owie

Note to self: you don’t go 2+ weeks of skipping workouts without it hurting when you get back.  Even if you deload.  So don’t let it happen again.

I let vacation, weather, stress, sprained ankles and general ennui get in the way of working out for a while and missed about 6 workouts.  I remember now why it’s so easy to give up the gym habit… every workout missed just makes the next one seem like it will be so much harder.  I was tempted to let things slide yesterday too, but I realized that it I missed another day, I probably wouldn’t be back for a while.  My reward for getting out of rut? DOMS (not the sexy kind), and the smug sense that I do have some willpower after all.

I’ve decided that I need to add some other activity to my regular exercise program besides just lifting, I just need to decide what and when. The biggest obstacles I have right now are:

  • I despise most cardio for cardio’s sake
  • I love the off days that are imposed on you when you do full body strength-training workouts, and the thought of having to work out on these “rest” days makes me sad, but I’m usually too drained post-lifting to do 30 mins of running or swimming or whatnot.
  • Outdoor activities which are fun enough to interest me (walking, rollerblading, biking), are easy for me to talk myself out of: the weather’s crappy, or if it is nice, maybe I should be doing something else (yardwork, riding the motorcycling, lying in the hammock drinking beer, etc).

I had some luck with swimming on off days, but got mega turned off 3 weeks ago or so when I noticed something unidentifiable floating in the pool — yes, I know the cholrine should have rendered it inert, yes, I know that once it got to the filter intakes it would be sucked away and never seen again.  But it got really close to my FACE. ew.

Anyways, I’ve started to look into the class schedules at the 3 branches of my gym that are within easy reach of work/home and maybe I’ll try Mat Pilates or BodyWorks or something cheesy like that some Thursday.  I’m also considering signing up for a class at the Cassandra school, since their summer session starts up soon-ish, and belly-dancing seems silly enough to keep my attention, and has some intriguingly rumoured benefits about which I have some curiousity.

Any of you guys doing structured, scheduled fitness activities that you find fun?

adventures with big girl weights

Supposedly, writing about fitness goals makes things more motivating, right?  At least that seems to work for the 344Pounds.com guy (who, I’d like to mention, weighs less than me right now… not that I’m bitter)

In that vein, I shall brag: yesterday at the gym, I reached a milestone that (for me) seemed pretty major when I first started.  I’m doing the Strong Lifts 5×5 beginner strength training program, which basically has you do 5 exercises per workout, 5 set of 5 reps each (for most of them).  For the barbell exercises, you start with an empty bar (45lbs), and increase weight with each success.

So, yesterday was the first time that I squatted 135lb total (i.e. the bar + 2 45lb plates). Big girl weights!  And this was my first attempt at that weight too.

Now, I know that squatting less than 150lbs is nothing to be all that proud about, but let me present the following mitigating factors:

  • This was 25 reps (5 sets of 5). Not my 1 rep or 1 set max — I’m curious as to what my 1 rep max would be, but without an experienced spotter, I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable experimenting, even in the power cage.
  • I squat below parallel.  I see a lot of guys at the gym squatting intimidating amounts of weight, wearing those Hulkmania looking belts, and not letting their legs bend at anything less than a 120° angle.  They are cheating.
  • 90 days ago, I could barely bend my left knee.  The physical therapy for that injury is what inspired me to start lifting again.
  • I start my workouts with squats, which means that after this, I did my 4 other exercises (also successfully), and then went for a swim.

So yeah, I’m pretty stoked.  My next big goals (in the order they are likely to be achieved) are:

  • Bench press with the big plates.  If I don’t stall out, I should be there in 14 workouts (I only bench ever other workout, so really 7 more presses).
  • Overhead press without feeling like I’m going to die.  It’s funny how much fun this exercise was when it was just an empty bar (try it… you feel like superman!) But going up 5lbs every time seems to be progressing faster than my body is.  I’ve stalled multiple times on this exercise, which apparently, is pretty normal according to Mehdi.
  • One measly little pullup.  Is that too much to ask? (stupid weak upper body)
  • Squat 1xbody weight for 5×5.  This will be like playing leapfrog with another copy of me on my back

(fun fact: writing the word squat so many times in one blog post has made me giggle.  a lot.)

when worlds collide

I’ve previously mentioned my disdain for employees at my gym. I probably wasn’t being totally fair, because I was basing my opinion entirely on the sales monkey and the extremely sparkly personal trainer that he tried to hook me up with. I’m not kidding, the girl wears glitter blush, eyeshadow, and 2″ hoop earrings while she “trains” people. No thanks.

Truth be told however, the quality of human beings employed at my local LA Fitness can be expressed as various points on a spectrum. Salesnozzle and GlitterGirl make up the low end, the assortment of salesdrones-that-I-don’t-have-to-interact-with, teenagers whose only job seems to be to take my key fob to check me in, and the actual competent looking personal trainers crowd up the middle area in standard normal distribution style, and on the high end of the scale is Nice Dude.

