Saturday, August 20, 2005

Need A Break

So I'm taking one - for two and a half weeks. I'll be blogging again on Tuesday, September 6, 2005.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In a Haze

I walked into the gym this evening and no one, no one, was working out. Everyone, without exception, was watching one of the two tvs. Usually they are tuned to an all-music channel, today they were tuned to the news. I would not be surprised if tonight produced some of the highest TV ratings in Israel's history. Man-in-charge told me that everyone seemed to be in a haze today.

I did my workout. Training helps keep me calmer (not calm, just calmer) during this time of disengagement.

Blogging will be sparse while my heart is breaking.

This post at Yourish.com expresses much of what I feel. Several posts at Not A Fish do also. And this post at Out of Step Jew describes a particularly poignant moment.

As I walked home from the gym I saw a beautiful sign hanging at the corner of Aza and Keren HaYesod Streets (I'll take a picture of it tomorrow if it is still there). It had blue, the pro-disengagement colour, on two sides and orange, the anti-disengagement colour, on two sides. It said, "Lamrot Hakol, Anachnu Achim" which means "Despite everything, we are brothers".

Yes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Anniversary and Tuesday Morning Weigh-In

On August 16, 2004, one year ago today, I landed in Israel to begin this study program. I am fitter, healthier and lighter than I was a year ago, which means I can look at this anniversary without the stress and disappointment I usually associate with anniversaries. Onwards and upwards.

No change in weight this week. Details at right. I was expecting a gain after the stupid carb binge, but I'll take no change. I always expected the 2nd half of the project to be take longer than the first half, so no worries.

Fourth day of the new program was interesting: two variations of lat pulldowns, one exercise for the forearms, and finally grip work. The lat pulldowns were supersetted with ab work, and the forearms and grip work was supersetted with (gulp!) cardio. Very low tech cardio, 1 minute intervals of running back and forth with little steps over a low block. The first five intervals were done running forwards, the second five intervals were done running backwards, which proved to me I am somewhat more coordinated than I thought. Also, I can handle 10 minutes of cardio without feeling put upon. :-)

One of the things that has become abundantly clear to me at this gym is how totally unnecessary most cardio machines are. Don't get me wrong, if at some point in my life I have enough disposable income to have a Concept II rower in my home, then great, I will buy one and enjoy it, but the fact is I don't need anything more than a block. I see guys at the gym who are amazingly fit, and their cardio work is done on this little block or a little step.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My Kingdom for a Soldering Iron

The right earphone of my cd player is dead. I opened it up and it looks like one of the wires has broken away from where it was supposed to be attached. I think I could fix it if I had a soldering iron and some solder (who knew Grade 9 Electronics would come in handy?), but I have no idea where to get them in Jerusalem, even if I had the time. Yes, I do realise that it's probably cheaper and faster to buy a new pair of earphones, but I've decided not to. I'm going to get by on one earphone for now. This should also make me more focused on getting to the 100lbs bench - at which point I will buy myself an MP3 player to celebrate - and it will presumably come with earphones.

Tonight was the third day of the new program. Started with squats, moved on to a sled hack squat but only coming up 2/3 of the way before going back down. Followed this with a barbell hack squat variation that has me sitting on a bench and getting up again, and finished off with freestanding calf raises (on a block, heels together) but this time around I'm holding the DB over my head instead of behind my back. Everything was supersetted with ab work, except for the calf raises that were supersetted with the leg lifts described earlier.

I left tired but happy...

Two people came to see the room in the apartment today. One didn't shut up the entire time she was in the apartment. The other one said that he had actually seen the apartment five years ago when he visited Jerusalem - he remembered the old names by the doorbell. More people coming tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dove Who? Check Out Nike's Ads

Via this thread at T-Nation, I became aware of a new series of Nike print ads. I googled to find out more, and came upon this web site that had the full text. Why Nike doesn't have the text and the ads on its site is beyond me... but I digress. There are three ads: Butt, Legs and Thighs, and I must say that even though I have not seen these ads, I like them very much just on the strength of the copywriting.

UPDATE 2005-08-16: Went back to the Nike site today and they do have the ads up now, including downloadable wallpapers. Click here; at the upper right corner they have a link called See the NikeWomen Ad.


