Thursday, July 27, 2006


I miss being in Israel. I miss walking everywhere in Jerusalem and looking at modern things and historical things at the same time. I miss the fruit and vegetables that taste like fruit and vegetables, I miss going to my gym late in the evening and seeing familiar faces and people training seriously with good form and having dbs in small increments. I miss following the evening gym session with a late night visit to the local supermarket where everything is kosher. I miss having a cell phone with the option of sending text messages in Hebrew, English, Russian and Arabic. (Not that I know all four, but it's nice to have the option.) I miss my favourite cafes and favourite clothing stores and the long bus ride from the university to my neighbourhood. I miss having wireless access everywhere...

Ok, enough pining and whining. I'm in Toronto doing various things that need to get done before I leave next week, and the list seems to get longer by the day.

Yesterday was Day II: Back. I stood in the middle of the gym looking up at the pull up bar, wondering how the heck I'm supposed to get up there to do my negative pull ups. I couldn't think of a solution. There were no chairs, and I couldn't very well ask someone to give me a boost for everyr rep. Finally I gave up and just used the assisted pull up machine, and concentrated on getting the scapulae to talk to each other.

Today was Day III: Quads and Other Things. I found a way to do the lying cable rows, but it was strange using a rope handle rather than the strap handle. Upright db rows were fine too, but again, I need incremental weights. A 5 lb jump is too much. I had the squat rack to myself, and a nice trainer named Larry agreed to spot my max set. The squats went fine, but I ran out of time and did not get to the hack squat machine - I had to run to an appointment half hour away.

Diesel is huge and beautifully designed, but I miss my gym back in Jerusalem... I will try and avoid saying that in every post. :-)

By the way, anyone thinking of going to this seminar?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Landed in Toronto on Sunday night, and it is only today that the jetlag has somewhat receded. I was flying Air Canada; the plane was old, the flight attendants were depressed. Next time I'll fly El Al. I always order vegetarian and supplement with my own food, but this time I forgot to bring my own stuff, and was stuck with the airline's uninspiring veggie meal, which was about enough for a small bird.

Went to this gym today. Had a good Day I: Chest session. Two main challenges: one, not having incremental weights that are small enough for my needs. For example, dbs go up from 25lbs to 30lbs, and I could really have used a 27.5lbs set. Two, having to start thinking in lbs again after thinking in kgs for two years.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Squats Box Deads

The last squat session was on Thursday, the last boxing class was on Friday morning and the last deadlift session was on Friday afternoon. Normally I wouldn't do both boxing and deads on the same day, but it was the last day of the 4 rep microcycle, and I wanted to finish it off before I left Israel. At the same time, there was no way I was missing the last boxing class. So I came in Friday morning at 8:30am, did the boxing class, ran to the post office to mail two more boxes of books, ate something, went to town to run a couple of errands, and went back to the gym at 1pm for the deadlift session.

A bit of a jump in weight on both the squats and the deads, probably because it was my last day. Man-in-charge had told me a few times that I could go heavier but that we were going for a steady progression. Over the next year I'm going to continue shooting for a 2.5% increase in weight from cycle to cycle. Meaning, the 8 rep weight on this cycle should be 2.5% higher than the 8 rep weight on the last one, without failure.

Squats on Thursday
4 x 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs
4 x 56.5 Kg / 124.6 lbs
4 x 70 Kg / 154.3 lbs
4 x 65 Kg / 143.3 lbs
4 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
4 x 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

Deads on Friday
4 x 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
4 x 65 Kg / 132.3 lbs
4 x 80 Kg / 176.4 lbs
4 x 70 Kg / 154.3 lbs
4 x 65 Kg / 143.3 lbs
4 x 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
It was pretty good. I was a bit tired, but it's always nice to find out that you can do more than you think you can. My grip was good enough for exactly four reps, probably because I had spent much of the boxing class hitting the heavy bag.

