Friday, September 30, 2005

The Kinneret at 0715

Very quickly, yes, I did get to the gym at 6:30am on Thursday before the Galilee field trip. Here is a picture I took this morning on the shores of the Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee. Details to follow after Shabbat.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Back on Friday

Just set my alarm for 4:40am (yeah, four forty in the morning) so I can eat First Breakfast and be at the gym at 6:30am when it opens and get at least some of my workout in before the field trip to the Galilee. (And I read Merry Christmas Bob again yesterday; coincidence? I think not.) My usual exercise time is around 8:00pm, so it will be interesting to see how my body responds to this new demand. I won't have computer access on the trip so no blogging till Friday when I return. A reminder that on Monday I will be hosting the Carnival of Health and Fitness, so send me good posts!

PIcs and a report on my morning exercise when I return. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Wednesday Morning Weigh-In

67.0 Kg this morning, which is down 300g from two weeks ago, details at right. I'm going to weigh-in again on Sunday, and then not weigh myself until the end of Operation No Backslide. The aim will be to stay at or below that Sunday weight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Somewhere Beyond Tired where I am at the moment. Good day at school. My Sunday and Tuesday afternoon class focuses on the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam (Maimonides), and it gives me a thrill to know I am studying a text that is 800 years old in the language in which it was written.

Quad dominant day in the gym. Squats went well; there was less crunching in the right knee than last time I squatted. I was sharing the rack with a guy who was doing good mornings. He was working out hard also; both of us had sweat dripping down our faces by the time we finished our sets. Man-in-charge wasn't there tonight. ShoulderGuy was helping people instead. Since it was the last time I will be doing quads before the renovations, I decided not to make any changes and stick with the machine hack squats.

Heard some interesting music. One guy brought in this Therapy? cd, and another had a cd of Fear Factory. I had never heard of either one and I liked the Fear Factory cd best. I'll have to listen to their work at greater length. I wish that cd had been on yesterday when I was exhausted by the cable pullover. I have the feeling that I could have gotten another rep or two.

Operation No Backslide

I went to the gym earlier than usual yesterday because I had an afternoon off from school. I did shoulders and triceps, and everything went well until the last exercise, which is a cable pullover variation done lying on the floor. I was tired, and I think I was also anticipating the rest of the day, because for the second time this month I had little left for that last exercise.

Horrible terrible no good very bad news: gym will be closed for renovations from Oct 2 - Oct 12, and that's assuming that everything gets done on schedule. Since I will be on a field trip on Thursday and Friday, and since the gym is always closed on Saturdays, it means my last day of training before the renovations will be this Wednesday (eek!). I might attempt to sneak in a workout on Thursday morning at 0630am - but it will be tight - I have to be on the bus ready to leave for the Galilee field trip at 8:30am, and there's rush hour traffic and construction between me and the school.

So what to do between Oct 2 and Oct 12? I'm thinking of body weight exercises - squats, push ups, the usual abdominal stuff, and doing a lot more walking up and down Jerusalem streets with a backpack full of books. Speaking of backpacks, I decided to weigh my backpack (Got on scale without backpack, got on scale with backpack). Turns out it's around 12lbs with the laptop. So, from home to school with 12lbs on my back takes around half an hour. I wonder what it would take me with a 25 lbs pack? I always thought these things looked like fun, but they are not in my budget so I am improvising.

The other thing I will be doing is tracking my food and water very closely so I can get right back into things when the gym re-opens. I'm calling these two weeks Operation No Backslide. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday Night Gym Report

First, in response to Liz's perfectly sensible question on the previous post: my legs are bent for most of the movement when I deadlift, because I'm doing a regular deadlift, and not a stiff legged deadlift.

Second, oh what a sweet sweet chest workout today. It's not about the weights - the observant reader will note that the deadlift weights I mentioned yesterday are lower than the weights I was doing on the old program for the same exercise (of course, on the old program I wasn't leaping over an aerobic step in between sets.... Today was about everything being in the right place and moving smoothly. Form was solid on every single set: arch was strong, chest was up, bar was travelling the path it was supposed to travel, scapulae were where they were supposed to be... I'm finally seeing the result of all the shoulder and tricep work. The bench press weights were:
1 x 7 @ 20 Kg / 44.1 lbs
1 x 7 @ 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 @ 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs
And to make things even more fun, there were stomach vacuums in between sets.

