Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stumble, Fall, Get Up

Yesterday I was at the Hebrew U library for most of the day. Not particularly productive. I decided that the network cable needs to stay home, otherwise it's too tempting to get online and surf. I went to the cafe for lunch, and for who knows what reason chose to have the schnitzel with a side of rice and some weird beansprout salad. The rice tasted salty, but most things at the cafeteria taste salty to me now. On the way home started PMSing in a big way - my back hurt, my stomach hurt, I felt exhausted. So I cracked and had a chocolate bar - with no hydrogenated fats at least. Then I got off the bus in downtown, ostensibly to get a dozen eggs, but I ended up also buying an ice cream cone.

Well, my body was NOT happy with all this stuff. By the time I got to the apartment I felt physically ill and even more exhausted, if that's possible. Got in at 5pm and decided to take a nap. Fell asleep and promptly had a nightmare (napmare?). I dragged myself upright at 7pm, stumbled to the kitchen and had a clean dinner, and realised there was no way I would make it to the gym, never mind deadlift. This was way beyond "I don't feel well". I took two pain-relief caplets and went to bed.

Eight hours of sleep later, I woke up, but snoozed an extra hour. I felt like a new woman. Breakfast was clean. Lunch wasn't. I had planned to go out to lunch with a friend where I'd have healthy food choices, but she was too busy - she's flying out in the morning. So instead I bought a tuna sandwich. It had veggies, but the tuna had mayo and the bread was white. I don't think white bread agrees with me anymore. Which is a heck of a thing considering I used to be able to go through massive amounts of bread and butter at a time. Just finished my third litre of water, too. I needed every drop; it is so hot today.

Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Talking to Myself

I decided late last night to bid WW farewell. I have one red "missed" slip and one "meeting" slip left, so I'm going to skip next week (July 4), and then go to my last meeting on July 11. Following that, stats will be updated via in-home weighing.

Gym last night was busy but I had the squat rack all to myself :-). Man-in-charge was not there, so I set my own weights and kicked my concentration up a notch, to borrow a phrase from a well known chef. It was a bit of a rough start. After the first set of squats I was thinking I should just go home and come back tomorrow... then I mentally slapped myself and kept going. I took slightly longer rests between sets and slowed the squats down, which helped with the crunching sounds from the knee. I started doing some stretches for the iliotibial band and that helped too.

The other thing I did was talk to myself between sets of squats. I really like the "mental checkpoints" that Jason Burnell describes in this article. I've been working on taking the bar out with only three steps. I once had a trainer who told me to stop dancing with the bar. :-) So I talked to myself, little phrases like "left hand, right hand, duck, shoulders, up, step back one, two, freeze, chest up, abs tight, watch the knee, down strong, up strong", and so on and so forth. It sounds peculiar but it helps.

Monday, June 27, 2005


One of my dreams is to one day own a motorcycle, and then to ride it on a cross-continent trip of the US and Canada. Via this post at Jak's Total Waste of Cyberspace (hey, his words, not mine) I found a motorcycle personality test. Apparently my results indicate a Harley 883 Sportster. Here are the rest of its comments (with my additions bolded):

You scored 1 moxie, 4 zeal, and -1 pomp!

You scored dead center average [thanks a lot!], lacking any of the personality quirks that normally drive people to motorcycling.

However, if you do ride, statistics would suggest that you are destined for a Harley-Davidson, probably something in the Softail line.

You might have noticed that's a lot of moolah for an (arguably) obsolete piece of machinery, and you're too rational and attitude-free to need the Biggest and Baddest that the marketeers tell you to buy [not to mention I'm going into teaching, so moolah is not in my future]. A far more reasonably priced taste of the Harley Kool-Aid is the 883 Sporty, a fun little beast that leaves you with plenty of cash to customize.

On the other hand, the only reason I'm bringing up the Harley-Davidson product line at all is due to the fact that Harley is the choice most people think of when they consider getting into motorcycling, and that's mostly because they don't know much about the alternatives.

Thought experiment: if you were the only person left on earth, and you could pick any motorcycle you wanted, what would you choose? Best looking or best engineered? [the latter: I like things that work. but who says I can't have both, she asked, smiling at her Powerbook] Your test results don't really point in any direction strongly, so I'll try to nudge you towards substance over style.

Consider: a FXST Softail weighs 629lbs dry, the base version starts around $14k, and will make 75-80hp -- after you tweak it with pipes and a jet kit. A Buell XB12R weighs 395lbs dry, costs $10.5k and makes 103hp, stock. An Aprilia Tuono R weighs 417lbs, costs $12k, and makes 125hp, stock. (We won't even mention the bang for buck of the Japanese competitors.) Still a fan of retro-classic styling? Then at least consider Harley's V-Rod, which mixes in some modern engineering into the equation (596lbs, 125hp, $17k).

While the Sportster is a reasonable compromise, you may discover that you enjoy the added feedback provided by standard-style bikes such as the Suzuki SV or the Ducati Monster. (If you must hang with the Harley crowd, they'll be less likely to give you grief if you choose the Buell, though.)

You have the potential to be a great rider [Thanks! That redeems you for the dead average comment.]. Take the MSF class, and choose a bike that won't hold you back!

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 15%on moxie
You scored higher than 25%on zeal
You scored higher than 24%on pomp

Link: The Motorcycle Personality Test written by iocaine on Ok Cupid

And Another Thing

I'm not going to blog my politics here, except where they concern food, obesity, fitness and similar. My political blogging is done over at Tonecluster, where I am the least prolific of the three co-bloggers. My latest post there is about the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, which is taking place this Thursday evening.

Monday Morning WW Meeting

I'm down another 300g, which surprised me because I am three days away from TOM and I feel like a water balloon. I stayed for the meeting, trying to decide if I should buy more of the little meeting slips when mine run out next week. I'm not using their program and I'm certainly not getting any useful information: today's topic was the importance of drinking water and the evils of cola. Sounds like a new adventure movie. The leader actually used this de-bunked list of myths as a source. Hello? I should tell her about checking Snopes before passing information onwards.

On the other hand, the social aspect is fun; I like the other women in the group, and the mental check-in of an external scale is useful. Wel'll see. The newest promotion for continuing members has 12 meetings for 723 NIS ($196 Cnd which is $16.33 per meeting, or $159 US which is $13.25 per meeting). The other option is 8 meetings for 504 NIS ($137 Cnd which is $17.13 per meeting, or $111 US which is $13.86 per meeting). I'll decide next week after I figure out my July budget. I have to pay my third of the apartment's arnona (municipal taxes) and I have to renew my gym membership, so there are a lot of other expenses to worry about besides WW.