I first noticed Nice Dude around the beginning of March. He’s older than the average employee by at least 15 years, seems to spend most of his time doing check-ins, but on occasion can be seen out on the floor actually fixing something, or at least seeming to be useful. I’ve always just figured he was the evening manager or somesuch. He usually has something nice to say on my way in, and asks how my workout was on my way out. He’s not hitting on me or being creepy like Salesdouche is every time I see him. He just seems to be a genuinely nice dude, which is an accomplishment, considering how much I generally hate the gym and anyone involved with it.

So where this is headed is that last Friday, I head into the gym a little flustered and already running behind my very tight schedule (those cookies weren’t gonna bake themselves, dammit), and Nice Dude decides to try to have a conversation with me. Which is fine, except that he starts it with: “So, what do you do in Building [insert the label of the building where my cubicle resides at HedoCorp]?”

“Um…” <-- this is me trying to remember if I had told them where I worked when I filled out the initial membership forms, and then realizing that I wouldn't have put the specific building on there anyways, and then extra realizing that the name that he used was from before the buildings were named in the aftermath of HedoCorp merging with EvenBiggerCorp a few years back, and then wondering how he has managed this feat of stalking and then realizing that I've been quiet for quite some time and maybe I should say something before finally managing to blurt out “I’m a software engineer”.

At which point there was another long pause before I ask “So, do you work at HedoCorp too?” Which he does, in the building across the street, though evidently he spends some time in my building and has seen me, and probably even said “Hi” and wondered why I never acknowledged the fact that we are acquainted with each other in our shadow lives.

What can I say? Middle-aged white guys must all look the same to me.

hello kitty, hello world.

Happy Easter Monday Internets!

I’m not really going to bother trying to capture how much fun this weekend was in words, but I will just say that I need to have spontaneous bonfire parties more often.

The crud that I was fighting last week has completely thrown off my workout/eating right schedule. I haven’t been to the gym since Friday 3rd, and I’m feeling like crap for it. I plan on fixing that this evening, hopefully I haven’t backtracked too much strength-wise.

Garden-wise, my string of bad luck with small engines seems to have ended (this might have something to do with me understanding what a “choke” is for), and I managed to get both Nerd 2’s chainsaw and Mantis tiller running with a minimum of fuss on Saturday, so a lot of wood got cut up (helpful for the afore-mentioned bonfire), and I’m set to till my major garden plots this coming weekend — my topsoil was still too wet for safe tilling on Saturday.

Finally, a slight break from format, since this isn’t really a music video. But it is awesome and mind-twisting and silly and wrong all at once, so I know you’ll love it (or be horrified, either way, I’ve done my job).

It takes until around 1:30 to really get going…

worrisome

Not the fact that I went to my new gym for the first time.

Nor the fact that I took it a little easy on myself, since it has been a while.

What worries me is that when I got to my car, the couple in the car parked next to mine were quite upset, since, in the 15 minutes that they had been parked, someone had smashed their driver’s side window.

Note to self: park closer to the doors next time.

knowledge is power

One interesting facet of dealing with my knee injury is that my physical therapy appointments basically became a scheduled, mandatory, twice a week workout. Albeit, we might have solely been working on one very specific body part, and the sessions were more than a little light on cardio, but they got me moving, and I might even be willing to admit to leaving the gym feeling just a touch endorphinized.

Since I’ve pretty much plateaued, recovery-wise, and it doesn’t make much sense for me to be dropping $40 in co-pays every week to do exercises that I don’t need supervision for, I’m done with therapy for now. I do still have certain fitness related goals for this year (rollerderby tryouts — I’m looking at you), so it was time for me to start looking into gym memberships.

There’s a small, yet decently equipped, fitness center at HedoCorp, that I’m a member of mainly because it costs me less than $10 per paycheck, and I like the idea of being able to pop in for 30 mins on the treadmill at lunch, but I hardly ever use it. A large part of this probably has to do with my ever growing dislike of spending extra time on campus, but there is also the fact that it is very small, has limited free weights (which are generally pretty popular during my desired exercise times), no squat cage, and of course, lacks a pool.

I used to have a membership at the local YMCA, which didn’t suffer from the shortfalls above but was a little bit too “family-friendly” for my tastes. I don’t appreciate 6 year-olds running wild through the locker rooms when I’m trying to change, and I’d rather not think about the urine-to-water concentration in the pool (especially since adult swim was always scheduled right after some child-splashy-waterslide-fun extravaganza). So, I wasn’t too excited about signing up there either.

