Football Camp, Stray Thoughts (And A Progress Photo)

Yesterday I took my ten-year old to his second day of football camp.  I was watching the practice which was two hours long and toward the end I noticed that many of the boys were starting to wilt.  They were just tired out.  That’s a normal thing after a summer spent just sitting around for many of them and the purpose of the football camp is to start getting them back into the physical condition that athletics requires.  It happens every year.  For the first week especially, there are a whole group of kids who droop toward the end of the practice.  I’m happy to say that my son wasn’t among them.  We had already decided at the beginning of the summer that physical activity was on the menu.  He attended three weeks of a formal sports camp over the course of the summer but when he wasn’t in sports camp we did lots of exercise together.  We went swimming, hiking and toward the time for football camp to begin we’d go down to the track each morning while it was cool and do a little easy jogging.  He loved it and I loved it.  Our time spent together doing something active was wonderful.  It’s when we had our best conversations without any distractions from the TV or electronic devices including the cell phone.  I would have to say that those undistracted conversations have been the highlight of my summer days with him.

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I’m a people watcher and waiting a couple of hours for football camp to conclude gives me ample opportunity to observe.  The past two days, I’ve set up my chair fairly close to where another woman sits.  When her son has a water break, he trots over to get his thermos and she always asks him if he’s working hard.  She asks him if coach is happy with him.  She tells him he needs to run faster in the drills, that it doesn’t look like he’s working hard enough.  She says it nicely and she isn’t pushing him too hard.  She’s encouraging him but I’m fascinated by the conversation….and fixated on the fact that she’s clinically, morbidly obese.  She can only walk a little, with great effort.  For all intents and purposes she’s a prisoner in her own body.  I think about what she says to her son, about the way she firmly pushes him to exert himself and it strikes me as odd that the things she wants for her son; physical excellence, maximum effort in pursuit of a sport and competitive competence (which are the rewards of sustained effort) are things that she doesn’t require or pursue for herself.   I wish she knew the deep pleasure of a body in motion…one that feels good, strong and capable.    She clearly sees the value in it for her son.  I wonder why she doesn’t see the value in it for herself?

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I’m diligently working to get into top shape by November 1st..  I’m having a great time with my workouts now that I have a specific goal and timetable.  It’s been a real pleasure digging in and putting some energy into my quest.  I’m still not messing around with my diet.  I’m just being sensible but not “dieting.”  I probably won’t do much with my nutritional intake plan before the middle of August.  Even then, I don’t plan to go overboard with restrictions.  I’ll just increase my cardio to help me shed fluff and shred up a little.  So far, so good….

Progress photo....working hard and having FUN!

Progress photo….working hard and having FUN!

 

 

 

 

Not Gonna Do It! (The Rear Bikini Pose That Is)

As most of you know, I’ve decided to keep my friend company on his road to the stage this November by doing the contest prep with him.  I’m not going to actually enter the competition but I decided it would be fun to pretend I was and to see what would happen with my physique if I concentrated on getting stage-ready.  My intention is to post photos as I go so I can track my progress and to keep myself accountable.  I figured on November 1st (the day of the competition) I would post photos of myself  doing the traditional bikini poses to see how my physique had developed over the previous three months.  That’s until I saw the rear bikini pose.

Rear pose for bikini competitions

Rear pose for bikini competitions (photo from Google images)

Uhhhh…..NO!  I’m not a prude by any means but this is a pose I wouldn’t feel dignified doing.  It seems more like a “come hither” pose….like one I’d save for a person I was in an intimate relationship with and not something I’d be interested in doing for the public at large.  This is not to criticize bikini competitors in general or this particular competitor.  To each her own.  She’s striking a required pose perfectly and her physique looks great but I wouldn’t be willing to stand like that, on a stage, under the lights for all to see….or to post photos with me in this position.  When I tried to pinpoint what I don’t like about the pose, I finally came up with the fact that it’s the leaning forward posture I’m not comfortable with.  You don’t just turn around to let the judges/audience see if you have a nice v-taper, good muscle development and your legs look proportionally pleasing, you have to lean forward (thereby pushing your behind out) to smooth the appearance of your glutes/hams.  To me, it’s a much more provocative stance than the one figure/bodybuilding women perform.

This is a photo of a rear view pose in a figure competition. (photo from Google images)

This is a photo of a rear pose in a figure competition. (photo from Google images)

In contrast, I don’t mind this rear pose at all.  I would feel perfectly fine standing on stage like this.  Call me Grandma (I don’t mind…she was a great person) but the bikini pose and I most definitely won’t be going public!