Yesterday night at the gym was chest/Push day. All good. I felt strong, and at critical points in the lifting (i.e. the 2nd last rep of the max set) motivational music suddenly emanated from the TV set. Also, as I was heading in, LW was on his way out, and as he passed me at the crosswalk he smiled and said "They're waiting for you". Sweet! Gym was busy; there were several guys I hadn't seen before, but I don't think they're new members, just members who have decided to train at a new time. Man-in-charge was there. I hope he's there this evening because I'd like some feedback on the squats and the crunching sounds.

Ok, back to schoolwork, which is the dominant theme of the next five weeks. I'm helping out with a technology workshop on Wednesday, then starting Thursday I will be hanging out at the university library every day working on papers until they are all done and handed in.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Weekend Report

Friday and Saturday were sedentary. Saturday usually is, but Friday was due to the frenetic writing of papers for university. Two down, three hundred to go. Ok, not really three hundred, more like four, but it feels like three hundred.

I did go on a walk in the morning to buy a cooking pot with steamer insert from the two schoolmates who are flying back to the US tomorrow morning. I think it will be perfect for artichokes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and other veggies I like. When roommate #2 moves out the microwave will go with him, and this steamer will be an easy way to cook my winter veggies.

Saturday nutrition had far too many carbs, as usual. I have to figure out what to do about Saturday. Maybe prep all my meals for that day in advance in little boxes? Incorporate a walk?

This morning I had a brisk 35 minute walk to the apartment of another friend who is moving back to the US. Bought a little space heater from her, so I won't freeze in Jerusalem next winter. Then I stopped in at the cheap supermarket and got 10 cans of tuna, green pepper, kohlrabi, red pepper, apples and raw hazelnuts. I'm trying the hazelnuts this week so I don't get bored of the walnuts by having them all the time.

I was in a hurry to get to the library at the university, so I didn't take lunch with me. When I got there, I realised this was a mistake. Because this is exam time, the cafeteria has downsized its operations, and it does not cook the same variety of food as it does during the school year. So when I got there I discovered there was no chicken breast, and the meatballs did not look inspiring. I had soup and a salad and some bread, but upon reflection I should have had the schitzel. It would have been satisfying and provided more protein. The soup and salad and bread did not hit the spot at all. Still, I managed to not turn this frustration into a chocolate binge. It was close; I gazed longingly at three displays before telling myself to get on with my work. I drank more water, got the articles I needed from the library, and took the bus back.

Speaking of drinks, today marks 13 days with no soft drinks, regular or diet. The last time I had cola was on June 13 at B's place during lunch, and I wasn't happy with it. I've been keeping things to water (preferably), green tea (definitely), coffee (instant, 1-2 cups daily at most), and milk (1%, in said coffee). No other drinks. So far so good.

I stopped at the centre of town for some new workout clothes. Got two t-shirts and a pair of capris for 60 NIS (around $13 USD total). I need to get rid of some of the bigger workout clothes. Not because they're not comfy; they are. Not because I consider them "fat clothes"; I don't care. It's a matter of being honest with my form when I'm lifting. If I wear floppy sweats and a floppy t-shirt when I squat, for instance, then it's easier to let my knee wobble inward, or keep my upper body less tight than it should be.

Ok. Got home, put in some laundry. Now I need to get some food in and head off to the gym.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Isn't That Sweet?

I'm going to dedicate a post each Friday to (gasp!) political issues that interest me. This week: sugar subsidies.

First, here's an article about EU sugar subsidies and their impact on Africa. (found via Daimnation). And here's an announcement of a possible, maybe, perhaps, cut in said subsidies. (found via KickAAS).

The issue has been around for awhile: see also this Joahn Norberg article from 2003.

I've linked to this one previously, but it fits in nicely with the topic of this post: Sweet Deal, Bad Taste.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Where Has the Week Gone?

Thursday already. Sheesh. It's been a productive week, but it has flown by.

Man-in-charge was not at the gym tonight, or last night. I asked woman-in-charge about this at the end of my workout, and she said that he had opened the gym at 6:30am this morning, and finally went home 14 hours later at 8:30pm. Makes my day seem much shorter than it was. He'll likely be in tomorrow, but I am probably taking tomorrow off. I have a paper that has to be in by tomorrow afternoon, and I have no idea how much sleep I'll get tonight. Add to this that I have to do the usual Friday running around, get food, et cetera, and you have a very packed day tomorrow.

Last night I asked woman-in-charge to set the max weights for me, but tonight I chose them myself. I need to get in the habit of doing this before I go on the trip in August. I think I got them exactly right with the exception of the seated cable rows, where I could have gone a little bit heavier with no problems.

Gym was quiet tonight, however, the martial arts school attached to the gym was not. I think they were having a demonstration or gradings or possibly both, because there were a lot more people going in and out than usual, and you could hear applause intermittently. Hope they all did well, whatever they were doing. I'm considering taking up a martial art when September rolls around. It would make a good complement to the weight lifting, and would add some cardio. And since I: 1. hate cardio with a passion and 2. don't do any right now aside of walking up and down Jerusalem hills, I think it would fit in nicely. I'd like a grappling art; possibly BJJ. I actually visited this Toronto school a few months before I left for Israel, just before they opened their new location, and was quite impressed. So the idea of taking BJJ has been simmering ever since.

I went to Pardes today to clean out my locker for the summer, and realised that there was no way I could carry everything home in one go. Religious books are heavy. :-) Our program director graciously let me leave the extra books in her office until next week. When I came in, she said, out of the blue, "you've lost a lot of weight". To which I did not reply, as I so often do, "Who, me?", but instead said, "I've lost some weight." Then I laughed and said, "Well, next year we'll be shooting videos of ourselves to send to potential employers, and you know the camera adds ten pounds". I think I'm getting less touchy about people noticing that I've lost weight, which is a good thing. It's also because I trust, and respect her, and I know there's nothing even remotely mean-spirited behind her statement.

Ok, back to the sociology paper. Bleah.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Deadlift Goof #2

I sincerely hope there won't be a deadlift goof #3, but if there is one, you'll hear it here first. This one's a clothing issue. What kind of dingbat wears loose capris on a day that she's going to deadlift? Me, evidently. Here's a clue, if you are going to scrape the bar up your shins, then said loose capris are going to be in the way. Sheesh.

Man-in-charge wasn't there tonight, so I concentrated on keeping my focus and imagining that I was already on my Australia trip, having to lift in an unfamiliar gym with no support. It went well. I'm getting more consistent about moving my shoulders and hips at the right time while I'm pulling the weight up.

The elderly man I mentioned before was there tonight, and he was annoying. When I came in he offered to buy me a chocolate milk from the vending machine, which I politely refused. Then at one point he wanted to help me unload the weights from the bar. I explained to him that I use the unloading time to think about my next set, so thanks but no thanks. I've never seen him offer to help the guys strip the weight from the bar. Ahem. I don't want to be impolite, since he is elderly, but I will be impolite if I have to be. I'm not here to socialize.

