Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Y Factor

Monday 9.28.09

I suspect you've heard of "the X factor." In TV circles it is a British talent show. In my world, it is what I call that unexpected factor that threatens to derail well-laid nutritional plans--temptations at work, an unexpected celebratory dinner, unusual stressors. I suspect you know exactly what I mean. The X factor is a post unto itself.

This post, however, is about what I call my "Y factor," another term for how my mom and dad factor into my diet. Somehow around them I revert to the chubby little 13-year-old, ready to gobble up every morsel of food in sight. They offer, and I find my ability to politely decline completely absent. Part of this is a conscious decision on my part. I have made a deal with myself. My mom is 78-years-old; my dad is 73. No matter how badly I want time to stand still, they will not be a part of my life forever. One day, my mom's dinners and my dad's breakfast will be a savored memory, a dream that is the gift of peaceful sleep. There will be no more of Mom's cornbread, pecan pie or chocolate pie, no more of Dad's omelets and bacon. Sharing a meal with them will not be possible. So with them, I let things slide. I take every chance to eat their cooking, enjoy every bite eaten at the table with them. But then there are liberties I shouldn't take... Mom is as much of a sugar freak as I am, and I allow her to enable me a little much. Dad is a snacker, and I join in a bit too frequently. This is my Y factor.

For the last 26 days, I have been tussling with my Y factor. I don't regret it. I never really thought Mom and Dad would come see me, much less stay 26 days. I have enjoyed this time and treasured it. Today, though, they have gone back to Tennessee, and it's time to put the hammer down.
Mom taking an ice cream break in St. Augustine. The flag and light above are in the background.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse. Notice that not only do they not have backs to them, they also have holes in them--truly a test of my mettle.
Proof that I made it to the top and didn't flip completely out as I navigated those stairs. There was a time in my life when I would have had to crawl up them if I made it at all. As it was I was seriously hugging the tower and avoiding the rail at the top. LOL
Mom and me in front of the Fountain of Youth. Over my right shoulder, you can sort of see the hole in the ground that Ponce de Leon sought as the source of eternal youth.
5 rounds of:
20kg C&P x 1 then C&PP x 1 R then L
Double 16kg C&P x 2
Perfect pushups x 3
20kg goblet squat x 5
double 16kg single leg deads 3/3
high plank x 30 sec
5 challenge burpees
rest 2 min
17 burpees
YESTERDAY: NO WORKOUT, spent the day with Mom and Dad.
Black and Purple Band assisted pullups/elevated perfect pushups: 4 5-rung ladders.
knee together squats with one-legged pulses at bottom
partial pistols
plank x 30 sec
burpees (15 total)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Merging Passions

September 24, 2009

I have been comtemplating taking my camera gear to the upcoming Hardstyle Ventura workshop and offering to do some photography work for the other RKC's there. Since I hadn't had a fellow girevik to use as a subject, I wanted to beg someone into being my guinea pig for use not only as a learning experience for me, but also as an example of what I'd have to offer those who might be interested in having some photos done. Fellow RKC Jon Alford and I have been working on getting together for a workout for a few months now, so when it looked like we'd be able to get together, I asked if he'd be sport enough to be my guinea pig. Not only was he sport enough, but he also was willing for me to share them with the world. Here are some of the results. To see the rest of what we got, check out http://oncearoundvenus.photoworkshop.com.

I really had a great time working out with Jon and his former client Gonzalo. Being a self-motivator has its advantages, but sometimes it's fun to be with others of a similar mindset. I'm sure it would be an amazing motivator to have folks like that around all the time.
5 Rounds of:
20kg C&P 1/1, 20kg C&PP 1/1, 12kg C&BUP 2/2
Perfect Pushups x 3 (Yes, I know that's totally wimpy, but it's mine and I'll own them)
20kg Walking lunges x 12
double 20kg deads x 7
High plank x 30 sec
rest x 2 min
16kg Tabata snatches--5 per set
30 Challenge Burpees in 3'58"
YESTERDAY'S WORKOUT: 12kg VO2Max--76 rounds, the first 40 rounds were 7 reps, then I dropped to 6 reps for rounds 41-55, then I dropped to 5 reps. When I hit 4 reps at round 76, I just put the bell down. Hopefully I'll get back up to 80 soon. :(
12 challenge burpees
TUESDAY'S WORKOUT: Pullups/pushups, pistol work, burpees. See similar workout below. I'm still on 3 5-rung ladders.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Ultratimer

Sunday, September 20, 2009

As a friend recently brought to my attention, I do love my gadgets. As simple as I love my workouts to be, there is one gadget that is consistently by my side--my iPod. One obvious thing it contributes is the music. BUT the other thing that I have come to love is my Ultratimer application on my iPod. Don't get me wrong, I love the Gymboss. It's a fantastic gadget, and I'd still recommend it to anyone who asked. But the Ultratimer is a step beyond. I can set up a workout with as many intervals for as many different lengths of time as I like, AND I can save those workouts under a specific name to be used ad nauseum in the future. There are also multiple different sounds to use to start or finish an interval or round. Here are a couple of screen shots from my iPhone so you can see a bit of what it's like. The ap is $2 and worth 10 times that.WORKOUT:
None today.