BUTT
My butt is big
and round like the letter C
and ten thousand lunges
have made it rounder
but not smaller
and that's just fine
It's a space heater
for my side of the bed
It's my ambassador
to those who walk behind me
It's a border collie
that herds skinny women
away from the best deals
At clothing sales
My butt is big
and that's just fine
And those who might scorn it
are invited to kiss it.
Just do it.

LEGS
My legs
were once two hairy sticks
that weren't very good at jump rope
but by the time I reached the age of algebra
they had come into their own
and now in spin class
they are revered
envied for their strength
Honored for their beauty
hairless for the most part
except that place the razor misses
just behind the ankles
Just do it.

THIGHS
I have
thunder thighs
and that's a compliment
because they are strong
and toned
and muscular
and though they are unwelcome
in the petite section
they are cheered on in marathons
fifty years from now
I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs
and then I'll go out for a run
Just do it..

Stupid Carb Binge

The stupid carb binge started on Saturday and continued unabated post-fast on Sunday. On the positive side, we're not talking cake and cookies, but rather bread, fruit (mangoes, plums, apples), cereal and rice. On the negative side, what the hell was I thinking?

Three causes: first, I'm stressed about the papers I need to write (dumb). Second, I let myself run out of crunchy veggies (dumber). Third (dumbest), my clothes. They are falling off. It is difficult to remind myself that I am only halfway to where I want to be when I'm swimming in all my clothes. I have to get some of these to a tailor tomorrow and get them taken in. More importantly, I have to buy new clothes.

Anyways, it is now over, and I've got tomorrow's (healthy) breakfast planned and ready to go.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Next Workout on Monday

Reason is, the gym is closed on Saturday for the Sabbath and then Sunday I'll be fasting to mark Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av.

Tisha B'Av is a day of mourning for the destruction of the First Temple (by the Babylonians in 586 BCE) and Second Temple (by the Romans in 70 CE). It is a fast day - there is no eating or drinking. People do not greet each other, and we read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

Over at the Kesher Talk blog they will be having a blogburst to mark the day, which promises to be excellent reading.

New Program Day Two: Tricep Wonderland

I like the way this new program flows so far. First day was chest-shoulders, second day is shoulders-triceps. I'm excited about triceps. I'm looking forward to seeing what effect all this tricep work will have on my bench press.

Four exercises, five sets each, two warm-ups sets and three work sets. The warm up sets are 7 reps each, the work sets range from 7-12 depending on the microcycle. Today was a 12 rep day for the max sets. The first three exercises were supersetted with ab work, the last one with those leg lifts things I described yesterday.

I started off with seated DB shoulder presses that had a little twist at the beginning, Next came triceps pushdowns. I'm used to doing these upright with arms glued to sides, but this variation has me bent over, arms in front of my body, elbows directly under shoulders, pushing straight down.

After this came skull-crushers, using a rectangular bar, so my palms are facing each other as I'm doing these. I managed 12 smooth, clean reps with 15 Kg for my max set, and man-in-charge had me add a bit of weight and try 17.5 Kg. I failed after 4 reps. We had the following brief conversation:

Man-in-charge: "What happened?"
Me: "Good question." [I sit up, re-grip the rectangle, lie back and try again. I lower the weight under control but I can't push it up again.]
Man-in-charge [watching this failure]: "Clear answer."

The last exercise was a cable pullover done lying on the floor. The handle was a rope with two ends, and the idea is to keep the hands close together during the pull. Again, I can't find pics of this on-line.

Note about those leg lift thingies. Now that I'm doing them correctly, with my elbow on the floor and keeping the heel pointing up, I finally understand why my hips have been moving to the right when I squat. My left side is so much tighter than my right side. The left leg doesn't go up nearly as far as the right.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I Asked For It

Well, I asked for it, didn't I? Today was the first day of the new program. It is a five day split, and I didn't really look at the other four days except to make sure that squats were still there, which they were. If I had to describe it in one sentence it would be: let's drag Mich's weak points into the sunlight and beat them into submission...

The first day is Chest, and it starts off with bench press, which is the only thing I recognized. I don't know the names of the other three exercises, and my searches through Exrx and T-Nation haven't turned up anything yet. The second exercise is a flye variation done lying on the floor, but I'd say it's closer to a lateral raise done while flat on your back, so more a deltoid exercise than a chest flye. Then there's a single arm db floor press, and finally a lying cable infraspinatus exercise. The point of all this work is to get me to keep my chest up when I bench press.