Gym very quiet tonight. Not sure where everyone was, but I'm not complaining. I had all the equipment I needed all to myself - bench, dbs for the floor flyes and shoulder work, and the cable station for the lying infraspinatus exercise. WeatherGuy was there, working chest and shoulders. Next time I see him I will ask him what his sport is, if he has one. He's very lean and very strong, but I think a bit too tall to be a gymnast. TrainerGuy and A were also there - A was even louder than usual - I was inside the women's changeroom and I could hear him perfectly. There was one newbie young woman who was doing just fine now that she was training on her own, without the peanut gallery comments of her friend (sibling?). There was also one not-really-newbie lady who was using the 1 Kg dbs to do some exercise or other and then dropping them from a great height. Hello? If it's stupid with 100 lbs (which it is), it damn well is stupid with 2.2 lbs. Renovations are starting; rumour is that the big room that used to be a dojo will hold pilates, spinning and boxing classes.

A reminder that the Carnival of Health and Fitness will be up tomorrow, hosted by the talented Marla at Someday is Now. If you haven't sent in a post, why not? Readers are a good thing!

And a further reminder that Pink Dumbbells is up. If you are a woman who trains seriously, check it out.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Weekend

I love deadlifts
‘Cause those deadlifts
Make me tougher and buffer and strong
When you deadlift
There’s no way your workout can go wrong…

[sung to the tune of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story]

So I’m not going to be a lyricist any time soon… But Friday’s biceps and hamstrings workout was great. The deadlift sets were:
1 x 7 @ 21.5 Kg / 47.4 lbs
1 x 7 @ 36 Kg / 79.4 lbs
1 x 10 @ 45 Kg / 99.2 lbs
1 x 10 @ 42.5 Kg / 93.7 lbs
1 x 10 @ 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
Not much of a rest period between these sets; I change the weight and then do a minute of step jumps (modified box jumps over one of those aerobic step things). I really like this combination, because everytime I do it I realise how much the mind matters. At the end of that minute of jumping, I am tired and breathing hard and sweaty, but lo and behold I can, less than 30 seconds later, move weight with perfect form.

Speaking of mind, I’m still working on getting the negativity out of my speech. On Thursday man-in-charge asked me how my knee was, and automatically I said “Fine, for now”. And he said, “Why 'for now'?”. Good question. I have to stop anticipating the worst in everything.

The gym was crowded, as usual for a Friday. I'm thinking of re-arranging my Fridays so that I get to the gym early in the morning. The big rush starts after 12 noon, as people try to get their workout in and still have time for last minute errands before Shabbat. At the end of the workout I paused for a minute and watched a guy at the squat rack, doing a gorgeous set of squats – perfectly smooth up and down, excellent depth. In the changeroom one of the women told me that we had both worked “like horses” today. I like that image. As long as we're talking about these horses, or maybe those. :-)

I noticed a couple of new faces at the gym. I attribute this to Jewish New Year being around the corner. People are making the usual get-into-shape-lose-weight resolutions.

The next few weeks will be a challenging one for getting to the gym the usual 5-6 times. Tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdy will be no problem, but Thursday we’re going on a field trip to the Galilee, and won’t be back till Friday at 3:00pm, which is when the gym closes on Fridays. Then the following week the gym will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday for Jewish New Year.

I had a headache all day today. I think it is a combination of falling asleep late last night and then waking up this morning and not being able to get to the food. My newest flatmate hosted a Shabbat dinner last night with ten guests (their boisterous singing = me not falling asleep till midnight), and two of the guests stayed over. One slept with flatmate in her room, and the other slept in the living room. When I woke up this morning around 7:00am all ready to get my first breakfast, I realized that it would mean going through living room to get to the kitchen and waking up said guest. So I stayed in my room for a few hours and got hungrier. Fortunately I had a large water bottle with me so at least I wasn’t hungry AND thirsty. I’m not doing that again. It’s not like anyone asked me to not wake up the guest, it was just my concept of hospitality. Flatmate had invited me to the dinner, but I declined. I was planning to wake up early and read most of the day, and I wasn't in the mood for worrying about guest prep. Once I did get to the food it was clean, and water was 3L+.

