Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Question?

At some time, when it would be convenient, I would like to speak with you about your exercise routine. Let me know when you might have a free moment.

A Response!

I love to talk about my exercise routine.
In fact I talk about it so much I have been become self-conscious and don’t say that much anymore.
First a little background:
Long history of bad habits, smoking, overweight, (peak weight 288) and working all day and night.
Then vascular issues.
Actually was trying to begin exercising when they started.
Determined to recover better than before.
Got a Trainer: This lady is an angel.
Overweight, out of breath, this guy won’t last.
She only took me as a trial because of my wife.

Started with very basic training, most of the effort around diet and core exercises plus cardio, stared with 15 minutes on the elliptical and two minutes on the stair master.
Now go 7 days a week.
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Boot Camp (One continuous hour of circuit training; Running laps, hitting the heavy bag, hitting the mitts, hitting the speed bag, jump rope, squats, slip rope, agility ladder, curls, pushups, sometimes flipping tractor tires and sometimes pushing a car, always lots of movement and no rest).
Following Boot Camp on Saturday I train with Sparta; she continues to introduce new lifts and challenges so that even after a full year she can still find ways to test me beyond belief.
On the non-Boot Camp days I try to do between 30 to 60 minutes of cardio, Stair master or treadmill with a goal: run a mini marathon.
Following the cardio I go down and concentrate on lifting and working out different muscle groups.
I try to do abs every night and recently started the Ab Ripper from P90X.
I am trying to hold to a strict diet (going green-Brussel Sprouts and Spinach) with a goal weight of 168, currently at 195.2.
Other goals; 25 unassisted chin-ups or pull-ups and an abdomen like the Spartans in 300.
I don’t know if it is possible at the age of 63 but so far I have not found a limit and no one has told me I can’t do it.
I don’t know if it will extend my life but I never would have guessed I could feel this good.
I enjoy the "hurt" that comes with this; it is a sign that you are alive.

The Hat Is Back

The Cat In the Hat
The Mad Hatter
All essential elements in the story being told.
So now "The Hat” has returned to wander down this “rabbit hole” known as Boot Camp.
He has been more invisible than even the Cheshire Cat and I must note here; the Cheshire Cat has again become a paragon of attendance.
The “Hat” ran through all of the routines today.
The attitude of relaxation is the key characteristic of "The Hat”.
He doesn’t groan, get ruffled or walk away but just plows through each exercise with the intensity befitting a well-trained athlete.
I keep looking for him to sweat but I guess that isn’t something he does.
He is quick and fast on the mitts and doesn’t seem to like Mr. Heavy Bag as he punishes it with repeated body blows.
His laps are quick.
This is something everyone in the class appreciates, as that is frequently the timer for moving to the next station.
Today a new wrinkle was added in that the chair squats became the count, seventy-five, butt on chair before anyone got to move to the next station.
Sparta even made a point of saying, “I don’t want to see the ugly I have been witnessing with those squats on that first round”.
The class is much bigger now and the number ranges as high as twenty so it is quick and very little rest is afforded.
Missing for a long period makes it hurt all that much more when coming back.
So now "The Hat” is back bringing new dimensions to this party in the “rabbit hole” known as Boot Camp and needs to stay because then it won't "hurt" so much next time; or it could hurt worse.
It all depends on Sparta.
But gosh, now I can hardly wait till Alice and the others show up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh, Oh!

I heard it, my first thought, “Surely I misunderstood”.
Sparta had just finished a grueling exercise.
Some of the strongest people in the class admitted, there wasn’t much left in the well.
“I had to go down deep to finish that one”, said one of the stronger runners.
But there it was, “I am going to have to kick up the intensity, you guys are making it look too easy”.
Since when is sweating a pool, really a pool of water and wanting to drink it, making it look easy?
Since when is heaving for breath between stations to keep from throwing up, making it look easy?
Since when is doing crunches until you are sure that the pain in your lower abdomen is a burgeoning hernia making it look easy?
It is not easy; it is comforting, knowing you can get through it.
It is comforting to see so many other people suffering with you.
There are funny parts that demand laughter.
This keeps you from giving up.
It isn’t easy, it is actually hard but I think the fact everyone returns and loves the class gives us that beatific look.
Remember lack of sugar and oxygen can also make people look placid, beatific which is just before coma.
So part of me wants to say, “Bring it on”.
But then I am reminded of the time I deserved the paddle, a 14 inch ash blade with holes and a stout handle; as I bent over taunted my dad, “You can’t hurt me, bring it on”.
Hey I never said I was smart back then, just trying to be tough.
“Well then here it comes”, he said.
“Ha”, came the derisive snort.
Bending over and grabbing the ankles, I tensed as I heard the paddle whistle through the air.
The truth, it hurt, but I didn’t make a sound.
My Mom said, “Just say you’re sorry”.
No, this was a battle of wills.
I don’t know who won that day and although I didn’t move with much dexterity for a few days I never got the paddle again.
I think we both lost something in that interchange.
So I am always reluctant to say “bring it on” because generally somebody pays a heavy price.
So maybe I will just be quiet on this one and try to keep up.
If I can, maybe this time everyone wins.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Diet Time