As I came into the gym, two women stopped me to ask what I thought about it. They had just visited and are considering signing up. I told them that I've been at this gym for two months, and so far so good. I also suggested that they come to visit at the hours they plan to work out. Twenty minutes later another guy came in and talked to woman-in-charge about joining. I'm wondering if people are starting to worry about getting in shape for wedding season. I know that in North America gyms see a membership spike in January and September, but I don't know what the Israeli equivalent would be. Probably September-October, which is just after Jewish New Year, or April-May, which is just after Passover.

Reading over some of my posts this month I realise there are some typos and grammar slips. My apologies. I am swamped with schoolwork, and I am trying to get into the habit of blogging every day regardless. Two reasons: one, because it helps me get organized, and two, because when I reach my fitness goals I want to be able to look back and see how I got there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Crunching Sounds

Tonight I shared the squat rack with a guy who told me that leg day is his most hated workout day. I'm always a little sad to hear that, because I love leg day. Both leg days, actually, the quad dominant and the ham dominant. Perhaps it's different for women; since we don't have the same upper body muscle mass as the guys do, it's easier for us to see progress in lower body than it is to see it in the upper body. I don't mean losing fat; most of the fat I've lost has come from my upper body. I mean how fast the weights go up in terms of what I can lift.

So leg day = sweet, even on a night like tonight, when leg day = pretty damn frustrating. First of all, it's back to 12 reps on the max sets, so the cycle starts all over again. Second, my right knee was unstable, making crunching sounds. So we slowed everything down and dropped the weight down. I did mention that man-in-charge has laser vision and can spot a form break at twenty paces, yes? He told me to concentrate on keeping my right knee solid in the descent and in the ascent of my squat. It should not wobble in and out like some jello equivalent. (He didn't use those words, but that's what came to my mind.) On my last two sets of the 2/3-up-and-down-again squat variation I was using just the bar, and I was fighting for every damn rep from the eighth to the twelfth.

On the positive side, hearing crunching sounds from one's body is a good reminder to take the fish oil capsules regularly. In the beginning of June, Lonnie Lowery had a good article on T-Nation called Nutrition vs. Injury. For me the money quote was towards the end, about logging injuries in my training log. So I noted tonight when things crunched and when they didn't. I also make a mental note to do some static stretching post-workout or in the morning. I do dynamic stretching prior to the workout, but I think some additional work would come in handy.

I also logged all food today. Came up a little short, around 1600 kcal instead of the 1800 I was aiming for. I am too tired at this point to go find something that will give me another 200. However, water intake was good, green tea intake was good, and I bought more veggies this morning so I'm all set to tomorrow. I need to stock up on cottage cheese; I'm down to my last cup of the stuff. I realised today that 1 lb of veggies is about all I can eat in one sitting. Anymore than that and it feels like I'm trying to force it down rather than enjoying my food. I don't know about you, but I need to enjoy what I'm eating or this endeavour will go nowhere.

The other day, Mae at The Pretty Face had a post with a Star Wars (actually ESB) quote that really hit the spot for me. So I went and dug up this Michael Jordan quote I got from T-Nation back on April 14, and which I think bears repeating:
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday Morning WW Meeting

I only stayed for the weigh-in, because I have a paper to finish. The new weight on the WW scale is 73.8 Kg or 162.7 lbs, one kg down from the last weigh-in, which was three weeks ago. On the one hand I was expecting it to be lower, on the other hand, 2.2 lbs over three weeks is an excellent pace at which to lose, so I'm not quibbling.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Those Magic Moments

At the gym on Friday. I was warming up when KB, (A's trainer/coach) comes by and says hi. We talk and then I mention that my schedule is pretty swamped what with studying at two different places and all.

KB: What are you studying?
Me: Education.
KB: To be a phys. ed. teacher?
Me: *falls down in a faint*

Ok, so I didn't actually fall down in a faint. I laughed and said no, I plan to teach Tanakh and Rabbinics. But I couldn't believe he actually said that. And I don't think he was making fun of me. As Krista at Stumptuous wrote in an entirely different context: "It's sweet that there was even a remote possibility".

The thing is, I'm not at a shape that would indicate anything close to a phys.ed. teacher. I'm serious about my training, but there's a long way to go. But I think that at some point - in my case, two months of regular gym attendance - the guys stop seeing "fat woman puffing" and see "woman lifting seriously".

I have eggs now, although not the big platter of 30, still no room in the fridge for that. I ate clean today, and I had a good Pull workout this evening. New max weights on the lat pulldown (42 Kg / 92.6 lbs) and on the seated cable row (44 Kg / 97 lbs); still keeping my mind focused on the idea of doing a pull up this year.

Tomorrow morning at 9:00am I meet the WW scale again; first time in three weeks. Saturday was a bit too much carbs: mostly fruit, nothing non-clean, so we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Good Reading

The Agitator has something to say about obesity, personal responsibility, and artichokes.

And Scientific American has an article questioning some common assumptions about obesity.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday Report

Back to deadlifts today. This time around, I had enough sleep, but not enough food. I was lifting around noon, but the only thing I had eaten all morning was 250g of 0.5% cottage cheese, 315g of melon, 1.5 litres of water and 1 cup of green tea. Not enough by any stretch of the imagination. I was a bit slow, and I was not happy with my technique. We removed 7.5 Kg between my max set and my fourth set, just to make sure the final sets were perfectly clean.

Everything after the deadlifts went very well. I just got into a groove and I was pleased with the partial deads, the hamstring curls and the cable kickbacks. The gym was very crowded; typical Friday afternoon insanity. When I was doing my ab work at the end I had to move the mat I was working on halfway through because I was blocking someone's access to a bench. It's unpreventable, because the gym is very small compared to North American gyms. However, the crowded part teaches you to concentrate on your own workout and to not be fazed by what's going on around you.

Doesn't mean I don't take the time to look around during some of my rest periods. :-) Today I saw a young man who looked like a gymnast, only stockier, and he was doing weighted dips. Only when he finished the rep and was at the top of the dip he would add a little v-up. Amazing.

Post gym I went to a contents sale of two schoolmates who have finished their studies and are moving back to the US. I am now the proud owner of a gently used cooking pot. So now I have the means to boil artichokes; unfortunately artichoke season is done. I may buy another pot and a space heater from them as well.

I had planned to go to the market after that to pick up eggs, (yeah, the 30 eggs from last week are all gone). However, because the parents of roommate #1 send him food each week, the fridge is totally full, and there's no room for a platter of eggs. I have enough other protein sources (tuna, cottage, other FF dairy), so I can wait till Sunday to rearrange the fridge and find room for eggs. I finally decided not to go to the market, since it was still ridiculously hot outside, and picked up my Friday chocolate splurge in downtown instead. After I bought it I waited for the bus for what seemed an impossibly long time. I eventually gave up and walked the 30 minutes home, nothing brisk, just a stroll.