Each of the first three lifting exercises is supersetted with ab work, which scared me a little when I saw it on the paper, but it worked out fine. I finish a set of bench presses, do one set of stomach vacuums (or crunches, or leg lifts), strip the weights, add the weights, and still have about 20 seconds to think about the next set. It actually helps keep me focused.

The lying cable infraspinatus exercise is supersetted with what I originally thought were side leg raises. I was a little puzzled; what the heck was this Jane Fonda nonsense doing in my program? So I asked man-in-charge what it was good for. Turned out it's more like 30 seconds of dynamic stretching, which he says I need in order to improve the way I come up out of the bottom of the squat. I wonder if the other days have little easter eggs like that...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Program Winding Down: Back/Pull

The gym was very quiet when I got there this evening. A lot of people had chosen to train during the day, as there was a huge prayer vigil at the Kotel. Combine that with the construction work that is going on all over Jerusalem for the light rail, and you get road closures galore and unbelievable traffic jams. I heard man-in-charge tell someone that he didn't have a chance to get his own workout in; that's how swamped it had been earlier.

I was tired. I spent yesterday morning cleaning, because we are looking for a new 3rd flatmate and people are starting to come see the room. Food quantity was fine today, although I got a late start with breakfast at 1000; I spent the morning reading for school and answering e-mails about the room. I've noticed that when I have a perfect sleep and nutrition day it doesn't necessarily translate to a perfect gym day, so I'm only noting this out of general interest. :-)

The last Back/Pull Day of the program went as follows:

DB Shrugs: weights are per hand, obviously...
1 x 8 @ 10 Kg / 22 lbs
1 x 8 @ 13.75 Kg / 30.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 18 Kg / 39.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 16.75 Kg / 36.9 lbs
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs

Lat Pulldowns: palms facing each other.
1 x 8 @ 22 Kg / 48.5 lbs
1 x 8 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs
1 x 8 @ 44 Kg / 97 lbs
1 x 8 @ 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs - I thought this set was clean, but man-in-charge said that my chin dropped slightly and my back rounded slightly on my last reps, hence the big drop to 35 Kg in the next set.
1 x 8 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

Seated Cable Rows: wide grip.
1 x 8 @ 25.5 Kg / 56.2 lbs
1 x 8 @ 42 Kg / 92.6 lbs
1 x 6 @ 51 Kg / 112 lbs
1 x 8 @ 48 Kg / 106 lbs
1 x 8 @ 48 Kg / 106 lbs

Grip: on a plate loading grip machine.
1 x 8 @ 6.25 Kg / 13.8 lbs
1 x 8 @ 10 Kg / 22 lbs
1 x 8 @ 12.5 Kg / 27.6 lbs - Yeah, I know, not CoC material, but I'm working on it...
1 x 8 @ 11.25 Kg / 24.8 lbs
1 x 8 @ 10.75 Kg / 23.7 lbs

Abwork: 5 sets of 12 stomach vaccuums, 5 sets of 12 side bends holding a DB. (Forgot to write this down earlier.)

I told man-in-charge that there weren't really any exercises I didn't like. He asked if I wanted to keep the powerlifting focus and I said yes, but we can also expand things a bit. I said that I want to do a pull-up (although I know more weight has to drop first), that he could add a little endurance work as long as it includes strength; for example stepping on and off a block while carrying a weight plate. Lastly, I said that he could give me a five day split rather than four, since I'm in the gym at least five times a week regardless. He was fine with all that, and said that the new program would be ready tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Program Winding Down: Ham Dominant

Except the minor issue on the curls, it was a wonderful workout. :-) Definitely ended on a high note.

Deadlifts
1 x 8 @ 27.5 Kg / 60.6 lbs
1 x 8 @ 42.5 Kg / 93.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 54 Kg / 119 lbs
1 x 8 @ 52.5 Kg / 116 lbs
1 x 8 @ 50 Kg / 110 lbs

2/3 Deadlifts: go down, go 2/3 of the way up, go down again. Basically a technique tune-up of an exercise, making sure the shoulders and hips are moving when and where they're supposed to be moving.
1 x 8 @ 22.5 Kg / 49.6 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32.5 Kg / 71.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 41.5 Kg / 91.5 lbs
1 x 8 @ 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
1 x 8 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

Hamstring Curls
1 x 8 @ 10 Kg / 22 lbs
1 x 8 @ 16 Kg / 35.3 lbs
1 x 6 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs This was supposed to be a set of 8 but I failed at the 7th rep. Totally failed. It wasn't a mental lapse like most of my failures; my hamstrings had nothing left. This has never happened to me before on this exercise, and I was very annoyed when it happened, because things had been going so well, but obviously I'd rather fail here then on the deads.
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs

Single Leg Cable Kickbacks
1 x 8 @ 9 Kg / 19.8 lbs
1 x 8 @ 14 Kg / 30.9 lbs
1 x 8 @ 18 Kg / 39.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 16 Kg / 35.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs

Abwork was 5 sets of 12 of stomach vaccuums and 5 sets of 12 of v-ups.

