Saturday, March 31, 2007


Between Pesach cleaning and getting ready for the Toronto mini-visit, I am swamped. I'm taking the yoga dvd with me to Toronto; I won't have a chance to visit a gym while I'm there so it's that and push-ups. I'm not fond of big multi-person holiday dinners, so I need all the relaxation and deep breathing I can get. :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Game

I've had the following conversation more than once this week:

Student: "Ms Q, are you playing in the seniors-faculty basketball game?"
Me: "Well, playing is a generous way of putting it. I'm going to run up and down the court with the ball a couple of times, and then my teammates will ask me politely to sit down, and I'll cheer from the sidelines."

The game was today, and I had a wonderful time, and not just because the teachers won. I was one of only two female teachers who showed up to play. I got to play the second quarter, a smidge of the third, and the fourth. I think - I didn't really look at the time. I got to hold the ball twice. I shot once and missed, but it hit the rim so it was a respectable miss. Mostly I ran up and down the court, guarded one of the seniors and generally had a great time. I would have done better had I remembered to drink today. I had a water bottle on my desk but forgot to drink. Now I have a year to practice until next year's game, and my goal for that one is to score points.

After the game I sat at my desk, drank water, ate a banana, and mourned a little for the lost years. My slug years were from 14-34, but I was sad for the high school years, where I never had the idea (never mind the confidence) of going out for high school sports.

Drama and Basketball

"That's all we do—always beginning again! Over and over again. Always beginning again."
That line was not spoken by someone starting a fitness program, but rather by a character in Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our T3eth, which was this year's school play. I went last night and enjoyed it immensely. It is not a simple play, but my students are a talented group and I love seeing them rise to challenges.

My plan for yesterday was to practice basketball, but by the time I got my stuff together and changed into workout clothes, the outdoor courts were filled with children on recess from their after school program. Not wishing to scare the little tykes, I headed indoors to Gym Two. I got on the Concept II rowers (usually always free...) and did two 2000m segments. The first one was easy - duh, I forgot to check the tension level - the second was harder. Then I realized that the little doohickey that goes from the seat to the machine was detached, so my times are irrelevant. Doesn't matter - I'll be doing these regularly from now on so I'll post my times next time.

Curious as to what a good time would be on these, I go0gled and found this question, and via the answer, this website with 2000m rowing times for 135lb, 30-39 y.o. women. Now I have something to shoot for.

(Sidenote to SD: well done!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Into the Valley of Curls

Went to Gym Two right after work today. It was busier than I'd ever seen it. Bicep curlers to the right of me, bicep curlers to the left of me, into the valley of curls, one might say, if one was in the mood for butchering poetry. On the other hand, there was a guy doing weighted pull-ups and another guy doing push-presses, so it wasn't all bad. I monopolized the squat rack, where I did both squats and deads, and felt a little guilty until it dawned on me that everyone was an adult and they could always ask to work in.

There was also a group of guys doing some weird looking things on a bosu ball. They looked like avant-garde garden sculptures.

After the squats and the dead I went downstairs to the basketball courts and dribbled and shot and kept losing the ball and missing the basket. The exception was when a good looking guy would run on the track overhead, then I would somehow manage to get the ball in the basket. Problem A: there are very few good looking guys in the gym. Problem B: I have no idea what I was doing right on the shots that actually went into the basket. Seems to me that if we're going to have a faculty-seniors basketball game there should be a practice session or two (or twenty) for hapless newbies. I asked one of my colleagues for strategy pointers, and he said that the strategy is to not get injured. :-)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oh My

As one of my laconic students says, "Oh my". I think I've been waiting for this weekend since the day I landed in Kansas.

Saturday started inauspiciously. I woke up late, having slept through multiple alarms. I kept trying to talk myself out of going to the gym, I came up with every excuse on the planet why I shouldn't bother: I'm tired, I didn't eat well this week, I didn't drink enough... Litany of excuses continued while I was eating breakfast, and getting dressed. Headed out, and the first stop was (wait for it) Krispy Kr3me. The plan was to just get a free coffee, which they give you if you have their mug, but a nice older gentleman was handing out free donuts, and I took one and said thank you. I didn't just eat it, I suctioned it up like a deprived Dys0n. So now I had one more excuse: I just had a donut, why bother going to the gym, the day's a lost cause...

