Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Sunday night was Chest-Triceps-Shoulders. Chest went better than last week; I got all the reps I wanted on my max set. However, man-in-charge said the form was slipping a little, so we dropped the weight for the 2nd and 3rd work set. The leaning push-ups against the bar are getting better (meaning, closer and closer to the floor), and the skull crushers are fast becoming one of my favourite exercises. The shoulder presses are gone, and I'm doing rotator cuff stuff instead until my right shoulder feels right.

The music was atrocious, and I said to man-in-charge that some louder, more energetic music would be nice. He said that the best thing is to train in silence, without music of any kind, because the body has a natural rhythm and the exernal music throws that off. I said that sometimes it's not the rhythm that's important but the words. He said that if I can hear the words then this means my concentration is not where it should be. Point taken, :-) especially considering the bench press sets. Since the majority of gym-goers expect music, and the gym is not moving to silent training any time soon, I may start bringing in some cds so that at least I have music that I like some of the time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Week That Was

Sunday already? This past week was even busier than usual, which is saying something. However, I did get four solid workouts in. The Sunday I mentioned already, and the others were Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Thursday night I had a lovely American Thanksgiving Dinner at the home of my friend D & his fiancee T. The turkey was amazing. Apparently it took six hours to get it that good; worth every minute.

I’m building my library of Jewish texts, and on Tuesday I bought yet more books. They were delivered to my school and I had to get them home. So I carried the box downstairs, walked down the street and caught a cab home. I then carried the box from the cab across the street and up the stairs to my apartment. The first thing I did was to get on the scale with and without the box of books. The box turned out to weigh 19Kg, or 42lbs. I was ridiculously pleased with myself for being able to handle this box without help.

On that happy note I went to the gym that night and had a great leg workout. First squats then lunges. I still don’t like lunges, but I suspect that this may be similar to how I felt about ab work. I used to hate ab work, and now I have no problems supersetting it with everything. The third exercise after squats and lunges used to be leg extensions but isn’t anymore. I don’t know what to call the new exercise. It is basically machine supported single leg squats with one leg extended in front of me. The goal is to get to a point where I can do one leg pistols without the machine. (If you're going to dream, dream big, no?) Let’s just say that trying to do this after squats and lunges is an interesting experience. I finished off with grip work and box jumps, although my legs were so tired the latter were really closer to stepping gently over the box than anything resembling jumps.

Wednesday night was back. I wasn’t expecting as good a workout as Tuesday night, because I had a very hectic day at the university and neither food nor water were what they should have been. However, it went better than expected (upright rows followed by pull-downs followed by seated rows all supersetted with abwork. I don't think pullups will come before the end of 2005, but certainly in early 2006.

Class starts in 7 minutes, so more later. :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Sunday night was Chest-Triceps-Shoulders. It is not going down in history as one of my better workouts. I was very tired. Six hours of sleep per night is not enough. I ran out of steam three quarters of the way through my max bench press set. My concentration was shot, and little things kept distracting me, for example, the way the towel was bunching up on the bench. The pushups were fine, but I was too disappointed in the bench press to pay them much attention. The skull crushers were solid. My shoulder was fine until I got to the shoulder presses. I gave up on the shoulder presses after the two warm-up sets because I didn’t like the way my right shoulder felt.

In a flash of unintended genius I had brought gloves with me. Last week I asked man-in-charge about using the heavy bag that is hanging in the studio. There's nothing like hitting a heavy bag to finish off a workout. He was reluctant, saying that I might hurt my wrist or forearm. I said there was no need to worry; I wouldn't hurt anything and it would make me more relaxed. He watched me hit the bag for a bit, then left the studio. The bag is interesting; it is leather, longer than standard, and wrapped in a ton of duct tape. Man-in-charge said he brought the bag with him from Georgia (not the one in the US) sixteen years ago. The elastic of the gloves was too loose around my wrists. I have to get them to a tailor and get them taken in too.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Not Good Enough

In a comment to a previous post, Liz said: "And, excuse me, but what's up with this selling short of you and your strength?"

Here's the thing. I'm not selling myself short. I know that I am one of the stronger women in my gym, but that's not good enough. If a man told me he was strong and then couldn't do a pull-up I'd raise an eyebrow. If I can't do a pull-up, if I can't squat my bodyweight, then I am not strong. I might be dedicated, and serious, and on my way to strong. But I'm not strong.

