Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Last Day of May

Today was the last day of classes at Pardes, (for most of the students - my program has a few more weeks) and so we had a special lunch to celebrate. I had salad and hummus, drank lots of water, and generally ate clean. But lunch had started at 12:30, and with the speeches and singing and goodbyes, we were sitting at the table for over two and a half hours. By the time everything was done I was hungry again, and I inhaled two squares of chocolate cake and a slice of watermelon just before heading out the door. The positive angle is that I ate because I was hungry, and I stopped at two squares. The negative angle is that I ate it way too fast. I should have slowed down, sat down, taken my time, and enjoyed the cake. I ate it standing up, while getting my stuff together and getting ready to go home.

I bought a huge frying pan from one of the students who is going back to the US. Now I have something to use for stirfrying. I am looking foward to adding chicken breast to my menus again. Sometimes I think I should have brought my Foreman grill to Israel with me.

I walked home at a pretty good clip; easy to do when one is listening to songs from the Rocky soundtracks. Once I got there put in two loads of laundry. I also got back on track and had 250g of cottage cheese and two and a half cups of sliced light and dark green peppers for meal #4. I like peppers: they're easy to prep (wash, slice, eat) and are very portable. I'm lazy about food prep.

Remember my conversation with D (he of the outdated "weights will make you bigger" school of thought)? Today we had another conversation. I was wearing one of my favourite t-shirts. It's an Old Navy vintage cut men's t-shirt from two years back, that says on it "Thunder McPhail's Powerlifting Camp". D sees the shirt and asks "You into powerlifting?". "Yes," I say. (This is the first time I've been able to answer this question with "yes", since I am doing a four day split: squat, deadlift, benchpress, assistance.)
D pauses. "How much can you bench press?"
"Come to the gym with me and find out," I say. This is not a question I care for. It's so... cliched. I've never asked someone what she or he benches. Nowadays when I meet a guy or see one in the gym I wonder idly what he can squat, but I would never ask. "Why do you want to know?"
"I want to know if you can kick my a$$," says D. We both laugh. He went on to say that he hasn't benchpressed since he was in college, and that the gym is not in his budget right now. The thing is, I think that if he could work the gym into his budget and start working out he'd probably be posting some big numbers pretty quickly. He looks pretty solid, not reedy. I hope he's not coming across as dumb. He's not. He's a very nice person. In fact, D and his girlfriend have invited me over for dinner on Friday night.

Tomorrow: more about today's squat workout, and a bit about how I was at my heaviest recorded weight, which was 194lbs. For now, I'm off to get some much needed beauty sleep. :-)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Monday Morning WW Meeting

I didn't stay for the full meeting because I had an appointment to run to. I am down a kilo, which I did not expect, especially since TOM is in three days. However, I'll take it. Hello 74.8 Kg, a.k.a 164.9 lbs.

Last night at the gym was not all I wanted it to be. As Sam Cooke sang, "Mama said there'd be days like this". My program uses different rep ranges each week (12, 10, 9, 8), and last night was back to using 12 reps for the max weight set. The good part is that, hey, if I'm back to the 12 rep range, that means that I've been working out in the gym for an entire month! The bad part was that my concentration was off. Man-in-charge said it was more mental than anything else, and said also not to worry. I know he's right, but I want to be stronger. Now, dammit! :-)

I used to have an article about how a woman's max strength cycles through the month. Something about how you're strongest on the day you ovulate and weakest on the day you menstruate. Not sure if I'm remembering it correctly: but it makes sense to me. I'll see if I can dig it up.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Water and Money

It felt very hot out when I got to school this morning. By noon I had already drunk 2.5 litres of water, and none of it felt like I was making an effort to drink. By 4:30pm four litres were gone, and this may be the first ever five litre day.

I found an even cheaper place for tuna: 3.15NIS per can (that's 72 cents US) which is an improvement over the 4.45NIS price I had been paying till now. It isn't albacore, of course, but it will do. Knowing that at the end of my MA I will be going into a low-paying field has really made me sit up and take notice of my spending. It's almost a competition now: how little can I spend and still eat healthy. Check out the inspiring Tightwaddery category of posts at Caustic Musings, and the plethora of articles at The Dollar Stretcher for more of this sort of thing. Also, this post at FitJulie describes a successful Goodwill trip.

One thing I will need to buy very soon: sweatpants. The two pairs I brought with me from Canada are just about falling off (thank goodness for the drawstrings). I'm ok for workout t-shirts and sportsbras for the time being. One of my classmates tells me that there are Target stores in Australia, so I may hold off on shopping if and until I get there. The Canadian and Australian dollars are very close right now: $1AUS=$0.96CAD, so that will make it easier to compare prices. By the way, all these conversions are via this handy page; I'm not figuring them out in my head... :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Odds and Ends

Why am I up at half past midnight? Maybe because I closed my eyes for a five minute rest on Saturday, and ended up napping for two hours. Can you say tired?