Then I went to the library and picked up He G0t Game to get in a basketball mood and Br0therhood of the Wolf because it is one of those movies I always planned to see but never did. While in the library I told myself that I really didn't need to go to the gym today, and I'm tired and I should just go home and sleep. But somehow lizard brain, over all my feeble objections, was broadcasting the message "go train!" over and over again. It won out over lazy brain and I finally headed to the gym. (I know, I know, most people say that lizard brain is what tells you to eat-sleep-eat-sleep, but I think lizard brain hearkens back to the time when a sedentary human was a dead human, so it also tells you to train, lift, run...)

Fortunately, the gym bag lives in the car, so I had everything I needed with me. The first thing I saw as I walked in to Gym One was the owner taking down the heavy bag. Turned out he was replacing the bag with a lighter one. Apparently someone complained that the other bag was too hard to hit. Oy vey! What is the world coming to when people complain that heavy bags are heavy? I wanted to turn around and go home, because I didn't want to train in a gym with a wussy heavy bag, but that was an excuse even I can admit was too stupid for words. Changed, got to the rack, realized I forgot my shuffle, went back to car, got shuffle, came back, pressed play.

I'm back at the 10 rep microcycle, and because the 6 rep microcycle at 100lb wasn't completely perfect, I took it down to 85lbs for the max set again. Smooth and easy, but I'm still whining the entire time, because I'm saying to myself, hey, that was good, that was enough, go home. Another set, samee thing. But I kept telling lazy brain to shut up, and moved on to push-ups.

Decided to make the max set on the floor. Knocked out ten easily. Same with the second max set. Third and last set of 10 on the floor. Ok, not easy, but form was good and I did them. I've never done 30 pushups following bench press sets before. I am so happy at this point. And of course the next thing I tell myself is that I've done enough for the day and I should go home...

You get the idea. Every set was a fight with lazy brain, every ab work sequence and every cardio minute required a re-focus. Sometimes I made it because the right song appeared on the shuffle and carried me through a set. At another point, MachineGuy showed up and started his 5 inch squats on the Smith machine, so my vanity kicked in. At another point I imagined my gym in Jerusalem and pretended the guys were in the gym with me. I think I used every motivational tool I know of to get through this one. The last cardio minute I turned into 2 cardio minutes. And when it was done I gave a little clenched fist pump, and almost whooped, but didn't because 36 year old staid teachers don't whoop.

Sunday was a lower-key version of the same fight. But I was more experienced so I got lazy brain to shut up a lot sooner. It was a day II back session: two variations on lat pulldowns (wide pronated grip, narrow grip with palms facing each other), single arm rows, and cable wrist curls. For the last set of cardio minutes I held a 25lb db in each hand as I got on and off the little step, just to prove to myself I had a lot left and to push my grip a bit.

Nutrition (pace the donut) was fine, hydration was insufficient, but I'm pleased with this weekend for reasons that are all gym related. I finally feel like me again. Now, let's see if I can duplicate this at Gym Two.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Produce Details

So here's the veggie/fruit take from yesterday's Wh0lefoods jaunt:

Broccoli 0.96 lb @ 2.99/lb = $2.87
3 Red Bell Peppers = $2.50
Asparagus 1.02 lb @ 2.99/lb = $3.05
1 bag of baby arugula salad = $3.49
2 Braeburn apples 0.98lb @ 0.99/lb = $0.97
Pistachios 0.2 lb @ 4.99/lb = $1.00
1 Navel orange 0.56 lb @ 1.49/lb = $0.83
1 Tangelo 0.44 lb @ 2.99/lb =$1.32
1 Bartlett Pear 0.45 lb @ 2.49/lb = $1.12

Grand total: $17.15 before taxes. There are worse things I could spend $17.15 on rather than fresh produce, so I am perfectly fine with this.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Frozen Veggie Fatigue

That plan to leave at 4:00 did not quite work out as planned. For one thing, some students came into my room right after school. For another, I realised I wanted to clear some things off my desk before I left. Ordinarily I would have accomplished this during the last period, which on Fridays is a low key study hall where I keep an eye on a few students. However, last week I agreed to sub that period twice and today I spent the last ten minutes covering someone else's class, which meant that the list of things-to-do failed to shrink as much as I had wanted it to shrink.