In less than 12 hours I leave for the airport and I still have to finish packing and cleaning my room. I'll blog again when I get to Toronto.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Five Past Midnight

And I'm at Cafe Rehavia at the corner of Aza and Radak Streets, working on my laptop, looking at Kansas apartment options. Today I went to Pardes to clean out my locker, then went to the bank to check that they closed my accounts as I requested yesterday. (They didn't but said they would do it today. I love many things about Israel. The banking system isn't one of them.)

Speaking of things I love about Israel: I was watching tv the other day, and the ticker at the bottom of the screen had the names and phone numbers of families from the middle and southern parts of Israel who were opening their homes to host those families who were coming from the north of Israel to escape the shelling. Families they didn't know.

Went to the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall and bought myself a raw silk challah (bread) cover (like these, but the prices on Ben Yehuda are much better). Also got a suncatcher with an artistic representation of Jerusalem, and a present for my sister. Went home, continued the sorting/packing/cleaning process.

Yesterday was my next to last boxing class. Worked the heavy bag for most of the class, trying to figure out the correct distance so that when I move forward and punch, my hand is extended and does not hit the target half bent. The problem is that moving forward with a punch requires hand+foot+eye coordination, which is not one of those things I have in abundance.

Tonight (last night, at this point) I went to the gym and had my last Day II: Back workout. Felt strong on all the negative pullups. The pulldowns that followed were smooth too.

Everything I do now is "the last". The last Back workout in Jerusalem, the last loaf of rye bread I buy in Jerusalem, it's depressing.

In happier news, both pilot and navigator managed to eject from a fighter jet before it crashed, thank goodness.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Respectable Weight

Deadlifts on Sunday
4 x 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs
4 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
5 x 75 Kg / 165.3 lbs One of the guys from boxing class was working out at the same time, and he looked over at the rack and said "That's a respectable weight for..." He was going to say 'for a girl' but I think he re-added up the weight and decided not to say it. I think he was more impressed by the grip than the weight, actually. He asked me if I don't use straps when lifting.
5 x 67.5 Kg / 148.8 lbs
5 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
4 x 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs

This being my last week in Israel, it involves many goodbye lunches, dinners and coffee meetings. After the session I went out to dinner with my schoolmate Y at Coffeeshop on Azza Street. CoffeeShop is directly across the street from Cafe Atara. Y pointed out to me that Atara is a favourite location for 'shidduch dates'. Meaning, a place for an Orthodox man and woman who have been suggested to each other by a matchmaker (shadchan) to go for a date. In this case a date means a meeting to determine if the other party has marriage partner potential. I never realised the cafe had this cachet, but Y was right. While we were sitting there we spotted some couples on the street who were obviously on 'shidduch dates'.

A bombing thwarted in Jerusalem this morning.

A cartoon about disproportionate response.

World Pride is going to take place in Jerusalem on August 10. There has been opposition from certain religious quarters and support from others. Some of the ultra-Orthodox discourse has been very ugly. I'll just say that gay Israelis fought for the right to serve in the IDF and defend this country, while the ultra-Orthodox avoid military service in favor of life-long study. Makes it really easy to choose sides.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

War Linkage and Nutrition Nosedive

Go to Pajamas Media for war coverage, and don't forget to hum some Dylan while reading.

Katyushas, Fajrs, mortal shells... the radio is not reporting where precisely they're hitting so as not to give the enemy information they can use to improve their aim. Eight or nine dead in Haifa this morning from a Katyusha strike. Add Tverya (Tiberias) to the list of cities hit. Both Tammy Bruce and Victor Davis Hanson question the world's double standard where Israel is involved.

I am happy that I am in Israel rather than North America while this is going on. I much prefer to be here than to be in Toronto watching the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), because on middle east issues, I consider CBC to be an acronym for either "Completely Biased Coverage" or "Caliphate Broadcasting Corporation". I wish I didn't have to leave next Sunday. I don't want to leave; what I want to do is say the hell with papers and the hell with packing, and go up north to one of the communities that is being shelled. As Imshin put it: "davka I would go". But it looks like I'll have to settle for psalms and prayers instead.