Ok, back to my school work now. Can't wait till it's all done and handed in.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Buffet Tables

I had planned to get to the graduation ceremony just before it began, thereby missing the pre-ceremony reception entirely. I miscalculated and was actually one of the first to arrive, so I had plenty of time to admire the food-laden buffet tables. Chef David had done a great job as usual: there were veggies and dip, mini samosas, three varieties of mini quiches, tempura veggies, lox... I didn't have any of it prior to the ceremony. It was strange. Everything looked good, everything smelled good, but I found I had no desire to taste any of it.

After the ceremony the buffet tables were freshly set with dessert. Chocolate mousse, toffee bars, lemon meringue tarts, Mexican wedding cookies and platters of fruit. I ended up eating 1/2 an apricot, a couple of watermelon slices, a half slice of melon, and some plain left over veggie crudites from earlier, all washed down with two glasses of water. I took the time to glance at the other stuff, but nothing spoke to me. Food-wise, this was probably the easiest social gathering I've ever been to, and I'm not yet sure why.

I think it was mostly due to the fact that I got to the gym today and got a good quad-dominant workout in. Three cheers for squats! The gym was quiet, and man-in-charge was actually getting his own workout in at the same time that he was helping everyone else. Talk about multi-tasking.

Post workout I ran home and ate some good food. I didn't want to get to the ceremony hungry. I figured if I was full of real food there was less chance of me craving stuff, and at most I'd have a taste of everything rather than stand there and inhale the mini-quiches. The thing is, I didn't make the decision to not have anything until I actually got there and took a good look at all the food, so there was no "denial" per se. I came, I saw, I opted out. And I wasn't stressed by food conversations: at one point I was standing with my classmates K and H and we discussed candy bars that are available in Canada vs. candy bars available in the US. The conversation didn't make me uncomforable, nor was I seized by a deep desire to clean out the Snickers stock of the local supermarket.

Two papers due Sunday, one paper due Monday. Give me strength!

A Tiny Bump on the Road

My pedagogy class was cancelled this morning, so I did a shopping trip to the cheap supermarket instead. Stocked up on cottage cheese, yogurt, veggies and tuna. I seem to be scrambling this morning. It's 11am and I've only gotten one litre of water in so far. Now I'm trying to blog while eating tuna. It takes skill, I tell ya! I have to head out at 11:30am, help set up for graduation (not my class, the class ahead of us), help a fellow student with his model lesson (he's filming it so he can send it out to potential employers), get to the gym, go home, change so I'm presentable, and get back in time for the graduation. Oh, and get healthy food into me somewhere in there so that I can look at the sugary desserts that will be served at the graduation and shrug indifferently. :-)

I came into the gym last night with 48 hours of good food, good water and green tea intake and sufficient sleep behind me. Things did not go well. It was day one of the 8 rep microcycle, a Push (chest) workout, and I had hoped to start on a high note. I tried 37.5 Kg (83 lbs) on my bench press max set, and failed at six reps. This was even more frustrating because I thought it was a completely doable weight. I think this is the first time that I haven't been able to do a weight that man-in-charge thought I could do. My push-ups were also shaky. It wasn't until the close grip bench press that I got my act together, but I was fighting for each and every set.

I was not a happy camper. Man-in-charge could tell I was upset; he told me not to worry, to concentrate on the technique and the weight will come. A noticed it too. He did a passable imitation of me pacing back and forth, then asked me what I was upset about, did I had plan to lift a 100 Kg after one month? Guy had a point. I laughed, but it was still frustrating. At least I burned some kcals with all the pacing back and forth.

Must run. More later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Queen of Procrastination

A downside to yesterday's food splurge: it seems to have made me sluggish and lazy all day today. I was Queen of Procrastination, and I can't afford to be right now, not with all the stuff that's due at the university. Where is my organized self? I tell you, tack a holiday to the weekend and things go to hell in a handbasket. Note to self: splurges, if at all, should be on Fridays only, so that I have Saturdays to recover from them.

I tracked food today, to make sure I've got my head on straight post-splurge. I'm sitting here having gotten 1700 kcals in; which is close to the 1800 I was aiming for (yay!). I'm short about 50g of protein (need chicken breasts!) but have consumed 25g or so more carbs than I wanted and 5g or so more fats than I wanted. The tracking also showed me that I need more veggies, and that I need to consume more of the food earlier in the day. The challenge is that my workout usually starts around 9:00pm or so, and I need pre and post workout nutrition. Today I took in the last meal at 11:00pm. Water was good at 4L, and green tea was ok at 0.75L. The other challenge is getting more of the water in earlier in the day so that I don't wake up at 3:30am to go to the bathroom. I need all the beauty sleep I can get!

Gym was incredibly busy tonight, as people came back after the holiday and re-started their training. At one point I was sharing a station with three people. On the one hand it makes my workout longer, but on the other hand I like being in a gym where people share the machines civilly. Everything went well. Lat pulldowns max set was 40Kg (88.6 lbs) and seated cable row max set was 42 Kg (93 lbs). I cling to the hope that before I have to leave Israel and go back to North America I will actually do one pullup, and preferably more than one.

A and his trainer were at the gym, and I am happy to report that the abuse is mutual. At first I thought it was only A being rude to his trainer, but it turns out the trash talk goes both ways. Whatever works for them. At one point, I was doing my grip work close to where the two of them were working, and trainer asks A, "What do you want?" and A jokingly replies "I want to arm wrestle her", meaning me. They are funny. I told man-in-charge that he should consider charging higher gym fees for the entertainment.

In other news, roommate #2 has advised that he is definitely moving out this summer. I've advised roommate #1 that I want to move into roommate #2's room, which is smaller and slightly cheaper than mine. Once roommate #2 moves out and takes his furniture, and the room's original furniture gets put back in, I'll see whether the original bed is actually sleepable. I want to get the move done before I go on the Australia trip (still no 100% confirmation) and then roommate #1 can show the empty room to potential roommates in my absence.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lunch at B's

The walk to B's place for lunch turned out to be 35 minutes. It was incredibly hot out: 29C or 84F, if not higher. I had drunk two litres of water in the morning, but by the time I got to B's apartment I think I had sweated all of it out. I drank three glasses of water upon arrival. Lunch was supposed to start at 2:00pm, but with all the talking and waiting for guests we didn't start till 3:10pm. I should have thought about this and had more food this morning. Live and learn.