My attempt to replenish the fruit and veggie supply yesterday was a failure. I emerged from the store with a headache, two bags of frozen edamame and a 5 lb bag of rather tasteless apples. Bah! I should just stick to Granny Smith, Fuji or (best of all but really hard to find) Northern Spy and avoid the misery.

I think I'm going to go by Wh0leFoods tonight. Haven't been in ages, but the produce at my usual grocery place is depressing, and I'm tired of my veggie consumption consisting of bagged spinach and frozen veggie mixes. The price of produce at the local grocery store is ridiculous: $2 for one (1) yellow pepper? Hello? Have they no decent greenhouses in the United States? So I may as well pay an even more ridiculous price and buy gorgeous produce. Once May gets here I'll go to farmers markets or sign up for a CSA program and get a bag of locally grown produce each week, but in the meantime I can splurge on veggies.

God I miss Israeli produce. The land not only floweth with milk and honey, but also peppers and persimmons, fresh garlic and fresh figs, loquats and watermelon. And don't get me started on the astonishing array of dairy products. Yogurt with pineapple, anyone? When I go back to visit this summer I'm going to set aside time for twice weekly visits to the Machane Yehuda market, at least.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

10 Hrs 50 Min

Today's work day: in @ 7:20am, out @ 6:10pm. 10 hours 50 minutes is an improvement over 11 hours. Tomorrow is Friday, and my plan is to be out the door at 4:00pm and at the gym by 4:30pm.

Off to replenish the veggie and fruit supply.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Three Day Old Omelet

I was supposed to have a guest this week, but guest has found somewhere else to stay for Shabbat, so I can postpone the massive cleaning I was planning for tomorrow evening. :-) Another 11 hour day today. I hope that Passover will be a clean break for me from these ridiculous work habits that I've adopted. I'm not meant to live at work. My colleagues, who are wonderful teachers and who have more experience (and clearly, sense) than I do, do not live at work, so I should not find myself at work past 6:00pm if I came in at 7:00am.

Nutrition was good today: a Sunday omelet is definitely edible on Wednesday. This Sunday I'll make five 6x1 omelets - and finish the oats before Passover gets here. (Add 30 eggs to shopping list.) I'm pretty confident the omelets will survive in an edible form until Friday. Notice that I'm not mentioning the hydration. Looks like I need to build the H2O habit up from scratch again.

When you're eating healthy, Pesach eating is not that different than regular eating. Cut out the oats, and everything else (meat, eggs, dairy, fruit, veggies) is pretty much unaffected. Truth is, I really don't want to go home for this quick visit, as it won't allow me enough time to visit my friends or enjoy Toronto. I'd much prefer driving up in early summer and spending 1-2 weeks. Problem is, one of my relatives is not well and my family is in rally-round-the-relative mode, so everyone - even those we haven't seen at the holiday table for ages - is coming in for the holiday. Oh well; I'll just file this one under "obligation" rather than "enjoyment" and stop whining about it.

Last note: basketball practice makes my biceps hurt at their insertion points. No, I'm not getting any better at it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shiny Clean Car

The students had a car wash for charity yesterday, and they did a lovely job. I was very happy driving to work in my shiny clean car this morning. It rained this afternoon, so no more shiny clean car, but the vaccuumed inside still looks good.

My cold is receding and my nutrition has been mostly good. Hydration has been pathetic. I brought two water bottle and 1.2L of green tea with me to school yesterday, put them on my desk and completely forgot about all of them. Parent-teacher conferences might have had something to do with that.

The omelet experiment is a success thus far. A 6x1 omelet made on Sunday is edible on Tuesday. We'll see about Wednesday tomorrow.

