Jul. 6th, 2008 08:23 pm
kitchen_kink: (love)
Today has been a very good day.

I woke up slowly after a good party, and [livejournal.com profile] imlad made breakfast. I polished and hung up the spice-rackish thing I trash-picked last week, and it looks beautiful and holds all our spices. We finally took Guernica off the kitchen wall, where it was frankly being a bit of a drag, and hung a picture of a squash blossom there instead.

I turned on the oven and nearly smoked us all to death, but in the end I had seared chicken and ribs, which I then put in the crockpot and stewed for many hours with homemade barbecue sauce.

I went to the gym.

I wrote a bunch of work emails and took a bunch of work phone calls.

I hung pictures of me and [livejournal.com profile] imlad around the mirror in our room; I hung more pictures of our loved ones in our hallway. I made a big pot of collard greens and kale with a fat hamhock.

I cleaned off my night table, fachrissakes.

Just finished dinner, and will watch a movie with my sweetie while drinking wine and maybe having ice cream.

Sometimes, the simplest days are the best. (Oh and also: now there's an air conditioner in our living room. Score.)
kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
+ Woke up at 9:30, naturally, and did the light thing.
+ Ran or jogged (went from 4 mph up to 6 and down again) for two full miles, for the first time that I know of.

kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
Hey friends list,

So say I wanted to continue running outside for a while, maybe even when it's really cold out. (I might have caught this crazy running bug.)

1. What sorts of things will I want to wear, keeping also in mind that I am more likely to have the exercise-induced asthma response when it's cold (are there running-muffler type things??)

2. Where should I get such things to ensure high quality without smashing my wallet into a million pieces?
kitchen_kink: (Default)
I just got back from the gym, which I rode a bike to and from, in the rain, and while there, jogged for 20 minutes, or over a mile and a half, without stopping to walk.

This is unheard of in my previous experience. But after running nearly 10 minutes in a row the other day, I did my five-minute warmup today and then, after five minutes, figured, "why not ten?" And after ten, why not fifteen? Then all of a sudden, I'd run the whole thing.

What makes me furious is that for all the required gym classes I suffered through in school, nobody ever taught me *how* to run, or how to enjoy it. We were simply required to do it and not ask questions. From the time I was small and had to do the 600 yard dash, I recall being unable to do it. I'd run my little heart out, but after a quite short time, I'd have to stop, panting and wheezing. I'd walk for a little while, feeling the stitch in my side, my tongue swelling, the taste of iron in my mouth. But no matter how long I walked I couldn't regain the ability to run again, and when I reached the end of the course I would collapse and need to catch my breath for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, at home, my older cousin would challenge me to foot races, giving me a ten second head start and still creaming me easily.

By high school I'd pretty much decided that I am One Who Runs Only When Chased, and, as in all other affairs of gym class, wore my athletic ineptitude as a badge of pride. (It got me teased slightly less than if I actually tried to do well.) At some point in our junior year, we were forced to run a mile. We trained for it for several weeks, basically by getting out there every day and running as far as we could.

Naturally, I hit up against the same wall: as far as I could was less than five minutes, and then I'd hit what I now know is an exercise-induced asthma attack and would be able to go no further. In the end I said fuck the gym teachers and walked the goddamn mile.

Did these so-called teachers ever think to show the weaker runners how to interval-train? How to use proper form so that you're using your whole body to propel yourself forward, not just your legs? How to prevent injury? Of course not. It was just, "Get the lead out!" and other such wonderfully creative tools of humiliation. Which at that point was as good as dooming my grade, because I responded to humiliation with anger and spite and refusal to do anything, not with trying harder.

A few months ago, all I had to do was go to coolrunning.com and get the "couch-to-5k" running plan. At first running a minute at a time was difficult.

Today I ran my mile at last. And then some. Fuck you, public school gym class.
kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
Say for the sake of argument that you lived outside Teele Square, off Broadway, near 16 and the Arlington border.