Shabbat is over, and I need to run into town to get a couple of things. Once Shabbat ends many stores re-open for a couple of hours, which makes up for the early closing on Friday.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Two Gym Nights

Yesterday was quad dominant day. I was tired, stressed, and generally feeling run-down. Started off with squats. My right knee has been making crunching sounds, so last night man-in-charge tweaked the program to try and get it to stop. We've been trying different things thus far - slowing the tempo, changing the stance width, changing where the toes point... The knee is happier with a narrower stance and a slower tempo, it seems. I'm not used to this; I've always squatted with a wide stance. However, as long as I can get good depth with a narrower stance I'm happy. (It's not quite ass-to-grass, as folks call it, but it is definitely well below parallel.)

The other change is that I'm finally doing some single leg work. I've known for some time that my right leg is stronger than my left leg, but doing single leg work really drives this home. We think the knee issues might be because I am pushing harder with my right leg than with my left, so right leg (and therefore right knee) is doing more work. To add this single leg work man-in-charge was thinking of dropping the BB free standing hack squats, but I suggested that we drop the machine hack squat. I think the freestanding ones hit my quads much better, and also force me to focus on keeping my back straight and upright, whereas in the machine hack squat I just press my back against the seat pad.

Tonight was back and grip, and it went fine. I felt more focused and serious than I had been the previous night; the background music was good too - 80s hits. The gym was quiet, and the people who were there were mostly regulars. The two lat pulldown variations have been difficult the last two times I trained back. I think that it's general tiredness more than anything else, but I was getting a little worried. Tonight they were hard also, but I did get all my max weights, and when I got to forearms and grip I found I still had something left.

Went to my classmate D's engagement party last night. My friends were a bit surprised to see me at the party - I'm very much a non-party goer. However, I need to be more social. I was a bookworm-wallflower hybrid for most of my life, and I think a change is in order. Besides, I like D and his fiancee. They are both very sweet. So I went to the party, mingled, ate six pieces of sushi, four of which were all veggie, and drank two sips of white wine, one for each proposed toast. I left early because I needed to be at school early the next day, but not before D told the story of how he and his beloved met.

It was the kind of story that makes single people who hope to marry within their faith all warm and fuzzy. Seems D was living in New York, a place which has a large and vibrant Jewish social scene, and for whatever reason, for two years he doesn't find a Jewish woman to date. Catholic women, Baptist women, Mormon women, no problem, but Jewish women, nope. A short time after that he moves to North Carolina, to a city where the Jewish population is under 1500, and wouldn't you know it, within two months he meets the Jewish woman that he is going to marry.

From happy news to happy news: my classmate R, who got married last year, is expecting baby #1 around February. No wonder he's been walking around in a sort of cheery glow for the last couple of weeks. I thought it was just newlywedded bliss, but turns out it's more than that. :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Motto for the New Year

Jewish New Year is approaching - year 5766 on the Jewish calendar starts Monday October 3rd at sundown - and so I've been thinking about new year's resolutions, evaluations of the previous year and future plans. I think I've just found my motto for the coming year. *Drumroll please*
"Don't get stuck on stupid."
-- Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, 09-20-2005
I love it. I can think of so many applications for this phrase in my life. You can see the transcript and listen to audio at RadioBlogger. (Found via Vodkapundit via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday Night at the Gym

This evening's shoulders and triceps session went well. Several regulars were at the gym, which was nice. A and his trainer were doing less trash-talking than usual. WeatherGuy, whom I had not seen for some time, was back doing pull-ups (what else?). He told me he had been sick for a week and then had to spend an extra week recovering. He's still not at 100% - I only saw him do two pull-up variations...

The other day I found out that the gym will be undergoing renovations - new lockers, a spinning area... Me, I come for the squat rack, but obviously I want the gym to thrive and if this is how they'll get new clients, great.

