Monday, January 25, 2010

12 Weeks and Still having Progress

The body is truly amazing: how it heals, fights off disease, how stress often causes physical side-effects, how good nutrition impacts it, how lack of sleep impacts it, ... and on and on it would go to list the amazing things in these bodies of ours.

In the span of a life, 12 weeks is a very short time. For me it's about 5 thousandths of 1 percent (0.005%) of my life. What is amazing is how significantly the body can change in such a short time: my body today is significantly different physically from what it was just 12 weeks ago. And that still with not always getting enough rest, living in high stress, making my body deal with nutritional and nutritionally dead foods.

What has been consistent is working out each week with weights: 5 different routines, with three focuses, targeting the same muscles on M-Th and T-Fr but with different types of routines on each day. This has been enough change to keep progress in the routine. Typically the reps aren't changing much, but the weights do. Some of the core and body weight exercises have higher reps as strength increases to keep the load and intensity high: where it needs to be to continue to improve. Recover times change from zero to a maximum of 120 seconds with most being 30 seconds.

How different would your body and life be if you have been putting off some health related goals and decide to make a commitment towards discipline for 5 thousandths of one percent (0.005%) of your life? And what's cool is that things will be different once you get there - things that wouldn't be if you hadn't started.

Some people exercise to look good; some to feel good; some to cover up flaws; some to increase strengths; some because the have to; and some do it because it's part of who they are. Me .. I think it's a part of who I am, part of the genetic make up that God put in me when he breathed the breath of life into me those ever growing number of years ago.

Studies show that people of all ages benefit from strength training. This is a known fact. It's not all about getting big muscles, but rather enjoying life longer. If you started today, by April 15th your body, health, quality of life, sleep, nutrition, ... could be drastically different. I encourage you to take a 12 week challenge - for your lifes sake.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vita-Mix Morning

It's been a while since I've used the Vita-Mix for my morning protein drink, I've just been using a fork to stir with, so it was nice to get to add the 'extra nutritious' stuff today...

The color gives one ingredient away, but the complete list is:
  • beat
  • sweet potato
  • carrot
  • spinach
  • flax seed
  • almond
  • protein powder
  • cinnamon
  • cayenne
  • filtered water
  • soy milk
  • ice
My wife's first reaction was it tastes like 'dirt'. But the second and following sips (of her serving) were earthy and ended with "It actually tastes good". But after hearing her say it tasted like dirt, the kids were not willing to sample the drink this morning. I put a sampler portion in a small container and will see if I can coax a colleague to try it at work this morning while I drink mine to show it can be done?

It's pretty nutritious stuff - very nutritiously dense!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lifetime PR!

I got to run with someone today who on our run accomplished something that they had never done before: how neat is that?!

Now before saying what it is, I think I first want to say "What it is" isn't as important as what was required to accomplish it. We all have mental barriers that challenge our beliefs when we set goals and try to accomplish them. These can be false - and often are, but in our minds they are very real limits. Sometimes we need the help of someone else who doesn't have our barriers to help us. That was the case today.

The success of today was built on recent smaller successes where whittling had started to take place on existing perceived limitations. When we finished I asked if this person would have done it with out my running with them? "NO." I didn't influence the pace up or down, I just planned the route and provided some extra encouragement, motivation, maybe a little different thought process and exposed some barriers as false when they came to the surface.

[I think that is the part of leading, mentoring, teaching, training, fathering, coaching, ... that is so fulfilling - seeing others push back their limitations.]

Today, I ran with my wife. We've run and walked together over the years. Our last run we ran with out stopping over the route - a first. Today we ran a longer route with hills for a total distance that she doesn't think she has ever run before. I think the distance and time isn't as important as accomplishing something for the first time - and now as a Grandma! Go Grandma!! Go Grandma!!!

[Photo: two dogs in the wrong beds, the big one picked the little bed, so the little one went for the big bed.]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

53 Strength workouts in 11 weeks

[Photos: Sunrise, almost empty stadium at my daughters soccer game.]

Over the last 11 weeks I've missed two of my scheduled workouts: both being Friday routines. Four days a week this is the first thing I do (while my family sleeps), but on Friday I have a weekly 6 AM meeting. Just that variation to my schedule will sometimes make it so my 5th routine gets bumped to Sat and twice now has been missed all together.

Improvements for this Week:
This week I saw a six on the pull up ladder - something I've not seen since Nov of 2007. (That means I went from 1 to 6 and then back to 1.) That's a good thing considering my weight is up right now. I also added a 6 @ 6 routine that I'll be doing every other Monday for the next several weeks. I started at 185 this week, but have done 200 in the past and would like to get back there again (hopefully 4 - 6 weeks out). And lastly I did an informal 1 minute sit up test going opposite elbow to opposite knee and did 54. I also added a new 1 rep set of 235 to my heavy bench routine. So, even after 11 weeks there are still improvements and progress.

Intensity and a proper mix of variation and routine seem to be the key. The routine is good for actually doing it regularly, while the variation happens with in the regular with good intensity. The fruit continues to be improvement, with out injury, with out burnout and mostly training alone.