Nutrition has nosedived since the war began, which is pathetic. You don't see the folks who are actually in the shelled areas stuffing their faces, do you? Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning I had a slice of cheesecake, a slice of dark chocolate cake with rhubarb sauce, a chocolate filled croissant, two cans of Coke and six (6) small cappucinos. Precision Nutrition it ain't. Speaking of which, that's going to be my first present to myself as soon as I am settled in Kansas.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Squats and Boxing

About the war: start with this post at Treppenwitz and then go to Yourish and just scroll and read.

After I said that I haven't cut a workout short in a year, I had to cut one short on Wednesday night. I did half of my back session, the negative pullups and the lat pulldowns, then had an important phone call and had to skedaddle. But I did the other half of the session - the db rows and bicep cable curls - on Thursday morning, then came back to the gym on Thursday night for the squat session. Not sure if I would have done that if I wasn't a week away from leaving the gym, but having done it, there's something to be said for two sessions (or one and a half sessions) a day. :-)

Squats on Thursday:
4 x 30 Kg / 66.1 lbs
4 x 47.5 Kg / 102.5 lbs
5 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
5 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
5 x 50 Kg / 110.2 lbs
4 x 30 Kg/ 66.1 lbs

I have missed Toronto. I was reading the Stumptous July rant and my first thought upon seeing the pictures was: awwww, is that Bloor Street East? Or is that Church Street? followed by awwww, is that Yonge Street? My second thought was, nice arms.

I was reading this T-Nation thread about "top 5 live action superbabes" (their title, not mine), which set me to thinking about which female actors in action films had bodies that I found aesthetically inspiring. The first four that came to mind were:
1. Demi Moore in G.I. Jane
2. Jessica Biel in Blade: Trinity
3. Linda Hamilton in T2: Judgement Day
4. Hilary Swank in Million $ Baby
Any other suggestions?
I realise these women had access to personal trainers and the motivation of a paycheck, but I don't think that diminishes their hard work in the slightest.

Boxing this morning: spent entire class working the heavy bag, trying to get a straight left, left hook, straight right combination down. There were also some rope skipping drills at the end. It was nice for a change of pace, but I missed the partner work. I was having timing issues. Coach said I was pushing the bag rather than hitting it, and that I was standing too close to it. I think I got the distance part down by the end of the class, but the punches have to be faster.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Awful Bench

Took five boxes to the post office this morning. Had a mini upper body workout carrying them hither and thither within the post office. Four of them weighed around 30 lbs each, one was 45 lbs. I'm sending one by air and four by sea, so one should get to Kansas before I do and the other four should be there in 2-3 months. I'm pleasantly surprised that I only have five boxes of books to send.

Tomorrow night I'm going to go through clothes. My friend H put me in contact with an organization that will pick up clothes from one's home. I don't know what they do with them: donate to needy folks (ok), sell them as vintage (also ok), or destroy the textile industry in Africa (less ok. A different look here.) I'm going to ask.

Awful bench workout last night. I was stressed and annoyed by the fact that I had spent over five hours riding assorted buses from Jerusalem to Netanya to Hadera to Jerusalem, wasting time I couldn't afford to waste.

Flat BP
4 x 25 Kg / 55.1 lbs
4 x 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs This felt heavy, which it really has no business feeling.
5 x 50 Kg / 110.2 lbs They went up, but you can tell by the amount of weight I dropped for work set 2 and 3 how ugly the reps were.
5 x 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs
5 x 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs
4 x 25 Kg / 55.1 lbs

The first set of dips was atrocious also, and I considered just going home at this point. Thank goodness habit kicked in. I haven't cut a workout short in over a year, I think. I decided that I was just going to autopilot the rest of the workout, and then go home and not think about it. By the time I got to the third set of dips everything was fine, although my right hamstring decided to cramp halfway through the set. And I don't know if stress affects the chemical composition of one's sweat, but I reeked last night. Interesting in a detached sort of way.