With all due respect to the gentleman who told me my arms were "developed", that was a very generous description. I know the triceps are improving, but I can't wait to see how they look in six months and more importantly, how they'll impact my bench press. Speaking of bench, on Sunday man-in-charge said that once winter gets here we will really start adding weight to my lifts. All the work thus far was mainly to get the technique right - the arch, the foot and hand position, keeping the chest up, keeping the bar in the line of sight, and so on. So, while I don't look forward to winter (most buildings in Jerusalem do not have central heating) I am excited about the prospect of seeing bigger weights.

Got home and boiled eight eggs so I'll have easily accessible egg whites tomorrow.

I feel like a water balloon, which means TOM is near. I am expecting a gain on tomorrow's weigh-in. I'm not going to worry about it if there is one, however, because it is not staying around for long. :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Carnival is Here!

First, thanks to the initiative of Slim Spirited, the first ever Carnival of Health and Fitness is up. The Carnival is a collection of posts about health, fitness and weight-loss.

Today was a school and nothing but school sort of day. I was at school from 8:30-11:45, 14:30-17:00, and 19:30-21:30. I also had a meeting with my program director to discuss my next student teaching experience (coming up, if all goes well, in Feb 2006). So unfortunately the gaps in between classes were not long enough to make it to the gym and back. Food was healthy, water was at 3L+.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In Brief

Woke up 6:30am - check.
Clean food thus far - check.
Almost 3 L of H2O thus far - check.
Got to gym and did chest/push workout - check.
Still very stressed - check.
Working on it by chipping away at outstanding university papers - check.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Night Thoughts

Friday was good. Got up early, went out for breakfast, then went to town to find a tailor to get a skirt taken in. Price for taking in skirt, 95 NIS. That's $21 US. I don't think I paid that much for the skirt. :-) None of my skirts fit, but I will have to think twice which of them I want to keep, and whether it would make more sense to just donate them to someone and buy new ones.

After dropping off the skirt I went to the gym and had a great biceps/hamstrings workout. There's something about deadlifts that improves my mood immensely. The gym was crowded, but not stuffed. Some new Anglo guy had dragged the incline bench to the squat rack so he could do incline presses, and then just left the bench there. I should have asked him if he thought there were little gym elves that re-arrange the benches.

Came home,dropped off gym stuff and went to the Machane Yehuda market, where I got veggies and fruit. I wanted to get whole-wheat challah for Shabbat but the bakery I like had sold out of them. I walked home from the market. I love Friday afternoons, when the streets empty and Jerusalem gets really really quiet in anticipation of Shabbat.

Except for the fact that it's Shabbat, I don't really like Saturdays. I like the peace and quiet and calm, but I don't like my inability to manage my eating. I really need to handle my Saturdays better. I need to go out, take a walk, do anything other than this ridiculous sitting in my room and emerging intermittently to eat. I wish the gym was open on Saturdays... Today I got up late, didn't take in enough water, ate too many carbs, mostly grains and fruit and bira shchora (lit. black beer, but actually this is a non-alcoholic, malt-based, Israeli soft drink). Stuffing myself mindlessly on whole wheat bread and mangoes isn't ok; it's just as stupid as stuffing oneself with junkfood. The reason is the same; to drown my sorrows in sugar...

"What intelligence giveth, a tendency to make bad decisions taketh away." (Found here, in a post that has nothing to do with weight or food.)

Oh hell yes. If I had a dollar for every bad decision I made in my life, just on the education and the weight fronts, I would be a financially stable person right now.

I don't think I spend enough time reflecting on what I've done to get to this point, 45 lbs below my heaviest weight. Part of it is that thinking about the time when I was 45 lbs heavier also means thinking about a lot of painful things I don't really want to think about. Like the wasted years of my life that I can't get back, or my long-established habits of procrastination, of starting things but not finishing them, or to be brutally honest, of starting things and then being too chicken to finish them. Because, I might, you know, fail, or worse, succeed and then there will be all these new expectations to handle... I don't want this strength endeavour to be one of those things I don't finish.