Overall a good day today, but I still got out of school too late, and now have a stack of tests to grade. Also spent too much time after school exchanging useless e-mails with a travel agent in Illinois. Apparently they don't do customer service in Illinois. The snarky e-mails she has been sending me have no salutation and no closing, and the last one started with the phrase "You just did not understand.." I'm not paying for this ticket, but I e-mailed the organization that is and asked if we could just cancel the reservation. Then I'll book with a local travel agent who does believe in customer service and send them the receipts for reimbursement. I went to check the travel agency web site, and what a surprise, they consider themselves a "customer service leader". Ahem. Their agent is a dingbat and their web site doesn't work in Safari. These words "customer service", I do not think they mean what they think they mean...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Basketball and Omelets

Met one of my colleagues at his gym for some basketball pointers. Why oh why did I not take up this sport as a kid? (Oh yeah, because I was a short, fat, shy and anti-social desk slug...) The basket is less high up than I remembered and the ball is less bouncy. Again, I can't become proficient in a week and a half, but at least I can avoid making a complete idiot out of myself. Learned some interesting things about backspin, estimating distance, dribbling, now all I need to do is get practice time in. While sorting paperwork this morning I discovered that there's a 5x5 women's league at the local community center. Alas, it begins on the same night as the faculty-seniors game. Maybe next year.

Went home after the basketball intro and did housework for most of the afternoon. Divided frozen veggies and frozen berries into containers so I can just toss them in the lunch box in the morning. Went to the office supply store and got binders so I can put some order in my paperwork. I'm going to experiment tonight and make a couple of 6x1+oats omelets to see how far in advance I can make them and leave them in the fridge. My hypothesis is that tonight's omelets should still be safely edible on Wednesday afternoon as long as I store them in airtight containers.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This Blog is Two Years Old

Two years... here's how it began, and here's where I was a year ago. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, lurked, read, commented and linked. Sorry that the 2nd year wasn't as kick-butt as the 1st, but the 3rd year will be.

What does year three hold? Regular blogging and more details about both nutrition and training. This should enthrall some and bore others, but between the move and the new career I stalled this year and I need the accountability so I can stop treading water and move onwards and upwards.

This Shugart article at T-Nation discusses goal snowballs, and how it takes 21 days to entrench a new habit. I'm going to put in 21 days of blogging, starting tomorrow. That will take me from March 18 to April 3, so I'll be blogging right through Passover. I'm also going to get internet installed at home, which I've been procrastinating on forever, which should alleviate this "need" to go to restaurants that have wireless access. The only time I should find myself eating food that came from somewhere other than my kitchen is on ufc nights...

Speaking of food, yesterday's in-service day was uneven: spinach and carrots and tuna and apples and bananas, but also ice cream (dumb) and cola (dumber). In the same article I mentioned above Shugart talks about three types of fitness failures:
1. The all training, no diet person: Usually men. Defined as beasts in the gym and wimps in the kitchen. Twenty-rep breathing squats? No problem! Giving up McNuggets? Too difficult!
2. The all diet, no training person: Usually women. They'll do the strictest of diets but won't pick up a non-pink dumbbell to save their lives.
3. The lifestyle self-saboteur: Anyone who kicks his own ass with self-defeating lifestyle choices.
Me, I'm a combination of #1 and #3. I keep screwing around with my nutrition, even though I know - know - that cleaning up my eating gives incredible ROI. I also make stupid lifestyle choices, like working 12-14 hour days, five days in a row. Well, as the always inspiring Caustic Musings said on the Ides of March:
most of all, no excuses. I’m just going to do it and not dwell on deprivation, tiredness, or busy work hours, because no amount of supportive, feel-good coddling, convoluted rationalizations, and “Aww, it’s all right’s” if I mess up is going to get me to my goal.
What she said.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pushups in Class

No, not the students. Me.

We were a few students short this morning, as a couple of the boys are away for a basketball tournament, so my 2nd period class was mostly female. I'm not sure how the subject came up, but just at the beginning of the class we got onto the subject of pushups, with me saying emphatically that there's no such thing as "girl pushups"; there are only "pushups" and "modified pushups" and I don't care if the person doing them is a girl or not. One of the students decided to show me what she meant by "girl pushups" and the others chimed in, saying that they can't do a single one. Eventually they wanted me to do some, so I took off my shoes, (can't do pushups in pumps), got down on the floor and did four or five, nose to carpet. Thank goodness I wasn't wearing a skirt today. Now all I have to figure out is how to get the non-pushup crowd to do them...