Man-in-charge asked me to go through the program and mark exercises that are comfortable with a +1 and any that are uncomfortable with a -1, in preparation for the re-design. The thing is, everything is pretty comfortable and while I can think of things I'd like to do (Front squats or Zerchers squats on my quad-d day and pull-throughs for my ham-d day), I can't think of what I would remove to make room for them. As much as I would love to spend more hours in the gym; I can't. Not with the amount of studying we're expected to do in my program. Suggestions are welcome. (As long as they don't involve cardio. :-) More on my lack of cardio work in a future post.)

I think I'll ask about the pullthroughs and about adjusting my back/pull day so that there's a pull-up somewhere on the horizon. I'll also ask about a GPP day. I've seen some of the guys in the gym pick up a medium sized heavy bag and go up and down a little step in between their sets. It looks like fun. I can't do the bag (yet!) but I could probably do a weight plate. Man-in-charge doesn't like anyone sitting down or resting between sets, so I pace back and forth (think fat tiger in cage) psyching up for the next set by talking to myself.

Tuesday Morning Weigh-In

Down 0.6Kg to 68.4 Kg / 150.8 lbs. Glad to see the stalling at 69 Kg is over...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Alcohol

I do not drink alcohol aside of a sip of wine on Friday evening for Shabbat; the service includes a blessing over the wine. In fact, I have never been drunk. I am quite sarcastic when sober, and I suspect that if I ever did get drunk the sarcasm would become a geyser of vitriol and I would have no friends left. Today I ran across this fascinating post at Capitalist Lion. It's one of those posts where I was laughing out loud while reading (especially when I got to the "typical conversation") and then feeling slightly guilty for laughing since, after all, this is someone's misery I am laughing at. Anyways, get thee over there and read, and thank goodness for slow news months...

Program Winding Down: Quad Dominant

Man in charge wasn't there when I got to the gym this evening, so I set my own weights following what we've done thus far, and asked woman-in-charge to watch my max sets. She said my hips move very slightly to the right when I go down in my squats. I need to work on being even with my descent. Here's how things went:

Squats
1 x 8 @ 21.5 Kg / 47.4 lbs
1 x 8 @ 34 Kg / 75 lbs
1 x 8 @ 42.5 Kg / 93.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

2/3 Squats: go down, go 2/3 of the way up, go down again. Rinse, repeat.
1 x 8 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 26.5 Kg / 58.4 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32.5 Kg / 71.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 30 Kg / 66.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 27.5 Kg / 60.6 lbs

Leg Extensions
1 x 8 @ 16 Kg / 35.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 26 Kg / 57.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32 Kg / 70.5 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32 Kg / 70.5 lbs
1 x 8 @ 30 Kg / 66.1 lbs

Calf Raises: freestanding, on a low block, heels together, holding a weight behind my back. Around the max set my balance went kaflooey, so I dropped the weight. This exercise is a combination of strength and balance and they both have to be there in order to go up and down with control.
1 x 8 @ 3.75 Kg / 8.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 5 Kg / 11 lbs
1 x 8 @ 7 Kg / 15.4 lbs
1 x 8 @ 4 Kg / 8.8 lbs
1 x 8 @ 4 Kg / 8.8 lbs

And then ab work. Five sets of 12 of stomach vaccuums, five sets of 12 of crunches.

FYI to skinny guys in gym: looking at a mirror to see if your deltoids have grown after one set of shoulder whatever-it-was makes you look like a dork. Going over to another mirror to check if the first mirror was telling you the truth makes you look like the evil queen from Snow White.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Program Winding Down: Chest/Push

I don't post my workout details every day because they don't change all that much from day to day. However, program #1 is winding down. It has been approximately three and a half months since I began this program back on April 26.