1. What's the nearest park-like thing in walking distance?

2. Where's a good place that's bikeable-to for running on grass or other non-asphalt turf?
kitchen_kink: (male)
So, fitness geeks:

I just finished my second week of working each major muscle group to failure once a week. Still need a lot of protein, still sleeping a lot, and while it could be the weather, I think it may be affecting my depression (that is, exacerbating it) as well. But we'll see how it goes.

One thing I'm wondering about, though:

So I weighed myself one day before I went to lift. For fun, when I was done lifting, I weighed myself again, to find that I was about a pound and a half heavier than when I started. The next time I tried it: two and a half pounds.

When I mentioned this to someone, they suggested that it was the water I was drinking. Okay, maybe. But today, I drink maybe 2/3 of a pint bottle of water, and after working out, I was still a pound heavier.

What's the deal?
kitchen_kink: (papapapaya)
Around February 2004, I started working out in what I can safely say is the most consistent way I ever have; that is, since then, I don't think I've ever gone more than two weeks without hitting the gym at least once. I've been pretty durned steady-as-she-goes the past few weeks, lifting twice a week, doing cardio three or four times, and usually a yoga class. I feel like I've reached a plateau, though, and for some reason, I also have been gaining weight (this may be due to a change in birth control scripts: Seasonale, while it is in every other way my friend, may have caused a bit of weight gain).

[livejournal.com profile] sensesurfer asked me recently if I ever thought about just getting all buffed out. Of course I do, but I told him that I'd decided I'm not capable of it. He kindly informed me that that was nonsense, and I needed to be working to failure - each body part only once a week. (And maybe take Creatine, too, but I'm suspicious of powdery muscle supplements. Anyone have any experience with this stuff?)


So I decided to give it a shot. Tuesday I worked my chest and shoulders until they could be worked no more, and did some abs. Yesterday, I hit my legs the way I haven't since my earliest days of weightlifting (actually did calf raises, hip adductors and abductors, and three different kinds of leg presses - I don't do the quad lifts or leg curls, they feel weird on the backs of my knees), and today I wailed on my back and biceps.

Result? Well for one - DAMN I'm sore! I'm like Sorey McSoreypants here. I realize how long it's been since I did high weight, low reps, and I've never done it where I don't let myself do more than eight reps per set - that is, where I lift enough weight that doing more than eight is physically impossible.

I injured my left shoulder over two years ago, and sometime last year realized I had slightly injured the right one in overcompensating for the left. But they haven't been bothering me at all lately, and I've been doing low weight, high reps on chest presses, shoulder presses and pull-ups for months. So I'm going for it, with warm-up stretches for the shoulders, and very-low-weight rotator-cuff exercises once a week before my other shoulder stuff. The stuff that hurts right now seems definitely to be sore muscle (good pain), not pulled muscle or messed-up tendons (bad pain!), but I suppose as I rest over the weekend I'll get to know for sure.

Besides this, I also seem to be becoming some kind of protein monkey. After working out yesterday, I had two pieces of turkey and a piece of cheese, followed by a banana with a bunch of almond butter. In about an hour I was hungry again - for meat. I had been planning on cooking eggplant; that plan was totally fucked. I wanted sushi. After billions of sushi I desired ice cream - not the delicious sorbet that [livejournal.com profile] novalis made which is living in our freezer, but ice CREAM with fucking MILK and fucking FAT and PROTEIN. And sugar, yes, but that was fairly incidental at this point.

Meanwhile, last night I finally seem to have caught up on sleep/rest from the events of the weekend, and woke without difficulty around 7:30.

This morning I had an omelet with lots of cheese in it, and while I ate the potatoes that came with it, they weren't all that interesting. My zucchini muffin, which was tasty, I didn't even finish. Those of you who know my breakfast habits will know how weird this is. Me, not finish a sweet breakfast carbohydratey thing? The people near me were having waffles, and they just looked, I don't know...ick.

And then there was my food shopping trip. First I picked out some nice veggies and not too much fruit. I thought about cutting the veggies into bits and putting them in the fridge for quick snacking. (?!) Then I skipped the cracker aisle, not even stopping to buy rice cakes, which were my staff of life during the elimination diet. Instead I got two pounds of halibut steak (on sale!), a pound of beef sirloin tips, a 32-oz thing of yogurt, a pound of cottage cheese, a small wheel of provolone, a block of dill havarti, two packs of smoked turkey breast, a pack of turkey bologna, a pack of sliced swiss cheese, and a dozen eggs.