In-service day tomorrow, and when it is done I am going to go home and sleep for 15 hours. Days have been so long this week, and Monday is parent-teacher conferences.

Speaking of basketball, there's a co-ed faculty-seniors basketball game at the end of the month. I intend to play, but not having played since my age was in single digits, I have no idea what I'm doing. So, I've asked one of my colleagues to give me some pointers. We've tentatively agreed to meet on Sunday morning at the gym. Then I can spend mornings between now and the game practicing. I realize that one cannot become a competent player in two weeks, but at least I won't make a complete fool out of myself. Another colleague told me that the two biggest mistakes inexperienced desk-slug teachers make is not paying attention and then either passing the ball to a student by mistake or travelling with the ball, and if I avoid those two I'll be fine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

180 Pullups to 600 Pullups

An article at Wired about future soldiers, with fascinating fitness implications:

Vinh Cao, their squat, barrel-chested lab technician, used to do almost 100 pull-ups every time he worked out. Then one day he cooled himself off between sets with an early prototype. The next round of pull-ups — his 11th — was as strong as his first. Within six weeks, Cao was doing 180 pull-ups a session. Six weeks after that, he went from 180 to more than 600. [...] Muscles don’t wear out because they use up stored sugars, the researchers said. Instead, muscles tire because they get too hot, and sweating is just a backup cooling system for the lattices of blood vessels in the hands and feet.
This didn't really surprise me: I find that washing my hands (including the wrists) in cold water gives a boost of energy during exercise. (Found via Instapundit)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Movie Morning

Went to the 10:30am showing of 300 this morning. Loved it. Will definitely see it again, preferably on a larger screen.

While you're at the movie's web site, click on Making Of, then on Video Journals, and watch #3: Spartan training and #5: Stunt Work. Sweet.

MH has an interview with Butler, MF has a shorter one with Wenham.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sinuses and Bench

The weather turned nice this week and my sinuses went crazy. They started hurting on Thursday, and Friday was not fun, ears popping, sinuses clogged and hurting. Made it through the day on sheer orneriness, I think. Also because I wanted to go to the range after work and if I'd have gone home sick I wouldn't have let myself go to the range. If you're healthy enough for recreation your're healthy enough to work. I'm still rushing, and my shoulders are still too high, but I'm improving as far as keeping both eyes open goes.

Another decent chest session this morning. I did some light benching on Wednesday and some pushups through the week and I think both of them helped. And if they didn't, it was a heck of a placebo effect.

Flat BP
6 x 50 lbs/ 22.8 Kg
6 x 80 lbs/ 36.3 Kg
(5+1) x 100 lbs/ 45.4 Kg Stopped after the 5th, racked, regrouped, did another rep.
6 x 95 lbs/ 43.1 Kg
6 x 85 lbs/ 38.6 Kg
12 x 50 lbs/ 22.8 Kg

I didn't do any cardio intervals; supersetted everything with ab work instead.

Right at the end of my workout, while I was doing my skull crushers, a youngster (15?) came in and started his workout. The kid did super sets of bench presses and chin-ups. And no curls. It was wonderful to see. There is hope for the next generation. :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Silly Personal Trainer

Inspired by one of my fellow teachers, who hits the gym after school almost every day without fail, I headed to Gym Two at the end of my day. Actually, not exactly the end of the day because we had an after-school meeting, but right after the meeting.

Not bad. On the one hand, I get to start the session before things get busy. On the other hand, I ran into Silly Personal Trainer (tm).

I'd finished some easy bench sets and headed to the squat rack. The rack, which had been empty ten minutes earlier, was loaded with a bar, two 45lb plates and two 25lb plates. There was also a lifting belt resting against the rack. Not wanting to disturb anyone's sets, I asked a couple of people if they knew to whom the weight belonged. SPT, who was training her client on the other side, summarily dispatched two of the young guys who work on the gym floor, ordering them to "help" me unload the bar. I experienced a sharp spike of annoyance. I am perfectly capable of asking for help when I need it, and thank god, I do not need help to clear a bar. What a twit. I told the two kids that I didn't need their help, really, I can handle a 45lb plate, but they cleared it anyway, telling me sheepishly that it was nothing personal, but that they had to do what trainer told them to. Arghh. I was this close to going over to her and telling her what I thought of overly helpful trainers, but I was already annoyed and I didn't want to a. interrupt my workout or b. insult her in front of her client. Sexist dingbat. I didn't notice her dispatching the kids to help any guys clear bars that were in their way.