Independence Day – 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Sending you wishes for a safe and happy Independence Day.  Yes, I know I”m  day early but I couldn’t wait!  As you probably guessed, this is one of my favorite holidays and I got a new bikini just to celebrate it…but now I’m wondering if it will hard to walk on the beach in these shoes…

The following quotes are some of my favorites.  I think it’s good to reflect a little on the rich and abundant gifts we enjoy as Americans and to remember that it’s our responsibility to protect and nurture them so that we may pass them on to our children.  Matters of freedom and liberty require our attention…and our work.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine

 “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

“For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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*It has come to my attention through a good friend who wrote to me, that there is a good veteran’s support organization that might be of interest to some of you. This seemed like just the right time to tell you about it.  This is the information he sent me.

“The Veteran Tickets Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to giving back to those who gave us so much. They team up with major sports teams, leagues, promoters, organizations, venues and everyday ticket holders to provide free and discounted tickets to more than 21 million Military and Veterans in the United States. Check out the link below.”

http://www.vettix.org/ref/192106

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Preparing to Compete in the Bikini Division

Those of you who hang out in the gym like I do, know that sometimes you’ve got the mojo and sometimes you don’t.  Not having the mojo doesn’t mean you don’t show up at the gym but it does mean that it’s more of a grind and not as much fun as when you’re “in the groove.”  Over the last 22 years I’ve noticed that it’s a cyclical thing.  Most of the time I feel very strong, energetic and I look forward to my time lifting but inevitably there are those times that I have to drag myself in the door and I can’t seem to muster the kind of intensity that I like.  That’s what I mean when I say I’m suffering from low mojo…and it must be battled.  When that feeling steals over my inner landscape, I look for new things to peak my interest, get the juices flowing and challenge me.  That’s why I’m going to use the next few months to prep for my first competition.  November 1st is the day…and I’ll be prepping for the bikini division!

I said I’d be prepping…and that’s exactly what I meant.  I have absolutely no intention of actually setting foot on any kind of stage in my tiny bikini, posing for a panel of judges BUT I have a good friend who is actually going to get up on stage on November 1st.  We decided I could tag along on the journey as a cheerleader…not the kind with pom-poms but the kind who keeps you company even if only in cyberspace.  I know from experience it helps to know someone else is suffering…I mean, working along with you.  I’m going to do the workouts and the nutrition plan just as if I was going to let a panel of judges have a look at me.  I think it will be fun and it gives me something to work towards.  It will be interesting to see what my physique looks like on November 1st.

Here is a very high quality photo of what I look like today.  I know...chicken legs!

Here is a very high quality photo of what I look like today. I know…chicken legs!

 

Side shot today.  Another very high quality phone photo!

Side shot today. Another very high quality phone photo!

I chose to prep for the bikini division instead of the figure or physique because I don’t think I have enough muscle for figure or physique unless it was a local, small competition.  I don’t have time to gain the mass I’d need to really be competitive so I’ll concentrate on just getting good and tight for the bikini division.  In reality, I’d probably get marked down in bikini since there are parts of my body (shoulders and back) that typically show some striations which is not what bikini judges want to see.  It would be safe to say that as my physique stands now, I’m not a great candidate for any of the divisions.

Now that I’m going to prep for a competition, I have to eat like it.  This was my breakfast this morning.  See how you have to suffer to prep?

My breakfast

My breakfast

 

Ha!  I just put this photo here to horrify some of you.  I know it looks unappetizing but this is what I eat for breakfast almost every morning.  I LIKE IT!  It has nothing to do with competition prep.  It’s a 4 egg white omelette (with nothing inside) and a piece of sourdough toast with butter.   Later in morning I had a half a peach and .620z almonds (100 calorie pack), Lunch was two chicken tacos on flour tortillas with guacamole and pico de gallo.  Afternoon snack was a peach (I love them) and buffalo jerky…yum!  Dinner will be an 8oz beef filet, three large shrimp, broccoli, and a big salad (no dressing…I don’t like it).  This represents a normal eating day for me although I often eat green veggies with my lunches.  I have no idea how many calories I typically take in.

I won’t change my diet until about 8 weeks out from the competition and then I’ll be more strict with my planning.  Until then, I’ll just eat sensibly as I always try to do and keep working hard in the gym.  I won’t start a lot of extra cardio until about 8 weeks out either.  I’ll just stick with my 15- 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Gee….all that talk about stricter food intake and more cardio made me hungry….I want a dark chocolate truffle…and some potato chips!