During lunch I had some poached salmon and grilled tofu, and a little pasta with tempeh mushroom sauce. Two of the guests were vegan, hence the profusion of soy. I tried the grilled veggies but didn't like them, and completely avoided the eggplant cheese lasagne-like dish. I stopped myself after drinking two glasses of cola, going back to water for the rest of the meal. The cola was the only thing I regret about this meal. It was a stupid old habit resurrecting itself.

There was a cheese course and I had a bit of each of the four available cheeses. I was surprised at how little of everything I ate. Don't get me wrong, I know all the bits and smidges add up, but in the past I would have said to myself, wow, this brie with walnuts tastes amazing and so does this goat cheese; I'm going to wait till everyone has had their share and then get myself a big second helping of both. This time I stopped after the little bit. To illustrate, I'd say each bit of cheese was about the size of half an AAA battery.

I did have dessert; I have been planning this splurge for three weeks, ever since I realised that Shavuot was around the corner. I had cheesecake, a mini-scoop of B&J New York Fudge Chunk ice cream, a mini-scoop of B&J Dulce de Leche with Fudge ice cream and a mini-scoop of the Tofu ice cream. For the record, the two 500ml B&J containers were sufficient for the 11 people who attended with some ice cream left over, so no one went crazy on the ice cream. I hadn't had either of these ice creams before, and neither one struck me as worthwhile binge material. It also helps that premium ice cream like B&J or Haagen-Dasz is very expensive here. I look at the container at the store and I think "this could buy two dozen eggs and a loaf of whole wheat bread and I'd have money left over".

No WW meeting again, this time because of the holiday, but I did an at-home-sans-clothes-weigh-in to compare to last week's in-home-weigh-in. Last week was 73.5 Kg (161.2 lbs) and this week was 72.8 Kg (160.5). I'm not updating the stats until I meet the WW scale again next Monday, but it seems that everything is on track. Although the idea of being under 160lbs is very strange to me. It hasn't happened in the past decade and a half, if not two decades, as far as I know.

The walk home took 40 minutes. There were a few more uphills and I was walking with other people the first part of the way and we were strolling and conversing. The heat hadn't broken, so we commiserated about how hot it (still!) was.

Unbelievably busy week ahead; mostly university assignments. And National Book Week starts on the June 15, but more on that when it arrives.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Deadlift Goof

The gym closed at 1:00pm today because of the impending holiday, so I got there around 11:15am or so. I had less than five hours of sleep last night, so I wasn't thinking very well. The way things work is I go in, pick up my program and go over to man-in-charge so that he can tell me what the weight should be on my max set. Then my first set is 50% of max, my second is 80% of max, and then I do the max weight on the third set. The weight for my fourth and fifth set depends on how clean the max set is.

So I do my warm up sets. My max for the deadlift is supposed to be 45 Kg (bar is 20 Kg, + 2 plates of 10 Kg each, + 2 plates of 2.5 Kg each), but I loaded the bar with 50 Kg by mistake; I picked up the 5 Kg plates instead of the 2.5 Kg plates. Oy. Man-in-charge wasn't impressed, and I wasn't impressed with myself either, because when he said "That's 50 Kg", after I had done the set, I had not a clue what he was talking about. I truly believed I was lifting 45 Kg. And I'm not in a hurry to ramp up my deadlift, I'd rather have my squat catch up. Sigh. Anyway, I explained about the lack of sleep the previous night, and for the rest of the workout I double-checked all my weights. I found a few other screw-ups waiting to happen, and I was so scatterbrained I kept misplacing the locks, putting them just above where I normally put them.

I talked to man-in-charge afterwards about the discrepancy between my squat and my deadlift, and we generally agreed that this can be attributed to the fact that my prior squat technique was closer to a good morning... so my back was getting twice the workout while my legs stayed weak. It's going to change eventually, because the limiting factor on deadlifts is invariably the grip.

The other funny thing is that there were four women in the gym today, and all of us, for whatever reason, were wearing what looked like the exact same outfit: black/dark workout pants and a pink/burgundy shirt. We looked like we all escaped from the same choir.

I didn't get to do my ab work at the end because I ran out of time. Got out of the gym just after 1:00pm, and went to the market to pick up eggs. I got 30 eggs, which should last the week. Then I went home, changed and grabbed some food; I should have prepped this beforehand; I knew I would be scrambling for time. I ended up with a natural pb and (unnatural) jam on whole wheat sandwich and a couple of plums, which I was ok with because I had a good amount of protein in the morning.

I headed out to the supermarket near my friend B's house. He had invited me over for the holiday lunch tomorrow, and I volunteered to bring the soft drinks. However, we agreed that I would drop them off today rather than have to walk 45 minutes schlepping them in the heat tomorrow. I left seven 1.5 L bottles of questionable zero nutritional value at his door (we will be 11 all together). It was like a second workout carrying all of them from the supermarket, up the hill, up the stairs to his apartment, but hey, I miss doing farmer's walk as part of my workouts so it's all for the best. Finally, I got home, put in a load of laundry, opened a can of tuna, and all was right with the world.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Cheesecake in My Future

On Friday I woke up late (9:00am instead of the 7:00am I'd wanted). I went to the pricey supermarket where they had Quaker Oats on special, did some more running around, and then headed to the gym around noon. I wasn't sure if to go again this week since I'd already gone Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and this would be the 5th workout. What clinched it was the fact that this coming Monday is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot meant that 1. the gym will be closed on Monday and 2. I would be having a cheesecake splurge that day. There's a tradition to eat dairy foods on this holiday, and every bakery in the city is touting its cheesecakes, quiches, et cetera. In addition, the scheduled workout was my quad-dominant day (yay squats) and I would like my squats to catch up with my deadlifts asap. More on weights later.

Speaking of Monday, because it is Shavuot there will be no WW meeting, so the stats won't be updated for another week. I'll do a home weigh-in on Monday just to see where things are in comparison to last week.

So off I went to the gym on Friday. The gym, you will recall, is not a fancy shmancy gym. The changerooms are small and so are the lockers. Furthermore, some of the lockers have doors that don't quite close properly. In an attempt to close my locker door, I caught my right thumb under the lower edge of the door, and then stood there using unladylike language as a large blood blister formed on my thumb. On the positive side, I thought, at least it did not break the skin, and the pain from the blister would distract me from the hard work I was about to do. I found man-in-charge and asked if he had a band-aid. He had this surgical tape stuff, which I wrapped around my thumb to protect the blister from catching on anything and bursting. While painful and distracting, the blister did not affect my grip as much as I had thought it would. It was more of an annoyance when it came to writing down my sets and reps then it was during the actual lifting since, when I grip the bar it's the side of the thumb that rests against the bar, and when I write it's the actual pad of the thumb that rests against the pen. The penmenship was lousy but as long as it's readable, fine.