I went to the gym last Thursday, and then on Friday morning went to Tel Aviv to meet some people for breakfast. Breakfast was at the Aroma Cafe which is located on Weitzman Street, inside a little mall. After breakfast I wandered around the mall and stepped into a lingerie store. They had gorgeous bras, Chantelle and Lejaby. Fruit and veggies in Israel may be incredibly cheap, but fancy bras are expensive. The one I tried on was 400NIS ($91 US), and there was an even more beautiful one for 500+NIS ($115 US). I'm used to going to a Walmart in Toronto and spending around $25 for your average no frills Wonderbra, so you can imagine the sticker shock. I decided to avoid spending the money until I stabilize at a size, or until my current ones become totally useless.

I made it back to Jerusalem in time to go to the market. I got green and red peppers, kholrabi, and apples. Also bought a melon and ate half of it on Friday and half on Saturday. It was delicious.

I may be going to Australia in August. They have gyms in Melbourne, don't they?

Some reading:

Funny: The Love of A Good Woman at the Spoons Experience.

Serious: Medicalizing and Moralizing at Tech Central Station. I don't necessarily agree with the whole thing, but I think the point about the children is a good one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Two Good Things

First, yesterday's walk home took only 40 minutes, which surprised me because I thought I was walking slowly. I was listening to a Charles Aznavour cd, which, while beautiful, does not have many fast songs for walking. The lovely weather had something to do with it too, I think.

Second, when I got to the gym last night, I discovered that the squat rack was being used by a man and a woman, both of whom were doing squats with perfect form. The woman did two sets and left, but the man kept going. This is where the cool part comes in. He took it as completely natural that I would be using the rack too, that I would be working in with him, and that the right thing to do is to strip the bar between sets. For the record, he was squatting 225lbs+, so there was a bit of weight to load and unload. In most gyms, someone using the rack would ask you to wait until he or she was done all their sets. I think that in this place, the small size of the gym, combined with the seriousness of most of the members, creates an atmosphere that is more respectful. The fact that I was squating a tiny weight in comparison to what he was squatting was irrelevant. We were both using good form, we are both serious about our workouts, and we both have a right to the rack. Since I was doing 10 sets (5 sets of regular squats and 5 sets of the 2/3 variation), and since he was doing stiff-legged deadlifts right after, we were there for quite a while. Halfway through we were joined by another man, who was doing bent-leg good-mornings, so all three of us shared the rack. And yes, we helped each other load and strip the bar as needed. So we all had slightly longer rest periods than we were used to. It all worked.

Three Annoying Things

1st annoying thing: I brought cottage cheese with me to school, as usual. The container had a best-before date of tomorrow, but the cheese had gone off, which meant that one of my planned meals had vanished.

2nd annoying thing: During the break in my afternoon class, I took out my big container of sliced red, greeen and yellow peppers, put it beside the green tea and the 1L water bottle, and started eating. The woman on my left goes:
"Oh, you're so healthy,"
"Me?" I say innocently.
"I can't eat fruit and vegetables, they just don't fill me up" she says.
This would not have annoyed me so much if this woman had not just given birth six weeks ago, and looks like she has never been pregnant. I realise that this is her reality; her metabolism is such that six weeks post-pregnancy she is not carrying weight. But you know how sometimes things someone says can rub you the wrong way, even if they mean nothing by it.

3rd annoying thing: in this class, the professor had us do qualitative interviews. Each person does two, and then two people share their data, so that each person writes a paper about four interviews. Prof had actively discouraged us from doing all four interviews ourselves. Today, prof asks if anyone is willing to present some of their findings. Whaddya know, the only person who is ready to do so is the guy who did all four interviews himself. I am annoyed at myself, because I told myself at the time to do my own research and not rely on anyone else for data.

So on the way to the bus I stop and buy a chocolate bar: 204 kcal, 4.2g prot, 22.4g carb, 11.7g fat. Nothing earth shattering, and it did take three annoying things rather than one, but dammit, this is not mature behaviour.

Bah. Ok. I'm calm now. I have an egg white and oatmeal omelette waiting, and I can take out my annoyance at the gym later tonight.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tactics

No gym last night. On Mondays I get back from the university between 8:30pm and 9:00pm, which does not give me enough time to get food in and go to the gym. Here's what I'm working on doing. I'm not describing my exercises or what I'm eating; that's a whole other post. And how I got to the point where I am thinking this way is yet another post again. I'm describing the what has to happen in order for me to get where I am going. Strategies are all very well, but you need tactics.