“Baby, Some Gain Must Fall”

Gaining weight is easy.
Look at all of the temptations out there and I don’t mean the singing group.
I am talking about fried foods, processed sugars, doughnuts, cream pies, margaritas, beer, wine, tequila shots, pasta, ice cream, cocktail parties, (OOOOH) the odor of
“sin-namon” taking you back in time to cookies, chocolate cakes, the sweet smells of youth.
But no more, turn your back on delectable delights and instead turn to the rigors of Tofu, bean sprouts, black bean burgers on paper thin wheat rolls, protein shakes, boiled or broiled skinless chicken, water by the gallons, bars of fiber, protein chunks that taste like bad cardboard and vegetables, picked fresh and steamed without butter followed by the hollow taste of, “You lost four tenths of one pound in one week”.
Four tenths of one pound, “Is that what I heard”?
I know that one pound is equal to 3500 calories. Further I am told I need to reduce my intake to 1500 calories a day to lose two pounds a week.
I have done that and track it rigorously.
I exercise every day and I would guess I expend about 1000 calories a day in exercise beyond my basal metabolic needs, so it appears I am burning an excess 7000 calories a week.
That alone is two pounds of loss related to exercise plus the two related to diet so I should be losing four pounds a week instead of four tenths of one pound.
I am experiencing a “Factor of Ten” issue here.
This is a little like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole.
It is in fact a repudiation of the First Law of Thermodynamics (when energy changes type and leaves a system, it takes its mass with it).
That law states that energy and mass are constant, that is, in perfect balance, if mass is lost (Exercise or less energy than needed to maintain) an appropriate amount of energy is generated (heat, sweat) and if energy is converted to mass (food) an appropriate amount of energy is lost (cow dies).
This would not appear to be the finding in my case.
As I figure it I am running a 14,000 calorie a week deficit, divide that by 3500 and you are left with the obvious loss of four pounds.
In my case I lost four tenths of a pound running a 14,000 calorie deficit which means to lose one pound would require a 35,000 calorie deficit and a four pound weight loss would mean I would have to go in the hole by 140,000 calories.
Here comes that “Factor of Ten” again.
It took forty years to put all of this weight on and it now seems it will take four hundred years to get it off.
So if I determine to go to the gym every day for the next 146,000 days I should get it done, because “Baby, Some Gain Must Fall”.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Journey Through The Mind

It is getting close to the end of the training session.
The question, “Have I ever tried resistive training with you”?
The blank stare on my face says more than the mumbled, “No I don’t think so.”
“Well let me set it up while you go finish the dumbbell curls”.
When she is ready, she tells me to take a seat on the Preachers Bench.
This is a bench with a 45 degree slanted table that isolates various parts of the biceps while doing curls.
She begins, “I am going to have you face forward and pick up the bar and begin doing curls. I will be adding resistance by pulling on the attached rope.”
“Many people have cursed at me during this exercise”.
“It gets into your head.”
I think, this can’t be that bad.
So I start.
Immediately I discover it is bad, really bad.
I plow through the curls, each one getting harder than the last.
Next, I resist the pull on the rope and struggle to hold the bar in place.
Ultimately it goes down and now even without the resistance it is getting hard to reset in the up position.
Finally the resistance on the curls and against the pull down.
At one point I start laughing, something someone said, I don’t even remember, just the command, “come on keep moving, no rest”.
Somewhere deep inside I am not sure why I am still trying to do this.
An instinct for survival and an escape from pain is trying to shove into the foreground.
There is real pain now, there is real agony that keeps mounting and this lady keeps telling me to keep up the pace, don’t slow down, don’t stop.
I know at a brainstem level, somewhere below active thinking that I will not stop.
This is something I shouldn’t have started because there is no way to gracefully stop.
Once started, you have to finish.
I not sure, but I think whimpering sounds are escaping from my mouth.
I know this just isn’t right.
Then it is over.
“Really gets into your head, doesn’t it”?
“It is great for building muscle”.
“We will do this again in another month”.
“That’s great”, I think to myself and head for the locker room but only after thanking her for this “really unique experience”.
The next day I was surprised because my biceps didn’t hurt and I was able to do five chin-ups.
I hadn’t slept the whole previous night thinking about the experience but here the next day I am no worse for the wear.
Sparta saw me and asked, “Do your arms ache”?
“No, I am good”.

