Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bar

Both Someday Is Now and Caustic Musings have already linked to this Dr Scott-Dixon interview at Dr. Berardi's site, but if you haven't read it yet, go now.

This is the part of the interview that resonated with me:
I work in an all-female workplace – actually there are a couple of guys – and even just lifting boxes, everyone is like, “Oh I can’t lift that.” And I’m like, “You should be embarrassed to say that.” We’re talking about 20 pound boxes, I mean, what’s the problem here?

Another example of the ridiculously low expectations for women: At my school, the fitness test result for the boys basketball team (1 mile run, 1.5 mile run and bench press) are posted outside the coach's office. The other day I was talking to some students, and I mentioned that without knowing what these weights are as a % of bodyweight, the numbers don't actually tell me all that much. The students discussed which of the boys on the team they thought was the strongest, pound for pound. Then one (who knows that I lift) asked me something that floored me, "Can you bench the bar?". Excuse me? What is the world coming to that there should even be a doubt about the ability of any woman to bench the bar? It is 45lbs, people. There are women whose purses weigh more than that. *sigh* I can't blame the kid for thinking that. Most of the girls he goes to school with don't train or lift. But sheesh, the bar?!?!

Snow Days Are Less Useful When You Have No Laptop

I miss my powerbook. The guy at tech support agreed that a hd should not take 66 hours to zero out, and now I need to decide if to mail my laptop to them or take it to a local service provider.

No school today due to inclement weather, so I am using the time to run around and do things I never have enough time to do. It's not really a snow day, more of an "ice storm yesterday lousy driving conditions today" day. I got a call from one of my colleagues at 6:30am telling me that we were closed, and after I called the next person on the calling tree I had breakfast and headed out. First stop, ATM to get money. Second stop, KMart (because they open at 7:00am) for an ice scraper and windshield de-icer. Yesterday afternoon one of my colleagues lent me his ice scraper or there's no way I would have made it out of the parking lot. So I bought two ice scrapers; if someone loses theirs I'll have a spare to lend them. I would have stood there in my inadequate dress shoes, toes freezing off, chipping away at the wind shield with my driver's license card... A gentleman whom I do not know got out of his car and scraped the ice off my front windshield for me. I have to find out who that was so I can say thank you.

They're predicting 6-12 inches of snow for this afternoon and tonight, but one of the guys at the cafe where I'm blogging this just said that this was downgraded to 1-3 inches of snow. Who knows. In any case, I want to get to the gym today before the snow starts. I went in on Tuesday night and spent 45 minutes with a trainer learning to do a clean. What a sweet exercise!

Nutrition has been wobbly since Saturday. On the bright side, I took a thermos of unsweetened green tea to work with me yesterday and drank all of it during the day. I also have a second water bottle now, so I don't have to go to the water fountain four times during the day to refill. One trip in the morning, one trip at lunch. Sounds silly but if the water, veggies, whatever aren't close at hand it is so easy to "forget" about them. (See this post for a full disclosure notice regarding the link in this paragraph.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


"If you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep." -- Irving Berlin
There will be some serious counting of blessings this week, folks, because I am very stressed right now. My Mac had a hard drive failure on Friday. I've lost everything that was on it: my lesson plans and handouts, all the work I've done on the final papers I need to hand in to Hebrew U by Dec 31, the 2000+ photographs I took in Israel during the past two years... You'd think that a fairly intelligent woman who has been using computers since before 1992 would be smarter about regular backups, wouldn't you? I do have some stuff backed up, but as soon as I have a computer again I will buy an external HD and back up that way rather than messing about with flash drives and cds. Considering I've never had any hardware fail on me, I was probably due. Arggh. Anyway, spilled milk under the bridge (insert your fave metaphor here). I've been super-flexible and patient with my students about deadlines, so I hope some of this good karma comes back to me from my professors.

American Thanksgiving was lovely. I think I'm adopting this holiday going forward. I was invited to the house of one of my colleagues for dinner, and it was delightful. As for the sales, I went to Sears and got a winter coat and a blender. I was planning to do additional shopping, but when I got to a store on Friday morning at 7:00am and saw how packed it was, I turned around and walked right back out again.

