On Wednesday of last week I asked my ten-year old to take my phone and use the camera to get a photo of my back. He did so and then we scrolled through the pictures to see if he’d been able to get a good one. He pointed to this one and said “You look like a guy that’s been shrunken down and got a woman head put on him.” It made me laugh. You see, he wasn’t trying to be rude at all. He knows I like muscle and that I’m always chasing just a little bit more so it definitely wasn’t a mean dig.
I took a look at the picture and I had to concur. I wouldn’t say I look like a shrunken man but there IS something off about this photo. I think my head looks especially giant…or something. Together we decided the reason the photo looked strange is that my phone was broken. That’s it…a broken phone! Clearly, the camera suffered a catastrophic malfunction. Good thing we figured out what the problem was.
This just goes to show that while photo documentation is a great tool, you’re not always going to like what you see (especially if you have an enormous Tweety-bird head in the picture). It’s a good time to have a laugh and move on.
I’m always advocating that people try different things to help them along the road to fitness. Cross training is a great way to maximize benefits from time spent exercising and it does wonders to stave off boredom (which is a real killer for those who make fitness a lifestyle). I’m definitely most happy and comfortable in the weight room but I do like to try new things now and then. Over the years, I’ve done aerobics classes, kickboxing, zumba (where I learned that I should never dance in public) and once upon a time I decided to try a boot camp. This turned out to be an ill-advised decision!
As the class was gathering I noticed that it was full of young men in their 20′s and one bouncy woman, also in her twenties. The instructor walked in, gave us some crazy instructions (like do 200 push ups, then 10 bear crawls across the basketball court, then 200 shoulder presses with the barbells at the front of the room…then come back for more instructions). He turned on some acid rock blasted at an incredibly high decibel level and shouted “GO!”
Everybody dropped and started doing their push ups. The guys on the right and left of me were banging them out like machines. I got to 25 and needed a rest. I started to get up to shake out my arms and the instructor yelled “Stay down! You can’t get up until you’re done!” Oh geez. I rested there on my belly for a minute and then kept on going…and then stopped when I was fatigued for more rest. Meanwhile the instructor kept pacing up and down the line making people start over if they cheated on a rep.
At some point, while I was still finishing up my push ups, and everyone else was on the second or third part of the rotation, the instructor yelled “Get it together! Your cardio conditioning is pathetic. How are you going to run up a hill with all your gear, then recover and fight?” That’s when I knew for sure I was in the wrong class. Running up a hill with gear…to engage in combat was simply not on my list of things to do. At that time I was a 40-year-old mother of two. I was planning to push things like shopping carts and strollers…to pull things like red wagons and thinking about carrying a one year old around in my arms.
At the end of the class when I was rather pathetically finishing up the last of the exercises in the rotation (and everyone else, including the bouncy woman was relaxing because they’d finished long ago) Mr. Instructor walked over to me and asked “Do you want to be buffed or tough?” I looked at him and in all seriousness told him he could keep tough. I wanted to be buffed! I never set foot in that boot camp hell again.
I learned several things that day. I had quite a lot of time to think while I was face down on the floor trying to recover from physical exhaustion. I learned that I prefer buffed to tough. I learned that boot camp isn’t for me. I learned that the wood on the basketball floor had some pretty patterns in it. I learned that the instructor had on ugly shoes and I learned that I’m not quite ready to run up a hill with gear to fight!
Things are on track. I ought to have a happy bikini body by the end of March when I’ll be strolling on the Jamaican sand. Weather has been dreary at times lately so I cheer myself with thoughts of the beautiful warm beach I’ll be visiting. There’s something about the water, sand and sunshine that I find relaxing and invigorating at the same time and I can’t wait to get there. As usual I’ll take workout gear along and as usual it will probably stay right there in the bottom of my suitcase until I get back home. Vacations are for doing as you please and vigorous workouts don’t often make the schedule when I’m busy lolling around pretty places.
I’m pleased with the progress I see from the pull ups I’ve been doing. I have definitely gained a bit of muscle mass on my upper body which is certainly welcome. I still can’t pull up that much extra weight (I’m stuck at 25lbs) but since it offers my body a challenge its had the desired effect. A few more weeks and I’ll be able to fully assess the results.
This week I’ve added some extra cardio and will keep it in place until my trip. My goal is 45 minutes to an hour a day. I switch between the recumbent bike, the rower and power walking outside. All fluff must go!
Keep working hard out there!