On the other hand, these women most certainly are. :-)


Update to k: the Kate Bush cd is available in Israel. Either it was a couple of days late, or the salesperson I talked to didn't realise it was out.

After good workouts on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the week went kaflooey: I didn't make it to the gym on Wednesday because I was at the university till 9:40pm at a lecture and workshop about the Gavison-Medan Covenant. I didn't make it to the gym on Thursday because I went to see Pilobolus perform. I didn't make it to the gym on Friday because following breakfast and aesthetics I had to trek to the National Library to get an article I needed for my Song of Songs course. (The library at Mount Scopus is closed on Fridays). The problem, of course, is that everything closes early on Fridays, especially now that Shabbat comes in around 4:00pm.

This is ridiculous. I think I'll have to start morning workouts, and then drop into the gym at night for 30 minutes or so to finish up whatever I don't manage to do in the morning. This means schlepping my gym stuff to school and back, because I won't have time to drop things off at home before classes start at 8:30am.

My right shoulder hurts. It started with pain on my right collarbone. I told man-in-charge about it and he told me to rest and make sure I'm not cold. I was wondering what cold has to do with it, and he mimed a cold person with shoulders hunched forward. Eureka! I'm often cold here, and I need to make sure that I always have extra layers with me. I have a number of teachers who thrive on air conditioning and/or open windows, and I'm sure I've spent way too much time hunched forward over my books than is healthy for my shoulders.

This morning's walking tour was to Rehavia. I chose the English tour this time because the Hebrew tour was going to the Bukharan neighbourhood, and I've already done that one. The tour guide was very organized, with index cards full of information about the various historically significant houses. He also stopped several times along Yafo and King George Streets, and told us about some of the landmarks on the way to Rehavia.

One of my classmates invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday. I've never been to a Thanksgiving dinner, but it seems to be very popular with the American contingent. I'm looking forward to it.

Happy National Ammo Day to those celebrating it!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Several days ago, via my referral stats, I found this page, which had linked to me with this description:
Musings of a female weight lifter trying to lose weight. Rather amazing how all of her goals are set around losing weight with some about lifting more. I know stronger women. First female blog.
On the one hand, I was flattered that someone called me a weight lifter. On the other hand, I never really thought about how my goals are set around losing weight.

The thing is, weight is a limiting factor on what I want to achieve in the gym. I'm not going to complete a dead hang pull up if I stay at my current weight. I'm not going to lift amounts that can be expressed in percents of bodyweight greater than 1 if I stay at my current weight. But the weight isn't the goal. Doing pullups is the goal, having a 2x bodyweight squat and deadlift is a goal. Having a 100lb bench press and then a 1.5% body weight bench press is a goal.

So I'm going to think about it for the next few days and come up with a better set of goals. And I may shove the scale under the bed for awhile. At least until Jan 1, 2006. I now have clothes that fit, and they can serve as indicators of shrinkage or expansion.

One other thing: the part that says "I know stronger women" made me smile. I certainly hope he does. If I'm the strongest woman a reader knows then he or she really has to get out more. :-) Either that or change to a better gym.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Links and More Links

Here are a bunch of links to interesting places, which will have to do until I have time to sit down and write about the leg session that was. Note to whomever invented lunges: start running now.

Note to k: I checked with the music store, and the new Kate Bush cd is not yet available in Israel.

Radley Balko has two good pieces on obesity. One is called Living Large, and the other Does Obesity Justify Big Government. Both are worth reading, but before you read either, go read this blog post, wherein he describes an e-mail exchange with a public health official.

Over at SayUncle I found this great post about Karl Malone. I usually avoid news about celebrities of all sorts, because invariably I find out that someone whose work I've enjoyed is either a twit or an ignoramus. Not this time.

Zendo Deb at TFS Magnum often posts about self-defense cases, but this one caught my eye.