The Value of having a Routine - Schedule - Regime:
Before starting back up 11 weeks ago (11/2) the last entry in my weight training log was 3/18 - just over 43 weeks ago. Even with not strength training for 43 weeks; now after 11 weeks my strength is higher than where it was when I stopped in March. At that time I was cutting back the strength training as my cycling time was increasing in preparation for the 6 Day 600 mile ride this past May. My routine was changing to early morning rides on the trainer. I still remember setting the alarm for 4:43. It was quite a schedule, but it was effective and worked as I was prepared for the ride.

I have found and it is now my practice to put in place a training schedule to help my reach my goals. I will usually work form the goal date and then work backwards planning the time needed in training to (as best as I can guess) accomplish the goal. This works good for running and cycling.

I don't have a set strength goal date, but I do have a few goals: Continue to improve. I'd like to do 10 pull ups and maybe even 20 someday. I've not benched over 260, so maybe 275 would be a neat bench goal.

The only 'Sure' time to Train:
I also need to get my cardio back on a schedule. Lunch is just to much hit and miss. So, as in the past, I will likely subtract it from my alarm time and get it in first thing - part of my regime. That being said, I think I just lost 45 minutes from my morning rest. I'll start with 5 AM and subtract more if needed. That also means getting to bed on time. Such is the routine of a full life.

I'll continue doing the weights first, then drink my home made nutrition drink and then will plan on riding on the trainer. That's easy to say, but we'll see how it goes this week. (Except for Monday which is a holiday.) Tuesday will be the first day on this routine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Six at Six

A few years ago I read about a routine that was supposed to help increase strength. As an athlete my goal isn't size and extra mass, but rather strength. Now there will be some extra mass for the strength, but you can train and target more growth for the same strength or as a runner and cyclist, I'd rather have the strength with out the extra mass.

So the routine I've done in the past (and it's been effective) is six sets of six reps at the same weight with a 2 minute rest after each set. Once you can do all 6 sets with 6 reps then you increase the weight for the next time this exercise is done (every other Monday is my plan right now). If you can't do all 6 reps on a set, then you bump the weight down 10 lbs for the remaining sets. O yeah - this is a routine that I use on the Bench. I did 6 sets with 6 reps with 7 on my last set, so next time I will bump it up 10 lbs to 195 and expect I'll probably be there for a couple times.

The rest of the Monday routine with the weights was much like putting in a good days work. After 10 weeks my body would have adjusted and stopped being challenged if I hadn't been modifying the routine and increasing the weights to keep it challenging. So a couple of the exercises were done with increased weight, some with reps at 3 (not able to do 1 more) and others with reps at 20 (where I could have still done more). The bottom line: To continue to see improvement you have to continue to Work. Even the warm up exercises are getting a bit more challenging as time progresses. I could feel it for the rest of the day: and for me I know that means I've worked myself well.

At lunch I started to ride my bike on the trainer - and did so for 20 minutes until I had a blowout. Bummer. There's little excuse for that other than user error. I use high pressure tires and think I put in a little more pressure than normal on my trainer (still 20 PSI lower than what I run on the road). I also cranked the trainer resistance wheel up to the tire a little tighter than in the past. So, the combination of those two decisions likely caused my flat. I guess it's a good lesson to have at the start of the garage training season.

I'm still kicking around the Body Fat challenge (thanks JH - 'CyclingDude'). It would require me to take my nutrition to the next level - which would be a good thing, but not sure I can right now. I'm considering it. Along those lines I weighed myself this morning and took the water and fat %'s and logged them. We'll see if there ends up being a graph here at some point in the future.

I hope you who read this are having good health (as much as it depends on you) and might even have some plans that are being worked out towards even better health and fitness!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

End of 10 Weeks

[Photos: ice shapes on my car this morning, The first one shows the ice crystals aligning in long strands (one in the shape of a cross), on the windshield, different shapes of ice crystals].

This week marked the end of my 10th week of my emphasis on strength training. Other than my weight being up markedly - I am pleased with my gains back in the areas of strength.

I missed my Friday morning work out this week - as has happened on several occasions. This time it was so my Mom, wife and I could go through my Grandma's room/apartment. I did get out for one 5 mile run and rode my bike on the trainer twice. That's not enough aerobic exercise for me, but it was all I could manage. I've been mostly watching movies while on the trainer but have been adding some intervals at the end.

Time for blogging and exercising is getting bumped due to daily life. With all that is going on I am glad for getting in 4 of my 5 planned weight training sessions. Life continues to be challenging and full.

A friend has a challenge to get his body fat % down to 9. I have not joined that challenge as I don't have any goals that would help me put in that kind of effort in my nutrition and exercise. How about you? (I've been down to 11 or 12% when I was doing a lot of cycling. To see less than 10 would take a lot of discipline.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The end of a life as we know it...

[PHOTOS: Grandma on Christmas Day 2009, a sunrise last week as seen from my front yard.]