Like the shirt in my Ranger photo? It’s one of a kind. The design was created by Rocky Ball for some Rangers who wanted a flag ……I saw it, thought it was great…a unique and handsome image. I contacted him to see if I could use it for a tribute photo. He liked the idea and allowed me to make this shirt out of it. He’s a great guy and a great designer. If you need someone to do graphic design please consider giving him a call! www.rockyball.com
Here we are on one of my very favorite days. Valentine’s Day is always special. I like everything about it. I like the pink, red, chocolate and flowers. I like the teddy bears and the cards with awful rhymes in them. Who couldn’t revel in a celebration of love? Maybe I enjoy it so much because it’s a chance to stop and take stock of the love we receive but more importantly of the love we give into the world. You see, I think that’s our job. What else are we here for except to shine the light of love into the dark cracks? We don’t have to go looking far to find places where a little word of kindness can make a difference. Every day presents us with opportunities if we are looking for them.
…and while we’re looking for those opportunities, we must also remember that we deserve our own gentle treatment and encouragement. There is nothing noble in being unkind to yourself. Whatever tasks you take on, whatever goals you set (in the gym or out) you will fall short at some time or another. That is inevitable. The way you respond, however, is critical to your future success. If you allow a blaming, shaming internal dialogue you probably won’t be able to salvage much from the experience. Nobody learns or grows well in an environment of negativity and that includes the one you build yourself with cruel thoughts and words directed internally.
While we celebrate this beautiful day, remember that you have great power to affect the world. You never know how much a simple, loving word or deed can mean to someone else and you can’t very well do a good job of finding those opportunities if you’ve torn yourself to shreds with your own thoughts. Be easy with yourself. When you stumble, take a deep breath, resolve to do better, dust yourself off…and keep going.
I’m delighted to announce that i have a new weapon in my “NO EXCUSES” arsenal! Right now, this very minute there’s a new recumbent bike in my garage. It’s placed close to my pretty, pink, sparkly bike that actually goes places. So far, the two are getting along although I think I caught Sabine (that’s my pink bike’s name) casting jealous glances at Big Mike yesterday. They will learn that they each have a place in my heart. On a sunny, warm morning nothing can take the place of a long, slow, happy bike ride outdoors with Sabine but on those rainy, cold days Big Mike will definitely be my go-to guy!
I’m not one who believes in going hungry. Severely restricting calories and walking around starving will work in the short-term but who enjoys suffering the accompanying growling stomach, headaches, mood swings, shakiness and fuzzy thinking?
When I see fluff accumulating (and this is an assessment I make by taking a critical look in the mirror, not stepping on a scale) I take steps to remedy it before it gets out of hand. It’s so much easier to tighten it up when its a matter of shedding a few little pounds (like 2-5) instead of trying to lose 10 or more.
Once I’ve made the decision to get rid of those undesirable pounds, I head to the kitchen and get out my big, black pot. Time to go to work making homemade soup! Yes, soup is my secret weapon! I make it myself because store-bought soups are often very high in sodium, have unwanted additives, and even the soups that say they have meat in them have very little protein content. All the soups I make are easy to put together.
The majority of them are chicken broth based. If you don’t want to buy a whole chicken and make the broth yourself, you can use the organic chicken broth you find in the soup aisle. That’s a super easy way to go. You buy a couple of boxes, put them into your pot and start adding your other ingredients.
If you prefer making your own broth, you can buy a whole chicken throw it in a pot of water and boil it until it shreds easily, discard the skin and pull the meat from the carcass. Tear it into small pieces and set it aside. Take the liquid from the boiled chicken, separate the fat off the top and use the rest as a base for your soup. Add your chicken pieces back in along with your other ingredients and simmer for an hour. If you’re short on time, you can just buy a pre-cooked chicken at the grocery store. Most of them have a deli area where they sell rotisserie baked chickens and these work perfectly for the soup.
My basic recipe is as follows
1.5 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
4 cups diced chicken
salt and pepper to taste
That’s it! From there you can add other things like, peas, chopped kale, onion, canned tomatoes or just enjoy the basic soup.
In order to combat unwanted fluff, I’ll eat the soup for lunch but also have a bowl before I eat my other meals. It fills me up with good, clean food and I eat less of whatever else is in front of me. For instance, Friday night was pizza night. I ate my bowl of soup first and then was quite satisfied with a single piece of the pizza and some salad. Under normal circumstances I could easily eat 3 or 4 slices before feeling full.
A bowl of good soup before meals keeps me from filling up on the more calorie dense foods to follow. I still get to eat them but I’m perfectly satisfied with smaller servings. It helps me strip fat from my physique and more importantly I can do it without suffering!