Don’t Listen To That Little Voice!

Just get those workouts done, no matter what!

Just get those workouts done, no matter what!

Sometimes the hardest exercise you’ll face in a day is pushing back against that little voice that gives you ready-made excuses for delaying your workout.  It’s so easy to come up with reasons to wait to get your exercise done.  We all do it at times, even me, although I usually look forward to my workouts.  One thing I’ve learned is to just make myself get into the car and drive.  The times I’ve listened to that little voice telling me it’s OK to wait or a good idea to delay my workout until later I’ve usually ended up not getting the job done.  I’ve learned that the little voice inside my head is lazy….and wily.  It will give me all kinds of reasonable excuses regarding why it’s a good idea to wait to exercise.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO THAT LITTLE VOICE WILL NOT GO AWAY!

IT will always be there trying to convince you to put your workouts on the back burner.  What you have to learn is to ignore it.  If you listen to that little voice, you’ll never reach your goals.

The following list was posted by Arianna Rebolini on April 16, 2014 at 3:02pm.  It made me laugh and I wanted to share it with you.

64 Thoughts Everyone Has Before Going To The Gym

1. Ahhhhh, 6:30 a.m., a beautiful morning, time to go to the gym.
2. Actually, you know what, I’ll just sleep a little more.
3. WHAT?! HOW IS IT 8:30?????
4. This is cool, though, I’ll just go to the gym after work.
5. My workouts are always better at night anyway.
6. I’ll be one of those late-night gym rats!
7. The gym somehow seems calmer at night. And cooler? Calm and cool, just like me.
8. I should look into a 24-hour gym.
9. How cool would it be if I started going to the gym at, like, two in the morning?
10. I’d probably have the whole place to myself.
11. I’d have so much time to really master the weights!
12. And then I could start giving tips to everyone else.
13. I bet I could be a trainer.
14. I should probably get a second slice of pizza for lunch, since I’m going to have such an intense workout tonight.
15. Important to carb up, you know?
16. Maybe I should be protein-loading though?
17. Should I buy some protein powder?
18. Amazon has some for really cheap.
19. I can’t wait to start making smoothies with my new 3-gallon tub of vanilla protein powder.
20. I’m going to get ~ so ripped ~.
21. I should buy some new clothes to show off my new, awesomely ripped body.
22. Aaaaand some new workout clothes, to motivate myself.
23. Sometimes spending money online doesn’t even really feel like spending money.
24. 5 p.m., time to clock out and GET. TO. THE. GYM!
25. Although, you know what, lunch was pretty early and I’m feeling kind of faint.
26. If I worked out now I might actually pass out.
27. I should eat something first, for the sake of the workout.
28. It’s about the QUALITY of exercise, not the QUANTITY. Right?
29. I’ll just grab a quick dinner on the way home.
30. And some froyo.
31. OMG I never want to move again.
32. I know, while I’m digesting I can update my workout playlist.
33. Geez, when was the last time I updated this?
34. When did I download “Be My Lover” by La Bouche?
35. Be mah lovaaah wanna be mah lovaaaah
36. Wait, am I old?
37. Maybe I should start running to podcasts.
38. How does someone… find… a podcast?
39. This American Life, that’s a thing I’ve heard.
40. I could exercise for literally seven hours and not run out of listening material.
41. This is going to be the best workout ever!
42. Oh, but I should charge my phone first.
43. OK, cool, food is digested, playlist is tight, phone is charging, I’ll be ready to go in liiiiiike a half hour.
44. Just enough time to watch one episode of Parks and Recreation.
45. Nevermind, three episodes of Parks and Recreation.
46. OK! NO MORE EXCUSES! GYM TIME!
47. Where are the new socks I just got? The cushiony ones?
48. It seems like a waste to go to the gym wearing dumb, ratty socks when I just bought top-notch socks specifically designed for exercise.
49. When was the last time I organized my dresser?
50. If I organize my dresser while wearing workout clothes, does it count as exercise?
52. OK, socks are on, sneakers are on, headphones are on, let’s go.
53. Wait, water.
54. Didn’t someone just tell me I should mix apple cider vinegar with water?
55. Do I have apple cider vinegar?
56. Oooh, peanut butter.
56. OK apple cider vinegar and water is the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. This can’t be right.
57. Let me just Google it…
58. What the hell is in apple cider vinegar and why is it apparently a cure for everything?
59. Ugh, when did it get so dark out?
60. Is it cold out? Should I change into long sleeves?
61. Wait, what time does the gym close?
62. Whatever, I’ll just go tomorrow morning.
63. I’ll get to sleep early tonight, and wake up so early tomorrow.
64. My workouts are always better in the morning anyway.