Around Thursday, man-in-charge will be designing a new program for me. I don't expect it to be all that different; the BP, squats and deads will likely stay, but the assistance exercises might change. He might have me do some single arm and single leg work, since I know my right arm and leg are stronger than the left.

I've thought about asking him to design a 5 day split instead of 4, and do Chest/Push, Quad-Dom, a middle day of GPP, Ham-Dom, and Back/Pull. I'll see how the rest of the week goes before I decide. In any case, I have one day left of each type. Today was the last Chest / Push day of the program. The weights themselves aren't anything to write home about; the important thing is that I am no longer on my couch morphing into a three-toed sloth. Here's how the session went:

Bench Press
1 x 8 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32.5 Kg / 71.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
1 x 8 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32.5 Kg / 71.7 lbs

Push-ups (Here I'm doing push-ups while leaning against something, with the goal to eventually do them on the floor, and then add weight to my back. L2 means that I am leaning against a bar that is on the 2nd lowest rung of the squat rack, L1 mean the lowest rung.)
1 x 8 @ L2
1 x 8 @ L1.5
1 x 8 @ L1
1 x 8 @ L2
1 x 8 @ L2

Close Grip Bench Presses
1 x 8 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 26.5 Kg / 58.4 lbs
1 x 8 @ 32.5 Kg / 71.7 lbs
1 x 8 @ 30 Kg / 66.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 27.5 Kg / 60.6 lbs

Infraspinatus Exercise (See here, but seated, with an EZ curl bar instead of dumbells, both arms at the same time, and with a more limited range of motion, chest to chin.)
1 x 8 @ 10 Kg / 22 lbs
1 x 8 @ 16 Kg / 35.3 lbs
1 x 8 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs (Failed at rep 7, then added another. Strangely enough, the right side was the one that got tired, and that's usually my stronger side.)
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs
1 x 8 @ 15 Kg / 33.1 lbs

And then ab work: 5 sets of 12 of leg lifts, 5 sets of 12 of stomach vaccuums.

Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Pink

I don't think I want to go to this particular family member for Shabbat meals again. It used to be that the constant badgering to eat more made me feel pressured, and I'd eat more out of politeness. Then the badgering began to amuse me, and I just ignored it. But now the badgering is annoying me, and I see no reason to put myself in situations where I am annoyed. Life's too short for that sort of nonsense.

Y e-mailed me on Friday to let me know that the guy we discussed had removed his profile from JDate, so no go. No worries. I hope he did it because he found the right woman, not because he lost hope.

I spent most of today reading, and I'll be at the Hebrew U library tomorrow morning getting more material for the papers I have to write. My goal for this week is to have drafts for all the papers done by end of day, Friday August 12. In its infinite wisdom, Hebrew U closes down Aug 17-24, so there is no access to the library that week. Since there is no AC in the apartment, I'm going to be spending that week in coffeeshops, writing away.

I felt very bloated today. I was looking at the mirror and seeing myself as larger than I am. So, sensibly, I stopped looking at the mirror. I'm not sure what the reason for the bloat might be. It isn't TOM or even pre-TOM. There was definitely too much salt in the aforementioned Shabbat dinner. I drank almost a gallon of water today, which should help.

I got bored with the green, so I changed the template to pink. There are over thirty different templates to choose from, and that's just on Blogger itself. Just google for skins or templates and oodles more show up. What I will do eventually is code my own, before my xhtml/css skills evaporate entirely for lack of use. However, it isn't going to happen during 2005. This pink one, like the green before it, was created by Jeffrey Zeldman, whose site I used to read all the time when I was coding.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Horse is A Horse

Got up earlier than I have all week, went to town, ran some errands, came back, went to gym, and had a good-but-not-spectacular back/pull workout. I decided the picture was more interesting than my morning. Now I need to get in some post-workout nutrition, and run a couple more errands. I'm invited to someone's place for Shabbat dinner, so I also need to allot time to looking presentable. :-)

I took this picture this morning while running errands in town. It is a sculpture of a horse on King George Street in Jerusalem, right by the Mashbir department store. Cast in Italy, it is the work of Slovenian artist Oskar Kogoj.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gym Report: Ham Dominant

Excellent ham dom workout tonight. I went in with no expectations, because I was low on sleep and had not gotten enough food or water in during the day. Furthermore, I had spent over an hour walking around in the sun. However, things went just fine.