What. The fuck. Is wrong with me.

I hope it stays wrong. I feel great.

Hm. My body wants MORE protein, MORE! What will happen? Will I purchase an overpriced salad with meat and cheese all over it? Will I search the local groceries in vain for unsweetened yogurt? Will I have to eat one of my fellow Diesel denizens?

Stay tuned, for the further adventures of PROTEIN MONKEY!!!
kitchen_kink: (spiritual)
After a couple of months training in Krav Maga, I finally got in early enough yesterday to have the instructor show me how to wrap my hands. I almost always hurt my wrists in this class; punching and taking hits while holding pads jars them terribly, and they're rather delicate given the size of my hands.

I wrapped them up in red bandages, the sweet stink of use rising from them. Krav requires that you always keep your hands near your face; the smell is like nothing I can describe: rotting lettuce soaked in sweat? Rancid sweet butter? I began warmups with the group, all male today except for me. I felt the warmups, and the drills, getting easier with time and increased fitness. It's a thrill to feel my body respond.

We partnered up and practiced front kick to the groin, then a combination: front kick, straight punch, elbow, knee.

Holding the pad to my body I took the knees from a man about my size. He grabbed me by one shoulder and one trapezius muscle, yanking me down hard to knee me in the stomach. I'm a little taller than he is, and have the advantage of leverage. Bending me over that far is tricky for him, but the knees hit their target, and even with the pads, I felt it penetrate my gut.

The first night I tried this, I felt exhilarated afterwards, powerful and free, pumped with endorphins. I felt like nobody better mess with me. I felt like whatever else happened, if it came to it I could lay the smackdown.

In this class, for some reason, somewhere in the middle of drills I felt on the edge of tears. It felt as if the knees in the stomach had hit some emotional centers, opening me up in ways I didn't want to be in this circumstance. All at once I didn't want to hit as hard, didn't want to continue the drills, didn't feel the thrill that I usually get, and in fact, felt that doing so and feeling so was somehow wrong.

I kept on, resisting my impulse to step outside the class for a few minutes and either calm down or give vent to my feelings. As I continued, the feeling faded somewhat, but thoughts raced in my head until the end of class.

In this class I feel rage. I feel power. I feel power directed at me, and I take it. And over and over again, I think about what I would do if someone attacked me this way, that way, another way. How do I throw someone off-balance so that I can control their movement? How do I get out of a choke hold? What do I do if someone comes at me with a knife?

How do I stop this person as quickly as possible? How do I hurt them? How do I kill them if I have to?

I had a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] pir back in December about Krav versus Aikido, which he takes. He's a big man, for those of you who don't know him: about six foot four and fairly solid muscle. I told him that I liked Krav because it made me feel that I could defend myself, that if someone attacked me I could actually hurt them and stop them. He told me that he hardly remembered a time in his life when he couldn't hurt, or even kill, someone. He takes Aikido because it teaches him how to stop somebody from hurting you while doing minimal damage to them. I take Krav because I need to learn the power in my hands first.

But I'm passing through a critical point.

This is the point at which I have learned two things, and those two things scare me and keep me on edge. One is the knowledge that I have this violence inside of me, that it is possible for me to exercise and channel my rage in order to hurt or kill someone. This is frightening, as I have pretty much always considered myself a pacifist. At the same time, it's empowering: I think of the bullies from my school days and what might have been different if I'd been able to fight them. Not that they ordinarily threatened me physically. But that power in my body might have given me just enough confidence to keep from being tortured.

The second thing is that practicing this form, which focuses almost exclusively on fighting and real-life situations, keeps the knowledge of people who want to hurt me ever at the front of my mind. The world becomes a place where muggers and rapists and murderers are around every corner, and where I am slowly being prepared to face them.