Two pictures. The first one shows where the bus drops you off on the side of the highway road at Givat Olga. The second is the bridge you walk across to get to the other side of the road.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Yesterday's squats:
4 x 29 Kg / 63.9 lbs
4 x 46.5 Kg / 102.5 lbs
6 x 57.5 Kg / 126.8 lbs
6 x 52.5 Kg / 115.7 lbs
6 x 50 Kg / 110.2 lbs
4 x 29 Kg/ 63.9 lbs

Today's deadlifts:
4 x 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs
4 x 56.5 Kg / 124.6 lbs
6 x 70 Kg / 154.3 lbs
6 x 65 Kg / 143.3 lbs
6 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
4 x 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

Tomorrow's boxing class is cancelled; coach out of town again. The plan is to bench tomorrow, but this may change because I have to spend the morning travelling around the country for some visits I can't get out of, and I'm not sure what time I'll get back to Jerusalem.

Baruch Dayan Emet

The title is Hebrew for "blessed is the true judge" and it is what Jews say when they hear of a death. When I came into the gym yesterday the first thing I saw was a sign on the counter advising that one of the members was killed in a traffic accident, and giving details of the family's shiva.

It was difficult getting through the workout because the young man that died often trained at the same time I did. I wanted to stay in the changeroom and cry, actually. He was one of the talkative young guys I mentioned awhile back. He had a sweet smile, used to sing between sets, used a green diet Sprite bottle as his water bottle and occasionally I'd see him straighten out the dumbbells that other people had failed to put back in the right place. I don't know a lot about him. We had snippets of conversation. He said that he had gone through a time of friction with his family. He also said that a school principal had been instrumental in helping him out. From other people in the gym I gleaned more details about what happened. Apparently the accident happened on Thursday night; there were four of them in the car and they somehow hit a post. Two were killed.

His name was Uriel and he was 18 years old.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Here and There

I'm running around today trying to get several things done and not quite succeeding. I went downtown, got packing tape, now going to get some veggies from the pricier-but-closer greengrocer. I hope to get at least two boxes packed tonight before I go train, and I intend to take them to the post office tomorrow morning and mail them with a great sense of accomplishment.

Back on July 4, Scott at Straight to the Bar linked an Alwyn Cosgrove interview that I've since read twice. This quote stayed with me: "The key mistake we’ve made and continue to make is using steady state aerobic exercise and caloric deprivation as the cornerstone of our fat loss programming. Its ass backward and just doesn’t pan out in reality."

The fact that the majority of the weight loss blogs I link are authored by women and the majority of the lifting blogs I link are authored by men is not evidence of a conspiracy. If I happen to visit a blog AND I find it interesting AND I repeat the process AND I remember to link it, then I link it. There are indeed weight loss blogs by men, and if you go to Twice the Man, he has over thirty of them linked.

I like people who footnote. :-) Via this article at I found my way to Randy LaHaie's self defense blog, which had some interesting reading.

There's a Golda Meir quote which says that Zionism and pessimism are not compatible. Sometimes I think that feminism and pessimism are not compatible either. You need to be optimistic, and not allow the morons of the world to keep you down. And there are a lot of them: from those who force feed girls in Mauritania, to those that burn them in Cameroon (the first link I got awhile back, the second link I found at View from the Porch).

Friday, July 07, 2006

January Pull Up and Boxing Dialogue

First, I need to point out that Wednesday's post was actually posted on Thursday. I had started a draft on Wednesday, came back to it on Thursday, and forgot that when I hit Publish it would publish with Wednesday's date.