I did some squats, some deads, and finished things off with farmer's walk. I picked up a 25lb db in each hand and walked around the track with them a couple of times. Fried my forearms. I'd forgotten how much I like this exercise. I used to be able to do it with a lot more weight than this, but then again, I never used to do it after deads. As I marched around the track I caught glimpses of the basketball team practicing in the gym below. I wanted to stop and watch, but I didn't know if that was cool with the coach.

Another good thing: I discovered that I have just enough space behind my desk to do push-ups, so I did. :-) I was anticipating some stress in one of my classes today, so in preparation I did some push-ups. If I do a set of ten after every class, that would mean 50 or so per day. As Clint Eastwood said (and Spider Robinison quoted in Lady Slings the Booze, chapter two.) "It do present mind boggling possibilities, don't it?"

I did see UFC68 this past Saturday night, and I did draft a long Musings post about it, but it may have to wait till Friday, I am that swamped.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Gym One and Range

Work ended early on Friday. I stuck around to clear my desk and answer outstanding e-mails for a bit, then drove to the range. It’s been a week since the intro class and my plan to start a weekly practice was in danger of never coming to fruition. I went through two boxes of cartridges (50 per box). I’m not going to do that again as it isn’t cheap, but I had really rushed through the first box. I don’t know why, it wasn’t as if someone was waiting for my spot. It was pretty quiet, although the guy at the desk said Fridays can go either way. The hardest part was keeping my shoulders relaxed, I kept discovering them hunched up somewhere around my ears. The second hardest part was keeping both eyes open. My inclination is to close one eye to get a clear sight picture. To keep both eyes open I have to think about it before each shot. So much room for improvement.

Yesterday was the third Saturday in a row that I’ve had a solid bench session. The flat BP is increasing steadily again, and I’m optimistic about not being a complete embarrassment when I go back to Jerusalem this summer.

Flat BP
6 x 50 lbs/ 22.8 Kg
6 x 75 lbs/ 34 Kg
7 x 95 lbs/ 43.1 Kg
7 x 85 lbs/ 38.6 Kg
7 x 85 lbs/ 38.6 Kg
12 x 50 lbs/ 22.8 Kg

I'm not stressed about Jerusalem yet. What’s stressing me at the moment is the prospect of going to Toronto for a short Passover visit. I do not like big family holiday dinners. The happy-joy quotient is right up there with dentist visits. Now that my weight is no longer the topic of conversation, I’m sure my marital status will be. Not to worry, I’m not going to eat my way through March to compensate, but my blogging may be whinier &/or more sarcastic than usual at times.

Unused Vampire Fangs

Due to Purim I had to come to work in costume on Friday. On Thursday afternoon I went with one of my colleagues to a local costume shop and it was depressing: everything they had for women was either slutty or dowdy. Blech. I reluctantly bought a set of vampire fangs as a last resort, thinking that I would wear black and scrounge a cape from somewhere.

Then I decided that a vampire was the lazy woman’s costume, and that a little more thought was called for. I went to Kmart with two ideas: either I’d buy a sheet and go as a ghost, or I’d get black cardboard, yellow and white paint and a bunch of toy cars and go as the I-435.

Things turned out better than expected. The store had a couple of shelves of hunting gear on clearance at 75% off. Most of it was too big, but I did find a Medium camo hooded fleece jacket, orange safety vest and a cap with the slogan “The Hunt is On”. From the fake flowers aisle I added some plastic greenery that I stuck in my hair and on my shoes, and from the toy department I got a bow and arrows and a little plush animal. Voila; a hunter costume. I even had a biblical connection: Esau, Isaac’s hunter son of Genesis 25:27. Total investment was <$25, and I can wear the fleece jacket and hat anytime. It was by far the most comfy costume I have ever worn. So, anyone want a set of never-used vampire fangs?