Eternity Road has a lovely post about intimate matters entitled Satisfaction Not Guaranteed.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

More Tours

Today I planned on taking the municipality's free walking tour (in Hebrew) of the Christian quarter of the Old City. However, a lot of people had the exact same idea; I think about a hundred people showed up for the tour. At the last minute I decided to go with the English speaking tour, which was going to the old neighbourhood of Nahlaot in the New City and had only twenty people. Two hours of walking, which isn't bad for a Saturday morning. The closer I get to the end of my stay here, the more conscious I get of how little time there is to see everything. Between the Saturday morning municipality tours, the Beit Shmuel tours and the tours in the Historical Geography course, I hope to cover as much as possible.

I heard today that next week the English tour is going to the Rehavia neighbourhood, and the Hebrew tour is going to the Bukharan neighbourhood. I think I will do the English tour, because I've done the other tour already. I hope we have good weather again. Not too many days like this left before real winter. We only turn the heating on for two hours each day, but we turned it off completely last week to save on fuel costs, reasoning that while the temperature is over 10C we can handle it by wearing more layers.

One of the things I miss about Canada is Rememberance Day ceremonies. Wish I had a poppy to wear. One of my classmates had one, with a little Canadian flag pin holding it in place. Here's a link to In Flanders Fields, and here's the story of its author, John McCrae.

16 days of riots in France and media coverage is sparse. A map of incidents is here, and a day 16 update here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Walking Tour

Dropped off all my new jeans to the tailor this morning to get them shortened, then spent four and a half hours walking in and around the Old City, looking at water cisterns and secret gardens. (The tour was organized by Beit Shmuel). The cistern in the picture is from the Ethiopian church, and the garden is from the Lutheran church.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Today was a day of insufficient sleep, insufficient food and barely any water, but it doesn't matter, because the important thing is that I finally went back to the gym. :-)

I like the new program so far. Today was Chest-Triceps-Shoulders. Flat bench press supersetted with sets of standing crunches, push ups supersetted with sets of leg lifts on bench, skull crushers supersetted with side curls, and seated shoulder presses supersetted with sideways box jumps. Six sets per exercise, but this isn't as bad as it sounds, two warm up sets (50% and 80% of max), three work sets, and one cool down set (50%). The abwork is 6 x 12 for everything.

Gym opens at 8:00am on Fridays. I don't know yet if I will make it in tomorrow as I have to be in the Old City at 10:00am for a walking tour. We'll see how it goes. Day II is squats, lunges, single leg leg-extensions, and grip work to finish. Which makes perfect sense, because by the time I finish all that leg work I'll be thrilled to sit down and do grip work. :-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Today is the 67th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Thoughts about Kristallnacht and gun control are here. (link via Instapundit).


I have karst on my mind, also limestone and dolomite, which is a direct result of spending my morning Historical Geography class learning about the ancient water systems of Jerusalem. The weather cooperated; it was a gorgeous cool and sunny morning. I was actually dressed a little too warmly. I think I may do my paper for this course on the water systems. It gives me an excuse to go on a walking tour of old cisterns this Friday. (Yes, I have just declared to all and sundry that my idea of a fun morning is a walking tour of old cisterns... and people wonder why I am single :-) )

Traffic back from the university was very bad. The police had a bunch of roads blocked off; not sure if the cause was a traffic accident or a hot warning about a suicide bomber. Whatever it was, I had a 45 minute bus ride, and spent most of it reading about the 2nd Temple period, which is the next thing on the agenda for said class.

I went to a bookshop downtown to arrange delivery for a book set I bought last week (a gorgous six volume Midrash Raba set, in case anyone is curious). Of course I bought more books while there (a pocket mishna set, and a book about Aggada by Yehuda Brandes). The book set will arrive tomorrow night, which might have cost me a gym session, because I would have had to stay home and wait for the book delivery. But lo and behold, tomorrow's pedagogy class has been cancelled, which means I can go to the gym in the early afternoon, and still have my books delivered in the evening.

Water and food both sloppy today. Still coughing, still have a sore throat, and still exhausted. Goal tonight is bed by 11pm, and wake up tomorrow at 6:30am.

Do I have any readers who are well-informed about Catholic theology? If that's you, could you suggest a good Catholic commentary on the Song of Songs? As an advance thank you, here's a picture of the Franciscan symbol, taken on a Mount of Olives walking tour.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


On Sunday night I went by the gym. It is open and people are training, although some things are still missing, for example, lockers. One of the regulars told me that one of the additions is a sauna. I am looking forward to checking it out.
The reason I went was to advise man-in-charge that due to my new schedule I can only train four days per week: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturdays the gym is closed and Mondays and Wednesdays I am at the university till late in the evening. Since the gym closes at 10:30pm, there’s no way I can make it back in time. Man-in-charge said that it was time to change the program in any case, so the next time I come there will be a new program.