Wishing you all productive workouts in the days ahead!

Grandpa’s Shoes (Lessons In Getting Where You’re Going)

There is an old pair of men’s dress shoes in my car. They are on the way to the repair shop at the request of my oldest son. The shoes are his. They used to be my dad’s. He gave them to my son a couple of weeks before he died. My son loves them and wears them anytime he needs to dress nicely. He wears them to church, on formal dates with his girlfriend and when we go out to dinner.

My oldest son with my father's shoes

My oldest son with my father’s shoes

They don’t quite fit. They’re a little large but I never say a word. My dad’s shoes are big shoes to fill…both in reality (he wore a size 14) and metaphorically too.

My dad was born in 1923 in Oklahoma in an all black town. Some people don’t know but our country was dotted with small, completely segregated towns at that time in our history. His family had no money and relied on subsistence farming to keep themselves going.

My dad grew up and held a series of jobs. He farmed, he flipped raisins in the hot California, Central Valley sun, he drove a bus. When he was 40 he graduated from Medical School.

The journey from raisin flipper to physician was a long and arduous one. He wasn’t always treated well as he pursued his goal to become a doctor. Tangible racism was rampant…the institutional kind where it wasn’t just a matter of people not liking you or not wanting to sit with you at a table but it was doors of well-paying jobs and educational programs being closed. In those days you didn’t need to rely on conjecture or supposition.  Employers would tell you outright they didn’t hire black people. One school program told my father that although he met all the qualifications to get in they wouldn’t accept him since they already had a negro in the program. That was the Medical school at UCSF (University of California San Francisco). Things like that were nothing new in his life. Years before he was accepted into an undergraduate program at Iowa State University. Their literature stated that they provided housing for students in the program but once he arrived they told him they didn’t want a black person in the dorm with the other students. At that same school although they seated students alphabetically in one class, they sat him out of order because they didn’t want him sitting next to a white female student.

So what did he do when these things happened? When he heard an employer say they didn’t hire black people, he left and applied somewhere else. When They wouldn’t let him live in the dorm he found a place off campus to live (an elderly black couple let him stay with them in exchange for help around the house). When he was moved out of alphabetical order, he stayed right there in class in his out-of-order seat and learned the material. When UCSF wouldn’t take him he applied other places. He ended up having to leave my mother behind for 4 years since she had a good job in San Francisco while he attended medical school in Tennessee.

In the 49 years I was blessed to have him, he never once said anything derogatory about white people. He never dwelled with anger on the many challenges he had to overcome. He loved America and the opportunities it afforded him even though his goals weren’t easy to reach.

When confronted with each obstacle, he had a choice. Would he lie down and quit or keep his eyes on the prize and persevere? Nobody would blame him if became enraged by his circumstances and stopped trying to get better jobs or into good schools. He had a built-in excuse. The playing field wasn’t level and he wasn’t treated fairly (and could demonstrate it in example after example).

But that’s not what he did. At each quit-or-go-on juncture he chose to keep bitterness at bay and to continue moving forward. It took him until he was 40 to realize his goal of becoming a doctor. He ended up with a thriving practice, a job that allowed him some economic freedom and the satisfaction of delivering over 7000 babies.

You know what he taught me? That you’ll always have something you can use as an excuse in life. You can get your friends, family and often strangers to sympathize with your plight and to support your excuses. You can get a whole huge segment of society to feel sorry for you…to weep, wail and rail along with you. You can all shake your fists at the moon….but that only gives you company in your misery. It won’t help one bit in getting where you were trying to go.

My dad gave his shoes to my son…and those shoes will be hard to fill. Nothing could please me more as a daughter and a mom than to see my boys grow into men who understand that their legacy is one of strength, perseverance, dedication and success. They, of all people should eschew the Siren’s call…that silky trap of sympathy that makes one comfortable in defeat.

Life will place roadblocks in your path and some people may be unkind but if you set a goal, keep your emotions under control and put in the work you can overcome. My father was living proof.

My dad playing with me and our cat Miff

My dad playing with me and our cat Miff

My dad with my sons about 8 years ago

My dad with my sons about 8 years ago.  I hope they develop his work ethic and persistence.