LA Fitness, however, has made a huge push into the Twin Cities lately, and has opened up a location that is closeish to work, and really close to my house (closer than the Y even). I’ve always been skeptical about the “fancy” gyms (the Y’s billboards about showering after the workout, not before do kind of resonate with me), but I figured they’d be worth a try since what I’d heard about them was mostly good. But I’d also heard stories about the crappy sales techniques employed by similar gyms and I didn’t feel like having to deal with slimy sales people, or getting ripped off by BS “initiation fees”.

So, I did a little bit of research. A friend of mine had signed up for a “preview” membership before the location closest to us was even open — basically, he signed up early, got access to another location, and got a “special” rate that shouldn’t have been offered to us latecomers. I also looked up LA Fitness on The Consumerist to find some general traps to avoid: never give them your bank account information, don’t sign up for personal training, and NEVER, EVER, accept the first rate they give you.

It was armed with this information that I finally worked up the motivation to walk into LA Fitness and get pitched to. The salesdrone that I was assigned to give them the impression that he was working there because dealing in used cars was too complicated. As soon as we shook hands, all he cared about was knowing what other gyms I had looked at and what rates I had been quoted. The tour he eventually took me on was painfully scripted, and even my engineer mind could see through the lame sales tricks that he was half-heartedly trying to use on me. A large part of me wanted to cut the tour short and just tell him “listen, I’m interested in signing up and giving you your commision, so why don’t we sit down and talk business and forget this bullshit”.

When it time down to finally talk about money, the opening line was “what do you think it would take to get you to sign up today?” — I will admit to kind of wanting to punch him right then, but because he was so easy to see through, I figured I’d play along. When I lowballed him ridiculously ($20/mo and no initiation fee), he got all flustered and just showed me the regular rates:

  1. Regular package: $50/month + $150 init
  2. Premium package: $40/month + $250 init

zOMG the premium package totally pays for itself after LESS THAN A YEAR! Such a good deal! Not.

What he didn’t know is that I knew that my buddy was paying $35/month, and I wasn’t willing to pay more than that. So I hemmed and hawed and he lowered the initiation fee on the “premium” package to $99 ($150 saved just be keeping my mouth shut!), and I countered with my demand for $35/month. At which point, he had “to go talk to his manager” — seriously, I thought that that only happened on used car lots…in the movies. Of course, his “manager” was perfectly fine with only charging me what the services are worth anyways, so having gotten mostly what I wanted (I would have preferred to not pay an initiation fee at all, but I’ll consider that $100 to be my “I hate to haggle and I didn’t want to deal with this salesdouche anymore fee”), I signed up. And, in the process of me trying to help salesmonkey figure out his own software, I happened to see the screen where lo-and-behold, the special “just for me” rate package was listed amongst their standard options (as were the more expensive plans for the less assertive suckers).

The moral of the story? If you hate to haggle as much as I do, go into the bargaining situation knowing as much as you can about what other people’s deals, and have a firm understanding of what you will or will not accept. This is stuff I knew in theory, of course, but it was actually kind of fun to put it into practice. Could I have gotten a better deal? Probably, but this is a price that I’m willing to pay, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it).

And I might even go work out tonight — as long as I don’t have to deal with any of the actual employees.

a triumphant return?

I went to the gym today. It’s been a long time.

True, I only went back to do some exercises that my chiro has been nagging me about. And maybe I wouldn’t even have made it there if I hadn’t already been warmed up by a half-hour of dodgeball (don’t ask). But I went. And I liked it.

Exercise and me have never really been friends. It’s inconvenient, it takes up time that I could be reading or knitting or cooking. It’s insanely boring, I usually feel like my brain is dying through the whole workout, even if I am listening to a fascinating podcast. So it’s easy for me to skip a day. And after that, another, and eventually the thought of have to drop my training weights since it’s been so long is demoralizing enough to keep me home. And, to be honest, the effects of falling off of the wagon don’t really hit until it’s far too late. But one day, those stairs – I don’t want to climb them, or shopping gets to tiring, or I’d rather drive the mile to Subway than walk. And then the guilt starts.

I don’t think I need to talk about the guilt that comes from doing nothing to augment my sedentary life, if I do, I’ll probably just get defensive (it’s not my fault that my job uses my brain not my body, etc). It seems that we’re in a screwed up point in evolution. Our bodies need more work than we need to give them in order to survive.

I’m hoping that the feeling of the weights testing my muscles this is enough to get me back, just for a little while. I’ve never been a huge fan of cardio, so I think I’ll avoid it this time (besides what I need to get warmed up) – why make something you dislike even worse. I’ll consult my some of my favorite sites, sure, they’re flawed, but if you use your brain a little, you can try to pick out the kernels of truth underneath all the hype. And I’ll start slow. But I will start again.

(for a little while)

drink up me hearties

I hate going so long without posting, because it feels like I have too much to say and everything comes out jumbled and I miss the important points and it’s boring for you all to read anyways so I’m going to try to hit on a handful of quick points about the last few days.