I wonder about the effects, on me and on the world, of this lethality building within me, and of a worldview informed by danger. I believe that the way we approach the world shapes the world, and I enjoy approaching the world in a somewhat trusting, open fashion. I'm careful, especially at night, but I try to inhabit my world with good thoughts and goodwill - to assume the best of people rather than the worst. Now, when I walk, I often look at people in terms how how likely they are to be a threat to me; think of what I would do if someone attacked me. I go through the motions in my head of kicking, punching, kneeing. Exploding into action as soon as I'm threatened, as Krav teaches. My fondest hope is that just the fact of my fighting back would be enough to scare most attackers away.

In this inbetween space of learning, on the path of the student, I am both incredibly frightened by thinking about such things, and uncertain as to whether I am yet trained enough to survive should I meet it today. Taking self-defense makes me hyper-aware of dangers that ordinarily, I don't want to think about, because I don't know what I would do if I met them. Not taking self-defense classes, in some sense, is like not going to the doctor. Something could be wrong, but because you don't get checked out, not only aren't you aware of it, you don't ever have to think about it.

Until it comes out of nowhere and kills you.

So I continue. Because I want to know how to face it if I meet it. But right around now, I'm thinking about forms I can take that aren't quite so rage-fuelled and violent. Krav Maga is the fastest fighting form to learn and the one that most effectively uses your natural instincts and body movements. But once I gain a certain proficiency, I might switch to something that has more art to it, something with a more philosophical base.

I know that this feeling won't last forever; that I'm in a passage between an essentially defenseless self and a powerful self. That passage is painful, like any kind of growing. Thinking about those who might wish to hurt me is scary; thinking about myself emerging as a worthy opponent is perhaps scarier. But I think of Asian masters of martial arts who are calm and centered in their approach to the world, and whose philosophy demands that they never hurt another soul.

Unless they have to.
kitchen_kink: (intrepid)
Yesterday at the gym, I had a bit of a revelation.

I was once told that the difference between an intermediate and advanced weightlifter is not time, but a great deal more common sense. Six months is supposed to be when someone working consistently is no longer a beginner, and I'd say that's true for me at this point. But I'll admit that I've been victim to what I'll call "raarism," the visceral need to Lift As Much As Possible, regardless of how many times you can lift it, or how well you can maintain form. This sort of thing, as the more astute of you may have noticed, leads to injury and doesn't even build muscle all that well, except at first, when you see your first big improvement.

I've been improving steadily on squats, in terms of going up in reps. I'm still only squatting the bar, or the bar + 10, but I'm obsessive about my form and I listen to what Krista says. I don't want to hurt my knees or my back, after all. But I'd been wondering why I can't seem to get beyond 100 lbs of assistance on the Gravitron, or 95 lbs on the bench press - even when going dutifully twice a week.

I was on the bench yesterday, struggling a bit with that weight, since I had done William's Patented Ass-Kicking Male-Centric Yoga the night before, and had just figured out how to hold low plank position (woo-hoo!). The shoulders, back and chest were a bit tired.

Suddenly, above my head and to the left, a vision appeared, and said unto me, "Want a spot?" Its gender was indeterminate at this angle, but my first impressions were, in order: Black, buff, older (gray hair cut close to head), wearing red Bally shirt so likely personal trainer and not random gym person trying to hit on me, female. Letting these impressions wash over me for a moment, then taking another to judge how pathetic I must have looked on the bench, I accepted the proffered assistance.

Man, what this woman taught me in fifteen minutes. Turns out my right shoulder is weakened, and when I'm benching, the right side is significantly down. I'm lifting too much weight. I told her about my left shoulder injury of some time ago, and she said it made sense: my right shoulder's been taking up the slack all of this time, and now it's overtaxed. And here I've been babying my left shoulder!

She told me that I should do some kind of shoulder presses, with light weight, before touching the bench. That in between sets at the bench (when I return to it), I should do one-handed shoulder presses, just with my right arm. That before any of that, I should do some stabilizing exercises using a Swiss ball, or an elastic, or the wall, or a light dumbell - all of which she showed me. And that until I feel some improvement in strength, I shouldn't be doing pull-ups or dips, and I shouldn't have a bar above me that I could drop on myself.