The latest newsletter from Cressey mentioned that he uses at least 50% of his in-car time to listen to business or fitness cds. Sounded like a good idea to me so I decided to try it. I got some cds from the public library, and on the drive today (to the cafe from which I'm blogging this) I listened to a cd about time management. Another baby step in the right direction, I think.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy American Thanksgiving

Does anyone in the US read blogs during Thanksgiving?

Good gym session last night, chest work and heavy bag work. There was another woman in the studio part of the gym where the heavy bag hangs; she was doing mat exercises from an instructional sheet. I was worried that she would be bothered by the noise of me hitting the bag, but she was unperturbed. I booked an appointment with the owner for next Tuesday to do a body fat assessment (yes, I will eventually buy myself a set of calipers, but not this month) and to learn how to do a power clean.

No gym today; it was only open from 5am to noon. I was up too late last night to make it in by 5am, and work ended at noon today, although I stayed at work for an hour and a half longer to finish some stuff. I will probably go into work on at least one day of this long weekend, because I want to return to work on Monday with no grading left to do. There's not much time left until winter break, and I have a lot I want to accomplish by then.

One of my colleagues invited me to his house for Thanksgiving Dinner. I am looking forward to it. My first experience of American Thanksgiving was last year in Jerusalem, and I've decided I like this holiday. I had hoped to bring some icewine as a hostess gift, but not only did the liquor store not have any, the lady at the counter had no clue what it was. I ended up buying two bottles of wine which I hope will turn out to be good choices. I don't actually drink alcohol; I think I've mentioned before that I don't want to discover how sarcastic it would make me, but my host asked if I would bring a bottle. I'm perfectly comfortable with the request since it saves me the trouble of figuring out what to bring.

The big plans for tomorrow are sleeping, grading and book arranging. Someone has given me two bookcases, and I need to decide where to put them before I fill them with books.

I returned the unopend food processor I bought two (three?) months ago. I think I'm not the cooking type. I'm perfectly happy chopping veggies with a knife, and opening a can of tuna for dinner, and I don't intend to change now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wishful Thinking

I wished for a good gym that would remind me of the gym back in Jerusalem, and I found one.
I wished for a heavy bag, and the gym owner hung up a heavy bag within 24 hours of my joining the gym.
I was standing in the locker room last week wishing that the lockers were numbered so that I could remember which one was mine. I came back to discover that the lockers now have little number tags on them.

I ordered Ross Enamait's book Never Gymless last week, and it arrived much faster than I expected. I've been reading it and taking notes. From my preliminary reading I'd say it is money very well spent. I've decided to get serious about building a fitness library, and I started with this one because I've enjoyed the articles on his site. The last one I read had to do with using the heavy bag as a de-stressor, which is exactly what I was doing last week. This quote made me smile: "Do not try to kill the bag. Odds are that the bag will always win anyway." --(Bresnahan, 2003).

I got a manicure and pedicure at the spa next to the gym. OPI has a new colour which I love, and which I think will be my colour for the coming winter. It's called Music Hall Curtain Call and it's a multi-hued copper.

Via one of the comment threads at CrossFit I found performance standards charts at Exrx. Here is bench, squat and dead. I'm going to print them out, highlight the advanced numbers for the 123 weight class and hang them up by my desk. That's the goal area for me between now and July 2007.

I went to watch the boys' and girls' basketball teams play last night. Both of them won by very lopsided scores. I was really impressed by the boisterous cheering of the boys for the girls and the girls for the boys. My students may be squirrelly at times, but on the whole they are sweet and decent young people who are going to be great adults. Makes one want to get married and have 4-6 kidlets asap. After the games ended I headed to a local sports bar hoping to catch UFC 65 (link has spoilers), but when I got there the nice woman at the door told me that they weren't letting any more people in because the room was at capacity, and they couldn't make any exceptions because the fire marshall was standing right there. Oh well, given the choice between UFC and my students playing basketball I'll go for the latter. As long as they win, of course. :-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wed Thurs Fri

I was at the gym on Wednesday for some squats and some bag work. Thursday and today were parent-teacher conferences which went well overall. Water was good on Thursday but lousy today. Since the conferences went late on Thursday night, the PTO provided dinner for the teachers: pasta, salad, breadsticks and brownies. That wasn't the problem. The problem came today, when, after my one frustrating conference of the entire two days, I went down to the teachers' lounge and consumed two of said breadsticks. It was not hunger: I had tuna and apples and other good things at my desk. It was just pure frustration and stupid old habit reasserting itself.

