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.

monday, monday, monday

Weekends are supposed to be restful, right?

Recipe Report
I tried out the Smitten Kitchen’s Icebox Cupcake recipe (though, I made it an Icebox Cake in an 8×8 pan). This is one of those recipes that should be stupid easy — storebought chocolate wafers, layered with whipped cream. Except that it’s impossible to find the wafers that you need in any normal store, so you have to make them from scratch. Which takes this recipe from being a quick assemble/chill overnight type deal, to being a 48 hour mix, chill, slice, bake, cool, whip, assemble, chill, eat ordeal. And the results were somewhat disappointing for all that effort (though, the leftovers seem to get better every day).

In conclusion, I probably won’t make this cake again, but, the wafer cookies _are_ really yummy, and I can see all kinds of applications for them, so I’ll keep this one around.

Beer Bulletin
I brewed up a batch of Scottish 80 a few weeks back, which I really should have bottled yesterday, but my own stupidity meant that I needed to drive to St. Paul and pick up my cell phone, which meant that a.) I felt I had an excuse to not undertake a messy and annoying procedure, and b.) I was near Northern Brewer, so I might as well pick up ingredients for my next batch.

I purchased the XX Ale “kit” (they were out of kits, but one of the NB boys was nice enough to run around the store and put together the ingredients for me). It’s an Old Ale, which according to the BJCP style guidelines should be “An ale of significant alcoholic strength, bigger than strong bitters and brown porters, though usually not as strong or rich as barleywine. Usually tilted toward a sweeter, maltier balance.” Sounds yummy. And the ingredient bill includes a pound of honest to goodness treacle, which is very exciting! And yes, I do realize that I’m brewing a winter beer to be ready in July.

Continuing in my tradition of buying one beer gadget with every batch I brew, I also picked up a bottle tree…which should make the bottling that I do have to do this week that much less annoying (though probably still messy).

does may 8th at midnight sound good to you?

It’s always fun when you realize that someone in your circle of friends who, on the surface, seems relatively normal and merely nerd tolerant is actually one of the nerdiest nerds who ever did nerd. My opinion of yet another one of Nerd 2’s army friends (which, was already pretty high) got raised astronomically when I realized that that boy might be more into Star Trek: The Next Generation now, than I was when I was in junior high. I wasn’t even sure that was possible.

Anyways, the genesis of this particular discovery was de.lobi.us introducing the two of us to the wonders of The Jandrew Edits. There are people in this world with far more time on their hands than I, and some of those people use this super power to do good. Great good. We laughed, we cried, we felt somewhat uncomfortable, and Jesse completely ruined his reputation.

While Jan and Andrew truly hit their stride at Episode 9: A Fistful of Explosions, I’m going to start you folks off with Episode 1, wherein we are introduced to Data’s chagrin at being interrupted whilst Twittering on his Kindle (this is made even funnier if you’ve spent any time at all following @brentspiner).

Seriously. No episode is longer than 2 minutes. Stop denying your inner trekkie and watch them now.

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…

totally worth it

It’s possible that going to see a 3-act 9pm show on a Tuesday when I’m sick is the dumbest thing I’ve done all year. But I don’t regret it a bit.

I think it was sometime around the chorus of Showtime (see below), when I was one row of bodies away from the stage and singing along like a maniac who hasn’t been fighting laryngitis all week that I realized that Electric Six maybe is my favourite band that is touring right now.

It didn’t hurt at all that Dick Valentine was mostly sober for the whole show either.

(and put a little mustard on it)