I lost 85 pounds!  But now that it is 2012, I feel like I have lost a lot of momentum, and I want to stay accountable.  Hopefully that will help me get back on track.  My goal weight is either 230, or just look so awesome it doesn’t matter what the numbers say, haha.

My game plan:

I need to keep a healthy sleep pattern, when that thread is loose, everything else unravels.

For diet, I will be borrowing the P90X2 meal plan.  I have tried the original P90X meal plan, but I found that sometimes it stacks the food in odd places.  This might make sense with their workout routine, but I needed something more flexible, since I am planning my own workouts.  I have found the P90X2 plan to be a much better fit, and I could feel that right away.  Based on my profile, I will be on the Level C Fat Shredder plan – that is 3,000 calories a day, approx 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% healthy fats.  I will keep this up as long as it feels achievable.  In practice, this often means I get one bread type item a day.

So what does a typical day look like?  Take Tuesday, another day at the office.  For breakfast I have 4 slices of bacon, a grapefruit, a bagel, a cup of skim milk.  The bacon was cooked in a Tbsp of olive oil, no butter on the bagel.  Mid morning snack is a protein shake and a cup of celery.  Lunch is 6 oz of meat, and a cup of non-cream based soup, like a vegetable soup.  Mid-afternoon snack a cup of low fat cottage cheese and 1 oz of peanuts.  Dinner is 6 oz of whitefish, like a tilapia, another cup of soup. 2 oz of cheese and an apple.  Snack before bed is more protein, and some Greens powder.  Sprinkled in and around the day as I see fit, are “snacks”, depending on my cravings, some avocado, yogourt, fruit, cheese, etc.  Approx 700 cal worth of snacks.  In practice I usually have about 400 or 500 of that 700 allotment, depending on the physical activity.

I find this works for me, I can adjust it as needed if I run low on something, the food is arranged like “blocks”, so similar to whatever point-based system regular dieters are familiar with.  I have never tried Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or the like, but I assume it is similar to one of those.  But I can improvise, and know how to account for it without feeling like I totally left the reservation.

I should note that I drink A LOT of water.  A lot.  I try to drink 6 Litres of water a day.  This helps me in all aspects, elimination of waste, helps me get a good sweat on when I exercise, good for the skin and good for my energy levels, etc.  It complements working out a lot, especially the cardio, if I am too dehydrated I can’t keep up the cardio, so it is a good way to benchmark my activity levels.  Making 6 litres is no problem any more if I have a good cardio session, it still feels tough when I am on a major rest day though

For supplements, I use a few:

– I take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey and Casein protein powder.  Whey is the standard powder I use, but I use casein if I need a slower digesting protein, like the shake I have before I go to bed, or if I will be doing yoga for a long long time, and I need to keep my energy up on an empty stomach.  The powder seems to have a solid nutritional profile, some extra BCAA’s and Glutamine along with the protein.

– I am currently using the Rivalus Complx5 pre-workout powder, for a quick pickmeup of energy.  It is stimulant-free, which I think is better in the long run.  Not only do I want to try and wean myself off caffeine, but the more caffeine you use in your pre-workout powders, the more of a tolerance you build up to it.  I am used to it by now, it doesn’t blast me with energy like it used to a few months ago when I started, but I find when I am feeling low energy, it does help boost me without leaving my head feeling fuzzy or crashing later like caffeine does.  It is a smoother more mild, longer-lasting boost.

– I take the Dymatize Elite Recoup BCAA.  I tend to sip on that during a weight routine, and after the routine is over.  I liked the Recoup right away when I tried it 5 or so months ago, and have stuck with it since.  It helps my recovery time for muscle exhaustion.  It tastes good, and I sometimes catch myself wanting to mix it into my drink at other times, which is a waste, so I am trying to nail it down to weight routines, or after a heavy yoga session if it is handy.

– I take Glutamine twice a day, when I wake up, and before I go to sleep.  Glutamine helps me from feeling really spread thin.  When I started working out, after a heavy session I felt stretched thin, like I could catch a cold and wouldn’t be able to fight it off.  I don’t feel that with the glutamine.  It’s not like I don’t get sick or don’t get tired, but I don’t feel worn out in the same way, I can easily notice the difference, and it helps me to keep a more aggressive schedule.

– I cycle Creatine Monohydrate.  4 weeks on, 4 weeks off.  The first week at 4X5g scoops a day, and the other 3 weeks at 2X5g scoops.  Creatine gives you a little more of that “last-second” energy, when your muscles are tired and have just one more push left in them, when you feed off ATP.  This helps you get one more rep in, staves off exhaustion just a little bit more.  I like Creatine, it helps to drink a lot of water, which I do, but if I didn’t cycle it, I would build up a tolerance, and so cycling is standard.