“Then your mind gave out before the biceps”, we need to do it again and soon.”
Oh, joy and whoopee.

I found the following comment concerning this exercise on a bodybuilding website:

Torturous Varying Tension Method
I saved this for last, because it is truly one of my all time favorite shocking
methodologies; most will never have what it takes to gut this one out.

I sure hope my brain stays for the next round.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Different Kind Of Blog

From a dear friend:
I’m lying in bed writing this upside down. I must have some kind of bug. I’m weak as a kitten. You on the other hand seem to be living the high life again. I don’t know too many people who exhibit as much happiness and love life the way you do. All you had to do was figure out that joy does not come from money or things. It comes from people, activity, and faith in God. You are an inspiration to me. I really need to get excited about exercise and not spending so much time thinking about work. I’m constantly on my B-berry. It seems to be my drug.

My Answer:
It is true the B-berry is a drug.
But it is a drug much like Heroine or Cocaine.
It takes you out of life and encloses you in a cocoon of perceived comfort and wisdom.
You are plugged into the “net” and bombarded by all of the “experts” and all of the opinion.
Tiger, Brittany and all the meaningless trappings of the secular life become the important issues of the day.
By necessity your activities diminish and as the Plugged-Ins continue to evolve, their children will be born without legs and the B-berry will be part of their DNA and they will lie in little cocoons and be serviced by Robots and Twitter, Facebook, e-mails and Texting will be the new way of life.
They may live in little electronic networks for eons but no sun will ever shine on their faces.
My line will be of the Gym culture and will run races and lift weight and live in the sun and won’t Twitter or Text but will eat plant protein and travel to new worlds and explore the universe in real time and finally die in their old age having absorbed every bit of life that is possible.
It is said that the Kingdom of God exists on this earth and it is our job to find it.
I do not believe it will be found in an electronic B-berry but instead in the physicality of daily life, the connections in real time with the messiness of sweaty hugs and hands pressed together in greeting, the real contact of daily life with all of the grittiness and beauty that lies there.
I do not Twitter or Text, I call or walk down the hall and watch the face, the eyes, the language of the body or meet for lunch or sweat in Boot Camp to feel the press of the crowd and risk “sudden” death out in the open and love every minute of it.
It seems Jesus also liked to go out and walk among the real people of the world, to investigate and solve their problems and show them and us a new way.
That is where the Kingdom will be found each and every day, out in the real world of people with all their problems, joys, hopes and faith.
Our trainer says it better than me, ”Go hard or go home”.
If you hang with the B-berry you will surely curl up and die from all of the anxiety stored in that little machine.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year

It is hard to believe another year has passed.
It is hard to believe I am going to be one year older.
No, I don’t want to do 63 jump squats.
45 jump squats were bad enough for the other birthday boy.
I began wondering at about number 35 if I was going to be able to finish.
Then on to the “Shoulders”, I was told to pick the weight, “8 pounds”, I suggested.
The recommendation was received with unabridged enthusiasm.
It was like I said, “I have a really bad disease and am highly contagious”.
It is good thing looks can’t kill and words only sting the soul.
Next time I think I will recommend 9 pounds.
Let’s see what kind of response that generates.
It was good to have my training partner back for the first Saturday session of the New Year.
We both have new goals to set.
Mine, lose 20 to 25 pounds, do 25 chin-ups, get through the Ab Ripper without pausing and train for some level of a marathon, mini or otherwise.
My exercise partner was not as forth coming.
I am still waiting to hear those goals.
In closing out this past year a whole lot of thanks goes to Sparta.
She has challenged.
She has inspired.
But thanks also to Ammo, Ambassador, Transformer, my Saturday exercise partner, the Bear, Mr. Id, Superman and all of the others that each in their own way continue to make this experience more than just exercise.
Not an end but a new start in 2010, a weight loss contest, “the Ab Ripper”, continued exercise sessions, more aches, pains and intensity as the weight drops and the endurance climbs.
I know I am still wandering in the foothills but the mountains will still be out there when this climber is ready.