Friday, February 26, 2010

A Discipline called Fasting...

[Photos: a fairly normal protein drink that I make (whey protein powder, filtered water, soy milk, ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon), when not fasting a typical lunch (salad: spinach, tuna, onion, garlic, ginger, peppers, ... ).]

Discipline is often not a word that people like to hear; and neither is fasting. It's my experience that both are an important part of a balanced life.

Fasting for me tends to come in seasons: where it will happen regularly and then not for a while. The fasts are usually of different lengths depending on the purposes: purposes range from intensely spiritual to health reasons.

Yesterday was spiritual reasons (which shall remain between me and God) and to remind my body that food is for nourishment - NOT for pleasure. Since I still did my exercise, I allowed a protein drink afterwards to aide in post exercise recovery. I did this after my strength training this morning and then after an 8 mile run during lunch time. I then broke the fast with my family after helping prepare dinner. And then later I was able to ride on the trainer for a quick 37 minutes. So, it was a good day with exercise, but also a good day with not eating and spending more time in prayer and reflection.

Fasting is a big topic and one that I'm not going to try covering here. I mention it though, because it is worth considering it's role in our lives: especially a life of training, or a life of discipline. It's not a 'diet' thing, but rather a discipline that helps in all areas of life. To be able to tell our bodies 'NO' is a key requirement to be able to 'DO' what we often need to do but isn't easy to. If there's interest I can write at a later date on Fasting and more details on it's use in my life.

For now .. take control of your eating: eat for nourishment, fuel your body for what you want it to accomplish. Good fuel, rest, training, ... much is required to accomplish great things. :-)

Monday, February 22, 2010

12 lbs in the last 30 days

[PHOTOS: a typical salad for lunch (spinach, carrot, onion, crasins, bell peppers, spices, mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ...), A close up of the albacore - not pieces, but the kind we get is a whole chunk - it's the best I've found and I buy it exclusively!]

This isn't the Biggest Looser, so for me to loose 12 lbs in 30 days - it's a little faster than I'd like. I have been trying to cut back on my quantity of food as my weight passed over my 'warning' line early this year - or maybe even late last year. (A more healthy weight loss rate would be up to 2 lbs per week - at my weight.)

Now to have 12 lbs and still able to lose another 5 with out much concern - I was caring some extra weight that can't be contributed to 'increased strength' - iow lean body mass. So the weight loss is welcomed and I'm trying to to keep it off and see another 5 lbs go with it.

My normal eating is a protein drink (house drink: soy milk, water, ginger, cayenne pepper, Cinnamon, spinach, protein powder, ground flax seed, almond, and sometimes apple, pear and carrots when I use the VitaMix). Lunches will often be salads with tuna for protein and dinners will be with the family and not always as nutritionally balanced. I usually drink 24 oz of water while doing my weight routine and will drink another 50-70 during the rest of the day.

I've not been getting the intense aerobic exercise that I used to - which is one of the reasons I was putting on the weight: I was eating for a much higher training load. Time and other more important commitments keeps the training down, so the eating has had to come into line. But the flip side of that is that it actually feels good to be hungry at times. As I write this I'm a little hungry, but it's 9:30 and no way am I going to eat anything now. My teeth have been brushed (as a reminder to me that my mouth is closed for the evening) and I'm not planning on eating until after my workout in the morning.

I do get my HR up during my warm up and through some of my more 'circuit' types of routines, but it's not the same as running hard or cycling hard / long. But for now, it's what I can do and I'm making the best of it.

I still haven't done 10 pull ups (9 1/2 last week) so maybe this week ...!

I'm continuing to enjoy the weight workouts, so that's why I'm still doing them and this is week 17 after 7 or 8 months off last year. Even my middle aged body is responding well to the training. Today I did a bench workout that works on strength: doing 6 sets of 6 reps with a 120 second rest; today I did 205. I may have completed this 1 other time in the past 7 years of working out with weights. For me it says what I'm doing is working: still.

The bottom line: if I can do it, so can someone else. It takes some discipline and commitment, but the results are great in how I feel and what I'm able to do. Sunday I was able to go for a run after doing a task for my wife. I wanted to run for an hour, so I ran 8 miles and it took 1:04, roughly an 8:10 pace. I haven't done that for a while - and I've not been training for it. So it was nice to just go run and then see the results when I got home. Part of that can be attributed to the loss of 12 lbs.

My encouragement to you would be to think about where you want to be and start working to that end. It's never to late to make a change in your life.

Exercising: reaching Failure

It's not my normal practice, but having worked out with free weights (by myself usually) for several years now, I do know what it's like to not be able to finish a repetition; to know what it's like to have the weights come slowly back down with muscles screaming in defeat.