The workout itself was good, weights went up again. When I got home I looked at the workout log and pulled out a few stats. For my max set of bench presses I am currently doing 9 reps at 35 Kg (77.2lbs), a.k.a 48% of bodyweight. For my max set of squats, 9 reps at 32.5 Kg (71.7 lbs) a.k.a 45% of bodyweight, and for my max set of deadlifts I am pulling 10 reps at 42.5 Kg (93.7 lbs) or 59% of bodyweight. First, note that this is a ridiculous situation; women do not bp more than they squat, period (unless they're bp specialists and never squat, of course.) By the end of the next cycle I'll be squatting and deadlifting much better numbers than I bench press. Second, I could get all depressed about this, because last year, my trusty workout log informs me bluntly, I was pulling 175 lbs for a set of 3 on my deadlift. But I'm not. I'm pleased that I'm back in the gym, pleased that the weights are rising on everything since I returned to the gym, happy with the improvements in my squatting form and just generally happy to be moving iron again. (And grateful to be alive and moving, as the passing of Yona Melina reminded me this week.) Besides, it is all a function of bodyweight to me now. My goals (2x bodyweight on squats and deads, 1.5x bodyweight on bench) are all a matter of my lifting weights rising and my body weight shrinking, meeting somewhere in a happy middle.

At the gym I ran into one of my schoolmates from Pardes. He's going back to the US soon to attend medical school. For the record, he claims that he told me at the beginning of the school year that this gym had a squat rack. I say that if that were true I wouldn't have spent so much time checking out all those other gyms in Jerusalem. Whatever. The point is that I finally found this place and started lifting again. At any rate, he's a very nice guy and he'll make a great doctor one day. He asked about the upcoming trip to Australia, and I said that it's 98% confirmed, but that I'm not going to worry about it until I get 100% confirmation. Incidentally, whatever the %, I've already gone online and found that there are at least two gyms in Melbourne that look like they'd have squat racks: one's called BodyWorld, and the other's called Better Body Fitness. I have no idea if either of them is close to where I'll be staying (since I don't yet know where I'll be staying), but it made me feel better just to find them online. Amazing, eh? I find out I may be going to Australia and the first thing to come to mind is making sure I have a place to work out.

Update: This post edited to add a line and a link.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Nutrition Methodology

In a May 15 comment, Liz asked me about calories. This is the nutrition post I've been meaning to write since then.

There's one advantage to being 40 lbs overweight. I'm in that happy happy joy joy stage where I can add muscle and lose weight at the same time. Eventually I'll be at the stage where I won't be able to do both simultaneously, and I will have to worry about bulking phases and cutting phases and so on. But for now I don't have to worry my pretty little head about them.

I use the Harris-Benedict formula for women (655 + [9.6 X weight in kg] + [1.8 X height in cm] - [4.7 X age in years])
to calculate my BMR. I then multiply this by an activity factor of 1.55, which represents moderate activity. This tells me that I need to take in around 2300 kcal per day just to stay at my current weight. Since I want to lose a pound each week at most, I subtract 500 kcal from this. So, I need to take in around 1800 calories each day. This means six meals of 300 kcal each, or 5 meals of 360 kcal each. I file all that useful data away in the back of my head.

Do I log calories daily? No. I have the utmost respect for people who do, but it does not work for me. However, if I sense that things are going awry, that I'm starting to eat foods that come out of colourful boxes instead of quality grub (not grubs!), I will log for a day or two, just to get back on track. Similarly, once my progress stalls, and it eventually will, I'll go to a log to identify where adjustments should be made.

Instead, I focus on trying to follow Berardi's habits as closely as possible and to make my kitchen (ok, my third of the shared kitchen of the apartment) resemble this and this as much as possible. I also read the Dietary Displacement articles (part I here, part II here) on a regular basis, to remind me that it's about getting in quality food most of the time rather than freaking out about the occasional slip-ups. To give credit where it's due, I first read all of these articles on the T-Nation site, back in the days that it was still

My biggest challenge is getting in enough food. For example, an omelette made of 2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites + 40g of uncooked oatmeal mixed in clocks in at a measly 332 kcal, and that's a serious volume of food. Alternately, an entire can of oil-packed tuna, drained, is a measly 233 kcal. Add an entire pound of sliced green peppers, and that's only another 80 kcal or so.

I focus on getting in protein. If I get to mid-day and realise I haven't eaten enough carbs, it's easy to grab some fruit or veggies or ww bread, although I am definitely eating way less of the latter and more of the former. Similarly with fat; grab some nuts or drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over whatever I'm eating: done!.

Protein, on the other hand requires a bit more planning. Hard boiled egg whites are not, as of right now, sold on street corners in convenient six-packs. When I started eating cottage cheese I would eat a quarter cup at a time. Now I eat it by the cup. I haven't been eating much meat, because I didn't have a pot to cook it in. I've since acquired a stir-fry pan, and I'm adding chicken breasts and ground beef to my meals. Did I mention that I miss my Foreman Grill? Protein powder is not an option at the moment: first, because I want to eat real food, and second, because the apartment has a kosher kitchen and I'm not aware of a powder that has kosher certification.

I take a multi vitamin and three omega-3 fish oil capsules three or four times per week. It should be a daily thing, but this is one place where I'm not entirely on track yet. It's coming. I am consistent on 3.5-4.5 litres of water each day, and 2-4 cups of green tea per day. This means the 16oz thermal mug and the 1 litre water bottle go pretty much everywhere with me as does the big lunch bag.

I also need to emphasize that none of this happened overnight. I've been fat since at least 1988. I've been reading about nutrition and exercise for a very long time, but it took several different things to move me from being a gatherer of information to a user of information. That's another post entirely.

If I had to sum up how I think about things now, I'd go with my favourite Berardi quote (of course, now that I need it, I can't remember which article I got it from): "Start thinking of food as fuel. You don't stop at the gas station just because you're bored". Now, one way to interpret this quote is just what it says: don't use boredom as an excuse to eat. But I also interpret it another way: my body is a magnificent machine and I will not put low-grade fuel in it.

So this is what I'm doing and what is working for me right now. I'm looking forward to finding out where it all leads.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Shirt

I finally got up the nerve to wear my Old Navy t-shirt with the powerlifting design on it at the gym last night. I was waiting until I got to know the place a bit better, and until they realised that I was serious about my training. It got two reactions. As I came in, the guy who's been training TB said "What a shirt!". Later, the original TurkeyBoy comes in (I'm calling him A from now on, since he has improved., and it's not fair to judge him by his original performance.)

A: "Powerlifting?"
Me: "Soon,"
A: "Really?"
Me: "Why not?"
A: "We can compete,"
Me: "I've never seen you do a leg exercise,"
A: [much impressed by my attention to detail] "You have me under surveillence?"
Me: "Someone works out five times a week and never works legs, it's strange,"
So A explains that he's had back problems, and once some leg exercises became impossible, he gave up on all of them, but he's starting again now. (No, I don't buy the logic either, but whatever works for him.)