Scapula, Meet Scapula: Last night I was doing negative pull-ups with a four count on the way down, and man-in-charge told me to concentrate on pulling my scapulae together as I'm doing the movement. Tried it. Not as easy as it sounds. I got it right on one of them, and spent the rest of the reps trying to recapture that movement. But it's progress, and now I have a new midway goal to work towards. It's strange, because on the rep where I got it the whole thing was much easier. It was like tapping into a hidden strength reserve. Later on in the session man-in-charge told me that my dips are almost 100% right now, and if I were around for a couple more months I'd be doing them weighted. As far as a pull-up, he predicts it will take six months. The interesting thing is that I wasn't disappointed when he said that, I was pleased. First, because I trust his judgement on all matters gym, and if he says six months then I figure I can already book the pull-up party for January. Second, because when he says pull up he means a perfect, from a dead hang, smooth up, smooth down pronated grip pull-up, which is what I'm imagining every time I do one of the negatives.

Boxing: Great session this morning. I got to do partner work with four different guys. The hook is improving, although still inconsistent. I'll get a few right and then stiffen up again. The handwrapping is improving too. Today was the first time I felt that I got the tightness just right. One of the drills we practiced was active and passive defense. Active meaning you duck under the punch, passive meaning you deflect and or take it on your forearms. One of the guys was holding back too much (they're all holding back at this point, me being a. newbie and b. shortest.) I need to tell him that if he gets a punch in while I'm supposed to be defending then it's my responsiblity, not his. There was good dialogue, too.

Guy 1: "You're stiff, like you're scared to hit me."
Me: "I'm not used to it. I don't hit people on a regular basis."
Guy 1: "Not yet. But just flow with it and see what happens."

Middle of class:
Guy 2: "You're not sweating," (subtext: must not be working hard enough)
Me: "I'm wearing navy blue, so you can't tell." (for the record, I sweat like a horse and the shirt is soaked.)
End of class, post skipping rope drills:
Guy 3: "See, she is sweating,"
Guy 2: "That's from the rope skipping,"
Me: "Look, if you worked out six times a week it would take a lot to make you sweat too."

Counting: A few days ago I told the guy at the front desk that I only had twenty days left in Israel. So now every time I come in he gives me a count when I come in and a count when I leave. Last night he greeted me with, "17 days" and when I left he said "16 days". "Are you counting the days till I leave?" I asked. "Yes," he says, "And then we'll start counting the days until you come back." God I love this place :-)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Deads, Focus and Philosophers

There are a few people in the gym who do their own program, by which I mean, one not designed by man-in-charge. Some are tourists or newcomers, and a couple of them just know what they're doing and do it well. For all I know they have their own person-in-charge whereever their home gym is. But there are a few who are clueless. They're rare, so when I see one I end up doing a double take. Like the guy who was doing 1/3 squats in the rack yesterday. Since I try to assume the best, I don't think to myself, "what exactly is that supposed to be, a squat-in-absentia?". Rather, I allow for the possibility that it's an exercise I had never seen before. Besides, as Tavis Smiley once said: "24 hours in a day; 12 to mind your own business and 12 to let other people mind theirs".

To offset the rare clueless soul we have several guys who are completely focused and on for every exercise. One really stood out last night because I hadn't seen him before. I first noticed him doing ab bicycles, an exercise which may as well come with a Not Fun warning label, and he was doing them like a machine. You can tell a lot about a man by how he trains, particularly the way he does the secondary exercises in between sets. Meaning, if a guy's bench is lovely but his assistance work is half-assed, he drops a couple of notches in my estimation. This guy, whomever he was, had focus in droves. Whether it was when he was doing db presses or when he was on hands and knees doing some sort of straight leg fire hydrant variation, the form was perfect and it was as if he was alone in the gym.