Said "next time" was supposed to be tonight, but I am tired, have a sore throat and am starting to cough up phlegm, which means tomorrow I will wake up with a cold. At least I hope it will only be a cold and not a sinus thing. Serves me right for letting nutrition and vitamins go by the wayside, although all the dingbats who come to school sick and spread their germs over everything share the blame.

Today's food was not bad at all: one yellow pepper, three green peppers, two cucumbers, three apples. some hard boiled egg whites. For 1st and 2nd lunches I had tuna sandwiches. (Take one can oil-packed tuna, one can water-packed tuna, drain, mix, add spicy mustard, put on bread, eat.) I also had three litres of water. On the not so good side, I had four cups of coffee (1% milk), just to get through the day, and when I finally got home I gave up and made mushroom soup from a mix I found in the cupboard.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I think it is pretty clear that Operation No Backslide was a failure. I think I could have handled the gym closure at any other time except holiday season, and I could have handled the holiday season if the gym had been open. The two together threw me for a major loop.

After all this waffling and backsliding, this morning's weight was 67.1 Kg or 148 lbs. So now what?

There are three more phases to my Maspik Teruzim project. Phase one starts this Sunday, November 6 and goes until Jan 31, 2006. The goal for phase one is to lose 10 lbs and to regain all the fitness ground by not being in the gym this past month. I want to be 138 lbs on January 31, 2006.

Phase two is the month of February 2006. I will be in North America that month doing my student teaching, and the goal is to lose two lbs during that month, so that I start the spring semester on March 5 at 136 lbs.

Phase three is from March 5 to June 30, and covers the last semester at Hebrew U. The goal for this semester is to lose the last 12 lbs and be at 124 lbs on June 30, 2006.

This morning I woke up early and went out for breakfast. I’ve decided that Friday breakfast will be my one restaurant meal each week. It also gets me out of the house early, as the two restaurants I like for Israeli breakfast open by 0700. After breakfast I took the bus to one of my favorite used bookstores, Intellect Books on Yafo Street. I got two commentaries on the Song of Songs. They had a bunch of sf paperbacks on sale for 10 NIS, so I picked up a copy of Heinlein’s Friday. From the bookstore I began walking along Yafo Street towards the market and came across a clothing store called Tamnoon. The name means Octopus, which is a cute name for a women’s clothing store.

I should note that it is getting chillier here in Jerusalem, so I opened the suitcase where I stuffed all my winter clothes last year, and started trying things on. Unsurprisingly, everything is too big. Since a surefire way to regain weight is to keep wearing big clothes, I need to get rid of all this tent-like apparel as soon as possible. However, this means I need to buy clothes.

So I went into the store to try on a pair of jeans. The salesperson helping me was wonderful. She kept suggesting more things for me to try on. I love it when salespeople show initiative and actually try to sell me stuff. It has been awhile since I was helped by someone with energy and initiative, so I asked her if she was the owner. She turned out to be the store manager, and she told me that she herself had lost 30Kg (66 lbs), and so she could identify with the process of having to replace an entire wardrobe more than once. I bought two pairs of jeans and one pair of sweatpants for a total expenditure of 225 NIS or $48 USD.

I’m going to go back to the store and get cords and sweaters next week.

Paris is Burning

Not just the name of a 1990 documentary but also current day news: Seven days and counting of rioting in Paris. More coverage and pics here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Nearly There

Went by the gym on Tuesday. Still messy, but looks more like a gym than a construction site. Man-in-charge was looking haggard and frazzled; he said that they will re-open today. I'm doubtful, but I will check it out tomorrow and see. I am tired due to not getting enough sleep or veggies all week. I am taking a big course load at Hebrew U, but all the courses are fascinating. One of them might be cancelled due to lack of enrollment; I hope that between now and next Wednesday more people transfer into it. The course in question is a close reading and discussion of Rancière's The Ignorant Schoolmaster.

In the meantime, there is an interesting overview of warming up over at T-Nation. Part I is here and part II is here.