Last night was ham-dominant. The deadlifts went well, and the right knee stopped making sounds by the second set. I kept moving between exercises, staying as warm as possible without exhausting myself. The hamstring curls were great; I ended up using my max weight for two sets rather than one.

I'm not using gloves, because a. I want to improve my grip as much as possible before it becomes a limiting factor on my deadlifts, and b. seeing lifting calluses makes me remember happy lifting days. :-) I will file the calluses down soon, of course, because the last thing I need is to have one rip off just before the next deadlift day. They're not particularly useful for anything except startling manicurists.

There's a guy at the gym that the other guys were calling Lone Wolf, because he's not married. Marriage is big here. This led into a discussion of the old Chuck Norris film, Lone Wolf McQuade. Hard to believe that movie is 23 years old. I remember seeing it when I was a teenager, and a few times afterwards. I still prefer action movies to any other kind.

And speaking of films, when I went to look up LWM, I found out that Anne Bancroft has passed away. She did such a great job in G.I. Jane (one of my favourite films), playing the duplicitous Senator DeHaven. RIP.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

First Meme

Got this meme from Liz and adjusted a little to suit me:

3 names I go/went by:
- Mich: when I blog
- Mimi: immediate family only
- Lady M: Back in junior high, my friend and I were into G.I. Joe comics. She was Scarlett, I was Lady M, which is a play on Lady Jaye.

3 screen names I've had: Mich's pretty much it, I think.

3 physical things I like about myself: Everything, really, but I wish I had 20/20 vision.

3 parts of my heritage: Jewish, Canadian-Israeli, Sephardi-Libyan

3 things I am wearing right now: jeans skirt, t-shirt, Source sandals

3 favorite bands/musical artists: Tanglefoot, Kate Bush, Etta James, Sam Cooke

3 favorite songs: (at this very moment, since I just came back from the gym): Fighter by Christina Aguilera, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, and Oye by Gloria Estefan.

3 things I want in a relationship: respect, longevity, loyalty.

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me: not quite sure how to answer this one.

3 favorite hobbies: reading, blogging, lifting. Although to call lifting a hobby is to do it a disservice; I plan to do it regularly for the rest of my life. By the same token, I wouldn't put "brushing my teeth" under "hobby".

3 Things I want to do badly right now: finish all my outstanding assignments, get 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep, scrap the idiotic Canadian gun registry.

3 things that scare me: Large insects, small rodents, the idea of surviving a suicide bombing with severe brain damage.

3 of my everyday essentials: veggies, my watch and my cell phone, which is a necessity of life here in Israel. Everyone has at least one, and some folks carry two.

3 careers you have considered or are considering: banking, hotel management, teaching.

3 places you want to go on vacation:
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA.
- Pamukkale, Turkey.
- Scotland

3 kids' names you like:
- Mazal, which is a Hebrew girl's name meaning "luck"
- Ezra
- Raphael

3 things you want to do before you die:
- get married and have 4-6 kids
- squat and deadlift 2x my bodyweight, benchpress 1.5x my bodyweight.
- take up skeet shooting

4 ways I am stereotypically a boy (what a ridiculous question):
- I read Men's Health on a regular basis
- I own less than 5 pairs of shoes
- I scored 86% male on some silly online gender test, the link to which I no longer have.
- I'm not big on housekeeping.

2 ways I am stereotypically a girl (what an even more ridiculous question):
- I like makeup, especially MAC
- I bake a great apple pie.

3 celeb crushes:
Haven't had a celeb crush since Yul Brynner.

No one to tag, unfortunately. I think I need to get my friends to start blogs. :-)

The Eggplant's Fault

Nutrition derailed around 5:00pm yesterday. I was at Hebrew U all afternoon, and I hadn't taken enough food with me to cover three meals. All I had left was a can of tuna, a yogurt and a banana. Now, I don't care how desperate you are, you do not eat tuna out of the can three feet away from the prof in a very small classroom. So knowing that the yogurt and banana would not be enough, I went over to the little cafeteria and got what I thought was a cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Not stellar, but it would do.

No sooner do I unpack the sandwich and bite into it then I discover that it is in fact a grilled eggplant, cheese, mint leaves and tomato sandwich. Oy. Israelis love eggplant. However, it is not in my top ten list of favourite plant foods. Hunger, and the fact that this was my last class with this prof and I didn't want to miss anything, prevented me from going to the cafeteria to complain about the hidden eggplant. So I ate most of it. Eating food one does not enjoy is a perfect way to get into the "I deserve some yummy food" mental state.

So that was motive. Opportunity presented itself in the form of my cousin, who came to town to visit. I had not seen him in ages, so we went to Tmol Shilshom for dinner (for him) and dessert (for me). Since they were out of cheesecake, I proceeded to have apple pie with whipped cream and ice cream. The whipped cream had chocolate sauce drizzled on it, by the way.

Fortunately, today I was back on track and all is well in the land of nutrition.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Today is Jerusalem Day, or as it is known in Hebrew, Yom Yerushalayim, celebrating the the reunification in 1967. It is amazing to be here on this day, on which I feel the wonder of 3000 years of Jewish history even more than I do on any other day in Jerusalem. :-)

Felt tired and achy yesterday, so I told myself "don't be stupid, stay in bed". In my younger and more vulnerable days (anyone remember the book this comes from?) I would have just gone to school/work and proceeded to run myself into the ground. I'm wiser now. I stayed home and spent the day in front of the computer transcribing an interview I did for one of my university classes. It took all day, but at the end I had a nice 21 page transcript. I was getting a little stressed while I was doing this; a big thank you to Marla for the comment on the previous post - it was a nice morale booster! One more interview to go, and then I can start writing the paper for that class. The nice thing about being home is that the food was very convenient. I set my watch to beep at me in three hours, and when it did, I got up and had food and re-set the watch for three hours hence. I also had my water bottle and mug (thanks sis!) full of green tea on the desk, and tried to get through both within each three hour slot.

There are several varieties of green tea available here. I brought the Tazo Zen with me from Starbucks in Canada, but I needn't have worried. Wissotzky makes five varieties of green tea: classic green tea, green tea with spearmint leaves, with lemongrass & verbena, with jasmine and with citrus fruit. I have all of them except the latter. It takes a while to get used to drinking plain green tea, but it can be done. Really. :-) I like the spearmint best so far.