Exercise tactics:

1. Work out at the gym on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and on Friday morning if I am in town and have enough time before Shabbat comes in. It's easy now that the days are long, but during the winter sunset comes early and with it the Sabbath. In addition, I want to use Fridays to see more of Jerusalem.
2. Walk home from school on at least two of Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. (This is 45-60 minutes of walking, which will slowly shrink to 35 minutes, I hope.)

Nutrition tactics:

1. Shop for groceries at the cheap supermarket (tuna, eggs, cottage cheese, green tea) on Monday nights.
2. Shop for fruit and veggies at the Machane Yehuda market on Friday morning or afternoon. Mornings are calmer, but afternoons are cheaper as vendors try to clear their wares before Shabbat.
3. Pack three meals every day in the big lunch bag so that I am eating every three hours.
4. Take the water bottle and the thermal mug, and green tea teabags with me every day.

At school today, one of my classmates told me that I got thinner. It didn't bother me as it once would have. I just smiled and said "It's possible". It makes me happy that I am not as comment-sensitive as I've been for most of my life. Maybe this is what maturity feels like? :-) Whether the comments are positive or negative, they used to make me furious: how dare anyone presume that my shape is any of their business? Regarding the negative comments, one of my cousins tried to explain it to me once, saying that the same people that make negative comments about my shape are the same people who would come up to him and say "Hey, did you know you have a huge dent in your car?" He said he just looks at them and says "Really? That huge one there? No, I never noticed it before you mentioned it."

Now, part of this new-found maturity may be that immediate family and my friends are not nearby. They're in Canada half a world away, which is an advantage when you're making major changes. With the exception of my always supportive sister, they don't know about the process, they'll just see the result when I go back to North America. (You know that saying, attributed to Bismarck, that if you love law or sausages you shouldn't watch either one being made.) But I don't think that this is all of it. I'm being a lot more open and relaxed about what I am doing. (Well, obviously, I'm carrying around a lunch bag that is bigger than my laptop bag...)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Monday Morning WW Meeting

Another 0.5Kg down, which means that for the past month or so, (since 04-25-2005) I have either maintained or dropped; a pattern I very much like.

The group leader was on time; I nearly fainted from the shock.

The lecture wasn't particularly helpful; it dealt with how to handle difficult days or moments, and the suggestion was to write down everything even if it is outside your points budget, or to eat less the following days. I tune out during this part, because I don't do their nutrional program. Group leader did mention me at one point, because I am very relaxed when I get on the scale. There are ladies at the meeting who get very stressed when they get on the scale. Group leader usually asks me what I expect to see, and I usually answer that I have no expectations. Whatever comes comes. At this point in my life I am not a scale-defined person. I haven't told her that the numbers that matter to me right now are the ones on the sides of weight plates.

Still, it was nice seeing the other ladies. I was sitting next to one of the francophones so I got to practice my halting French. She lives not too far from me, so we might get together for walks sometimes (after my gym workout, of course).

I have four weeks left in the membership, and I haven't decided if I am going to buy more weeks. It depends on the budget. June 1 I pay three months' worth of rent, so I am being very diligent about savings. (This pattern of paying three months at a time instead of month-by-month is not unusual in Jerusalem).

I capped off a great birthday yesterday by going to the gym and increasing my weights in all my chest/push exercises. During the day I got e-cards from friends and family, and my parents (who are in Canada) sent me a huge bouquet of flowers from this Jerusalem flower shop. My study partner H took me out to lunch: we had hummus and ground meat; lots of protein and good fats).

Off to the supermarket to get some red and yellow peppers. I need some more colour in the lunch bag.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Thursday, Friday, and Today

I did go to the gym Thursday, and the workout was subpar; I took longer rest periods between sets, and my head was pounding the entire time. However, the weights went up slightly, and the next morning I woke up with no ill effects from Thursday's walk in the blazing sun. Man-in-charge wasn't there on Thursday, but woman-in-charge was. More on her later. The gym was quiet, but I am beginning to recognize some of the regulars.

I had an excellent workout on Friday (back/pull). It's interesting how the tenor of the gym changes depending on the members that are there at any given time. On Friday the gym was filled with teenage boys. They were hilarious, all of them trying to get the attention of man-in-charge at the same time. Fortunately I wasn't doing anything that required a spot, because there's no way way they would have left him alone long enough for him to give me one. Other than the gaggle of boys, woman-in-charge was also there, this time working out. Now, when she is not working out and just supervising the gym, she wears a long sleeve, long pant tracksuit. You can tell she has an athlete's body, you just can't tell how good it is. But while working out she wore a skimpy (not slutty!) black two piece outfit, and the muscles on her were stunning. I don't mean that in a chemically-assisted way, but rather in the way that an athlete who has clearly been doing this for a long time has a lot of quality muscle mass. Very inspirational.