Fire hydrants variations are exercises I rarely see men do. Probably because they [the exercises, not the men] are staples of those revolting "toning and shaping" articles in women's fitness mags. I do not buy women's fitness mags. First, I'm allergic to the word "tone", second, the ads to text ratio is lousy, and third, there's much better stuff online. In any case, of the five people doing FHs variations last night, only one was female.

Tuesday's deads:
4 x 34 Kg / 74.9 lbs
4 x 54 Kg / 119 lbs
8 x 67.5 Kg / 148.8 lbs
8 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
8 x 60 Kg / 132.3 lbs
4 x 35 Kg / 77.2 lbs

I decided to go in earlier yesterday. I had gotten less than five hours of sleep last night and I wanted to get the training session out of the way before my energy level tanked. I love cappuccinos, but there's a limit to how much caffeine I'm willing to drink.

Met the prof in the morning, came home, put in laundry, went out to the gym, came home, hung up the laundry, ate a post workout meal and now I'm at the university library for the evening.

At the gym I started the six rep microcycle.
Wednesday's bench presses:
4 x 24 Kg / 52.9 lbs
4 x 37.5 Kg / 82.7 lbs
6 x 47.5 Kg / 104.7 lbs Weaker on the left side, for some reason. The last two reps went up unassisted, but the right side got there a smidge ahead of the left.
6 x 42.5 Kg / 93.7 lbs
6 x 40 Kg / 88.2 lbs
4 x 25 Kg / 55.1 lbs

World cup final will be Italy-France, which should be interesting. I don't care for one over the other, but I like the fact that France has a bunch of players over 30, and I'd like to see them make something of this last chance. Reminds me of a philosophy teacher I once had. She said she didn't click with Hume because he did incredible work in his 20s, but she was inspired by Kant because he hit his stride in his 50s, so she, being in her late 40s, felt she still had a shot at doing great things.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

19 Days

Sitting at the La Cuisine bakeshop on Aza Street, listening to an episode of The Fitcast (#5, the one with the JB interview) and blogging via the UnwireJerusalem wireless network. We're not going to discuss the utter surrealism of writing fitness posts with a display case full of cakes and pastries in the background. Right now the bottom shelf has a chocolate truffle cake, a pear tart, an apricot tart and a pecan tart, just thought you'd like to know. :-)

19 days left for me in Israel. I spent this morning in the Hebrew U library and actually finished a paper. Another one bites the dust. Tomorrow morning at 8:30am I have an appointment with a professor and I need to finish a proposal for another paper by that time. It's only a couple of pages but it needs to be a very sharp no-BS piece because we are going to go over it word by word. I find it agonizing to write papers and to read my papers after I write them so I am not looking forward to this meeting. I don't like writing papers. If I had a choice between writing a three hour exam, giving an hour presentation to an audience of 50 people or more or writing a 10 page paper I'd choose the exam or presentation every time.

Back to the 8 rep microcycle this week. The negative pullups continue to improve. Man-in-charge told me to slow my descent from a three count to a four count, and it worked until the last work set when I was dropping quickly again.

Yesterday night's squats:
4 x 27.5 Kg / 60.6 lbs
4 x 44 Kg / 97 lbs
8 x 55 Kg / 121.3 lbs
8 x 45 Kg / 99.2 lbs I thought guy-in-charge dropped the weight far too much here, but I don't argue with coaches in the gym. If I could raise a single eyebrow a la Mr. Spock I would, but it's not one of my talents. Anyhow, there are always ways to make a squat set more difficult, just add a couple of seconds to the tempo or take it an inch or three lower.
8 x 45 Kg / 99.2 lbs
4 x 27.5 Kg/ 60.6 lbs

Tonight's boxing class was cancelled because coach is out of town, so the plan is to deadlift tonight instead.

Interesting stuff: The Cheapass Challenge is finally off the ground at Caustic Musings. I've been looking forward to reading this. It's going to be a source of motivation (in terms of dedication and organizational skills) when I'm back in the work world next month.

Happy 4th of July to Americans reading this!