And now I'm going to wrap up this post because I'm too chicken to finish it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Small Things

The day did not start out well. I went to sleep at 2:00am, which meant that when my alarm went off at 7:00am I ignored it and went back to sleep. I suspect I may have laughed derisively at it while snoring. Woke up again at 10:00am. I hate waking up that late. It makes me feel like the day is shot. No classes today because most of the school is away on a field trip to the Galilee. Like a damn fool I basically wasted the entire day. The only productive thing I did was housework. Two loads of laundry, dish washing. Made a feeble attempt at some reading but my inner lazy person won out. Pathetic.

The stupid thing was that I put all (yes, all) my gym clothes in the laundry, and since we don't have a dryer and everything hangs on a line to dry, I had nothing to wear to the gym. So no gym tonight, which did not improve my gloomy disposition. Did I mention that I only have two sports bras that actually fit now? Everything else is too big and no longer supportive. Around 7:45pm I decided to salvage what I could from this stupid day and get my grocery shopping done. But before that I went to Ha-Tav Ha-Shmini (The Eighth Note), a Jerusalem music store, to buy a cd I've been wanting for some time. On the way to the store I passed by several cafes, and at one of them I saw a big white dog sitting by a table. I think it was a white German Shepherd, but I'm not positive. Now, I like large dogs, and plan to get one the day I have a place of my own. So I smiled at the dog, and then I realised that the dog's owner was smiling back at me. It took me a second to process this information, since my brain was still in sleepy-mode. Dog owner turned out to be none other than ShoulderGuy from the gym. Thank goodness I bothered to look up from the dog (I don't always).

I asked if the dog was his (yes) and if I could pet it (also yes, but he cautioned me that the dog is exuberant and likes to jump up on people). As it turned out, dog didn't do any jumping. ShoulderGuy was sitting with a friend of his, so after half a minute of petting the dog I said good night and moved on. However, the stop lifted my mood immeasureably. It's the small things.

I bought the cd, and then walked to the supermarket and stocked up on cottage cheese, veggies and FF yogurt. This way tomorrow I only have to get laundry detergent and my shopping is done. They have incredible flavours of FF yogurt here: strawberry, blueberry cheesecake, coconut-banana, apple pie, pear, mango... Coconut-banana is my current favourite. I mix it with cottage cheese.

I also made a to-do list for tomorrow and for Sunday, both of which are going to be full and active days. That's a self-promise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Field Trip

The field trip to the Jerusalem Archeological Park was inspiring. It's a must-see if you are visiting Israel. I took over a hundred pictures. Didn't get back in time to hit the gym, but we did enough walking today to qualify as a workout. I had packed lunch and dinner, but at the end decided to have dinner in the Old City with a couple of my classmates. I had a platter of hummus and six different salads. Everything was yummy and reasonably healthy :-)

Here are two pictures of Robinson's Arch, which is near the south end of the Western Wall.

Wednesday Morning Weigh-In

Down 1.5 lbs to 148.4 lbs or 67.3 Kg. This week I was diligent on water, on eating every 3 hours even if I had to step out of class to do so (most of my teachers don't care if we eat in class, but one of the new teachers doesn't like it), and on getting to the gym. I also walked to school four mornings - which is a 30 minutes brisk walk whilst carrying a backpack. I bring an extra shirt to school with me and change when I get there because I sweat like a horse :-). I plan to do this until the weather makes it impossible (the walking, not the sweating).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back and Grip

Tonight was a difficult workout: Not only I was tired because of the long school day, but one of the gym guys decided to switch one of the TVs from music to news, and this was one night where I needed all the motivational help that music provides. There were a couple of points where I wanted to give up and go home, but just kept going, wondering when the endorphins would kick in. They finally did so on the last two execises (forearm curls and grip work). This is where the force of habit is crucial. I am in the gym because that is what I do, five days a week. I gut it out when it's difficult because that is what I do when it gets difficult. I hope this tenacity has some carryover to other areas of my life where I am not so tough-minded.