Prior to Friday's gym visit I went to the supermarket to stock up on cottage cheese, and following the workout I went to the market. I bought four peaches, a kilo of loquats and my first watermelon of the season. The fruit and veggies in Israel are always amazing, but especially now. There are few things that compare to cold, fresh loquats. There were fresh figs, but I decided to wait a week since this was their first appearance and they were still somewhat outside the budget. I got home, washed all the fruit and veggies, washed and chopped lettuce, re-organized my shelf in the fridge, and generally felt ridiculously pleased with myself. :-)

I also got my Friday chocolate splurge. I usually have some sort of chocolate on Friday. Thus far it has been 85g of milk chocolate, but I realised during the week that the quantity was more than I needed to make me feel satisfied. I was worried about downsizing the splurge; I didn't want to do anything that would have me wake up on Saturday and regret not having the entire amount of chocolate the previous day. I finally decided to get the smaller chocolate (40g), and promised myself that if my lizard brain started playing stupid mental games the next day, along the lines of "you didn't have the chocolate yesterday, have some junk today", I'd go back to the larger amount. I think it was a success; the 40g chocolate hit the spot. I'll see how I feel about it next Friday.

Oh, yeah. Happy birthday to me. :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Stupidity Moment

School ended at 2:30pm today, and I went to the nearby supermarket to get veggies. I was sitting at the bus stop with my purchases when I decided that there is no reason to sit there when I could simply walk home. So I started walking. Started at 2:35pm, got home at 3:18pm; a nice brisk 43 minute walk that included some uphill stretches. Problem was, unbeknownst to me, it was 31C (87F) in Jerusalem today, and I had no hat, and sunscreen only on my face. I was also carrying my laptop on my back and groceries in my hands. I had the cd player with the music going and I didn't want to stop. I walked on the shady side of the street whenever possible, but I still got home with sweat dripping down my face and soaking my shirt. Note to self; check the weather before leaving the house in the morning, and acquire hat, more sunscreen, and sunglasses before doing something that boneheadedly, unbelievably stupid again. Fortunately I was hydrated before I started; I'd drunk 2.5 litres that morning in school. Got home and immediately started drinking water. I feel fine now, but I have to shake my head at myself. The cold in Jerusalem hits you harder than elsewhere, and the heat does too.

Gym was good last night. Slight increases on all weights. I was tired due to lack of sleep, but things still went well. TurkeyGuy was there too (he's too loud to not notice). I'm standing at the squat rack getting ready to do my second or third set, when I hear him. He said hello, which I returned; one must encourage polite behaviour. A woman who has not seen him for awhile comes over and greets him warmly, and the two of them proceed to have a conversation behind me and off to the side - a.k.a directly in the intended path of the bar! Can you say oblivious? Sheesh. I said "excuse me" quietly and they moved. In TurkeyGuy's defense, he did do back exercises (wonder of wonders). I distinctly saw assisted pull-ups. I still think that if he would shut up, he probably could do unassisted pullups. He talked and talked and talked. I wasn't looking at him during 99.99% of my workout, but I could hear him pretty much the entire time. In contrast, there were two guys there who were lean, focused, and did their workouts without saying more than seven words between them, if that. One of them was doing footwork drills for boxing. moving incredibly fast. Sweet. I admire coordination in other people. Me, I'm working on keeping my balance during freestanding calf raises.

Off to rest and drink more water.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My Kingdom for a Fork

Stayed home from school yesterday and rested. This sinus thing gives new meaning to "yearning to breathe free" line. In the evening I went to the gym and did a chest workout. It felt good throughout. Minor annoyance: someone was painting the entrance to the building where the gym is located, and the fumes did not make life easier for my recovering respiratory system.

Everyone in the gym was doing what I like to call "ego-free lifting"; decent weight, perfect form. One guy was doing squats with 200+lbs, someone else was doing very smooth good mornings. There was one guy there who was wearing runner's shorts (the kind male runners wear in the Olympics) and did he ever have the right to them: great quads, great hamstrings. He was also easy on the eyes; nicely proportioned, bald... did I mention that I think Yul Brynner was a very handsome man?

Post-workout, I headed to the pricey supermarket to get foodstuffs for today. Cheap supermarket is unfortunately only open till 9:00pm on Tuesdays, while pricey supermarket is open till midnight. I then proceeded to shop with a mind to filling today's lunch bag. I emerged from the supermarket with:

One green pepper
One red pepper
One yellow pepper
One kohlrabi
One cucumber
One Granny Smith apple
One Starking apple
One Spadone pear
One 250g container of 0.5% cottage cheese
One blue plastic coldpack to keep everything cool (a mere 6NIS; I was not expecting to find it so it was a pleasant surprise).