When I was done for the day today I went back to gym, did some back work (two variations of pulldowns and some bent over rows) then hit the bag again. While I was there the gym owner put up a stopwatch that counts down continuously from 59-0 seconds. Very helpful for timing rest periods and jump rope intervals. Speaking of which, I did some jump rope intervals after hitting the bag, and (re-)discovered three things. First, sloth hurts, second, jumping rope is exhilarating, and third, I need a better sports bra. Walking around from powercage to bench is one thing. Jumping up and down is another.

The plans for the weekend are to do a lot of grading and go watch the boys' and girls' basketball teams play their first game of the season. I've never been to a highschool basketball game and I am looking forward to it. And of course get back to the gym so that I can start the real work on Monday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I went back to the gym last night to sign up. My initial plan was to only sign up for a month, and then, if the heavy bag materialised, I'd sign for a year. However, as I was sitting there in the office I decided that I liked the place. So I looked at the owner, told him he looked like a man of his word (regarding hanging up the heavy bag) and wrote a check for the one year amount.

Woke up this morning and debated if I should take the gloves with me or not. Decided to not take them, on the assumption that a heavy bag the first day is a bit too much to expect. Long day at work; one of my students was supposed to come by for help at 4:20pm. At 4:57pm I get an e-mail from said student that he couldn't make it... (I figured that out by then :-) )So I ate and headed off to the gym. And what is hanging in the gym? Yup, a heavy bag. The owner had already put it up.

So, I did a modified upper body workout. Flat BP, pushups, feeble and pathetic attempt at dips... stopped myself from going totally overboard even though I wanted to. This week is the get-back-into-the-swing-of-things-and-don't-be-stupid-about-it week. Tomorrow I plan to hit the bag a bit, jump some rope. Next week will be the back-on-program week.

God it feels good to be in a gym again.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back with a Vengeance

Regular blogging has resumed, not that I expect anyone to still be reading considering my lengthy disappearing act.

Three and a half months after my last serious workout (July 23, 2006), or if you prefer, three months and one week after arriving in Kansas, I am back. Depressing, yes, but considering that it took me seven months to find a gym when I arrived in Israel from Canada, three and a half months is a huge improvement.

Via word of mouth (my colleague A put me in touch with his friend B, who introduced me to her friend C, who asked his friend D...) I found a gym that strongly reminds me of the gym back in Jerusalem: small and serious. It has a power cage and a place to do neg pullups. No Russian or Georgian guys that I can see, but that's ok. :-) There's no heavy bag either, but the owner says he has one sitting at home and has been planning to bring it in and hang it up for some time, and I believe him. The membership price is right, and there was none of the nonsense I've been subjected to at other gyms (must EFT, special today only, huge initiation fee but we'll take it off if you sign today, sign your firstborn over to us... blech!). The changerooms are small, but nicely designed, the lockers are big and the gym provides locks and towels. I had a trial workout there, a couple of sets of squats, a couple of sets of deads, a little abwork, and now I'm feeling like I'm back to myself.

Tomorrow after work I'm going to drive back there and give them the cheque, and also get a better idea of how long the drive takes during rush hour. This is the perfect week to get back into a routine because it is going to be insane. Monday is a 7:00am-7:30pm day for me, Thursday and Friday are parent-teacher conferences and my colleagues tell me to expect 100% attendance, I have to finish progress reports today (yes, another Sunday at work), and I have a stack of grading on my desk that's threatening to fall off and crush me. The drawback to giving thoughtful assignments is that they require a long time to grade. Yes, I read every word my students write. No, I'm not going to move to multiple choice tests just so I can have a life. So, after this week, every other week will be a breeze.

I'm not sure what the damage from my three months of distraction has been. My clothes still fit, but I've lost a ton of strength and I realised yesterday that my callouses are gone (sob). There's a scale at the gym, and I'll step on it next time I'm in to get an accurate read on the consequences of sloth. I'll post the result, obviously.

Motivation: I'm planning is to return to Israel in July 2007 for a curriculum workshop, and I'll be damned if I'm going to walk into my old gym and face man-in-charge and ShoulderGuy and all the other people there as weak and unfit and looking like a slug. I'm also planning to sign up for cont. ed. Russian classes at the local community college in the new year so I can actually say a few phrases when I see everyone again.