Black and Purple Band Assisted Pull ups/Elevated Push Ups: 3 ladders of 5 Rungs each.
1st ladder had rungs separated by knee together squats with one-legged pulses at the bottom.
2nd ladder had partial pistols with 12kg counterbalance (also used in ladder one).
3rd ladder had 30 sec of plank per rung.

Then 3'47" of 30 Challenge Burpees.

FRIDAY: No workout.

THURSDAY'S WORKOUT: More to come about this little treat later.


TUESDAY'S WORKOUT: VO2 Max Workout Ass-kicking. 12kg for 66 rounds. 1st half for 7 reps, second for 6. It seriously kicked my butt.

20kg C&P/PP x 2/2, 12kg C&BUP x 2/2
5 Elevated Perfect Pushups
20kg Walking lunges x 12
Double 20kg deads
high plank x 30sec
rest 2 min

I actually was able to get 4 strict 20kg presses on the right and 5 on the left.

See yesterday's workout.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Immersion Therapy

Wednesday, 9.9.9

I hate spiders.

I don't mind most other creepy, crawly critters. Snakes? No problem. Ok, I hate scorpions, too, but spiders, well, they are Satan-spawn. Hate 'em. And you see, Florida is spider heaven. They're frikkin' everywhere! I was well aware of this fact when I bought into this deal, and decided just to suck it up and deal with it. Spiders eat mosquitoes, and the only thing more plentiful in Florida than spiders is mosquitoes. Hate them too. As a rule, I try not to kill things. Bad karma. Everything is here for a purpose and all that jazz. Spiders and mosquitoes are fair game--especially if they're in the house. As a part of my attempting to overcome my aversion, a few months ago when this gal (look at the white space just to the right of the word "Cameo") moved into the neighborhood in and around my pull up bar, I chose to just leave her there and see what came of it. We made an agreement: I would leave her alone. She would leave me alone. Thus began my tenuous relationship with an arachnid workout buddy. The body on this joker, with NO exageration, is as big as my thumb. I almost renigged on our original agreement today, though, when I got ready to start my workout and she was fighting a hornet that captured in her web. As creepy as that was, it was nothing compared to watching her spin a web around the hornet, carry it to the center of the web then suck its bug guts out. I get chill bumps just writing about it! She's still there, though, and with the help of her friends (see video below), I'm slowly growing less repulsed by the 8-legged critters in our yard.

3 5-rung black and purple band-assisted pullups/elevated perfect pushups
Ladder 1: squats with single leg pulse at bottom on each rung
Ladder 2: partial pistols
Ladder 3: 30sec plank.
30 Challenge Burpees

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Different Kind of Workout

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My folks are here in Florida to visit for a while--how long is yet to be seen. They got here on Wednesday, and each day we have visited, watched some TV, had a little excursion here and there, and generally enjoyed each others' company. I was born 27 days after my mom's 42nd birthday, so my parents are a little older than other people's my age. My mom is 78, my dad 73. As much as I enjoy seeing them, each time I do, I must adjust to their physical and mental decline from the way I see them in my mind. In my mind's eye, my dad can still reach out and wrap his arms around a fencepost, waggle it around a little bit and pull it out of the ground. My mom is still the best crossword solver in the world. And I am still 20...
(pics taken with my iphone)
But my mind's eye is wrong, and seeing the decline breaks my heart. The physical is hard enough, but the loss of mental sharpness is what really gets me. To some degree, such loss is predetermined by genetics, but it is by no means an inevitability for most people. We can fight it off much the way we fight so hard to keep away the physical decline. In honor of my wonderful parents, I thought I'd share some ways you can work as hard to keep your mind as sharp as your physique.

Just like our muscles become conditioned to our workouts, and we must change things up to continue to challenge them, our brains become conditioned to our patterns. Each and every part of our bodies will do everything it can to make its job as easy as possible. That is simple survival. The patterns of our actions form pathways in our brain that allow us to perform those patterns with as little effort for our brain as possible, on autopilot so-to-speak. Think about your drive home from work. How many times do you get home and not remember much of anything about your drive? You were on autopilot. When you break out of this pattern, you force your brain to construct new neuronal pathways, to literally fire new circuits that weren't being used, just like a new workout recruits new muscle. Use a neuron, and it is more likely to keep firing. Let it sit dormant, and well, it's harder to get going again.