Got home and all I wanted to do was drop into bed, but I had an antibiotic to take and it had to be taken on a full stomach, so... boiled water, put 1/3 cup of one-minute oatmeal into bowl, added 2/3 cup of the boiling water, stirred, put in microwave for 30 seconds. Chopped apple, added to bowl, sprinkled with cinnamon. Ta-da, dinner. I prefer the 15 minute old fashioned oatmeal, but I haven't found one in this counry that I like yet. The only Quaker Oats here are 1-minute white oats, product of Holland.

Put cold pack in freezer, washed all the produce, chopped the peppers into strips, sliced the cucumber, cut the kohlrabi into amusing trapezoid chunks, stored all veggies in Keter (Israeli plasticware company, think Rubbermaid-ish) containers. Added a large handful of the bean sprouts I bought on Friday. Put everything in fridge. Lunch bag went on top of the dining room table, easy-open tin of oil packed tuna and my big thermal cup went into lunch bag. One side pocket of lunch bag holds an assortment of green tea, the other side pocket holds fish oil capsules. All this took time, and I finally went to bed just after midnight, but I'm trying to establish a habit here, one six meals at a time. Of course, she who tries to organize a lunch bag in a state of exhaustion will realize the next day that she forgot to pack cutlery...

I'm still a bit tired since I woke up at 5:45am this morning. Breakfast was identical to last night's dinner. It's a triad: exercise, nutrition, sleep. Once I get all three down, I will have reached the Promised Land. Wait, I am in the Promised Land. (Yes, that was awful, but I'm tired, I hear the tuna calling and I need to find a fork.)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday Morning WW Meeting

Group leader was late again, but I wasn't in as much of a hurry today so I stuck around. I'm down another 1Kg, or 2.2lbs, which means that I have officially left the 170s and and am now in the 160s - 168.2 to be precise. I'm pleased about this because 170 used to be a mental block for me, and it isn't anymore.

I had breakfast before going to the meeting; I don't understand those women who don't eat anything in the morning until they do the weigh-in. Most of them probably wake up around 7:00am to get kids off to school, and the weigh-in is at 9:20am or later. What is the point of walking around hungry and dehydrated for two hours?

The lecture was about reading food labels. Group leader wanted us to practice using the little point calculator thingie (it's a cardboard contraption). I haven't used the thing and don't intend to, so I sat back and relaxed, and munched away on Second Breakfast. We also got a handout about food labels. Strangely enough, no one said anything about avoiding hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn syrup.

Had a good workout at the gym last night. Upper body never takes as much out of me as lower body. When I squat or deadlift I come out of the gym in a state of euphoric exhaustion. Back or chest is ok, but not the same. I hope this changes one day when I can finally do pullups. The weights are rising nicely on all exercises, and I think I could have gone higher in weight on the seated rows, but man-in-charge nixed that. The man can spot a form break from the other side of the room, and he said I was slouching just a little on the last set, so we took the weight down slightly. I got everything done except the last sets of abwork; gym was closing down and I ran out of time. I had arrived a little later than I wanted to because I spent time preparing meals for today. Gym was busy; I counted six women, easily the highest number I've seen there at one time.

Remember the talkative guy I mentioned a few posts back? Well, he was there, and I am henceforth referring to him as TurkeyGuy. He has yet to shut up, and I have yet to see him do a single lower body exercise. Heck, I've yet to see him do a back exercise. He comandeered the lat pulldown while I was at the end of my two minute rest, saying "you rest now" in my general direction, replaced the handle, and proceeded to do standing ab crunches. I didn't raise a fuss; I'd rather wait until I am squatting what this pompous nitwit weighs; discretion being the better part of valour and all. At one point he went to do a single set of dips, huffing and puffing as if he was giving birth. Now, I do have a certain amount of respect for anyone that can do dips. The thing is, once you've seen someone do a set of dips in perfect form while wearing a loaded x-vest and not grunting at all, you cease to be impressed by the likes of TurkeyGuy. I think his training partner / coach wasn't overly impressed either, because at one point TurkeyGuy was whining about hurting his finger, and coach said "Ok, you're wounded, grievously, you want me to get you a band-aid?" I was doing db shrugs nearby and I somehow managed to not burst out laughing.

I logged all my food yesterday, and I am still not taking in enough. Once you stop eating stuff that comes in colourful boxes, your volume of food needs to go up, hence the new lunch bag (which looks very nice on the chair beside me, full of veggies, fruit, cottage cheese, and other good things.)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

New Lunch Bag

I did get to the gym on Friday and had a good deadlift workout. Saturday I was invited to a lunch picnic, which was very pleasant. Huge selection of food. I had hummus, avocado and lots of veggies. I avoided all the pasta dishes and had one bite of the mushroom quiche, which was enough to convince me that this was not a particularly good mushroom quiche. All topped off with a slice of superb apple pie. If I'm going to eat dessert, it ought to be superb. My one quibble with my eating over the last couple of days was that I was taking in too much salt and not enough water.