It’s steady as she goes with my pull up program. I’ve made a few modifications, specifically adding more of the weighted pull ups on the days that I do them. 25 per session just didn’t seem like enough so I doubled the number and now do 50. I’m comfortable making that change. I’ve been at this long enough to know when my body is being challenged sufficiently to force changes in my physique.
I took this photo last night. I’m still a little on the fluffy side but I’m feeling strong and the little bit of muscle I’ve gained seems to be sticking. I’m the ultimate hardgainer so that makes me happy.
Wishing you a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. GO BRONCOS!!
This is the week I started the weighted part of my chin up program. The first day, I did my chin ups with an 8lb dumbbell between my knees. I didn’t think it was quite challenging enough so I switched to a 12lb dumbbell. I put that one in a backpack since it was heavy enough to be awkward when I tried to hold it between my knees. I have to say I was feeling pretty good about my strength and then I saw this!
Oh goodness! Now that’s what I call a serious weighted pull up! I think I’ll just pretend I never saw this. Now hand me that pink dumbbell and my Hello Kitty backpack and let me get back to work!
Tuesday afternoon, I had finished my workout, completed a project and run errands. I happily sat down in my comfy chair to read for a few moments. I picked up my new book The Trident by Jason Redman (with John R. Bruning) and proceeded to read contentedly along until I hit a brick wall. Not an actual wall of course, a wall of words but it hurt like hitting a wall might.
Jason Redman was describing an experience he and his wife had when traveling back and forth across the country for his medical care. Jason had been severely wounded in battle. He suffered damage to his face among other injuries. He wrote
Erica was right. I needed to lighten up. The rest of the trip, I attempted to make small talk with those around us, only to discover that most folks assumed I’d been in a car wreck or some sort of accident. We’d been at war for six years, and not a single person considered that these grievous wounds could have been inflicted on the battlefields as we fought to preserve their freedom.
Iraq, Afghanistan — they barely touched those here at home enjoying the prosperity and peace of a successful nation not ravaged by war. This wasn’t the full national effort of World War II; the onus of this war fell on the strong but narrow shoulders of the volunteers who chose to defend the nation. And their families. The small talk I tried to make ended up affecting me deeply. What value was the sacrifice so many of my brothers had made if the people for whom they gave their last full measure were not even aware of their devotion? It was a troubling question, one that I dwelled on many times in the months ahead. (Pages 332-333)
I shut the book, put it down in my lap and thought. I could feel words welling up as they sometimes do, clamoring over each other demanding release. It’s on those occasions I HAVE to write, I have to somehow offer a response, to speak back. Yes, odd though it is there are times I write to people who I don’t know and who will never read my words. I composed an open letter inspired by Jason’s passage, intended for all of those out there who “guard the perimeter.”
I have never seen you face to face but I see you nevertheless.. I feel you. I know you’re there. You live in my thoughts, you animate my prayers and rest assured, there are many more just like me. In your darkest hours, in the glow of your greatest victories, you are never alone.
It is true that there are many who enjoy the fruits of your labor, who do not understand your work, who never stop to think about or appreciate you. Isn’t it ironic that the peace you’ve won with diligent effort, the freedoms and liberties you’ve protected with sweat and blood are precisely the things that separate you from their consideration? You see, when you have been shielded by men with steady hearts and fierce attention, when you have been so consistently relieved from the wolf at the door that you don’t even know wolves exist then you are released to live without any thought of how your environment came to be…or who brought it to bear.
Even so, there are others, like me, who do think about it. Others, outside of your own families, friends, teams and groups who do know. We have tremendous appreciation for you. We think about the skill you display, we admire the focus you bring to your training and we are awestruck by the willing spirit that lets you stand toe to toe with the most loathsome evils the world can produce and snatch victories out of the clutches of darkness. We also know that it comes with a price, a daunting price, one that you’ve proven over and over again that you (and your brothers) are willing to pay.
I wish that we had a better way to convey our understanding and feeling of kinship with you. Words seem so very thin. Perhaps if I were able to gather “gratitude” in every language, melt it all together and fashion a new, better, more robust utterance it would mean what it should. As it is I am relegated to the words I have at hand.
What you do is not obscured from all of us. Some of us see and we are more in number than you know.
With love and respect,
*Thank you, my friends, for indulging me yet again. I do veer off topic at times but there are occasions when something is laid upon my heart and it’s a blessing to have a place to express it. *