Saw Pirates 3 on Thursday with Nerd 2. I had wanted to avoid the opening night insanity, but it was his birthday and he was unbelievably excited about it (he even turned down dinner at Origami). It was pretty much what I expected: zany, over-the-top, convoluted plot, characters that are really more like caricatures, etc. Good fun for sure, though I’d like to see 2 and 3 again on DVD so that I can understand what the heck really went on.

Friday, I headed out to Costco to buy supplies for camping at Interstate Park for the weekend. I was in charge of meat, and I think I did a pretty good job. Interstate Park is kind of funny to me, as I’ve driven past it dozens of times (Nerd 2’s grandparents live about 30 minutes north of there), but I’d never stepped foot inside. We had one of the group camp-sites which was great, because not only was there lots of room (we easily could have fit another 3-4 tents), we were isolated enough from the nearest sites that we could make as much noise as we wanted (as evidenced by the 2am KDWB dance party on Saturday night).

Gear-wise, this was my first time trying out my fancy new thermarest and pack. Even though we were car-camping, I did my best to fit all of the “essentials” in the pack, so that I could prove to myself that I could probably handle carrying everything I need on my back. The major things that didn’t go in were: sleeping bag (it’s place was taken by my massive beach towel), tent (there was no way that my 9′x7′ 6 pole 4 person tent was going to fit in the pack so I didn’t even try…I’m still in the market for a packable tent…I’ll probably check out REI’s scratch and dent sale for one), and food (really haven’t figured out how I’ll handle this yet). All in all, I’m pretty happy with it. Also, the thermarest proved that it was worth all of the angst that it caused me previously.

This week promises all sorts of new levels of crazy, mainly due to the fact that my house is in no way ready for a party on Saturday. It doesn’t help that I’ve got plans just about every evening this week, and Super Paper Mario is proving to be a tad bit addictive. At least I have Friday off.

eighty

Is the number of degrees Fahrenheit over the melting point of an equal mixture of salt and water that the air temperature was as I pulled into my driveway yesterday evening. Heaven.

Went for another microride yesterday (to Target and back, with a little bit of an extra loop thrown in) and clocked another 5 miles…w00t. I saw a lot of new faces on the paths, which was nice (lots of people my age, few kids), though a lot of them were walking extremely small dogs, which was not nice (I’m hoping that many of them were puppies, and that Blaine isn’t being overrun by purse-dogs). I’ve decided to try for the 1000 mile goal this summer. As a reward to myself if I make it, I’ll be buying a new bike next spring – still not sure if I want a “real” mountain bike or a road bike, but I’ve got 987 miles to figure out which kind of riding I like best.

Actually, I’m being somewhat disingenuous, since the I know what type of riding I like to do most – it’s riding that involves booze. Which is why I’ve been keeping an eye on the MNBeer postings about the Pedal Pub coming to Minneapolis. Yes, it is what it looks like – a conference bike with a beer tap. They are having a launch party this Saturday by the Stone Arch Bridge with food and free rides etc, I think it will be a lot of fun and will probably check it out.

While on the subject of beer related events, Bell’s summer brew Oberon is hitting stores and bars this week. I believe the Happy Gnome is having a tapping party tonight (I won’t be going, but if you’re around that corner of St. Paul and haven’t tried Oberon yet, I suggest you stop by).

productivity

Things that I achieved this weekend (in no particular order):

  • Found a new favorite IPA, imbibed same while swinging on my hammock at 16:00 on a Friday.
  • Ate venison burgers cooked on my grill
  • Napped
  • Finished The Chamber of Secrets
  • Took care of shit
  • Installed a new theme on the site (what do you guys think? let me know about any broken links, etc)
  • Discovered that it’s not a fluke, I really do like porters a lot.
  • Found a new favorite pizza delivery place
  • Chose a colour for my bedroom walls (Behr 790E-3: Porpoise), became distraught when I realized that the combination of my wine coloured sheets and yellowish incandescent lighting turns my beautiful bluish-grey into a distinct shade of lavender. Resolved to replace lightbulbs and/or maybe run crying to the Home Depot paint desk for suggestions.
  • Took Nerd2 on a bike ride to the dam and back. I might just have a riding partner for the summer which is promising. I think that a stretch goal of 1000 miles this summer may actually be achievable (only 992 miles left to go!).
  • Booked an appointment to get the first estimate for replacement windows tonight. I’m finally in a place where I feel financially comfortable investing a fair amount into the house, and I’m kind of excited at the prospect of having actual professionals come in and do work.
  • Filled a 42 gallon contractor cleanup bag with trash from my room.
  • Did I mention the naps?

Needless to say, it’s amazing what a few days of high 60’s and sunshine can do for a girl. I hope you all had excellent weekends as well!