So today I upped the veggies, made sure to eat every three hours (it is just after 5:00pm and I am currently having meal #4), and paid attention to the water; I've had 3L so far, and I suspect it will be four by the end of the day. We had a couple of hot days here, so it was not a good time to let the water slip. Normally I don't worry about it as long as I get 2L in, but I may have to re-evaluate that and go to a 2.5L minimum.

I bought a new lunch bag. It is black and bright yellow, insulated, and twice the size of the old one, enough to carry three meals worth of food. I remember a post on the Men's Health message board about a man who bought a Gatemouth bag to hold all his food. I think he was absolutely right. Good food takes up room. And I don't mind being the fat woman with the huge lunch bag: the way I look at it, I'm going to be laughing all the way to the gym.

Insanely busy week coming up. Papers, projects, readings... I just need to stay focused and not let things stress me out.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Gave Up

No, not about the lifting/eating/getting stronger part. I gave up on beating this sinus thing by myself. First thing I did when I woke up this morning was call the medical clinic. They had an appointment for 9:15am. The doctor was one I hadn't seen before, an older Australian gentleman, and he was wonderful. If I happen to get sick again I'm going to ask for him. He listened to what I was saying, he talked to me like an intelligent person, and he gave me prescriptions explaining what each one was for. This is in stark contrast to the automaton I had last time. (I'm not sure what the problem is with med schools over the past 20 years or so, but there seem to be far too many MDs around who are little compassionless robots - people whose only qualification is the A+ they got in Calculus and Algebra, and whose ambition seems to be to get you out of their office as quickly as possible.)

At any rate, I have ethmoid sinusitis, a low grade fever, a post nasal discharge, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (as the King says in the King & I). However, I now also have things to fight it with, so I can stop feeling miserable and sounding like Kermit the Frog. (Which, when you have the personality of Stadler and Waldorf, is somewhat disconcerting,)

My weekend as soon as papers are done reading: T-Nation have put together their 30 top diet & nutrition articles in one huge yet convenient linkfest of an article. On top of that, they also have a new Berardi article on energy balance. You need to be in a scientific mood for the latter.

The Independence Day BBQ was great; I had burgers and corn on the cob and watermelon for dessert. The living history museum was way too crowded and too dark out for good pictures. But overall, a great day which I capped off by going home and watching The Matrix Revolutions on TV... does Jada Pinkett Smith not look superb in that movie? I found an interview where she says that she was benchpressing 170lbs after training for the Matrix films. Sounds like an excellent goal to me. (I want to eventually bp 1.5 times my body weight, so when I get to my goal of 130lbs, that would mean a bp of 195lbs.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wednesday Night Gym Report

The gym was quiet due to the eve of Yom Ha-Atzmaut (Independence Day). Most people were getting started on the partying. This meant that there were only five or so people in the gym, so man-in-charge could actually give us a lot of attention. Usually he supervises 25+ people at a time.

There are a couple of tv sets hanging from the gym ceiling. Usually they are tuned to an all-music station, but in honour of Independence Day they were tuned instead to the torch-lighting ceremonies from Mount Herzl, which mark the start of the holiday. I get very sentimental watching these ceremonies. Between sets I would walk over to the tv and see who was lighting next. Conclusion: trying to do squats while you're getting all choked up and teary-eyed is not a good idea.

I did ten sets of squats altogether. Five regular and five of the 2/3 variety. This was followed by leg extensions - measly weight, but they burned like and calf raises, and finally ab work.

On my way home I saw lots of people with flags heading to town for the celebrations (there would be music and folkdancing in front of city hall until 3:00a.m.). One woman was wearing a dress made of just the flag. I hope she didn't freeze; it was getting chilly. As I walked home two boys yelled "chag sameach!" (happy holiday) at me from a balcony. I yelled "chag sameach" back at them. I had a huge smile on my face all the way home. I had planned to go to sleep early but the fireworks made that difficult, so I went out on my own balcony and watched the fireworks and then, finally, went to sleep.

Gym is closed today. I had two good meals, and this afternoon I am heading out to an Independence Day BBQ at a classmate's house. After that I plan to check out the living history re-enactment in the Rechavia neighbourhood.

Happy 57th birthday, Israel!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tuesday Night Gym Report

Following the rule that if your symptoms are above the neck you should exercise while if they're below the neck you should stay home, I went to the gym yesterday evening. Because it was the eve of Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day for the soldiers who died defending Israel in battle and for people killed in terror attacks), school ended an hour early. I walked home and called the gym, and discovered that it was closing at 7:00pm. I got there around 5:40, and had a good chest/push workout. Gym was busier than usual as people came in early to get their workout in.