Went to the gym at night. It was very cold. There's construction at the entrance to the gym and on the street outside, so they closed the door to stop dust from getting in. However, the gym is in a windowless basement, so door closed = hot and stuffy. So, the air conditioning was cranked up. I would have been happier had it been warmer. My right knee kept making strange sounds while I was squatting, which led man-in-charge to drop the weight somewhat, have me try to adjust my stance, and do my reps more slowly. All this helped, but I think the main culprit was the temperature. Other than the weight being lower than what I wanted it to be, I was pleased with the workout. I got compliments from two different people. The trainer/coach of TurkeyBoy said that it has been a long time since they had more than one woman working out "seriously". I think that by "seriously" he means "with heavier weights", because there are a few women there working out very seriously, but lifting heavy is not their focus. Another man (an older gentleman who is an inspiration to many of the younger men - he must be in his 80s and he's doing weighted dips) said that I was very "diligent". I said thank you. I'm working on accepting compliments without denigrating myself while doing so. It's a process.

After the gym I finished transcribing, then finally got to bed at 1:18am. I decided last night to forego the WW meeting this week and sleep in. When I joined they gave me these two little red slips of paper to cover two absences, and I haven't used either of them yet. I noted my weight on my scale for reference; last Monday my home-scale-no-clothes weight was 73.1 Kg and this Monday morning it was 73.5 Kg, with the 400g or 1 lb difference attributable to TOM. So, nothing to get excited about. For next week, which will be post TOM, I want to break 74 Kg on the WW scale.

Ok. I have to hang the laundry on the line to dry, transcribe the other interview, pack food, and get to the university by 1:30pm; Monday is my late university night, so no gym tonight unless the prof lets us out early.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Friday and Saturday

You'd think I would know better than to accept both a Friday dinner and a Saturday lunch invitation. Either meal on its own would have been enough to deal with while I'm trying to keep my eating as clean as possible. *sigh*

Dinner at D's place was fun: there were ten people in all, three of whom are going back to the US shortly, so this was a bit of a goodbye dinner. Still, the atmosphere was mostly upbeat. We laughed a lot, and I walked home close to midnight. It was a beautiful Jerusalem night, nice and cool.

I was very tired when I got home. Friday had started early because I met a classmate for breakfast at 8:00am at the Hilel Cafe on Emek Refaim Street. (Yes, the one that was blown up on Sept 9, 2003). From there I went to the Pe'er Bakery on HaMagid Street. I had asked D if he wanted me to bring anything to the dinner, emphasizing that it has to be something I can buy rather than make, and he said bring the challahs. He left me a message on Friday afternoon to verify that I did indeed buy the challahs, as they are rather important to the Friday night ritual.

After I dropped off the challahs at home I went to the flower store to order flowers. My study partner H came up with the idea of getting one of our teachers a present to thank her for everything she taught us during the year, and we collected money from anyone in the class who wanted to contribute. No pressure; one could sign the thank you card without contributing any money at all, since everyone has a different money situation. We decided to send her a bouquet of flowers for Shabbat. I knew we had enough money for a bouquet but not an arrangement, so I brought the glass vase my parents had sent me for my birthday and asked the flower shop woman if we could use that. I am going to be leaving Jerusalem in a year and a bit, and I doubt I would have room to pack a vase, and I know my parents would be cool with me giving it to my teacher.

My duty as Designated-Orderer-of-Flowers completed, I went to the supermarket and got cottage cheese. When I got home I was feeling cramped and tired and all I wanted to do was get into bed and sleep, but as Richard Marcinko wrote: "Thou hast not to like it, thou hast just to do it," so I got my stuff together and went to the gym.

There are few things as wonderful as going to the gym feeling wilted and droopy and ending up having a kick-butt session. The bench press weight went up again, and the technique on the close grip bench press is definitely improving. I felt strong, and I think I floated out of there on endorphins. This was my fifth session this week. The gym was pretty full, although not with teenage boys this time, more of a mixed group. Some of the guys were so funny; here's a sample of dialogue:

Pumped up guy: How often did you see me here this week?
Man-in-charge (with a straight face): I didn't see you, I mostly heard you.

Before floating home, however, I went to a different bakery to buy a cake for my cousin, who had invited me for Saturday lunch. My aunt and uncle were visiting, and they gave me a belated birthday present, a little book called "No", all about the word "No", and the opportunities it offers. Great timing, I thought. This is the cousin that keeps encouraging you to eat more, and I had plenty of chances to use the word "no" during the meal. Also the word "So". To wit:

Cousin: Have some more food. You're not eating.
Me: No thank you.
Cousin: But I don't want to have food left over.
Me: So?

When I came home after lunch the tiredness really hit me. I didn't want to sleep because that would throw off the sleeping for the rest of the week, so I tried to do some reading, and then got very stressed by the looming mountain of schoolwork and started visiting the fridge. I had a carb-fest: two (natural) peanut butter and jam sandwiches on whole wheat, two apples, four apricots and some pickles. *sigh*. I'm pretty certain that had there been cheesecake or ice-cream in the fridge I would have plowed my way through them. As Berardi's First Law states: "If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, you will eventually eat it." But it wasn't, and I didn't, so things were not as bad as they could have been.

Onwards. A new week starts tomorrow, and I have (self-) promises to keep. :-)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Quick Note

The deadlifts-centred ham-dominant session on Wednesday night went great. So did Thursday night's pull session. I'm definitely stronger in my hams and lats than I am in quads and chest right now. Some sort of balance will come, eventually.

I didn't want to go to the gym Thursday night, but around 8:12pm I said to myself: "You are not, repeat not, using tiredness and imperfect water intake as an excuse. Get up and go to the gym." So I did, and I was glad I did.

TurkeyBoy was there, but he was quite nice to me. However, I don't care for the way he talks to his trainer/coach. It seems very rude. I am beginning to think that "TurkeyBoy" should be a rotating designation. For example, tonight's TurkeyBoy was the genius who was doing his shoulder laterals right by the db rack, thereby preventing anyone else from accessing the rack.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

194 lbs

In August 1993, I weighed 194 lbs. It's right there in the workout log (which has entries dating back to 2001), black on white.

That was my heaviest-ever recorded weight. I would not be surprised to learn that I touched 200 at some point, but I was not a regular scale stepper, so I don't know it for certain. I was thinking about it this week because, at 164.8, I am approximately 30 lbs below that weight, and it seems amazing to me that I was walking around with 30lbs more than I am now.

I have a lot to say about getting from there to here, but I'm not articulating it very well yet. That's a post in the making.

Last night's squat workout? Tough, but I made it through. Shared the rack with two guys, and both of them were doing squats with perfect form. Interestingly, they both manage to stay upright even though they grip the bar very wide. Me, I've corrected my forward lean by bringing my hands closer to my shoulders; I grip the bar just a tinge wider than shoulder-width.

I've never been in a gym that has so many good squatters. It's a treat.

I'm off to deadlift. Sorry for the brevity.

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