It humbled me, and yet helped me. I've stepped up my workout of late and have been doing more yoga, plus weights thrice a week. I'd been aiming for speedy building and strength, and so didn't have a lot of patience with low weight/high reps. (Krista doesn't have much patience with it either, but I was overdoing it.)

After Donna, as this angel was called, finished helping me, she introduced herself. Did I mention she was a tall, square-shoulders, very buff, older, ebony-skinned probably-dyke that I was just smitten with? Oh, to have those biceps! And at the end of it, she didn't even make the slightest attempt to sell me personal training. As she was stacking away some equipment, I said, rather guiltily, "I haven't really been able to afford a personal trainer." She said, "Have you gotten the one free session you get when you join?" I told her I had, ages ago, at another club. "Well then," she said, "maybe we can just sneak you in sometime. Nobody has to know."

I'm going to have to spend a bit more time to do my workouts properly and stop overtraining, but I feel good about the whole experience. It's nice when someone really does their job. It's even nicer when they're wicked hot.
kitchen_kink: (Curious)
I learned today that drinking three cups of coffee before weightlifting is not a good idea. Having my heart rate shoot to 120 or so just from doing a couple of squats is, well, kinda scary. Also, sweating. Eiyich.

Question for weightlifting folks again, especially women: What do you think of those hip adductor/abductor machines? Probably my least favorite bits of myself are strengthened and toned by doing them, but I'm also doing wide-stance squats and sumo deadlifts, which seem to hit every part of the leg, and yoga, which often hits the difficult bits. Those two exercises seem sort of ineffectual and make my lower-body days take even more time.

Are these exercises necessary, or useful? By not doing them, am I creating an imbalance in my leg and hip strength?
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Me (hoisting myself to standing from the couch): Oof. My abs hurt.

Michael Stipe (singing with R.E.M. on Radio Paradise): A six-pack'll make you crazy...
kitchen_kink: (concerned)
Okay, so per [livejournal.com profile] moominmolly's advice, I've stepped down my weightlifting slightly. I'm now lifting 3 days a week, not four, and exercising each major muscle group only once a week. I'm also doing cardio three times a week and yoga once.

I no longer feel like a vacuum cleaner of food; I seem to be eating things in proper proportion, and have upped my protein intake as well as trying to get green leafys daily.

Here's the rub: llllleeeeeettthhhhhaaaaarrrrrrgggggyyyyyy.

Typically, I wake up early when my bed-partner does, and I feel utterly unable to move, still basically caught in sleep. I can set my own schedule however I want, I rationalize in my head, and so I go back to sleep. I try to get up by 9, but this week it's been more like 9:30, 10, and this morning, 10:20. This is with going to sleep anywhere from midnight to 1:30 or so, and averaging 9 hours a night.

This amount of sleep seems excessive to me, though I note that I used to thrive when sleeping from 2 am to 10 am in college. It seemed the perfect clock to me. However, these days (i.e., since I started lifting), I begin to feel tired around 11, if not earlier - but I still wake up tired and want to sleep late.

Once I get up, I still stumble around for a while, feeling a combination of lethargy and guilt. I eat, and feel somewhat better, though still not perfect. I bumble about on the computer for a bit, then go to the gym, which I enjoy and which I'm usually able to do with good form and enjoyable sweating. I go home, shower, have lunch, and work. I'm generally unfocused until around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, when I generally experience a rush of productivity until about 7. If I have a free night, I can go until late at night. If not, I have to stop and go do whatever social thing I've lined up.

So. Factors:

Started weightlifting six weeks ago.
Started new birth control pill three months ago.
Stopped caffeine a week and a half ago.
I've had trouble waking for my entire life, and have at times been known to sleep long hours, but mostly my late rising has gone along with late retiring.
The lethargy is always the worst in late winter and the hottest part of the summer.

Yes, I'm going to see my doctor. But does anyone here have thoughts/similar experiences/fish?
kitchen_kink: (intrepid)
When I started working out (and when I last visited the doctor), I was around 192 pounds. I tend to float between 190 and 195.

I now weigh 200, and have for a couple of weeks.