Around ten to seven a guy walks in who had not realised that the gym closes at seven, and the following conversation ensued:

FrazzledGuy: What am I going to do in ten minutes?
Guy 2: Shoulders
FrazzledGuy: But it's only ten minutes
Guy 3: So as they say in the United States: "get your fu##ing sh#t together and lift"
FrazzledGuy: Ok. [does a set of db military presses] Ten minutes.
Guy 2: If you had come in ten minutes later you wouldn't be able to do anything at all.
FrazzledGuy: Oh. You're right.

Ten minutes later he was trying to convince man-in-charge to go have a cup of tea and let him work out a little longer. It didn't work, but the whole thing was funny.

I was doing close grip bench press with just the bar, and between my last two sets a guy comes by and wants to put weight on the bar. I said "hey!" and he said "oh, are you doing something here?". I felt like saying "No, I just painted the bar and I'm waiting for the paint to dry." Sheesh. I don't mind having someone work in, but don't just barge in.

After the gym I went home and watched the Remembrance Day ceremonies on TV. Things began with a siren at 7:59pm, and the lighting of the memorial flame at the Kotel (the Western Wall). Then most channels stopped broadcasting, and those that continued broadcast special programs about the fallen soldiers. This is a tiny country, and it has lost 20 368 soldiers since the War of Independence. Everyone has either lost someone or knows someone who has. Independence Day follows Remembrance Day; tonight the flag will be raised from half-mast to full mast, and the country will move from a day of deep grief to a day of great joy.

We had a special half day program for Remembrance Day with two guest speakers. The first was a former student who had made aliyah to Israel and joined the army. Three of the soldiers in his platoon were killed. He talked about visiting their families every year. He told us about his brigade commander, who, 18 years after losing soldiers, still visits and calls their families.

At 11:00am we stood for the second siren. Much like the siren of Holocaust Remembrance Day, everyone stops, stands and remembers.

The second speaker was author Sherri Mandell, the mother of Koby Mandell. She spoke about grief, transformation, her memories of her eldest son, and the foundation that the family created in his memory.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Still Sick

The one and only fringe benefit of staying home from school on Sunday was that I got to see The Last Samurai on TV. I like that movie. Add to list of movies to buy once I am settled somewhere and own an all-region DVD player. And a pox on stupid entertainment companies that force you to only play DVDs from one region on your laptop.

I am _not_ a happy camper when sick; certainly not when my sinuses and colourful phlegm are involved. Blech. Thank god that my Monday classes at Hebrew U have good lecturers. After class I went with my study partner to the library to get next week's readings. Finally got home at 9:23pm, too late to get to the gym which closes at 10:30pm. The problem is that the gym will have at least two early closings and one closed day this week: Wednesday is Memorial Day for those killed in wars and terrorist attacks, and Thursday is Independence Day. So my exercising options are shrinking even if I wasn't too tired to exercise them (pun so not intended).

On a happier note, I dropped into the WW meeting this morning and found out that I was down 200g (just under 1/2 a pound). Fine by me. It's not the amount but the direction, and thus far it is down. I didn't stay for the blather. Group leader was late again, coming in at 9:11, and I was in no mood to spend any more of my time there.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sick

Sore throat, headache, sinuses... bah! Spent most of Saturday in bed, and decided to not go to school today and instead do the tea-soup-orange juice thing. I think I'm improving. I've decided to not go to the gym tonight. First, I should not be passing this onto anyone else, and second, no point taking a two day cold and turning it into a week of misery.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Thursday Night Gym Report

Deadlifts and more deadlifts. Things were a lot smoother. I established some starting weights (no where to go but up). Man-in-charge is a real stickler for form, which is a good thing. He wanted me to lower the weight a bit, saying that I was dropping my shoulders forward as I was coming down. It was a misunderstanding; I thought he wanted me to drop the shoulders forward. What he actually wanted was for me to shift the hips back, and then the shoulders come forward very slightly to help the bar get past the knees without taking off the kneecap (that would be a bad thing). After the deads came hamstring curls; the rests between sets were longer than I wanted them to be since I was sharing the machine with two other people, minor inconvenience. After this came the cable hip extensions and finally ab work.

The talkative guy from Tuesday night was there again, and he told the exact same story! Go figure. Maybe that's his way of motivating himself to lift?

I felt strong, although I think it would have been even better if I had managed to eat something other than two coffees and a small slice of coffee cake in the six hours preceding the workout. Nutrition was very good all through the morning, but in the afternoon I went with a friend of mine to a cafe to discuss an article about armed Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. I thought we would be done quickly and I would get home, have dinner and go to the gym. It didn't quite work out that way.