What made me happiest were the mechanics of the deadlifts and the partial deadlifts. The shoulders moved right, the elbows moved right, the hips went where they were supposed to... no complaints. I hope I can do this again and the knowledge doesn't vanish by the time the next ham-dom workout comes around (next Wed. if all goes according to plan). Max weight on the deads was 50Kg (110 lbs) and max weight on the partial deads (2/3 up, back down) was 40 Kg (88 lbs). You think they're called partial deads because that's how you feel when you finish doing five sets of them?

Man-in-charge won't be in tomorrow, so in a burst of proactive thinking I asked him to give me my max weights for tomorrow's scheduled back/pull workout. That way I can start the 8 rep cycle on Sunday.

WeatherGuy was there, during a chest/biceps workout. I really hope he does leg work also, because it would be intensely disappointing if he was one of those upper-body-only stick-figure guys. He was wearing long pants, and his upper body isn't freakishly huge, so I can't tell yet.

Minimum Exercise Requirements

In a comment to this post, Liz stated her ambivalence with the amount of time the USA's President Bush devotes to exercise and to sleep.

I'd be more concerned if he spent his time not exercising and not sleeping. Eating burgers and canoodling with interns, for example. :-) Pretend the article was about a different world leader, or about a Democratic senator, then. :-)

I think it's great to see a world leader who walks the walk (ellipts the elliptical?) on this issue. I don't believe that 20 minutes a day is enough, and I'm tired of governments telling people that it is.

Researcher Gary Homann recently conducted a study about the exercise habits of active people. There's a fascinating interview with him here about what it takes to keep exercising in the long haul. He found that "people reporting less than four hours of exercise per week are likely to be somewhat unhappy with their weight and that people doing five or more hours of exercise per week tend to be fairly happy with their weight". In the same interview he has some great comments about why government recommendations are nowhere near that.

John Berardi once wrote: "You see, in today's mechanized society, we're all sedentary. That's right, all of us, myself included. The reality is that the most active of us simply superimpose a dose of exercise over our inactive lifestyles." In that same article he suggested 7.5 hours a week of excercise.

Personally, I think 7-8 hours per week is ideal, and doable. It's certainly the level at which I am happiest. Yes, it requires me to turn off the TV, to make compromises about perfectionist levels of housecleaning, and to be more selfish about my time, but I think these are all good things...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Gym Report: Quad Dominant

Another quiet day at the gym, with the bonus that man-in-charge was working in with me at the squat rack. He was doing bent leg good mornings, so he had a lot of opportunity to critique my form. The weight is going up nicely, I just have to remember to keep my back straight and not bend forward too much. (Note to self, it's a squat, not a good-morning). The two-thirds squat variation - up two thirds of the way, go back down, repeat - went even better than the standard variation. I felt strong coming up, and in control coming down. Furthermore, I am finally beginning to sense where 2/3 up actually is, rather than having to look at an outside reference point like the rests on the rack. I have to focus on my waist and hips more, and the path they're taking. The idea is to stop being mirror-dependent and get to the point where the movement just feels right, all the way down and all the way up.

Lots of skinny boys at the gym today. One of them was worried, and an older guy was trying to reassure him that he'll grow, saying that he too was skinny at that age. I wish Berardi's & Mejia's Scrawny to Brawny book was available in Hebrew. It would make a great Bar Mitzvah gift for scrawny boys; get some solid info into their heads before they start reading the nonsense in most fitness mags. Another note to self: if I ever get married and am blessed with children and they grow up to be skinny teenage boys, teach them to cook for themselves, so that they will not be having the following conversation at the gym:

man-in-charge to skinny kid: "You should eat some fish"
kid to non-skinny gym member: "But how much tuna can I eat?"
man-in-charge to skinny kid: "It doesn't have to be tuna, you can eat other fish"
skinny kid (in despair): "What do I know about cooking fish?"

My schoolmate G was there, which was fortuitous because it was his last workout. He is going to the US tomorrow and to med school in September. He says he'll come back to visit, and I told him he has to keep up the workouts so he can return to the gym when he visits. I have no doubt he will. :-) He had the forethought to bring a camera, and I took a picture of him with man-in-charge, so that he'll have something to remember the gym by.

I took my schoolmate Y out to dinner this evening. She had helped me out immensely this year, just before I went on student teaching, and this was a thank you dinner. We had a lovely girls' night out at Sheyan, a newly opened kosher Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian and Thai dishes) restaurant on Ramban Street near the windmill. (I could only find a review in Hebrew online, sorry, but at least there's a little picture of the windmill.)