Today started differently than normal: a little before 5 AM the phone rang, it was the nurse at the hospital saying that my Grandma wasn't doing so well and that we should come in. Before I was able to leave the house to get my Mom and head up there she had called back ...

It was just Sunday morning when she was taken to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. In less than four days her kidneys stopped functioning, she wasn't able to eat, problems breathing, couldn't communicate very well and other issues. I encouraged my Mom to go home and get some rest in her own bed last night as she had been staying up there since Sunday. So after she left I stayed in the room for a while thinking of Grandma and child hood memories. I also said my good byes and talked to her before I left (even though she was unresponsive - sleeping probably due to her pain medicine). My brother and I prayed independantly for healing or a soon departure - and eight hours later she was gone.

As I think back on the nurses and hospital staff - they were so caring, crying with us and caring for the needs of a 91 year old woman in difficult times - one of the many under their care. They are wonderful caring people who love the sick and needy, doing what most family members would be unwilling to do. It would be understandable for them to be calloused towards the loss of life, but our nurse allowed herself to care.

There's no way to summarize all that my Grandma did, no way to list the things that made her life valuable, so I don't want to try. But, rather, I have many good memories of times with my Grandparents and I Know that my life today is in part a result of my Grandma. She could be hard and stubborn at times - but someone who has lived as long as she has and seen the changes that have happened during her life time: she needs to be given some slack.

I expect the days ahead to have more times of reflection on my Grandma...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Favorite Photos from 2009

It's very difficult to narrow it down and pick just a few photos, but these are some of my most favorite photos taken in 2009.

These photos were all taken by me using my Canon PowerShot A710 IS and have not been modified in any way (other than to be reduced). This camera has proven to be take exceptional photos - especially at the micro distance (as seen in the 'Fly' shot).

If you have a favorite or would like a print, let me know.  :-)

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

From A Life of Training...

Photos from 2009

This past year I published ~ 600 photos in this Blog! Pictures of exercise, food, flowers, the sky, weather, ... Here's a slide show of the first 500.

Week Nine: 5 of 5.

This is the end of week 9 of the training with an emphasis on strengthening (weight training); and this week I got in all 5 workouts with three of them including others: Wes on Tuesday, Tracy on Wed and Mathew on Th. Cool .. !

[Photos: timer - a very key component and tool for my weight training work outs, a clay bike as this was the "Year of Cycling" for me, me heading to the traininer - "What's wrong with this outfit??!"]

Mon: the first training day of my week and is often a bit difficult getting started. It's a low/no rest routine with 4 circuits: light bench and dips, light decline and dips, incline and butterflies, tri-pull down reg/rev. It's one of those routines much like other things that is difficult to start, but once started it can generate its own momentum to help with finishing. So it was this day, once I started I was servant to the timer that I use in my training to help me stay on task and not get to much rest in between sets.

I also made it out for a run in the afternoon for 4.75 miles @ 8:31 avg. My last run before this was 12 days earlier. This was meant to be a fun run - and it was.

Tue: Wes joined me and did my routine, which was fun. Pull ups are always a good work out... especially when I'm packing a few extra pounds - as I am presently. (Sure I'm thicker - and not just in the head, but I'm also not getting enough aerobic exercise to help with the calories I'm eating.) It was a good work out and nice to have that time with Wes.

Wed: this was the 6th week that my wife joined me for the Wed work out. She did two circuits this time which is the most so far (I only do three). Those circuits are composed of (squats, calves, jumping, good mornings, leg raises, L's, decline crunches, planks and kick backs). It's always fun on Wed. This week we took turns hitting each other while the other was doing crunches! :-) (It reminded me of my college days working out with my friend Bryan; only we'd hit each other a little more and a little harder.)

Th: Mathew joined me this morning for my heavy bench routine (it wasn't too heavy for him, but it's my heavy day). It was nice having the spot so we could push out more than I would have been able to when working out alone. I modified the routine from last week to allow a few more reps at the higher weights. This routine has 60-90 seconds of rest between each set to allow for more recovery. It was nice to work out with Mat as we are getting to know each other and it's a good way to know each other better.

I was able to squeeze in a 30 minute ride (8.5 miles) on the trainer in the evening before dinner. (Avg speed 16.9 mph avg cadence 87). That was nice. It was 40 degrees when I started, but I was dripping quite nicely by the end. The last 90 seconds was doing three repeats of 20 seconds hard - 10 seconds recovery. It was a nice time and I wished I had more time to continue. Again, I'm looking forward to adding regular trainer time in to my schedule / routine.

Fr: alone again and with my pull up ladder day, as well as lat pull downs, assorted rows and curls. My arms feel like inflated balloons by the end as they swell up from the work out and my body's effort to begin healing of the damaged cells. Then later this evening we played some basketball out back. It was fun (sorry about the lip Drew).

Summary: it was nice to have three of my five work outs with someone else. Training alone has its benefits (own schedule, own routine, can set the pace) - but working out with someone else also has some benefits too (encouragement, can push harder with a spotter, not being alone). I know I need more aerobic activity in my week and am trying to figure out what and where. Most likely it will be 30 - 45 minutes of cycling during lunch.
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