After the workout was done, I went to the supermarket to pick up some 0% fat plain yogurt. I was in a bit of a hurry because it was getting late and I wanted to get to sleep early. I looked a little bedraggled post-workout; jeans, rumpled t-shirt, exhausted looking face... Suddenly I heard someone calling my name, in English. It was a group of teachers from the school where I did my first student teaching stint in February. They are visiting Israel from the US on a tour. What are the odds? Actually, this sort of thing happens all the time in Israel. It's a small place and you are always going to run into someone you know. This is a very good reason to not leave the gym looking scary. :-) I was very happy to see them, and I am glad they get to see how gorgeous this country, and especially this city, are.

I did have a good post-workout dinner. Task for this weekend: finish all outstanding readings for school, and catch up on sleep!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Squats

Tuesday night at the gym was all about squats. I am going back to the very beginning (a very good place to start...) and working on technique with just the bar. On the one hand, it is depressing. Having done 150+lbs for reps last year, going back to 45lbs and starting over is not joy and bliss. On the other hand, if Tiger Woods can go back and reconstruct his swing from scratch, who am I to quibble over this?

Some of my weaknesses are obvious: I bend forward too much, using more back and less legs, which turns my squat into a bent leg good morning, albeit a lovely BLGM. :-) Man-in-charge (who was back in the gym last night) also noted some other weaknesses, and adjusted the program: leg press is gone, and in its place came leg extensions and freestanding calf raises with heels together. Most of the time is still spent at the squat rack, of course, doing regular squats and the 2/3 up and back down variation.

Gym was quiet, which is one of the reasons I like working out late in the evening. There were a couple of guys there I hadn't seen before. One talked incessantly throughout his entire workout: his flight, his friends, the girl he recently met... I am surprised he had any strength left for lifting. Almost all the guys were doing upper body; I was monopolizing the squat rack and no one minded, which is just fine by me. :-)

At one point man-in-charge noticed I was getting annoyed at myself and told me not to worry; some people spend years perfecting one move. Ok, I said, but I don't have two years; I have a year and four months, and then I have to go back to North America. Don't worry, he says, you'll go back strong. I think I knew that, on some level, but it helps to hear someone else say it, especially someone who knows what he's doing.

I'm at Hebrew U at the moment. My presentation this morning went fine. I think I benefitted from being the first student to present. Very productive lunch; made photocopies of all the reserve readings I need for next week. I have a class this afternoon which I hope will go quickly, and then I'm going to take advantage of tonight's gym closure to go to the Machane Yehuda shuk and stock up on canned tuna and veggies. I'm also going to prep food for the rest of the week: hard-boiled eggs, salad, et cetera. It's not the will to win, it's the will to prepare to win. (Various forms of this quote attributed to various coaches, including Paterno, Bryant and Knight.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sunday and Monday at the Gym

Man-in-charge was not at the gym last night, woman-in-charge was there instead. She was very nice and very helpful. Due to a mixup, I had done the chest workout on Sunday night, so last night I went back to what should have been done on Sunday night, namely, the 4th workout in the series. Day 4 is mostly about the back, I did db shrugs, then lat pulldowns with a weird looking handle (not the one in the pic), then seated cable rows except I'm doing them sitting on the floor, finally grip work. After this some cable and floor ab work, which I seem to not dislike as much as I used to.

The gym will closed Wednesday night for the eve of Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), which means that after tonight's planned workout my next workout will be Thursday night.

Short post today; I have to run to the next-door supermarket to get lunch, and then work on a presentation for tomorrow morning for university. What the heck possessed me to volunteer to do a presentation? I have no idea. Live and learn.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday Weigh-in

No change at this morning's weigh-in. I'm not concerned. Nutrition was good this week, exercise was good this week, and patience, as we all know, is a virtue.

The meeting was silly. Group leader was late again, and her lecture had far too many platitudes with a tinge of Atkins-bashing thrown in for good measure. Why do people feel it necessary to look down on other people's methods? At one point she asked, "who among us hasn't done the shakes and the pills?". Um, me? Why assume that everyone has succumbed to every stupid thing on the market?

In addition, there were logistical issues. The meeting is held in a community centre which has two entrances. Each entrance leads into an activity room, and one can get from one room to another by walking through the hallway. However only one of these entrances was open; the other was locked. Now, one room is used for the WW meeting and the other for some other group's exercise class. What this meant is that people who arrived after 0900 had to walk through the room in which the exercise class was being held in order to get to the meeting. The lady leading the exercise class was not impressed and started screaming at them, and then locked the door to her room, making it impossible for the late arrivals to get into the building and get to the meeting. The whole thing was ridiculous.

I think next week I might just do the weigh-in and leave after that.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

More Good Articles

Check these out:

Sweet Deal Bad Taste by Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen is an article about sugar subsidies. It discusses sugar producers and their aversion to competition, and how Splenda is making them sweat. (Link found via Applachian Gun Trash)

Put Down That Doughnut by Tom Maguire is another look at the obesity study that caused all the brouhaha last week. (Link found via Instapundit)