– Post workouts, I take Waxy Maize, it is a simple carbohydrate, and it not only is a quick bit of food when I recover from a workout and my elevated heart rate helps me burn it off right away, but it also helps with the uptake of other items like Creatine.

– I take Greens on occasion, think of it like wheatgrass powder, but a little more sweet.  I get some servings of veggies in that way, and get a little bit of fibre going when I want to feel more full or keep it moving, so to speak.

– I take a multivitamin 3 times a day.  I also take Vitamin C, E once a day, and D once a day in the winter (now over).  I used to take Melatonin, but don’t any more, don’t need it.

All of this, I should say for those who don’t know, is natural, and not controlled or harmful in any way.  I don’t cheat, it doesn’t make sense for what my goals are, nor is it healthy, in my opinion.

My workout plan:

– I do weights three times a week.  One day is Chest and Biceps, one day is Shoulders and Triceps, and one day is Back.  I use to have a Leg day, but due to the amount of leg work I do in my other activities, I found it to be too much, so I cut out the weight routine.  It became not only unsustainable for the sheer volume of the cardio plus the calisthenics plus the weights, but it also aggravated some issues I had with calves cramping and IT band inflammation.  If the volume reduces in the calisthenics, then I might throw weights back in.  I also do abs with weights once a week or so.

– I use a varied number of reps in my routines to keep the muscles working.  This means a few sets of high-weight, low-rep main lift compound exercises, the bench presses and the deadlifts, etc, followed by a couple of exercises with a couple of sets each of the mid-rep assists.  Then I finish off with a high-rep low-weight set or two of an isolation exercise (my “burn” set).  The way the burn sets work is you go until you fail, let’s say around 15-20 reps, then you take a breath or two and squeeze out a few more, take a break, go more, etc etc, until you hit 40 reps.  By the end, you can only squeeze out one more rep before you run out of gas, it works really well to finish you off.

– I try and keep the weight sessions to an hour or less, which gets hard sometimes with the burn sets, they are time-consuming.

– as soon as I get the target reps in all working sets done, then next week I up the weight.  Always try and up the weight, never fall into a rut if you can help it.

– I try and go to a Spin class once or twice a week.  It is just a good calorie-burner, and the hour goes by quick, what with the music and the yelling and shouting.

– I try and go to Hot Yoga for about 4 to 6 classes a week.  I love hot yoga.  I go to one studio regularly, and experiment with other studios when there are good deals available.  The heated room helps me sweat like you would not believe, and it loosens up my muscles some, and the yoga has been really great for toning my muscles and improving my flexibility, focus, blood pressure, breath control, fallen arches, balance, stabilizer muscles, appetite control, core strength, the list goes on and on.  I go to the Moksha studio, Moksha is a chain of mostly Canadian hot yoga studios, with their own set of specific moves.  Classes vary between their regular series, which I find to be very lower-body focused, some Power Flow classes, which are Baron Baptiste inspired, and work the upper body a lot more, or Yin classes, which are just pure, deep stretching, and work your connective tissues really well.

– I am working through the “100 pushup challenge”, the 150 dip challenge and the 200 squat challenge.  Those are free online plans to gradually build yourself up to the point where you could do all those reps for those exercises in one go.  They are 6 week programs, repeating weeks if you dont hit the targets you need to advance.  I am currently in week 4 of the pushup challenge, week 5 of the dip challenge, and week 4 of the squat challenge, and the progression has really slowed, probably owing to the other stuff I do and how much I tire myself out.  I find I end up doing them once or twice a week, as opposed to 3 times a week if I had only those to focus on.  They also have an ab challenge, but I find I work my abs much better in the yoga classes or in the weight room.  In practice, this means I do abs every second day.  If I take yoga more often than that, and they throw an ab routine at the class, I will just sit it out and watch, doing abs every single day becomes counter-productive for me.

– I am working through the Convict Conditioning books.  Those are books intended to build up your strength through bodyweight calisthenics.  They have 6 main exercises, the pushup, the squat, the leg raise, the pullup, the back bridge and the handstand, and they build you up slowly month by month, until you can do some amazing things, like one arm pushups and one arm pullups and handstand pushups, etc.  I am just starting Stage 3 out of 10 on the first four exercises, and just starting the last 2, in the first stage.  So I am pretty early into the CC book’s routine.

– I also do the stuff in Convict Contioning 2, I do hand, grip and forearm exercises twice a week, I do calf training twice a week, the book’s stretches twice a week (though I get plenty in through yoga), and neck strengthening twice a week.  I have decided not to try and do the book’s clutch flags and press flags, mostly because I am big and fat, and it is an exercise in futility right now, haha.

As you can see, that is a lot of volume!  Both volume of my first post, and volume of my workout plan.  I will use this as a template as I try to get in shape, and who knows how long I can keep it up?  It should be a fun ride, and I hope you enjoy reading as I chronicle it.