This past week was week number 16 of my consistent weight work outs.
- I was able to ride my bike on the trainer twice
- My wife and I ran 3 times (which is our goal) together and worked out once
- Failure on two exercises on Th (245 bench, 45 incline dumbbell)
- Failure on curls on Fri

There continues to be signs of improvement even though there were failures in my routine this past week. Eating has been good. The weight continues to come down - with out a loss of strength; which is always a concern when loosing weight and still trying to increase strength. (As of today, I've lost 12 lbs in the last 30 days. It's a bit faster than I'd like, but I think the stress of life is also a contributor - and one that is often out of my control.)

Snow Shots at home

[Photos: shots out back, shots out front, my snow angel, night shot]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No power for 3 days

Just a short note and photos to follow. We had an amazing snow storm last week. Our power went out Thursday night and was out until Sunday.

Other than some amazing walks with my wife through the crunching snow and some snowball throwing, there wasn't much exercise taking place. It was to wet to run, to cold and dark to do weights and motivation just wasn't very high with all that going on.

Thankfully my wife and I got two of 'our' runs in before the weather hit last week. I also got 4 of my weight workouts in. So, all in all it was a pretty normal week. I told my wife if we can run 3 times a week for three weeks she'll see some good progress - so to that goal we've been aiming. We only got two in last week, but this week we are hoping for 3 - in addition to our weekly Wed morning routine together.

Progress is some times measured by not loosing ground as much as gaining new ground. So, with the recent gains it's been nice to not loose that ground over the last week as my weight has come down. I'm glad to not have lost reps - even if I'm not gaining this week .. there's always next week to get another rep in.

It had been 5 weeks since I've ridden my bike, so last night I rode in the garage on the trainer. I had forgotten how much I sweat - even when it's 39 degrees in the garage. Biking is a good workout. I also rode this evening. There is a 3 state 3 mountain ride on May 1 that I'd like to be ready for, so I'm giving up my personal running time for cycling instead. I'll still run with my wife and do weights. Yesterday it was weights in the morning, a run with my wife at lunch and 45 minutes in the garage on my bike in the evening. I like days like that. It was only 2 hours of exercise total, but doing it over three sessions has additional metabolic benefits.

I am starting to sleep better again - due to stresses and heavy issues that are lessening. Tonight was the first night in a long time that I had a serious sweet tooth and struggled with sweets.

It's getting late and I've still got a date with my wife ... :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Points of progress last week...

[Photos: even a giant handful of spinach can't change the color from the 'beat' contents, annual pine wood derby.]

Last week was 14 since starting back at the weights. Since then I've seen much improvements in strength - and even now after 14 weeks I'm still seeing some little improvement every week or two. (I can see the improvements more easily and accurately because I keep a log. Each day's routines have the numbers from the previous time I did it (usually one week prior).)

Last week included some running again. That was very nice. I ran twice with my wife on a new 2 mile route that initially seemed much longer since it was more out and back compared to the previous route that had loops and repeats. I'm trying to encourage her to bump up to 3 times a week together - it's a hard sell when it's cold or grey or wet or not beautiful out. But, I know where she wants to go and am trying to help her see the big goal - and attain it. (And it draws us together.)

I was also able to do a couple runs by myself: two 5 miles and 8 miles on Sat. The goal has been to run with joy and for fun - and that's been nice. Most of my runs are in the 8:30 range.

The last 7 days saw a weight loss of 7 lbs. This wasn't my intent, but with some heavy burdens comes some stress and anxiousness. For me that ended up being several nights of little sleep as well as a completely sleepless night. And a few missed meals didn't help much - even though I was trying to get some of my house drinks in. I did sleep better last night, but still not where I'd like to be yet.

Eating has been better. I normally eat well, but have a tendency to eat to much and also add some sweets - usually in the form of ice cream or something chocolate. I'm trying to cut back on the foods that I eat that give me pleasure rather than nourishment. The underlying idea there is that eating food for pleasure means I'm not getting it from where it should be coming from. It's probably a deeper thing for me that I can explain here right now. Life continues to be challenging - but God continues to provide Hope, direction and purpose. And more importantly He is giving me an ever increasing unselfish Love.

Today was workout one of week 15. And the every other Monday routine is 6@6. That's 6 sets of 6 reps with 120 seconds of rest in between. Two weeks ago it was completed at 195, so today it was bumped up to 200 - and it was difficult but completed as well. In two weeks it will be 205.

Life continues to be challenging - but God continues to provide Hope, direction and purpose. And more importantly He is giving me an ever increasing unselfish Love.

The two improvements in strength last week were doing pull ups and on the bench press. Tuesday I did 9 pull ups - and I only have two years of history in this log, but I don't see an entry of doing 9 before: so I think it was the first time in about 7 years of doing weight training. Then on Thursday on the pull up ladder, I've been doing a ladder up to 6, but this past Th I added a second rep at 6 before coming back down (1,2,3,4,5,6,6,5,4,3,2,1). I think that also is the first time doing that. That ends up being ~42 pull ups in that routine.