So how does one keeps as many neurons firing as possible as frequently as possible? The first step is to use as many senses as possible as frequently as possible. Consciously absorb all of the sensory input you can as you go through your day. Shut one sense down in an attempt to heighten another. Close your eyes and focus, really focus, on the sounds around you, the way the room or the yard or parking lot smells. Focus on the textures of your surroundings. Slow down at your meal and truly taste your food, feel the way it pops between your teeth or smooshes on your tongue. Don't just float through life, BE AWARE of everything. APPRECIATE everything. For what it's worth, the mentor who taught me this concept believed sex was the best way to stimulate all the senses at once. :)

The next step in keeping the brain sharp is staying out of the proverbial rut. If you usually drive to work in an automatic, every now and then borrow a standard transmission vehicle and drive it. Occasionally ride with the windows down or drive with gloves on. Take a different route to work. Try new foods. Sit in a different chair in your living room. Do your nightly routine out of its usual order. You get the idea. Shake things up. It forces your brain to stay awake.

Give it a try. It's actually refreshing.

TODAY'S WORKOUT: 16kg Swing Practice with a focus on keeping it sharp. 40 sec of swing/20 sec of rest x 30 rounds.
I had planned to do my grind routine today, but my head wasn't in it d/t some minor family strife. I almost ditched the workout entirely, but decided to just go with something simple and trudge on.

3 5-rung ladders
Black and Purple band-assisted pullups/Perfect elevated pushups.
1st ladder--feet together squat into one-legged pulse on each side with each rung
2nd ladder--partial pistols from the top
3rd ladder--30sec of plank.

VO2 max 80 sets of 7 with the 12kg.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Press--Some Video

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Work 8p-8a--159#
After losing my 20kg press when I was sick, I was bitching about it to a few fellow RKC's (in addition to posting about it), and a couple of wise friends suggested I use some Hardstyle wisdom and work on my tension with the bottoms up press...And one of those friends said, "Send me some video, and I'll tell you what I see." A blogpost was born...albeit a slightly delayed delivery.

I've been bringing my 12kg bell to work the last couple of weeks and greasing the groove with the BUP to help build proper tension. It has helped quite a bit. Tension is queen, and I've come to find the weak points in my creating it. Oddly enough, they are assymetrical. On the right, the tension comes fairly easily, but when it does slack off, it's usually in the lats. On the left, right arm/fist tension and butt tension are where I find myself lagging sometimes--mostly in the glute tension. Where last week I didn't get a single strict press with the 20kg during my two workouts like the one I did today, I got strict presses with both arms for the first 3 rounds today. The BUP has become one of my new favorite tools.

VIDEO 1: This is the first round of my workout today. The workout is set up to press the 20kg twice then grab the 12kg and do 2 BUP's, then switch arms. It was raining just enough that I was NOT getting much of a grip on the 12. You'll also notice that I dump the cap pretty quickly. I wear a ball cap almost all the time when I workout for a few reasons: 1. It keeps down on the amount of sun that gets in my eyes and therefore reduces my risk of migraine (which is a big risk because I get lots of them. 2. It keeps my hair out of my eyes. 3. It keeps sweat out of my eyes. 4. On days like today when it's raining, it keeps the rain out of my eyes. Pavel fussed at me at the RKC for always wearing a ball cap, said it hindered my line of sight and was throwing off my groove. That is never more poignantly clear than when I'm doing presses.

VIDEO 2: The rain was getting heavier, and my tension was suboptimal=Crappy first couple of attempts. I almost didn't post this video or video 1, but I decided some of the best input comes from the failed attempts.

VIDEO 3: When I realized the rain was going to keep coming (that's what you hear tap, tap, tapping), I decided to just go to the 16kg and press it 3 times/round like I did before adding the BUP to my workout.

VIDEO 4: Same as 3, but with the left arm.

VIDEO 5: After my sub-par run at the BUP this afternoon, I wanted to prove I can do it with good form and give a friend I know a good example to follow. ;) So I got some more video at work. Here's the right side...

VIDEO 6:...and here's the left.

The beauty of the BUP at a weight that one can't manhandle is that it must be performed with tension--from the ground up. Start with good tension in the clean: feet pushing through the ground, kneecaps pulled up into the quads, hamstrings pulled up into the glutes, glutes holding that imaginary quarter, lats locking those shoulders in, opposite arm tensing into a firm fist, tight grip on the bell, deep breath, pressurize and press through the bell to the sky with a hiss. Tension, tension, tension. It's beautiful.

5 rounds (did you notice I'm back up to 5?:) ) of...
20kg press x 1, 20kg pushpress x 1, 12kg BUP x 2 or 16kg C&P x 3
5 perfect elevated pushups
20kg walking lunge x 10
double 20kg Dead x 7
Plank x 30 sec
Rest 2 min
20kg Tabata Swing

YESTERDAY'S WORKOUT: ...Okay, so maybe it doesn't really count, but I did one round of 16kg Essentials because that's all the time I had.

SUNDAY'S WORKOUT: 5 (yep, I went up to 5 here,too) 4-rung ladders of black and purple band assisted pullups alternated with elevated perfect pushups. Between each rung of ladders one and 3 were knee-together squats into a one-legged pulse at the bottom for pistol work.Between the rungs of ladder 4, I worked partial pistols from the top. 2/sideBetween the runs of ladder 5, I did 30 sec of plank.