I started off with steamed gyoza and then had steamed fish, and Y had an eggroll and then beef with veggies. We shared two not-very-Asian desserts: chocolate volcano cake (warm, decadent) and coconut pannacotta (cold, also decadent). Both desserts had no dairy (this was a kosher _meat_ restaurant) but tasted amazing. Y thought that our waiter liked me; I thought that he was just a nice guy doing a good job. There was a bit of confusion at the beginning when the hostess couldn't find the reservation, but things went up from there, and stayed up, which is the important thing. Y is one of those incredibly briliant people, and I had a great time talking with her. We agreed that this restaurant, although loud, would be a great place for a date. Speaking of dates, Y thinks she knows a guy whom I should go out with. She's going to send me his JDate profile and we'll see from there.

Good Reading: BMI and Pres. Bush

I'm always puzzled when I read a fitness blog and the writer lists BMI among his/her stats. Why bother? I think BMI ought to go the way of the dodo bird, and the sooner the better. See this article by Glenn Reynolds for more.

And kudos to the USA's President Bush for being "the most fit president in US history" (since folks started measuring such things, of course). Exercise 6 times a week, resting heart rate 47 bpm, bodyfat 15.79%, and overall in the 99th percentile for his age group. Sweet!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tuesday Gym Report: Chest/Push

The new gym bag performed admirably; its owner, somewhat less admirably.

Gym was very quiet, which meant I had a chance to talk technique with man-in-charge at some length. The flipside of this is that since he had all this time to watch what I was doing, he caught a lot more things that need improving. My weights on the flat BP are stuck. Grrr. I did the exact same weights as I did on July 1, before my little hospital adventure. My weights on the close-grip BP even dropped slightly, but that was because man-in-charge had me slow down the first part of the movement and pay close attention to the path my elbows were tracing as I was lifting, focus on keeping the chest high and bringing the elbows in to lock. The good part is that I am getting more comfortable pressing with an arch in my back, the weights on the infraspinatus exercise are way up, and the pushups are getting ever closer to the floor. I can't wait until I'm doing these on the floor rather than against something, and after that, with a weight plate on my back. There's one guy who works out in the evenings who does them with a 45lb place on his back, rhythm like a metronome...

I got out just as things got busy, and now it's back to cleaning and laundry.

Tuesday Morning Weigh-In

Got to bed last night at 1:00am, woke up this morning at 8:00am. Weight is still at 69.0 Kg. Could be TOM, or it could be my body deciding to hang around the 69.0 Kg neighbourhood before going further, which is not surprising considering how long it has been since I was anywhere near this weight. On the other hand, as General Patton said: "If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do... the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

I have four weeks before I get back to school, so four more weigh-ins in August: 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th. The goals for August are: First, break through the 150s by losing 3/4 of a lb per week, That could be a new blog motto: Weight Loss: Slow. Steady. Permanent. Second, continue to increase the weights on all lifts in the gym.

I bought fruit and veggies from a local (walking distance) greengrocer yesterday. I washed them all as soon as I got home - that was one of the excellent bursts of activity. I'm ok for veggies and fruit for the next two days. There's only so much you can buy at a time when all your stuff has to fit on one (1) shelf in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Activity and Procrastination

Today was one of those days where I alternate between excellent bursts of activity, and stupid globs of procrastination. By stupid I mean finding oneself in front of the TV watching a first season Xena re-run. I mean really!

The bursts of activity were all about moving my stuff from old room to new room, and of course, sorting and throwing out lots of stuff in the process. I also did two loads of laundry. The second load is still on the line, drying. The end result is that I am exhausted, so no gym tonight. Instead I'm aiming for a before-midnight bedtime and a 7:30am wake up. Tomorrow will be the final part of the move: I have to sort all the papers that are on the desk and empty the drawers, and finally, dust, sweep and wash the floor. After this we can show the room to potential flatmates.

Before I left Canada my sister gave me this gorgeous Puma sports bag, which looks sort of like this but a nicer colour. I haven't used it yet. Today I officially put my gym stuff in it and tomorrow will be the inaugural use. Not only will I look much swankier on my way to the gym (there's no way to look swanky on my way back - I'm far too exhausted) but I also don't have to buy a new backpack. I am tired of swapping my school and gym stuff in and out of my old backpack.