Two highlights from today: First, at the gym someone complimented my arms, telling me they look "developed". I'll take "developed" over skinny any time. :-)

Second, we had a class at school on the history of the 2nd Temple period. It went very fast, because the lecturer took us from 586 BCE (destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians) all the way to 135 CE (Bar Kochba rebellion crushed by the Romans) in two hours. The lecture was in preparation for tomorrow's field trip. We're going to see the Southern Wall Excavations, the Davidson Center, the Institute for Temple Ritual Objects and the Holyland Hotel Second Temple Model. I have to remember to recharge the batteries for my camera.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Woke up 6:20am, had school from 8:30am to 1:00pm, gym and homework in the afternoon, and back to school from 7:30pm-9:30pm. Quad dominant day in the gym: First squats, then machine hack squats, and by the time I got to freestanding hack squats (heels on block) I had nothing left in my quads. I ended up doing them with no weight. None. The challenge is staying upright, keeping my back perfectly straight as I go down. I don't mind doing a no-weight exercise. The form is more important (duh!) and the weight will come eventually, And all this quad work should help my squat catch up with my deadlift. But in a word, ow!

I was very tired, but fortunately there was good music playing in the gym. During my squats there was Sweet Child of Mine by G'n'R and then We Are the Champions by Queen. Then during the frustrating hack squats the TV suddenly blared "Legs" by ZZ Top. "She's got legs, she knows how to use them" seems to me to be the perfect lyrics for a quad-dominant day. The rest of the song isn't so helpful, but that line is enough to get me through the set.

There was a gaggle of teenage boys in the gym today. They range from scrawny to thin, and they are usually amusing. One of them, approaching man-in-charge for advice, decided to stand directly in the path of my bar as I was getting reading to do my second last set of squats. If I hadn't checked before starting the descent it would have smacked him in the shoulder blade. Ahem. I was about to say something, and then man-in-charge told him to move.

One lovely thing happened today: one of the regular gym guys asked me to help him move the bar from a lower rung of the squat rack to a higher rack. :-) Which may not sound like much, but there are guys in the gym who still have a hard time accepting that I can strip a bar by myself. One was using the hack squat machine a few weeks back, with several 45lb plates on it. I asked him earlier how many sets he had left, and he said two. After he did his second set, I double-checked with him that he was indeed done with the machine, and began stripping the plates from it. You'd think the sky had fallen. I pointed out to him that I would rather help out in removing the plates then twiddle my thumbs while he took a (well-deserved) rest before doing it himself.

Nearly midnight, and I want six hours of sleep tonight, or as close to that as possible. Tomorrow will be long - classes 0830-1145, 1200-1300, 1430-1700 and 1715-1915.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gym, Food, Sleep: Pick Two

Becoming and staying healthier and stronger is a combination of good workouts, good nutrition and sufficient sleep. The problem is, when I am under pressure (a.k.a. normal life) it seems I can only manage two of these at any one time. Right now the gym is steady at 5 times a week, and the food has been mostly although not completely clean, but sleep is scarce. I'm back to full-time classes, and still writing papers for university (the university classes haven't kicked in yet, that will come at the end of October). I'm sleeping 5-6 hours per night, not nearly enough, and then crashing on Saturday, sleeping 12 hours at a stretch.

Gym was swamped tonight. I've never waited so long for a machine before - I needed the cable for my tricep work, but three other people needed it too... I'm in the second microcycle of the new program, which means 12 reps on the work sets. I'm not a big fan of 12 rep work sets :-) even though there's a certain satisfaction in being able to do 12 reps with a weight one could only previously manage for 7 reps.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On The Other Hand

I could change Tuesday Stats to Wednesday Stats, and enjoy the news that I am 68.0 Kg, which is 149.9 lbs. :-) Finally broke out of the 150s.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm Back

Updating of stats will resume next week.

Over the break I went to the gym 5 times per week (average), never less than four, never more than six.

Slight change on Day III of the new program, the Hack Squat is now done freestanding, not squatting down to touch a bench. I'm having a tough time learning the form on this exercise - my quads are so weak compared to my hamstrings. I've dropped the weight to 10 Kg (a measly EZ curl bar) till I can go all the way down and all the way up with my back perfectly straight.