I am not un-pleased by this. Though my weight is supposedly a little over even for someone of my height and bone structure (large), I can carry a lot of weight. And this 200 looks a hell of a lot different from the 200 I weighed when I graduated college.

I've been peeking at Fitness for Dummies, and it advises you to make goals for yourself. The long-term goals (3-6 months) are the ones I always have trouble with. But here's mine:

Be able to say that I weigh 200 pounds. Have it be pure muscle.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Am I overtraining?

Below is my current workout schedule, as I have been performing it for four weeks. I am finding myself tired (not just sleeping too late as usual, but also getting tired early), hungry a lot, and having a reduced sex drive. I am wondering if I'm doing too much, or if my body just needs an adjustment period. Any remarks on this, and what I might do to improve my situation if it's not just about needing time to adjust? (And if it takes time - how much!)

What I'm also wondering is, if I'm doing upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week, isn't that fairly standard? How could I lower that amount and still effectively build muscle tone?

25 minutes cardio
Upper body workout, 3 sets each of maximum 12 reps (once I reach higher, I raise the weight):
Lat pulldowns
Seated row
Shoulder press
Chest press
Pec fly

Side sit-ups

Lower back (Roman chair lifts)

10-15 minute stretch

25 minutes cardio
Lower body workout, see above
Butt blaster (right and left)
Leg curls
Angled leg press
Hip abductor
Hip adductor

Abs as above

Yoga, one hour

Repeat of Monday

Repeat of Tuesday

Ees too much??
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Or, "I grow old, I grow old, / I shall wear three pairs of trousers 'gainst the cold."

Or, "Proof #368 That I'm Not an Athlete"

Day Two found me gettin' my butch on. I donned long underwear, a long-sleeve shirt, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, rain pants and a jacket. New Smartwool socks, new hiking boots. Big ol' gloves, neck warmer, ear warmers, sunglasses. Clif bars. All set.

D------ and I drove out to Sulphur Mountain, in Banff. We were to hike a fairly easy trail, about 5 km and 2000 ft gain in elevation, then take a free gondola ride down. Whee!

Did I mention it was the second day? Did I mention that we started at 5,600 feet?

Did I mention I've lived at sea level my entire life?

Now, D------ is a very experienced hiker, in all kinds of terrain. She's done most of the US national parks and the Inca Trail in Peru. She is Nature Girl.

I, on the other hand, am a wussy day-hiker.

So we started up the mountain, and really, it was a small mountain. The way up was all switchbacks, mostly at approximately a 30-degree angle or less, with the occasional 45-degree at the turns. But there were about six inches of snow, and it was slippery, and did I mention the elevation?

I wasn't aware, or had stupidly forgotten, that elevation can have such a profound effect. After a few minutes I was already quite winded. I was working much harder than it seemed I should be. My legs weren't tired at all, but I was breathing hard, my lungs were burning, and I tasted blood in my throat. In fact, after about 15 minutes, it felt like I had been running hard for that long.

Now, I've never been a runner. I hate running. Detest it. Five minutes of running and I'm completely wiped. I can ride bikes or walk for hours, I can do aerobics, but something about running kills me immediately.

[livejournal.com profile] ert loves jogging, and keeps teasing me to try it. I tell him that in high school, I had to do a track unit in gym where the goal was to run a mile. I had to run every day. And it never got any better. I just think I'm not cut out for it. (Anyone have any ideas on this? I've always wondered.)

In any case, I felt hot, I felt short of breath, sick, like I was going to pass out...and D------ sent me back down the hill.

Admittedly, it needed to happen. We'd only been at our living elevation for 36 or so hours, and D------ told me later that one needs 48 hours to acclimatize, every 2000 feet of elevation one gains.

Thanks for telling me! ;)

So I felt like a wuss for the rest of the day, went down and checked out the site, and the hot spring, and had a veggie burger and a hot chocolate and wrote in my journal a while.

Which was fine.

Later, folks came back from skiing and such, dinner was had, Ert and I took a soak in the jacuzzi, and the bed welcomed.


kitchen_kink: (Default)

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