 

This little baby is now wearing his grandpa's shoes!

This little baby is now wearing his grandpa’s shoes!

 

Happy Father’s Day to all of you out there! Never forget, the lessons you pass on to your children are those you teach by example.

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Born To Run

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My boys have always wanted a dog and had recently resorted to telling me that if I continued to deny them the opportunity I was going to ruin their childhood.  That’s not what made me finally relent but now that they are older (10 & 16), they’re able to shoulder the responsibilities of pet ownership (under adult supervision, of course).   We now have not one, but two husky puppies at our house.

Huskies are bred to be working dogs.  They like to have a “job.”  They are curious and very energetic.  All the research I did on the breed told me that they need and want A LOT of exercise and that’s where I come in.  It seems I’ve added two cardio partners into my life.  A happy husky is a well exercised husky.  They are born to run….they want to run….they NEED to run.

Did I ever mention I’m not a runner?

What I should say is that I wasn’t a runner until now.  Part of the commitment I had to be willing to make was to see the dogs get proper exercise.  They don’t love the heat so early morning exercise is best for them.  Conveniently, this is when the boys are at school (or in the summer at work/camp etc).  That leaves me.

I’ve accepted the idea and am now actually looking forward to our runs.  Luckily, they are too young to go quite yet so we’ll start with slow walks, then fast walks, then jogs…then jogs with some real running thrown in.  We’ll grow into it together.

The good news is that for the next number of years I’ll have a built-in reason to exercise every day.  While I might be willing to flake on myself once in a while, how could I ever deny my new little favorite, bestest, most adorable, darling babies…..I mean, the puppies, their daily excursion?

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Muscle Check

Photo documentation - June 2014

Photo documentation – June 2014

Now and then it’s good to stop and assess how you’re doing in terms your goals.  I have had the same goal for the past 22 years….muscle gain/maintenance  without fat gain.  You can look in the mirror and that tells you plenty but photographs help tell the story as well.  You can’t always see yourself in the mirror properly, especially when it comes to your rear view.  When you’re trying to make an informed assessment a few photos can help round out the overall picture.

The photos I just took tell me that I’ve lost a little bit of mass.  I’m not upset.  I expected that based on my workout program for the last 6 months.  I will take steps to remedy that by switching to a lifting program that focuses a little more on heavy weight and lower reps.  I know that will stimulate muscle growth and I’ll combine the heavy lifting with a few (not too many) extra calories to help things along.  To get the extra calories in comfortably, I’ll just add one extra snack each day…something like almonds and an apple or turkey and avocado roll ups.  Little adjustments make a big difference.  I don’t want to add a ton of extra calories because that just invites fat gain and that’s not what I’m after.

Over the course of the summer, I’m confident that I’ll get some extra muscle to stick to my bones.  Ready, set….LIFT!

It Ain’t Pretty

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Let me just say that I’m not one of those glamour girls who fixes her hair and wears make up to the gym. I usually wake up, brush my teeth, splash water on my face, stuff my hair into a black baseball hat, get the boys fed and ready for the day, drive my little one to school and then hit the gym. It’s a completely beauty-free affair.

I see women who put effort into their appearance before they hit the weights. They look so cute with their perfectly coiffed hair, mascara and lip gloss but that’s not me. By the end of my workout I’m a hot mess.

I don’t care. I work hard when I’m there and because if it, when it’s time, I clean up pretty well.

Happy Monday! Wishing you big energy for your workouts this week!

Deadlifts! Just Do Them!

Deadlifts are great for legs, back, glutes and core!

Deadlifts are great for legs, back, glutes and core!

Deadlifts sometimes get a bad rap but I think they’re one of the best exercises around.  Done properly, they are safe and incredibly effective.  Deadlifts are a compound movement and hit many muscle groups.  They use your legs, back, biceps, triceps, glutes and core.  If you don’t already incorporate deadlifts into your program think about adding them.  My advice is to ask someone to show you proper form before you get started.  In every gym I’ve ever been to, the trainers will show you how to do a specific exercise the right way without charging you.  You can’t expect them to design a whole program for you without a fee but usually they’re happy to give you an occasional tip regarding form to keep you safe.  Once you know the correct way to do them, you’re ready to put them to work for you..and work for you they will.  Within a few weeks of beginning you’ll see (and feel) the difference they make in your overall program.

Deadlifts are safe done correctly.  First consult someone regarding proper form, then go to it!

Deadlifts are safe done correctly. First consult someone regarding proper form, then go to it!

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