On the heavy bench day - Th, I finally got a second rep on my last set. So, in search of progress and continued improvement, I added another set at 10 lbs more and squeezed out 1 rep and 20 partials. So my heavy day now includes sets at (after warming up with the bar and 135) : 175, 195, 215, 235 and now 245. For this routine I allow 90 seconds of recover between sets and have a limit of 8 reps max (only a factor on the first two sets).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Exercising with my Wife - and my heart

It was nice to work out with my wife again today. Last week she was ill and unable to join me on our 'core and legs' routine.

Today we had some extra fun by taking the camera with us. We both took a few pictures of each other working out. Of course not all pictures taken are to be shared ... but, I'll attach a couple here for fun. More than the photos taken today are now the memories we've shared together. [Photos: one of the roses I recently gave her, both of us doing our high jumping (trying to hit our heads on the ceiling).]

We do the normal warm up routine of stretching and some core exercises then start our circuit. Today it was:
- good mornings
- decline sit ups
- jumping (one leg at a time and then both trying to hit our head on the ceiling)
- squats
- leg raises
- L's
- and lastly calve raises

We did two circuits of this. The only thing that I help my wife with is doing the sit ups - lifting her up and letting her do the negative portion of the exercise. She will help me sometimes to - by hitting me in the stomach when I'm doing mine. The rest of the time we are sharing the same space, talking, being playful, teasing, laughing, admiring, ... enjoying our time together.

I like working out alone most of the time - which is good since that's my norm. It allows me to be more intense and not have any inhibitions with someone else around, but it's still nice to work out with someone else once in a while - especially my weekly routine with my wife. When I get to work out with others it's not just about my training but about interactions, sharing, helping, coaching, encouraging .. all the stuff that happens in my own head for myself now gets to be shared and spoken.

If given the chance to exercise with your spouse - take it. Don't get frustrated that you are at different places, don't be impatient, but rather enjoy the time together. Be silly, vulnerable, show a part of you that your spouse may not get to see very often - open your heart and let down your guard. I can only speak from my own recent experience - it's working for us! :-)

Monday - WO with Chris

Monday I got to workout with C.Mac. He's working nights right now, so he just came to the house on his way home ~5:45.

Monday is more circuit like: short rests, changing from one exercise to another, moderate weights with higher reps. The routine is basically four circuits:
- bench and dips
- decline and dips
- incline and butterflies
- three different triceps exercises
It's a good routine and gets the blood pumping and lungs working. He's bigger than me, so body weight exercises like dips are tough, but that didn't stop him!

After a good workout it was inside for a house drink: "What color do you want?", was the question. He likes purple, so I opted for a 'beat' base. So into the Vita-mix went beat, spinach, almond, flax seed, pear, protein powder, yogurt and soy milk. It's a good nutritious earthy tasting drink that I think helps recovery when taken shortly (with in 30-45 minutes) after a good work out. As it turns out, this one wasn't as good tasting as the "Green" drink I made for him last time (not a complaint, just an observation). I guess that's because this was both a 'Green' and 'Violet' drink - its just that the beat has a stronger color (and flavor) than the spinach. But none the less, he finished his drink before leaving!

Then the next day - he got a call mid-morning, something he's been waiting hoping for .. to be chosen. Congratulations C.Mac!!

Birds Everywhere...

I'm not sure why, but there were about 4 days this past week when our neighborhood was "FULL" of Robins. Going out side in the morning you would hear the birds and see them, everywhere, hundreds and hundreds of them. It was very neat.

I don't recall them collecting in our neighborhood in previous years. They're gone now. I'm not sure where they came from or were heading, but it was very cool to have them for those few days! :-)

To sit out side in the morning when it's quit and so many birds are talking ... it was quite spectacular. A very neat memory.

Trivia: "One Robin can eat as much as 14 feet of earthworms in one day!" -

Blink blink ... 10 Days later

Thankfully my exercise, even at a lower priority than in the past, is still at a higher priority than Blogging has been. So, I'm into week 14 now, with 7 sessions in those 10 days. (Not all at my normal time, but squeezed in at different times.)

Week 13 had no running or cycling, but I did get all 5 weight routines in. On the 25th I was able to do the 6@6 bench routine at 195 (two weeks before it was 185). Next Monday I'll try it at 200 or 205.

On my heavy routine I saw one extra repetition, from 3 to 4 reps @ 225. This week I'll try to get 4 again and that help me to lock in the improvement by having it two weeks in a row. It's not unusual to see a little variation here and there, but if I can keep the improvements from week to week then they usually stick. I look for improvements every 1 - 2 weeks.

Some of the other points of improvements:
  • The pull up ladder is still up to 6.
  • First time of doing 9 pull ups.
  • I did 57 sit ups in 60 seconds.
  • My heavy punching bag is now ripping and will soon have to be replaced.
  • A few other exercises I've bumped the weight up 10 lbs.

All in all - I am still logging improvements in strength.
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